To Meat or Not To Meat That is the Question

29 12 2008

Peta 2 has their vote going on for the 2008 World’s sexiest vegetarians.  Peta has their list of 2008 top 10vegetarian friendly ball parks.  And examiner.com‘sBoston Vegetarian Examiner has a great list of vegetarian prix fixe menus available to ring in 2009.   I’m sure that in the coming days some people are planning to start a vegetarian diet, be better vegetarians, or just choose to eat better in the coming year.

I have been vegetarian and vegan in my life not for ethical reasons, but because I’ve never been a fan of meat and dairy’s never been a fan of me.  At some point, when I learned that I was allergic to dairy and soy I decided that I don’t eat enough beans and lentils to be healthy and decided to cook meat.  My children eat meat, although not much because they prefer other things.  I love fish and hope one day they will learn to eat seafood other than the perfect  Wellfleet clams that my daughter ate off my appetizer plate at Craigie St. Bistrot (now Craigie on Main).  She then asked, “Can we just ask the waiter for some more?” and I had to explain it wasn’t the kind of restaurant or food that we could just ask for some more.

Recently, the Boston Vegetarian Examiner wrote about Veg-friendly options for New Year’s Eve prix fixe dinners.  I wanted to add a couple more restaurants to this list.  They may not have specific New Year’s Eve menus but they do have fabulous vegetarian tasting menus.

Craigie on Main

This is one of neighbourhood gems that is not quite in our neighbourhood anymore.  We went there recently and really enjoyed our meal (more about the Craigie experience in an upcoming article).  It is not well advertised, but Craigie on Main does have a Vegetarian prix fixe meal that is available for $61.  My children’s grandparents have dined with us there and they are both vegetarian and really enjoyed their meal.  Chef Maw’s kitchen is not the kind of place where they just put together a couple sides and take out the meat from a couple dishes to get Vegetarian food.  It is definitely a special night out with amazing food.  Chef Maws uses the best ingredients available.  I used to live not to far from Lyon and I have to say that the food at Craigie is the best French food I’ve had outside of France.

As stated on their website, “Tony Maws is a non-traditional chef – an “idealist with a kitchen” might be a more appropriate job description. His ideology: that local, seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients are intrinsically better, and that these ingredients form the most significant part of what makes great food great.”.

The non-vegetarian New Year’s Eve menu can be ogled online, and a vegetarian menu will be available but has not yet been set.

Oleana

Oleana is another wonderful restaurant that has a menu to tantalize the palate.  This summer, we dined there again with grandma and grandpa who happen to be vegetarian.  At the time, they had a special vegetarian tasting menu set up to support Verill Farm after their devastating fire.  On their regular menu, they have a special Vegetarian tasting menu that offers so many different ingredients and flavours without overwhelming the diner.  The tasting menu includes five mezze and a dessert and is available for $42.

Elephant Walk

The Elephant Walk is a French-Cambodian restaurant.  It is not a fusion restaurant, but rather has a wonderful French side of the menu and a tempting Cambodian side of the menu.  Elephant Walk has won citysearch’s best of 2008 for their Vegetarian Food.  You can read about what makes their vegetarian options that much better on their blog.   The quality of the ingredients is fabulous and they have just recently lowered their already reasonable prices for such a dining experience.  They have some special menu items for New Year’s Eve and offer a prix fixe menu year-round that has a vegan or vegetarian option for each part of the prix fixe menu.  They also offer a gluten-free menu at each of their locations.

Now you have a great many fabulous restaurants to choose from.  You’re on your own, however, trying to get a reservation for New Year’s eve let alone a babysitter.  Don’t worry though.  These restaurants have great food year-round and offer their vegetarians fine dining choices year-round as well.

Bon appetit et bon année.  ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

For more info: Craigie on Main, Elephant Walk,Oleana

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Belmont Farmer’s Market Pizza Night

9 10 2008

 

Fresh eggplant and spinach from the farmer's market with a little garlic makes a perfect pizza topping.

