Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dining with Delta, Candy Craziness, Donut Mania, & Testing for Terry Hope Romero!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

While dining in Europe was a dream, there are these little things called plane rides you have to take to get to your destination. In the 2 weeks I traveled, I was on 10 airplanes, which meant I was at the mercy of airplane food more than a few times. Of course, I pack my own snacks, as I know it's unlikely I'll be satisfied or even properly fed while in the air, but I thought you might like to see some of the food given to me. I flew Delta Airlines for all of the following meals & requested the "VGML" or Vegetarian, Non-Dairy meal.

Vegan airplane dinners seem to be pretty standard across the board; a grain of some sort, vegetables in some unidentifiable sauce, an iceberg lettuce salad, & a bread roll. Often you'll be given a "non-dairy margarine" on the side, which has never been vegan in the history of my flights. Delta did a fine job with dinner food, I appreciated the fruit salad one night, & the beans in my entree the next, but they failed when it came to breakfast. Special dietary meals are brought out before the others, so I was handed my breakfast of a pre-packaged croissant with non-vegan margarine, high fructose corn syrup jelly, an unripe banana & juice from concentrate before everyone else. I inquired about the non-dairy status of the croissant & the attendant said it should be vegan, to which I responded, "butter?" & the attendant revoked it's non-dairy status. The rest of the airplane was served the exact same meal & despite mine being labeled VGML, it was very obviously not. The next disappointment came in the form of a sandwich. I unwrapped the plastic wrapped torpedo only to find a thick layer of what could have been butter or "non-dairy margarine" with only tomato & limp lettuce. Vegan or not, no thank you!

So, why am I complaining about this when all airplane food tends to be bad? It's important that airlines know that when they mark something non-dairy, they are expected to provide something suitable for not only vegans, but people with allergies, people with religious affiliations, & others refraining from it. I make sure to write a letter to each & every airline that gives me something in a VGML meal that is not vegetarian non-dairy. I'm diligent enough to check the labels of food they give me, but how many people have trusted them & had milk solids in their salad dressing? What if someone was to get sick? I encourage everyone who runs across similar issues to contact the company, as it benefits everyone.

On a lighter note, Delta's in-flight snack is the best ever! They serve Biscoff cookies, aka Speculoos Caramelized Biscuits. I first found these biscuits in a market in Prague, then the mania swept the PPK & the Speculoos spread was discovered. I can confirm that the spread is crazy good, as a generous friend sent me some it's difficult not to sit & eat it with a spoon. I love these biscuits & I had no problem collecting the un-eaten ones from my fellow flight goers to savor throughout the journey!

I'm sure I've mentioned in my many posts about Europe that I love shopping for food! I went in vegan shops, bio markets, & everything in between in search of exciting treats & boy, was I successful! The photo you see is all the sweets I purchased over the two weeks & brought home. I gave some of it away, but for the most part, we've been eating it & most of it is gone! While Ryan's happily chowing down on gummy cola bottles, for me the highlights include Peppermint Ritter Sport (which are no longer vegan, watch out for butterfat!), Lemon Cream Manner bars, Gelee Bananen, Maple filled Stroopwafel & my absolute favorite, Sonnina Pfefferminz Taler! Seriously, if anyone can find the Sonnina brand, I NEED more of these York Peppermint Patty replicas & will make it worth your while!

Donut Mania is here! Have you noticed? Maybe you've caught the fever as well? It seems Donuts are the new Cupcakes & everywhere you turn a vegan donut company is popping up. I am certainly not one to complain about this trend, as I spent many days sitting on 50lb bags of flour in the back of a donut shop as a child. I've been lucky enough to try most of the options out there, but two remain my top contenders & I just happened to have both of them hand delivered to me in the past few weeks. As I stepped off the plane from Europe, Ryan was coming home from Las Vegas, home of Ronald's Donuts, aka the best vegan donuts on earth. Needless to say, he brought back a dozen of these perfectly raised, doughy gems & I was thrilled. It's hard to say which is my favorite, I do love a basic glazed, or a cinnamon bun, but the apple fritter is pretty stellar as well. These are certainly not health food, they're the corner shop Sunday morning donuts you remember from your childhood!

