Update: Artichoke Red Vegan Market has closed.
Of course no vacation to Florida would be complete without a trip to the beach. Reaping the benefit of unusually high January temperatures, I was eager to don my new swimsuit, grab an oversized beach towel, and head for the water. Just about an hour from Orlando is Smyrna Beach, where no parking fees are required, as you can drive your car directly onto the beach with food and drinks packed in the cooler for easy access. Before heading to the sandy shores, we stopped by Artichoke Red Vegan Market for provisions.
Artichoke Red Vegan Market is a small store in Orlando with all kinds of vegan specialty products – plant based meats and cheeses, cruelty-free cleaners and soaps, sauces, snacks, soups, and supplements. On the weekends they get deliveries of freshly baked bread from Olde Hearth Bread Company, which is the bread maker nearby Ethos Vegan Kitchen also uses for their sandwiches.
The woman working the counter was incredibly friendly and eager to share information about the products and told us about some of her favorite places/items to eat locally. (We went back again before flew out of town, and there was a man working at the store who was also super helpful and outgoing. He offered some tips on shopping areas that we shouldn’t miss before we left.)
At the front counter they have a case displaying Dillos, vegan Twinkies, that are over-nighted from Salt Lake City, Utah. They come in a variety of flavors including chocolate, vanilla, Mexican chocolate, Chai, red velvet, and raspberry. We honed in on two to take to the beach with us for dessert – the original vanilla and red velvet. They were incredibly fresh and moist with a delightfully creamy center. I’ve tasted my fair share of vegan Twinkies, and these were easily the best. They’re also leaps and bounds better than the chemical goo Twinkies of yore since these are made with ingredients like unbleached wheat flour, sugar from sugar beets, organic soy milk, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda… You know, the kinds of things you’d actually see in a kitchen, not a science lab.
I also picked up a couple of locally made hot sauces, because that’s the kind of thing I enjoy taking home as a souvenir. It’s fun to bring some of the flavor of a place back with you, and it’s something that can be used without creating clutter.
For our seaside lunch we grabbed a loaf of bread that had just been delivered and a pack of Field Roast slices. They don’t offer produce at Artichoke Red, but as luck would have it there are a couple of farmers markets within easy reach of Smyrna Beach, and we picked up some produce there (local oranges, grapefruit, kale) for a sweet end of the day steal.
With the warm sun beating down on us in the most welcome way you can imagine, we realized we didn’t have any knives on hand. So we tore the bread in half and made two very rustic sandwiches with a side of citrus and finished up with a dessert of Dillos. A very sweet day indeed…