My one cheat meal

In the beginning of this project, I specified that there was one very special exception to my year of restaurant abstinence. And that’s this pile of creamy, garlicky, vegan, special goodness:

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It’s not a secret that I do eat meat, and I choose to eat high-quality protein at every opportunity and avoid particularly poor choices. I choose wild-caught over farm-raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free when applicable, cage-free, free-range, grass-fed, organic, vegetarian-fed, small-farm-raised, local, wild game, and try not to waste the food I’ve been privileged enough to buy and consume. I choose vegetarian and vegan when the product is just pretty tasty or the protein quality is questionable or low. But this particular macaroni and cheese is served up at a local vegan cafe run by a quirky activist and anarchist and made by he and his staff with love. Really. This pasta always tastes like someone that loves me cooked for me. The cafe even knows my voice on the phone and makes mine gluten-free.

I was thrilled to see this dish on the always-rotating menu at the cafe this week, thinking I’d grab some several times through the week. Tuesday night, I drowned in free shots at a neighborhood bar with a pal I wanted to get to know better, and I woke up Wednesday afternoon with the worst hangover in years. I haven’t been so nauseated and apologetic since I was maybe one day past my ill-spent twenty-third birthday at a Russian bar with homemade horseradish-infused vodka.

Wednesday I just tried to pack in the nutrients: two vitamins instead of one, a supplement, a big glass of water (sipped, slowly), and breakfast on the bathroom floor. Pumpkin soup was the only thing I remotely thought I could choke down, but that sugar really fought me. I won, and was able to get up in time to get to the cafe and grab the macaroni and cheese. Excellent. Comfort food. The supreme, ultimate comfort food in my life.

I picked up my pal after picking up my food, and we shared the special treat. But instead of enjoying the creamy goodness all on its own, I stopped to reheat our portions. Something about this dish just doesn’t reheat in the microwave very well, and I was a little disappointed that I’d sort of sucked all of the creaminess out of the food and was left with a sticky, blander version. Plus, I gave her most of the delicious kale when I split the portions up. Oops.

Throughout the rest of the week, I had a hard time finding enough time to make it to the cafe, and ended up missing my chance on getting more macaroni. ‘Til next time, love of my life.

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