For Vegan MoFo, I’m doing a series called Back in Thyme, in which I travel to other periods of my life. Today I’m setting the date to the year 2005 when I discovered the joys of vegetarian bacon wrapped dates…
After David and I had been engaged for about six months, I went vegetarian. And that’s when I started eating bacon wrapped dates… at Fatty’s vegetarian cafe in Eagle Rock, California.
Fatty’s was a restaurant in a repurposed space that used to be an automobile service station. The large door where cars rolled in for muffler replacement and tire rotation was sealed shut, and tables were scattered alongside it. Inside there were twinkling Christmas lights strewn across the front window in a space that felt romantic, airy, and even kind of formal for a place that used to focus on motor oil instead of olive oil.
In the days when our most beloved group activity involved crooning our karaoke favorites (Blaze of Glory for David, Baby Got Back or Rollout for me), going to Eagle Rock ticked all of the boxes. We’d hit up Fatty’s for dinner and order from their “monstrous little plates” to start. They’d bring out bacon wrapped dates made with vegetarian bacon and jack cheese and an order of Mexican potato skins. For dinner, David would order the ravioli, and I would get mousacca or their roasted vegetable salad.
Then we’d head down the street to All Star Lanes to meet up with friends for karaoke in their bar. Walking into the bowling alley was like walking back in time to the 1970’s. The scoring had to be done by hand, and the bowling balls returned on top of the lanes, instead of underneath, for their retrieval. In addition to bowling, they had an adjacent Chinese restaurant and a bar with karaoke, where you could sing to your heart’s content, without worrying that your name wouldn’t get called before closing time.
After we went vegan, Fatty’s fell to the wayside in lieu of the many new vegan restaurants we wanted to try. We still visited Fatty’s now and again, but their options for vegans were a bit more limited. The dates were off the list since they’re made with dairy-based cheese. The Mexican potato skins were retired. Even karaoke lost the luster that it once had, and All Star Lanes did a remodel taking their 70’s décor to the 80’s. And after that, we moved far away from our favorite karaoke joint/bowling alley/Chinese restaurant. Fatty’s has since closed.
Even so, there’s no reason that I can’t revisit those flavors of the old days with some bacon wrapped dates of my own. They’re made with chewy Upton’s seitan bacon and my go-to cashew cheese, which you may remember from my Stuffed Squash Blossom posts.
The recipe is written using a full package of the bacon, but you could certainly just make 4 or 6 dates or whatever you desire. The cheese makes more than you’ll likely need for the dates, but it freezes well. So you can keep it for your next date-making occasion; simply remember to thaw it before you’ll need it. (You could try making a smaller amount of cashew cheese, but it can be difficult in a food processor to process the cheese until it is smooth if it is below the blade.)
These dates are great for a dinner party, since you can do all of the cheese-making, date-filling, and bacon-wrapping ahead of time. Just excuse yourself from your guests for a few minutes to give them a quick fry (the dates, not your guests), and you’re good to go.