Sunday, August 30, 2009

Boston Day Five: Veggie Planet and Elephant Walk

My last day in Boston was a Monday, so Shelley was only available for lunch. Since she works at Harvard, we met up over in Cambridge at one of her favorite spots: Veggie Planet. At first glance, this below-the-street spot doesn't look like much, but as I waited outside I figured the throngs of people going in and out must be on to something. By the time Shelley arrived, the smell of roasting garlic and fresh-baked dough escaping every time someone opened the door was intoxicating.

VP is primarily a pizza joint, but the neat twist is that everything you can get on a pizza can also be served up in a rice bowl. For example, Shelley got roasted butternut squash and Teese Mozzarella on a pizza, but doesn't that sound like it'd be damn good over rice? Well, if you think so you could have it that way too. Personally, I went more of a traditional route and got 1/2 a 'Vegan Oddlot' and 1/2 Special Salad of the Week.

The salad had the yummiest vinaigrette and the addition of bulgur was a nice hearty touch. But let's get to the pizza. The toppings here are garlic, spinach, tomatoes, olives, and tofu-basil mash. The latter is so yummy, yet so simple. I can't believe I never thought to mash tofu and basil together and use it like cheese on pizza. Smart thinkin', VP. However, the real winner here is the dough itself. Slightly sweet, with the perfect combination of crispness and chewiness. If you live anywhere near Cambridge, I would highly suggest you purchase their dough from them and top it at home. I know I would. It's heavenly.

Lunch was filling, but we couldn't resist a treat from Sweet right across the alley. Luckily for us, Mondays are vegan cupcake day at this popular cupcakery. True, they only have one flavor, but it's chocolate, so I forgive them. Definitely a yummy post-lunch treat. We also checked out the vegan selections next door at Tealuxe. What a find! They had cookies and brownies and even these amazing-looking chocolate muffins.

Too bad we were stuffed to try them. Next time I suppose...

After some more Boston tourism on foot, we were looking forward to dinner. I was especially enthusiastic having already been to the Cambridge location of Elephant Walk years ago.
It was delicious back then and I was excited to try out its Boston counterpart. The food at these restaurants is Cambodian/French, and they have a very extensive and VERY well-marked vegan menu, which you know I appreciate. It was a hard decision, but here's what I had:

First up were the 'Vegan Rouleaux', aka Cambodian Spring Rolls. Filled with mushroom, carrots, beanthread, and peanuts, these fried delights are made a little lighter when you eat them traditionally by rolling them up in a lettuce leaf along with some fresh herbs and dunking them in the tuk trey sauce. Tuk trey is normally a fish sauce-based concoction, so the fact that they make their own just for their vegetarians is quite nice. These were definitely a highlight of the meal, not that everything else wasn't delicious too....

For my entree, I went with the neon 'Curry de L├ęgumes', or vegetable curry. It was very tasty, though not as much as the color might imply. Good, but not spectacular.

For my sweet tooth, there was one vegan dessert offering, the tapioca pudding. Made with coconut milk, plantains, mango, tapioca, and (for some crunch) toasted mung beans, this was super sweet and refreshing, and best of all, interesting. All the different textures and flavors came together harmoniously and made for a delicious end to the meal.

Sadly, Elephant Walk was my last meal in Boston, for it was back to San Francisco not too long thereafter. Next up: My first meal back home was a real winner, and proves that cooking while jet-lagged can be a good idea.

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