Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vegan Key West

Key West, affectionately called The Conch Republic, is a warm and easy place that is quite vegan and eco-friendly. Surrounded by turquoise water and snaky mangroves, the streets of Key West are lined with Victorian architecture, art galleries, quirky shops, rowdy bars, and mellow restaurants. We had a reservation for a sunset kayak tour, and after checking into our hotel in the old part of town we had just enough time to walk down the warm, Victorian-lined streets to The Cafe, a delicious vegetarian restaurant at 509 Southard Street. After traveling for a few hours in the car through slow Keys traffic (there is only one road that connects the Keys), I couldn't wait to relax with a delicious vegan meal. Appetizers included spring rolls with sweet chili sauce and Un-wing Dings, which was fried BBQ tofu with a side of a tahini dressing (it normally comes with un-vegan blue cheese dressing, but our waitress subbed it with the vegan tahini).

The main course consisted of a coconut tofu dish with roasted red peppers and bok choy. It was smoky, creamy, and super filling. Good thing we had a fridge and a microwave in the room we were staying in!
One thing I really wanted to try while in the Keys was vegan Key Lime Pie, and it was here that I got my chance. Tangy, sweet, and creamy, the filling and raspberry sauce contrasted nicely with the crunch of the graham cracker crust. Stuffed and satiated, we soon had to head back to our hotel, where our ride from Blue Planet Kayak Tours was waiting. We headed to a dock on a bay, and hopped into a kayak along with the rest of the tour. We paddled our way through mangroves while the sun set, spotting all sorts of creatures along the way. We saw a GIANT, red hermit crab with eerie green eyes that made it's home in a huge conch shell, southern sting rays, three different kinds of sea stars, a sea hare, sea cucumbers, and whelks.
As the sun fell into the horizon, and the water went from clear to black, we put on headlamps (flashlights that you put on your head!), and continued to paddle through the mangroves, which started to take on a spooky appearance. The grand finale of the kayak tour was on the way back to the dock, when the sky and water were completely black, and our paddles stirred up some bioluminescent plankton that sparkled through the water like twinkling stars. The sound of the paddles through the water was only punctuated by occasional laughter when our kayaks got stuck in the flat, shallow bay and the occasional splash of an unidentified fish jumping out of the water. It was an unforgettable experience.

4 comments:

bittersweetblog said...

That's one generous and enticing slice of key lime pie! Yum!

Bianca said...

Oooh, I'd imagine the Keys would have the best key lime pie in the world. And that is a big ole' slice. The coconut tofu dish sounds really, really good. And barbecue tofu with tahini sauce sounds like an unlikely, but tasty combo.

shellyfish said...

I've always wanted to visit the keys, and you just make it sound so amazing! That key lime pie got my mouth watering right away - and I'm so excited for you! I just read the going to Australia post (I'm so behind on reading). You must be thrilled!

Vegan Deluxe said...

Awesome! Finding this post comes just in time as we'll be headin to the Keys next weekend. I really wanted to stay at the vegan Bed and Breakfast there, but it has the good for them bad for me fortune of being booked!