Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Akasha: Flirting with vegetarianism

I’ve been toying with the idea for a while. Not committing, of course, but mulling over it like I mull over why I am bleeding followers on Twitter.

Is it because I revealed I’ve never had pastrami on rye before?

Is it because I talk about Bar Method too much and people are tired of hearing about how sore my butt is from pretzel?

Is it because I eat an excessive amount of quinoa?

The world may never know… (or care)

Amidst all this excessive brooding that is truly a waste of my neurotic energy, I have also secretly started pondering the “v” word that I dare not whisper in the company of men or fellow food friends lest they run for the hills screaming.

So instead of whispering it, I’ll just write about it. Because in cyberspace there are no hills, and most people only read food blogs for the pictures (unless, of course, I’m recounting my bad dates).

Yes, it’s sad, but true. I don’t read most food blogs either.

And, yes, I’m flirting with the idea of vegetarianism.

Well, sort of, kind of, not really…

I still love the cow.

And the fish.

And a good grilled chicken salad or wrap from time to time.

But, I have also been cooking with a lot of tofu, lentils, beans, and alternative forms of protein lately – and really really liking it.

In other words, I’m pulling a Tiger Woods. I’m still married to meat, but when I’m feeling frisky (i.e. like a lard ass) I like to step my toe outside of the carnivorous box.

This past Thursday night, I was feeling really frisky. So frisky that I dared myself to go out for a celebratory gal pal dinner at Akasha in Culver City without lacing my tongue around any animal carnage.

Instead of starting with seared wild caught shrimp ($9) or bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo ($7), I opted for a shared order of a standard roasted garlic hummus with cracker-like caramelized onion flat bread ($8), and a somewhat ho-hum frisee and sunchoke salad that was sadly overwhelmed by the acidity of the lemon vinaigrette ($8).

For an entrée, instead of committing my attention to the pan-roasted Idaho trout ($20) or Zinfandel braised pot roast ($23), I coyly batted my eyes in the direction of the quinoa with roasted market vegetables and tamari grilled tofu ($12).

The nicely seared tofu gazed back up at me with such longing that I couldn’t help but spoon with the entire plate. While I knew I could cook up the same type of affair in my kitchen at home with similar results, in the moment it was the perfect veggie fling for my temporary “meat is murder” (i.e. "I ate too much last weekend") mood.

That night I left Akasha feeling lighter than my previous visit when I ordered a halibut risotto for my entree. Those watching me walk to the parking garage nearby might have even detected a slight spring in my step. (Which, incidentally, could also be attributed to the superior company and my two glasses of Sancerre.)

The next day, however, the spring in my step was gone (see two glasses of wine), and I was ready to come back to my first love. I happily noshed on a tuna fish sandwich for lunch. And then happily noshed on pork pupusas and a seafood soup for dinner.

Because, ultimately, now that I’ve finally had my first cheeseburger, I’m not about to give up my right to say, “I can haz cheezburger.”

But it’s nice to know that going veg from time to time doesn’t mean compromising satisfaction. And also doesn’t preclude ordering some seriously righteous onion rings ($7) on the side...

Akasha Restaurant
9543 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Phone: (310) 845-1700


Jin said...

i totally feel ya and i know a few food bloggers who would say the same. perhaps it's a way to find balance in our protein heavy outings? i love tofu and veggies now and try to pick vegetarian meals over meat heavy items knowing that i will most likely eat meat anyway if i'm not fully conscious of it. meat free mondays!

Esi said...

I was mostly veg for 2 yrs...except fish every so often. It can be good, but I just couldn't stop thinking about bacon.

Daily Gluttony said...

Ever since I started this weight loss thing, I've become a half- assed vegetarian. I like it, but like you, just could never give up meat altogether. I love muscle and fat too much. My weekly "cheat days" always involve meat.

Oh, one more thing: So happeh u haz embraced teh cheezburger.

Diana said...

Jin - I think that's definitely part of it! I feel so much "cleaner" after eating a vegetarian meal. It also makes it a lot easier to order at restaurants because there are fewer options!

Esi - Haha, vegetarianism is good, but bacon is better. ;)

Pam - Maybe we should ALL embrace the cheezburger for our next meet-up? We can haz cheezburger together!

Jenn said...

I can go veg at months at a time, if I need or want to, but i can't give up my meats so easily especially with food from my culture mostly contain meat. Some fish, too. Usually once or two a week is more than fine with me.

bagnatic said...

methinks it's hard to go all veggie. there's something truly remarkable about a nice, juicy piece of dead meat :0 ok, ill. i tried going vegetarian once and overdosed on chips instead. haven't been back to akasha in ages.

Anna A. said...

Yay! Go veg! This place looks delicious. I would order (and love) everything you had. But I know what you mean about labeling yourself...

yutjangsah said...

I love your (over)use of i can hazisms. Welcome to my world Diana. Itz funnee here

Kung Food Panda said...

I finally went to Akasha and tried the onion rings, though the quinoa was out during the Ludo Chicken Night :(

You can't give up meat, it's just WAY too good!

Diana said...

Jenn - Me too! I couldn't give the meat up completely, but it's nice to have a meatless Monday thrown in the mix!

Bagnatic - Dead meat is a wonderful thing. :)

Anna - The tofu with quinoa was definitely a highlight. Though I secretly think I could make it just as good at home. Shhh... ;)

Danny - As long as Ludo keeps frying that chicken, I'll keep eating it! I think I need to bring you into the world of quinoa.