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Category: travel (page 1 of 15)

Paradisus Playa del Carmen, Day 3

See Day 1 & Day 2

Normally we’d use this free day to go diving, but our attempts at arrangements failed. We did end up diving on Monday though.

I completely failed to get a picture of breakfast from the buffet at Paradisus this trip. Breakfast usually ends up being one of the easiest and most satisfying meals. There’s always lots of fresh fruit, cereals, bread, and peanut butter. There was a smoothie station, but I just stuck with the fresh green juice they had. There wasn’t any out, but the server brought us soy milk for our coffee and cereal.This is usually how it works at resorts and on cruise ships.

daiquiri on the beach

beach playa del carmen

We spent the morning at the beach and the afternoon at the pool. I may have had this daiquiri before noon. Sue me. In between, we grabbed a light lunch from the buffet. As I’ve probably said before, the buffets are often your best bet.

vegan salad guacamole chips

We had dinner with the company the last night. We were greeted with trays of margaritas. I had a standard one or two but then the guy somehow pawned off this electric green one on me. It was green apple, I think. It was too sweet but I drank it anyway.

electric green margarita

Like the first night, we went up to the buffet to get salad. They had jicama this time, yay! Also, Guacamole. Every. Meal.

vegan salad, jicama, guacamole

And then they brought us a “special” vegan main dish. A vegetable lasagna. It was .. okay. It’s just disappointing when you know they have a nice array of ingredients to choose from and yet they choose a pretty boring dish to make.

vegan lasagna

In general, I’m just glad there was enough food we could eat. But these resorts aren’t cheap. A quick search of the resort’s site quoted me $340/night. Who knows how much Kevin’s company is paying. Unless we were both heavy drinkers, it just isn’t worth that much for us to ever consider staying at one of these resorts on our own dime. Especially when you see in upcoming posts what we got for less than a third of that.

Anyway, the bottom line is that as a vegan if your company takes you to one of these resorts, you will be fine, but the vegan food is generally not at the same level as what they serve everyone else.

 

 

Vegan Meal at Molé at Paradisus Playa del Carmen

Near the main lobby and all the bars, there are pools filled with Koi and turtles. Little Koi and huge Koi. Apparently they get fed a lot of scraps by guests. If you stood on the edge the water would roil with them. I’m not pro keeping fish, but I did enjoy their antics.

koi fish

koi fish

The second day at Paradisus, we had a breakfast “meeting” then the group activity. It was a crazy long day. We took a bus ride for about 45 minutes. We were outfitted with snorkels and masks and then we headed to Akumal Beach where we got to snorkel with big ol’ sea turtles and rays. It’s a protected area for the turtles. The people are roped into an area, but the turtles are free to come and go. So there’s no danger of them being harassed; they can just leave.

We went back the jungle area, changed clothes, and ate lunch. Sadly, the beans weren’t vegan so we ate tortillas and guacamole with some steamed vegetables. Not too bad.

Then we climbed up a huge, rickety tower and repelled off the side of it. You know who went first? The ladies. The first four down were all women. Yeah.  After that we climbed more rickety towers and zip-lined around. It was my first time repelling or zip lining. Honestly climbing the tower is the worst part.

After that we cooled off in a cenote, a fresh water river under ground in a cave. The cave was full of bats. I love bats. The tour we took last year was a much longer tour of a cenote. We wore wet suits then. We did not have on wet suits this time and it was cold! But refreshing after the day’s activities.

Oh yeah, no pictures of all this. But the company got pictures from the tour company, so maybe I’ll get my mitts on those at some point.

One of the reasons why people book resorts like Paradisus, other than the all-you-can-drink plan, is the food. The resorts usually have an assortment of specialty restaurants serving all kinds of different fare. If you’re lucky, one of them might actually have the cuisine of the country you are in.

Eating at Molé

Friday evening, after all the activities, the company people split up into groups and had reservations at the various restaurants. Our group went to Molé, which specialized in contemporary Mexican cuisine. Woohoo! This was the only time we went to one of these restaurants this trip, but they went out of their way to take care of the vegans.

