Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vegan Dining to the Max

There are four reasons why I could never be vegan, and their names are Red Hawk, Milk in My Coffee, Butter, and Macaroni and Cheese... Pleased to meet you. I do, however, hold a healthy respect for anyone with willpower enough to strike these demonic joys from their lives. I couldn’t do it, for sanity’s sake, yet I envy their healthy digestion :)

I attended last night’s vegan dinner at Beaver’s to satisfy a long-standing curiosity. My concept of vegan foods had been the nasty-looking bulgur and oat cakes wrapped in plastic next to the cash register at coffee shops in San Francisco and Austin. Is that all there is to it? I was dying to see what some of Houston’s most celebrated chefs could do with the genre.

And I was not disappointed. I left the festively *rad* evening 100% stuffed and begging host Jonathan Jones to please have a similar dinner in the spring when we have entirely new crop of vegetables to choose from. Yup, my first meatless, cheese-free, all-vegan, no-butter experience was just that good. Here’s a rundown in case you’d like to satisfy your curiosity, too.

Amuse: Fantastically rich Forest mushroom shooter with soy; could have been my favorite dish... (David Coffman, Benjy’s)

1) Delicious Brussels sprouts with chestnut pesto (Monica Pope, t’afia)

2) A lightly-dressed Persimmon and radish salad, red Cerignola and green Castelvetrano olives, and arugula (Monica Pope, t’afia)

3) Creamy-without-cream roasted red pepper and garlic hummus with house-made crackers (Russell Kirkham, Beaver’s)

4) Fall-tastic pumpkin-cushaw squash and ginger risotto with smoked corn (Russell Kirkham, Beaver’s)

5) Heirloom grits cooked in corn juice (giving the dish an incredible enhanced flavor), corn ricotta, and salsify, and cooked in the style of bacon (Randy Rucker, Tenacity Supper Club)

Intermezzo: Carbonated grapes, orange ice, celery root soy bubbles (David Coffman, Benjy’s)

6) Another candidate for my favorite dish: Salt-cured smoked tofu, sloppy BBQ with wild mushrooms, crispy garlic, sweet potato vine (Jonathan Jones, Beaver’s)

7) Interpreted Fall colors of New England as described by Alison Cook: potato risotto under foam (Randy Rucker, Tenacity Supper Club)

8) Abalone mushroom “lasagna,” smoked turnip “cheese,” Texas eggplant bolognese; wins the award for most creative (Jonathan Jones, Beaver’s)

9) Savory with sweet: Roasted pear tart with mushroom iced tea (Plinio Sandalio, Textile)

10) Decadent sweet potato beignets (Plinio Sandalio, Textile)

11 and 12) Autumn cake with candied carrots and pistachio (not pictured) and an amazing I-don’t-miss-butter-at-all “Hostess Cupcake” with vegan buttercream (Jody Stevens, Jodycakes)


married2food said...

It was a nice vacation of the bellah...but now it's back to the daily grind o meat...and I ain't mad at it. Great seeing you at the dinner!

Fulmer said...

Great write up & pics. Scheduling & money means I can only attend so many events, but I am sorry I missed this one.

Tooey said...

That is a ridiculous vegan lineup, Ruthie... mmmmmm steak

hedrives said...

The meal was an eye-opener and I was stuffed on the way home. No lifestyle change for me, but it was a fine diversion. Also, was great to share a fun table with you and the other guests.

Ann said...

would love to see some of these courses as standard on some menus.

indiestar said...

Love the pics. Makes me want to go out and eat a multi-course vegan meal. Does anyone in Houston do that on a regular basis?