Wednesday, June 29, 2011


small print disclosure:  Jack Trudeau is my son, a graduate of LeCordon Bleu's Orlando Culinary Institute, and a confirmed carnivore/omnivore.  He will be starting a new gig at Lyon Hall in VA in July - wishing him lots of luck.  Thanks, Jack!  

Ever since childhood, it was my mother that taught me the value of trying new things and keeping an open mind. Of course these are great life lessons, but I am specifically speaking about food for the time being . Somewhere in my development I picked up a strong dose of skepticism. Reconciling skepticism and open-mindedness has become a complex problem in my life, but I guess I live a life of dualities.

When my mother told me that I was going to a vegan restaurant to write a review, of course my skepticism burst forth in my defense: "Nope! I'm not doing that!" After a brief struggle, and the realization that I had no say in the matter, my skepticism diminished and I left the experience to be determined by the fates.

It was a Tuesday, around lunchtime that I finally dragged myself to the Everlasting Life Cafe in D.C.. I decided to go with my roommate, Ryan, who used to be a vegan but still lives a vegetarian lifestyle because of the siren's song of eggs and cheese. 

We drove into a seedy neighborhood to find a dark orange building with a banner proclaiming the openness and veganness of a restaurant that used to be a co-op in a past life. My skepticism started to kick at this point, because the exterior, well, looked a little run-down. I ignored the urge to turn tail, and went inside.

I'm glad I did.

On entering, we found the place to be clean and organized. There were around 10-12 tables, a bar, and a few couches. It was empty except for two other people, but as we were there, maybe every five minutes, someone came for take-out. 

Our second impression was markedly better than our first, and it only got better from there.  Leonard, the cashier came out from around the counter, introduced himself, and gave us a tour. He took us into the kitchen and showed us a delicious array of prepared foods. Each day they have a special on the hot bar. 

Today's was shepherd's pie with kale greens and macaroni and cheese as side dishes, or eggplant parmesan. They also had a fully stocked cold bar with salads of every kind. They also had a sandwich station, which we regrettably missed.

When we finally ordered, the counter staff was more than helpful in giving us samples and answering any questions. I tried a mock chicken salad, and you know what? it tasted like chicken (cliche, I know, but the flavor was spot on). We decided on three cold items: the macaroni salad, the string bean salad, and the corn and black bean salad. We also had to try the shepherd's pie with macaroni and cheese and kale greens. They put everything into to-go boxes and we went to pay. Ryan then decided to get a cashew nog from the juice bar.

We ended up with a lot of food for around $30 dollars. For DC, the prices are great.

Now for the good stuff. The shepherd's pie was a little pepper heavy, but the TVP had a texture reminiscent of the beefy goodness that I so dearly love. The macaroni and cheese was delicious, but calling it "cheese" was a travesty. They used nutritional yeast to impart a cheesy flavor to mock cheese. Creative ingredient use, but I am not a fan of mock cheese. The kale greens were also delicious. They used a touch of liquid smoke to give them a meaty flavor, and it outsmarted my taste buds.

On the cold bar side, we had one raw and two cooked items. The string bean salad was lightly tossed with oil and plum vinegar. It was super tasty for not being cooked. The black bean and corn salad was more like a salsa to me. It was delicious and a little spicy, but I could have used some tortilla chips. The macaroni salad was my favorite. It reminded me of being back in Florida. Publix, the supermarket, did an awesome macaroni salad, and this tasted just like it. The only difference is that this one had TVP in it, well that and vegan mayonnaise. I never thought I would enjoy vegan mayo, but I was surprised.

Overall, my impressions were great. I have never had better customer service at a restaurant in DC. The quality, creativity, and diversity of the food made this an excellent experience. I will definitely go back if I am ever in the area.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Jack! You are an entertaining writer and I look forward to reading more of your adventures in vegan land.


The Story Behind the Garden of Eden Vegan Blog

For those of you who knew me prior to December 30, 2009, I was a veteran of the fast food culinary institute. My son, when he lived with me would ask if I had ordered the "Shabbat pizza" yet as the sun was setting Friday nights.

My idea of a good meal was a McFish sandwich, fries with extra salt, and a medium diet coke.

Everything was better covered in a rich creamy sauce and the idea of a naked baked potato was as foreign to me as walking naked in Manhattan.

In June of 2009 I decided to formally become a vegetarian. Although I had dabbled with this, it was not until I read Skinny Bitch that the gauntlet was thrown.

Now being a vegetarian does not sign you up for good health. I was proof of that. Chubby when I started, I indulged in pizza, french fries, cheese, cheese, butter, cheese, pizza......and became very over weight, tipping the Toledos at 200 pounds at 5'4". And taking an assortment of meds for cholesterol and GERD and who knows what else.

As the decade was waning, and with my 60th birthday approaching in the year 2010, there was a perfect storm that snapped my beak and got me in gear. The same friend who gave me Skinny Bitch, turned me on to the John McDougall website. At the same time, there was a Grand Round lecture at the hospital where I work on the book Eat to Live, and at the same time, I was tired of how I looked and felt and needed to make a change.

I regret that I did not start this blog when I changed my lifestyle, but it is better late than never.

My weight is down about 35 pounds, my size has gone from a tight 16 to a loose 12. And I am on no meds, although my vegetarian doctor and I will review my blood work within this month to see if I need anything (like b12) boosted.

I began as a Vegan Minus. Or what I call a Garden of Eden Vegan.

As you know, a Vegan eats no animals nor animal products - none. But then I subtracted oil, sugar, and processed foods.

That is a big subtraction -- but it is this subtraction that helped with weight loss, lack of cravings, increased energy, health, and vibrancy.

Now I am dabbling in raw foods and have signed up to learn with Russell James (google him).

I like the taste and health aspect of raw foods, but worry about the increased calories. So I will (hopefully) use the raw creations as a supplement to my Gan (Hebrew for Garden -- I am in a Hebrew mood today) Eden Vegan lifestyle.

My doctor said that I should write a book about this since most of her patients need it. I said, "Who, or how many, would want to do this?" We shall see. It has been easy (no cravings) and exciting as life and energy unfold before me, just as it was meant to be. (It didn't unfold over a fried fish sandwich, extra tarter sauce.)

Join me or not. Walk with me the whole journey, day trips, part of it, or not. This is my 60th year -- buckle up life, here I come.