Last week I spent three days in Washington for work. Looking back, it’s hard to believe I squeezed in so much (food) during the visit. John and I headed to the airport super early on Wednesday morning. Not having had a chance, or the appetite, to eat breakfast, I picked up an Odwalla smoothie after we cleared security. It’s awesome to see these smoothies are widely available in Canadian and US airports. They make for a great breakfast or snack.
Sticky Fingers Bakery
Once we arrived in Washington, checked into our hotel and dropped off our bags, we headed directly to Sticky Fingers Bakery. It’s about time! I’d been waiting to visit this place for so long! After staring at the dessert display case for way too long, we finally decided on a sticky bun, two cupcakes, a PB smacker and Cowvin Cookie. And a coffee. And a TLT sandwich…..oink, oink!
I know Sticky Fingers is famous for their sticky buns, among other things, but I have to admit I was a bit skeptical before trying one for myself. They kinda looked like they would be cakey and dense, but boy was I wrong! I pulled out the center bit (the best part, which I always nab from John!) and discovered they were actually light, fluffy and moist. Hands down the best vegan sticky bun/cinnamon bun I’ve ever had.
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that everything we tried was amazing. Of course we took some items to go, allowing ourselves the time to savour each one individually without plummeting into a sugar comma right in the middle of the cafe.
The PB smacker turned out to be a lovely little ball of soft peanut butter covered in chocolate. A melt in your mouth, totally magical experience for any chocolate and PB lover (that would be me!). The Cowvin Cookie, a vanilla cream filled oatmeal cookie sandwich, was chewy and delicious. Our Strawberry Crème and Peanut Butter Fudge cupcakes also get two thumbs up. There just aren’t any bad choices at Sticky Fingers.
To take one step back, we did have something relatively healthy for breakfast before diving into all those sticky treats. John and I split a TLT sandwich. We devoured it in just a few short minutes. Both because it was really tasty and we were hungry. Not to mention the whole matter of being eager to sink our teeth into the sugar we came for.
After we had placed our order and stuffed our bellies, out came some more cupcakes. But not just any ol’ Sticky Fingers cupcakes. These were the winning Cupcake Wars cupcakes! Can you believe it!? Are we not the luckiest vegans on the planet to have shown up the morning after the big Food Network premiere where Sticky Fingers was announced as the winner of Cupcake Wars. We almost cried with joy!
Now about these cupcakes. To say they’re special wouldn’t do them justice. Just the description of each one is enough to make you salivate:
George Caramelin – Chocolate cinnamon cupcake with vanilla bean bourbon frosting, bourbon caramel sauce & candied pecans
Gilbert Ganache-fried -Chocolate seltzer cupcake with ganache, banana frosting & caramelized banana
Strawberry Kiwi -Daiquiri cupcakes with kiwi curd, strawberry rum frosting & strawberry rum shooter garnish
Working Blue -Ginger cupcake with peach filling & blueberry frosting
Sticky Fingers Bakery Inc
1370 Park Road Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20010
Tel: (202) 299-9700
After a long hard day of work, it was time for another meal. John and I joined some of my colleagues for dinner at Café Atlántico. Now this is by no means a vegetarian or vegan restaurant. When I called to ask if they had any vegan dishes on their menu or any dishes that could be made vegan, they said no. Luckily, once we were seated, we met our lovely waitress who turned out to have had some experience with a vegan diet. With her recommendation, we started our meal with a big bowl of guacamole that was made table side. We watched as all of the ingredients were combined with a motor and pestle, and had the chance to decide how much spice we wanted. The guacamole and corn chips made for a great appetizer.
For our main course, the chef prepared us a special plate made up of side dishes. Our plate had cauliflower couscous, wild mushroom with apple puree & kale, and collard greens with garlic. It was perfect for us, and exactly what we needed — lots of veggies! This just goes to show that when you’re traveling for work and eating out at ‘regular’ restaurants, you can still have a lovely vegan meal.
405 8th Street NW
Washington D.C., DC 20004
Tel: (202) 393-0812
While in Washington, I attended a conference and was somewhat limited with my options for breakfast and lunch. I made it through with lots of fruit, some whole wheat toast and Larabars. I get so excited when I have a chance to visit the US and try some of the bar flavours that aren’t available in Canada. This time I tried the new blueberry muffin and carrot cake bars. They were both great but I think coconut cream pie is still my favourite. Oh, and if you’re wondering about that weird sandwich thing…I didn’t eat that. I just thought it was a cute attempt by the hotel to come up with a vegetarian breakfast option.