On the healthier side of donuts are my favorite cake donuts by Mighty O Donuts in Seattle. Once again, a business trip brought Ryan home with an assortment of donuts & there were no complaints here! Everything from French Toast to Nutty Chocolate to Cinnamon Sugar was at my fingertips, but my favorite is the good old Vanilla Cake Glazed, simple & delicious. Not only are these tasty morsels all vegan, they're organic too! If you're in Seattle, don't miss a stop in to their shop or if you have a friend visiting, do as I did & demand some donuts!

Despite all the sugary foods, I have been cooking as well. Shocker, right?! I'm a tester for a few cookbooks right now, which is always fun & keeps me from making the same 5 dishes over & over. Terry Hope Romero of Veganomicon & Vegan Cupcake Take Over the World fame is writing a Vegan Latina cookbook & it's already knocking my socks off! The most recent dish I made was the Chipotle Seitan & Potato Tacos. Terry's homemade seitan is marinated in a beer, lime, chipotle mixture, then grilled & piled in to soft corn tortillas with Roasted Potatoes, crunchy veggies, & topped with a Lime Yogurt Crema! I'm not a drinker, but the flavors of everything played so well together, I didn't even notice the beer. Ryan flipped for these! By the way, Terry & Isa have a new book coming out called Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, have you ordered it yet?

Next week, I'm headed out to Chicago to hang with my favorite Baker & Destroyer, plus partake in potluck & Dandies eating with the folks at Chicago Soy Dairy. Any recommendations on things I shouldn't miss are always welcome! I know new businesses have popped up since my last visit, so here's what I saw last time; Part 1 / Part 2. As always, if you're in the area & you want to meet up, just get in touch!


Amey said...

oh my goodness, what a cool post. I have to say, Vegan Latina really has my attention. I am definitely looking forward to that book.

But most of all I am *mesmerized* by that photo of your euro treats! look at all those ritter sports! And I didn't even KNOW there was a peppermint patty item out there in the world. Sigh, my former favorite candy bar...

I have a special fascination with airline food, so I love those pictures. It's so very true about the margarine. sad, but true. Truly, nothing will ever be worse than Air China. It was so bad.


Jo Stockton said...

I am waiting for the vegan donut revolution to creep north into Canada!

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

I think the flight attendant would have had to physically restrain me if I received that sandwich. There is nothing appetizing about it.

And I am way jealous of your sweets stash.

Anonymous said...

I gained five pounds reading this post.

Staci said...

Hi there! I found your blog via a tweet from Chicago Soy Dairy. I thought I'd offer up some Chicago vegan suggestions for you. I know you already visited Pick Me Up Cafe, but I must insist that you try the vegan french toast. Seriously, it is wonderful and can feed 2 people. I can never pass up breakfast for dinner.

Also, if you'd like to try Chicago-style pizza, you can go to Chicago's Pizza (multiple locations); the crust and sauce are dairy-free, so we order cheese-less pizza from them all the time.

If you're into Thai food, Dharma Garden in Irving Park is vegan or if you want Indian, Arya Bhavan is all-vegetarian and almost anything on the menu can be made vegan on request. There are two really good Ethiopian places, Ras Dashen and Ethiopian Diamond, up north. And my 'hood (Albany Park) has a couple places with some vegan dishes. I've eaten at Noon O Kabob, a Peruvian place, twice and was very pleased. There's a Lebanese place called Semiramis that has a more limited selection but I can't vouch for it because I haven't eaten there yet. However, if you want the best (and cheapest) falafel in the city, head to Sultan's Market in Wicker Park.

I think you already hit all my other favorites.

