Thursday, July 7, 2011

For those special occasions.

Every now and then the situation arises where you want to have a special meal.  You know what I mean, the type that you feel calls for wearing a shirt that has buttons in the front, and a collar, and I don't just mean t-shirts that have pictures of buttons and collars on them.

Occasions like this also call for some fancy shoes.  By fancy, I mean they aren't just the smelly old canvas Chuck Taylor's or vegan-labelled Macbeths.  For a vegan occasions like this are awful.  If you look at the menus of most of the nicer restaurants around town, and by nice I mean places you call up in advance and make a reservation, you'll find dishes full of animal parts, like ox tails, or anemic baby calves.  And dessert is straight out of the question.  For some reason Western gourmet cuisine is entirely focused on cooking up dead creatures, and if you abstain from 'death-for-no-reason' you're out of luck when it comes to eating out gourmet-styles at a nice restaurant.  I mean, just have a look at an episode of Master Chef to get an idea of how death-centric western gourmet cuisine is:

Actually, this video is unrelated, but it's awesome.

Auckland has a load of different vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants, but for the most part none of them are places that you would actually wear a tie, unless you were being ironic wearing a tie with a polo shirt to Sunflower/Vege Cafe on High Street.  But who on earth would even think of wearing a tie with a polo shirt?

Hipsters evidently.

So you can be glad to hear that the Heritage Hotel's restaurant Hectors and their Lobby Bar have vegan specific menus.  In fact, the Heritage Hotel's Lobby Bar menu is strictly vegan.  Have a look for yourself at the menu here.  As a result, I've been hearing of more and more vegans heading out to the Heritage Hotel for those 'special' meal occasions.  For example, Tom from Vegan HQ put on a button up shirt and had a vegan High Tea with Jo a few months ago.

When I met Tom he had a big pink Mohawk.  Still vegan 12 years later.

Vegan High Tea at the Heritage is perfect for those vegans who want to do something that feels fancy, in a setting that is fancy, without having to pay loads of bucks for gourmet food.  You get tea or coffee with a nicely presented stack of vegan nibbles, as you can see in the photo of Jo below:

My theory is that it's called High Tea cause it's stacked up high.

You can read a description of all the bits and pieces included in the High Tea by checking out the menu linked to before.  

This Monday Romelli and I took a trip on our tandem bike for some High Tea.  I called up in the morning to make a reservation, cause that's what you do when you eat at a fancy place.  When I said it was for High Tea the French sounding lady on the other side immediately asked whether this would be a vegan High Tea or a standard High Tea.  Being asked, without prompting, if I wanted the vegan option was refreshingly awesome.

I had to borrow a shirt with buttons on it from my brother for the special outing, as I'm too much of a bum to own a button up shirt.  I stuck the pedals back on the tandem, Romelli put on some new shoes, and we pedaled off for our High Tea.  I'm not normally a button up shirt kinda guy.  Both of the last times I wore a button up shirt I made it into the newspapers.  The last time for promoting safety at intersections.  The time before that is pictured below:

Protesting means I can eat what I want and still stay fit.

When we got there they knew that we must be the vegans.  We opted to have our High Tea in the Lobby bar area, as opposed to the restaurant where Tom and Jo had their High Tea, pictured above.  We sat down on a sofa, and were waited on by the staff.  They brought out our stack/rack thingy with all the plates on it, which I'm sure has a name, but I don't know what it's called.  The sandwiches had the crusts cut off them, and were perfectly sliced.  That is how you turn a sandwich into a gourmet snack.  Each of the vegan sweets were great.  The chocolate on the apricots was smooth and lovely.  The cupcake thing was a little dry, but had nice icing and lemon-y sugary stuff on the top which made up for it.  The scones came with vegan whipped cream.  High Tea isn't something you eat when you are starving.  It's something you order when you want something special, to feel like you are fancy even if you aren't.  It's a great thing for a celebratory meal with family, or something nice for an anniversary.

The staff at the place let us in on a little secret; the current owners of Hectors are actually vegans themselves, hence the increasingly vegan friendly menu of the Hotel.  

So next time you graduate, or want to take out your vegan love interest to a place to make them think you are fancy, you know that you have options available beyond The Burgerie on K'road.

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