Sunday, January 4, 2009

Road Trip: Sedona and the Grand Canyon

Jason and I had a very loose schedule for our road trip through Arizona. No real itinerary, no plans, no appointments ...

Except I had basically mapped out the whole vacation to include every vegan or veg-friendly restaurant possible.

Our first stop was Green in Tempe. Because of traffic delays, we didn't end up having lunch until 4 p.m., and I choked down the "chicken" parm sandwich without even chewing.

It was my first time trying Teese vegan cheese, and it was wonderful. Great melty texture and it didn't taste like crayons, as so many other vegan cheeses do.

(No photo of the sandwich, but here's what the place looked like on the inside.)

We made it to Sedona well after dark, when most of the town rolls up the sidewalk. My vegan choices appeared slim.

We ended up at Dahl and DiLuca, and I don't have enough good things to say about them. The waiter was very kind in helping me make vegan selections from their menu, and the chef came out of the kitchen to make certain everything was OK.

Because I couldn't have butter with the bread, they whipped up a little dip of herbs, olive oil and garlic. Then I had a salad of baby mixed greens and nuts, followed by a plate of angel hair pasta tossed with savory mushrooms and tomatoes.

Lunch the next day came from D'Lish Very Vegetarian, a sweet little place in downtown Sedona.

The chef convinced me to try his special "vegan pizza omelet."

Well, it wasn't quite pizza. And it wasn't quite an omelet. Actually I'm not sure what it was, because it looked like a quesadilla, and it tasted like a tofu scramble, and it was piled with fresh dill, and it came with a side of salsa. It was one of the strangest flavor combinations I've ever had, but it was absolutely mouthwatering.

I was excited about dinner at Oaxaca, because all of their ads boasted "Vegetarian!"

My disappointment began when I saw the handwritten sign on the door: "No chips today. Sorry for the inconvenience." And then it continued when I scanned the menu and found only a couple vegan entrees -- a bean burrito and veggie fajitas.

The burrito was just OK, nothing remarkable. It made me sad, because I know from experience that vegetarian Mexican food can taste a lot fresher and more vibrant.

The best part of the meal was a slice of grilled cactus with a romesco sauce (which actually hails from Spain, but what the hell), made from almonds, garlic, olive oil and red peppers.

Too bad the cactus was cold and slippery by the time it came to the table.

On the way to the Grand Canyon we stopped at Macy's European Coffee House and Bakery in Flagstaff, a hip vegetarian cafe that seems to be owned by Baha'i people, because there were pictures and quotes from Baha'u'llah all over the place.

This place was awesome, and I could have stayed there all day. The coffee was robust and freshly roasted, and I thoroughly enjoyed a heaping plate of vegan waffles with fresh fruit.

Later, a snowstorm at the Grand Canyon resulted in gorgeous photos ...

... but the roads were bad enough to keep us from Bright Angel Lodge, where I've heard they have an awesome vegan black bean soup served in a sourdough bowl.

Jason ventured out of the hotel to pick up a cheeseless pizza that was fairly bland, but filled our tummies.

And then we headed for home.