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Archive for September 20th, 2010

Weekend wining

My previous post left off on Saturday evening…so let me just pick right back up with dinner. 

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My goal is to eventually taste my way through every restaurant at Santa Monica Place, so we made a reservation at Sonoma wine garden to start our last night out in style.  My previous experience with Santa Monica Place’s dining deck was stellar, so I had high expectations for this meal.   

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We started with some rather pricey drinks.  They were good, but a bit steep given the sub-par size of the pour.  The amount of wine in our glasses (in the above photo) was prior to any sips.  C’mon now. 

Since the menu wasn’t particularly vegan friendly, I made sure to order the artisan bread with california olive oil and sea salt

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I don’t consider my palate especially refined in terms of tasting the subtleties of olive oil flavor infusions, but I have to say, this olive oil was amazing.  I definitely enjoyed the fresh bread with it more than I was expecting. 

Kyle started his meal with the Sonoma wedge salad

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With such a presentation, it was almost pretty enough for me to want a bite.  Almost

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For dinner he got the ravioli filled with pumpkin squash, burrata, and saffron cream.  It looked delicious, but seemed to contain enough dairy to take out a vegan village. 

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My sister ordered the Sonoma chicken with roasted root vegetables.  This dish also had butter in the preparation of the vegetables.  Laura was willing to make the sacrifice, much to her stomach’s chagrin. 

I, on the other hand, was left with limited options and ended up getting two of (the same) small plates. 

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The beet salad had golden beets, shaved fennel, and the most delicious avocado topping.  It was slightly citrusy and had a great tangy flavor that complemented the beets.  However, as good as it was, the portion was completely ridiculous.  I wish the waitress had told me the plate would be so tiny, so I could have ordered more.  Once I saw it, I knew it wouldn’t be enough and asked if the other salad I had my eye on (the nectarine salad) could be made without the cheese.  Unfortunately, that was a no go, so, I ended up ordering the exact same salad. 

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[Take two] 

Pretty pathetic that there weren’t vegan-izable items on such a refined menu, but perhaps my feedback on the comment card will help motivate them to make a few alterations. 

Don’t get the wrong idea though, the meal was still delicious and our waitress was one of the best I’ve ever had.  I can’t overemphasize the importance of good service.  It can definitely make or break a meal, and our waitress was as attentive and helpful as possible in finding a vegan item for me, and making sure I had a good dining experience. 

After dinner we headed to The Yard, a nearby gastropub, where Top Chef’s CJ works.  The menu looked pretty good, so maybe a future happy hour/dinner date here is in my future.  As for the cocktails…

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The BackYard Lemonade had my name all over it.  I love ginger in my drinks.  So much so that I almost want to invest in some ginger beer and start a second career in mixology. 

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Kyle’s beer wins for the most creative name (Mama’s Little Yella Pils), while Laura’s Yard Cosmo gets an iffy review at best.  It was more orange-y than expected, and neither Laura nor myself likes orange juice.  Meh.

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That’s her “not great” face.

After a few more friends arrived at The Yard, we decided to move to another bar, which (fortunately) was not documented.  I will wait until I’ve visited again to review Ma’Kai and Pourtal

For the second night in a row we were still awake at 2 am…who am I?!?  At least this time I did a better job of pounding water before hitting the sack.

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This was the beautiful scene I woke up to the next morning.  Times two.  I still wasn’t feeling so great (despite drinking half the carton of So Delicious coconut milk vanilla creamer in my morning java) so I held off on the eats to give my stomach a rest. 

Turns out, we were all on different agendas food-wise, so we made our way to Whole Foods for some grub-to-go. 

Eventually I made lunch.

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I hate that I was too lazy to make my own seitan, because really, it’s not that hard.  But I wasn’t in the mood to crack the oven when there was football on, so I bought Healthy Times’ grilled seitan and hoped for the best.  I don’t know much about this company, but they seem to have quite a few prepared products in Whole Foods. 

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The package came with four decent sized cutlets which weren’t stored in juice (unlike other prepared seitan products I have gotten before).  They were tougher than what I’m used to, but I liked them and would definitely buy them again.

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I cubed all four seitan cutlets and then quick steamed carrots on the side.

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When I say I quick steamed the carrots, what I mean is, I added Bragg’s and threw a CoverMates food cover on top.  That’s it.  Seriously simple, no?  Two minutes and thirty second later…

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Lunch was served. 

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For dessert I had two gala apples liberally cinnamon-ified. 

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During half time we played a few rounds of golf (on the wii that is) and before we knew it, it was time to take my sister to the airport.  :( 

On the car ride home my whole body began to let me know how thrashed it felt after the weekend.  I definitely owe myself some sober nights with quality sleep, in addition to clean eats and – what’s the word again – oh yeah, exercise. 

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To start, I made brown rice for dinner (with our new rice cooker).  Heather’s recent posts have reminded me of how amazing this simple whole food is. 

I had a huge (non-photo worthy) bowl plain.  As in without salt, Bragg’s, or anything else.  It’s pretty unlike me to not doctor up such a basic food, but I made up for it when dessert rolled around.

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Have you ever thought to make brown rice into a dessert?  Well, if not, this will rock your world. 

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Carob chips, raisins, and warm brown rice.  I don’t know why I never thought of this sooner.

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I mean, if oats can be savory, then why can’t brown rice be sweet? 

Kyle gave me the eyebrow raise when he spotted the bowl, but I swear it’s good.  The chips melt and it turns into a decadent dish that tastes far better than it sounds. 

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Mmmmm.  I had a second serving before crawling into bed with Kyle and an episode of Dexter.  We started season one before the wedding and are now almost done with season two and totally obsessed. 

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