Day 151 of the Nowhere To Be Project marked our second day onboard the Viking Sky. Having visited London several times before, we tried to make it a day of seeing things we’ve never seen before. In short, we did what we do best…wander! It was fantastic! There were two extra special highlights: 1- seeing the ruins of a Roman gravel road from the first century (amazing to see such history) at Southwark Cathedral, AND 2- the fact that London is a trailblazer in terms of vegan offerings (choices at every literally every restaurant and pub we walked by)!
We thought we’d beat the heat in the ship’s infinity pool after eight hours of walking the city. Unfortunately, the water was as hot as the asphalt we’d been traversing all day (hot tub hot)! Looking forward to cooler days ahead as we sail for Dover this evening. Anchors away!
On Day 150 of the Nowhere To Be Project we arrived in London on a red-eye to board the Viking Sky. Despite the exhaustion, we’re thrilled to be back although the record heat hit us like a ton of bricks. Upon arrival at Heathrow, we were greeted by friendly Viking staff and transported via coach to Greenwich, an area that is completely new to us. Since our luggage hadn’t caught up with us yet, we hoofed it out immediately to explore Greenwich and stumbled upon the Greenwich Market, a mix of vendors hocking hand-crafted and vintage items. It was then that I found Ruby’s of London and my jet-lagged spirit lightened at the sight of their vegan cakes and cupcakes. I’m much too tired to say much more as we sit and sip at Greenwich Tavern, so I’ll just leave you with a look at my takeaway haul.
On Day 140 of the Nowhere To Be Project I enjoyed another fantastic meal and just had to share it with you! I dined at White Bison in Vail. The restaurant’s namesake (the White Bison) is sacred in Native American culture, reportedly bringing great abundance to those who spot one. I’ve visited this restaurant a handful of times, mostly due to their outstanding open air terrace overlooking Gore Creek. Today’s experience was so pleasant that the view became secondary. Similar to most other restaurants in Vail, their menu is meat-centric. The difference at White Bison is that the staff and chef go above and beyond to accommodate the dietary needs of their diners. This level of service, paired with a desire to please their patrons, is so refreshing in an area where that authenticity is often absent.
We chose three menu items to share, all of which were already meat and egg free. Minor tweaks in the preparation made them dairy free as well. This amazing feast began with an appetizer of their flavorful crispy French fries. We usually don’t eat fries, but we spotted these on a fellow diner’s table and just had to try them. They were excellent!
Next we had the charred Caesar salad without cheese or anchovies, and with the addition of a nice vegan garlic dressing. Again, this dish was outstanding. The watermelon seeds and paper thin fresh beet slices helped to make this a standout. Even more char on the romaine lettuce would not be a bad thing though.
Finally, we shared the gnocchi which was drizzled with a luscious truffle oil. The dish was very unique with the addition of baby carrots, fava beans and snap peas. The savory blend of flavors was like nothing we’ve ever tasted. It quickly became our favorite recent meal and something that we will absolutely order again.
Be sure to try White Bison on your next visit to Vail!
As always, opinions and experiences are mine. I am never compensated in any way.
Day 137 of the Nowhere To Be Project was all about burgers (not the first time and sure won’t be the last:). Legend has it that the hamburger was created in Hamburg, Germany when ground beef was mixed with garlic and onions and served in an open-faced sandwich. This may be the case, but as a chronic world traveler and part-time hamburglar, I can confidently say that America has commandeered ownership of the hamburger. It’s no surprise then that a U.S. company has created what they call the Beyond Burger. The Beyond Burger is a very popular plant-based hamburger patty. It is the brainchild of the Beyond Meat Company, an innovator in plant-based options. The Beyond Burger is nicknamed the “bleeding burger” because its appearance and texture resemble that of a traditional beef hamburger. With the growing interest in healthier plant-based options, the Beyond Burger has become a very hot commodity with many stores struggling to keep it in stock. It is also popping in at many chain restaurants in the U.S. and the U.K.
As a burger-loving vegan, I prepare Beyond Burgers quite frequently. I either pan fry them or grill them. In my opinion, the pan frying gives them more flavor and a rich crust.
I am always trying to add a new twist each time I make them and today, I must say that I took the burger way, way beyond in the best of ways.
