I never intended to use this blog as a place for blatant advertising, but let’s face it: I’m a Hugo’s junky and I’m willing to do anything to make sure every single veg*n or foodie that reads this blog makes a trip there. It’s not “fine dining” it’s not even about the openmindedness of the staff, it’s all about the food!!
This weekend, Friand & I made yet another trip to Hugo’s (seriously, if we actually took stock of how many times we eat there I would be conservative in saying we eat there twice a week). I was dying for another All-American Veggie Burger with avocado, tomato, lettuce, veganaise & vegan cheese. I could tell on all my previous vegan dishes that included vegan cheese that they were using Follow Your Heart. It’s readily available at Whole Foods (right across the street, by the way) and I’m used to working with this kind of starchy yet meltable cheese on my own food at home.
But… out comes my burger with this suspicious looking cheese on top… Friand, not a vegan, always tastes things that look even remotely questionable (yes, he’s like my personal royal poison-checker guy) and even he was worried about the cheese. It was melted, and a little golden, and when we checked the texture it was actually stringy. Like a couple of chimps discovering a new termite mound, we shrugged & he took the first taste.
He was not convinced that it was vegan. I believe what he said was that it had a very “cheese-like” flavor & texture, so we called over the waitress. You’d think that after so many visits I’d know this girl’s name! But she doesn’t wear a nametag and, well, I am a numbskull when it comes to remembering people’s names (beware at parties, folks, I’m not being rude, I’m just that stupid). She was extremely excited about the cheese telling me that yes it was vegan, and it was a parmesan/Italian flavor. Well, that’s good enough for me! I dove into that creamy, gooey, stringy fake cheese like no-one’s business, I even at the bits of bun that didn’t have any burger or goodies left in it!!
Did I mention that I never eat whole-wheat bread? I always get ciabatta at Hugo’s or whatever “white” breads are offered wherever I am. I’ve just never been one for the whole grain breads… someday in the nursing home all you whole-grain eaters can point & laugh at me, but for now… ciabatta rules!!
When we got home, we promptly jumped on the computer to see if there was any mention on the Hugo’s site of the new cheese they were using. Afterall, the restaurant in Studio City had just undergone a 1 week renovation in March, so it stands to reason that the menu also got a facelift!! I used the “Contact Us” to praise Hugo’s for the awesome new cheese and of course to find out as much about it as I could. I received not one but TWO email responses, one from Dale Jaffe, Hugo’s Restaurants Director of Sustainability & Quality Assurance actually giving me his cell phone number it I wished to discuss the cheese alternatives they use at the restaurant, and the second email came directly from Tom Kaplan (quoted below)
Hello Lisa- We did switch from Follow Your Heart vegan cheese to Daiya brand- http://www.daiyafoods.com/ So far the response has been all positive. We’re also using it at Hugo’s Tacos. We haven’t played around with it in all our recipes, like Mac and Cheese, but so far so good. It’s by far the most popular vegan cheese and requested weekly by our customers. The website should give you more info. Enjoy, Tom Kaplan, CEO
Should I have expected anything less than this kind of response from Hugo’s? I think not. A top notch establishment, I cannot sing their praises enough!! I heart Hugo’s!!
Now bring on the Daiya mac & cheese!!!!