Captain’s Log: Day 5

800 hours: Returned to the Peace Tree Juice Cafe to get a smoothie for breakfast.  The Desert Nectar smoothie, made of bananas, strawberries, soy milk, and ginger, was extremely refreshing, and a pleasant shade of pink.

1200 hours: Subway again.  Granted, we are driving through canyons with only tumbleweeds for company, so I suppose finding a Subway is pretty good.  I perked up at discovering some new Oreo products– Oreo creme cookies– which are basically Oreos covered in a light layer of fudgy goodness.  I got the peanut butter ones, which tasted pretty much exactly like Girl Scour Tagalong cookies– except deliciously vegan– and my mom tried the plain ones.

1600 hours: I had the good fortune of being able to meet up with one of my school friends in Salt Lake, where he lives.  And, because I am a dog pimp, I made him meet us at a dog park and bring his mini Australian shepherd, Mia, for a play date with Ianto.  Adorable antics ensued.  At first, like the Beauty and the Beast, they were unsure of each other; but then there was something there that wasn’t there before; and finally they were in puppy love.  It was good for Ianto to get some exercise after being cooped up in a car and hotel rooms for the past few days.

But, watching all that running and puppy energy made me tired and hungry.  Time to get some food we decided.

1900 hours: Gravy.  What a great invention.  Thank you to whoever invented gravy.  And an even greater thank you to whoever made the great vegan gravy I just consumed.

VegNews recently named Salt Lake City, Utah as one of the great up and coming centers of vegan food, so I had high hopes for the Vertical Diner.  I was not disappointed; in fact, I was ready to start searching real estate listings for an apartment nearby.

I sit here, my insides coated in gravy, and I couldn’t be happier.  While we waited for our food to be ready to go– we had to take it back to the room since my mom couldn’t come with us because the hotel had a ‘no pets left alone in the room’ policy–we slurped down a chocolate mint shake.  It was almost gone by the time our food was ready to go, and we seriously considered getting another one, it was that good.  It tasted like what I imagine a bunch of Thin Mint cookies taste like after having been eaten by a unicorn and stewed for fourteen hours in its creamy digestive juices; basically, it was magical.  Here’s my brother giving it the thumbs up, and actually smiling for a picture– so you know it’s gotta be good.

As if the shake and the gravy weren’t enough, the Vertical Diner is also known for its faux chicken (according to PETA), and so I enjoyed my gravy with a side of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  My parents joked, how do you know it’s not real chicken?  But I could tell.  It was dense, probably made with some vital wheat gluten or something, and had the same flavor as a Boca chik’n patty.  But, it was slathered in gravy, so it was better :)

My mom had the Jamaican plate, my dad enjoyed the chicken biscuit pie, and my brother gobbled down the breakfast sandwich.  They all approved heartily of their meals.  Somehow we still had room for the delicious spicy fries.

I’d like to take a moment here and give a special thank you to my family for being so supportive and open to eating vegan food.  As my mom said this afternoon, as if it had just occurred to her, “You know?  We could be really shitty about this, and say, we don’t care if you’re vegan, we’re going to KFC!”

But they are not shitty, far from it.  My mom planned our whole route, and went out of her way to make sure there would be places where two omnivores, one vegetarian, one vegan,  and a dog, could all get a good meal.  If that isn’t love I don’t know what is.

In the musical Rent, the opening song asks, “How do you measure the life of a man?”

Well, now I know how to measure my life: by the amount of puppies in it, and the amount of good food; so today was really really good :)

 

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Captain’s Log: Day 4

800 hours:  I eagerly skipped into the Los Alamos Co-op, confident that I would find more deliciousness awaiting me.  After stocking up on food, by which I mean, I put things in my dad’s basket for him to buy, I went outside to sit with my mom while he checked out.  She and Ianto were sitting at the lovely little outside patio, and I excitedly told her about today’s selection of treats.  “Today the ‘deli vegan baked item’ is a blueberry fruit bar, and there’s also pumpkin walnut spelt bread made with coconut milk! Doesn’t that sound delicious?!”

