Friday, November 11, 2011

pub fare, take one

Exactly two weeks ago was Mister's and my 4th wedding anniversary.  It was also one of the nights I worked until close (9pm) so we just ate leftovers and sniffed pretty roses and gave each other some kisses.  We actually had our anniversary dinner the following night.  In the absence of our dear departed (and ardently missed!) Horizons, the only place in center city Philadelphia (or anywhere within decent driving distance to my knowledge) for vegan fine dining, we made some calls, reviewed some restaurants' menus online, and eventually settled on this plan: we'd start at Front and South Streets and just walk until we found somewhere we wanted to eat.

I hate South Street.  This was Mister's brilliant idea, because he seemed to think we had heard of a bunch of restaurants about to open on South Street.  I think we might have been thinking ahead on that one because what was on South Street was a lot of recently closed restaurants, as the Street continues its slow decline.  Regardless, we started our menu-gazing at Downey's, an Irish bar & restaurant.  We ultimately decided it probably wasn't the best bet for a "quiet" romantic anniversary dinner, so we kept going, but not before Mister whined a little about why no one has yet undertaken to veganize Irish/UK pub food and mourned that he hasn't had Bangers and Mash in about 9 years.

So, for my mister, tonight I made Savoury Shepherd's Pie from How It All Vegan.

First, I took my time slow-sauteing carrots, celery, tomato, and some garlic standing in for onion, then added in the lentils.  The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of mashed lentils, but that's no fun, so I cooked 1/2 cup of French de puy lentils and didn't bother mashing them.  It came out just right, and far more attractive than it would have been (and has been) with mashed Goya lentils.

In my pretty Martha Stewart Blue bowl, I mashed together 3 Yukon Gold potatoes with a generous tablespoon of Earth Balance, a quarter-cup of Earth Balance soymilk (we're all about product placement tonight, folks!), and a generous sprinkling of salt.  It is such a simple recipe, yet it's one of the tastiest recipes I have for mashed potatoes.

While the pie went into the oven, I opened my Happy Weekend bottle of 2009 Beaujolais-Villages because I'm ramping up for next Thursday, which is the third Thursday of November.  To celebrate the introduction of this year's Beaujolais Nouveau, there will be a street festival right outside where I work next Thursday, complete with complimentary tastings, sales at the retail establishments, and two things that I feel utterly compelled to try: Beaujolais jell-o shots because I cannot figure out how that works, and Beaujolais lip balm, because that's freaking awesome.

Once I had smoothed on a thick coating of mashed potatoes to top the pie, I was a little disappointed in how bland it looked, so I sprinkled some Mediterranean Sea Salt blend on that puppy and it was absolutely the right choice.  It added just a ne sais quoi (someone take my French away!)

Stay tuned for tomorrow's menu, which should include at least one other attempt at making Mister some pub fare and other recent requests.  We might end up with A Menu For Mister, part two...


  1. Have you tried Govinda's? They have both casual and fine dining. It's vegetarian, not all vegan, but lots of things are. And they have Vegan Treats desserts! :)

    Can't wait for Vedge, though, hopefully it will be soon. I'm in DC, but I regularly trek to Philly for Vegan Treats/pizza/etc, and will definitely be there when Vedge opens!

  2. Actually, Erin, we had planned to go to Govinda's but since I've never actually seen the fine dining side open, I called first to make sure they were and discovered that, in fact, they are closed for renovations :) Since we didn't want to sit in a diner and eat vegan cheesesteaks, that was pretty much the end of that. I do appreciate the suggestion, though! We are anxiously awaiting the opening of Vedge and I actually pass it almost every day on my way home from work and peek to see how close we are... I'm probably as disappointed as Landau and Jacoby that they didn't open even close to on-time.