Someone out there must have decided that to be vegan, or to eat a plant based diet, must mean you have no taste buds. Most restaurants don't even touch 'vegan' food, because "who would buy that??? We need to make money!" The fact of the matter is, food has become more flavorful, more satisfying, more everything since taking on a plant based diet. Instead of looking at dinner prep as a meat, side of vegetables, salad, and maybe a bread, you look at what vegetables, grains/seeds/nuts, beans, legumes would pair nicely together and how to prepare them to bring out the medley of flavors. Should coconut oil, olive oil, canola oil be used? Maybe a balsamic reduction or vinaigrette? Fresh pressed garlic, or grated ginger anyone? Flavor has definitely taken more of a shining role on the dinner plate since nixing the meat. So why again are vegan meals a rare breed once you've left your abode? Why are there burger joints on every corner, but not one offers a quiona, black bean, or millet pattie?
As I mulled this over the other night, I flipped through some blogs I love and landed squarely in salivation station with this, this, and this post from the Vegan Project [have you heard of these girls? They're from Vancouver, and their blog is lively and fun to read - and full of great recipes if you're looking for new ones!] Through the three posts the lovely ladies over at the Vegan Project take you through a culinary journey at the Wynn and Encore hotels in Las Vegas, NV. The menus read like poetry, and the pictures are divine. While some of the dishes use vegan 'meats' many are strictly plant based, with embellishments like cashew cream, micro basil, and balsamic reduction. Be.Still.My.Heart. I laid awake in bed after this [never read tantalising menus after 9:30pm while waiting for your husband to come home. Especially when getting the food on said menus is out of the question] thinking of how and when I could get myself to Las Vegas long after my husband arrived home, climbed into bed and promptly fell asleep. I of course told him about all the amazing food offerings at the Wynn and Encore before he passed out, which he thought was a bizarre fixation for 10pm. Once his breathing settled into snores [yep, my hottie husband snores] I slipped silently out of bed and downstairs to eat [whats a girl to do when a menu makes her salivate so much shes starving??] and took my phone so I could text with my Mom and figure out how we could create these dishes ourselves, or better yet, how we could escape on a culinary vacation! My Mom being the kind and understanding woman that she is [shes eaten out with me enough to see the dejected look on my face when I realise that said restaurant only offers a iceberg lettuce littered green salad that satisfies my plant based ways; seriously guys, I eat more than salad! And I like dark leafy greens!!!] agreed to help me recreate these dishes, which is a great thing as she's attended culinary school, cooked her way through raising seven children, and has an eye for stellar food ingredients and flavor pairings. When we come up with some knock off recipes I'll be sure and share, but in the mean time, check out the menu choices and drool away![for pictures, check out the blog posts mentioned above, or head over to this page on the Wynn's website for a sampling.]
If anyone feels so inclined to send me to the Wynn or Encore for my full in person analysis of the gorgeous vegan fare offered at their restaurants, please do :) I am critical, with an eye for detail, and my feedback may well improve the offerings at all seven restaurants, so really it would be a favour to all vegans and non-vegans alike. Maybe vegan fare would catch on and become as mainstream as McDonald's! If it tasted as good as the food at the Wynn and Encore restaurants, instead of the sawdust that I've been served to date, I think anyone would try it. Wouldn't that be a wonderful[creulty free] world?