Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Miami


So the blog has been a little quiet over the past 2 weeks and thats because I have been away on holiday here! 10 blissful days in Miami & the Florida Keys! It was the perfect holiday for some relaxation in the sun, sightseeing, shopping and most importantly......eating!! I was of course extremely excited to find out what Florida had to offer for vegans and vegetarians and I was on a mission to hunt out some of the best places to eat green. 


I have to say that within the first 24 hours of arriving I was feeling pretty deflated on the eating front. Everywhere we walked past within the touristy areas of Ocean Drive & Collins Avenue seemed to be pretty 'Surf & Turf' orientated, and if it wasn't meat and fish it was covered in cheese! 

On our first night I was approached by a restaurant promoter and I just happened to ask "So what do you have for Vegans?" and I was met with a complete blank stare! - So finally I find out what shuts these guys up! Anyway, the lady responded with a very uninspiring "Erm....well there's always salad"..... 

But anyhow, I wasn't going to be defeated and fortunately prior to our trip I had already done my research on some places to visit and I of course had my 'Happy Cow' app to hand - which by the way is an absolute godsend on holiday and I urge every one of you to sign up and start contributing more to it as it's definitely lacking some content and reviews in places. 

I'm not going to go into too much detail on each of my reviews as I think the photos do all the talking! You might just want to prepare yourselves for some ultimate vegan food porn viewing and maybe don't read on if you're feeling too hungry right now!









Me & my husband absolutely loved Maoz! It was also our first taste of veggie food after landing in Miami so it was very welcomed. Delicious falafel pittas with a salad bar and belgium fries - awesome! Vegan options were vast and also clearly labelled and we were met with a very friendly and welcoming service. 
















This place was beyond cute! I loved everything about it hence why I took so many photos! Inside there as a huge array of vegan and gluten free cupcakes and it was difficult to choose what we wanted to we ended up getting a box of mini cupcakes to take away with us which we really enjoyed munching on in our hotel room over the week. Bunnie Cakes spread peace and love through their baked delights and you cannot feel anything but happiness when inside their beautiful shop!







Thai House was a pleasant surprise when we wasn't really expecting a great deal from it. The service was excellent and they had no issues in removing egg and fish sauce from my Pad Thai in order to make it vegan friendly. There was an abundance of vegetarian options on the menu and the Tofu selection was probably the biggest I have ever seen! 







I'm going to be totally honest and very English when I say - this place gave me the hump! It had so much potential to be amazing. Don't get me wrong, the food was good but what really let it down was the ridiculously rude service and terrible labelling. The guy who served me had no idea what was vegan friendly on the menu and when I asked him it was just met with "I dunno, I don't eat here"......! And then "Well none of it has meat so.....". Ok. Great. Thanks. Anyway, as somewhere which is clearly promoted as a health food cafe literally nothing was labelled whether it was vegetarian, vegan or gluten free. Which I find kind of bizarre for a place like this! All of that being said our veggie burritos were really good, but sadly I had no idea if they were vegan.











A little further North of Miami in Fort Lauderdale you can find Green Bar & Kitchen. We made a little stop off here for lunch and really enjoyed the vibe and the wholesome vegan food! They also offered up smoothies and vegan cakes which made our meal complete. This was a great place to kick back outside in their pretty garden area and take advantage of some free wifi. 











Anywhere called a 'Botanical Cafe & Artisan Market' already has my attention before I have even got there! From what I understand Plant Theory is quite new to Miami so there wasn't many reviews but I am glad we checked it out as the food was delicious and we were met by the most friendly service ever! The 'Acai Parfait' was to die for and really helped to cool us down on a blisteringly hot day. As well as the cafe they also have a health food shop and provide a great space to relax and socialise. FYI the vegan salty chocolate bar I picked up here was amazing! 











Sushi Samba of Miami Beach hands down wins 1st prize for my favourite vegan eatery whilst in Florida! It totally exceeded my expectations on so many levels and the food was some of the best plant based dining I have ever experienced - in any country! It's not often I post a pic of myself on my blog but I loved the restaurant and their vegan menu so much it deserved a little snapshot! We celebrated our two year wedding anniversary here and we couldn't have chosen anywhere better. An absolute must if you're in town and I am already excited to try out the London restaurant. Oh and don't be fooled - those skewers that look like fillet steak is actually eggplant - amazing! 
* The vegetable tempura was vegetarian and not on the vegan menu. 







Juice & Java stole my heart a little bit. It's such a cute, relaxed and quirky little place to enjoy any number of juices, smoothies, veggie and vegan food. The juice & smoothie menu was so big that the couple next to us were still deciding what to order by the time we had eaten our meal and left! It's the perfect little spot to enjoy a meal at any time of the day, but we especially loved breakfast here.