To begin, I warmed a tablespoon of avocado oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Next, I added sliced white button mushrooms to the pan, sprinkled them with a bit of garlic salt and sautéed them until they were just shy of crispy. I then placed a thawed Beyond Burger patty in the same pan, cooking it for about three to four minutes on each side. During the final minute of cooking, I spooned two tablespoons of Treeline soft french-style herb-garlic nut cheese on top of the patty and covered the pan with a lid. Once the cheese had warmed, I popped the patty onto thick piece of toasted sourdough bread coated in a layer of dijon mustard. The final touch was made when the mushrooms were spooned over the burger and a second slice of sourdough was placed on top. Yum!
I have not been compensated in any way for this post and have no vested interest in Beyond Meat or Treeline Cheese. As always, I write about my perspective alone.
Day 132 of the Nowhere To Be Project brought me the sudden realization that I pretty much live out of a bag. I do have a home base that is filled with a lifetime of memories and possessions, but with a life of near constant travel, my suitcase definitely gets much more use than my closet. Even when I’m home (as I have been for the past couple weeks), I keep the bag packed.
You may be wondering what the heck is in this always-at-the-ready travel bag? Besides about ten monochromatic mix and match (always black except for summer when white is prominent) wardrobe staples, I have several must have items with me always.
1- Small Toiletry Kit stocked with essentials: medication, toothbrush, SPF moisturizer and lip gloss. I use a zippered clutch that doubles as a purse with a pop of color.
2- Eye-mask and Earplugs – I protect good sleep no matter where I might be in the world! These two are sleep’s best friends!
3- Inflatable Pillow and DreamSack – These small luxuries are the (slightly larger) natural extensions of the eye-mask and earplugs. They take just a few cubic inches of space yet create a clean sleeping space anywhere.
4- Smartphone with Charger – A globally-enabled smartphone is a no-brainer. It provides basic tools like a compass and flashlight along with the ability to communicate and stay entertained. Mine is loaded with favorite travel and entertainment apps.
5- Noise Canceling Headphones – The tiny pocket headphones that we all use everyday may seem more practical for some travelers, but I find that they are not as effective in noisy conditions…R.V., airplane, ship, etc. Noise canceling headphones make movies, music and audio books a possibility in any setting.
On Day 127 of the Nowhere To Be Project coffee was on my mind. I am NOT a Starbucks person. I am certain the Starbuck’s fans are now hurling spit balls at the screen, but hear me out. You could be in any Starbucks in the world and it would look, feel, smell and taste the same. I know some people love that type of predictability hence the popularity of worldwide chains. I, however, cannot stand it. In my mind, there is no place better for connecting with a culture than the local independent coffee shop, whether it be in Paris, Vienna or Vail, Colorado.
There are a few independent coffee shops in the Vail Valley. Yeti’s Grind has a cozy location in Vail Village, and another in Eagle. It offers mostly standard brews and a limited snack-type menu. My favorite thing about Yeti’s Grind is their local feel and adorable branded merchandise.
The Bookworm Cafe is located in Edwards, housed within a popular bookstore. They share the local vibe of Yeti’s Grind, but add a kitcheny feel to it. In other words, sipping coffee here makes one feel as if they’re in a friend’s kitchen. The Bookworm Cafe has good coffee, but amazing soups! This makes their monthly soup subscription popular with locals.
My new favorite coffee shop is actually more of a market. Hovey & Harrison is a relative newcomer in the Vail Valley with just over one year of business under their belts. I would describe their bright and open space as industrial farmhouse. It includes a market section with fresh fruits and vegetables, a space for prepared meals and spices to go, and a bakery/cafe. The cafe offers an interesting and thoughtful menu chock full of unique coffees, teas, beers and wines. I am happy to share that I enjoyed the best latte of my life at Hovey & Harrison. The drink was a ginger-turmeric latte and it was fabulous beyond words with a smooth, mild and ever so slightly spicy taste. I would have liked it even more if the almond milk used to create it was unsweetened. That leads me to the only bit of advice I might offer the pros at my new favorite, please add a non-sweetened plant milk to the list of options for those who, like me, try to limit sugar in their diets.
On Day 122 of the Nowhere To Be Project I took a break from the still crowded sidewalks of Vail to visit the town of Minturn. This tucked away town is just a few miles from Vail, but feels as if it is a world away. I’ve been visiting Minturn for 40+ years and in all that time it has managed to hang on to its rebellious spirit.
