March 17, 2012

Plant-Based in San Francisco!

The Palace Hotel
My first week-long trip away from home since I changed to a completely plant-based diet. It was primarily a business trip, combined with Anniversary and Birthday celebrations. Tony and I got to spend 1 day out of 6 together, and most evenings and all in all, it was a tiring and enjoyable trip.  Although I was just a tad worried about eating out so much, I was quite confident that I would have no trouble finding food suitable to my needs ... after all the destination was San Francisco.

Day 1 started out with a trip to China Town and our old favorite - The  Capital Restaurant. For dinner, and our 5th anniversary celebration, we stopped at Amber India on 4th Street for a superb vegetarian meal.  

Lunch at The Garden Court
Dinner at The Daily Grill
Day 2 started with a Soy latte from Starbucks for Breakfast. This was also the day which started off my long line of business meetings. I, and a current colleague, met with an old colleague and friend for lunch at The Palace Hotel's Garden CourtSunday Brunch is served from 10:30am until 1:30pm. The vast spread included an omelet station, a sushi & sashimi bar, Dim Sum and other Chinese delicacies, a seafood grill station, breakfast pastries & breads, a full salad bar, a Crepe station and a huge selection of desserts and pastries. (wow!). For my plate, I asked the Chef at the omelet station to saute an assortment of veggies for me without eggs or cheese. While she was taking care of that, I found a quinoa-berry salad with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, a cold mushroom and broccoli salad, and a cold string bean salad with almonds. I also found a cucumber, olive and feta salad, tossed in garlicky vinaigrette. I had a serving of that as well (and picked away the feta cheese). When I went back for a second helping, I also found some sauteed asparagus. All in all, a lovely plant-based lunch. After an afternoon Soy latte, again from Starbucks, I was quite ravenous by dinner time, with some more business associates. We walked to The Daily Grill which is right in the heart of downtown, a block from Union Square. I was pleasantly surprised to find a Grilled Vegetable Plate on the menu. It was described as a medley of grilled vegetables, fresh steamed spinach, broccoli, grilled asparagus, sliced tomato and herbed brown rice. It was also listed as having only 419 calories. Yahoo!!!! 

Dinner at Chevy's 

Day 3 also started with a Soy latte from Starbucks for Breakfast. I cheated a little and also got a butter croissant with my coffee. For lunch, we visited John's Grill on Ellis Street. Similar to The Daily Grill, it is described as a Steak and Seafood place. I ordered a lunch salad with spring greens and cherry tomatoes and added a baked potato on the side. It was a very satisfying meal and I even chowed down on the potato skin which had been rubbed with a little bit of salt and was quite yummy. I didn't take a picture at lunch, as this meal was a little more formal than some of the others. For dinner, we took only a short walk to the closest Mexican restaurant - Chevy's on 3rd street. The fresh salsa was amazing, it was made with fire roasted tomatoes and had just the right amount of bite to it. I ordered a Veggie Burrito, which was described as  fresh mesquite-grilled seasonal vegetables with jack, cheddar and cotija cheeses, fresh pico de gallo, black beans, rice and super hot salsa in a whole wheat tortilla. I asked them to hold the cheese which they did, but I forgot about the sour cream which showed up on my plate, and was easily removed. This was a great meal as well. 

Dinner at One Market
Day 4 started out the same as all the other days - with a soy latte from Starbucks. For lunch, we went back to Amber India, with some new clients, and enjoyed an amazing lunch buffet. There was a lot of vegetarian dishes to pick from and I cheated just a little bit ... I could not resist having 2 small pieces of their lamb curry .. the smells were reminiscent of my childhood and I indulged a little bit. Everything else was quite plant-based. For dinner, T and I were invited to an Alumni dinner for University of Texas (Go Horns!) Alumni at One Market Restaurant at the San Francisco Embarcadero. This was an amazing 3-course dinner. To start with, I had a lovely Beet carpaccio (radishes, fresh chevre, sherry vinaigrette) and I asked the chef to hold the chevre. For the main course, I had the Garden Greens Ravioli with walnuts, brown butter and parmesan, and again, I asked the chef to hold the parmesan, which they were quite happy to do. This was one of the few restaurants where I noted the menu was specifically marked with (v) vegetarian and (vg) vegan options. For dessert, I opted for a fresh fruit sorbet, which was excellent as well.  

Lunch on Day 5 was at the Mission Grille at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. Since this is the hotel we were also staying at, and the weather was dreadfully rainy, this was a perfect place for lunch. We started out with fresh hummus and pita chips and I think everyone around the table ordered lunch salads. I opted for an Asian chicken salad, and asked the chef to hold the chicken. This was a great salad with local greens, soba noodles, cashews, wanton crisps and miso vinaigrette. No pictures again given the rather formal meeting. Dinner on Day 5 was shamefully meat-based. I didn't get a chance to research the menu and when we showed up, there was absolutely nothing on the menu that would fit my new plant-based lifestyle. Rather than walk out, and since my dietary changes are not religious or medical, but a personal choice, I decided to order as sensibly as I could. In the end, I ate pasta with garlic and olive oil with some shrimp and felt stuffed and bloated and this was a good reminder of why I love my new habits. See ... there's something good in everything!

Lunch at The Colorado Sports Bar
Day 6, our last morning in San Francisco, and also our travel day. Due to thunderstorms across the country and multiple flight delays, we boarded our first flight with nothing more than a bottle of water, and a bag of chips each. I had a Kashi bar, which I consumed while waiting in line at the security checkpoint. Not the healthiest options for breakfast. In Denver airport however, I was quite pleasantly surprised when I saw Hummus & Veggies on the menu at the Colorado Sports Bar. A healthy option? At an airport? Wow!! This was a basket full of fresh broccoli, carrots and celery, with a small bowl (~4-6 oz) of hummus and 1 warm pita, cut up into 4 pieces. It wasn't whole wheat, but I wasn't terribly upset about that. A great airport lunch!!! 

Overall, my first trip as a plant-based eater, was quite successful. One meal with no plants, and 1 meal with 2 tiny pieces of meat ... I consider that a success. Yay!! 

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