Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Night With Chefs: How I Did This Time.

My sweetheart and I attend two annual events with his fellow chefs: a picnic in late summer, and a fancy dinner dance in spring. I was extremely tardy in posting photos of both events, but always love to examine what the vegetarian or vegan options are, so thought they were worth belated blog entries. This year's dance has now come and gone. Thankfully, the veg options were drastically more inspired. The food at the picnic is the same each year, and always delicious.

This time it was at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. I love what candlelight does for a room.

The cozy atmosphere extended into the dining room. An edible centerpiece: asparagus.

Everything better with butter? Not tonight. Not a pat of butter on the table. Instead, organic olive oil, which was the perfect dip for rosemary olive bread.

First course: I'm afraid to say veal carpaccio and avocado terrine. If you don't know what's wrong with veal, please visit Farm Sanctuary's site. A few years ago, it was just as horrible - foie gras.

My course, much better, don't you think? Can you imagine the suffering that would have been avoided if everyone ate what I had instead?

Next: seared sable and salmon graviox pave with white asparagus.

Instead of fish, I got seared tofu. Even though tofu is such a staple in many veg diets, I don't think I've ever gotten it at an event like this.

Entree: Noisette of lamb niçoise natural jus with potato and spinach.

A tart with broccolini, roasted red peppers, olives and capers in a marinara sauce and a slice of potato. I was stunned (and delighted) to get served something other than a plate of bland, steamed vegetables.

The cheese and salad course. I use salad lightly, since there wasn't much here.

Salad of petite mache, poached pears, walnuts, and warm mountain shaft blue cheese. I gave the cheese soufflé to my boyfriend. A few pondered, "is this breakfast?"

Dessert: Spring melange of berries in tuile with warm balsamic peppered infused syrup.

Some winced at my table at the simplicity of this (someone called it a dessert taco!), but I loved the berries. Who always needs a heavy cake, especially after a multi-course meal?

Portion sizes were thankfully smaller and the cocktail hour was pared down to a few passed hors d'oeuvres and some stations. I don't know anyone (short of the catering sales manager) who actually wants the massive excess of food at most celebrations. "The best" to me is not offering food that will go uneaten.

What did I wear? A black Laundry dress from the Revived Attire consignment shop. I paired it with my $4 dress shoes from C.A.T.S. Resale Shop I wear only at such events (oh, how I prefer flats). I also had an evening bag and wore a pin that had belonged to my grandmother, and used a wrap I've owned for ages. I did my own nails to save money.

From the clothes to what I ate, I did things in accordance with my own beliefs. If you are the lone person eating veg at your table (I often am), or wearing a second-hand dress - take pride. You don't have to do things the way everyone else does them.


Elaine said...

I love living vicariously through other people! Your night out sounds wonderful and the food looked delicious. Big fan of second hand everything! (Well, almost.) :)

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Thanks Elaine! This is a big change from our typical nights of eating in or dining out at our local haunts. It was such fun.

Second-hand is great for evening wear. Most people barely wear these dresses before passing them on. I even saw ones at the shop with original tags. They might not have the fancy "eco" marketing campaigns, but it's my favorite fashion as an eco-minded person.

ConsciouslyFrugal said...

I gave my favorite "going out" dress to a woman via freecycle recently. Oh, the compliments I received wearing that baby! I hope she loves it as much as moi.

Fruit as dessert was a totally new concept to me upon moving to California. The Midwest and South do fat and sugar proper. I was floored when I went to my first posh restaurant in Santa Monica and all but one of the desserts were fruit. Now? Love it.

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

I hope she loves the dress too. How wonderful to pass it on. I'm grateful the people who owned the things I wear put them back into the universe.

I love when receiving a compliment saying, "Thanks, free from a clothing swap" or "$5, my favorite thrift shop." I get quite a lot of bewildered looks. I wonder if some would be more impressed if I said, "Thanks, $50 from Banana Republic."

I adore fruit desserts. Some of my favorites: peach melba (I just poach peaches in sugar and add raspberry sauce and a little vanilla soy ice cream); poached pears with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and soy ice cream; strawberries in Grand Marnier, raspberry sauce and sugar; and strawberries or blueberries in cream (make mine soy creamer).

Cate said...

Oh, I had no idea foie gras was so horrible! I've never had it (or veal, for that matter), but that's a bummer.

I love fruit for dessert! I also love heavy cakes, pies, and cookies, but it's hard to beat fresh fruit.

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Isn't it awful? Thankfully, foie gras isn't very popular in the U.S. They should label it on menus what it is: "Enlarged, diseased goose liver" and under it "From a bird who suffered tremendously for a few fleeting moments of culinary pleasure." It is so egregiously cruel. Some culinary traditions need to be retired.

Oh how I love desserts. The berries were just nice after all those courses. At the picnic they always serve small pear tarts with ice cream which is just enough, and have bowls of plums and apples.

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

Great post!! Your meal looks delicious. There were so many animals in the non-vegan meal! Ew.

Love that asparagus centerpiece. I would have wanted to eat it. :)

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Thanks for the comment and compliment Jess.

Believe me, I wanted to take that asparagus home and make vegan cream of asparagus soup!