Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pacific Northwest still rules, yo

In case you were afraid this blog was beginning to focus a bit too much on vegan reubens in OTHER places, like, say Maryland, or cyberspace, fear not. Portland is still tops for vegan reuben options, though we'll give a shout out to Seattle as well.

Truth is, I'm a little jealous that Stumptown Vegans got to review the Someday Lounge/Backspace reuben before I got a chance. I've been drooling over this sandwich from afar for much too long (I had hoped to go in December but weather and the resultant travel delays made that impossible). Seriously, I think I've downloaded the PDF of Backspace's menu multiple times over the past several months just to longingly read it over. Word of mouth says it is great, and now you can see some pics and an official review.

Part of what makes Backspace so intriguing (as an establishment in general---their reuben is tempeh) is its frequent use of Field Roast. Now, as I've said before, I'm not typically a fan of fake meats. Occasionally I'll eat a Tofurkey brat at a BBQ and then remember, oh right, these are gross. Field Roast is definitely an exception--anyone will tell you it's the best fake meat out there. And this is essentially because it's a gourmet, "artisan" meat analog. Which brings me to the second reason I want to try some of Backspace's Field Roast offerings. I don't have empirical evidence to back this up, but there are certain vegan ingredients that are pretty pricey were you to buy them in the stores. For example, Teese seems to have the same market rate per ounce as uranium, as far as I'm concerned. Field Roast is up there in price as well, though you can find it at most grocery stores these days.

I'll outright say it---if you are vegan and enjoy food and like to cook, most of the time you can make better food at home than you would find eating out. This is not as true in Portland as in, say, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I'll give you that. But most stuff, be it cheeseless pizza or Chinese food, I can make at home better and cheaper and healthier than most vegan options dining out.

Which brings me to my drawn out point. Because stuff like Field Roast and some (especially imported) vegan cheeses are so expensive in the stores (or online, for folks who can't find it locally), a sandwich made with these components at a cafe like Backspace may actually be about the same price as if you bought all the components yourself and made it at home. Also, it's an opportunity to try said "substitute foods" without the large initial investment. Everyone says Teese is great; I have yet to try it. I'd like it if my first time was melted on a delicious, fresh Pearl Bakery roll with delicately-spiced lentil-based sausage served up with some fresh salad greens and a strong cup of coffee.

Is my Northwest envy showing? Is it possible to envy the place you consider home?

In case you were wondering, there is actually a Field Roast reuben out there. Which brings me to another notable establishment up North, this review courtesy of The Stranger (or, as we like to call it, Seattle's version of The Portland Mercury). The review sounds so delicious I almost want to quote it here, but I'll let you read it for yourself. Or just go check out Georgetown Liquor Company as soon as humanly possible.

Expect a part two to this post in a month or so when I hope to find myself back in the dear rainy climes, sinking my teeth into these very sandwiches.