Tag Archives: adventures

On cupcakes and amazing soup

7 Nov

Today my taller half and I ventured to Oklahoma City to attend The Girlie Show, a super kick-butt craft show full of talented ladies held every November. It’s a great opportunity to get started on holiday shopping, and it’s also a wonderful way to blow some of your holiday-shopping money on yourself.

Anyway, I don’t go to OKC terribly often because: 1. it’s an hour and a half away, 2. the toll costs $8 round trip, and 3. Tulsa is generally more awesome. Sorry friends, but it’s true. However, I do make it to Das Kapital several times a year, and it’s always a great opportunity to try out some tasty food. Today did not disappoint.

My first food encounter was the fine folks of culinary stop was a booth giving out free coffee samples from Elemental Coffee Roasters at The Girlie Show. I tried the Groove blend, which was light but still strong. I had about a shot-glass’s worth and was still bouncing off the walls. I should really never drink coffee twice in one day. All in all, it was a tasty brew, but I would have to try more blends before giving a real review. Also, I have no photos. No pictures, no write-up, I say.

Afterward, we ventured over to Saturn Grill in suburb Nichols Hills (which I didn’t realize until today even existed). Check out their interesting menu here. My cheese-loving half went with the Rustin Roman Pie:

It featured red sauce, roma tomato, red onion, fresh basil, mozzarella, goat cheese, and Kalamata olives. He was quite happy and ate every bite. I had a small nibble and gave it a thumbs up.

I veganized the Grilled Veggie Sandwich (held the mayo) and tried the daily soup, Pumpkin Ancho:

Oh my word. The sandwich was good — the veggies (zucchini, bell pepper, onion, portobello mushroom, plus spinach and tomato) were well grilled and full of flavor:

but the soup was one of the best soups I’ve ever had in my life. It had so much savory body and delectable spicy notes. It’s normally topped with sour cream and pecans, but I had them hold the dairy. I can’t imagine it would be better with it. I need to recreate the soup.

On the side were a trio of housemade pickles that I could sorta tolerate. That says a lot coming from me, an avowed pickle-hater. As I told the woman who worked there, they actually taste like a vegetable. My taller half loved the two pieces I didn’t touch.

Over all, I give it *** on the veggie-options scale and ***** on the tastiness scale. That soup inched it up an extra star. (See this post for more info on the scales.)

Saturn Grill has two locations, one at 6432 S. Avondale Dr. in Nichols Hills and another at 4401 W. Memorial in OKC.

———–

After lunch, we jetted a mere 0.7 miles up the road for cupcakes from Green Goodies by Tiffany — vegan cupcakes, in fact. A representative was there offering free samples at The Girlie Show, but none of the ones on offer were dairy-free. She told me, however, that vegan ones are available in the store every day, so I knew I wanted to drop by before we made the trek home.

It has an adorable exterior:

And an even cuter interior, but I didn’t take a photo. Silly Brigid. They offer a variety of flavors in organic, vegan/allergy-free, or diabetic-friendly and gluten-free. They do special orders, too. Pretty great, eh? Well, the proof is in the pudding cupcake.

Above is my taller half’s Salted Caramel (a vanilla cupcake with a caramel interior topped with buttercream frosting a caramel drizzle), and below is my vegan Green Hostess (a chocolate cupcake filled with vanilla buttercream and topped with chocolate ganache and a recognizable swirl). Here is what my love said about his:

The salted caramel cupcake rattled the walls and set fire to the floor!

I had a nibble and my goodness, it was incredible. Mine, however, was…also incredible! It tasted very much like a Hostess cupcake except instead of chemicals and beef fat, it was full of real-food flavor and a delicious dark-chocolate wallop. It was incredibly fluffy and moist, and the ganache was thick and chocolatey. The gal working today told me it’s their most popular flavor period. Check out the interior:

They can do any flavor in any of the preferred options (vegan, wheat-free, etc.) with advance notice. They also do cupcake towers for weddings and the like. If you’re in Oklahoma City, don’t miss out!

Over all, I give it ***** on the veggie-options scale and ***** on the tastiness scale. This is serious cupcake bidness. These are by far the best cupcakes — let alone vegan ones — I’ve had at a specialty shop.

Green Goodies by Tiffany is located at 7606 N. Western Ave. in Nichols Hills.

