Monday, October 12, 2009

Meatless Monday while Traveling

One of the things that I find difficult while traveling is finding vegetarian choices at restaurants. Even soup, rice and sauces are not safe from meat stock. Forget about salad. You can't always be sure that the Caesar dressing doesn't have anchovies in it or that the spinach salad doesn't have bacon. I totally give up on cheese not having animal rennet in it.

When I asked the waiter at the restaurant that I choose for Sunday nights dinner in Charleston, South Carolina whether the mushroom risotto had meat stock you would have thought I was speaking a foreign language. Sure, his accent pegged him as an Aussie but I don't think my question was that hard. Mum-me; would that have baffled you? They were nice enough about the whole thing as they searched out the chef. Who had to come out of the kitchen to reassure me that the mushroom risotto was indeed vegetarian. I can not tell you how many chefs I've met this way.

I started with the bruschetta. The one a one o'clock was a tomato compote. Pretty good. Not great. The piece at five o'clock was baba ganoush. It was the best of the bunch. Or it may be that I love baba ganoush. The piece of crustini at ten o'clock was chickpeas or garbanzo beans with arugula. It was pretty good if you didn't mind that the chickpeas decided to escape. They rolled all over the plate. I gave up trying to get them to stay up and resorted to eating them with a fork.

This picture does absolutely no justice to this dish. Wild mushroom risotto. It was fantastic. There are almost no words to describe how utterly wonderful this was. It totally melted in your mouth. I'm going to be trying to recreate this one because it was that good. I promise that when I get it perfected I'll be passing it along to all of you.

So far (it's only been one day) Charleston has eclipsed San Francisco for food for vegetarians. At least for me. People of San Francisco please don't feel slighted I just never came across veggie friendly food that was outstanding like this risotto. I'm here for another 3 days and it will be hard for me to try other restaurants because I loved this so much.

Have any of you come across a mouth watering meal that you'd go back for again and again?



  1. I can't wait to get the risotto recipe.

  2. Lucky You. I really dig Charleston, SC. Have a lovely time, Michele. Cheers!!

  3. I am JUST going to miss you! I am going to be in Charleston on Sat night. That is my hometown! Glad you are enjoying yourself.

  4. We tend to qualify vacations by how good the food is. That said, I have had so many meals in so many places that I wanted to return to I wouldn't know where to start!

    I worked for a man for 20+ years who, when he traveled, always sought out an Italian restaurant. It was THE only cuisine he would eat. Now, I LOVE Italian food. If I had to pick one cuisine, it would probably be that. But the thought of only eating Italian when traveling just plain seems dumb!

    I have thought of you before when you are traveling because I can imagine just how difficult it is to find real vegetarian meals. I bet you'll return to that restaurant with the risotto (which I would LOVE BTW) at least one more time while you are there.

  5. I actually tried mushroom risotto at a restaurant in Chicago. While I'm usually not a fan of mushrooms, it was the best thing I tasted all night!

  6. Absolutely....the falafel dish at the Grand Oberoi in Calcutta is amazing....

  7. Michele,
    Linda McCartney has a great recipe for mushroom is really good! If you don't have her cookbook let me know and I can email the recipe to you. Have a great trip. Denise

  8. Michele,

    ye've made us hungry . . .
    {not a major feat, :-)}

    ye've also rekindled our interest in visiting Charlotte, which we're often reminded that we should.

    thank you for an entertaining post.



  9. I have but I can't share it with you since it's not meatless. Ok, well I suppose you could leave out the chicken and get the Rigatoni Martino from Carrabbas. Yum.

  10. You've got us all anxious to try that recipe ourselves!

  11. If someone else cooks it I will be back. That's all I want.

    You are on quite the trip-be safe and enjoy the risotto every single day if you can!

  12. As a new (and reluctant) vegetarian, I've found few things more frustrating than eating out at a restaurant.

    So I'm thrilled Forever Forest suggested I visit your blog!

  13. To the Peak article. As a born and bred Chi I love this and all things chicago. I am a Chef in a cafe and I suggest more people in these hard economic times come out to restaurants in Chicago. Check out [url=][/url] or[url=][/url] and give props your local place.