Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Getting Braver . . .

Saturday evening my husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary by going to one of our favorite restaurants, Bistro VG.  We have loved this restaurant for a long time.  About 11 years ago, when we came down here to Alpharetta for a house hunting trip from the D.C. area where we lived at the time, our local friends, Jeff and Jeanne, took us out to dinner at Van Gogh's, Bistro VG's former incarnation.  The food was amazing.  Back then, dinner at Van Gogh's was a major production, a worthwhile splurge.  We didn't skimp on drinks, appetizers, salads, main courses or desserts.

Reinvented several years later as Bistro VG, the restaurant now boasts a cleaner, more modern vibe (limestone counters, white tile mosaic, milk glass, raw linen), and along with the fabulous full-course meals of yesteryear, now features a selection of smaller plates, in sync with the way most of us dine today.  With our busy lives, we find ourselves eating out more often, and as such, are less likely to splurge.  So a selection of inventively prepared gourmet tidbits appeals.

When I went vegan, I worried that my subsequent visits to Bistro VG would pale in comparison to those before, but I easily found a wonderful small plate on the menu that was all but vegan already!  The feature was a grilled ratatouille, lovely stacked grilled slices of summer squash with eggplant, red onion and shallots.  This creation was accompanied by unusual, rectangular but delicious "chick-pea frites".  To make this selection vegan, they only needed to serve it without its "cheese buds" garnish -- capers rolled in cheese.  I had the cleaned-up version of the ratatouille dish on two different occasions since becoming vegan, and in both cases preceded the meal with my very favorite salad on the planet:  Bistro VG's Simple Arugula Salad.  One wouldn't expect something so uncomplicated to be amazing, but it truly is.  A wild tangle of fresh dark green arugula is topped with sauteed shallots, finely shaved parmesan, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and fresh ground pepper.  That's all.  The salad is sublime, and it is still amazing without the cheese!

So Saturday night, for our anniversary, we started at the bar where I had my favorite, a clean, dry vodka martini with olives.  Fortified thus, I began wondering if the chef would be game for a change in plan.  To the server, I explained my usual order and why I enjoyed it, and what I don't eat.  I also explained that I really did not want to be a bother, but was curious about other ideas the chef may have for me.  I told him if it didn't work out, I would be more than happy with the ratatouille and chick pea frites.  I did order my fab salad first, of course, which was thoroughly satisfying as expected.  Here is what the chef prepared for me, a wonderful plate of veggies sauteed in olive oil and perfectly seasoned The ratatouille is featured, surrounded by cauliflower, green beans and broccolini.  I very much enjoyed the dish and there was so much food I had to pack it up for lunch the next day.  I missed the chick pea frites, or just chick peas, or beans, or rice, etc., so I reminded myself again that I could have been more specific in my order, rather than listing only the items I don't eat.  I could have listed more of what I do eat as well.  I know I have enjoyed, in the past, some lovely barley at Bistro VG as a side dish for some kind of meat, pre-vegan.  I also need to remember that, though the chef is amazing, he may not have been trained in different diets.  Quite often people are surprised I eat grains, bread and pasta.  While I do try to eat whole grain, egg- and dairy-free versions of these, I say, "Carbs? Heck yeah, bring 'em on!"

So, yes, I am getting more brave and slightly more outspoken about what I need, but am still treading lightly so as not to stand out as an oddball.  I really am very grateful for every effort to accommodate my veggie choice.

About the photo -- those who follow may have noticed I have not posted in a few days.  I have been working on this post for too long because I am trying to teach myself about photo editing and importing, etc.  As background, now that school is out I have to compete with my 12 year old who needs the camera for sleepovers.  I tried using my phone, but it has no flash.  So the above was taken by my husband, from his phone, and obviously upside-down after a cocktail or two of his own. You should have seen the photo after I had it all perfectly cropped in landscape format, the contrast balanced, the colors and lighting just right . . .  well, no matter how I save the end result, even re-naming it, when I put it in the blog it is back to it's original orientation, dark, upside down and sideways and in portrait format.  I decided to stop wasting time on it since I really miss writing the blog, and you can still see the food even though it is upside down.  Thanks for your patience as I work out my camera conundrum.  Hey, maybe a new camera for my birthday?

P.S. 6/7/10-- I figured out how to rotate the photo!


  1. Cheryl - you sound like you are well on your way to becoming comfortable and confident in this lifestyle. Your writing is becoming more and more heartfelt, and I'm so proud to know that you are beginning to speak up for what you want. How empowering! Trust me - the more you positively and kindly advocate for what you want, the more of a ripple effect you will have with those around you. And I love your photo - those veggies look good enough to eat! I'm getting hungry! :)

  2. Omigosh, I was so busy looking at those yummy veggies I'd never have noticed the image looking askew. :)

    Imagine the influence those pretty plates you're ordering will have on others. :)