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Vacation Recap Part III: Florence

3 Nov

This is Part II of IV recapping my recent Italian excursion. Read Part I here and Part II here. You can also read about my tirade against American Airlines here.

So let’s see . . . where did we leave off? Oh yes, ‘twas the morning of October 7 and our departure from Brescia. It was time to hop on a train bound for Florence!

Because Brescia is a small town, getting to Florence required changing trains in Padova. We had a narrow, 15-minute window, and I knew that was going to be trouble. Italian trains are notoriously late; in fact, this trip featured the most consistent trains I’ve encountered. Both of my overnight trains before had been hours late. Anyway, inevitably our train to Padova was exactly 15 minutes late, but I wasn’t going to give up. We sprinted, bags in hand, down a flight of stairs, back up another, and then to our car on the other train. We made it! I can’t imagine it took longer than 30 seconds.

When we arrived in Florence, we walked to the hotel, Locanda Orchidea:

Ahhhhh. The fates smiled on us and gave us a free upgrade to a room with a private shower. Woo hoo! Look at how amazing the room was:

We paid €65 a night for this place. It’s unreal!

Over the next two days, we did the things one should do in Florence, such as climb 463 steps to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome in the Duomo:

Check out that view of Tuscany:

And wake up insanely early to be the first people in line for the Uffizi:

And enjoy the sunlight reflecting off Ponte Vecchio (that’s sunrise, folks, not sunset):

And buy clothes you just can’t live without:

Sweater dress from Zara and the most amazing vintage boots from a lovely boutique along the Arno.

If you go to Florence, you must:

  • Visit the Uffizi. It’s touristy for a reason. Every room is filled with amazing art, even the hallways. Get up early and go!
  • Have gelato at Grom.
  • See The David. Even if you don’t look at anything else in the Accademia, you would be crazy not to see this massive masterpiece.
  • Shop at Boutique Nadine on the Lungarno.

And now, food:

October 7
Our day started with the unpictured brioche and coffee I mentioned in Part II. The eating continued that afternoon with gelato from Grom:

I had salted caramel and fiordilatte, which is basically cream. My taller half had coffee and crema di Grom, the house specialty, which combines egg, Piedmontese cookies, and dark Columbian chocolate. The flavors were incredibly smooth, and I loved that the place uses some organic and lots of seasonal ingredients.

For dinner that evening, we had panini at Antico Noe`. I apologize for the insane crappiness of this photo, but we ate outside after dark:

I promise that isn’t bacon. Mine was filled with a squash-blossom frittata, and my love’s was Caprese-style (mozzarella, tomato, and basil). We both liked ours a lot, but mine was really, really, really good. We had more Italian Cokes on the side. Craving a little snack, we also had something crunchy and salty:


PAPRIKA PRINGLES! I love these things so much. I am sad every time I remember that they are not available in this country. I don’t know why Pringles wants to deprive Americans of this most delicious flavor of potato chips, but they do. Oh yes, and we had the Hot & Spicy ones, too. They were good, but I love Paprika, forever and always.

October 8
This day started earlier than I care to admit: 6 a.m. The guidebooks went on and on about four-hour lines at the Uffizi. Since we didn’t have a ton of time in Florence, this was not a good option for us. My taller half turned to me the day before and asked, “What are the chances you’ll get up at 5 tomorrow?” to which I could only reply, “Honestly, honey, there isn’t a chance in hell I’ll wake up that early.” We compromised with 6 instead. The museum didn’t open until 8:15, but by golly, we were the first two crazy people there.

Anyway, rising that early meant no breakfast beforehand. Instead, we explored half the museum and then ventured down to their bar around 10:00. I had a cappuccino and brioche (cream-filled), and he had just the former. Since I didn’t let my booty touch a chair, it was surprisingly inexpensive. And tasty, too. It’s unpictured, though, since we weren’t supposed to use cameras inside.

We saw lots of wonderful art, and I encourage all of you to read about it. I did not take pictures because I find it insane when people photograph pieces inside museums. It’s disrespectful and degrading to the work (and I mean that literally). Instead, Google the museum and get out there yourself someday.

After all that culturin’, these Okies needed some food. We walked over to ‘Ino, a paninoteca, for lunch. Mine had stroza (a kind of cheese) and a pesto made of zucchini. Sorry again for the blurriness.

My taller half enjoyed gorgonzola and mustard, which was not at all like the American variety. Both came on phenomenal bread. I could have eaten my weight in it.

