We just got back from a lovely weekend in Carmel where we had a blast at a friend's wedding. Carmel is such a beautiful place, from the rolling green hills and valleys to the sprawling coastline and sparkling ocean. Carmel-by-the-Sea is the small town closer to the water and it's fun to stroll around, looking in the galleries and window shopping the high-end stores. The wedding activities provided us with a fair amount of our eats, but we had plenty of time on our own to fend for ourselves and, sadly, this charming town isn't exactly vegan mecca. Of course, as vegans we won't always be surrounded by gourmet options all the time, and we learn to make the most of what's available. That's exactly what I did.
There was a welcome reception Friday evening, but we were on our own for dinner. I played it safe and went with Il Fornaio. This chain is only a small step above the Olive Garden in terms of food, but they dress it up like you're at a fancy Italian restaurant. Don't be fooled into thinking you're going to get great eats. On the other hand, you won't be too disappointed either, and the complimentary warm rosemary rolls and olive oil are a definite plus. For us vegans, there is one marked item on the menu - the Minestrone. It's not bad, either. I had a bowl as my entree after starting with one of their salads, sans the bleu cheese dressing. It had avocados, cannelini beans, and other standard salad ingredients. They brought me oil and vinegar to top it off. Not bad but, all in all, a pretty standard meal.
On Saturday we slept in and then headed out to grab a quick lunch before we had to get ready for the wedding. We ended up at the 5th Ave Deli where they make vegetarian sandwiches and salads (along with meatier versions). I didn't take pics, but I'd definitely hit it up if you're in the area. It kept me full until the wedding, where I was very well taken care of, though I still didn't eat enough to soak up all the alcohol. Ugh.
Needless to say I wasn't exactly up for breakfast, but by the time lunch came around I was ready to try some food. The husband's surefire hangover cure is to eat as many pancakes as he can, so we headed off to Katy's Place, a popular breakfast and lunch spot. They are not terribly vegan-friendly, but they do have a veggie sandwich which could have been done without the cheese. However, I was feeling like breakfast and was hoping for cereal. They didn't have soy milk though, so I got the fruit bowl and a bagel with peanut butter. That, along with my coffee, was exactly what I needed to get me going again and ready to drive the 2.5 hours back to SF.
The moral of the story here is that there is almost always something vegan to eat on any menu, so the "it's so hard to eat out" excuse a lot of people use to keep from going vegan just isn't true. I know I'm lucky to live in SF where there are lots of vegan options, but I travel all over. I've never starved and, more importantly, I've never compromised my beliefs.
After all the eating and drinking I've been up to lately, I'm ready for a little raw food cleanse this week, so stay tuned for a return trip to Cafe Gratitude coming up. Meanwhile, it's time to sleep!