In the six months that I have been blogging, a transformation has taken place. The need for material to write about has prompted me to get out and take advantage of more of the events and happenings occurring in my beloved city, and it has made me more adventurous. Today, when Natasha asked me if I wanted to to check out Karyn's Cooked, a vegan restaurant where she had been offered a free pizza, my first instinct was to say no. The offer had come from a proselytizing waitress she had met, who was hoping to convert her to a vegan lifestyle. Free or not, I couldn't wrap my head around the idea of rice protein cheese. But, just as I was about to decline, I thought to myself, "Why not? Even if it's terrible, it'll still make an interesting story for my blog." So I agreed to step way outside my comfort zone and give vegan food a try.
Much as I felt out of place, the atmosphere at Karyn's Cooked was relatively inviting, in an upscale sort of way. Our waitress, the one who Natasha had met earlier that day, was very friendly, and eager to spread the vegan gospel. She brought out the appetizer-sized pizza in short order, and fielded our questions about the menu with aplomb.
After all of my trepidation, the pizza turned out to be mostly okay. The ultra-thin and crispy whole-wheat crust isn't my favorite style, generally speaking (bring on the thick, chewy, and bready crust for me!), but it was edible. The scary rice cheese did not stand out in any way, which was probably for the best. The single thing most contributing to my dislike of the pizza was the presence of bell peppers and black olives as toppings. I would imagine that people who like "supreme-style" pizzas would probably have no problems with this vegan incarnation.
Since the pizza was just an appetizer-sized portion, and I didn't care for it much anyway, I decided to leave it for Natasha, and I ordered a "steak wrap" as an entree. The wrap consisted of seitan, a meat substitute that supposedly has a more meat-like texture than tofu, lettuce, grilled onions (and peppers, which I requested to be omitted), and a spicy chipotle sauce. It initially came with the peppers intact, but the very nice waitress corrected it for me while apologizing profusely, and overall, I actually found myself enjoying it against all of my better judgement. The seitan was thinly-sliced, and actually reminded me of the re-heated frozen gyros that they used to serve in the cafeteria when I was in college. It definitely didn't taste like steak, and I wouldn't want to eat it every day, but it was surprisingly filling and palatable.
In another instance of great service, the waitress also brought us a free sampling of the various meads they offer on their organic alcoholic beverage list. Since my only experience with mead came from reading Beowulf in middle school, I had asked her about what the beverage was made from, and she responded by offering us tasting portions. Although they all reminded me a little bit too much of wine for my tastes, I didn't mind a mild selection with pomegranate overtones. Natasha's favorite was one with strong berry notes, and neither of us much cared for the floral flavors of the waitress's favorite selection. Much like my experience with the seitan, I doubt that I'll be hanging out at the neighborhood mead-hall, but it was worth trying once.
All in all, vegan food wasn't quite the ordeal I had expected. I wouldn't go so far as to call it delicious, but it was certainly a worthy adventure, and I have you, my readers, to thank for inspiring me to keep an open mind to new experiences.