Archive for ‘Vegetarian on Vacation’

July 16, 2014

Bennachin Restaurant, a taste of Africa in New Orleans

by ashley
Akara - Black Eyed Pea Fritters

Akara – Black Eyed Pea Fritters

I’ve been so busy these last six months and it was left up to Jessica to keep up the blog (she did a great job, thanks Jess!!). Finally I am back in town and ready to share all of my experiences with our readers. Since I last posted I’ve been to Orlando, Denver, New Orleans, Lisbon (Portugal), Vaduz (Liechtenstein), Munich (Germany), Baden Baden (Germany), Innsbruck (Austria), Chur (Switzerland), Fussen (Germany), Frankfurt (Germany), Strasbourg (France) and several other cities in Europe that would make this list way too long. I won’t have updates from all of these places individually, but I plan to post as much information as I can on vegetarian eating in these regions.

A while ago I posted some pictures on the Facebook page (if you don’t follow us on Facebook, please click here!) of a meal I had in New Orleans that was amazing. Away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy side of Bourbon street lies Bennachin Restaurant, an African restaurant with amazing food and prices. If you are looking for a unique experience while visiting New Orleans, you should definitely give them a visit. I have been wanting to try Ethiopian food, but could never find an African restaurant from any country in South Florida. Bennachin focuses on cuisine from Gambia and Cameroon, catering heavily to vegan and vegetarian diners as well as meat eaters.

Kone ni Makondo - Black-eyed peas in onion and tomato stew served with coconut rice and fried ripe plantains

Kone ni Makondo – Black-eyed peas in onion and tomato stew served with coconut rice and fried ripe plantains

The interior has an intimate, homey and inviting atmosphere that put us at ease immediately. The staff were so friendly and all of the guests were also helpful when it came time to order. The menu was foreign to us, but we asked guests around us what they were eating and chose items that looked good. I ordered Akara (black-eyed pea fritters, $4.50 VEGAN), Kone ni Makondo (Black-eyed peas in onion and tomato stew served with coconut rice and fried ripe plantains, $13.95 VEGAN) and Makondo Yogurt (fried plantains with yogurt sauce, $5.00 VEG/DAIRY). The portion sizes are enormous here and I really didn’t need any appetizer or dessert, but I was so intrigued by everything I wanted to try as much as I could. Unfortunately we only learned of their famous Jama-Jama (sautéed spinach, $4.50 VEGAN) after ordering, which is a hit at the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival. When I am in New Orleans again, I will definitely go back and order it.

Makondo Yogurt - fried plantains with yogurt sauce

Makondo Yogurt – fried plantains with yogurt sauce

The restaurant has been a staple of New Orleans since 1992 yet many tourists don’t get to experience it, even though it is well within walking distance of the tourist area. Located at 1212 Royal Street, it is only one block off of Bourbon Street and less than a mile from Canal Street. Their full menu and more information about the restaurant can be found on their website at

March 22, 2013

Napa comes to Stamford, Ct

by jem614

Napa PrettyI recently traveled to Stamford for a business conference and was able to try out a couple of new restaurants in the area.  My colleague and I found this beautiful little restaurant, Napa, within the Marriott hotel on Broad Street.  The inside is dimly lit with candles and an entire wall is covered in wines.  The waiters sport jeans though the restaurant feels more elegant.  It brings a “relatable” aspect to the place so it doesn’t feel stuffy.

As you sit down, you are given your menus and an IPad that has their wine menu on it as well as some more information on the restaurant.

We ordered an appetizer of Spaghetti Squash (yes, it’s really an appetizer and it tastes delicious with a hint of basil) as well as a cheese plate that you can choose the type of cheeses.  For $18 you can choose three little squares of cheeses that is served with some jams and bread.  We tried (from their menu):

3. MIDNIGHT MOON, Goat, Holland, (Pinot Noir) Aged goat cheese, the flavor is nutty and
brown-buttery, with prominent caramel notes.
4. MIMOLETTE, Cow, France, (Tempranillo)Firm and oily, vivid orange, nutty with smooth fudgy finish
6. GORGONZOLA (not on their online menu)

I was not a fan of the Gorgonzola as a cheese for bread, I feel it’s better suited for salads but the Midnight Moon and Mimolette was tasty on the bread.

