Friday, October 1, 2010


One of the greatest ideas to hit the city of Durham since the now-defunct but still beloved Soul Good: The Bull City Vegan Challenge. My friends Eleni (a tireless vegan crusader responsible for the documentary film Seeing Through The Fence as well as tons of vegan outreach) and Shirle' (a personal chef and shameless vegan sympathizer, responsible for the awesomeness that is the vegan brunch!) had an idea to challenge a whole bunch of local restaurants to run a vegan item for one month. They'd tell vegans and foodies about it. The public would vote.
The ladies got together and posted photos of all of the competing dishes. Some of them look fantastic. Some of them are going to get their asses handed to them. (Note to chefs for future reference: seriously, don't ever give a vegan "salad" as an option when you're trying to impress us; we eat a lot of salad. it's not special food. Ditto "vegetable plates." You can make a vegetable plate, but if you call it that, it just sounds uninspired.) Follow BCVC on twitter to get updates and such. And if you're a vegan who was planning to come to Durham ever, come to Durham in October! It'll be FUN!

And today, the competition begins. I actually kind of forgot that it was the 1st, but then I remembered after I had already agreed to go to Parker and Otis for lunch/dinner. I went in and ordered the challenge. I also got a Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray (because I have NY homesickness).

It should be mentioned that P&O is a lunch option for me most of the time because the #14 (white bean spread, onion, avocado, tomato and sprouts on sunflower) is vegan if you switch the sunflower bread for sourdough and pay a $2 surcharge to get a side salad instead of the slaw (ps P&O-- this is bullshit. you should just give people a non-mayotastic salad for free).

The special (which is like #49 or something crazy!) is made up of an artichoke spread (tastes like bean paste with artichoke processed in), carrots, roasted red peppers, red onions, spinach
on a panini pressed wheat and served with a sweet corn, grape tomato and red onion salad. First thought: this salad should be part of the regular menu. I know I've already griped about it, but I will continue to do so because I hope that Parker and Otis's owners (who seem cool and nice) will read this and consider offering some option besides cole slaw! The corn salad was really nice (I love corn though). The sandwich was good. The artichoke spread was tangy and tasty. However, there were some problems. The red peppers were a little too slimy and caused the sandwich to drip when I ate it, then comingled with the paste and caused it to slide out of the sandwich. I liked that there was spinach, a good choice of green that isn't distractingly crunchy, tough or bitter, but bitter enough to stand up to the strange flavor of artichoke. Ultimately, my trouble with the sandwich was balance. The artichoke is good, but I think it overpowered all the other stuff in there. The reason it's not getting my vote for the win? Because #14 is better. And on the menu all the time. And for that, P&O, I salute you.


Overall, I'd recommend hitting up Parker & Otis this month to let them know that we vegans appreciate their support and trying the sandwich-- if you're more of a fan of red peppers than I am, you might be more partial. They also have the best coffee in town (Seriously, their iced coffee is the jam) and a very healthy selection of upscale/gourmet foodstuffs and products, as well as a decent beer selection. Their porch is a nice place to waste an afternoon reading the paper, and either sandwich (although #14 gets the BIV stamp of approval) will satiate your hunger and probably force you to finish it even though you're not really hungry anymore :).

*it is also Vegan Month Of Food (vegan mofo!) I think? Every october, right? Vegans out there in veganbloggerland?

So in celebration of the (3rd) vegan mofo in which BIV has sort of participated, here's a recipe for my delicious brussels sprouts. Even brussels sprouts haters can get down with it. It's also fast, which is one of my favorite things about it.

You will need:
a bag of brussels sprouts (like 15-20, or more, or less, whatever!)
3 cloves garlic
~1 tsp rosemary
~1 tsp oregano
~2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Set your oven to 400 and let it preheat. In the meantime, clean your sprouts. To clean, I chop off the bottom and then peel away the outermost layer that's wilty or spotty or whatever. It will come right off once you've chopped the little root part off. Then cut in half lengthwise and drop into a bowl. After you've chopped all of them and dropped in the bowl, mince your garlic as small as you can get it (I find doing the chef knife smash 2-3 times, then finely chopping leaves you with the sort of chunky paste type thing you want). Drop your garlic in with the sprouts. Drizzle with oil. Rub the rosemary and oregano between your hands to break it up (I use fresh herbs at the end of their growing season. If using dry herbs, this works best. If using super fresh herbs, you may need to chop a little). Use water to get the remaining off your hands. Add salt and pepper (I use about 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper, but it's yr call-- taste and make sure it's salty enough!). Mix the bowl all together. Cover a cookie sheet in foil, then dump the sprouts and their herby garlic juice on it. Spread them so they're not all touching, but they don't have to be all face down or anything. Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes (depends on size of sprouts). They'll get all caramelized and burnt at the tips and where there's large amounts of garlic and aromatic and awesome in the middles. Trust me. Oh, and if you're feeling cheeky, try adding some balsamic instead of water and cutting back the salt. Happy sprouting.

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