Thursday, June 17, 2010

Veg*n Dinner at a Steakhouse? Yes!

Monday night, Staci and I got all dressed up and went downtown to Oak Steakhouse on Broad for a special event. Chefs Brett McKee (of Oak) and Ken Immer (of gRAWnola fame) collaborated on a Vegetarian/Vegan dinner that was insanely impressive.

The only disappointment that I had with the event was that not all courses were vegan-friendly. All of them were either vegan or had at least something vegan on the plate other than course five. I will say, I was naughty and did try course five. And I paid for it in the morning with a tremendous headache that I can only assume is some sort of sick retribution.

So, I want to do a quick rundown of the courses and the wine pairings and give my thoughts.

Pickled Daikon Ravioli with Preserved Carrot
Crimini Mushroom filled with Fermented Brazil Nut Cheese
Wine pairing: Champagne - Domain Carneros Brut

I was really struck with amazement from the get-go. I love daikon, A LOT. So I was very pleased with the flavors bouncing around in this. Champagne is really not my thing, but it wasn't a bad one. Way to set someone up for failure for the evening, starting out with the champagne.

Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille over Roasted Red Pepper Coulis
Wine pairing: King Estate Pinot Gris

I had never had ratatouille before, but I like the movie, so I figured what the hell. Yeah, I'm a dork. It was fabulous. Such a sort of simple dish from its composition, but so so tasty. And the red pepper coulis was perfect. It didn't hinder the veg in the dish, but it complemented it all perfectly. The wine for this course was my second favorite out of all those presented. Very well-balanced.

Asian Root Noodles with Marinated Shiitake Mushrooms and Cucumber Emulsion
Wine pairing: Davis Bynom Chardonnay

I wasn't super crazy about this dish. The flavors just didn't really hit me right. I don't think it tasted bad - not by any means. But it just wasn't the strongest dish in my mind. The wine was weird; it had a very strange coconut taste to it, which at first I thought was to complement the "coconut emulsion" but then I remembered it was cucumber not coconut, so that felt really strange to me. Wasn't bad, but just wasn't my favorite.

Ken's Taco Tango
with Micro Arugula and Mango Chutney, a Soft Corn Taquito, Sprouted Quinoa and Mung Beans, garnished with Guacamole and Live Sour Cream
Wine pairing: Voltre Santi Pinot Noir

The explanation of this course is written very strangely. I didn't eat the taco bit of it. That was the part with the sour cream on it. It smelled okay though, and Staci said it was really good. The little taquito/burrito dealie was AMAZING. Seriously. There are very few things I wouldn't do for a repeat of that experience. The filling of it was the quinoa, mung bean bit which also had pecans and carrots. It was this awesome texture...kind of chewy, but delightful. And the taste was just amazing. Bravo to Ken for that one!
The wine was good. I don't really like reds. It had a very plummy taste, though, which pleased me. Staci likes reds and she was dying over it, so I have to assume it was fantastic.

Brett's Eggplant Parmigiana
Wine pairing: Francis Coppola Directors Cabernet Sauvignon

Here is where I fell from grace. Yes, fail on my part. But I kind of wished they'd have made it for me without the cheese. The hostess assured me that this was not possible. Who knows. The eggplant was perfectly cooked, but I expected nothing less than that. The sauce was what got me. It was the most amazing red sauce I have ever had. Chef Brett really outdid himself on that beautiful, tasty sauce of goodness. Seriously. I wish I could describe it better. It was spicy but had the perfect balance of tomato acidity. It made my tummy happy.
The wine was nothing special. I say this because I don't remember anything about it.

Blueberry-Cardamom Vegan Ice Cream with a Crystallized Ginger Crisp
Chocolate Brownie Torte Garnished with White Chocolate Drizzle
Lime Shortbread with Citrus 'Anglasie'
Wine pairing: Nivoli

The presentation of this dish was really cute. It succeeded in making me ooh and ahh over its prettiness, while also making me want to shove it in my mouth. So, great success! The blueberry-cardamom ice cream had a weird texture on its own - I was not liking it at first - but then Staci told me to sort of use the ginger crisp thing to scoop it up a little. Omg. That was the key. Perfect combination, and it made me happy because, not only did it taste amazing and have a great texture, but the two parts of it relied upon each other to make it great, and I like that. The brownie torte was delish, but that's a was a brownie torte...come on. It was missing its white chocolate drizzle, but I hate white chocolate, so it was no great loss for me. the lime shortbread thing was good. Very simple and light, and I was glad that I ate from right to left across the plate and got to it last. It made me feel like I had completed the meal properly and in the right order. The Nivoli was fantastic - definitely my favorite, but I'm a sucker for sweet dessert wines. I had never even heard of Nivoli before then, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got to it.

Aside from the food, the company was wonderful. We met a few really sweet people and not only was it a networking experience among the health community, it was an opportunity to just chat and be social. I enjoyed it.

All in all, the dinner was perfect. I couldn't have hoped for anything more than I got, especially considering I was eating at a "Steakhouse". I was very lucky and happy to have taken a part in this event, and if they should have a part two (hint hint, guys..get on it!), I will definitely be in attendance.

1 comment:

  1. OMG! I'm not vegan and I want to go!! Sounds like an awesome night out!