February 05, 2008

Traveling vegan (lots of eating-no cooking)

Since we were taking a four-day weekend to visit relatives in Florida and I couldn't do any cooking, I decided to document what a vegan might find to eat in Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the airports along the way. When we got to the Madison airport (where we could certainly find vegan food) we found our flight to Milwaukee had been cancelled, and we were to be bused to Milwaukee airport (MKE) in time to catch our flight to Ft. Lauderdale. As far as we knew, we'd be in Florida by 6 p.m. — in time for dinner.

When we got to MKE and went to our gate we saw that our flight was delayed. And delayed. And delayed. We also discovered that nearly all the food places and shops were on the other side of security. We'd brought some baked tofu slices and crackers with us as well as some nuts and Clif bars, but they were mainly supposed to be snacks and to tide us over until dinner. But, it became increasingly clear that we wouldn't be arriving at dinner time. If we didn't find some food, the snacks would be our lunch and dinner. We wanted something to take on the plane - assuming we would get on the plane. The only thing we could find in the gate area was a bottle of Dole smoothie and some under-ripe bananas. I passed them up. Even Starbucks, which usually has veggie wraps and salads in other airports, only had pastry.

With a sigh, we crossed back over the security line. We hung out for a while in the used book store (MKE actually has a good used book store with knowledgeable staff) and then set about searching for vegan vittles. Too bad for us. MKE is a meat-eatin' kind of place. The only thing I could find was a side dish of wild rice salad at a very crowded sit-down restaurant. Duh. And it had ingredients that I wouldn't really want to eat. We went back through security empty handed and bought the smoothie and banana. I had the smoothie, a banana and the Clif Bar for dinner. I can tell you that MKE is NOT vegan friendly. (The Detroit airport, on the other hand, has Japanese and Middle Eastern restaurants—but that's another story.) We finally landed in Ft. Lauderdale about 11 p.m. and went straight to our hotel and to sleep.

Our room package included breakfast and we went to the hotel restaurant the next morning quite starved.

The breakfast menu included a tofu scramble and it wasn't bad. It came with fresh squeezed oj, roasted potatoes, whole wheat toast and Tazo tea. Ate every bite. (The restaurant also had several vegan options for lunch and one for dinner but we didn't have time to try those.)

We spent the day with family, and that evening we all went out to a "Nouveau Thai" restaurant that was supposed to be fabulous and veg friendly. We ended up ordering an appetizer salad, a vegetable side dish and rice, because it was all we could find on the menu. And it actually took 1 1/2 hours before our table received food. Although I'm really not a big eater, I was still hungry. I wanted to photograph the extremely attractive food but it was too dark in the room. Each thing I had was tasty but small. And expensive.

The next morning at the hotel we opted for the stone-cut oatmeal with raisins, juice, toast and tea. I've never heard of stone-cut oats but it was delicious. (And it wasn't steel-cut oats. I know what that is.) It was huge and filling and we left feeling happy and healthy.




Early that afternoon my kind sister-in-law and brother served a large lunch with bagels and vegan cream cheese, mock chopped liver, eggplant salsa, and salad stuff for the vegans and fishy stuff for the non-vegans. Later in the day, when the Super Bowl came on, she put out a big tray of chips, veggies, hummus, tapenade and other stuff that we snacked on. They know how to treat their guests well! After stuffing myself and, not much into football, I went out for a while with my other sister-in-law and niece.

About 9 p.m., although not really very hungry, my husband and I decided to go to dinner at the renowned Ft.Lauderdale vegan restaurant, Sublime. I have mixed feelings about this restaurant but, on the other hand, it's such a relief to go to a restaurant where everything is vegan. I think they try too hard to make the food seem like it's not vegan rather than try to make delicious food from vegan ingredients. There are lots of meat substitutes and not enough creatively used vegetables. The manager once bragged to me that most of the people who eat there are not vegetarian. Maybe they have to take this direction to survive—and I hope they continue to find success.

That said, there are a couple of things I really like, even though I think they are too fattening. There's frito misto which is crispy, crusted, fried-I-guess cauliflower with sweet and sour sauce. It's so addictive. And I also like the portobella steak with spicy tomato confiture, whipped mashed potatoes and garlic spinach. It also comes with three, huge french-fried onion rings which I try to only eat one of (photo at top of post).  My husband got a cup of quinoa soup which was delicious, and a salad. The desserts are yummy but we couldn't possibly eat any more food so we declined.

We opted for the oatmeal again the next morning and set off for another unexpectedly long day of travel and food deprivation, but at least we'd been more than well-fed over the weekend.

2 comments:

  1. My husband and I are going on a cruise out of FT. Lauderdale in Sept and I was thinking about going to Sublime- would you recommend it? and is the food on the heavier side? I think we'd rather go light if it is and then I will have to think of somewhere else to go

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  2. I have always had mixed feelings about Sublime because they try so hard to be a vegan restaurant that will "fool" non-vegans. They do a lot with fake meats and heavier dishes. On the other hand, you can choose things like spring rolls and edamame. I just looked at their menu and it looks like they've changed it a lot since I was there last. I saw they even have a raw dish. The one thing I always get (even though it's probably not healthy) is the frito misto apetizer. Yum. And I used to love the porto bella entree. It's a really nice atmosphere and the desserts are great. A little expensive. Yes, you should go there. And let me know what you think. Have a great time on the cruise!

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