I used to spend a great deal of time on the road for work. Some trips were short and simple (San Francisco and L.A.) and other trips were long and complex (Afghanistan to Pakistan to India to Croatia to Bosnia to France) and a few were somewhere in between.
Egypt and Turkey
In those days I was a vegetarian (not vegan) but my business travel strategy remains the same today: pack foods I can eat, make the hotel room a home away from home and try to get out and enjoy the surroundings.
Last week I spent a few days in Atlanta for the Beyond School Hours conference. I packed nuts, snack bars, hemp seed, dehydrated apples, protein powder and even a single serving of rice milk—placed in my carry-on suitcase—which somehow made it through security (perhaps, as Word Bandit suggested on Twitter, because I’m white).
I set up a comfortable work station in the hotel room where I could get online, kick up my feet, watch a little TV and enjoy a glass of wine — just like home.
I did get out to enjoy a bit of Atlanta.
Wednesday night I asked the concierge to recommend a restaurant close to the hotel where both an omnivore (my boss) and a vegan could enjoy a meal together. She suggested a Turkish restaurant, Truva. Sadly, this was not the best dining experience.
I started with the Shepard’s Salad:
Diced tomato, cucumber, green pepper, red onion, parsley, mint, toasts in olive oil and lemon juice commonly known as a vegan Shepard’s salad
Sounds good, right? They served it with cheese. I sent it back. Sans cheese, the salad was fresh, crisp and tasty. As we finished the first course a new track of music, much louder, began and a woman dressed in flowing red twirled through the kitchen door. While some patrons stood up to try to belly dance, I remained glued to my chair, sipping a glass of Malbec, taking in the merriment.
I ordered the Vegetable Mousaká entree because all of the ingredients on the menu description of the dish were vegan. I did repeat that I was a vegan and went so far as to explain that strict vegetarian meant no dairy, no eggs, no products from an animal whatsoever. I was assured the dish was vegan. It arrived, covered with cheese. I sent it back and asked for the Falafel appetizer. I had to request they hold the tahini sauce because it was made with yogurt.
The falafel was fine. Not horrible but not terribly enjoyable.
The conference began the next day. I had a soy milk and fruit smoothie for breakfast (from the hotel coffee shop, props to the Hyatt Regency).
The luncheon began with a salad. I added hemp seed and cashews to the plate of greens—assuming I would get a plate of rice and veggie—which made it very filling. This was a good thing because it took them 45 minutes to get my lunch right. I had a green sticker on my conference badge indicating a special meal but the meaning of the colorful identifier must not have been shared with the wait staff. I informed the server that I had a special, vegan meal. Fifteen minutes later I was served a plate of risotto. I explained that while the dish was vegetarian, it was not vegan. Thirty minutes later I was served a plate of asparagus, green beans, eggplant, sundried tomatoes and shallots. Hello! All forgiven!
The staff did apologize profusely during the long wait but I was too busy listening to the keynote speaker, Al Roker, to be bothered. I was trying to figure out why exactly he was at the conference.
The next day the kitchen was ready for me! I added hemp seed to the salad, again, and in just ten minutes the server brought me a plate, announcing it was the “veggie, lactose intolerant meal.” Okay. The plate of rice and crispy vegetable wraps over vegetables was indeed vegan and quite good.
Thursday night my boss and I ventured to Buckhead to Cafe Sunflower for an incredible meal.
Crazy amount of food, right? I’ve learned that when I find the perfect vegan food while traveling, get a lot and use up those leftovers.
Friday morning, after my workout in the hotel gym, I had leftovers for breakfast. Later, belly up to the bar at TGIF Fridays at the Atlanta airport, with a glass (or two, or…) of pinot noir, I devoured the previous night’s dinner and dessert.
Good weather + good eats + good conference = successful trip to Atlanta!
I am delighted to have a recipe featured on hip pressure cooking (you know I love my pressure cooker)! I have learned valuable tips and techniques from Laura so I am particularly honored. Check out Reader Recipes: JL’s Pressure Cooker Farro & Beans in Collard Green Wraps.