I can't say I am proud of myself for eating this food in the above photo, but hey - when in Rome! To be honest by this point we'd eaten a lot of 'health' food and my husband was beginning to get a little bit tired of being so well behaved in America - so into BurgerFI we descended. To their credit they had a nice looking veggie quinoa burger on the menu which I believe once the cheese was removed would be vegan friendly but no one was able to 100% confirm. Anyway, it went down a treat and on this day and time it was exactly what we needed! 





As of yet I haven't really gotten into the whole 'fro-yo' scene and I guess thats mainly because 'frozen yoghurt' doesn't really appeal to us vegans! But even before being vegan I have to say I have always just tended to pass by the Pinkberry & YooMoo stores in the UK with little interest. However, on this day in South Beach I happened to see that Pinkberry were promoting their newest edition - the dairy free, vegan friendly tropical mango flavour. I couldn't resist popping inside and ordering some, especially as it was so swelteringly hot! There were a lot of toppings to choose from but I went with what I knew would be vegan - strawberries, coconut & dark chocolate balls. It was so nice! In my mind it was basically mango sorbet and nothing to do with frozen yoghurt, but it was really enjoyable and I think I will be back for more! 




One night after a long days tanning on the beach we couldn't really be bothered to dress up and venture out so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to order in some vegan pizza from VisaO1 to our hotel room. We opted for the Riccardo veggie filled pizza with the added option of vegan cheese and it was delicious! This is the first pizza place that I have ever come across to offer vegan cheese too so I was pretty impressed. 


After our week in Miami Beach it was time to rent out a Mustang and drive down the Florida Keys to Key West for a couple of nights. From my research on 'Happy Cow' I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were some vegan friendly stop offs along the way! 






Urbn Grdn was a charming little stop off on the island of Islamorada. All I had marked down on my itinerary was 'stop for drink' so I wasn't really sure what to expect from this place but it was basically the perfect pit stop for a smoothie or juice. It's a tiny little organic food market that has the addition of freshly made drinks. I opted for the 'Very Berry Blast' smoothie which was divine and just what I needed after a couple of hours in the car. 







By the time we reached our next pit stop, Food For Thought on the island of Marathon, we were ready to eat! I have to say it felt a little strange eating our lunch within a health store / supermarket. It definitely had more of a shopping vibe about it than an eating one, but nevertheless the vegan options were all pretty good and our service was met with a smile! The lady behind the counter was also so helpful in making some recommendations for places for us to eat in Key West. We opted for the falafel burger and vegan burrito which were both very tasty. Unfortunately the burrito must have contained some walnuts which my husband is allergic to so he did suffer a pretty nasty reaction following this meal. So word of warning - if you have a nut allergy definitely check out the ingredients with them before you order! 






This was my favourite place to eat within the Florida Keys and Key West. Simply named 'The Cafe', their menu was amazing with vegan choices clearly labelled. They even had some 'Veganaise' mayo which was impressive! The fresh squeezed lemonade was to die for. Anyone would think I would have been tired of veggie burgers by now, but no! I could eat here over and over again and not run out of delicious choices to pick from. From what I understand the specials menu changes regularly and was a whole separate menu on its own. An amazing amount of choice, in the centre of Key West's Duval Street area, within a beautifully eclectic setting - what more could you wish for!  

So overall an amazing time was had and a lot of veggie and vegan food was consumed! I wouldn't go as far as to say that Florida is by any means a mecca for eating a plant based diet and in fact, unless you do some research and know where you're going, you're going to find it pretty difficult. Within most mainstream places I would struggle to locate one veggie option on the menu and 99% of the time it would be covered in cheese. It really did seem to be one extreme to another out there and no real middle ground. If you want healthy vegan food you have to hunt it down and firmly know where you're going for it. But once you find it it's done amazingly well!

One thing that really struck me is just how much the Americans love their meat and dairy and I think it's much more of an issue there than it is here. Some of the adverts for dairy products that I watched on US TV were just amazing.....singing, dancing and parading cows and chickens - all sadly painting a picture very far from the truth! Pro SeaWorld adverts were just as soul destroying and I started to sense that there was some clear attempt at brain washing going on out there. The funniest advert though had to be for the sandwich food chain 'Subway' being promoted as a great place to eat if you want to lose weight fast! L-O-L's a plenty. 

Anyway it's a good job I have a sense of humour as some of the looks I received on telling people that I was vegan were quite something. And from now on, and just for fun, I am pronouncing vegan as the American's do...."Vaaaaygaaaaaan".

Sarah x


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