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Vegan Planet: Wildcard Wednesday: Vegan on Vacation

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Wildcard Wednesday: Vegan on Vacation

After working non-stop for what seems like forever, Jon and I got away for a few days recently and took the train to Providence, Rhode Island. We wanted to see WaterFire again, and also to visit Newport. I love to travel by train -- not only is it often cheaper and more convenient than air travel, but it can actually be relaxing and the travel time is about the same as it would be by car.  You can bring your own food to enjoy on the train, although they do have a few vegan choices in the cafe car. Along about lunchtime, we tucked into a nice crisp romaine salad that featured chickpeas and couscous, along with a flavorful vinaigrette dressing.  

In Providence, we found a reasonable selection of vegan options while dining out.  Among them were two fabulous meals that stood out.  On our first night in town we went to Apsara Palace, an unassuming restaurant that serves spectacular Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, and Chinese cuisines.  Even though we arrived early on a Wednesday evening, the place was crowded with locals and it stayed full the entire evening.  Our server was knowledgeable and friendly, and the food was among the best of its kind I’ve had anywhere. We shared a vegan appetizer platter that featured fresh nime chow with two sauces, vegetable dumplings, scallion pancakes, among other delights.  The satay noodle dish was at once spicy and sublime. And the lemongrass tofu — heavenly.

On our last day in town, and on the other side of town, in Little Italy, we enjoyed a fantastic lunch at a wonderful Italian store that was like a Disneyland of Italian ingredients.  I actually brought an extra suitcase along on our trip because I knew I wouldn’t be leaving that shop empty-handed. At Costantino’s Venda Ravioli, I bought several packages of pasta shapes that I’ve rarely seen outside of Italy, as well dry-roasted favas and chickpeas, black olive paste, and a few other goodies.  (This is a photo of one of their gift packages -- not what I actually bought!)

Before my shopping spree, however, we devised our own customized vegan lunch platters from among the sprawling deli counters that fill the store.  Artichokes were prepared fried, stuffed, marinated, and grilled.  And we tried some of each!  Broccoli rabe sauteed in garlic, roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes, and grilled green and white asparagus, all found their way to our plates. And, oh, the olives! Seated at one of the little café tables in the store, we savored our wonderful meal and just for a minute it felt like we were actually in Tuscany.

I discovered one other thing on our trip: I’m really bad at remembering to take the camera — it spent most of our trip inside a suitcase at the hotel. So, sorry, no photos of our wonderful vacation food!

Party Vegan Giveaway Update:  I have yet to hear from Monday’s winner of Party Vegan.  If I don’t here from Bagheera Yoga by Thursday morning, will choose another winner from among those who left a comment on that post.

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Hooray for Providence! I'm originally from RI (I currently live in Wisconsin), so it's great to see RI get some love. Apsara is a gem - glad you enjoyed it! And I'm quite envious that you went to WaterFire; I haven't been in a few years. :(
Sounds like a great trip. And that Italian store!!

I had a wonderful (if less than healthy) meal in Providence last fall--at United BBQ. Yes, bbq. It's under their "weird stuff" section on the menu, but they make a mean bbq seitan sub. Paired with some crispy salty fries, it really hit the spot. Everything vegan is marked with a circled v and there's plenty to choose from.

I need to get back to Providence!
Kelly, I love RI! Had never been until 2 years ago and we couldn't wait to get back. It's worth going just for Apsara and the WaterFire experience is positively transportive.

Lisa, Yes, that Italian store was amazing. But, wow, the BBQ seitan sub sounds fantastic! I'll definitely have to check that out next time.
I'm happy to hear that you love "Little Rhody!". I'm a native who just recently jumped over the border to Massachusetts after getting married last year. I grew up going to Federal Hill regularly, as well as Costantinos. I used to go crazy and buy tons of their fresh pasta but now I make it (veganized!) at home. It's too bad you didn't get to check out 'Wildflour' while you were in RI. It's a vegan bakery that is just outside of Providece. It is also 2 doors down from an awesome indian restaurant called Rasoi and a good vegetarian/vegan restaurant called The Garden Grille. Wildflour has some great vegan pastries, although my husband swears that mine are better. Thanks for teaching me how to cook, Robin!!! I'm glad that you love RI!
--Tara E.
P.S. Shamefully, I've never tried that asian restaurant! I will definitely try it out.
Hi Tara, I can imagine how great it would be to shop at Costantino's regularly. It's like being a kid in a candy store -- and so fun to find so many vegan options, too.
Thanks for telling me about Wildflour and the restaurants. We'll have to try them next time.
I think you'll definitely enjoy Apsara Palace, too!
Sounds like a great break! What a great sounding Italian store ,I want those pasta shapes! I am sure there must be a secret place that sells exciting pasta shapes somewhere in Brisbane, I just have to find it!
I hope you find a shop that sells them, Susan. Usually I find the best Italian import stores are in cities with a "Little Italy" neighborhood -- none anywhere near where I live, but when I travel, I try to find one!
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