In addition to guacamole, that was prepared at the table, the kitchen sent out this off-menu appetizer for us. It was beans and maybe a squash pureé on tortillas, I think. It was tasty whatever it was.

vegan appetizer at mole paradisus

guacamole at mole paradisus

Oh, and margaritas. Cucumber margaritas.

cucumber margarita

Next, this gorgeous salad with an agave dressing.

vegan salad at mole paradisus

Our main dish was black bean enchiladas. Sadly, the molé contained chicken stock so they substituted this red sauce. It was delicious, but I’d hoped to have an authentic molé. That’s okay, I got it later after leaving the resort.

vegan enchiladas

Before dessert, I think, we got a little dry ice show. It was pretty dramatic.

dry ice show

dry ice show

At first, our server thought that mango sorbet would be our only vegan dessert option. But the chef whipped up something for us so we got two desserts! It was a sweet nut mixture wrapped in phyllo dough. Pretty much a Mexican baklava. And it was awesome.

mango sorbet

vegan phyllo dessert

The vegan meal at Molé was the best we’ve had at a resort, so I highly recommend it. Even though that’s a pretty low bar to clear.

And thus ends day two. For me at least. Kevin went back out to hang out with work people and a bunch of crazy shit went down. Because alcohol. But you’ll have to ask him about that.

Vegan at Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla, Day 1

soy vegano - i am vegan

Kevin got to go on the company club trip again this year, which means I got to go, which is pretty cool. They decided to go back to Playa del Carmen this year, but booked a different resort, Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla. There are actually two sides to this resort and La Perla is the adults only side. Thankfully.

Last year when we went, I made a few posts about vegan food in Playa del Carmen. This year’s visit will also generate a few posts. Especially since we were there for two weeks. Let’s get back to the resort though.

At check-in, we got these nifty cards to show wait staff. “I am vegan.” And I will say that unlike last year, the staff generally seemed to understand what that meant. So that was awesome!

paradisus playa del carmen la perla room

Since I’m really terrible at getting good pictures of the room, I just took one. There you go. It’s huge and ridiculous with a sitting area, a tub you could host a party in and a two-sided shower that’s about the size of my current whole bathroom. If you want pretty pics, check out their site.

After we got checked in, we got on our bathing suits and headed to the little grill next to the pool. Or, a pool. The one nearest our room. The pickings were a little slim on the menu but we weren’t starving so we were okay with chips and guac, fries and fruit. The fruit was super fresh and tasted amazing. I hadn’t had it served with lime and chili powder since I visited Mexico back in 2006 and had forgotten how amazing that is. I recall it being standard on the breakfast menu at the Mexican hotels we stayed in that trip.

french fries

fresh fruit with lime and chili powder

vegan chips and guacamole

The next big decision was what was going to be my drink this trip. The resort is all-inclusive as they are pretty much every year, so that’s a situation I like to take advantage of, just not to the point of illness or verbal diarrhea. So I started with a gin and tonic. It went down okay, but I switched to frozen lime daiquiris. I can make a gin and tonic at home, but I’m way too lazy to make a frozen daiquiri.

gin and tonic

After spending all afternoon at the pool, it was time to go get dressed for the opening reception. The theme was blue. Everybody wear blue. Blue isn’t a color I generally wear, so I found the cheapest thing I could at Old Navy that looked reasonable, a dress for about $12. Score! To be extra ridiculous, Kevin raided their promotional items for a racing shirt with the company logo on it. There’s a picture. If I get a digital copy, I’ll add it to this post.

The company dinners are usually buffet style. We eat salads from the buffet and then they bring us a vegan main dish. Here’s what we ended up with the first night.

The salad assortment. The dressing was really nice for the green salad, a hibiscus vinaigrette, I think.

vegan salads and bread

And this is a vegan ratatouille, I think. I’m not a big fan of eggplant, so this was pretty meh for me. It tasted fine, I just hate when you come to another country and you get some random dish like this. But that seems to be a running theme in these resorts.

vegan ratatouille

Oh dang, the drink of the night was some blue drank. I have no idea what was in it, but I drank a couple. Sadly, no picture.

