Monday, May 9, 2011
Dining Out on E2
On Friday night Mark and I went to a birthday dinner for our dear friend David at Osteria I Nonni, a beautiful Italian restaurant in the Twin Cities. It was a special affair in the private dining room and David's wife, Dede, one of the greatest hostesses in modern history, had sent out the invitations long ago.
Knowing that I'd be doing the E2 diet at the time of the party, I checked the restaurant's online menu to get an idea of the types of food they served - typcially you can count on seeing meat, cream or cheese in just about every Italian dish so it's worth it to look before you leap. I Nonni's selections looked amazing, but there wasn't much that I could order without asking the chef to deconstruct and reconstruct his recipes, and I know how chefs love it when people tell them how to cook their food!
So rather than blindsiding the chef on the night of the party, I contacted Dede and asked her if it would be okay if I called the restaurant in advance to request a vegan meal. She gave me the name of the manager (Tony) and I gave him a call. I told Tony my dietary limitations and he came up with some great ideas for my meal.
While I would have preferred to have had foods prepared without oil, to request that would have been like tying both hands behind the chef's back. And if I ask a restaurant to work with my dietary limitations, I'd better be ready to work with the restaurant as well. Besides, I'm still in Week 1 so oil isn't verbotten yet.
Each of the three courses of my meal were bursting with color and garnered a good deal of envious gasps and sighs from the people seated around me. By the time my dessert (a bowl of fresh fruit colorful enough to rival a Key West sunset) arrived, I heard one guest whisper to another, "How did she get that?" I'm sure I heard a hint of jealously in her voice. So here's what I had:
Cocktail: A mix of cranberry juice with seltzer, served up in a martini glass with a twist. The only trouble with this drink is it's so good you'll find yourself ordering one after the other - guests who see you slamming these Cosmo imposters might get the wrong idea...
Salad: Mixed greens topped with crisped onion shavings - no dressing. And it was fresh and flavorful enough just the way it was - I loved every bite.
Entree: A plated mounded with grilled yellow and green peppers, grilled hot red peppers (just enough to add some zing - I loved them!), and grilled avocado. I've never seen grilled avocado before, but it's something I'll definitely have having more of in the future! Spectacular!
Dessert: A generous bowl of fresh grapefruit, orange slices and diced watermelon mixed with fresh mint leaves. Utterly delicious, refreshing and sweet-tooth-satisfying!
Even if you're not eating a conventional diet, dining out can still be a wonderful experience. And if you're voluntarily following a nutritional program, you don't have to be rigid about it at all times. One meal isn't going to make or break a month-long program. But with a little planning and flexibility you can have an incredible meal that fits into your diet - one that your dining companions will covet!
Thanks to David and Dede for a superb evening; Happy Birthday to David; and thank you, Osteria I Nonni, for being so graciously accommodating!