After viewing the David (hey, baby), we had more gelato. But of course. This time, the location was Gelateria dei Neri:

I had white chocolate and Mexican chocolate. He had chocolate with orange and hazelnut. The chocolate with orange took the cake for Most Likely to Make You Slap Your Mama.

After some strolling and shopping (see above), we decided to have aperitivo at Pop Café for dinner. I sipped a Coke, and he had sparkling water, then we dove into the free buffet:

It was all-vegetarian at the beginning, but eventually the meat came out. Of the meat-free choices, we enjoyed a grain salad (I can’t figure out what kind) with tomatoes, bread, veggies with curry dip, and a tasty risotto. I had seconds of pretty much everything. I was getting a migraine, so we couldn’t stay long, but it was a tasty end to the busy, busy day.

October 9
We awoke early-ish for our departure from beautiful Florence. Since the hotel did not have breakfast available, we strolled down the road looking for Chiaroscuro, a café with a very positive reputation. However, they decided not to open on time, so we had to scramble to find somewhere else. Enter Bar Cucciolo (which means puppy – I love it!). It was close to the hotel and open, so we went for it.

Gorgeous cappuccino and coffee (mine and his). I also had a cream-filled brioche (obsessed much?). The service was delightful, and since they had just opened, everything was fresh. They also didn’t make us pay to sit – woo hoo! The walls had fun pictures from the bar’s early years in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. So fun and unexpected. I highly recommend the place. It was a delicious breakfast.

And then we grabbed our bags for our departure to Rome. Look for Part IV soon!

Vacation Recap Part II: Milan/Brescia

27 Oct

This is Part II of IV recapping my recent Italian excursion. Read Part I here. You can also read about my tirade against American Airlines here.

We left off on October 4, our final night in Venice. Though we were sad to leave the charming, water-logged city behind, we were also looking forward to the next leg of our adventure, namely Lombardy.

I spent six months in the big, bustling city of Milan as a college junior, doing my best to absorb the language, literature, and culture. My taller half was excited to check out my old stomping grounds, even if the city itself isn’t exactly a great tourist draw. So we hopped on a train and set off:

Milan is Italy’s true economic center, and as a result, it lacks the Italianness of the rest of the country. However, it has plenty of gems of its own. There’s La Scala, world-renowned opera house:

The duomo, one of the largest cathedrals in the world:

And, of course, plenty of Mussolini’s fascist architecture, such as the central train station:

Mainly, our goal for Milan was for me to walk my taller half through my life in the city. We walked outside my old apartment building, looked into the grocery stores I used, and after many attempts finally found where I took my classes. (The program has since moved.) I didn’t photograph these things this time around, but I have tons from my semester there.

After a very brief stint in Milan, we boarded another train bound for Brescia, a smaller city about 45 minutes away and, most importantly, home to my former roommate Alice (pronounced a-LEE-chay). Us five years ago:

Us a couple of weeks ago:

She was beautiful then, and she’s beautiful now.

Here are a few shots of Brescia. The old and new duomi:

The Roman ruins:

A lovely bridge:

If you plan a trip to Milan, you must:

  • Eat panzerotto at Luini (more details below)
  • Check out the duomo
  • Take a map and prepare to get lost

If you go to Brescia, you must:

  • Have gelato at Gelateria del Biondo (details below)
  • Climb to the top of the castle
  • Avoid dining out on Tuesday nights

And now, onto the food portion of this food blog.

October 5
The day started off with breakfast identical to the one I posted about in the first update. We needed fuel for the big day.

Upon arrival in Milan, I had one thing on my mind: panzerotto from Luini. Actually, I’ve had it on my mind since approximately June 15, 2005, shortly after my return to America. Somehow I held out until after our trek past my old apartment and school. This, my friends, is panzerotto:

Basically, it’s dough filled with mozzarella and tomato (or other fillings, but those are traditional) and then fried. For my Okie readers, the bread is similar to Indian fry bread. I was very happy:

Our evening was spent in Brescia, since we were houseguests of Alice and her fiancé. We flew mostly solo that evening, since they had a film fest they had to attend (one that they planned — Film Lab Festival). Before they left, we had aperitivo at a local bar. I had Italian Coca-Cola (made with real sugar!) and some potato chips. Then they were off.

