I was able to get a sneak peek of the Sofritas last week when I stopped by the Belle Meade location. As with all of Chipotle’s “proteins,” you can get the Sofritas in a burrito, taco, burrito bowl or salad. It can also be combined with other proteins (the half chicken/half Sofritas is very popular) and other ingredients, including white or brown cilantro-lime rice, pinto beans or (vegetarian) black beans, salsas, guacamole, cheese and sour cream. I got a burrito salad bowl (essentially, a salad that also has rice) as well as a burrito to get two different taste and texture experiences.
First, the taste; the Sofritas have an excellent flavor and the poblanos and chipotles give it a bit of a kick. You can really taste the smoky flavor, even when doused with the honey vinaigrette dressing. The tofu was more apparent in the burrito and had a texture close to a turkey chili, according to Chipotle’s local marketing person, Mark Pilkington. If you think you don’t like tofu, you should note that it’s so finely shredded, you won’t even realize you’re eating it. In California, Sofritas meals are just as popular among omnivores as vegans.
I stepped it up on Day 2, trying a three-day meal plan from newly launched local biz Reboot Health & Wellness, which offers raw, gluten-free and vegan meals for pickup or delivery. Normally, I’ll drink a cup of coffee pretty much anytime there's a fresh pot in the Scene break room, so I cut way back on my coffee intake. I completely eliminated alcohol, which ended up being pretty easy, partially because none of my co-workers are making alcohol in the break room. (At least, I don’t think they are. If the are, and they’re not telling me, they’re asshats.)
2834 Azalea Place
Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Vegetarian VEA Supper Club
This Saturday, Vivek Surti’s popular pop-up, VEA Supper Club, will feature guest chef Lata Surti, Vivek’s mother. The menu will consist of vegetarian Indian specialties. Even if you are an omnivore, you don't want to miss this opportunity to have authentic, homemade-quality Indian food.
Ryan Moses of Drink Music City will once again be on hand for optional drink pairings as well. I’ll be there, and if you want to join as well, you should act fast; last I checked, only
six four tickets were still available.
VEA Supper Club
Saturday, April 20, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Nashville Farmers’ Market
900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
The Front Vegan Cookie Delivery
There was a lot of excitement a while back when word got out about Jake’s Bakes, the cookie delivery service. Now — just in time for college finals — a new business is giving vegans an option for late-night cookie fixes, as well. The Front started delivery service this week with a selection of vegan cookies that sound delicious. Deliveries are made via bicycle, so the delivery area is limited for now, but the service will accept orders up until 3 a.m. and will even accept orders to pick up (non-age-restrictive) convenience items on the way. Check their website for flavors and ordering information.
Celebrate Thy Vegetable at The Wild Cow
Celebrate Thy Vegetable, the gourmet vegan pop-up restaurant, will be making its second appearance April 30 at The Wild Cow. This time around, Dan Forberg will be featuring the cuisines of Mexico and Africa in five courses, each with a wine pairing. Check out the Facebook event page for more information.
Celebrate Thy Vegetable
April 30, 6 p.m.
The Wild Cow
1896 Eastland Ave.
So when I present you with "The 30-Day Vegan Challenge," I'll make no promises that this is something I think I'll take on personally. But since there might be some Bitesters out there that might be interested, here's the info on decarnivorificaton.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is a speaker and the author of The Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table, Color Me Vegan and Vegan’s Daily Companion. She promotes the vegan lifestyle and encourages others to follow her in her pursuit of a new diet and philosophy.
Her program is a series of daily emails, newsletters and videos designed to encourage and educate and to help new vegans stay on track as they develop a new regimen of eating and living. She provides recipes to help with shopping and cooking and answers common questions addressing topics ranging from nutrition (“Where do I get my protein?”) and food (“I can’t live without cheese!”) to the practical (“I don’t have time to cook!”) and social aspects (“My job requires me to eat out a lot.”)
For those of you who are unfamiliar, My Veggie Chef is a service run by Kristie Rigdon that delivers vegan “meal kits”—storage bags stuffed with all the prepared ingredients you need to make a meal (or, in some cases, a main dish). The standard order is $80 (plus tax), and you get five separate recently frozen meal kits (serving two to three people) that include all the components of the entrée — already chopped, measured and prepped to cook at home. It also includes serving size and nutritional information. All you have to do is put it in a skillet or pot, and in anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes (soups take longer to cook), you have a meal.
There are some things you should be aware of before ordering. First and foremost, don’t expect that these meals are just ready to pop in the microwave and serve. Though you don’t have to do any of the shopping and prep work, you will have at least one pan or pot to clean (and probably more if you make side dishes). And the cost per meal isn’t super cheap (though cheaper than eating similar-quality food in a restaurant).
One of the nicest things you can do is leave the dead bird in the kitchen and just have a plate of meat on the table. Also, leave the gelatin out of your cranberry sauce and the marshmallows off the sweet potato casserole. Flavor your green beans with Liquid Smoke instead of ham. Use cream of mushroom/broccoli/asparagus for your casseroles and dressing/stuffing instead of cream of chicken. You won’t miss the chicken; I promise.
