Philly [Vegan] Eating
Against my better holiday-traffic judgment, yesterday I drove down to Philly to visit one of my best friends from graduate school. We road tripped across the country together 2 years ago, so she knows just how food-centric I can be [the entire trip was planned around cupcakeries], and likewise we had a lovely day traveling around the city and stuffing our faces.
Steph & I circa 2008.
We started off with lunch at Mugshots Coffeehouse – we had gone here for coffee and dessert the last time I visited her, and I was secretly hoping we would return. Their menu is jampacked with organic fare, and I’d say 50% of their menu is vegan – how about that?? Sandwiches, wraps, smoothies, muffins, cakes, cupcakes, cream cheese, etc. – all vegan options. I had a terrible time choosing what to eat, and ended up having the barista choose for me: The Slammer: Lettuce, tomato, vegan meatballs, and avocado in a wheat wrap. It was different, messy, and delicious. That’s why there is no photo of this – I stuffed it down faster than I was able to remember to whip out my camera. But I 100% recommend visiting this cafe – and I can say their vanilla soy latte and vegan carrot cake are creamy and flavorful – my non-vegan friend and I had to alternate spoonfuls to keep it “fair”. Yup. Also bringing this location over the top is their prime location facing Eastern State Penitentiary – D and I will be returning next month to hit up both spots.
Steph and I then traveled across town (literally) to Sweet Freedom Bakery, which specializes in baking allergen-free: so they are vegan (dairy-free & egg-free), gluten-free, corn-free, wheat-free, peanut-free, and even soy-free! With a list of restrictions that long, I was anxious to see how well they could pull off the goods.
The shop is cute & sweet (with nearly blue everything), and they offer a list of ingredients for each item in front of the display. It was a hot day yesterday so I went with the Lemon Blueberry cupcake & Steph went for the mint chocolate cookie sandwich.
I was extremely wary about how tasty these were going to be – especially since I’ve had some terrible gluten-free cupcakes in the past. These were phenomenal, and I give it to you straight – especially with cupcakes. Really, so so moist and flavorful. The lemon and blueberry balanced and I cannot for the life of me figure out how they were able to maintain all elements of a cupcake without so many “traditional” ingredients. These ladies are masterminds! The cookie sandwich was also out of control delicious – also very moist (but with a good crunch) and a fluffy sweet filling. I can’t recommend this spot enough – especially if you have a lot of allergies. After explaining my delight in enjoying these treats, an old woman inside (a “regular”) proclaimed she has celiac’s and this bakeshop is her lifeline! Props to Sweet Freedom, we were happy chicas!
We walked back across town, shopped, people-watched, and then decided we could use one last food trip before I hit the road again. We hit up The Belgian Cafe, also in her neighborhood. She piqued my interest when she said she brought her dad here and he fell in love with their vegan chicken wings. I’m in! I sipped on a Dogfish Festinal Peche – perfectly light for my developing beer palate. We split the Vegan Spring Rolls (marinated tempeh and fresh vegetables with sour cherry compote) & Stuffed Tofu (tofu marinated in Spaten Optimator, stuffed with dried cherries, cashews, cilantro, & garlic and served on a bed of sesame spinach).
While the spring rolls were good – they were nothing different than any other I’ve had before. The stuffed tofu, however, is worth mentioning. It was delicious – I can’t even describe the flavors because they were too busy dancing in my mouth for me to break down. They totally hit it home with this dish and you can absolutely consider me a fan of this establishment. They offer various other vegan options on the breakfast/sandwich/entree menus, we just ordered off the appetizers. Also – if you are a beer person, their list is pages long with a nice selection on tap.
Overall, after a day of walking and eating I was pretty wiped. I had a fantastic start to my long weekend, and today was spent watching Europe dominate the World Cup quarter-finals and doing a little baking. How has your weekend been so far?