Thus ends day 1. I got sun burned a little. And didn’t get drunk. So it was a good day. I’m probably going to post day by day at the resort and then maybe two more posts. That should be plenty.

 

 

Eating Vegan on the Road: 500 Miles Atlanta <--> Central Virginia

Sometimes when we travel, it’s more about the food than the trip. Asheville, I’m looking at you. But sometimes we need to travel somewhere for other reasons, usually involving relatives or maybe work.

Eating vegan on the road used to be a little more challenging but with chains like Chipotle stepping up it’s become so much easier. And if you have time to veer off the highway, Happy Cow can help you find vegan friendly spots along the way.

On this recent trip to Virginia, I decided to pack a small cooler with food for the way there. A Tofurky cold cut sandwich, some chips that I got at a gas station when filling up and maybe some Oreos ended up going into my pie hole. I really wanted a Chick-O-Stick, but none of the convenience stores seemed to have them. It’s definitely less than a perfect road trip without Chick-O-Stick.

I brought Tak along. She’s a pretty good traveler but on the way there she’s so excited that she doesn’t want to lay down and sleep. Which wore her out pretty good. And that was fine.

boston terrier on a road trip

Normally when I go visit my mom, I make every effort to go into Richmond and eat all of their vegan food. But this time was more about family, so I brought some provisions and stuck close to home.

Since I was driving, I hauled the Vitamix with me so I could have smoothies every morning. I also used it to make a raw cashew cheesecake that I took to our Passover dinner. Other provisions included Soy Curls, BBQ sauce, tofu, nutritional yeast, black salt and some Earth Balance. I knew my mom would have vegetables, so this was plenty to keep me fed.

The first night, my mom and partner wanted to go out to dinner. And they didn’t want to go to Richmond. So I got on my phone and started searching around for something. A Mexican place called Don Pepe popped up and they had a vegetarian section to their menu. That’s something I can work with. By the way, this place is right off of I-95 if you’re ever passing through.

As you can see, I was a bit hungry and attacked this before I remembered to take a picture. It’s a bean burrito with rice and I got an order of guacamole as well. It was really good. The sauce on the burrito was fresh and flavorful. And the guacamole wasn’t filled with a bunch of filler like some places do.

eating vegan on the road mexican  food in chester, virginia

The next night, I made BBQ Soy Curls with sautéed kale and a couple of pieces of toast. Soy Curls make an excellent provision since they don’t require refrigeration and they’re light. As a matter of fact, I’m making a mental note right now to pack some when we head to Mexico in a couple of months. My mom was pretty adventurous this visit and tried the BBQ Soy Curls and really liked them.  Whenever I cooked something, she pretty much ate what I ate.

vegan bbq soy curls, kale, toast

For Passover, I made up a batch of tofu scramble and took a little box with me. It was packed with veggies too so it could be a full meal. There were various munchies around I could eat as well. I’m assuming you’ve seen a tofu scramble and also I forgot to take a picture, so here’s a lovely haggadah.passover

The next day, we met some family at the cemetery to visit relatives.

grave stone at Blandford Cemetery

Then headed to Old Town Petersburg to walk around. This is a good side trip from Richmond.

old bricks in petersburg virginia

old brick facade in petersburg virginia

After that, my mom and I grabbed lunch at Wabi Sabi. The menu is a mix of sushi and sandwiches. With the sushi option, I knew I could make something work. That something turned out to be veggie sushi with a side of sweet potato fries. My mom may or may not have learned an important lesson about wasabi when she accidentally scooped up the whole dollop with a piece of her sushi. Ouch!

vegan sushi

sweet potato fries

wabi sabi petersburg virginia

Finally, my last day in town, we did make it to Richmond for lunch. There was a new place I was thinking about trying, but they were closed Mondays, so we went to an old favorite, Ipanema Cafe.  It’s a vegetarian sandwich place with lots of vegan options, including a jackfruit sandwich, and more importantly vegan pie. ipanema cafe richmond virginia

My mom and I both got the tempeh reuben. Delicious and only a little messy. My mom really liked it which is pretty impressive. Tempeh can be a hard sell.

