Madison will soon be getting a new vegetarian and super vegan-friendly food cart called IGO VEGO (“I go, we go” + vegan = cute). I learned about it yesterday, thanks to the following comment on Bloom Bake Shop‘s Facebook page: “We are so excited about our new friends IGO VEGO, they will be launching their Vegan Food Cart on Capital Square, April 16th…they have been preparing next door to our shop, and the smells are amazing!!!”
IGO VEGO has been providing regular updates to Facebook and Twitter as their launch date draws near, with posts like “We prepared 129 Mystic Mushroom vegan burgers in five hours tonight! ShhhhhhhhWEET!!!” (March 22) and “Tested the cart today — generator gets everything started and stays ON! Excellent news! Makin’ progress y’all!” (March 28).
Even though the cart wasn’t operating at the time, IGO VEGO participated in the city’s 2011 ranking of State Street and Capitol Square food carts. As part of the annual event, several dozen volunteers and members of the City of Madison’s Vending Oversight Committee (whose purview includes street vending, like food carts) spend a week in September sampling wares from all the existing carts as well as new hopefuls. As Linda Falkenstein reports at Isthmus, “testers rate the stands on food taste and quality (40%), cart appearance and presentation (40%) and originality of menu items (20%). To complete the score, years of seniority (capped at seven) and any demerits are figured in. The scores help determine cart placement for the next year.” IGO VEGO will be serving lunch weekdays at the corner of Wisconsin and Mifflin.
We agreed early-on that we wanted a vegetarian burger option. Recalling that when I became a vegetarian in 2005, I quickly grew tired of crunchy veggie burgers and the “choice” of either a soy-based, or some other GMO-based, veggie burger; we started looking for the “one perfect veggie burger” recipe. After about six months of testing recipes, we had picked four favorites to pick “the one” from, but it turns out that they were each so tasty that we decided to offer all different flavored vegan burgers so our patrons have more choices!
We met every week for a year and a half and perfected FOUR flavors of vegan burgers:
- Veg-Out – brown rice and heirloom black rice, walnuts, carrots, celery, and our special secret sauce and mouth-watering spices make this burger sing!
- Sweet-n-Spicy – walnuts, garnet sweet potatoes, and a blissful blend of jalapeño pepper flakes and savory spices give this veggie burger a little zing! Topped with our special sweet-n-tangy maple mustard…sweet meets heat…ooo-wee that’s good!
- Two-Alarm Chili – this burger packs in dark red kidney, pinto, and black beans, brown rice and heirloom black rice, carrots, celery, and a healthy-heap of rainbow peppers and traditional chili spices. It’s sure to ring any fire-fighter’s bell!
- Mystic Mushroom – served on a bed of brown rice, this vegan burger patty is full of Portobello, button, and crimini mushrooms, barley, kale, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic fill the body with immune-boosting deliciousness! Topped with fresh leek-garlic almond cream!
Burgers will be served on vegan buns from Madison’s Nature’s Bakery Co-op (though if you’re looking for the Nature’s Bakery awesome organic tofu walnut burger, head to your favorite grocer, not IGO VEGO). Also, although IGO VEGO’s burgers are all vegan, strictly speaking the cart is vegetarian, as locally sourced goat cheese will also be available. The menu reportedly will include salads “made with the seasons freshest, most delicious Wisconsin veggies available paired with complementary g-f [gluten-free] pastas or sprouted grains and hand-made dressing.” A couple tasty-sounding raw-food sweet treats (Loco Cocoa Bites and Nutty ‘Nilla Bites) will be on offer as well.
You can read more about proprietor Tammy Markee-Mayas, the origin of IGO VEGO, their efforts to build an eco-friendly cart, their developing relationships with area businesses and farms, and their ambitious long-term goals here. Since I work across town from the Capitol Square, it may be some time before I get a chance to sample their fare. If you get there before me, please share comments below on your IGO VEGO experience!
UPDATED April 19, 2012: I was very happy that I was able to stop by IGO VEGO today to partake of their amazing veggie burgers. Check out my review here.