Susty’s Cafe – Northwood, New Hampshire, USA

I’ve been gone for a week, to New Hampshire, to visit my folks.  My Dad mentioned a vegan restaurant in the town of Northwood, so of course, I HAD to go.  So we planned a day of antiquing and had lunch there on the same day.  This little bare-bones restaurant is very easy to get to; centrally located right on the famous Antique Alley (Route 4), at the corner of 43 also.  The signage on the restaurant could be better but I did see a small sign that said “Radical Vegan Food” which instantly gave me a good feeling.  Their menu says “100% Vegan and 99% Organic; our food quality is super important to us!”  And . . . it was great.  It’s so wonderful to just be able to pick anything off the menu, isn’t it.  Yes, Susty’s Cafe is totally, fabulously, vegan.  I really wanted to order one of everything just to try it, but restrained myself.  I have to say that the two young women running the place are a credit to the owners, if they are not the owners themselves.  Very sweet, and good service too.  We noticed signs for vegan cooking classes and yoga classes and the like, it’s just a feel-good atmosphere.  We ordered the famous Tofu Fries that I’ve seen in online reviews and am happy to say they lived up to the hype.  Thin, and crispy with a fine seasoned crust on them, they’re killer good, especially with ketchup.  The small size portion was surprisingly large, more than enough for my Dad and me.  Mom ordered the Thai Summer Rolls which were also nice and fresh and slightly peppery, with a mildly spiced peanut sauce on the side, these are perfect as an appetizer or in lieu of a salad.  I was torn between the vegan iced chai and the fresh-squeezed lemonade, but opted for the chai which was good, tasted like a basic coffee-house chai, maybe a tiny bit too strong on the nutmeg or something, not sure, but still very good.  The beverage list is enticing;  you can also order Maine Root Sodas, or Juice of Life (your choice of three juicables).  Dad and I split the Seitan Pepper Steak wrap which was also good, and Dad got a soup special, some kind of brothy noodles.  He said he liked everything we shared, and he seemed a bit surprised.  I noticed on the menu that there are kid-friendly options like Grilled Cheeze and PB and Jelly, apple juice, etc.   In fact, there was a group of small children waiting for their treats and I could clearly hear them saying, “Ooooooh, smoothies!” when the waitress brought their food.  It warms the cockles of my heart to see such young children, maybe 5 or 6 years of age, eating such healthy, violence-free treats!  We got a piece of strawberry cake to go and that night confirmed that it was also delicious.  The menu also offers things like Seitan Pot Pie, Vegetable Curry, Fajita’s, burritos, enchiladas and Shepherd’s Pie.  Next time, I’m going to get the fresh-squeezed lemonade, the soy fritters and one of those chocolate peanut butter brownies.  My conclusion is that Susty’s Vegan Cafe is like an oasis of health and compassionate eating, and I plan to go back every single time I travel to NH, and I’ll try to time my visit so I can take one of their cooking classes, too.  You can read reviews and see photos on the Happy Cow web site, also.

Vegan New Hampshire – Part Two

Once again, we were back in Concord, New Hampshire, a great little city.  My new favorite restaurant in Concord is Cafe Indigo, a  vegan restaurant in a small industrial park off Main Street.  I had to use my GPS to find them, but it was so worth the trouble.  Cafe Indigo is not fancy, but it’s clean and casual and the staff is very friendly.  They make their own seitan and other dishes and even supply food to other restaurants around town.  You can walk in and buy their vegan turkey breasts for holidays, and breads and all kinds of other baked goods, including pretty cakes.  We all got different dishes so we were able to sample a lot of things.  The decadent grilled cheese is made with Daiya.  The vegan egg salad wrap tastes fresh and crunchy good.  The Ruben sandwich is the standout, made with their own seitan, it is absolutely delicious.  Their carrot cake won a Veg News “Veggie Award” in 2007, and is sold in several states including MA (Boston) and VT, my Mom’s favorite.  Highly recommended and I will definitely be going back there the next time I’m in NH!

Concord has TWO health foods stores.  One seems to be heavy on supplements and herbs, with fewer food items, but it’s nice that it’s there.  The other health food store is Concord Cooperative Market, and it’s kind of fabulous; full of everything you could want and it has a heart and soul too, hard to explain.  They’ve also got a hot bar with prepared foods.  They really seem to be working on being involved in the community and it’s just a cool place.  We stopped here on our way into town, before even going to our destination, and stocked up on essentials.  The first night, we went to House of India restaurant (no web site) and had a nice dinner.  They have plenty of vegan things on their menu.  You can ask for no ghee, to make sure on the vegetarian items.  I had a tasty lentil dal, among other things.  I plan to try their falafels on our next trip to Concord.  Another place we didn’t get to, because we ran out of time, is the Vegan Community Kitchen of Concord.  You have to go on this other web site to see the daily menu, which is a bit awkward, but hey.  One night we had a great extended-family dinner at Hermanos restaurant and it was pretty impressive how many things on their menu they can convert to vegan, with seitan and even vegan cheese.  Anyway, I felt right at home in GORGEOUS New Hampshire and we had a great time visiting with my folks.  Next time I go up there, I’d like to stay another day and do some cooking too.

Vegan New Hampshire – Part One

Went back to NH for four days this month and had a great time.  The Concord area has really developed into a more vegan-friendly place, I’m happy to say!  One day we went to Mapletree Farm and bought a case of gorgeous maple syrup, tapped right there, not in Vermont.  The syrup at Mapletree Farm is a rare thing; being tapped on trees lovingly grown right there, and Dean Wilber is so very kind.  He let us into the sugar house so we could see the syrup being made, and it brought me right back to my high school years when I made maple syrup in a little sugar house at my high school, for an FFA class.  Unlike our methods back then, Mr. Wilber does not use dairy cream to settle the syrup down (for lack of the proper terminology), so his syrup is vegan.  Maple syrup is a great sweetener for baked goods, and of course, as a topping on everything from pancakes or waffles or squash, to making crumble for cobblers or the tops of pies, etc.  The inside of the sugar house has that unique scent of bare wood and cooking sap, and it’s spotlessly clean.  We bought a dozen pints and he shipped them a day or two after we got home, so they would not be sitting at the post office.  And he wrapped them in clean, recycled packing material that he gets from a garage-door distributor, and saves that material from going into the landfill.  To see Mapletree Farm in October was a pleasure; the old rock walls, and the turning leaves rustling in the autumn air.  A friendly cat named “April” came out to greet us, and as we waved goodbye, she hopped up onto Mr. Wilber’s shoulders as he walked away.  A quintessential New England experience, for sure, and now I’ve got a great jump on my Christmas shopping!  Super-highly recommended!!!