One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Restaurant Review: The Last Carrot Miami, FL

Two weeks in Miami sounds like the ultimate vacation to some but for me it was nothing but endless meetings, a bad hotel exercise room and an endless stack of take out menu’s to pick out my dinner from. Inevitably that means a choice between pizza or Chinese. After alternating between the two for days I finally had to branch out. Thankfully a kind spirit took pity on my poor soul’s yearning for fresh vegetables and “real” vegan food and shuttled me down to The Last Carrot (3133 Grand Ave, Coconut Grove Miami, FL).

The Last Carrot isn’t much to look at, but from the second I walked in the door I knew that I had made it to a little slice of vegan heaven. Instead of trying to decide between Chinese take out classics like Buddha’s Delight and Bean Curd & Eggplant or pizza (no cheese) plus a meager list of toppings from the local pizzeria, I had a full menu to choose from including vegan desserts! It had only been a week since I dined at an ultra vegan-friendly restaurant but it seemed like an eternity and I took my time looking over the menu. Would I try the Spicy Tofu Pita Sandwich? Maybe the Hummus Pita? Homemade Veggieburgers are always a safe choice. Or did I want to go for one of their ginormous (yes that’s a word, because I say so!) salads. Maybe some hearty soup and a salad. Then there was the prospect of having a smoothie made from real fruit, not concentrated fruit juice or syrups. As I tried to make my decision I looked down to see a huge vegan cake beckoning me to come closer and a full case of vegan cookies and brownies. What’s a little Vegan Guinea Pig to do with such choices put in front of her?

Well after mulling over the menu for at least 10 minutes I finally decided on the Spicy Tofu Pita which turned out to be one of their ginormous salads complete with bean sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbal dressing (which was also a bit spicy) topped with two generous portions of baked spicy tofu. It was one of those sandwiches that begins to fall apart as soon as you eat it, so there is no attractive way of going about devouring it. I just went for it full force. Salad dressing on my cheeks, I think some of it even got on my nose. Lettuce and sprouts falling onto my plate. I didn’t care. It was all just too good to care who was watching or what they were thinking. I would have never imagined that I could ever be this excited to eat fresh vegetables! After the sandwich I was already 99% full. I knew there was no way a smoothie was going to fit in my stomach so I gave in to temptation and decided to go for the vegan cake that had been whispering sweet nothings in my ear since I walked in the door. It was a chocolate, coconut, ganache-ish cake. Mind you, the name of the cake didn’t sound as great as the looks of the cake but I thought I’d give it a try anyway. Boy am I glad I did! All the flavors blended together seamlessly and I found myself scraping the crumbs of it off my plate.

The bottom line is, next time your in Miami get yourself down to The Last Carrot. Your belly will thank you.

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