Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Road to Lent (or one bloggers attempt to avoid meat)

I have a resolution to attend church more. In an effort to stray away from being my self-proclaimed "Catholic-lite", I'm also partaking in Lent. In a New York minute, this means that for all Fridays between now and Easter (starting on and including Ash Wednesday) I will not consume meat. My definition of meat includes beef, pork, chicken, and most land animals. Protein-rich alternatives include seafood, eggs, nuts, and tofu.

Seeing that steak and pork products are a few of my favorite things (cue Julie Andrews), this would not be easy. It's like in elementary school where you HAD to read the book and do a report on it. When it comes to food and my childhood, being told what I had to eat was frustrating. In an effort to help some fellow bloggers with the conundrum that is Lent, here are a few places I've tried in the last week.


Signature Kitchen (South Coast Plaza) - Costa Mesa

I was here picking up some concert tickets, and decided to spend my pre-workout dinner in this new take on a food court. Three culinary tastes all under one roof. The best part is being able to order off any menu at the register.

Local favorite Nancy Silverton features some fresh mozzarella sandwiches, grilled Gruyere, and a tuna melt panini. Her secret is the La Brea Bakery bread used. When in doubt, just go with the special: Any half sandwich/panini with a house salad or cup of soup for $6.95.

East coast's Marcus Samuelsson showcases his love of all natural, black Angus burgers. There's also a mahi mahi sandwich, feta salad, and the only selection with french fries *and* sweets.

Iron Chef Cat Cora has got her 'que on with fresh global options. Smoking hot vegetable soup, cheddar madeleines, BBQ shrimp, and the option of fire-roasted veggies and smoked mozzarella. There are not only fresh croutons and a drizzle of pesto in the soup bowl, but even more bread served alongside. It is here where I enjoy my soup with cheddar madeleines and include some natural, skin-on fries. The pesto was a delicious touch to my smoking hot bowl. I found this to be a great alternative to the other options on this side of South Coast.

Rockin' Baja Coastal Cantina - Newport Beach

Decided to check out their OC Restaurant Week dinner special. Four starters and four entrees to choose from (plus dessert) all for $20. Didn't even factor in the tortillas (I had two too many), honey chile butter, chips and trio of dipping options. Carb overload? Yes. Also added a bottomless Caesar for $3, which "serves 1-2".....however, we realized too late that we were charged twice.

I began with Tequila Lime Shrimp. Now if I liked corn more, I probably would've ordered the lobster corn chowder instead. I couldn't tell if my shrimp was portioned specially for restaurant week, but it was kinda minuscule with three pieces. Flavor-wise, it was not bad. Red pepper, cilantro and garlic gave it a little kick. Round two were their Tacos del Patron - beer battered slipper lobster tails with avo, onion, tomato, cabbage and sauce wrapped in flour tortillas. There were also rice and ranchero beans (more filler!) To tell you the truth, I don't even remember the fried ice cream. Maybe I just gave up at that point?

The man began with the Caesar and ended with Rocky's Original Big Baja Bucket (a non-practicing dinner companion). For about $25, he was very pleased with delivery of carne asada, grilled chicken, Baja shrimp and lobster tails. Only required utensils for his sides! How very Man vs. Food. There was something for everyone that night.

The standby: The Veggie Grill at Irvine Spectrum

Can I tell you how much I enjoy this place? Seriously, if I forget where I am and just concentrate on the food ~ it tastes like chicken (or carne asada, as I had last Friday). Add some sweet potato fries (which I've had heated debates about how they counter those at The Counter) and you're set. I was a little "meh" on the chili, but steamin' kale is a good option too. I vouch for any of the "chickin'" entrees. Their Revolution iced teas are fantastic. I get bartendery and blend based on my mood.

Somewhere I've been looking forward to: Fukada off Irvine Center Drive

Tucked in one of those neighborhood centers (The Commons, to be exact) is the little non-chain that could, a Japanese space called Fukada. I've been craving their udon for a few weeks now, and since my lunch hour is so late in the day - it's the perfect time to go. As long as there's still a slight chill in the air, it's udon weather!

Next week for me - deciding if I want my fish and chips from The Olde Ship (Santa Ana) or that place ...what's that name . .. . I found last year off Tustin Avenue. Hole in the wall with a super long line. Next door to a 31 flavors I think. Anyone?

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Comments on "The Road to Lent (or one bloggers attempt to avoid meat)"

Blogger ChristianZ said ... (March 7, 2009 at 3:48 PM) : 

The last and only time I've been to Rockin' Baja so far was like February 2000. I have been wanting to go back but didn't even make it during restaurant week.

Blogger Chubbypanda said ... (March 9, 2009 at 10:40 AM) : 

No meat is a toughie. Don't forget 118, Avanti Cafe, Native Foods, and Old Vine (all within a few blocks of each other in Costa Mesa), and Wheel of Life in Irvine. Lots of tasty veggie eats there.

Blogger brekkie_fan said ... (March 9, 2009 at 12:15 PM) : 

Old Vine? Never thought about their menu as an option. Thanks! I wish I went to 118 during restaurant week(s).

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Anonymous Plumber Irvine said ... (September 30, 2010 at 10:58 AM) : 

Wow! Great list of foods you have, i also wanted to have all of them, for my appetite

Anonymous Shane said ... (January 29, 2011 at 4:04 PM) : 

great comments....even though i just had a veggie burger for lunch i am hungry again. trying to avoid red meat as much as possible...i too share your catholic guilt.

Anonymous pacificoceancarpet@gmail.com said ... (June 8, 2011 at 12:46 PM) : 

Veggie Grill is the place to go for awesome food, I highly recommend this place. Yum Yum healthy food.

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