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. Tables were scattered alongside it.
Inside there were twinkling Christmas lights strewn across the front window in a space that felt romantic and airy. It was 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. Then an order of Mexican potato skins.
For dinner, David would order the ravioli. 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. 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.
Vegan bacon wrapped dates
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.
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.
Vegan bacon wrapped dates
- ¾ cup raw cashews soaked in water overnight
- 1 Tablespoon white miso paste
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 40 pitted dates
- 1 package Upton’s Naturals seitan bacon (or 8 ounces of your favorite vegan bacon)
- Organic canola or vegetable oil for frying
- Start by making the cashew cheese. Drain the cashews and put them in the food processor with miso paste, nutritional yeast flakes, and extra-virgin olive oil. Blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides, add the chopped fresh basil, and continue to blend until fully combined. (The cheese will be very thick and paste like. That is a good thing, because it will stay in the dates and not ooze out during the frying process.)
- Slice each date down the center long-ways, being careful not to cut all the way through it. Using a spoon, put a generous amount of cashew cheese into each date.
- Open the package of Upton’s seitan bacon, and slice as many pieces of bacon as you’ll need down the center long-ways, making two equal pieces for each strip of bacon. (The amount of strips vary slightly in each package. There are about 20 strips of bacon in every package, and so ideally one package will be enough for 40 dates.) Roll each date in its own half-strip of bacon, securing it with a toothpick through the center.
- Heat oil in a non-stick skillet to a medium heat with enough to fully cover the bottom, about ¼ inch. When the oil is hot enough to easily bubble around the dates when added to the skillet, shallow fry them for 3-5 minutes. (If necessary, fry in batches so that the pan isn't overcrowded.) Move the dates as needed, so that every side gets evenly fried.
- Once they are evenly browned, put the dates on a towel-covered plate to drain. Remove the sticks from the dates if desired, move them to a serving platter, and serve immediately.