If Vail is primped and puckered, Minturn is well-worn and drooling. Minturn has just refused to shake its anti-establishment vibe in the face of the resortization (did I just create a word?) of mountain towns and that most definitely adds to its appeal.
Minturn was established in the late 1800s as a mining and railroad town. The mine and the rails are long gone, but the pioneer spirit remains in the town’s historic buildings, rushing waters and narrow streets. Situated at the confluence of Gore Creek and the Eagle River, restaurants and shops of assorted varieties dot Minturn’s Main Street. On summer Saturdays from 9am until 2pm local artisans, growers and food trucks flood the Minturn Farmer’s Market. The selection rivals other summer markets in the Vail Valley and prices are a tad lower. Simply stated, Minturn is a fun spot to wander for a few hours, especially if you’re looking to give your wallet a break from the highfalutin surrounding ski towns.
On Day 116 of the Nowhere To Be Project I found myself at my very favorite summer market, the Vail Farmer’s Market. The market winds through the village and is stocked with fresh fruits and veggies, beautiful blooms, a vast variety of handcrafted local foods, goods and art. Patrons walk the streets to the tune of live jazz music and the sounds of the rushing water in Gore Creek while marveling at the blossoming flower baskets perched in every nook and cranny of this lovely alpine town. Among my favorite finds are the local Palisades peaches, the amazing juices and snacks at the all vegan Green Elephant Juicery and the cute hand painted clogs by the Swedish Clog Cabin (I’ve literally been a fan of their designs since I began walking:-). Vail’s summer market is always ranked among the best farmer’s markets in the west and as a connoisseur of sorts, I would place it among the top in the whole world. People come from all around the globe to visit the wondrous mountain village of Vail and those who are lucky enough to be here on a summer Sunday soon realize that the Vail Farmer’s Market is a must see!
On Day 111 of the Nowhere To Be Project I had mad cravings for macaroni and cheese. It is, after all, one of life’s simplest pleasures, isn’t it? The problem is that most vegan versions I’ve tried aren’t great. I’ve tried time and time again to recreate the dairy laden home-style version my kids beg me for using plant-based ingredients, but have never really been successful. They usually ended up with a Play-Doh taste and texture and no one wants that.
Well, today the seas parted and pigs flew because I finally did it. I created an amazing vegan version of my old friend, mac ‘n’ cheese. It is very quick and simple to make. I hope you’ll like it as much as we do!
Here’s what you’ll need:
8 ounces dried macaroni
1/4 cup plant-based butter
2 cups plant-based half & half
2 Tbsp flour
4-6 slices Chao original flavor cheese, torn into thin strips
Salt to taste
Freshly ground Herbes de Provence to taste (optional)
+Begin by salting and boiling water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package instructions (usually about 8-10 minutes).
+While the macaroni is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan in low heat.
+Add the half & half to the melted butter and whisk until blended.
+Whisk the flour into the butter-cream mixture one tablespoon at a time until smooth and lump-free.
+Slowly add the cheese, continuing to whisk the mixture until smooth and creamy.
+Stir in salt to taste. Add the ground Herbes de Provence at this time as well, stirring just until mixed.
+Remove the cheese sauce from the heat and drain your pasta, leaving it slightly wet.
+Return the cooked pasta to the pot and pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, stirring gently until all noodles are coated.
On Day 105 of the Nowhere To Be Project I was faced with a new side effect of constant travel. It came in the form of well-worn jeans that decided that today was the day they’d simply refuse to button. This happens to everyone, right? My mind immediately attempted to rationalize the affront by blaming the dryer for shrinking the pants, but deep down I knew that my Nowhere To Be Project lifestyle was the real culprit.
A life of constant travel brings temptation in so many forms. Food is a big one because for me, truly experiencing a place hinges on indulging in local dishes. Add to these bites the local wines that absolutely must be tried and I’m headed for trouble. So, even though I exercise daily and follow a plant-based diet, the jet-setting mojo is catching up with me. What to do?
Well, as tempting as it is, I’m not going to buy bigger pants and I will always aggressively shun the Spanx-life. I also refuse to change my pace of travel because who knows how long the opportunity to wander aimlessly will last? I will, however, do my very best to add additional exercise (e.g. more cardio and at least twenty burpees a day) and cut back on portion sizes a bit until that button on my jeans relents. How do you battle the side effects of fun?