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

you offer such great vegan travel advice! I can't wait to hear what you have to share from Chicago. Have a great trip.

Anonymous said...

So Jealous!!! I can't wait for Terry's book too

quarrygirl said...

wait a minute, did i hear GUMMY COKE BOTTLES?! damn, those used to be my favorite! i'd die for a vegan version.

what a fucking let-down about your airplane food!!! AS YOU VERY WELL KNOW, we get kinda crazy when stuff is advertised as vegan and it isn't...so this delta thing is pretty disheartening. i recently went on a british airways trip, and got the "pure vegetarian meal," which means "vegan." i checked everything, and it all seemed safe, but now i am worried. :( at least most of the stuff actually said "vegan" on it in printed packaging...but then what if the company is lying?! uggghghgh.

ronald's donuts and mighty-o FTW! i gotta say though, mighty-o are my all time favorite. ronalds are good and all, but their frosting doesn't come close.

Marijke said...

Hey hey hey,

Amey just wrote my very first thought: oh my goodness, what a cool post.
Really, I need some vegan donuts and these new cookbooks. Why the hell are all the good ones in english? I should start to transalte them...
Are these peppermint cookies the one I gave to you? If so, I'll try to bring you some ;)
And these airplanes ARE irresponsible. But the best thing ever happened to me was, when they totally forgot to bring ANY food for me on the plane during an 8 hrs flight, but then offered me the surprisingly vegan and deliscious first class food! Woohooo!

DJ said...

Those Ronald's donuts look so goood! And it's a good point about writing to the airline. How else will they know they're making an arse of things? Enjoy the Windy City!

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

All that euro stuff.. the donuts..everything but the airline food looks just amazing. But the truth is I *need* that taco. Terry's stuff is always incredible.

Anonymous said...

I rarely ate doughnuts as an omni, but I think I would still be super excited if I found a vegan doughnut company here.

Your airplane food experience irritates me. If airlines aren't going to try to accomodate vegans by giving them actual vegan food then they shouldn't pretend that they are. Everyone knows croissants have butter in them!

Leigh said...

I love Biscoff cookies so much! I recently flew Delta, and had a few daydreams involving Biscoff milkshakes and Biscoff cheesecakes.

veganfoodism said...

awesome post! as usual! :)
wow, that airplane sandwich looks like my worst nightmare!

looking forward to the books. speaking of books: somebody give this urban housewife a book deal for a vegan travel guide already!!!

chow vegan said...

Whenever I travel, I always bring a snack just in case. But that's great you're following up with the airlines on the whole vegetarian non-dairy issue.

I want to try those vegan donuts sometime! and the chipotle seitan and potato tacos look awesome! :-)

Anonymous said...

I still need to try those cookies! And all those donuts are making me drool!!! I can't wait to get back to Seattle for some mighty o's!

I'm actually driving through Chicago on my way back to Seattle. We want to stop at Chicago Diner. Is Chicago Soy Dairy also a place where you can go and eat?

Staci said...

Legallyvegan, unfortunately Chicago Soy Dairy doesn't have a restaurant like Follow Your Heart does. But you can get a shake made with their Temptation ice cream at The Chicago Diner!

Hannah said...

Same thing happens to me every time I fly... Such a pain, I wish they could care enough to at least get it right.

But on a happier note, wow, check out those donuts! Amazing stuff you've found on this trip...

Sarah said...

I'm from Chicago and have yet been able to go to all the delicious vegan restaurants, there are just sooo many!

Yummy Yummy Asian Cuisine, it is just a few blocks south of The Chicago Diner and they have the best vegan chinese take-out. Veggie Bite is a star for greasy fast food style food, I cannot get enough of their Chili Cheese Fries. Amitabul is delicious vegan korean food and the menu names are brilliant. I agree with Staci, you HAVE to go to Sultan's It isn't even an option.

Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day said...

I have never had a vegan donut!

Those tacos look amazing

Sal said...

