Driving to Buffalo

Chipotle bowl

Today we left Western Pennsylvania. It is remarkably beautiful, but fairly thin on vegan options, apart from the occasional surprise. Our hopes were higher for Buffalo.

We drove the 4 hours from Connellsville to Buffalo via Erie, where we planned to stop for lunch. We didn’t know our way round, and the Happy Cow app had drawn a blank, so we pulled off the highway into a vast plaza full of food chains of various kinds. We had never heard of most of them. I chose Bob Evans. Wrong.

I’m fairly optimistic about being able to pull together a vegan meal in the most unpromising circumstances, but here I met my match. I think we may have stumbled across the most vegan unfriendly chain restaurant ever. EVERY dish with meat, dairy or eggs. Every one of them.

In addition, it was possibly the most creepily cheerful, super clean, plastic place I have ever been in. So. Not. Me.
We settled for coffee and then left, desperate to get some food.

We had remembered that Chipotle had been talked about in some Facebook groups and found one just a mile or two down the road. I have never been so happy to eat in a chain restaurant! The staff were helpful, the food was actually fresh, delicious and vegan. You get to choose what you want in your bowl or wrap. There a lots of choices: beans, salads, sauces, guacamole and sautéed veg.

We hit the road onwards to Buffalo, happy and FULL. :)

Chipotle Mexican Grill
6611 Peach Street
Erie, PA 16509

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Polymath Park, Kentuck Knob and not very much vegan food at all

Pizza

Today was probably the worst day ever for vegan food finding. The kind of day where you feel like the weirdo, the only vegan in the village, and that’s because you are.

It started out well with a good breakfast from our lovely B&B hosts.

After that we headed off Polymath Park, a site which contains three houses, two by Wright apprentices and one by Frank himself. All three houses were ok, with the Wright Duncan house being by far the best. But even this wasn’t his greatest. These houses were built to a budget and Wright did his best work when spending truckloads of other people’s money.


Then on to lunch, oh dear! We had a plan to get to a bar in Ohiopyle where we’d had a coffee the previous day. Sadly,it was inexplicably closed. We knew that we’d have been able to get something there. Even though nothing was vegan on the menu, there were lots of vegan bits and pieces there to assemble into a meal. The woman who ran it was friendly and seemed like she’d have been up for the challenge.

We went instead to slightly dodgy place, with many veg options (to give them credit) but fairly ordinary food dripping with oil. Fuel rather than pleasure and not enough of it to keep us going. The day was hot and by now I was indulging in vegan fantasy #413 where we happen upon a vegan ice cream truck as we round the corner. It didn’t happen. Not in rural Pennsylvania, in a town with a population of 56.

After our very, very disappointing lunch we went to Kentuck Knob, another Wright designed house, this one with way more budget. Though modest, it was beautiful. Unfortunately no interior photography allowed.

For dinner, unable to stand any more meal disappointments we opted again for the Italian Oven, some pasta and a cheeseless veggie pizza.

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Fallingwater, small town Pennsylvania and vegan food

Salad

The big news for today is that we finally visited Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in Mill Run, PA. The trip was centred around this visit and it was wonderful to be here after all the planning. Unfortunately, although I took over one hundred photos, I am not allowed to post any of them on a web site. You can however view pictures of the house and its amazing setting on the official website.

Although I loved it, Fallingwater is not my favourite Wright building from a details point of view. There are some really lovely small design details in the building such as the lamps and shelves, but this building is so much more minimalist than the prairie style houses which I love. However, there is no argument that the setting is stunning and the house is embedded (literally) amazingly into its environment.

So since I can’t show any photos, let me show you instead how lucky we were today with vegan food.

It started at breakfast. Our lovely hosts at the Connellsville Bed and Breakfast had made a real effort for us after I’d let them know in advance we were vegan. We had a choice of juices, freshly cut fruit, muesli, fried potatoes with onion, apple and thyme, and some fresh heirloom tomatoes, along with coffee and almond milk. I particularly appreciated the almond milk, as non dairy milk options around here are non existent and they had clearly gone to some trouble to get it for us.

It continued at Fallingwater itself where they had a vegan black bean, chipotle spiced wrap with a corn and tomato salad at the cafe. We shared one for a snack at 11, since breakfast had been very early so we could have time for the drive. No photo, but you know what a wrap looks like. :)

We took a drive towards the historic town of Ligonier, on the way we stopped at a roadside stand to buy some apples and I photographed the pumpkins and corn.

In Ligonier itself we found the lovely Connections Cafe. They serve salad plates of two or three choices on salad greens. Four were vegan and we chose all four between us. A red quinoa and pear, a black bean with peppers, a corn and tomato and a red quinoa and kale.

Afterwards we wandered around the pretty town, and stopped by a local gallery to admire some beautiful handcrafted furniture before driving back home through lovely hilly scenery.

For dinner, we managed to scratch together a meal at the Hometown Diner in Connellsville with the help of the waiters and the cook who were really accommodating. We had a Philly Cheese Steak without the cheese and the steak, some home fries and some corn. They charged us less because we had no meat or cheese. In the cook’s words, “I’m not charging you full price, I’ll work something out”.

People are just so great sometimes. :)

Connellsville Bed and Breakfast
316 W Crawford Ave,
Connellsville, PA 15425
724-603-2533

Hometown Diner
103 Memorial Blvd
Connellsville, PA 15425

Connections Cafe
109 S Market St
Ligonier, PA, 15658

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