[Click here for Part Une]
For dinner on our second night in New Orleans, we decided to get in our car and leave the French Quarter for a little Chinese restaurant uptown, August Moon. The Chinese restaurants here in Jackson are sadly lacking in the vegan (and taste) departments, so D. and I were really looking forward to this meal.
The restaurant was clean and pleasant, but we were the only customers. Perhaps that’s because we were there around 9:00, though nine on a Saturday night in New Orleans doesn’t really sound that late to me. (Insert plea here for more people to visit New Orleans. Restaurants like this need your business!)
We started out with Tofu Spring Rolls, and being new to this photography-in-restaurants thing, we dove right in and started to eat them before remembering that I needed to get a photo. As you can see from my broken roll in front, they consisted of a slab of fried tofu, lettuce, and noodles wrapped up in rice paper. I thought the large piece of tofu was a delicious change from the more delicate rolls I usually make, but the sauce was just so-so. It was too heavy on the hoisin sauce, but I’m really not complaining; I would be happy to see these rolls on a menu here in Jackson.
We chose two tofu dishes as our main courses–I wanted the General Tao’s tofu and D. wanted the Kung Bo, so we decided to get them both. (In hindsight, I wish we’d opted for the eggplant, but if it was on the menu that night, I didn’t notice it.) I liked that the Kung Bo had a variety of vegetables–bok choy, mushrooms, and snow peas, among others–but the sauce on the General Tao’s (in foreground) was tastier to me. D. said that the Kung Bo sauce grew on him after a few minutes.
It was pretty late (at least for these old people) by the time we made our way back to the Quarter, but we decided to drop in on a small bar near our hotel. This was more of a local bar, not a tourist spot, and we enjoyed the drinks our bartender “THC” mixed up. (I almost stumped him by ordering a drink he’d never heard of, but he was able to recreate it perfectly from my description.)
The next morning, I had high hopes for something that non-vegans take for granted: breakfast. When you’re traveling, the hardest meal for a vegan to find is breakfast. Sure, you can often get toast or a bagel or grits, if you’re in the South, but a really satisfying vegan breakfast is hard to come by unless you’re lucky enough to find a vegetarian restaurant. I’m not a morning person, but ever since I’d seen the Slim Goodies Diner menu online, I’d become obsessed with trying their Vegan Slammer or Vegan Breakfast (or both, since I would have my partner there to share his with me). There was even a Vegetable Napoleon that looked good, if we decided to venture away from the traditional breakfast options.
Unfortunately, Slim Goodies was packed, the waiting list was long, and their menu was abbreviated to their “Brunch and Bizzy Day” menu, which did not include any of the vegan options. We would have stayed and seen if they could accommodate our veganness, but our plans had changed and we had to be somewhere soon. So, hungry and in a hurry, we left Slim Goodies and went down the street to a CC’s where we had some good coffee (soy latte for me) and a couple of dry bagels. Story of my vegan life!
Now, we hadn’t planned on having to be anywhere. Our original intention was to check out of the hotel, have a leisurely breakfast, and spend the rest of the day and night at D.’s mother’s house, where E. and Jazzy, our dog, were waiting for us. But, D’s sister and his cousins had come up with another idea–to drive over to Biloxi and spend a night at the beach. Even though it was somewhat inconvenient having Jazzy in tow, we made a reservation at a motel that takes pets, picked up Jazzy from my in-laws, and headed east toward the Gulf Coast, where we were to meet up with E. and the others. After all, could you turn down this child’s plea to swim in the ocean?
We met up at the beach with D’s mom and 14 other family members. (Seriously, his family travels in a pack; I’ve never heard of any of them going away alone for a vacation or even a weekend, which probably explains why it’s taken my husband 5 years to arrange a little alone time for us–it’s just not in his blood.) E. had a great time playing in the water with her cousins, though Jazzy wasn’t so thrilled with her first visit to the beach. After finding the water salty and scary, this was about as close as she wanted to get:
She did love all the attention she got from everyone, including our niece A., who enjoyed playing with her outside of the hotel swimming pool.
Unfortunately, if Biloxi offers any opportunities for vegan dining, we didn’t try to find them. No one wanted to venture away from the hotel, so we ordered perhaps the worst cheeseless pizza ever and ate it (or tried to) in the room. Many of the restaurants we used to visit on the coast are now gone, and driving down the beach road is an exercise in depression; so many of the beautiful old houses and trees have simply vanished, washed completely away. The fact that we were able to get hotel rooms at the last minute on Memorial Day is evidence that recovery is going to be a long time in coming to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. (Insert plea for tourists to visit the Gulf Coast: The sand on the beaches is nice and white and the crowds are light. Stock your little motel fridge with vegan food and cook it in your tiny microwave. It’s doable! )
The next day we made our way home. Though the trip had been wonderful and the food good, I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, and my stomach was rumbling for less-fatty, more veggie-centric fare. It’s going to take a lot of exercising to work off all that fried tofu!