I haven't been on any long-haul flights since going vegan but when I was veg it was hard enough. The food is usually abysmal on flights whether you have a special diet or not but damn, that sandwich is unforgivable!!

When I went to cyprus last year it was only 4 hrs but they had NO vegan snacks available and one guy did ask them and they offered to do him some plain spaghettie with ketchup! BLERGH!!

You've made me want a donut - i wish a vegan donut place would spring up in the UK. Actually no i don't, I'd be the size of a house in a month!

EB said...

I used to fly every single week for work and I learned to just stop asking for the 'veg' meal and ask for fruit plates only. Best ever. That plus a bag of nuts or whatever other snack I brought usually did the trick.

I can't wait to hear about the cookbook taste-tests!

Anonymous said...

I discovered the joy of Biscoff biscuits on my trip to NY in January - those things were kick-ass! I have got to get my hands on some of that spread...

nora said...

hey melisser!

i suppose i coulda guessed that that giant cupcake pan wouldn't have the most even heat distribution...still, does it work okay if you bake the top & bottom seperately? or is it still iffy? also, how's the muffin top man? that's the one i espcially want to buy b/c i feel like i'd use it often as opposed to only for novelty occasions like some of those other things.

vegan airline food. blehhh. i hate the non-veg margarine problem. did you get any indian food? i feel like whenever i order the "hindu" meal, which is supposed to be dairy-free, i get white rice with some kinda curry stew. it's okay i guess.

also, have you ever been to greece? i'm going for two wks with my family on the 16th, and i'm a little worried. i'm hoping there will just be lots of nice produce. i'm bringing a giant bag of granola so that i can eat it with fruit in case i don't have many options at the places we're staying. any advice?

Mandee said...

Oh my! You hit the vegan sweets jackpot :) And those donuts look awesome, I can't wait til a vegan donut shop pops up near me!

Anonymous said...

I usually fly NW when I visit the US and I must say, their vegan options are usually really good - but, they also lack in the breakfast dept. as well. What is it with these people and hydrogenated non-dariy marg?
And I blame you for now craving donuts!

Erin said...

Airplane food is the worst! At least you got something edible sometimes. I always take way too many snacks when I fly.

I'm going to Vegas in June and I can't wait for Ronald's. Their apple fritter may be the best thing on earth. One of the best, at least.

Glad to see you're eating real food too :)

Model Citizen aka Bonnie Rue said...

Your blog always makes me super hungry - and I thank you for that :)

julie hasson said...

Oh man, I now have an intense donut craving. Great post Melisser!

dreaminitvegan said...

You are so on the go, how much fun!
The last donut I had was at Madelaine Bistro and it rocked!
Loved your post as always, good info.
The beer, chile seitan sounds awesome. Can't wait until the new book comes out.

Anonymous said...

FYI, you guessed correctly. The other veggie I won't eat is fennel. I can't stand the taste of it.

kelly g. said...

Ronald's Donuts, come to mama!

Macie said...

Mmmm... donuts! That's quite a spread you brought back from europe, I'm so jealous!

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Vegyogini said...

I've had similar experiences on airplanes. It's so frustrating when you're essentially held captive with nothing to eat because the airline has messed up your vegan meal. Ugh.

As much as I enjoyed those Ronald's Donuts, I hope it's another year before I have the chance to eat one!

I've got a fridge full of ingredients to test Terry recipes! Those tacos look yummy!

Bethany said...

that would have been something if an airline had a vegan croissant. I typically have pb&j sandwiches on the plane. not too exciting, but it's something.

mmmmm... doughnuts. I love 'em. I was in Portland last weekend and had a raised doughnut from sweetpea. heavenly.

I missed the boat on being a tester for terry. I was kind of bummed, but someday, somehow I will be a cookbook tester.

Anni said...

Vegan donut mania?! It'll take another hundred years for that to reach us in Finland! I wish the vegan latina book came out already, I've been reading so much about it and everything sounds delicious.

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