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Trendspotting: Macho Vegetables

The stereotype of the vegetarian as wan and anemic is fading fast as a new generation of red-blooded men and women—from hard-driving chefs to football stars—push meat off (or to the side of) their plates.

What's the sexiest vegetarian ingredient?

Chris Kostow

Courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley


"Seaweed. My cooks now forbid me from cooking with nori because I was using it all over the place."
—Christopher Kostow,
Meadowood, Napa

George Mavrothalassitis

"Poi—pounded taro—provides energy. The process of making it is also very sexy."
—George Mavrothalassitis,
Chef Mavro, Honolulu

Curtis Duffy

© Anthony Tahlier


"Finger limes have been called the caviar of citrus. They transform salads, drinks or desserts."
—Curtis Duffy,
Avenues, Chicago

Meatless Mondays

The concept of forgoing meat on Mondays began during World War I. Now, restaurants like the ones below have adopted it.

Dovetail

Parsnip "ribs" in tamarind barbecue sauce. © Courtney Dam.

Dovetail, NYC

Chef John Fraser has cut meat from his own diet since introducing vegetable-focused and vegetarian tasting menus on Mondays. Dishes include parsnip "ribs" in tamarind barbecue sauce.

One Pico, Santa Monica, CA

This restaurant at Shutters on the Beach offers $29, three-course vegetarian tasting menus on Monday nights.

Tender Greens, L.A.

Seasonal, meat-free dishes, like cauliflower-rosemary soup, are served at Tender Greens's four locations and promoted via Twitter every Monday.

Nage Bistro, Washington, DC

Monday menus are often inspired by what chef Glenn Babcock makes at home for his vegetarian wife, like artichoke-lemon risotto and almond-fennel spring rolls.

A Butcher's Lesson

Dovetail

© Alex Nabaum.

While researching her book Cleaving, carnivore Julie Powell learned why she should eat less meat.

At Fleisher's Grass-Fed & Organic Meats in Kingston, New York, a mountain of beef was growing—four steaks, five steaks, six. The customer nodded, encouraging the man behind the counter to add more meat to the pile. Finally the butcher, Joshua Applestone, stopped. "How many people are you feeding?"

"Eight."

"You have nine pounds of meat here. I won't sell you more than six." Joshua took three pounds of steak off the scale, then told the bewildered customer, "Pick up some corn at the farmers' market."

At first this exchange seemed completely odd to me, a meat-loving Texan. But during my apprenticeship with Joshua, who had been a vegan for 17 years, I learned why so many artisanal butchers steer customers away from eating too much meat. There are the obvious health and ethical reasons (less meat = less fat = lower cholesterol = healthy heart). Plus, raising animals responsibly, on a small scale, is not only better for them and for the environment, but it also creates better-tasting meat. That less-is-more attitude leaves a lot more space on customers' plates for vegetables—the fresher, the better.

It took a butcher to teach me: Gutsy pleasure can be had from a dry-aged steak…or a perfect ear of corn.

Cleaving comes out in paperback November 17.

Published November 2010
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