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Sunday, July 3

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« Yelp Eats, You Eat But why is the rum gone? »

Event Wed Jul 02 2008

Tasting Vegan at The Taste

I'd walked down Jackson Boulevard, east along five blocks of increasingly dense pedestrian-filled sidewalks toward BBQ vegan food at the Taste of Chicago. Michigan Avenue was my final crossing - past a traffic director telling unsuspecting pedestrians to "stay back" and a man standing on the corner shouting "Hallelujah, thank God for Jesus." And then I was in - past the barricades closing the street to automobile traffic. There was no turning back. Soul Vegetarian's booth was my destination - a straight walk to the left down the middle of Columbus Drive once I past the ticket booth, the CTA's transit card recharging tent, and the Secretary of State's driver's license renewal trailer. Somehow I found a window at the ticket booth that didn't have a line, which had been quietly hiding between other windows with stacks of other people who looked content to continue waiting. I had twelve tickets for eight dollars, for whatever that would buy me.

Soul Veg's service was quick. For eight tickets I was eating a juicy vegan gyros on a ledge at the side of their booth - and being checked in on by someone asking how it was. It was delicious - not quite as savory and succulent as I'd felt at their restaurant on 75th Street at Indiana, but still far better than not having one at all. My remaining four tickets bought me a tasting portion of their vegan BBQ twists. Covered in BBQ sauce, this skewered fake meat was a little chewy, kind of like what I remember the real thing to feel like after some eight years. It tasted a little caramelized, just ever so slightly sweet. A non-veg friend of mine later told me that they liked Soul Veg's BBQ sauce so much that it would make paper napkins taste good. Even as a sarcastic statement, that might have a bit of truth nonetheless. The lady next to me at the counter had told me that Soul Veg was the best place here. And these BBQ twists made me believe it; even if it was the only place I'd tried here so far this year. (In the interest of full disclosure, Soul Veg co-sponsored the Veggie Bike and Dine, which I co-organize, last year). One person working their tent lured others in by repeating, "All vegetarian. All vegan. This is your spot." It was definitely mine. Her colleague shouted, "All natural vegan sweet potato pie." If only I had more tickets. You could almost feel a smile on his face as he continued with, "You have got to get your sweet potato pie." I heard their battered cauliflower was delicious, too.

Other veg options: A Natural Harvest has BBQ Tofu Skewers, and I anticipate that Devon Avenue's Arya Bhavan's booth will be selling something tasty. Soul Vegetarian's booth stood just one vendor in from the very end of The Taste at Monroe Drive. I squeezed between the ends of lines of people awaiting more tickets and the temporary fences blocking me from hopping from the street on to the sidewalk for a clear passage out. I was still in and out in what seemed like less than 30 minutes. I was soon down in the Blue Line's Monroe station, watching my train come toward me. Whatever break The Taste had given me from the usual lens I see Chicago through, everything seemed to have returned to normal.

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Marla Seidell / July 4, 2008 10:09 AM

Thanks Chris, for pointing this out. I had decided to skip the taste due to lack of vegan treats, but the gyro sounds divine...

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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