So, for those of you that don’t know, it’s National Vegetarian Week. Don’t feel bad
if you didn’t, I didn’t until someone I barely know popped up on my
twitter feed re-tweeting someone I don’t know…

That aside, I consider myself to be a good vegetarian. I don’t have leather
shoes or a belt (I make effort to find trousers that actually fit). I steer clear of
Haribo and check that my cheese is animal rennet free. I don’t even drink non-
vegetarian cider. The sad thing is, posh restaurants make it so damn hard to eat
out as a vegetarian without wanting to throttle the chef.

Take my mother’s birthday for example. We went to a very nice restaurant in
London that had an absolutely delectable menu, provided you were no stricter
than pescatarian. Even the soup had beef stock in it. There was one starter
that I could have: mushroom bruschetta. The ‘vegetarian’ main course was
mushroom risotto, only I had to put a special request for the whole thing not to
be adulterated with pecorino.

I understand that most people in this country eat meat and wish to continue
doing so, whilst I hope for the day when this is no longer a fact, this particular
rant is more about lazy chefs. These men and women are supposed to love food,
take an interest not just in their dishes but in their menus. I worked as a kitchen
hand in my teenage years and our menus were planned so that no one had to eat
a starter and main course focussed on the same thing. It’s not difficult. I mean
seriously, when did vegetarian mean ‘mushroom lover’ or for that matter, goats’
cheese guzzler or an acolyte of the church of stuffed peppers.

Chefs that can’t be bothered to whip out anything other than mushroom risotto
do not deserve their role. There are scores of underused vegetables out there
that we never see on menus. When was the last time I saw parsnips, fennel or
runner beans anywhere other than my own kitchen.

One very eye catching dish on the menu the other week was deep fried stuffed
courgette florets. Sadly they were stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies, but as
the restaurant was good enough, they were handmade and fresh so I was able to
get some fish-free (who likes anchovies anyway?). Annoyingly I was still stuck
with mushroom risotto, which I will be eating again this Friday as I head for a
society social at Pierre Victoire.

My colleague managed to sum up my current feelings towards haute cuisine in a
recent email ‘I resent paying £30 for what will inevitably be a slice of quiche’

For a list of vegetarian brands of beer, wine, cider visit: http://
www.veggiewines.co.uk/

And cheese: http://cheese.joyousliving.com/

Blog written by: Tobias Allen
8/8/2012

is soon

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