Friday, March 26, 2010

Back to Candle 79

Last night I went back to one of my favorite vegan spots, Candle 79. Accompanied by yet another doctor, equally skeptical (not about my endeavor, but about veganism in general), we settled into Candle 79 for a late dinner. Her strong Italian roots and love of food from the old country was sure to give this vegan restaurant a run for their money. As suspected, she was pleasantly surprised.

She had the Butternut Squash & Wild Mushroom-Spinach Ravioli. I've had it before and it is their signature starter. Delicious. I had the Steamed Dumplings, also fantastic. For the main course I ordered the Special Seitan: sesame crusted with brown rice pilaf, sautéed shitake mushrooms, asparagus, shallots, and cashews with edamame sauce. It was very good! She had the Seitan Piccata: creamed spinach, grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, and lemon-caper sauce. She quite enjoyed it and mentioned, of the seitan, that she had actually had that taste before -- I stifled a reference to a famous line in "Hollywood Knights" being that it was our first dinner.

Bernay the manager came over - in addition to being exceptionally friendly, she takes a special care in the taste of the food. She is also friends with Heather and the Vbites crew so we chatted about veganism as I would normally chat about the NCAA Sweet 16! I have changed on so many levels.

That is another key to eating at a vegan restaurant - it is just like anywhere else, and more importantly, the food is so good that there is not some separation between your meal and the real world. What I mean is that you can talk about anything effortlessly without being aware that no animal products are on your plate. 6 months ago, my entire meal would be obsessing over the fact that this is not "real" food. But it is real food, and delicious, and eating in a great restaurant like Candle 79 is like dining at your favorite eatery.

To wit: Much of our conversation surrounded how her grandmother from Italy would cook these homemade sausages and pies for Easter. The conversation was so explicit and mouth-watering that had I not been enjoying my meal I would have bolted out of there for the closest Italian restaurant.

Even though I went through a dozen glasses of water, and the adorable waitress was kind enough to send sentry with pitcher in hand, I still woke up quite parched. I will assume that there was quite a bit of salt in the delicious dishes, though I could not taste it.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable dinner.

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