Friday, July 10, 2015

What Stabford did on his summer vacation

Sorry for the lack of film reviews lately, but I was on a brief vacation through the Midwest, and it was delicious.

It used to be difficult trying to find quality food while on a road trip, particularly if you're trying to be vegetarian, but smart-phones have changed all that. Sure, you can easily stop at Taco Bell at any exit on any highway for one of their quality bean burritos (insert sarcasm font here), but you should really reward yourself by taking a few extra minutes to explore a new city and take a culinary adventure. Ask Siri, and she'll direct you away from Sonic and their 44 oz. cherry lime-aids. Ok, so let's get right to it.

I'm going to go ahead and contradict was I just said. In Louisville, I stopped at Sonic. I used to love Sonic. The roller-skating carhops, the little plastic animals that used to hang on the rim of your cherry lime-aid, the foot-long chili dogs. From what I remembered, they used to serve what was once considered food.

Unfortunately, Sonic has become another casualty of the dollar-menu-fication of fast food, where you get a big pile of nasty crap for a buck and a lifetime of regret. So, throwing caution and common sense to the wind, I ordered a large tater tot and a cherry lime-ade. What I got was a vat of overly-sweet cherry lime-aid I could swim in, and an order of lukewarm, soggy, unappetizing tater tots that had a rancid aftertaste that lingered. Never again.

Fortunately, The Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen was across the street, and I bought a Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie to help me forget my Route 44 mistake.

It was lovely, with a delicate crust and a rich, custard-like filling. The salesperson behind the counter attempted to up-sell me on a Chocolate Chess Pie for half-price, and I nearly bought it until I came to my senses. Eating one pie is acceptable, I think, but attempting to eat two whole pies while driving is sheer madness.

It was a dark and stormy night when we pulled into Santa Claus, Indiana. In fact, it was hailing. We stayed at Santa's Lodge, which is a hotel decorated for X-Mas year-round.

Here's a cell-phone photo of a Polaroid of an Instagram of a cell-phone photo of me getting all Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Ol' Saint Nick. Sorry if it's hard to make out my epic spinning back-kick because of bad lighting and over-exposure, but that's how most photos of me turn out.

If X-Mas is ruined for everyone this year, oops, sorry.

Just so you know, down the street from the hotel is an amusement park dedicated to Santa Claus, but we didn't go because it was midnight, hailing, and it would've cut into my Holly Jolly Battle Royale with Santa.

We stopped for a while in St. Louis. Lunch was at SweetArt, which is a vegan bakery in the historic, artsy Shaw Neighborhood. The walls of the bakery are lined with beautiful art, and the counter was full of beautiful baked goods. I had a wonderful veggie burger that came with a side of kale salad. The salad was light and crisp, and the homemade dressing had a subtle sweetness that complimented the kale's bitterness. A woman sitting next to us asked the server for the recipe of the dressing, and I was straining my ears eavesdropping, but the server refused to tell claiming it was a secret. The burger had a moist, meat-like consistency, and it was one of the best veggie burgers I've ever had. We bought a piece of art and a dozen mini-cupcakes, because why wouldn't you?

Around the corner was Ices Plain And Fancy, and I had a cherry cordial ice cream. They prepare it using liquid nitrogen and a blow-torch, and I feel all food should be prepared this way. Set your food on fire! Why not? Setting fire to my tater tots in Louisville could only have helped them. Anyway, the ice cream was silky smooth and loaded with chunks of maraschino cherries and chocolate chips, and the visual spectacle of watching your dessert being prepared in a cloud of fog makes Ices Pure And Fancy worth a stop. They'll also booze up your ice cream if you want, but don't drink and drive and eat ice cream. It's madness.

Then we stopped in Kansas City, and had dinner at Blue Koi in the bohemian neighborhood of Westport. I had the Vegetable Noodle Soup, which had a savory broth, wheels of corn on the cob, tender tofu, and thick noodles. Vegetable broths can be bland, but Blue Koi's was surprisingly flavorful, and I worried I might find an errant chunk of chicken. My fears were unfounded as the dish is totally vegetarian.

Then next morning I had a vegan Coconut Lime Bundt cake from Mud Pie in Westport. While dense, the cake was moist and citrusy. Mud Pie had a wide selection of vegan baked goods and sandwiches, and it was difficult choosing. Fruit in bundt form is totally good for you. Trust me.

For lunch we had flaming cheese from Jerusalem Cafe in Westport. Again, more dishes should be brought to the table ablaze. The cheese partially melted and caramelized against the metal serving dish, and it was fun scraping up the browned, cheesy bits with pita. Plus, fire.

We visited the Nelson-Atkins Museum Of Art to see their exhibit "A Shared Legacy: Folk Art In America". I'm a big fan of folk art, and I really like the less polished, more amateurish pieces. It makes me feel better about whatever it is that I'm doing, since I'm not at all polished and very amateurish. Unfortunately, this exhibit verged more on the Primitive side, and featured carvings and weathervanes. All of the artwork was very finely crafted and polished. It was beautiful and informative, but not really my speed. With the purchase of a ticket to the Folk Art exhibit, you get access to an exhibit about the famed restaurant El Bulli, which was also very interesting. One more thing that I really liked about the Nelson, they have self-guided tours focusing on LGBTQ-themed, haunted, and mysterious artwork, which I thought was highly unusual.

We liked St. Louis so much we decided to stop there again and had breakfast at the Goody Goody Diner. I ordered a waffle and scrambled eggs, but here's a picture of their chicken and waffles. The waffle was crisp, light and airy, and I skipped the syrup. It was just that good. Their menu makes it easy to order your eggs in almost a dozen different levels of doneness, as it has a helpful guide. I ordered mine scrambled 'medium', and they were creamy and delightful.

We stopped in downtown Indianapolis, and had lunch at Three Carrots in City Market. I had the Seitanderloin, which is a breaded and fried piece of seitan that resembled a pork tenderloin. It was crisp and savory, and topped with a garlic aioli. I'm going to try to recreate this sandwich at home.

I'm hoping this self-indulgent post of food pr0n either helps you feel more confident in finding vegetarian food on the road or gets me a lucrative food blogging career, one or the other. Send me cash and I'll gladly travel for sandwiches.

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