Because numerous studies have shown the world would be a better place if we all ate less meat, one of my goals in 2018 has been to eschew animal proteins more often than not in favor of vegetarian or vegan alternatives.
And, holy cow (hah!) has Local Foods made keeping this vow so much easier. Although I have always been an unabashed fan of Local’s egg salad, I only recently began to deviate from my standard order when I noticed they have begun not only regularly offering interesting vegan options (a frito pie made with vegan chili), as well as rotating daily vegan specials, such as a fried oyster (mushroom) po’boy (Wednesdays) and a chicken-fried mushroom steak (Fridays).
First, I sampled Local’s vegan queso. Some born-and-bred Texans might consider a non-dairy queso an abomination, but this New England transplant would gladly challenge them to try Local’s vegan edition and not be impressed with its “creamy” consistency, piquant spice, and umami notes common to the “regular” version. This queso was for me a revelation, approximating the textures and flavors characteristic of this classic Tex-Mex appetizer.
Another example of terrific meat mimicry is Local Food’s Monday vegan special, three thick slices of “meatloaf” made with carrots and celery mixed with ground “impossible burger”, a wheat- and potato-based protein substitute bound with soy and coconut oil. Those aforementioned components reproduce the texture and welcome greasiness of bovine flesh, rendering the “meatloaf” a remarkable replication of the original. A dressing of port-wine reduction gravy ups the savory factor, and sides of sautéed spinach, charred Brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes complete the plate.
My only quibble with that dish is the price in relation to portion size; for $15, methinks Local Foods could add one more slice. And while the “meatloaf” may have left me crying, “Please, sir, I want some more,” one question I am not asking is “Where’s the beef?”