On our second night in Washington, we headed out to try one of Washington’s only all vegan restaurants: Cafe Green. We started off with a drink order for one peanut butter rice cream milkshake and a berry margarita. We were very impressed with the rice milkshake, which was thick, creamy and, of course, packed with peanut butter. Sometimes rice milk can be thin and watery but there was no hint of that here.
For dinner I ordered the Gnocchi di Riso al Inverno – An East meets West take on the Italian classic. Chewy gluten-free rice dumplings with mushroom, broccoli, and scallion. Simmered in a Thai basil-infused light coconut cream sauce. This was a very interesting combination. The dumplings looked a little peculiar but tasted great and had a nice, cheesy texture.
John played it safe with his choice and ordered the cheese burger, which consisted of a veggie patty made from grains and beans that was smothered with daiya cheese.
John and I convinced Michelle, my coworker, to come out with us and try eating vegan for a night. Michelle rose to the challenge and, after some careful thought, chose a spicy noodle dish with tofu. We were both relieved when she declared she really liked it. The meal went over so well, I was actually was able to convince her to join me at another veg-friendly restaurant the next day.
1513 17th Street Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20036
Tel: (202) 234-0505
Busboys & Poets Restaurant
On Friday, our last day in Washington, Michelle and I traveled across town to have lunch at Busboys and Poets. This place turned out to be nothing like the small, artsy cafe I was picturing. Instead, it was a large restaurant that was packed and bustling with a lunch hour crowd. They have meat on the menu, but also have several clearly labeled vegan dishes. I was struggling with what to order and Michelle kindly offered to join me in having a vegan meal so that I could try more things. What a sweetheart!
We started off with an order of coconut tofu bites with plum sauce. This may sound slightly odd, but it’s truly an ingenious combination. Each bite was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The coconut flavour really came through and the plum sauce sweetened each bite.
Michelle and I also shared two mains, the first being a lovely dish of pan-seared basil tofu served with roasted red pepper risotto, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, roasted corn, tomatoes and basil olive oil. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it!? I’m not the biggest tofu fan in the universe but this was really good. I especially enjoyed the risotto and basil olive oil. I’d really like to try making my own basil infused olive oil in the summertime.
Our third dish was an order of vegan quesadillas. The first time around, our waiter delivered a plate of chicken quesadillas. I quickly noticed the chicken, thankfully before taking a bite, and our order was replaced by its vegan counterpart. The quesadillas turned out to be really fantastic, and showed Michelle that vegans don’t have to give up the pleasure of cheese or sour cream. Each quesadilla was filled with roasted red peppers, grilled portobello mushrooms, onions, spinach, and diaya cheese. They also came with a small bowl of guacamole and pico de gallo (fresh salsa). This dish would make a lovely lunch on its own. We left feeling very satisfied.
Busboys & Poets @ 5th & K (For more locations, check the website)
1025 5th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: (202) 789-2227
After our lunch at Busboys & Poets, we only had a few hours left in Washington before we had to make our way to the airport and fly home. Our last stop was Georgetown, where Michelle and I met up with John. He spent the day standing in line waiting for the iPad 2 to go on sale. While John was waiting in line, I walked to Whole Foods and stocked up on a few items that aren’t available in Canada. I picked up some Field Roast sausages, a Qbel double dark wafer bar, a bag of Somersault Snack Co sunflower seed snacks, a carob and pistachio Pro Bar, and some vegan tea cookies made by Chez Hareg.
I also filled a takeout box with some food for the airplane. John had been waiting in line at the Apple store all day and was super excited when I arrived to meet him with a bag full of food. After getting his iPad 2, we headed to the airport.
Cibo Express at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
At the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, before going through security, we found some snacks at Cibo Express. They had a variety of vegan bars, Peeled Snacks dried fruit and a Veggie Vegan sandwich on seven grain bread. The sandwich was a pricey $7.25 but I decided to buy it anyway with some of my leftover US cash. It was stuffed with zucchini, yellow squash, tomato and a thin layer of hummus.
After a short plane ride, we arrived home with full bellies. We certainly got a taste for the city during our stay but hope to return at some point for a longer visit.
For now, we’re in chilly Ottawa, enjoying warm cups of tea with the Chez Hareg cookies we imported.