This week, I wrote a big tribute post to the things I’m learning in my new home of Washington, DC. I could write as generous a tribute to my adorable neighborhood of Georgetown, which—in spite of being hopelessly inconvenient (there’s no metro stop in G-Town, which means that, if you don’t have a car, commuting anywhere else takes at least 45 minutes) is one of the more adorable and historically interesting parts of DC. It’s hard not to fall in love with the cobblestones and flag posts, the little square row houses and the beautiful waterfront park.
What’s less charming about Georgetown, though no less a part of the neighborhood’s identity, is its inherent blue blooded feel. It reminds me a lot of New York’s Upper East Side, where I went to high school: beautiful and elegant, but dominated nevertheless by designer boutiques, perfectly manicured nails, expensive jewelry, and, of course, the 12pm bloom of ladies who lunch.
Last Friday, my friend Kathy and I had our own ladies’ luncheon. That we could snicker a little about Georgetown’s patrician air made our lunch date a little different than the ones going on about us, but we enjoyed the touch of irony.
Kathy and I have a lot in common: we’re both New Yorkers who just made the move to DC (Kathy paved the way for me this past spring). We’re both dedicated vegans. We’re both food bloggers—though Kathy’s dedicated posts and pristine photos put CR to shame! We’re chefs with similar palates and passions for both raw and cooked food (Kathy specializes more in the latter, and I specialize more in the former). And we’re both going through a series case of NYC restaurant withdrawal.
Kathy and I tried to keep our NYC homesickness to a minimum as we met up for lunch at Peacock Café, a local spot that a DC friend had made me aware of. Peacock’s menu is hardly innovative—it’s a standard array of salads, sandwiches, and soups. But it is notable for being vegan friendly, and even more for offering a juice bar—a DC rarity! Not surprisingly, Kathy and I started off with juices: hers was a beet, carrot, apple, ginger concoction, while I stuck to carrot, celery, apple, and ginger:
Just look at the way I light up when I get my fresh veggie juice in!
I started my meal with a gazpacho (it was just OK, but I appreciated the generous avocado topping!). And for my entrée, I requested an entrée sized salad with grilled veggies in lieu of the menu’s tuna. The waiter was very gracious, and out came this heaping plate:
Not bad, eh? Here I am, at work with my camera:
My verdict on the salad? It was fine. Not awesome, not at all bad, and a nice effort, given that I’d asked the kitchen to modify something for me. You know, I’ll be honest: my instinct since moving has, at least once or twice, to think “not bad…for DC.” Before you tell me how spoiled this instinct is, let me disclaim that I am spoiled: I’ve lived in a vegan diner’s paradise for a while now! It’s hard to adjust to normal restaurants when you’ve had the option of all vegan ones in every neighborhood for every year of your life as a vegan.
But then I remember that a ton of my readers have never had access to vegan restaurants at all—let alone vegan groceries, or even a plethora of fresh produce. Since I became vegan, I’ve had the good fortune to eat at vegan establishments, to find exactly what I want at grocery stores whenever I want it, and to be surrounded by a vibrant community of likeminded eaters. This is a luxury, and a profound one, but I want my readers to know that it’s NOT a necessity. It’s possible to be vegan in a wide variety of circumstances, not all of them perfect. Maybe you’re a college student with no private kitchen space; maybe you’re living in a rural area or a food dessert and you have to drive to get fresh veggies; maybe you’ve never had vegan food before, and you’re not sure how to make it yourself; maybe you’re facing the antagonism of family, friends, and community.
Those circumstances demand stores of commitment and strength that I’ve never had to muster up in my own life as a vegan. But I like to think that I would, if I needed to. In the meantime I can only hope that I show you how to overcome some of these scenarios by sharing vegan and raw food that’s simple, usually affordable, appealing to mainstream eaters, and health-boosting, so that you keep wanting to make it. I also hope that my new hurry up vegan posts will help to show you how to use some common pantry items to make meals quickly and cheaply.
After our sparkling lunch, Kathy and I enjoyed some of the local color:
Ms. Kathy is yet another friend who has helped welcome me to the fair nation’s capitol. What a fun lunch date!
You can consider this post a preview for a fun project Kathy and I have been cooking up (literally) together. More on that soon, but I’ll give you a hint: those of you who have asked me will finally get a chance to see me on camera!
With that, dear readers, let Saturday night begin. I’m back tomorrow with a list of my top recipes for the 4th of July!