Thursday, July 30, 2009

other people's food tastes better sometimes

So, I've had better days at work than today. By the time I got home, I had figured out the one thing that would make all the sucky go away - a dinner I didn't have to make. Don't get me wrong, cooking gives me great joy and most of the time is all the stress relief I need in a day, but today was different. I was at the end of my rope in so many different ways. I could have cooked, really, but I had my mind set on three things: vegan rosemary foccacia, Urban Riesling, and Catalan Tempeh - in other words, I really wanted to have a nice, luxurious dinner at what is becoming one of my favorite restaurants - Horizons. Fortunately, my doting husband was willing to oblige.

A few roadblocks presented themselves...the dining room was full enough that the host asked if we had reservations. I asked if we could sit outside - the humidity was mostly broken and there was a nice breeze anyway. Also, I saw a sign that reminded me of something I had known but forgotton - Tonight, Horizons hosted a local Vegan Drinks event upstairs. The one thing that kinda bummed me out though, was that I knew what I wanted before I got there, and when I looked at the menu, it was no longer there. I asked the server, and he explained that some people were having trouble "committing themselves to an entire main dish of tempeh." That's too bad - it was delightful. The Catalan Tempeh was braised in some kind of savory marinade, laid atop a bed of tiny black beluga lentils (vegan caviar) and garnished with an odd, but tasty, green mush. As I mentioned earlier, my husband is allergic to tempeh, so when we go out, I try to get a tempeh dish because I like it. So, taking the server's recommendation, I got the Crispy Tempeh Tacos. I wish I had pictures, because the presentation there is outstanding, but we've had our digital camera nearly two years and have used it only a handful of times before I started photographing dinner every night (to Mister's amusement), so it's not one of those things I think of. Forgive me - I'll try to remember next time. Instead, I'll just descibe our feast:

We started with an order of Jamaican BBQ Seitan with Jicama Slaw and some kind of weird orange mustard. I let Mister have the mustard - I'm not a fan. The BBQ Seitan was incredible - my husband was talking about something when I took my first bite and I mindlessly interrupted him with my exclamations of awe. We also had the always delightful homemade Rosemary Foccacia with herbed olive oil for dipping (gratis). For dinner, Mister had the Grilled Seitan laid upon grilled spinach and mashed yukon potatoes, and topped with a roasted red pepper filled with something that looks (and tastes) like baba ghanoush. I had the Crispy Tempeh Tacos - two battered and cooked (couldn't tell if they were baked or fried) hunks of dense tempeh, laid upon two soft tortillas that had been criss-crossed with preserved lemon aioli and topped with some completely bizarre (but very good) pickled zucchini and beet slaw. On the edges of the plate were two reddish chunky pools - it seemed like a red cucumber relish - very refreshing and it didn't taste at all like it looked. We also shared an order of smushed fingerlings, drizzled with truffle oil, dusted with sea salt, and roasted. They smell awful but taste so good. I had a glass of my Urban Riesling and finished the meal with Saffron Creme Brulee with Pistachio Biscotti. I was intrigued by the use of saffron in a dessert, and I really wanted to see what vegan creme brulee tasted/felt like. It was good - it didn't hold its shape as well as "real" creme brulee, nor did it mimic the texture closely, but it tasted fantastic and that's really what matters. I'm still mulling over the use of saffron, though.

In all the excitement, I did manage to put together my menu for the upcoming week, but I think I will wait to share that with you tomorrow, when I have more time to talk about the rest of the book. Until then, sleep with angels.

(that's my little brat prince, all tucked in with his blanket and pillow...spoiled only child)

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