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Plant-Based Science

This Mushroom Tastes And Smells Exactly Like Lobster

Before you even get a chance to take a bite, the aroma of a salty effervescence hits your nostrils. You’re instantly transported to the Maine coast, ready to dig into a generous helping. The first taste comes, and the familiar briny sweetness of lobster resonates inside of your mouth.

It’s only when you come back to reality and see what’s in front of you that you realize you’re not eating freshly cooked lobster. You instead just bit into a lobster mushroom, an equally pricey fungus that gives you the same aromatic experience that the beloved crustacean does.

lobster mushroomPhoto: Constantine Spyrou

Native to the forests of North America (particularly the Pacific Northwest), the lobster mushroom is actually unique in that it’s not entirely a mushroom. It comes about as the result of a parasitic fungus that attacks certain mushroom species, contorting their shapes and giving them a reddish-pink hue, similar to that of a cooked crustacean.

The parasite also changes the flavor and aroma of the mushroom, becoming similar to that of seafood. As such, it can be used as a natural substitute for lobster or shrimp in several dishes. You may find it, for example, serving as the “shrimp cocktail” in an epic plant-based seafood tower in Hollywood, or used to add a punch of briny flavor to a wild mushroom ragu.

In a world where food scientists are using technology to make plants taste like meat, it’s interesting to find the rare times that nature itself had something that does just that all along. The lobster mushroom is a perfect example of that.

For those interested in getting these yourselves, they do require foraging (or purchasing from a forager that specializes in gathering them). They are hyper seasonal, and can go for as much as regular lobster by the pound.

Categories
Drinks Fast Food Plant-Based Technology

Dunkin’ Donuts Built A House That Runs On Used Coffee Grounds

Photo Courtesy of Dunkin’ Donuts

Most people need a hot cup of coffee to power themselves up before they can even think about getting through the day. While the effects of coffee are quite powerful, I’ve never really considered the potential they have beyond keeping me from dozing off in the shower.

Harnessing said potential, Dunkin’ Donuts took it upon themselves to build a Home That Runs on Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee. More specifically, used coffee grinds.

The idea was to take wasted resources and figure out a way to convert them into fuel, as part of an initiative towards a cleaner planet. The coffee brand partnered with Blue Marble Energy to create a biofuel made from the oil extracted from the used coffee grounds from Dunkin’ Donuts.

The biofuel is an 80% blend of coffee oil and 20% blend of alcohol that’s added to a generator which, in turn, powers every facet of the home.

The design of the house itself is also inspired by Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, with the textures and colors resembling the the richness of coffee grinds.

Anyone wishing to check out this tiny coffee-powered house will find it at Madison Square Park from Oct. 4 through Oct. 6.

Categories
Plant-Based Restaurants Video

Vegan Restaurant Draws In Curious Carnivores With Dishes Like Smoked Carrot ‘Lox’

To me, the most exciting plant-based restaurants are those that go beyond the kale and black bean burgers and let the creative juices flow. Big names like Tal Ronnen know how to create indulgent and delicious meat-free eats that often mimic some of our favorite carnivorous creations.

jewel

Such is the case at Jewel, a Los Angeles restaurant that offers up a fresh take on the plant-based food scene. Foodbeast’s own Marc Kharrat and Elie Ayrouth went with YouTube star and actress Anna Akana to Jewel to check out their entire menu, and were impressed at the restaurant’s signature dishes.

One of Jewel’s most famous items is their Carrot Lox Toast, where the “rabbit food” is transformed into luxurious, smoky slivers that could fool anyone into thinking it was actual salmon. Kharrat, a first-time vegan eater, was impressed by the orchestra of flavor in this toast.

There was also the Cococalamari Tacos, which utilize young coconut as a substitute for squid. To Ayrouth, the texture of them compared to calamari was similar, but “less stringy,” as he put it. They went well with the fresh flavors the accoutrements to the taco provided.

The most eye-opening of Jewel’s dishes had to be the Sol Box, their take on ribs that featured barbecued yuba. “Yuba is a byproduct of making tofu,” chef Jasmine Shimoda explained, adding on that the yuba is dehydrated to get a “crepe-like texture” similar to pulled rib meat. Akana, an experienced vegan, could not believe how close to the real deal it got, saying that “my mouth likes it but my brain is like ‘NO!'”

