Vegan Road Trip: Part 2

Vegan sweets and treats

Though Los Angeles is extremely fortunate to have a number of great vegan restaurants, we are severely lacking in the area of vegan desserts. Though a few places have a few items available, and yeah I know Babycakes is open (but yes I like my gluten and sugar thank you very much), it’s just not the same as what you might find elsewhere. Luckily on our trip we were able to visit two completely vegan bakeries and sample some delicious treats.

Our first stop was Pattycake Bakery in Columbus, Ohio. This adorable storefront was filled with a plethora of home style desserts including cookies, whoopie pies, muffins, cupcakes and more. They have all the stuff you’re always craving. While Shawn and I oogled over the huge selection and tried to decide what to get, the place hustled and bustled with people buying tons of stuff. We ended up getting a whole box ourselves, trying to sample as much as possible, filling it with three different types of cookies, a whoopie pie, and a cupcake. Now I’m a cookie girl and these were some damn good cookies. The whoopie pie was also moist and delicious, wonderfully sweet with just the right amount of creme filling. I wish I had tried one in the other flavors they had to offer. I think if I lived within driving distance of this place I would be there everyday getting cookies. No joke. Everything was high quality without being over the top. Pattycake Bakery was completely delightful.

Also in Columbus, On the Fly, where we got the awesome vegan empanada and chili, had some desserts on display to choose from. Since we knew we were on our way to Pattycake, we didn’t have a chance to try anything, but I have to mention them anyway, because they were so gorgeous. The cupcakes were topped in chocolate ganache as well as vegan buttercream and just looked delightful. They also had jars full of cookies. Did I mention I love cookies? I do.

No trip East would be complete without a stop at the infamous Vegan Treats. While you can get their delicious desserts at almost every vegan and vegetarian restaurant from New York to Pennsylvania, it’s well worth it to make the trip to their storefront in Bethlehem, PA. Here you can get their personal sized french pastries, along with donuts and other specialties. I’m just going to come out and say, if you haven’t had Vegan Treats, you haven’t what is arguably¬† the best of the best when it comes to vegan bakeries. Having been in business for over ten years and catering to so many places on the east, they really know their stuff. Vegan Treats is so delicious and decadent and amazing I just can’t say enough good stuff about it.

While there, we loaded up on desserts, going for anything with a holiday theme, and some donuts. Are they not the cutest desserts ever? We also had to show our love and get some hoodies to take home once the desserts were gobbled up. The new designs they have are possibly as cute as all the desserts. Luckily, now you can get some of their tee-shirts online (go support vegan businesses!).

Unfortunately, since we traveled over the holidays, we were unable to go to a few sweet stops on the way, including Sticky Fingers Bakery in DC or Lula’s Sweet Apothecary in NY. We did get to make up somewhat for the lack of ice cream at Spiral Diner in Dallas, Texas. They had a small case filled with baked goods, including monster vegan peanut butter cups, but we were ultimately lured in to the sweet call of an ice cream sundae. Shawn picked out the Chocolate Mountain Mudslide, a brownie topped with their signature i-scream, chocolate sauce, nuts and whipped cream. I was going to order the Deathstar Sundae, another brownie topped with i-scream, espresso and whipped cream, but Shawn got the last brownie. Unbelievable! I stole a few bites of his as payback but nuts on ice cream freak me out. The i-scream and brownie were awesome though, and much more than you’d expect from a diner of any kind.

Are you overloaded on sweets yet? Don’t worry, we’re done here for now. Next, we’ll be on our way home!

Vegan Road Trip: Part 1

Heading East

The Sunday before Christmas we packed up my little VW wagon and hit the road heading east. (Let me just tell you, you don’t realize how small your car is until you fit four people and a load of luggage and gifts in it.) Shawn and¬† I were off to visit his family for the holidays and decided to finally take the road trip I’d been dreaming of, well sort of. I never meant to take a road trip in winter but the weather treated us rather decently.

Our friends Jannatha and Kyle piled in with us heading for North Carolina. Lucky for us, they’re both vegetarian and put up with our crazed searches for vegan pizza and obscure restaurants along the way. The first place we decided to stop was Flagstaff, Arizona, high up in the mountains, covered in the first snow of the trip. Shawn had located a pizza place with vegan pizza. Unfortunately we arrived to find it closed. Lesson one, call ahead.

We drove around looking for an alternative and when our other option was found to be boarded up for the winter we just asked someone walking down the street. Lesson two, don’t be afraid of people, go ahead and ask. Being from Los Angeles, you forget people often will be glad to help you (just not so much in LA).

We ended up at Macy’s Vegetarian Coffeehouse. It was a cute place with a comfortable atmosphere. There were a number of items on the menu that were vegan or could be made that way, but I went for the basic veggie blt with tempeh bacon. This is something I usually wouldn’t order, because I am all too often let down by tempeh bacon, but this sandwich was truly satisfying. First of all, it was huge, and the bread was simultaneously soft and crunchy, with a really great flavor. All the fillings were fresh and crisp and the tempeh was the perfect nutty compliment to the greens and tomato.

So when you’re on the road, you often don’t eat at anyplace special at all. Sometimes you eat only the entire contents of bag full of car snacks. Sometimes, if you’re unlucky, you get altitude sickness and don’t eat anything but saltines. So let’s just skip right along ahead to Columbus Ohio! You weren’t hoping to hear about anything between there and Flagstaff, were you? Didn’t think so.

Shawn was super excited to take me to Benevolence Cafe in Columbus as he remembered it having been there forever. Surprise, surprise, it was closed (possibly for renovations, possibly forever, I’m not sure). Back to Lesson one, call ahead. This ended up being for the best as we instead found On the Fly Street Food. This small cafe is part of the upscale Dragonfly Neo-V. Both restaurants are all vegan. On the Fly is open during the day with an awesome selection of delicious street style foods and great beers.

We couldn’t resist the empanada, which was stuffed with a rich mushroom filling. The crust was just as buttery and flaky as you could wish for and the cheesy sauce on top was just the right amount. I also ordered the chili and cornbread which was equally, if not even more delicious. The chili achieved a magical balance of beans, sauce and “meat.” With a hearty taste that wasn’t too spicy, it was the perfect thing for a very cold Ohio day. Oh and the corn bread, it was delicious; moist and soft, just right for spooning into your chili. It had a lovely cakey consistency and wasn’t mealy at all. So good!

Though we failed at our earlier vegan pizza attempt, Columbus came to the rescue at Circus. This bar and performance venue, decorated with old-school circus paintings, has two vegan pizzas to choose from, the regular vegan and the vegan crow. Since you can order half pizzas, we went ahead and got both. One is a pretty standard cheeseless pizza piled high with tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and seasonings. The other has a cashew cheese, corn and caramelized onions. Both were superb. The really great thing about these pizzas is that they have a super good crunchy crust that is just thick enough to hold the tons of toppings without being too thick and mushy. The veggie to crust ratio was about 1:1, which is pretty amazing if you ask me. See, pizza isn’t all bad for you.

Overall, Columbus was pretty awesome in the vegan department, it even has an all vegan bakery which I’ll get to in the next post about all the vegan desserts we devoured. Just had to tempt you a little…