It ain’t easy being gluten-free. Or vegan. In Albuquerque, apparently many people are both.
At the local co-op, a bunch of deli items are both GF and vegan. I don’t really care about vegan, personally, but now that my allergy tests came back ixnay on the cow’s milk and eggs, vegan has a new meaning for me. That being said, Annapurna’s in Albuquerque’s University district is some kind of hallucination. Not only is it totally vegan, but many, many items are gluten-free. On the back of the menu is this incredible statement: “We use NO eggs, honey, wheat, refined sugar, corn, or peanuts. Our alternative sweeteners include maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and agave nectar. Please mention all allergies to server at the time of ordering.” And the best part: “Ayurveda recommends dessert first, so check our bakery case for today’s tantalizing options.” If that isn’t like dollar bills raining from the sky, I’m Miss America.
The friends we are staying with in town are vegans, so Annapurna’s fed us last night’s dinner and this morning’s breakfast. We would have eaten dinner there tonight, but they close at 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Owner Dasji Prakash, originally from southern India, spoke with us a while about how bad gluten is, how “heating” it is, and how so many Americans have candida because of our crappy diets (without me even mentioning candida first). Also, how he doesn’t cook with a lot of onions and garlic either.
What’s so amazing about all this is that the food tastes so damn good. The friend we are staying with in Alb attests to Annapurna’s authenticity: it tastes just like what he had in Kerala last year during his two-month stay. That and my own taste buds are good enough for me. I’m a devoted fan.
For dinner I had the South Indian Sampler, which included a small dosa, sambhar with idlis, and a vadai–a kind of crunchy fritter. For dessert, my pals ordered carrot cake and coconut tart. Below is a pic of the carrot cake. I’m still trying to stay away from sweets–so, for a special kind of torture, I smelled the cake instead of tasting it.
The bummer part of all this is that Portland, I now realize, isn’t doing a very good job with both gluten-free and vegan. I hope that will change very soon–this is someone’s golden opportunity.
Also, Dasji Prakash is currently working on a cookbook. So I’ll have to be happy with that when I’m back home again and away from his kitchen.