Sunday, August 14, 2011

choices, choices...

I've had a frustrating couple of days.  Not all day each day, but there has been at least a few frustrating hours between the two of them where I've been trying to find somewhere new and exciting to have dinner tomorrow night to celebrate Mister's birthday.  Philadelphia is really starting to be known as a foodie town, thanks in no small part to the innovative and contrary efforts of Jose Garces and Stephen Starr (who is preparing to open his 19th restaurant shortly).  I would like to write Mr. Starr a letter, though, and it would go something like this:
Dear Mr. Starr, I think you have a lot of neat ideas and your restaurants are masterpieces of design and creative cuisine.  However, I am only able to dine at two of them.  Would you please open a vegetarian restaurant for #20?  Thanks!
In case you're curious, those two restaurants are Pizzeria Stella and The Continental.  One of his restaurants, The Dandelion, has a head chef who is on record stating that "Vegetarianism is a disease."  Obviously, we won't be dining there.  There are a couple of others that have enough "small plates" (AKA appetizers and salads) that we could piece together a light meal, but it really turns me off when I get past the appetizers and salads to find that a restaurant does not offer a single entree my husband or I could eat.

Unfortunately, Philadelphia is a town of carni-foodies.  Every menu carries the coveted foie gras and most offer really ethical main courses like veal with an appetizer of bone marrow... Heavens, do people even think about that when they order it?  You have bone marrow, too, did you know?

Anyway, after hours of poring over websites and even directing a snippy tweet at OpenTable about the dearth of vegetarian restaurants (there is one on their site) available for reservations, I broke the news to Mister that there are absolutely no new restaurants in Philly worthy of my hard-earned dollars right now. We are both actively anticipating the opening of Vedge - it cannot come soon enough.  The closing of Horizons left a huge hole in the Philadelphia fine dining scene, especially for people like us who would prefer to have choices on a menu, rather than ordering the one entree offered that we can consume and trying to add creativity through appetizers.

Anyway, although it was Mister's request that we look around for new restaurants, I keep forgetting how much he loves pizza more than anything but me.  So we'll be dining at Stella tomorrow night.  I'm pretty happy about that, actually, because I've been wanting to go there for weeks.

In the course of our conversation about which Italian, Pizza-Serving restaurant we would dine at (Stella, Pietro's, or La Fourno), Mister got confused and thought we were eating out tonight.  I said I thought we would go out tomorrow, since that's his actual birthday and I did take the day off from work and everything.  He agreed, so then we had to decide what was for dinner tonight.  I consulted the menu and asked him if he wanted an Italian noodle dish or an Asian noodle dish.  Not surprisingly, as my husband seems to be seeking balance in his old age, he said we should have the Asian dish since we would have Italian tomorrow night.  As I walked back to the kitchen he was solving the philosophical conundrum of whether pizza is inherently Italian since all cultures seem to have embraced it.  I pointed out that okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza) is not even remotely similar to "Italian" pizza.

With that brilliant contribution, I got to chopping up my bok choy napa cabbage for Ginger Bok Choy and Soba from Appetite for Reduction, with napa cabbage subbing for the bok choy, which has successfully hidden from me two weeks in a row, reinforcing my belief that bok choy is only available at Whole Foods.  Which sucks, since I've committed to avoiding WF for August.  Still saving money, by the way!

It came out so well, I'm not sure if I would have liked it as much with bok choy anyway!  To be completely honest, as I was slicing the napa cabbage, I nearly put the book away and grabbed The Accidental Vegan to just go ahead and make Yakisoba, but I wanted to give Isa a chance and I was not disappointed.

Since the fine edge I walk with Yakisoba is that the recipe calls for "too much ginger," I found that this recipe had it just right with 1 tablespoon of minced ginger.  I will definitely make this in the future because

  1. I want to try it with real bok choy (so we'll at least have to wait until September, it seems).
  2. Mister did not eat around or complain about the soba noodles - in fact, he had two big bowls!
  3. It came together so quickly Mister thought I was kidding when I told him dinner was ready.  This is a very helpful quality during busy times at work or when I just don't feel like cooking (I know, it's crazy, but sometimes, I don't feel like making dinner from scratch after working all day and spending 3 hours commuting there and back).
Oh, hey - speaking of choices, there's a new post up at Pretty Woman in an Ugly World.  Go ahead and check out the epic battle between Sephora and MAC for my consumer vote and see how the winner won!

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