My taller half and I were excited to try traditional Brescian food at a place recommended by one of the guidebooks and by Luca himself, a native Brescian. However, it was closed. In fact, many places were closed on that Tuesday night. It was very strange, indeed. After wandering around for what seemed like an eternity, we finally had dinner at a weird place called the Gold Lion, a faux Irish pub serving Italian dishes. There was bread and water:

And there were some definitely microwaved entrees. I had risotto with mushrooms:

It was pretty decent, actually. My love had polenta with cheese and French fries (the latter of which didn’t make the photo):

It wasn’t so good. In fact, it kinda sucked. However, it was food, and at one point, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to get any that night. While we dined, we listened to the gentle sounds of Chuck Norris dubbed into Italian.

We decided to have gelato afterward. I forgot to photograph it, but you aren’t missing out on much. I had coffee and hazelnut, and my taller half had the same plus tiramisu. It was probably the blandest gelato of the whole trip, but again, desperation won out.

October 6
I have almost no food pictures from this day – forgive me! Since I’m still a new food blogger, I wasn’t quite sure how to explain to my Italian friends why I was taking pictures of what I was eating. I will still share some details, though.

Alice had to work in the morning, so we were a bit leisurely rising. When she returned, she brought us brioche from a nearby place and made us coffee. Yum! Real Italian coffee.

After a morning stroll, we met Luca for lunch at the same bar where we took aperitivo. It’s one of those charming places that has no menu; they just come out to tell you what they are making that day. All four of us opted for the ravioli with ricotta and herbs in a delicious butter sauce. It was moan-tastic. You know I mean it if I’m using a made-up word. There was also bread, water, and meatless croquette-type-things. The meal made the night before’s taste like dirt.

Luca departed to return to work, and the three of us checked out the sights above, including the castle, which is high up on the hill and where the photo of me and Alice was taken. Here is my taller half and me overlooking the view:

We descended and headed immediately for gelato. I can’t remember the name of this place, but it had artisanal gelato and a friendly staff who knew Alice. Here’s my treat:

I had fior di latte (which is like cream) and mint; my taller half had zuppa inglese (translates roughly to English trifle) and stracciatella (with chocolate chips); and Alice had fior di latte and coconut. It was incredibly good. Shortly thereafter, we took aperitivo at Caffe’ No. 2, another bar across town. Again, I had Coke and potato chips. They offered us polenta squares, too.

We dined in that evening, and I so wish I had felt comfortable taking pictures, because the meal was perfection. The main dish was trofie (screw-shaped pasta made with potato) with zucchini, olive oil, and spices. It was amazing, seriously. Italy is where I learned to like vegetables, zucchini in particular, so the Italian practice of cooking the crap out of summer squash is important to me. Barely steamed zucc is a crime against nature. Anyway, along with the pasta, we had raw fennel, cherry tomatoes topped with salt and olive oil, and bread Alice made in the bread machine earlier. Afterward, there was a lot of cheese: stracciatella (made with cream and mozzarella), mozzarella burrata (a kind of mozzarella with cream — burrata means “buttered”), mozzarella di bufala (with buffalo milk), and caprino (goat cheese). All were tasty, but I loved the bufala, as always, and my love went crazy for the caprino. It was smooth and creamy.

After dinner, we broke into the gelato – yes, more gelato. This was from Gelateria del Biondo, possibly the best gelateria in Brescia. Alice and I bought the flavors on the way home from aperitivo. We ended up with yogurt, hazelnut, and dark chocolate. It was incredible, seriously.

The food was all amazing, and the evening couldn’t have been more wonderful.

October 7

The morning of our departure. ::Sigh:: The day started off with delicious brioche — cream-filled and fruit-filled — and more perfect Italian coffee. After a bit of lounging around, our hosts drove us to the train station to say goodbye.

I felt sad to leave Alice, but we had Tuscany to conquer. Check back soon for Part III: Florence!

Vacation Recap Part I: Venice

26 Oct

This is Part I of IV recapping my recent Italian excursion. You can also read about my tirade against American Airlines here.

We flew away on a jet plane (or three) on October 1. We didn’t actually arrive in Venice until about 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 2. After gathering our baggage – oh wait, we didn’t do that, because we are crazy Americans who went carry-on-only. Seriously. It was one of the best choices we made the entire trip, especially the return portion. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

We took a bus from the Venice airport to the Piazzale Roma station, where we then hopped onto a vaporetto, or waterbus. Behold:

Eeek! We’re in Venice!

