Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Non-Fanatic Vegan

So, apparently half the United States has turned into the Land of Ice and Snow, yet here in California we are still waiting for winter to arrive. Our version of winter anyway. Because it hasn't started to rain, and my sister is trying to finish her fifty hours of driving before she can get her license, we decided to schlep down to Carmel. Carmel is one of my favorite places to visit; it combines the charm of a small town with easy access to the beach. We split our time among kitschy stores devoted to Jane Austen paraphernalia, the Pilgrim’s Way Bookstore and Secret Garden, and the beach.

Carmel was my mom’s birthday request two years ago, and it was our first visit since becoming vegan. I researched several restaurants before we left, but nothing had really jumped out at me. After perusing the vegan offerings at a few restaurants, I was feeling underwhelmed. That’s when we found La Bicyclette. Setting aside my sister’s and my ardent francophilia, this restaurant is one of my absolute favorites. Wood fired breads and pizzas, risotto, and tiny bottles of sparkling wine. Snug tables in front of huge windows, equally perfect for people watching and salt air breezes. We settled in for a delicious lunch of pizza with fava bean purée and spring onions, and a risotto I can’t remember in detail, only in rapture. Every time someone tells me that they’re going to Carmel, I insist that they eat at La Bicyclette. Yes, I can be a little bossy.

On our trip last week, it’s safe to say that we were more excited about this restaurant than anything else. I’ve been to more than a few beaches in the last two years, but there’s only one La Bicyclette. This time, we started with the assorted wood fired breads and olive oil, and shared two pizzas: the Local Champignon with portabella, cremini, and oyster mushrooms on a caramelized onion purée, and the Margherita with oven dried cherry tomatoes and basil. We requested no cheese on both pizzas, and they were totally accommodating.

No, I don’t know what was in the onion purée, and yes, there may have been milk or butter in the bread. But, this is what I mean when I call myself a “non-fanatic vegan.” I do my best. I don’t want to miss out on the experience that is La Bicyclette because they don’t explicitly say vegan on their menu. I also don’t want to have a 10 minute conversation with the waitstaff only to find out that they sauté their mushrooms in butter, and the only thing I can order is the salad with no meat and no cheese - so, basically a pile of lettuce. My home is vegan. The food I serve my family and friends is vegan. The recipes I share on my blog are vegan. But sometimes, when I go out, I’m an almost-vegan.

No comments:

Post a Comment