By coincidence only, not planned at all, my friend and I went out for lunch on Rosh Hashanah at a brand new deli called Ben & Esther’s.
Portland-based Ben & Esther’s vegan Jewish deli, bakery and bagel shop recently opened in Oceanside.
Named after founder Justin King’s grandparents, Ben & Esther’s is a New York City-style Jewish deli and bakery.
Although the concept initially sold animal products, it eventually transitioned to be completely vegetarian, then to 100% vegan.
The menu consists of New York style bagels with cream “cheese”, deli sandwiches, knishes, matzo ball soups, lox made from carrots, whitefish made from hearts of palm, and a variety of pastries & sweets.
I had the “lox” on a bagel with cream cheese and capers and it was REALLY good. You could hardly tell that you were eating carrots disguised as salmon.
My friend had the BLT on a pumpernickel/rye swirl bread and couldn’t believe how yummy it was and how “bacon-y” the vegan bacon tasted.
I had a taste of the “whitefish” and that will definitely be my choice the next time we eat there.
The bagels were deli-authentic, which proves once again that you don’t need any form of dead animal to create scrumptious food.
We got chocolate babka for dessert and that was the only disappointment because it didn’t taste NEARLY as good as my homemade version, even though it was filled with chocolate.
That’s one of the things I really miss living out here where “food innovation” is me and my kitchen rolling veggies into maki. It’s just amazing what you can do with vegetables, cooking broth (soy, rice wine, sugar, water), and a really good, very sharp knife. Also, “fake” crabmeat — not vegan but Alaskan pollack — can tidily substitute for any other fish.
Otherwise, unless you like pizza or steak, around this area, you’re outta luck
I’d have to forego the pollack as it’s not vegan and I’m still not even sure that any fish is free of toxins at this point, but agree there are endless ways to create tasty, healthy food. Love veg sushi, it’s one of the things my kids love me to make for them.
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