tempeh reuben at ipanema cafe richmond virginia

And pie could not be resisted. My choice was the cherry pie which I had with the soy ice cream because it was the right decision to make. It had a crumb top and shortbread crust. Yum!

vegan cherry pie from ipanema cafe in richmond virginia

After that fine dessert, coffee was necessary and Harrison Street Coffee Shop, another favorite, is right around the corner. They also have simple sandwiches and vegan breakfast items. Plus it’s one of my favorite coffee shop spaces. Oh, it’s also vegetarian. Yay!

eating vegan on the road harrison street coffee shop iced latte

On the drive back, I didn’t want to worry with packing anything. I decided I’d just wing eating vegan on the road. This time I hit the old standby, Taco Bell. I learned the lesson long ago, to always check the innards of a wrapped food before biting unless you’re in a vegan restaurant. Taco Bell is no exception. Save yourself some grief and open them up at the counter before you take off. Even though my ticket was right, both of my burritos were wrong. They put some ranch sauce in my modified 7 layer burrito that doesn’t even come on it and there was cheese on my bean burrito. No worries, just had them remade and was on my way. Why did I go to Taco Bell rather than Chipotle? Because you can hold a Taco Bell burrito in one hand while driving.

taco bell bean burrito

How do you handle eating vegan on the road? Do you carry food, research spots along the way and plan or just wing it?

Completely vegan gluten-free cafe in Fort Lauderdale

No, it isn’t hard being vegan. But it’s still challenging to eat out in some place. Now, throw gluten-free into the mix. Again, it’s no problem at home, but on the road it’s nearly impossible. Unless you’re in Fort Lauderdale and you hit up the Green Bar & Kitchen.

Now I’m not gluten free. I eat plenty of it. Probably too much. But I do try to keep it in check. Because the best gluten filled goods are white breads, cakes, and other such naughties full of empty calories.

Vegan Gluten-free Brunch

We were in Fort Lauderdale about to go on a cruise and then again about to fly back home. So we made two stops into Green Bar & Kitchen. The first visit before the cruise, we got there a little before they opened. And a line quickly formed behind us. Because on Sundays they have brunch. Everyone loves brunch!

green bar vegan gluten free cafe

We had to take advantage of brunch. We got the pumpkin french toast and tofu scramble with potatoes. Remember, it’s also gluten-free. But LOOK AT IT! That french toast was not joking around.

vegan gluten free pumpkin french toast

vegan gluten free tofu scramble and potatoes

We’d had bagels earlier, so I was feeling more like having lunch. So I got the curried chick’n salad sandwich (Pea-soy protein, celery, red onion, raisins, cranberries, seasonings & mayo, served on flax & millet bread.) That bread is the best gluten-free bread I’ve ever had. It may be a little more delicate than gluten bread, but it’s so fluffy and perfect and it held up for the sandwich just fine.

vegan gluten free chicken salad sandwich vegan gluten free chicken salad sandwich

Do you like kombucha? They have it on tap! You can sample to see which one you’d like.

kombucha samples

And they have these things called Krunkin which are kind of like donut holes. They were good, but I’ve been fully spoiled by Ronald’s Donuts in Las Vegas. And I’ve never even been to Las Vegas. I’m getting sidetracked. If you’re craving donut like things that are vegan and gluten-free, these are for you.

vegan gluten free donut holes

Vegan Gluten-free Lunch

And here is where I’ve failed you all. We were with Kevin’s parents when we went back to Green Bar and for some dumb reason I didn’t take pictures. Wait! There ARE pictures! They were just hanging out unedited in my Camera+ app.

Kevin had the smoke house burger and I had the buffalo tempeh sandwich. I liked the tempeh sandwich but just wish the tempeh wasn’t so chunky. The burger was really good.

vegan gluten free smoke house burger

vegan gluten free buffalo tempeh

Green Bar also has a ton of raw options. All in all this is exactly the kind of food I want in a warm climate like Fort Lauderdale. They seem to be doing really well, so I hope to visit next time I’m down there. This location is close to the port, so it’s pretty convenient to grab a bite before or after a cruise.

green bar front door

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