If you’re wanting to go a step further, a Tofurky is nice, but isn’t necessary. I actually like the Tofurky roast, but I’m just as happy with macaroni-and-cheese as my entrée. I’m not a vegan, though (I eat dairy, eggs, and honey, so I'm just a standard vegetarian). If you want a nice entrée that’s vegan, I humbly recommend this pumpkin risotto. At the end of that post, I also include links to a variety of other veg*n options for entrees and side dishes. But if you just really want your vegan friend to have a turkey of some sort on their plate, there’s always the option to make a turkey from fruit. That's pretty darn cute.
All that said, you don’t really have to do anything special. We’ll be fine, really. However, a little effort may preclude any mention of PETA and the recent allegations of cruelty at Butterball turkey farms. I’m just sayin’.
Y'see, the "vegetarian" Marathon burger had (until this week) been made with Burger Up's house-made ketchup, which contains Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire sauce contains anchovy paste. So the burger was neither vegetarian nor vegan. Nor was the ketchup.
In the thread, another local chef indicated some confusion about what's vegetarian as well, suggesting that diners hand a list of verboten ingredients to servers to take to the kitchen before the meal is prepared. I don't think that's necessary since it really is pretty simple.
(And thanks to the management and kitchen at Burger Up for addressing our concerns so quickly and efficiently. Their Twitter timeline indicates they've already purchased vegan Worcestershire sauce! And clarifying the ingredients of the burger and the ketchup is a service not just to veg*ns, but to gluten-free and kosher customers and those with seafood allergies as well.)
So, for the record, here are some good definitions of vegetarian and vegan (with regard to diet):
But I suppose comfort food is defined by everyone differently, which is why next week’s classes at The Turnip Truck piqued my curiosity. On Thursday, Sept. 13, at 6 p.m. and again on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 10 a.m., The Turnip Truck Urban Fare (located at 321 12th Ave. S. in the Gulch) will host classes in vegetarian comfort food. But this isn’t necessarily your family's menu. But that doesn't mean these foods won't make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Check out the list of dishes that are likely be featured in the classes:
...sweet potato gnocchi with herbed brown butter; fall spiced pumpkin soup with micro greens and toasted pumpkin seeds (vegan); macaroni and cheese, made with feta, parmigiano reggiano and a crunchy zucchini topping; spicy butternut squash risotto (vegan); cauliflower coconut curry (vegan); fall flatbread with apple, thyme, caramelized onion, gorgonzola, and arugula (gluten-free); tortellini soup with kale, white beans, and vegetables; vegan cheesecake with gluten-free crust; and pear ginger sorbet.
Wow. Certainly, in a couple of hours, they’re not going to get to everything, but I would love to taste — I mean, learn to make — any of those items. And the classes are free! Not just free, but you get a 10 percent discount to shop in the store after the class and a $5 gift card to use on your next visit (as they do with every class). All you have to do is register for the class in advance (email kathryn [at] theturniptruck.com). But hurry; these classes are likely to fill up fast.
Tuesday's buffet will have an Indian theme and a portion of the proceeds will benefit a division of Good Food for Good People. As you might expect, the food is appropriate for vegans and vegetarians, but a look at the menu certainly suggests that even a die-hard omnivore will enjoy the meal. I've never had curried mango quinoa or chickpea ginger stew, but I'm certainly intrigued!
The BE Hive can also be found at the East Nashville Farmers Market selling prepared foods, but double-check their Facebook page or Twitter feed before you head over jonesing for a chipotle seitan hoagie.
There's nothing I really miss (a question I get frequently), but it can cause problems when dining out. As I mentioned in a Twitter discussion earlier this week, the problems arise from cooks and chefs who think vegetarian just means that I don't eat meat, rather than I don't eat foods derived from animal flesh. Many cultures and religious groups don't consider fish as "meat" nor do they think fish, chicken or beef stocks are a problem. They are for me.
Okay, so it can be a problem when going out on dates. But I never felt like my diet was a problem for dating. But yet another Twitter friend linked to this article on the Time website: Survey: 30% of Meat Eaters Won’t Date a Vegetarian.
What? Really? I have to admit that I looked for another vegetarian to date when I was still on the market, but it was nearly impossible to find one who met all of my other criteria (including being at least 30 years old). The article goes on to suggest that the aversion to vegetarians is likely caused by the perception that vegetarians are "picky" (noted to be a negative by 66 percent of respondents). Yet it also says that only 4 percent of vegetarians won't date meat-eaters. Who're the picky ones now, huh? HUH?
But further into the piece, there's this:
“Men used to bring home the meat, they were the hunters. If you came in carrying a potato versus a hunk of gazelle, it made a difference. All gifts are not alike.”
I see the point, but I have to say, I'm going to choose the person who brings home the black truffle versus the McDonald's cheeseburger. We're no longer in the midst of an ice age nor are we on the Serengeti; we don't have to rely on our hunting skills to eat whatever is dumber and slower than we are. And I'm not picky. I'm choosy. In a good way.
P.S. — Caveman is a great movie. Don't even bother trying to tell me it isn't.
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