A Greek friend of mine in Chicago took me out to dinner every so often. We’d start with Saganaki – the famous Greek flaming cheese. The pyrotechnics never failed to thrill me. We’d both shout “Opa!” – that rallying cry of celebration – and I would almost break into a knee-slapping dance to the balalaika, That crusty, melted cheese was soooooo so good. But alas, ‘twas not vegan (yet J).
Fast forward to Fayetteville circa 2017. I stand at the counter of Kosmos Greekafe on north College Avenue, and I discover that Greek cuisine includes vegan options which aren’t set on fire.
I go to restaurants to get something I can’t easily make myself, such as falafel and stuffed grape leaves.
|Falafel in a blanket - a savory bargain|
Falafel - patties of ground garbanzo or fava beans mixed with Middle Eastern spices including dill, cumin, and coriander, comes served on a bed of crunchy chilled lettuce for the Falafel Pita. It's one of the best bangs for the buck on the Kosmos menu. Traditionally served with tzatziki, a vegan will want to ask to have this yougurt-based dipping sauce left out, but if you’re doing the to-go route, you can whip up a small dish of tzatziki with vegan mayo and a dash of lemon juice.
It's a vegan's answer to cocktail weenies
Dolmades - stuffed grape leaves, rolled up like little sausages, are plump with rice and herbs, served cold on a bed of lettuce with the house Greek salad dressing (an olive oil-based vinaigrette) and slices of soft, warm pita bread.
The Portabella Mushroom Salad was a meal for two. A suggestion for the persistent but diplomatic vegan diner: I didn’t realize this dish came sprinkled with feta cheese. Not wanting to be difficult and trying not to wastefood, I did not send it back. The feta was a note of authenticity, but I don’t think I will miss the cheese when I order the portabella mushroom salad in future. The dish is quite salty and that would have saved me some sodium intake. No worries. I’ll get it right the next time. The portabella slices, sautéed in olive oil, were meaty and filling - rather like a vegan answer to sardines.
I didn’t have room in my tummy for their vegan side dishes, but for snacks at your next football game – skip the processed meats and plastic cheese slices. Consider trying pita triangles with a variety of freshly pureed hummus spreads – the roasted red pepper, Kalamata olive, and eggplant varieties meet the vegan requirement. They’re are buffet treats that are both festive and healthy.
Didn’t have room for a dessert of sopa-petas either - crispy pita chips tossed in cinnamon-sugar. But if you’re stopping by for a mid-morning or afternoon pick-up, try this treat with a demitasse of Greek coffee. It might have you dancing and slapping your thigh.....
2136 North College Avenue, Fayetteville, AR