Wednesday night I attended a book club meeting for The Passage by Justin Cronin, which I loved. I actually picked up the book before it was ever on the book club's agenda when I was gifted World War Z for Christmas by my boyfriend's parents. I love zombie stories - books, TV shows, movies, you name it, and World War Z would have been the perfect gift if I hadn't already purchased and read it a few years earlier. (My boyfriends parents saw the book on special display, presumably because the movie's coming out soon, and thought it was a new book that I wouldn't have had a chance to read yet.) So I headed to Barnes and Noble to exchange the second copy of WWZ and picked up The Passage because it was in a similar vein and seemed like it would be in keeping with the spirit of the original gift.
I started reading The Passage in March and when I was less than 100 pages into the book it was added to the book club list for June, so I slowed my pace but kept reading the book steadily (at 750 pages you can't expect to read it in a weekend ... unless you're a reading machine). Some people might be put off by the idea of vampires as the story's antagonist, but I would say that if you're a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre this will be a great read. The characterization is so great you feel real loss when characters leave. In fact, when I finally finished the book after spending months with it I felt actual withdrawal at not having the story there anymore. And the creatures aren't exaclty vampires in the way we normally think of them ...
Anyway, on to dinner ... The book club met at Alchemy in Hampden. Normally I like to check out a restaurant's menu before showing up so I know what I'm in for (or what might be entirely lacking - namely, vegan options). This lets me know if I need to plan to eat something before I go, or at least eat a later lunch so if I won't really end up eating until I get home I can make it. It also gives you the opportunity to call ahead and give the restaurant a heads up if you're going to try asking them to create a vegan option for you. Fortunately, I didn't need to go that route because there were a few options, plus vegetarian options you could make vegan. There was even a vegetarian main course that could probably have been made vegan (stuffed butternut squash), though I didn't go that route.
I ordered the Calypso Hummus appetizer to start, which was delicious truffle flavored hummus with pita plus carmelized onions and greens on the side. This alone could probably have been dinner. Plus there was so much more hummus than I could eat with *just* the 8 pieces of pita they gave me.
For my main course I ordered the Caramelized Avocado and Baby Greens Salad (minus the ricotta salata). I'd never had caramelized avocado before, and the idea seemed odd but intriguing. The salad actually came with both caramelized avocado and caramelized grape tomatoes. Essentially, the avocado and tomato was sliced, sprinkled with sugar, and then flamed to melt the sugar into a crust. It seems so counterintuitive for a salad, but it was delicious. Plus there was so much going on that I didn't even miss the cheese!
The waiter brought us bread for the table, but he was thoughtful enough to let me know there was cheese baked into the bread, so I did not partake - though it looked delicious.
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of my tasty dinner. (There was actually a note on the menu asking you not to use cell phones at the restaurant - not sure if that's just talking or pictures too, but I decided to err on the safe side and respect it either way.) There definitely weren't a ton of vegan or vegetarian options at Alchemy, but there were a few that were really good, and that I'd be more than happy to have again.