As I mentioned in the previous post, I hopped a plane to Vegas, aka Sin City, aka Awesome City, where many great adventures were had and amazing food was consumed.
The story went as this – The parents of my drummer won a trip to Vegas but couldn’t use it, so they gifted it to him, and I got to tag along. Sweet deal, eh?
The morning of our departure started on a crazy-good foot…
What you see there is a whackload of delicious crepes, with some good French press coffee and green juice. Perfect pre-flight food!
We spent the better part of the day in airports and/or on planes, but luckily we managed to find plenty to eat along the way. At the Minneapolis airport there’s a restaurant called French Meadow Bakery which carries a few vegan items. There are two locations in the airport, a large one and small one, and we just found the small one, which carried a very respectable salad with tofu – good tofu! – and a house-made vegan chili. Not half bad for airport food!
The salad got bonus points for having some heft in the form of toasted sunflower seeds and marinated tofu, and more bonus points for the inclusion of shredded beets! The white balsamic vinaigrette was perfection – tangy and savoury.
More magical finds at the Minneapolis airport were a cute little carton of Silk soy milk, and dark chocolate peanut butter cups! I can’t remember the brand, either, because we devoured them so quickly. But I think with enough adventuring, vegans can find food and snacks at most airports.
By the time we arrived in Vegas it was already dark, and all I wanted to do was throw all my stuff in the hotel room and head out on the town for a meal. However, surprises were lurking around the corner when we inserted the card key into our hotel room to find that it was, uh, occupado. Is that a word? Probably not. An attractive lady who was half-dressed (with a loud, sparkly bra) was doing her hair in the room that was supposed to be ours. So naturally we got all awkward and then headed back to the desk, politely asking, “what the f-?” But we didn’t say that since we’re so polite and all.
Of course, sometimes it pays to walk into a room that’s already occupied – in our case, we were gifted with this as an apology:
A HUGE suite with a big Jacuzzi and everything. I’d totally walk in on half-naked people every time I go to a hotel for this kind of apology gift.
When we went back downstairs, there was a lady dancing on a stage in the lounge area, wearing nothing but some glitzy undergarments…the same lady we walked in on. It made a lot of sense, actually – she was very calm about strangers walking into her room while she was changing. I suppose she’s used to people seeing her wearing very little.
Ravenously hungry by this point, we wandered over to the New York New York hotel, which is what it sounds like – a giant hotel that looks like the New York city skyline. Contained within this ridiculous hotel (almost all of the hotels on the strip are lavish and ridiculous) was a restaurant I had read about beforehand called Chin Chin, an Asian-fusion restaurant that can sub tofu for any meat entree on the menu. Choices!
We started off the evening eats with steamed vegetable dumplings which came with a simple soy-based dipping sauce.
They were intensely delicious, and as I was inhaling them, all I could think about was how good all future Vegas food would continue to be.
And the feast! I had the vegetable lettuce cups, which is described in the menu as “Black mushrooms, bell peppers, water chestnuts, smoked tofu, pine nuts, and white crunchies served with four lettuce cups”. First of all, the “white crunchies” were noodles, and secondly, there was more than 4 lettuce cups – that’s like a half head of iceburg lettuce! There were at least 6. The flavor was fantastic (maybe a touch salty), but the real star of the meal was Mike’s tofu dish, which is worthy of a close-up:
He got the “orange chicken”, but with tofu instead, which was a wise decision – it was probably the most perfect tofu I’ve ever tasted. It was just the right balance of crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside – silken tofu at it’s finest. And the sauce! There was no radioactive globby orange sauce to be found here, happily. It was a dark sauce with a citrus touch and orange undertones. Brilliant.
After a night of wandering, boozing and then sleeping (traveling all day is tiring business!), we awoke late to a hot desert sun and decided to spend most of the afternoon indoors. Which was fine because there was some crazy mall action to be had. No place has malls like Vegas has malls, believe me. Especially malls with $800 shoes and $2000 coats.
We arrived at the Fashion Show Mall with one very specific purpose, however – food. It just happened to be a nice bonus that there were fun stores to meander through as well. Because contained within the Fashion Show Mall is the holy grail of awesome vegan food and desserts – The Red Velvet Cafe.
Like Chin Chin, most of the Cafe’s menu items can be veganized with vegan meat and/or cheese. And 99% of their desserts are vegan!
They had all kinds of beautiful cakes, and some cookies that I never tried because I was too enamoured by the cakes. But we’ll get to that. However, I did spend quite a bit of time staring through this glass and drooling.
For my entree, I decided on the Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable Tartin, described as “Whole Wheat Pita topped with Hummus, Grilled Eggplant, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Red Onions, Heirloom Tomatoes and Feta Cheese.” They subbed the feta for a Daiya-like concoction which they told me was not Daiya, but a cheese made specifically for their restaurant.
Mike got the Chipotle Turkey Avocado Wrap, because he could eat avocado on life itself (who couldn’t?). He got it with the vegan cheese and turkey and said that, though he’s no vegan meat connoisseur, it was one of the best he’d ever had both in flavor and texture. I tried some and had to agree – it was soft and not chewy, but still had some bite to it.
And dessert, of course. Could you really eat at the Red Velvet Cafe and not have a red velvet cake? I think not. Especially because the cake was incredibly moist and not too sweet, allowing the icing on top to take the sugary role. Both of us were enamoured by this cake, declaring that no one could think vegans eat sad food if they tried meals and desserts like this. A+.
After wandering the mall and having adventures, we decided to venture away from the strip for two very deliberate reasons – 1) vegan Indian food, and 2) rare beer. Luckily, finding Mint Indian Bistro was a breeze.
Rare beer! Mike’s beer, the EKU 28, was a warming beer that would be great in the winter for how strong it was – with an 11% alcohol content, it definitely had some kick! I also opted for a German beer, the Einbecher Ur-bock Dunkel, mainly because the description told me it was made according to the original recipe from 1378. It was great – really bitter and hoppy, but smooth.
For our meal, we decided to order a dinner for 2, which meant a couple appetizers, a large sampling of mains, and a dessert. For our first appetizer we got cracker-type things with delicious sauces – the green one being minty, and the brown one being quite sweet.
A kwati soup also showed up as an appetizer and it was hella tasty – the broth had a tomato-mushroom flavor which made it earthy and rich, and the soup had vegetables and lentils in it with just a little spice.
And then, the main course. There was so much awesome here I hardly knew what to do with myself. There was a dal, a masala, a chickpea and spinach dish, a coconut milk curry dish with veggies, a couple others that I’m forgetting, and some chapati and rice to go with it all. I’m fairly confident we spent the duration of the meal saying little else but “this is delicious”. Or maybe “I am so happy right now”.
They were out of their carrot pudding for dessert, which neither of us were too choked up about (though I’m sure it was good). Instead, they brought us an iced dessert that tasted like icy coconut milk with shredded coconut, some sort of sweetener, and cinnamon. It was actually quite good and made an excellent palate cleanser.
As a final picture of the evening, I’m drinkin’ the booze in a giant E at the Revolution bar. Yup, it’s a Beatles-themed bar at The Mirage, the same place where Love, the Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show is held. Which I may or may not have gone to. 🙂
But we’ll leave part 1 at that for now, and I’ll be back tomorrow with part 2. Toodles!