“LET’S EAT OUT!”
Allow me to digress from my usual column, which covers a particular food group and an accompanying recipe. The next two months will center on some of our favorite restaurants that offer delicious food choices for the vegan population. Needless to say, those of us who are interested in healthy eating that fosters good nutrition as well as heart and life affirming values, will appreciate these selected establishments. The key word is ETHNIC which incorporates the exotic ingredients and spices that have been introduced by various cultures to our palates and environment.
Let me begin by stating that most food-conscious individuals prefer to eat at home, thereby allowing themselves to control the unknown ingredients that may sneak into restaurant prepared foods, no matter how careful one may try to order. But a dining out experience is a treat for the cook and the clean-up crew and sparks our palates and imagination. It is a common way to celebrate the special occasions that mark milestones in our lives and to give us a break from the work of preparation.
A 15-mile radius around Pawling, New York would include Danbury, CT, our closest neighborhood city. There are several notable establishments which serve a plethora of wonderful Mid-Eastern fares. Note: the spellings of these dishes are different on each menu because of the language translations, but the ingredients are generally very similar.
Plus all these restaurants offer their own tahini dressing, which compliments the salads, as well as the dishes and is made from sesame seed paste loaded with abundant calcium!
- Sesame Seed: an old favorite serving fine salads and dishes including humus (chick pea dip), tabouli (bulgur grain with tomato and parsley), baba ghanouj (eggplant), falafel ( a fried patty full of protein) and foul mudammas (fava bean dip). Very reasonable prices in a casual atmosphere.
- Hanna’s: More upscale setting, offering all the above plus grape leaves and a vegetarian mousaka (eggplant stew). Wonderful waiting service!
- Kibberia: Offers four different varieties of humus, plus our favorite corn tabouli and moujadra (lentil-rice dish with onions). Excellent lentil soup (a staple protein-rich potage which is sure to please), plus most of their delectable desserts are vegan! Good for take-out and offers a large modern dining area, (order at the counter, no tipping).
- Pho Vietnam: as the name suggests is Asian fare with choices of fine vegan hot and sour soups, bun (rice noodles with vegetables), spring rolls (not fried and deliciously wrapped rice paper with veggies with a peanut dipping sauce: YUM!). You can add tofu to any dish and the salad was divine with ginger dressing.
Closer to home right on Rt. 22, south of Pawling is:
- Thai Elephant: offering many choices of fine Thai inspired choices. My preferences are the tofu soup, mango salad, Pad Woo Sen (sautéed vermicelli with mixed veggies (hold the egg), and the excellent curries. They even offer a vegan “duck” which is quite phenomenal in its texture, taste and protein content.
- Aladdin Café: On Rt. 52 in Hopewell Junction is another Middle Eastern restaurant close to home that is relatively new. The owners are delightfully friendly and willing to accommodate many different requests. We have had many meals there as they offer a delectable and filling falafel sandwich, the best home-made grape leaves, a rice dish called kepsaa which is unbelievably exotic and filled with nuts and raisins. They also have great pastries!
Since I have only given the names and general locations of these establishments, please use the computer to search the menus and hours of operation. Most of the Mid-Eastern restaurants are closed on Sundays. Remind your server of your preferences: dressing on the side, add tofu, light on the sauce, no egg or chicken broth, etc. If you ask politely, most are willing to serve your needs and to prepare the foods to your liking. Next month we will cover other choices in different locales.
Stay Tuned…and happy dining!!