After my aforementioned failures in the realm of vegan eateries in Bar Harbor I have found two places that I will certainly return to! The first of these is Café Bluefin on Cottage Street. Though they only have one vegan dish, it is solid enough that I’d consider returning many times. The name of this elegant (in the mathematical sense of the word) dish is simply “Tempeh or Tofu”. It is one of the two mentioned soy products baked with herbs and served with a nice relish and gravy on a bed of brown rice. The dish is accompanied by two sides of the season; in my case a double portion of curried mashed sweet potatoes because the slaw was not vegan (fuax mayo ain’t that hard to find!). I had the tempeh and unlike many baked tempeh dishes it was not too dry but yet not wet or ‘marinated’ in appearance. I know it sounds boring but even boring can be great when it is done this well (and when the alternatives are far less appealing!).
The next find is This ice cream shop on Firefly Lane. They don’t have any sort of vegan ice cream but they do have sorbets. Sorbet connoisseurs have been long limited to flavors like lemon, lime, or some other summery fruit. Here there are these familiar flavors, lemon, nectarine (it’s pretty good), blueberry, but in addition there are more unusual ones like ‘Chili Papaya’, ‘cucumber lime’, and my favorite ‘banana curry’. This is a good place if you like to pair up flavors. The two I put together were ‘cucumber lime’ and ‘banana curry’; the effect was like eating an Indian curry dish. I particularly liked the ‘banana curry’ because it had an almost umami flavor to it along with the salt and sweet. Since they change their flavors every once and awhile, I will be returning. Perhaps they will have the blueberry and basil flavor.
Or worthwhile vegan food for that matter! Before I get too far into the topic I just want to apologize for not posting about the tail end of my trip. Between family and fuel issues I just didn’t have enough time… Perhaps I’ll write about that stuff later. Anyway, the vegan food scene in Bar Harbor is odd; there are plenty of nice resources like A & B Naturals, the local natural food store, and plenty of tasty, local, and inherently vegan products but when it comes to getting a good restaurant meal I have had a frustrating time.
My first attempt was at an establishment called ‘Lompoc’. What I got ended up as some unbreaded fried tofu with a grainy nut-sweet pepper paste on top; below a small amount of roasted/fried potatoes and warmed dill pickles to hide the greasy vinegar pool gathering from the combined runoff of the food above. I liked the fried tofu but the rest I could have lived without. My second attempt was at ‘Tamarind’, a deli of sorts. I didn’t even get the ‘vegan’ food here ’cause the cheese on the sandwiches and pizza isn’t even vegan. When I asked the woman behind the counter about the brand they used, she pointed to a block of ‘Soy-Kass’ in the cooler. The stuff is basically as close as you can get to real cheese while still calling it ‘soy cheese’. Not vegan what-so-ever. When I told her that it isn’t vegan she feebly replied “I know, the owner won’t change it”. Wow, way to deceive people! The next eatery I attended is called ‘Maggie’s’. The soup, a tomato gazpacho, was amazing. The sweet and acid balanced really well and the textures were well matched. The main dish of stuffed squash fell short though. The sauce it was sitting in was this curry-coconut blend with corn kernels in it; it wasn’t bad at all. I would have actually liked more of it; it could have livened up the dish. The center piece was a bland, steamed zucchini-esque squash filled with unseasoned (salt and pepper anyone?) quinoa and I think chunks of vegan boca patties. It was like eating a pile-roast of below-average steamed veggies, no, wait, that’s what it was. It was ok, but for the price ($19) I wouldn’t eat it again. I can’t even find a nice salad… To sum up the vegan restaurnt experience so far: meh.
I’ve never really liked the town and after driving through the same 10 square blocks trying to figure out the upper and lower street system while dodging cabbies (and the putrid smells of this city) my dislike has grown somewhat. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing here; I can’t really stay in the hotel because it is about 50 feet wide (the whole hotel, not just our room). I’m sure I’ll come up with something.
Driving last night was almost this bad…
8 hours later update: I am still not really a fan of Chicago but I can see why some people like it.
Right now I’m in Fair Grounds Coffeehouse in Iowa City; I love this place!!! Since I’ll need biodiesel on the trip back I definitely stop here! I just had the vegan Monte Cristo and I was so good. I don’t know where to start when describing how amazing it is. My mother had the Arizona waffle which is a waffle (duh) with strawberries and corn inside it. I had a little bite; it was quite good. The coffeehouse also has good music and free wifi. If you are in Iowa City you MUST make your way to Fair Grounds Coffeehouse (especially if you are vegan or prefer to eat ethically).
So much better than ‘braska
Writing tires me
I’m not really in the mood for copious amounts of writing about the trip tonight, hence my poor man’s haiku (we had Japanese tonight). I’m really excited because Iowa City has a vegan bakery that serves breakfast and lunch. I’m really aiming for the breakfast because they have French toast and waffles (vegan of course) in exciting flavors like “dill potato”, “virgin bananas foster”, and my personal favorite “Monte Cristo”. The city is also home to its own brand of vegan cheese only sold at the local cooperative. Tomorrow will be a good day!
P.S. Nebraska isn’t too bad if you hang out in Lincoln; it is actually a cool town (and, unlike Denver, it has drugstores). I’d like to go back to peruse the record stores.
Yesterday’s (the 15th) leg of the trip was the longest and probably the most boring. All we saw was corn, cows, grass, corn, truck stops, corn, and more corn: not much to talk about. Thus to give this post some (corn-based) substance, I give you (Ehem, Artyflipy 🙂 ) photos (of corn) to experience the true.. er… flavor of Nebraska:
Click for more cor...er...photos
Gaaaaaaaaaaah!!! What is this Denver? Have you no drugstores with decent earplugs? I just put nearly 40 miles on the car looking for a drugstore. This town seems to only have Conoco stations (about one per block), bars, and Wendy’s restaurants. I saw more mobile barbecues than dedicated drugstores!!! Also, the person who designed the freeways here was/is awful. Who makes a on ramp that doesn’t have a corresponding off ramp or a freeway interchange that works only in one direction? It doesn’t help that most of the ramps give you only a short time to get on or off and if you don’t make it you get dumped off the freeway… Ugh!