We stayed at the lovely Locanda Silva for three glorious nights. The room was basic and clean:

But it had a terrific semi-private balcony:

This is a food blog, so I won’t go into all the minutiae about every single thing we did and saw. However, I do want to share a few pictures and tips. Here is my favorite shot I took, of a side canal near our hotel:

Here is a blue door that I’ve heard people really like:

Here’s Basilica San Marco, which is amazing and was also five minutes from our hotel:

And here I am sporting my shades on the island of Murano:

If you plan a trip to Venice, you must:
· Eat at Osteria La Zucca (more details below)

· Enjoy hazelnut (nocciola) gelato at Da Nico (below, too)

· Visit Basilica San Marco – we thought paying extra for the Pala d’Oro was worth it, but if you want to save the cash, just take a free walk through the church.

· Visit the island of Murano. The views alone are worth it, but I also adored the Chiesa di San Donato. It’s free.

· Stroll along the Grand Canal at night. Bonus: take a vaporetto ride at night. Sigh.

· Check out the contemporary art at Punta della Dogana. It’s a nice antidote to all the baby Jesuses and altar pieces you’ll see throughout Italy.

As I said, this is a food blog, so let’s get on to the Venetian tasties.

October 2
Our first night, we were tired. I mean, tired. See?

That’s what 30 hours without sleep look like. Anyway, we had dinner at a place called Cavatappi. It started with sparkling water and bread:

I’d be lying if I said we limited ourselves to one basket. Or if I didn’t admit to eating the second basket entirely by myself. Oops. Anyway, Cavatappi specializes in cichetti, which are essentially Italian tapas popular in Venice, but none appeared to be vegetarian. Instead, I had poorly lit vegetarian pasta:

Noodles with mixed veggies in an olive-oil sauce. Pretty self-explanatory. My taller half had gnocchi with peas, cream and feta cheese:

His was pretty darn good. For dessert, we had a plate of soft cheese, honey, and walnuts:

Um, wow. I’m glad I decided to eat dairy in Italy. We returned to the hotel immediately after and fell asleep early, as in before 9:00.

October 3
We planned to spend pretty much all of Sunday doing a walking tour, since a lot of things are closed on the holy day throughout Italy. We started it all off with a big, beautiful breakfast at the hotel:

Two rolls with light cheese (I think it was provolone – it wasn’t quite so yellow in person), cornetti (croissants) filled with I believe apricot preserves, delicious Italian yogurt, orange juice, and sadly American-style coffee. There was also jam, butter, milk, and cereal that I didn’t touch.

Then we set off on our walking tour. There were museums and bridges and churches. Most importantly, however, there was our first gelato of the trip – and my love’s first true brush with Italian gelato.

I’m an old pro:

It was from Da Nico. I had hazelnut and chocolate; he had coffee and banana. We both agreed that the hazelnut was heavenly. In fact, it was one of the best I had on the entire trip. The other flavors were good but not mind-blowing.

By the end of the day – which involved getting lost and venturing past Venice’s prison – we were quite hungry but trying to save some dough, so we had takeout pizza from Cip Ciap (pronounced chip chop).

A small pizza Margherita, a slice of four cheese, and a slice of grilled veggies. The latter two were on foccaccia. We also had bottled sparkling water. I think the entire meal cost $10. We enjoyed it in the Piazza Santa Croce, where there is a grouping of picnic benches available for anyone to use:

It was absolutely gorgeous.

Afterward, we had gelato again at La Boutique del Gelato that I sadly forgot to photograph. I had tiramisu and panna cotta, and he had lemon and hazelnut. It wasn’t as good as Da Nico, but I still ate it.

October 4
By this point, we were both thoroughly in love with Venice, so the prospect of leaving was not terribly enticing. However, we had one more day to pack full of fun and excitement. It began with a breakfast identical to the day before’s and then a walk to Caffe’ Florian in Piazza San Marco.

It dates back to the 1700s. More importantly, it is Bond approved:

The plaque translates to, “The places and drinks preferred by 007.” Bah ha ha! And yes, that is why we went there. I live with a lovely man who spent the years he should have been reading Dr. Seuss devouring James Bond novels. He had hot chocolate, and I had my first cappuccino of the trip:

Sooooo good. American hot chocolate is basically sewage compared with the European stuff, sorry to say. We drank standing at the bar, because gracing a chair with your rear automatically triples the price. I’m not kidding.

