Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Outstanding Orlando Eats

I spent the early part of last week in and around Orlando, Florida. My whole family was there to celebrate my grandmother's 80th birthday, but I managed to sneak away with my other vegan family members to try out some of Orlando's best vegan offerings, of course! As far as major cities go, it is definitely not the most vegan-friendly out there, but there are some gems. First on your list of places to go in O-town should be Ethos Vegan Kitchen.This order-at-the-counter joint has a comfy cozy atmosphere, and the food is equally comforting. I started out with a spinach salad that perfectly whetted my appetite.

Fresh spinach gets paired with walnuts, apples, red onions, and plump raisins, and the whole thing gets topped with a bright orange-ginger vinaigrette. It is the perfect combination of tart, sweet, crunchy, and chewy.

I also had a few bites of my dad's appetizer, the "Healthy Trio" which consists of hummus, olive tapenade, and a tomato-mango salsa served up with veggie crudite, bread, and chips for dipping. The chunky homemade hummus was my favorite. YUM!

For my entree, I went with the "Sheep's Pie". This playful take on a Shepherd's Pie is a carb-lovers feast and oh-so-tasty. Underneath that pile of mashed potatoes is a ton of veggies like broccoli and carrots in a savory veggie gravy. In case you didn't get enough potatoes on the pie, the bread this dish is served with is a potato-chive variety... aka my new best friend. Go to Ethos and eat this NOW.

But wait, eat this too! My husband ordered the "Chickun Marsala" and it was so full of mushroomy goodness I could have burst. An herbaceous and garlicy gravy made with marsala wine is the star of this show. I could have taken a straw to that stuff. Normally, I'm a not big fan of food so, well, brown, but Ethos' comfort cooking could win me over.

What about dessert you ask? Well there were certainly options at EVK, but we had already purchased so sweetness earlier... from none other than Babycakes!

Yes, Babycakes NYC is now open in Downtown Disney! It's kind of tough to find - it's located in a food court of sorts and without much signage - but how great that an all-vegan and allergy-free bakery exists in the heart of fast-food land! We were psyched.... and just look at what we got:

After tasting a sample of their incredible vanilla crumble donut, I had to have one. Then there was the super moist and amazing banana chocolate chip bread. Divine. My aunt loved the red velvet cupcake I got for her, and my husband ate the vanilla cupcake in two bites. I love Babycakes. My only complaint is that it that the space doesn't smell nearly as good as the small bakery on the lower east side of NYC, but that's a food court for ya. Still, I'm just so glad they're there and doing well! So many kids with food allergies these days, and all of them go to Disney, so I think it's only a matter of time before we see more and more options like this open up in touristy areas. Hooray!

Up next, I go back to some old faves and discover a new one in Southern FL. Stay tuned...


Mom said...

So sorry you didn't make it to Sweet Tomatoes but your readers should know it was the most awesome salad bar and vegan choice of soups and breads in the Orlando/Disney area! Definitely get there-it's an oasis of healthy eats in a sea of bad choices!

Sky said...

Nice! I've been to Sweet Tomatoes elsewhere so I know it's good. Not unlike Fresh Choice for you CA readers.

Princess Consuela said...

I wanted to make a Shepard's Pie, but recipes usually call for an egg yolk to be mixed in with the mashed potatoes so that they get that golden color when baked. Do you have any ideas of what I could use instead?

Sky said...

I had no idea about the egg. So weird! When I make mashed potatoes I just use Earth Balance, unsweetened plain soymilk, and a touch of no-chicken stock. Works perfectly every time.