Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Lone Veg Presence in a Sea of French Chefs

French class is about to start after a nearly three month break (a lifetime when trying to study a language when you have a full time job and many other hobbies). In any event, all things French are on my mind: food, music, film and so on.

Flashback to a black tie French dinner I attend every year with my boyfriend, who is a chef with a fine French dining background. Last year's event was at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park. This is a far cry from our usual weekend nights of a pizza or bowl of pasta and a DVD from the library.

Whether eating vegetarian or vegan, I'm never impressed with what the kitchen comes up with at these types of functions just because it is so uninspired. I can almost predict the green salad, steamed vegetables and sorbet I'll get before I even sit down.

On the menu:
Poached White Asparagus
Herb Mousseline and Petite Salad
Vegan: The same, without the mousseline. Needed a drizzle of olive oil. Photo too fuzzy/dark: project four white asparagus with a small salad.

Butter Poached Lobster
Fava Beans, Sweet Breads, and Lobster Tarragon Sauce
Vegan: Green Salad. I hate to say I told you so.

Braised Short Rib
Polenta, Fiddlehead Ferns, Artichokes, Baby Carrots and Zinfandel Sauce
Vegan: Fiddlehead Ferns, Artichokes, Baby Carrots. Expected.

A cheese course is typical after the entree in many French meals. Tête de Moine (a Swiss varietal), Quince Puree and Port Wine Reduction arrived. A fresh fruit platter usually comes here. I didn't have any cheese that night, but I will be honest: I don't have the willpower I did initially turning down cheese in communal situations.

Molten Chocolate Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
Vegan: Sorbet, mango and grapefruit.

Petits Fours ended the meal. I couldn't resist a dark chocolate.

I'm used to being the only one eating vegan or vegetarian in such situations. I don't think my food made anyone's mouth water.

They didn't have my favorite French cocktail, kir royale, which is champagne with crème de cassis (a blackcurrant liqueur). But I did dance cheek to cheek with my sweetheart to La Vie en Rose (an Edith Piaf classic) in my vintage 1950's black dress from the C.A.T.S. Resale Shop, which was marked down to $7 due to barely noticeable discoloration on the bottom. Add to that my $4 heels from C.A.T.S, which just needed a quick $10 repair at my local cobbler, and off-white gloves from a now closed vintage shop. It was definitely a French-themed night at the Ritz: Vegan Good Life-style.

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