Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seasonal Fare at the Natural Gourmet Institute

The third visit to the Natural Gourmet Institute for their Friday night dinner was an absolute charm, as were my prior two experiences. I love eating fresh, seasonal foods. For $40 a person, tax and tip included, I think the quality, presentation and service you experience here is a tremendous value. I'd much rather eat out less often if it means being able to eat wholesome, gourmet vegan food like this. Being able to bring your own wine is a major savings. I like organic wine as much as anyone, but not at the $12 a glass price level I see at so many places.

Unlike my last visit, when a guest chef prepared and executed the menu, this time, the students of their professional program designed and prepared the offerings, with some guidance from faculty. The portions, thankfully, were much smaller. In a world of food shortages, these more modest plate sizes were welcomed.

Here's a snapshot into the evening.

An inviting table awaited.

Cream of Spinach Soup and Caramelized Onion, White Bean and Spinach Streduel with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

Watercress, Radicchio, and Butter Lettuce Salad with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Toasted Walnuts, Pomegranate Seeds, and Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Butternut Squash Risotto Cake, Spicy-Garlic Kale, and Wild Mushroom Ragu with Carrot-Ginger Sauce and Sage Pesto

Trio of Fall Tarts: Cranberry Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice, and Caramel Apple with a Cinnamon-Vanilla Steamer

Our talented chefs. With food like this, they have a bright future ahead.

I left full (but not over-full), content, and guilt-free. The steamer was to die for. In a Q&A session with the student chefs, they revealed it was made with a combination of rice and almond milk, vanilla beans, cinnamon and a touch of Agave nectar. Do try this at home!

Visit them at 48 W. 21st St., 2nd floor (between 5th & 6th ave), New York, NY

Public classes are also offered, including some vegan classes. I've personally never taken any.

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