Then we Basilica San Marco-ed it up and visited both Lido (oh oh oh oh) and Murano.

For more on the latter, keep your eye on my crafting blog. When we returned to Venice proper, we needed fuel – and by fuel, I mean gelato. Enter Alaska. This wasn’t no “I can see Russia from my house!” Alaska; it is an artisanal gelateria with a bunch of interesting flavors. (Hint: always opt for a gelateria calling itself artisanal – artigianale – or one with housemade – “produzione proprio” – stuff.) I enjoyed ginger and almond:

my taller half had gianduja (chocolate with hazelnut) and malt.

While we huddled on a stoop to enjoy the sweet stuff, raindrops started falling in our gelato. Before long, we looked like this:

HOT. We had to go back to the hotel to change quickly, ‘cause I was soaked through and through. Once we approximated dry, we headed back out for one of the two best meals we enjoyed in the entire country. Hello, Osteria La Zucca:

There is meat on the menu at La Zucca, but the inventive veggie dishes are the stars, or so say the guidebooks. We were not led astray. Again, it started with bread, including these great sesame sticks, and sparkling water:

We opted for three veggie dishes to split.

These included (clockwise from top) a potato-squash-cheese cake, carrots in curried yogurt, and Venetian artichoke patties topped with pesto. Oh, and a piece of bread and cucumber. I don’t have anything negative to say about a single one of these. The potato cake was my favorite, but I wouldn’t kick any of them out of bed.

We both ordered dessert. No, gelato earlier didn’t count; that was lunch. My taller half described his frozen limoncello mousse as one of the best things he’s ever eaten in his life. It was tart and sweet and had a wonderful consistency. Mine was really uncharacteristic for me. It was essentially a persimmon pudding with a little chocolate sauce and cayenne pepper, and it was fantastic. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it. I’ve mentioned some of my food texture issues in the past, but one of my major ones is chunks of cooked fruit. This was a surprising win.

We were seated next to an older French couple. My French is limited to counting to 10, a few random vocabulary words (billet, sortie, mercredi), and the two phrases I recall from French class in fourth grade: “une boite de crayon” and “la plume de ma tante est sur le bureau de mon oncle”. My taller half, however, still understands a decent amount. He informed me that they were mostly minding their own business until I ordered our dinner in Italian. They were impressed. This discussion then led to the remark, “he is old enough to be her father.” Yes, if my boyfriend had impregnated someone in elementary school, then yes, he is conceivable (hardy har) old enough to be my father. Silly, nosy French.

Anyway, Zucca was our last meal in Venice excluding breakfast the following morning at the hotel. I’ll update with Part II: Milan/Brescia soon!

Vegetarians: Don’t Fly American!

22 Oct

I am now going to do my first vacation update. No, really. Part of me doesn’t want to start on a sour note, but part of me would like to get this post out of the way. So, I apologize in advance for the crankiness of this post.

Let’s talk airplane food. I have no delusions of walking on a plane and receiving the best meal of my life. I know that airplane food will be slightly above edible. As a result, I always bring snacks. I did, however, expect the airline to fulfill my special meal request, especially since their website says:

Special meals are available on Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack and Breakfast Snack flights when ordered in advance.

Order at least 24 hours prior to the flight:

  • In First and Business Classes on transcontinental flights in the U.S.
  • In all classes to or from Europe and Asia
  • In all classes to or from Belo Horizonte, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador or Sao Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile or Montevideo, Uruguay.

And even after all the hoops I jumped through, yeah, not so much.

American doesn’t allow you to complain by phone — seriously. It’s either fax, email, or snail mail. The email I sent to them to complain about the fiasco explains exactly what happened:

On October 1, my traveling companion and I flew on AA flight 36 from Dallas to Madrid. We requested vegetarian meals. I called two days in advance, as recommended, to confirm, and the automatic voice said that they were ordered. When we arrived at the airport in Dallas, we verified again with the employee at the gate, and he told us that our meals were ordered. I then also told the flight attendant upon boarding that we had vegetarian meals. When meal service began, we were informed that, though the meals had been ordered, they were not on board the plane. Two very helpful and friendly flight attendants helped to piece together something, but I was very disappointed by the situation. I went through a lot of trouble to ensure our requests were met to no avail.

