Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Vegan on the Road: Seattle, Washington

Everyone knows that Seattle is vegan-friendly, right? But the thing I discovered on this trip that I loved is that you don't have to go out of your way to find vegan food.

I happened to have been traveling with three non-vegan coworkers, and I was determined not to be a pain in their backsides. (Meanwhile, they were so lovely and determined to accommodate me. We were all four bending over backwards.) So rather than try to sort out where to eat on our arrival at lunch time, we opted for the food court at the Westlake Center mall. I figured a vegan can always find one decent option in a food court, huh? Well, honestly, I had half a dozen! Indian, Thai, Chinese, Greek, Mexican, Japanese... they all had something. But here was the greatest thing. When I walked up to the Greek joint, Mediterranean Avenue, and said that I'd like a Greek salad with falafel minus the feta, the counter person immediately asked if I was vegan and advised me on all my options. "The dressing has dairy. I'd recommend olive oil and lemon juice. Also, the pita bread has dairy, would you like some tabbouleh instead? The tahini sauce for the falafel is vegan." It was delightful not to have to ask all those questions!

One of the many gorgeous fruit stalls
at Pike Place Market.
When deciding on dinner that night, the ladies broke out their smartphones, determined to find someplace with good vegan options. We settled on Wild Ginger, a Pan-Asian restaurant specializing in satay, with a fairly extensive vegan breakout menu. I don't eat soy, so there were fewer options for me, but clearly there were enough to make a meal. In the end, I opted to keep it simple and ordered asparagus satay (four stalks of grilled local asparagus with orange teriyaki sauce and fresh pickles) and the market vegetable, which happened to be spinach served with brown rice. You know how sometimes you eat something simple and it just seems like a revelation? I left wondering how exactly you get spinach to taste that good... and I LOVE spinach. I eat it all the time! But there's just something about how perfectly they prepare these simple dishes that makes them transcend what you're used to. And the pickles! Oh my word, the pickles!

One note about Wild Ginger - if you go, call ahead. We were lucky to get seats at the counter. They were fully booked with reservations.

My final meal in Seattle was the next day's breakfast. We went to Pike Place Market, and I figured I'd grab some fruit. (Which I did. The most luscious peaches, oh my!) But as we were walking among the flower stalls, I heard a girl walking past say "vegan bakery" and got the impression she was speaking about someplace in the market. From that moment on, I was on a mission! Did I find it? Oh yes, I did!

Cinnamon Works,
across the street from the market proper.
Cinnamon Works is not an all-vegan bakery, but they did have a nice selection of vegan, gluten-free, and vegan/gluten-free options. I got an enormous marionberry scone that served as breakfast for not one, but two days for a mere $3.25. My coworker Gay bought a loaf of vegan banana bread for $4.00 that was to-die-for. While I enjoyed the other places we ate in Seattle, this is my Must Visit recommendation. (And you know you're going to the Market anyway. All roads lead.)

One day, I hope the rest of the country will be as vegan-friendly as Seattle!

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