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Posted on Apr 9, 2012 in Dear Diary, Food | 33 comments

Birthday Week Has Begun!

Happy Monday, folks! For those of you who celebrated them, I hope that you had a wonderful Easter and Passover weekend! In addition to a family-filled Easter Sunday (complete with an epic post-church brunch!), this weekend also included an amazing birthday dinner! Since my birthday falls on a Wednesday this year (ZOMG! TWO MORE DAYS!), and my Mama’s going out of town next weekend, we decided to have Part I of my epic 24th birthday celebration a little early. (You should all really prepare yourselves for how many times you’re going to hear about my birthday over the next week. Heh. Hehe.) It’s become kind of a birthday tradition go out to dinner at a be-still-my-foodie-heart type of restaurant, and this year was no different. Where did this wondrous event take place, you ask?

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Why, Graffiato! (Photo cred for most of the pics in this post, save for a few food ones, goes to my brother Ben!) I’ve been wanting to try out Top Chef All-Star Mike Isabella’s restaurant ever since it opened. Finally, I had an opportunity to do with my whole family (minus Taylor, plus Sean) in tow!

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General consensus of the restaurant? Awesome! Both experience- and food-wise, it was SO much better than our experience at Founding Farmers last year.

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Graffiato has prosecco on tap!

The restaurant itself is pretty tiny – it’s a narrow rectangle with a long bar and maybe like eight (if that!) booths lining the wall. The 7 of us occupied the biggest table in the place, which was next to the prep/serve area of the kitchen — always fun for me. The decor is kind of dark and industrial, and the general feel is pretty casual. There was loud 90s rock music playing over the speakers (Smashing Pumpkins, etc) and the service was a little on the slow side at first. That said, the quality of the food MORE than made up for that in my opinion! OMG THE FOOD.

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Flatbread with pepperoni dipping sauce

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Potatoes with lemon and parmesan; brussels sprouts with maple, pancetta, and egg; burrata with cipollini onions; wild mushroom soup with smoked mozzarella arancini (!)

Graffiato serves Italian small plates and pizzas, so between the seven of us, we got to try a little of almost everything on the menu. It was glorious.

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Crispy pig head; lamb fettucine; lobster risotto; marinated octopus (!!)

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Sucking pig lasagna; “Papa Smurf” pizza with potatoes, prosciutto, caramelized onion, and gorgonzola; “Countryman” pizza with black truffle, fontina, and a soft egg

Ben also got a delicious hanger steak, and Dan got a caesar salad that had cream cheese-filled croutons (I KNOW.), neither of which I got pictures of. The highlights of the meal for me were the brussels sprouts (duh), mushroom soup (so creamy and delicious), the lobster risotto (incredible!), and the grilled octopus (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!). I also LOVED the soft egg on Jenny’s pizza, it was so creamy and took on an almost cheesy consistency!

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Since it was tapas-style all the plates came out at different times, so in between noshing, I got to open a few presents too!

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And before I knew it, it was time for dessert!

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Did you want some cake with that cleavage? Bahahahaha.

We ordered the warm chocolate cake, which came with a candle in it and salted caramel gelato on the side (epic), and the blood orange cheesecake.

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OM NOM NOM.

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An amazing (and decadent!) start to the most awesome week of the year! I’m going to really have to reel it in the rest of the week, since Sean’s also taking me out on my actual birthday (Wednesday), and then I’ll be drinking my weight in Butterbeer come Saturday! AUGH I LOVE MY BIRTHDAY! 😀

Are you a birthday person?

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Posted on Apr 25, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food, Pup Posts, Weigh Ins, Weight Loss | 6 comments

Lenten Lessons Learned (Weigh-In)

Well y’all, it’s official. Lent is over, and I’m off the vegan wagon (though not totally back to my fully omnivorous ways, as you already know if you read my last post!) After 40 days (and 40 nights) of being meat-free, egg-free, and almost totally dairy-free (oops…), here are 5 things I’ve learned:

1. Vegan food is good.

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Yup, you heard that right. It is. So many people automatically turn their noses up at the mere mention of the word vegan, but I bet you’d be surprised how many of your favorite foods are already vegan. Guacamole, anyone? Spaghetti marinara? Feel like a rice and bean burrito? Knock yourself out!

2. Being vegan at home is easy.

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It’s really not too hard when you’re cooking for yourself to stick to a vegan diet. There are a lot of easy staples to keep around and it’s fun to experiment with new proteins and trying to “veganize” versions of dishes you already know and love. I enjoy a challenge in the kitchen!

