Day-14 Virgin Diet: Rounding out week 2 with a little cheating (very little)

With several friends in from out of town I decided for once to bring myself down into the city to enjoy some sites and tastes and spend some time with friends.  The inertia against going out in the city versus out in the suburbs, especially after a week of work, often overcomes any desire to go.  That becomes less so every year as more local good restaurants open up and our own social circles out here get solidified.  Every time I do get downtown though, like this day, I am reminded that I need to do it more frequently.

The original plan of action was to get up at some early-ish time so that I could do some exercises.  I had planned to do some yoga, the first phase of the 100 pushups challenge and then go for a run.  Unfortunately I got up a little late then dorked around on Facebook and read the news from bed for a bit.  That made my original workout schedule infeasible since I was supposed to be downtown in time for lunch.  I did get the first part of the pushups done (a mere 40 pushups with no more than 12 in a set and that was enough to make even doing yoga difficult).  The stretching from yoga really highlighted some tightness in my legs, so it turned out perhaps running wouldn’t have been the best thing anyway.  While my knee is bothering me I’d rather take it easy on that.

You’ll notice that I haven’t talked about food yet.  By the time I would have gotten my shake down I would have been going out the door for lunch.  That would have been too much food in too short a period of time.  I could have eaten before the workout, but having that much food on my stomach just minutes before seemed like a bad idea.  I therefore just skipped breakfast and instead had a little bit of the homemade almond butter fudge to hold me over until lunch.

By the time I got parked and we walked over to get lunch it was already past 12:30.  Everyone had been waiting for me to arrive, so everyone was eating a bit late for lunch, rather than closer to brunch. Lunch was at a place called “Chop’t” in DC.  This is a fast food chain that specializes in salads.  They had lots of standard items but often there were ingredients I couldn’t have, so I decided to just make my own salad.  I started off ordering kale, mixed greens and spinach.  She turned around and was holding this bowler hat sized container of greens.  It looked like half of what I usually do for a salad so I asked her for the “large bowl”, assuming that there were multiple sizes.  When she said that there was only one size I decided to order two salads instead.  I got an assortment of toppings on each: shrimp, bacon, olives, tomatoes beets and carrots.  When we got to the point where they “chop” it with these huge two handled knives I noticed that the bowl was deceptively large.  When they added the now chopped salad to the metal mixing bowl to dress it I noticed it was the size of my usual salad, in terms of the volume of greens.  I therefore now had two enormous salads to eat through.  I could barely make it through my first salad so I kept the second one around for a snack for later in the afternoon.  The snack certainly wasn’t necessary, but I didn’t want to let the salad go to waste either.

Dinner was with a friend in a relatively new restaurant called Osteria Morini.  They have two locations around New York City, but this is their first down our way.  The food had an Italian bend to it, with lots of unique specialties.  Unfortunately with a restricted diet I really was limited in what I could try. Due to a mix-up with restaurant week, the details of which I do not know, the manager brought over two glasses of champagne as a sort of apology on the matter.  Sadly neither I nor my dinner buddy were drinking that night so we had to turn it away.  I have to say that white wine and champagne are some of my favorite alcoholic beverages.  It was a bit difficult to turn away perfectly good and already poured champagne, but I eventually did.  They next tried to be helpful in making us a special appetizer so they wanted to know if we had any food restrictions.  I listed just three and was already over how high maintenance I was sounding.  Their gestures were appreciated, and we said so to the manager when we ran into him again, but sadly they were not to work out too well.

We started the dinner with a selection of dried meats from their charcuterie plate.  While I would have loved to sample their selection of cheeses as well, there were enough varieties of meats to keep us busy.  The first of three selections was sopressata, a sweet very dry Italian sausage.  That was the only one of three I had ever had before.   The next two were total experiments which turned out to work out perfectly.  The next one was called coppa, which is cured pork neck.  It had a very high degree of marbling, with a texture that reminded me of jamon but with a lot more spice to it.  The third was called bresaola, which is air dried beef.  This looked to be complete devoid of any fat of any kind, and had a hint of clove flavor to it.  These were all cut onionskin thick and supposed to be eaten with a mustard aioli and eaten on small slices of toasted french bread.  Unfortunately I couldn’t have the accoutrements, so I just ate the slices of meat on their own.

The main course was something they called braciola, which was very different from what I was expecting.  Growing up braciola was a very thin cut of meat that is layered with herbs and spices, rolled up and cooked.  It comes out very tender and breaks apart into strings.  What I got instead was a very delectable pork chop served with shaved butternut squash on top and a braised shredded cabbage bed underneath.  The side of brussel sprouts with crispy proscuitto was a perfect accompaniment to the rest of the dish. My buddy let me try a piece of his sangiovese braised short rib, which was even better than my braciola.

While the braciola was delicious, it was not what I had pictured.  I did some research on this and it turns out that this is some quirk of Italian where apparently in Italy braciola is a flash fried piece of meat.  What we call braciola is called “involtini” in much of Italy, except Sicily. My family isn’t from Sicily but I guess maybe in the region we were from it was called braciola there too.  Who knew!  I’ll have to ask my aunts where we got the name from next time I visit.

While that was a good amount of food, I really hadn’t eaten much that day.  I did have two giant salads but they were mostly lettuce and greens.  Therefore when dessert came I really couldn’t help myself.  No, I didn’t go completely off the wagon and have a cheesecake, or something like that.  The selection of sorbets however were just too good to pass up.  A small scoop of passion fruit, limoncello and coconut sorbet sounded great and they tasted even better.  Coconut sorbet has almost an ice cream quality to it due to the fat content of the coconut milk used.  Yes, they have added sugar which I’m supposed to be avoiding, but it wasn’t something that would stay in my system for the long duration and it certainly isn’t something that would cause excessive inflammation for days on end.  I may get a slight spike in blood sugar but that would be about it, and it was good enough that I’m glad I did.

With that I ended my last day of the second week of the elimination diet. All of my early fatigue symptoms are pretty much gone.  Now I’m tired when I don’t get enough sleep and that’s about it.  I’m still getting some knee pain in my left knee but I’m hoping that ramping up yoga, foam rolling and getting my legs moving again will allow me to blow through that.