Last weekend was a whirlwind of activity and fun times. As you already know, it concluded with a speaking event with Dr. Neal Barnard, but other good times and good eats were had before Dr. Vegan Eye Candy.
On Friday, I hung out in Lakeland with a friend. She's not veg*n, and since neither of us were familiar with the area, we decided Moe's would be a good option for the both of us. Bring on the tofu rice bowl!
In my opinion, the tomatillo salsas are the best.
I love that two of my three Moe's visits have included some kind of entertaining shenanigan-watching. The first time, it was some youngsters line-dancing outside of the restaurant. This time, it was a college kid creating balloon animals. There happened to be a table of several children next to us, so we had a great view of watching this guy create motorcycles, just about every Disney princess, a flower, and Mario. My friend had to get a Mario of her own.
I gladly paraded him about town with us for the remainder of the evening.
Saturday afternoon I met with a new friend for lunch, with the plan to meet at a Roebeks in Brandon. (I can't help but think of Sears whenever I hear or read that name. I imagined eating a salad perched atop of a riding lawn mower.) Anyway, turns out this particular location is closed. The sign is on the building, but the space is for lease. Minor detail! So we moved on to nearby Ploy Thai.
Ploy Thai is a tiny, but nicely decorated restaurant within a strip mall. (I love extravagantly decorated Thai restaurants, with Bahn Thai in Leavenworth, Kansas, still my favorite thus far.) Ploy Thai had a specifically vegetarian section in their menu with several items, but I'm a sucker for a good Panang curry, so I figured I'd order that off the "Curries" section. At the top of it, it offers tofu with it, so I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to get it veganized, right? Well, when a fancy-dressed lady came to our table, I inquired about getting the Panang curry made vegan, "with no fish sauce." She said most of the sauces, including the Panang, come "pre-made," with fish sauce. She named off the few sauces that are made fresh and CAN be made without fish sauce, so I flipped back to the "Vegetarian" section and chose something off of there, when she told me that that sauce was also pre-made, WITH fish sauce, even though it's on the "Vegetarian" section. Whew! So I went with the tofu and veggies in a chili sauce.
The sauce ended up being sweeter than I would have liked (I don't like sweet entrées), but the tofu was really good. This dish could have used more veggies, specifically broccoli. The "veggies" mostly consisted of cabbage. Meh. At least my rice was heart-shaped (funsies!).
My friend ordered the veggies with peanut sauce, which looked delicious (and fish-free!).
All of that fish business made ordering a little more difficult and disappointing, but luckily we were able to navigate around that fishy obstacle. And while the food wasn't terrible, I can't help but think that there are better Thai restaurants in the area.
Since I've been spending some time out in the country lately, I pass a lot of produce stands on the side of the highway, all of them heavily advertising strawberries (I'm in strawberry country!). I was more interested in other fruits and veggies, but couldn't find anything beyond strawberries and citrus at the first two stands I stopped at along highway 60. The third stop was the winner. Not only did she have zucchini, yellow squash, citrus, strawberries, cucumbers, peppers, collards, and potatoes, but she had freshly boiled peanuts. I have spotted this southern delicacy advertised several times, but never tried them out until this past weekend. After one sample, I was hooked.
The woman working the stand told me that the peanuts are boiled in salted water for 6 hours.
Holy cow, where do I even begin on how awesome these peanuts are?! They were scooped straight out of the cauldron, warm and fragrant, and poured into a bag.
The shells are soft and moist, obviously, and quite easy to tear open, revealing the warm, salty, oh-so-creamy peanuts within. Seriously, I simply had no idea a peanut could be THIS creamy without being "peanut butter."
Despite the sloppiness involved in eating these heavenly nuts, I felt like a true Southern Belle all the while.