Every couple of months we go out for a vegetarian dinner.  It’s a semi-regular outing not unlike an annual visit to the doctor or dentist in that it’s not something you look forward to but you do just the same because it’s supposedly good for you – and occasionally ends with an unpleasant surprise.

Well, to make things even more interesting this time out, I suggested we do a variation of Secret Santa.  To those not-in-the-know, Secret Santa involves participants picking a name at random and then purchasing a gift for the individual they have chosen.  Replace “purchasing a gift” with “ordering dinner” and you have our version of Secret Santa which I like to call Secret Vegetarian Santa even though there’s nothing secretive about it.

So this is how it went down…

At day’s end, we gather.  Carl, aka The Don Ho of the writers’ room, is feeling extra casual.  And vegeteriany.

Lawren puts our names into a container.  Ashleigh chooses first and picks – her ownname!  She tries again and – picks her own name again!  Finally, Carl has to instruct Lawren NOT to put Ashleigh’s name back into the container until AFTER she has chosen.

The strategy pays off.  Ashleigh chooses – Lawren!

Lawren’s turn now.  “Hold it higher!”I instructed.  “Higher!”  It works better that way.  Lawren chooses – me!  I congratulate him and then, on a wholly unrelated note, mention I may require him to do a lot of photocopying in the very near future.

My turn!  Look at the look of frenzied delight in my eyes.  Check out the utter horror Carl displays at the prospect of my picking his name.  The result?

Happy days are here again!

I’ll be doing the honors for C Binder.

We met at Foundation, one of the city’s more popular vegetarian haunts.  By the time I got there, my dining companions were already chowing down on the biggest nacho platter I’d ever seen.  I accused them of trying to fill up before our mains.  They insisted (a.k.a. lied) the nachos were complimentary.

When the smoke cleared, we were ready for our mains.

I chose Carl’s meal.  Well aware of his love of burgers, I decided to go with the tofu burger and, given the option, also added the fake bacon (fakin’?).  While he wasn’t a fan of the tofu, he didn’t mind the fakin’ which did, in fact, imbue the burger with a smokey bacon flavor.

Carl chose for Ashleigh – some sort of pesto dish she didn’t seem to mind.  Of course, keep in mind, she IS a vegetarian so I’m sure she’d even consider balsa wood shavings and caramel sauce a culinary delight.

Lawren chose for me and, while he did try hard to unimpress, he didn’t try hard enough.  Made up of steamed vegetables and rice in a curry sauce, it was wholly inoffensive

Ashleigh chose for Lawren who always seems to land the worst dinners on these outings. And this night was no different. Mango and overcooked pasta. Not a good mix.

I was disappointed our meals weren’t more disappointed.  All in all, not a terrible experience – with the exception of Lawren’s main.  In the veggie resto scheme of things, better than the place with the cheesecake that (to quote Carl) “tasted like feet” AND the warehouse place that burned our eyes, but not quite as good as the place with the awesome banana-nut-date pie.

Next week, we go out for colonics and chemical peels!

28 thoughts on “October 3, 2010: Secret Vegetarian Santa

  1. Um…ahhh…hmm.

    I…um…ya know…whew.








  2. Being a vegetarian of 42 years (and I’m only 44), I can’t fathom the idea of vegetarian restaurants. Admittedly, I’m forever on the lookout for bacon bits in my salad, pancakes cooked where the bacon was just fried on the grill or pepperoni insinuating its way onto my side of the pizza. And don’t get me started on Asian restaurants who promise the steamed veggies aren’t basically boiled in chicken broth. But good vegetarian food can be found in most restaurants (unless, of course, you’re completely vegan – they god help you). Bean burritos, cheese enchiladas or ravoli. Pasta…for the love of all that’s holy – Pasta! A well-prepared spinach lasagna is food for the gods. Vegetarians aren’t all a bunch of deodorant-shunning, Birkenstock-wearing raw fooders. Many of us just pick from what history has already already proved is good food and go from there.

  3. The problem I see with those dishes is that they just don’t LOOK appealing. They look kind of like semi-homogeneous blobs on the plate. And mango and pasta? Sounds mushy and kinda flavourless.

    Sounds like the company was fun, though!

  4. Hi Joe,

    Okay…I have to ask…

    What on earth is that blue-bonneted doll-like thing facing the corner in Carl’s office…?

    And why *is* it facing the corner…?

    Some days I worry about poor Carl.


  5. Best post of yours I’ve read so far! I was practically laughing from beginning to end! Very well put together 😀 Sounds like a pretty fun night too.

  6. Once more you have outdone yourself. the photos and captioning were great. Though I think you underestimate our ability to handle the rough stuff. You know, like Carl dry heaving on the first bite of tofuburger. Or maybe Lawren’s look of horror when he mistook his entree for a tossed out nappy.
    Now, back to the grindstone for you. and thanks for finding the time to post the good stuff for us.

  7. @ das – No. You’re not. I was thinking the same thing. That shirt looks REALLY good on Carl. Gray is definitely his color. Very handsome!

    You know Joe, I could go outside to my composter and put together a plate that looks exactly like what you’all ate. Except this plate might contain snake. Do vegetarians get to eat snake – even if it was found already dead by my crazy beagle (a few weeks ago)?

  8. You know Joe, you really don’t have to share with us when you go eat vegetarian. Don’t you love us anymore?

  9. You know Joe, the next time you go for your vegetarian dinners, throw a napkin over the plate before you take the picture. I don’t feel well now.

