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INDUSTRY NS: Honestly, the reason for the Jack cheese is convenience. Soon, I’m going to receive a “supposedly revolutionary” Canadian-brand vegan cheese, which has recently become available through US Foods. I’m hoping it will enable my restaurant to go entirely vegan. Except, of course, when there’s local seafood because I can really get behind that. That’s an ingredient I enjoy eating because it’s fresh and abundant here. D: Tell me about the adobo Thousand Island. NS: The sauce has chopped sweet pickles and Sriracha for spice.

D: Did you choose Vietnamese coffee for a vegan flavor because of the darker, richer flavor of those grounds? WB: My wife (Kristen) was always a fan of Vietnamese coffee and the aromas associated with it. It’s peppery and spice-forward with hints of ginger and coriander—which all blend well with coconut’s exotic flavor. We also found, in general, vegans seem to be more adventurous eaters and are more familiar with Asian cuisine, so we thought these warm spices would be something they would recognize and appreciate. Ice cream is my favorite food. It always has been.

Boombalatti’s Ice Cream

Dram + Morsel

Vegan ice cream and sorbets

Vegan sliders

1127 Military Cutoff Rd. #B • (910) 679-4955

33 S Front St. • (910) 833-5999 D: In the press released that was recently released to announce you joining the Dram + Morsel team, you said that the design of the space itself inspires you in your menu creation. How did the vegan cuisine come into play as it ties into the ambience of D+M? Daniel Morgan Avery (DMA): The design of the room attracts a younger dining crowd, and with the health crazes and the yoga kids— they want to try that stuff! We’re getting interest and therefore just catering to that. I’m just starting to wrap my head around it because I’ve never cooked too vegan before. One of my first cookbooks though was “The Moose Café,” which leans towards vegetarian cuisine, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar.

D: Are all sorbets considered vegan since they’re not dairy-based? Wes Bechtel (WB): Yes! The sorbets are all juice-based. We have a watermelon flavor and it’s just watermelon and sugar. D: For the vegan ice cream, is coconut milk the base? How strong is the coconut flavor? WB: All of our vegan ice cream is coconut-milk based. We try to lean toward flavors that pair well with coconut. So far, people seem to love all of them. So many vegan ice creams and non-dairy products out there are coconut milk-based, so a lot of folks who are used to eating strictly vegan are almost immune to that coconut flavor. D: People say your vegan ice cream puts other big brands to shame. What makes it so special? WB: It’s got a really unique mouth feel and creaminess that’s different from a lot of other vegan ice creams on the market. I was a vegetarian in college and remember sampling some vegan ice creams. They were icy and stale-tasting, whereas ours is super fresh and full of high-end ingredients. It’s not a calorie-counter. If you’re going to eat our vegan ice cream, we want you to really enjoy it like it’s a luxury. D: What’s the process of making vegan ice cream? WB: Well, we have to keep some of that close to our chest! But what I can tell you is we get our coconut milk locally from Saigon Market, so we know we’re getting a great product. At first, the interest wasn’t specifically focused on “vegan.” Customers were requesting an ice cream that would be suitable for those who are lactose intolerant. Now, we’re making six batches every two days of vegan ice cream, so our supply has continued to grow to meet the demand. The ice cream itself has a high fat content and, of course, sugar. No diet ice cream here!

D: How focused is Dram + Morsel on putting out vegan / vegetarian items? DMA: We have a vegan chef in the kitchen who is showing us all kinds of fun things, like cheese sauces made with cashew nuts. Now, our menu is updated with more vegan-inspired shared plates, like shishito peppers over Romesco sauce. It started as a special but has been such a big hit, it will be on our new menu. We also have a tofu scramble for breakfast and edamame falafel,

Devour Summer/Fall 2017  
Devour Summer/Fall 2017  

Eat and drink across southeastern NC