On October 13, we took flight 235 from Rome to New York. To avoid the meal problem, we spoke with the woman at the gate who informed us that no request had ever been made. She later said the request was in the system but that it was made “improperly.” They were unwilling to do anything. Then a supervisor arrived who told me, after being informed that I needed the meal for health reasons, that she would not let me fly. She changed her mind and then called catering to try to do something. Then she said the problem was solved. On board, the flight attendant said nothing had arrived, and again they cobbled a make-shift meal together.

I am very disappointed by this experience. How will AA try to rectify this situation?

So even after ordering my meal four months in advance, calling ahead, and speaking to two people in person, I was still stranded on board a 9+ hour flight with no meal. I mentioned that the outbound flight attendants were awesome and scrambled to give me something to eat. Here’s the dinner we ended up with:

Two iceberg salads, surprisingly tasty dressing, a roll, “butter,” crackers with Gruyere, a cheese-sundried tomato salad from the first-class meal, and a chocolate caramel brownie. I had decided in advance not to worry about eating vegan on this vacation. To make it easy on the airline (ha!), I chose the lacto-ovo meal. It’s a good thing, too, because this was pretty artery-clogging. BUT it was food that I could eat, and I appreciated the flight attendants’ hard work. For breakfast, we had:

Croissant, strawberry-banana yogurt (gelatin-free), more “butter” (which I never touch — don’t worry), and orange juice. This was acceptable. I can’t complain about it at all.

The flight back is a different story, as you can see above in my letter. In fact, I was so livid after fighting — in Italian, mind you — with the airport folks that I didn’t photograph anything. We ended up with mushroom lasagna, salad, dressing that contained anchovies (didn’t eat it), bread, and some kind of cookie. The small meal at the end was pizza Margherita. The cheese had rennet in it, possibly animal, but I was so starving I ate it anyway.  I wish I hadn’t, but I could only eat so many granola bars without having a blood-sugar spike and crash.

American did respond relatively quickly. Their email has some kind of disclaimer about privacy, so I won’t repost it word-for-word, but the gist is that they are oh-so-sorry to have disappointed me with meal service. Won’t I please accept their apology with a $50 voucher? I decided that they deserved to know my answer:

This is in regards to your response to my previous complaint, #XXXXXXXXX.

I know that the attached flight voucher was intended to make amends for the major inconvenience caused by your company as well as the extreme rudeness by your Rome-based employees. However, a $50 voucher is nowhere near enough recompense to cause me to fly American again. My traveling experience made it clear that American Airlines has no interest in serving those with special dietary needs. It was only through the hard work of the flight attendants that I had anything to eat at all on two 9-plus-hour flights. It’s a good thing that I do not also have a dairy intolerance, because the only things available were filled with cheese and milk. If your airline does not wish to accommodate vegetarians or those with religious restrictions, then you should not offer the option. As it is, I have no confidence that I would ever receive a meal that meets my dietary needs on your flight. As a result, I will take my business elsewhere and encourage my vegetarian friends to do the same.

In addition, I hope you will tell your Rome-based employees that blaming the customer for your company’s mistake is not appropriate, and threatening not to let a vegetarian fly because you failed to provide the appropriate meal ordered four months in advance is terrible business practice.

No, American, I will not use your $50 flight voucher to let you screw me out of the meal I ordered again. I paid over $900 for my ticket; $50 probably doesn’t even cover the meals I wasn’t served.

Vegetarians: I urge you NOT to fly American Airlines, especially not on international flights. If you do, bring a lot more food than I did. I had six granola bars, an apple, and a sample packet of Justin’s Nut Butter. It wasn’t enough. I’ll know better next time, in that I will pack entire meals, and I will NEVER fly American again.

I promise my next post will be happy and full of beautiful photos and delicious food!

Don’t be disappointed.

7 Sep

This was a weekend of disappointments. Yet, I went to bed last night feeling better than I have in a long time. How can so many letdowns possibly result in such a perfect weekend? Check out the tally:

Friday
· Disappointment: Lunch plans with my taller half fell through. Remedy: I enjoyed a long-for-me bike ride and lunch at home instead.

· Disapointment: The historic drive-in movie theater in town burned to the ground. Remedy: The community has rallied in support.

· Disappointment: The dinner I was supposed to have with three of my high school friends (the core of the AP Crew – nerd alert!) and two of our favorite high-school teachers (what did I tell you?) fell through. Remedy: We rescheduled for a fun outing to the Greek Holiday Festival. And I got to spend the whole evening with my love instead.