They do have some vegetarian pasta but their actual entrees are completely carnivore.  Thankfully, their appetizers and salads make up for what they lack in entrees.

For more information on your trip to Napa, go to

July 30, 2012

Outdoor Markets in Israel

by ashley

Just a few more photos I thought might be interesting to our readers – a real glimpse into the daily lives of shopping in Israel. They LOVE candy, there are so many candy shops everywhere in the country!

July 30, 2012

Visiting the Promised Land: Israel

by ashley

Going to Israel was something that I never really planned. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go, I love to travel and I’d be hard pressed to find a place I don’t want to visit, but I’d never really gave Israel much thought. I grew up heavily Catholic and fell away from the faith in my teens. I knew many stories from the Bible, but only because I had to for classes or hearing them in mass. Many have stuck with me, but not necessarily in a religious way. This is why it was hard to believe for many who know me that I would really appreciate a trip to Israel. However despite all of this, it quickly transformed into one of the best experiences of my life.

When I say I didn’t plan to go to Israel, I couldn’t be speaking more of the truth. I knew for a while that my grandmother was going there again, but it didn’t even cross my mind that I could be. Two days before she was to leave, I receive a phone call from my grandmother asking if I’d like to go with her. I said sure, in disbelief, but didn’t think it would really happen. First of all, I have a day job. How could I possibly leave for two weeks on two days notice? Secondly, it’s an expensive trip. Someone was cancelling due to health reasons (my grandmother runs tours through her travel agency), I couldn’t imagine that they would really cancel something that cost them well over $10K dollars. I wrote an e-mail to my boss, fully expecting him to say no, and explained the situation. Miraculously, he said no problem. He even seemed excited for me, which is surprising as he is normally extremely private with his feelings. The next miracle was that the couple actually cancelled their trip. My grandmother calls me with less than 24 hours before the flight left and told me to pack my bags.

My two weeks in Israel were filled with activities: so many churches, historical sites, meetings with religious leaders in the community. Our guide was Palestinian and we learned a great deal about their view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I’m certainly not educated enough on the topic to formulate a definitive opinion, however I feel badly for those stuck in the middle on both sides. We met so many different kinds of people, saw the way they carry out their daily lives. Life seems hard for most people there, definitely not like the sheltered lives we relish here in the United States. My trip awakened a new thirst for travel, for knowledge, and yet it also helped me appreciate the fact that I live in the US that much more. The people in Israel were so friendly, inviting and accommodating. I found that literally everyone I came in contact spoke amazing English, as well as several other languages. They truly are sensational people, whether they are Palestinian, Israeli, Armenian; Muslim or Jewish or Christian. I loved my experiences with every single one of them.

It’s hard to choose my favorite sites, as everything was so beautiful. I love Haifa, on the Mediterranean Sea with gorgeous buildings and foliage. The Hanging Gardens of Haifa are unbelievable, even if you don’t have the opportunity to enter the site (it was closed, but we saw it from the outside). Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is also a beautiful city, with a modern boardwalk that reminded me a bit of home (Miami). My most favorite city was Jerusalem, though. Walking the old city, inside the ancient walls, is surreal. I was blessed to have an entire week in Jerusalem, with the opportunity to walk the city alone in the early morning hours. The sleepiness of the city in the early dawn, just when the sun is peaking above the horizon, is the best time to walk and take pictures on your own. We stayed in the Notre Dame hotel, just outside the New Gate. It was easy to walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In just seven short days, I began to feel like a local in the city. I could run around the tiny, winding streets, with ease. I must have visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher eight times during that week. It was like a dream being in the church in the early morning hours. The sun rises well before 5 o’clock AM in the summer there, making it easy to rise early and take in the sights without hordes of people blocking your view.

The food…yes, unfortunately our tour guide did not do the best job in giving us a rounded view of Israel’s cuisine. As our tour included all meals except two for the entire trip, it wasn’t possible to go out much on our own to explore. I did find that it is extremely easy for a vegetarian, even vegan, to eat well anywhere in Israel. Every meal includes a salad course, which is a meal unto itself. Grilled eggplant, hummus, baba ganoush, cabbage slaws, roasted potatoes, fresh flat breads, stuffed artichokes and oh the olives – every kind imaginable was available. In Israel, the biggest meal of the day is lunch, followed by breakfast and little is eaten for dinner. Olives are served with every meal, including breakfast, as well as eggplant and several other things that seemed interesting for early in the day. But it made for a delicious and balanced meal at any time of the day. I fell in love with their lemons and lemon juice, which is also served at all hours of the day or night. I already was a lemon freak, I snack on them in the office (I can just hear the gasps from the dentists reading this) and I savored the selection of lemons at almost every meal in Israel.