Jewel’s ability to transform vegetables into meat-like foods is incredible, and merits a journey to see just how close to the dishes mirror their carnivorous counterparts.

You can see the full menu and all of the enticing creations Jewel has to offer in Foodbeast’s new episode of Going In, featured in the above video.


Photos by Foodbeast // Oscar Gonzalez
Categories
Fast Food Plant-Based What's New

Del Taco Is Now The First Major Fast Food Chain To Serve Beyond Meat In The USA

Fast food is really starting to get into the meat alternatives game. You have the Impossible Sliders available nationwide at White Castle, McVegans in Europe from McDonald’s, and Impossible Burgers at Fatburger. Now, Del Taco is adding their name to the vegan “beef” game, teaming up with Beyond Meat to bring a plant-based option to their menu.

del tacoPhoto courtesy of Beyond Meat

While other chains, like Veggie Grill, have Beyond Meat in their stores already, Del Taco is the first major drive-thru restaurant to carry the product in-house. They’re also the first Southwest/Mexican fast food restaurant to carry a plant-based meat on their menu.

The two brands worked together to create a unique vegan “beef” crumble that has all of the same seasonings as Del Taco’s standard ground beef. Customers can use it as a protein replacement in the chain’s lineup of loaded fries, nachos, burritos, and other items.

Del Taco also created two new tacos exclusive to the new Beyond Meat crumble. They both consist of the plant-based meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and your choice of soft flour or crunchy corn taco shell. The differences between the two are that the Beyond Meat Taco contains cheddar cheese, while the 100% vegan Beyond Avocado Taco replaces that with avocado.

For now, the Beyond Meat/Del Taco partnership remains a test that is limited to two locations in Santa Monica and Culver City, CA. Del Taco CMO Barry Westrum said in a statement that the test has “no scheduled end date as of now, as we want to gauge acceptance prior to making further decisions on product availability.”

It is possible, therefore, that the Beyond Meat tacos will eventually spread to all of its locations. Though it is all a matter of whether they are successful in this trial run or not.

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Fast Food Plant-Based Restaurants Video

This Vegan Fast Food Joint Gives Us A Glimpse Into The Meatless Future

There’s a lot of talk these days about the future of food, with many believing we will be unable to produce meat by the year 2050. If that happens, at least we can all rest assured knowing that we’ve already got a vegan fast food burger spot up and running.

Photo: Foodbeast // Marc Kharrat

Monty’s is a vegan burger joint in Los Angeles that customers are already calling the “plant-based In-N-Out” because of its menu, ambiance, and treatment of the patties.

Since they opened their doors last month, they’ve drawn throngs of curious omnivores and herbivores eager to see what the future of fast food could look like.

At the core of Monty’s signature item is the Impossible Burger, the “bleeding” vegan patty that comes as close to a beef patty than nearly all others. Coincidentally, one of the first renditions of the Impossible Patty also drew inspirations from In-N-Out, so the proof that this faux burger meat can stand up to fast food already exists.

Monty’s toppings are pretty similar to In-N-Out’s, as well, with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and a vegan American cheese (from Follow Your Heart) that evokes the aromas and textures of your standard Double-Double.

Like In-N-Out, Monty’s branding is simple but memorable, the menu is small but packs in the quality, and there’s even a “secret” menu, including a vegan take on Animal Fries.

The only thing that Monty’s doesn’t match In-N-Out on is price. Making beef burgers is still incredibly cheap, and you can get one for $3-4. At Monty’s, a single cheeseburger runs for $11 and a double sets you back $14. That’ll definitely change as Impossible Foods (the company behind the patty) scales more and lowers costs, but for now, getting a taste of the future of burgers will set you back a bit.

Nonetheless, Monty’s is a shining example and gold standard of what vegan fast food can be like, and makes the culinary genre accessible to those who would otherwise avoid plant-based eats altogether. It’s an important fixture and restaurant to look to as the future of meat looks bleak.