Thursday, August 4, 2011

Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free Dinner Party - take 2

Let's just go ahead and abbreviate that madness, shall we? VGF. Phew.

I know I've been a little lax in the posting department - do forgive, my dears. Let me ply you with peektures, and hopefully you'll forgive my lazy arse.

What the hell is that salmon-lox-where's-the-bagels-and-capers looking thing there, you ask? Why, its pate - smoked pepper and cashew cheese, set with agar. It seriously tasted like bacon. Seriously. Amazing.

Before I continue, here's the full spread -

I'd had, the week before, a somewhat freakish dream - about a large ship, presumably a Galleon, and a strange trip I took to find an ancient spice that tasted like smoked black pepper.

Yeah wow, food nerd dreams. I'm new to them.

But it ended up inspiring a pretty delish menu - so I'm down for another, if the food muse gods are listening. We ate well that night.

Mmmmm, Paella, I do love thee. It's hard to see what's going on in that pile, so I'll elucidate - red rice, some farro I'd picked up on an NYC trip, local purple peppers (more brown and orange than purple, but the mottling was lovely), tons of shrooms, and one, awesome, secret ingredient - Wakame. Totally a Milennium trick, sneaking seaweed into risotto. I love those guys.

In the long and arduous debate of whether vegan cuisine should mirror meat-loving nosh and recipes, I'm pretty much on the side of "whatever tastes awesome, is awesome". Paellas seem like seranades to the sea - so there needed to be something briny, sea tasting in there - and wakame fit that bill perfectly. Paired with some capers, the result was mineral, salty - behind the mushroom smokiness and paprika, it was a lovely, deep note.

Plus, seaweed is friggin' AWESOME for you. Magnesium abounds, and there's a little bit of almost every vitamin - so yep, let's just sneak that stuff into anything we can, shall we?

Topped by red pepper puree and some ancho chili cashew cream, this was a crowded plate. Next time, I'd omit the greens completely - they ended up being a side note, even odd.

We did start with some yellow tomato gazpacho that was good, but not stellar -

Just not as much bite in yellow maters as I'm used to in their angry red cousins. Still - pretty as hell, amirite?

I know it doesn't look like much, but the dessert was surprisingly decadent. Kind of a pineapple upside down cake, ala Babycake's recipe - but with a bunch of orange zest and some preserved orange peel, and shredded apples - moist and decadent. Coconut dream on the side, maple sugar and cinammon glaze, it was really, really good.

3 hours, 12 settings, and 4 courses later - everyone was stuffed to the point of napping, full of Espanola-inspired nosh.