  10. Show some mercy to us regulars. Save your vegetarian pictures for the SGU haters.

  11. At least give us a warning next time, so I can prepare myself. I’ll put drops in my eyes so my vision will be blury. Or maybe dark sunglasses that wrap around your face. Maybe I’ll just tape my eyes closed. That’d work.

  12. WooHoo, Carl!

    I know too many veggiemetarians. Ick. One was on some sort of liquid green slime for the whole week at Burning Man. I was delighted when I tempted her with organic raisins. I didn’t mean to have organic raisins, I had bought them by accident while reaching for the yogurt covered ones.

    I am SO glad I can’t have tofu anymore. Surviving breast cancer was great, and that was just a delicious little bonus.

  13. I’m a vegan ’cause I feel sad for supporting any industries that inflict pain on animals and also because meat and dairy have always grossed me out – the idea that it’s from an animal. You should try a vegan restaurant if there’s one around. That’d be funny, aha. But really, vegan food is amazing, once one deconditions themselves from a common stigma of it being flavorless, bland, etc. Vegan food can be just as flavorful and tasty as non-vegan food, and even more tasty.

  14. @gforce’s The problem I see with those dishes is that they just don’t LOOK appealing comment

    Completely agree, especially the last one. I’m not a picky eater myself but seriously if any of those were placed infront of me, I’ld probably go blah(well inside anyway), they don’t look well appealing. As you said.

    Well anyway as someone who eats a wide variety of things. The most asian of healthy foods to have would obviously be Rice. Love rice myself.. So many nutrietious things you can have with it.

  15. I love the idea of secret food Santa. Thanks for a great idea for a fun game to play. Though I’d actually have to go out with people who want to try new foods.

    Your pics while you all were choosing who’ll pick for whom were hilarious. Carl’s funny. He should guest blog sometime… I’d like to know what goes on inside of his head.

    Also I have a Japanese/food question for you? What is it that people say to you when you enter a sushi bar? I’ve always wanted to know but haven’t asked anyone yet. And is there an appropriate response other than saying, “hi”?

  16. ROFLMAO, Joe, it’s a good thing you don’t want to try to hide your evil delight. Poor Carl.

  17. @Hajhaabotbeas I ’m a vegan ’cause I feel sad for supporting any industries that inflict pain on animals comment.

    You know. That’s an amazing thing to do. Lots of respect for people who do that. I love animals myself, I would say I’m an animal lover, but sadly I just couldn’t do what you’re doing.


    Personally I think if anything an SGU has been renewed post would have more of an effect on SGU haters than Vegetarian pics. Especially as people were laughing saying OMG SGU IS DOOMED on some forums/comment areas. SGU getting renewed every year till it’s either replaced with a new Stargate series or ending would be much more amazing. Could you imagine the faces of SGU haters reading about SGU being renewed when it occurs?


    Are you going to do any Anime related posts in the near future Joe?

  18. Just getting caught up on the blog. Thanks so much for your answers. I didn’t realize that writers can actually get pregnant with an idea. I can’t imagine how painful it will be if you ever pop out a novel. But I hope you try. 🙂

    I’m driving up to Vancouver in a couple of weeks to chill out, literally. August showed up in October this year and it’s been miserably hot here in LA. Plus I’m desperate for some much needed rest, along with reading. Mask is first on my list and I can’t wait to finish your story!

    I’m also looking forward to Tuesday and SGU. Truly a great first episode! And I really believe the ratings will pick up.

    Poor Carl!

  19. Wow, that is not a game I would ever, ever play. Like, I’d sooner play a game that involved scratching each other with razor-sharp kitten claws to find out what body parts bleed the most. If I had to be a vegan, I’d probably die of malnutrition from eating nothing but pineapple juice and cashews.

  20. @ DP & Ponytail – I went to bed early, slept for 9 hours (unheard of!), got up, and came right to the computer and this blog. I figured that – after such a good night’s sleep – my impression of that picture of Carl would be a bit different.

    Nope. Just one look into those eyes and I feel sullied and unusual, all over again.




  21. Lawren’s choice looked like a prop from Beetlejuice. Food shouldn’t be so…pointy, I guess is the polite term. My fave all time pic is of the barbecue place with the big juicy fries and burgers; was that the place that didn’t have milk shakes? Is it cheating if you picture a delicious burger in your head while eating vegan?

  22. Holy Hannah – WOW! I had some catching up to do. I can’t believe it’s been like a week since I have last read the blog. I finally got to see the premiere today. It was good, looking forward to the next ep. Just been busy, busy is good. Remember when you mom would tell you to go out and play, I guess I’ve been doing a little of that too. I have been designing cards faster than the review team can approve them, ans there are quite a few posted.

    Please, all, check out my storefront. Holiday cards are starting to sell. http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/kabras.

    Joe, you look like you lost weight,looking good.

    So, what have I missed?

  23. @ Joey – Ya know, that second picture of you (the ‘happy days’ one) makes you look about 30, very cute. The picture right above it makes you look like a maniacal lunatic, or someone with a thyroid problem. 🙂

    BUT THAT’S NOT why I’m buggin’ you again…

    I was wondering if you’ve ever looked into a book I suggested, The Passage?


    I was hoping you would, so you could read it and tell me if it’s any good. 😀 Otherwise, curiosity just might make this cat go out and buy it, and I’ve never been a fan of vampire stories (but the feedback on it has me very interested). Hmmm…maybe I can make Mr. Das read it. 😀 (Yes, yes…I ‘read’ vicariously through others… 😛 ).


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