5 Take Home Lessons From a Vegan Dinner

When it comes to eating out, I eat out with intent

My goal is not to annoy everyone I’m with by insisting everyone WAIT!! until I’ve snapped a photo of the food, grammin’it,. I take photos of my food to note a few ideas to try out at home, and yes, grammin’it.

I have a running list of restaurants I’d like to visit in my notes app. Restaurant names are listed alphabetically, accompanied by notes about the chef, their style or particularly exciting dishes on their menus. Though I’ve been to Departure a few time now, Gregory Gourdet remains on that list.

A few weeks back an I approached his Vegan’s Summer’s End dinner with Portobello Chef Aaron Adams serious as a co-ed with a freshly sharpened No.2 pencil. What I hoped to glean from this dinner was an inspired approach to transforming vegan ingredients into dishes that celebrated plants in flavor.

I picked up more than I bargained for. Read on for tips you can use at home to elevate just about any dish, vegan or not.

Course One: Macadamia Nut Cheese with Coconut Jam & Watermelon Rind Mostarda AND Vegetable Terrines with late Summer Pickles (not pictured).

Lesson: Presentation is King

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Have a look at this photo, and that wee piece of vegan cheese. It doesn’t look like much in size, but the accoutrements and the styling of the food turned a 2/3 bite dish into something I wanted to savor in spoonfuls smaller than what my toddler can manage. Extend the life of a small plate with styling and garnishes.

Course two: Matasutake Broth with Pine Nut Dumplings Ginger and Wasabi

Lesson: Mushrooms = Meaty, Ginger = Levity

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The bit about mushrooms being meaty, I already knew that. What really caught me by surprise was a jolt of ginger cutting through the weighty broth.  Simmer slices of ginger in broth to infuse a little light into a heavy winter soup.

Course three: Farm Lettuce and Vegetable Composition with Candied Fruits and Crispy Herbs

Lesson: Accessorize with Herbs

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Basil, cilantro and flat leaf parsley are regular tenants in my refrigerator, but I routinely use them for flavor building aromatics in salads and soups. Add a variety of herbs to a salad mix or bowl of baby spinach to enliven a mealtime mainstay.

Course Four: Vegetable Nut & Seed Bulgogi

Lesson: Family Style Makes for Great Conversation and a bit of Competition.

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An engaging dining experience is bound develop anytime you set down 10 or so dishes at a table for a group to pick at, rate, laude, push to the edge of the table or fight over the last bite of whatever. Up until this course my table of mixed company remained each caught up in the beauty of their individual plates. It was now, passing the bowl of rice, I met the people next to me. Handing over the place of bibb lettuce, I smiled at the people across from me, and making eye contact with the woman at the end of the booth, I was sure to get the last bite of kimchi.

Dessert Course: Ginger-blueberry Financier with Thai Basil Ice Cream

Lesson: It isn’t dessert unless there is ice cream.

Well, you’ll have to trust me. It was reeeeeeeealy good.

2 comments
  1. Ravyn says: November 18, 201211:04 am

    I’m loving your blog. I’m a vegetarian in Portland, and this is like blog gold!! I look froward to reading more.

    • Mary says: November 22, 20128:20 am

      Aw! Thank you Ravyn!! Very kind words.

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