She smiled at me and asked, “So which one did you get?”

I looked at her with a quizzical expression, “Uh…both….duh.”  As if that were even a question.  Pshh.

I would have also gotten another peach cobbler, as there were plenty left over from yesterday, but I wanted to try the new things.  I was surprised that there were cobblers left; it was so good, who could resist it?  Maybe  people in New Mexico aren’t particularly fond of peach cobbler?  However, there is also the possibility that the word “vegan” scares people.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably know that vegan food can be just as delicious as “real” or “normal” food.  In fact, in my experience, vegan food has a higher probability of being utterly delicious simply because vegans try to combat the notion that “vegan” means icky rabbit food.  It is my hope, that people like myself, who enjoy eating and making yummy food, will help to change people’s minds with our food activism, as well as our loud, persistent voices spread across paper and the internet.  I hope to explore this topic in a future post, when my brain isn’t mushy from traveling all day.

So, back to food.

My vegan breakfast burrito from the Co-op was good, but not great.  The potatoes and peppers gave it a lot of flavor, but I was disappointed when the tofu wasn’t scrambled, but simply plain.  A little seasoning like cumin, salt and pepper, and maybe some nutritional yeast can make plain ol’ tofu mouthwatering, as anyone who has made the Post Punk Kitchen’s recipe will know.

1200 hours: We stocked up on things for lunch at the Los Alamos Co-op, and so we were able to stop in beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado for a picnic in the park.  I stuffed myself with an Asian noodle dish in the sunshine, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and trying to ignore the frat boys in inner-tubes floating down the river.  I sampled the blueberry fruit bar from the Co-op and found it to contain about fifty percent brown sugar; which means it was delicious.

My mom had some apple ginger juice that she got from the Co-op.  And because Ianto is her favorite child, she shared a little bit with him.  Just thought I’d let everyone know that this juice is corgi approved.

1400 hours: Okay, I know it’s an evil corporate chain, but thank goodness for Starbucks, because you can always count on it to have soy milk.  I know, most cafes have soy milk nowadays, but when you’re traveling through small towns, it’s nice to be certain that there’s one place you an always count on to make you a decent soy latte, and you don’t have to go searching for it.  I can’t help it, I really like coffee.  I blame my addiction on my white people-ness and my time spent in close proximity to Seattle.

Anyway, we’ve finally crossed into Utah after cutting across a tiny corner of Colorado.  My mom and I immediately began listening to the soundtrack to The Book of Mormon the musical.  If you haven’t heard the Book of Mormon soundtrack, you really should; it’s hilarious, catchy, written by the creators of South Park, and it won all the Tonys last year.  So you really have no excuse.

1800 hours:  Cumin in hummus?  Yes, puleez.

The Peace Tree Juice Cafe has locations in Moab, Utah, as well as in Monticello where we are spending the night.  The Peace Tree in Monticello is located conveniently across the street from our hotel, meaning that we didn’t have to drive anywhere– which you really appreciate when you’ve been driving all day.

The only vegan things on the menu were the hummus plate, which came with carrots, celery, and pita pieces, and the wild rice with grilled vegetables.  The hummus had a lot of cumin in it, which I enjoyed, but it definitely had a totally different flavor than the regular hummus; so don’t order it if you’re are craving regular hummus.  The grilled veggies and rice was delicious, and quite colorful if I do say so.

My brother had the ravioli, which was the other vegetarian option, while my parents both had meat.  They said it was all delicious and amazing, which I suppose is the best you can hope for really– that at least if people are going to cook with animal products– that it taste really good and be worth it.

The waitress told us that it was only their third night serving dinner– they previously only served breakfast and lunch– which surprised me because the food was so good.  I looked at their breakfast menu and was intrigued by their smoothies.  A smoothie sure would beat eating bad oatmeal and cut up fruit at the hotel for breakfast.  Tomorrow is looking just a little bit brighter!