Italian Vegan with Amanda Eats SLC

Posted September 16, 2013 in ,

For the past few of years, Amanda Rock has been Salt Lake's hype-lady for all things vegan and vegetarian in Salt Lake City. Starting as a compilation of vegan junk food, her food blog, Amanda Eats SLC, now serves as a venue for Amanda to gush about her local favorites, from her best farmers market finds, to surprising vegan options at downtown restaurants.

"Writing about food … it's the only thing that I want to do. It's the only thing that I'm interested in––writing about food and eating the food. I think my blog is a way with me to play with that food," says Amanda, who has been vegetarian for about 30 years.

A soulful Italian, Amanda grew up in a household where food was more than just sustenance––it was a way of life. "My grandparents owned an Italian restaurant in Murray about 60 years ago, and they were always cooking," she says. "My grandma always made sure that I was always tasting different stuff." This, along with her proximity to Caputo's (her day job is located inside the Rio Grande) is perhaps what led her to the local Italian market and deli on 314 W. 300 S. in downtown Salt Lake on a regular basis. "Since I'm so active and annoying on social media, they noticed I was there a lot and they're like, 'What are you buying, vegan girl?'" she says with a laugh. They invited her in for a chat to learn more about veganism and their own "accidentally vegan" products, and eventually offered Amanda the opportunity to do a vegan tasting class on Sept. 17. "We got together and we came with a menu of stuff that they always have that's vegan, but people don't automatically think of as vegan," she says.

Veganism, which restricts those who choose the diet and lifestyle from consuming any animal products, is often at odds with Italian food, known to be heavy in meat and cheese. Amanda has been tweaking her grandma's recipes for years now to fit her diet, finding her way around Caputo's Market for ingredients like toum, a garlicky spread made by local company Laziz, which she claims on her blog is the secret ingredient in her vegan ricotta. Her goal with this tasting is to share her finds with the vegan and non-vegans out there looking for Italian food options, and hopefully convince Caputo's to carry other vegan-friendly items, like fresh-made tofu and fancy vegan cheeses.

The tasting, dubbed "Italiana Vegan with Amanda Rock," will feature a variety of vegan items available at Caputo's along with an optional alcohol pairing featuring vegan wine by local winemaker Evan Lewandowski of Ruth Lewandowski Wines. Amanda stresses that the tasting isn't just for vegans, though. "We're going to be tasting so much different stuff. If you've ever tasted the truffle tapenade, it's the best thing in the world, and when you eat it, you don't think, 'Oh, this is vegan,'" she says. "it's just good on its own, it's just food. It's really high quality, Italian, delicious awesome-sauce food, and it just happens to not have any dairy or meat."

Make sure to register for the tasting, happening Tuesday, Sept. 17 here. "We're going to the places in Caputo's that you don't think of as vegan––there's a lot. That's why I'm there every day!" says Amanda.

Check out Amanda's blog, Amanda Eats SLC here, like her on Facebook here, or follow her on Twitter here and Instagram @amanda_eats_slc to find out the latest in Salt Lake vegan and vegetarian food! Amanda Rock is also a SLUG Mag food writer, check out her review of local vegan restaurant Frisch here.

Amanda's vegan ricotta with Laziz toum available at Caputo's. Photo: Amanda Rock Caputo's Sundried Tomato Pesto––vegan! Photo: Amanda Rock