I will always treasure this trip with my grandparents. I haven’t travelled with them in so long, and it was wonderful being able to spend two weeks with them uninterrupted. I highly recommend Israel – and for those of you who say it is dangerous, just look at our country. There are shootings, murders, car accidents and so many other tragedies right here on our own soil. Is there danger there? Of course, but the Israeli government works hard to make sure tourists are well taken care of. I cannot say that I never felt threatened, as there were times here or there, but I would return in a heartbeat. I love the history, the melding (and clash) of cultures. I love the hint of danger. I guess it’s just in my blood, I felt as though I had arrived home.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about travelling there, I’d be happy to tell you my experiences in more detail.

To see all of my photos, updated regularly as I upload more and more (I have literally thousands) you can visit my flickr:

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July 16, 2012

Ashley’s Back from Israel: Vegetarian Cuisine at Newark Airport

by ashley

I’m finally back from my whirlwind trip around Israel! I’m so excited to start sharing some of my experiences with you, as I know I’ve talked the ear off of most of my friends and family already. I took a total of around 4,000 pictures, filling two 8 GB SD cards, so it’s taking me a while to get everything organized. I’ll start with my first experience, which was at the Newark airport in New Jersey.

Anticipation mounting of my Israel trip, along with the awe inspiring view of the One World Trade Center to my right, it wasn’t easy trying to center my thoughts on food. A stocked deli with beautiful sandwiches and desserts caught my eye, and I ventured over to take a closer look. For Airport cuisine, it looked really fresh, so I took a chance and went for La Tapenade’s  Portobello Griller sandwich. Grilled to order for about $10, it isn’t cheap (but is anything cheap in an airport?), yet makes for a great vegetarian meal option on the go. If I had more time, I absolutely would have checked out the wine bar Vino Volo located just down the corridor.

La Tapenade Mediterranean Café, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

Terminal C, Post-Security near Gates C120-139

Here are some photos of my first day in Israel to tide you over until my next post =)

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January 17, 2012

Vegan Bodybuilding Challenge- Jessica Week 2 & 3

by jem614

By Jessica Michael

Last week I traveled to Denver for our yearly sales conference for my “day” job.  I love going because we always go during the winter time and it’s the only time I get to enjoy snow.  The part that I don’t like is that they usually have really bad food and terrible options for vegetarians.

This year, I emailed the event coordinator to see what type of vegan/vegetarian options there would be.  She replied saying that like last year, we would have pasta and veggies and salads.  I proceeded to explain to her that those options were not “healthy” options and that a week without protein could leave all vegetarians feeling a bit tired.

Amazingly, she listened and the Hyatt at the Colorado Convention Center actually provided incredibly healthy and filling vegetarian options (go Hyatt!).  Each meal provided something tasty- quinoa with cranberries and other succulent tastes, vegetable based soups, couscous, mushroom and roasted vegetable sandwiches, fruits, veggie casseroles, the list goes on.

However, as we’re on a vegan bodybuilding challenge, I did falter.  I drank too much alcohol (in Denver 2 glasses is actually 4 because of the altitude), didn’t work out enough (out of the 5 days I was there, I only worked out twice) and ate bread that I had told myself I wouldn’t eat.  I didn’t gorge myself and I should have known better than to start a vegan challenge a week before I went away for work.  But life doesn’t always wrap itself in a neat little package, it’s real and you mess up.

On a lighter note, it’s week 3 and I’m back on track.  I worked out on Sunday for an hour and I’m back in the gym today and eating healthy again.  The transition from vegetarian to vegan isn’t easy but it’s do-able.  I drank an Odwalla for breakfast yesterday, had an apple for a snack, a huge salad for lunch, some peanuts for afternoon snack and then some more kale for dinner along with some seaweed snack chips (I read that type O blood types increase thyroid/metabolism function by eating Seaweed and not necessarily taking Iodine pills).

Each day is a challenge but we’re facing it head on and every day we become stronger and healthier.  I can’t wait till June to see how far we’ve come!!!

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