· Disappointment: I had a migraine. Remedy: I popped a Treximet, stayed horizontal for as long as possible, and snuggled with my man.

Saturday
· Disappointment: My dog pissed me off and made me miss yoga. Remedy: I have to give myself credit for just getting over this, which is not one of my strong suits. I tend to stew.

· Disappointment: We discovered that Maggie Moo’s has left Tulsa and its surrounding area. Remedy: Baskin-Robbins, which is a pale substitute.

Don’t let the smile fool you. While I did enjoy this frozen treat (a Reese’s deluxe or supreme or whatever sundae), it was no Maggie’s mix of red velvet ice cream, Reese’s crumbles, cookie dough, and caramel sauce. Let this addiction reveal that I don’t always eat nutritious, vegan food. I am still not a full-time vegan, though I get closer every day. Maggie Moo is my soft spot and was my favorite splurge. I miss you, Moo.

· BONUS: After lunch at the amazing Café Samana (see my review), we decided to spend the afternoon at the Gilcrease Museum, where we enjoyed the photography exhibit, marveled at mastodon teeth and ancient pottery, shared in our distaste of Remington and his home boys, and critiqued the frequent errors on the informational placards. We also strolled around the grounds, which feed into a gorgeous city park. I left my camera in the car, but you can see some photos of the gardens here and the park here. Then we had ice cream, bought groceries, and spent the evening at home watching the first two episodes of House of Elliot, my current Netflix disc.

Sunday
· Disappointment: Our vegan blueberry pancake experience was a complete and total flop. Or should I say “splat?”
This is my first big Veganomicon letdown. Remedy: In a desperate attempt to salvage our homemade brunch from the ingredients on hand, I flipped through some cookbooks and decided to whip up a batch of lemon blueberry muffins from my lover friend, The Joy of Vegan Baking.

They totally saved the day! We enjoyed them with a pineapple spear and coffee.

Pretend that the pineapple doesn’t look like it might have been exposed to nuclear waste. It didn’t actually glow in the dark.

· Disappointment: We couldn’t borrow bikes from the apartment complex (because they closed Sunday, too, for Labor Day) or from the free rentals along the River Parks trail, and I had my heart set on a ride with my love. Remedy: We regrouped and decided to do some running around instead. After a jaunt to Whole Foods so we can continue feeding my craphead dog, we flipped through tons of vegan cookbooks at Books-A-Million in search of more brunch ideas, since that is my taller half’s biggest challenge when trying to eat dairy-free with me. Afterward, we were feeling snacky, so we popped into Peachwave to see if they had any dairy-free options. They did! It was quite delicious, too. I didn’t snap a picture, but mine was the Dole Pineapple flavor topped with kiwi, strawberry, and almonds. I also sampled the peanut butter, which I liked, but I preferred the fruitier version (surprisingly). In the evening, we took a trip to the Gypsy Coffee House for more snacks (Columbian Cocoa, which is their version of Mexican hot chocolate, made with soy milk and a basket of potato chips; my love had straight-up black coffee) and lots of chitchat. Sorry, no food pictures. Then we watched the first three episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore Show at home.

Monday
· Disappointment: I awoke to found that ants had invaded the rest of my homemade blueberry muffins. Remedy: I somehow did not cry. Instead, we grabbed a quick brunch at Coffee House on Cherry Street on the way to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Delicious vegan eats on the go:
Bagel sandwich with hummus, spinach, cucumber, tomato, onion, and bell pepper. (I removed the slice of provolone and fed it to my taller half.)
Soy cappuccino with a ton of cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar. This may be the best soy cappuccino I’ve ever had.

· Disappointment: It took us an extra hour to find the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Don’t ever trust Google maps to get you there. Remedy: After driving in circles and then asking for directions, we finally made it. The trip is well worth it. See?

Wildflowers.

Prairie green.

Crick Creek.

Tallgrass Praire Preserve Fields forever.

Love.

· Disappointment: We returned covered in ticks. Remedy: There’s nothing sexier than tweezing a blood sucker from your beloved’s ankle. Oh, you don’t agree? Well, then, the trip itself was the remedy, as was the evening of Mad Men, conversation, and homemade white bean dip (recipe coming soon).

And today, we both returned to the grind, but at least I have something great to come home to this evening. 🙂

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, too.