Fresh eggplant and spinach from the farmer's market with a little garlic makes a perfect pizza topping.

 

 

Tonight my husband and I had a late night dinner together.  The light was glowing, we sat with a glass of wine in hand, and a plate of fresh made pizza and a crisp salad.

Sounds romantic right?  Well in fact, an hour or so prior to this I was upstairs wrangling the children into their jammies.  One clinging to my every step because she’s afraid that a dragon lives in the front room while the other throws a full out tantrum because he doesn’t believe that now is a good time for a diaper change.  Not exactly the prelude to a romantic dinner for two.  And to be honest, the glow is from the television, the wine is more a necessity than an luxury at this point and the fresh made pizza is the only thing that lives up to its name because it’s fresh, it’s hot and it’s delicious.

Let me tell you a little about pizza night.  A new staple in our house is a ball of frozen pizza dough from either Whole Foods Market or Russo’s.  They both cost under $2 I believe.  The only forethought you need is to take the dough out either the night before or the morning of.  You can usually scrounge up things in the fridge or pantry, but if you want farm fresh you’re better off going to a nearby farmer’s market some time that day or the weekend before.  It doesn’t take long and it is so worth it for flavor, quality and price.

Today after school, I took my daughter to the Belmont Farmer’s market.  It’s a nice outing for children since they can usually help pick out the veggies, there are always some sweet treats and for my daughter anything with tents is by definition exciting.  If you’re desperate there is a Starbucks in Belmont. You can sit in a cozy chair, refuel with some coffee/tea, read a story with your child and do homework before hitting the farm stands.  The market is from 1-5 on Thursdays and it is in the back of the parking lot behind Macy’s and all the stores on Leonard St. 

Today, I had two goals.  Get veggies for tonight’s pizza and get some fruits and/or veggies for my daughter’s lunch.  I found some great eggplant (2$/pound) from the Farm School stand (Athol, MA) and across the way my daughter picked out purple peppers for her lunch at Dick’s Market Garden Farm (Lunenberg, MA).  She loves things that crunch like peppers and the purple ones are always a novelty because of their beautiful color.  I also spotted some Mutzu apples which are great, they are a bit tart, but very juicy .  They don’t brown too easily because of their tartness so they do well cut up in a lunch box.  Another tip is to slice the apple in large circles and then put the apple back together.  It will not really brown if you wrap it tightly together.

While I fixed the kids dinner, all I had to do was slice the eggplant, toss it with some olive oil, maldon sea salt, and pepper and throw it on the grill while the kids unwound from their day by playing in the sandbox on the porch.  Last night my daughter had meatballs from the freezer that I had heated up in tomato sauce.  She took some for lunch today and the leftover sauce and a meatballs were the sauce and topping for the pizza.  We had some spinach that I bought earlier in the week at Russo’s because it looked fresh and fabulous. I always have grated cheese in the drawer (nachos, kids’ snack, pizza, grilled cheese). 

Everything is prepped, I take the kids to bed.  When I come down, I preheat the oven, I pour myself a kir (4 parts white wine, 1 part creme de cassis) and my husband walks in the door.  He takes over.  The ingredients are on the counter.  All he has to do is stretch the dough onto the cookie sheet, cut up the meatballs, throw the sauce on, and add the grilled eggplant.  We like variety so we keep the meatballs on one half and the veggies on the other half.  While the pizza cooks he sautees the spinach with some garlic, adds it to the eggplant side and dinner is ready in about 10 minutes (400 degree oven).

It’s fresh, it’s cheap, it’s quick (even if your husband isn’t man enough to join in the cooking) and it’s delicious . The nice thing about pizza is you can be so creative or not for the picky eater.  You can even make a mine/your side if you need to. Crystal Brook Farm (Sterling, MA) was at the Belmont market too. I bet they would have some great goat cheese for the pizza. 

“A table!” –