3. Being vegan in public is hard.

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I’m fortunate to live in an area where there are actually a lot of really great vegetarian and vegan restaurants (like Sunflower!), or at least places that will be accommodating if you have those kinds of dietary restrictions. However, I now know what it’s like to try to eat vegan-ly (not a word?) at pretty much any chain restaurant, and it is very difficult. Research your options ahead of time, and expect to feel a little tool-ish dictating your needs to your server. Be aware that these restaurants will put butter and chicken stock in EVERYTHING, even the things that seem passable at first glance. If you have a voice in choosing the restaurant and a vegetarian place isn’t an option, I suggest you go for Indian or Asian cuisine. Because they use very little dairy in their dishes anyway, just get a dish without meat and it’s likely to automatically be vegan.

4. Vegan does NOT necessarily equal healthy.

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There is a plethora of unhealthy food out there that just happens to be vegan. Guess what – chips? Vegan. Fries? Vegan (well, most of the time.) Becoming vegan does not automatically mean you’ll be a lean, green, healthy-eating machine. And in that same vein…

5. Becoming vegan is not a guaranteed way to lose weight.

A lot of people think that going on a vegan diet means you’ll automatically drop libbies left and right. Well, news flash: I have barely lost any weight over the past 6 weeks. I’ve maybe lost 2 pounds total over this entire period (you know, a loss there, a gain here, a plateau tossed in the middle.) I think that I’ve isolated the reason for this though (hooray for progress!) I don’t do well under any kind of forced deprivation (even when I force it on myself!) Not allowing me the possibility of having any meat, or cheese, or order what I wanted off a menu… well, I tried to compensate by filling up on more of the stuff I was allowed to eat. But I realize now that overeating is overeating, whether it’s with “healthy” foods or not! Lesson learned, Lent. See? That alone makes the experience totally worth it.

Okay, quick weekend recap: the pupperoos and I traversed to Milton, Delaware (near Rehoboth Beach) to spend Easter weekend with Steve and his family! Despite the fact that it didn’t start out great (it took me almost FIVE hours to drive the two and a half hours it SHOULD have taken!) it ended up being a really wonderful weekend. The rain Friday turned into hot and sunny weather Saturday and Sunday, and I really enjoyed the Easter festivities — aside from another lesson I was forced to learn, which is that Daxter gets carsick. Womp womp.

Lent ended for me exactly after midnight with…

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A Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge! Oh, cheese, how I’ve missed you!! So good. 😀

And life included a lot of other animal products as Easter Sunday continued, haha. I suffered for it later of course, as was to be expected, as I had to deal with some hardcore acid reflux last night before bed. Bleh. I shall keep the verbiage to a minimum and provide the following photo tour of my Easter weekend for you lucky peeps (ha! Get it? Peeps? Easter? Anyone?) 🙂

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Big thanks to Steve for taking the pictures since I was super lazy with the camera this weekend (what else is new, eh?) As you can see, it involved a lot of the dogs, sunshine, and bacon. Heehee. That last photo is of my iced up foot, which was rather unpleasantly stung while we were out walking the dogs. We think it was a wasp sting — it REALLY hurt. 🙁 I guess another one of those life experiences, I guess?

All right, last things last (haha? Oh, I’m so lame.) Drumroll, please…

Starting Weight: 246 lbs.
Last Week’s Weight: 197.4 lbs
This Week’s Weight: 196.0 lbs
This Week’s Loss: -1.2 lbs
Total Loss-to-Date: 50 lbs.

Huzzah! I’m almost back to my pre-birthday-weight, hahaha. I wasn’t expecting to lose anything, honestly, given that I’m sure my body needs to adjust to eating animal products once again but maybe the timeframe between meat-eating and weigh-in was too short for it to really be affected. Whatever, a loss is a loss and even though I’m not making the astounding progress I wish I was, I’ll take it!

Hot yoga‘s on the docket for this afternoon (and I’m actually excited for it! Who am I?!) now that my yoga muscles are fully back in working order, hehe. And this week I actually get to go into work a whole HOUR later than normal (and remember, normal is 7 AM) since my boss is on vacation! Hello sleep, I’ve missed you.

Did you learn any lessons from what you gave up for Lent? Or how about from any kind of dietary experimentation you’ve done in the past? Share with the group! 😉

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