Monday, June 9, 2014

Vegan Culinary Tour of New Haven

What do you get when you combine 5 of the best places in New Haven for vegan eats into one 4-hour gustatory extravaganza?  The Vegan Culinary Tour of New Haven!!  Twelve lucky participants gathered together Saturday morning to tour the finest establishments in town and sample some heavenly vegan treats including slow-drip coffee, vegan danish, tofu scramble breakfast wraps, vegan fudge, specialty pizza with vegan cheese, bacon and pepperoni, vegan sushi and hand-crafted Japanese knotweed sake.  They also received goodie bags packed with coupon books for Tofurky artisan  sausage (YUM!) and Attune Foods Erewhon Cereal (my favorite breakfast!), and some handmade raw cacao hemp seed truffles.  Yes, indeed, this was a fabulous way to spend the morning.

We gathered together bright and early on June 7 to begin our whirlwind tour.  First Stop:  The Coffee Pedaler (605 East Street).

Owner Ryan Taylor gave us the history of this young coffee shop which has only been on the scene for 8 months.  He utilizes a slow-drip technique to produce a heavenly, rich coffee like no other in the area.  The shop also offers delicious vegan breakfast danish made exclusively by Bread & Chocolate in Hamden as well as a light vegan lunch menu.  Future expansion plans include lectures and workshops and a mobile bicycle cart serving up their unique brew.

Stop #2 brought us to Fuel Coffee Shop (516 Chapel Street) in Wooster Square.

Owner Courtney Ciesla treated us to some amazing tofu scramble wraps, which are a customer favorite (ours too!!), and some decadent Mister Sister Classic Fudge.  This casual and comfy eatery is hopping on a Saturday morning as visitors to the nearby Farmers Market stop in for a quick bite.

We headed north for our next destination which brought us to the all-vegetarian health food store, Edge of the Woods (379 Whalley Avenue).  This independent grocer has been bringing good health to the New Haven community for decades.  They have an extensive organic produce section, an array of packaged items, abundant bulk goods, an entire upstairs devoted to health supplements and body care, and an almost entirely vegan bakery.  This is where we headed for some delectable treats.

Our lovely kitchen assistant brought out a huge platter of vegan baked goods including brownies, chocolate chip blondies, blueberry cake, cinnamon coffee cake and linzer cookies.  It's amazing to see how quickly vegans can ravage a plate of goodies!

After recovering from this sugary binge, we headed down to State Street for some pizza. Diehard pizza fans know New Haven's thin crust pizza is the best around, but what's a vegan to do at these regular places?  Sure, we could ask for no cheese and load up our pies with veggies.  That's ok, but nothing compared to what you'll find at Da Legna's.

We indulged in two huge pies loaded with such toppings as vegan bacon, vegan pepperoni, Daiya "cheese," fresh spinach and fresh basil.  There is no sacrifice here, and even the nonvegans in the group were won over.  Nothing makes us happier than to be able to enjoy pigging out on pizza like "normal" people do. ;-)

Our final stop on the tour brought us to Miya's, the home of creative, sustainable sushi.  Owner Bun Lai has won numerous accolades for his interpretations of sushi, serving up invasive plants and even insects in his rolls.  We stuck with the plants.

My favorite is the Voompa roll, which is made with roasted eggplant, avocado and jalapeno cashew cheese, then dipped in a spicy fenugreek spice mix.   I also enjoyed the little ball of rice stuffed with Mugwort, a common garden weed that had an earthy, floral taste.

We toasted the Vegan Culinary Tour with a bottle of Japanese Knotweed sake, foraged and crafted by Bun.  It had a refreshing, citrusy flavor reminiscent of lemonade which was perfect for dining al fresco.

Though our tour had reached its final destination, I believe there were many new beginnings as everyone who attended vowed to return to these fine establishments.  I am truly honored to be part of this amazing and supportive community and know the hardworking people behind the scenes who make vegan dining in the city such an enjoyable experience.

A special "thank you!!" to the tour hosts for welcoming vegan customers and for being so generous:  Ryan Taylor (The Coffee Pedaler), Courtney Ciesla (Fuel Coffee Shop), Peter Dodge (Edge of the Woods), Dan Parillo (Da Legna Pizza), and Bun Lai (Miya's Sushi).  

Proceeds from the tour will be donated to Locket's Meadow Farm in Bethany which rescues farm animals and PMU horses destined for slaughter.  

Thank you to all for making this such a successful event!  I look forward to hosting the next Vegan Culinary Tour later this summer.  Contact me for details!

More fun photos from the tour:

1 comment:

John Peter said...

Welcome to our small group tours, and travel as a vegan to destinations in North America and Europe. Eat great vegan food, attend festivals, meet new vegan friends.