Tag Archives: beets

Baby I Like It Raw

My husband took me to a romantic dinner at Elizabeth Raw this past weekend.  Elizabeth Raw started as a catering business, but eventually opened their restaurant on Friday evenings.  I’ve been dying to try this place because they specialize in raw foods.  A raw food diet is when you consume plant foods at its natural state, meaning foods that are uncooked and unprocessed.  Most raw foodists spend a lot of time chopping, blending, peeling, and dehydrating.  Although I’m not a raw foodist 2-3 of my meals on a given day are typically raw.  If I can have dinners like this every day I would be 100% raw for sure.

The restaurant looks like an art museum  – beautiful paintings, hard wooden floors, and chandeliers to create a warm and intimate atmosphere.  We were actually greeted by Elizabeth herself.

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While we waited for our table we sipped our cocktails and noshed on kale chips at the bar.

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I actually saw people come in just for these kale chips.

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Chef Jonathan Seningen comes up with a different menu every month.  We came right in time for the March menu.  There’s also a wine pairing option, but we opted out since we still had our cocktails.  We didn’t even finish our drinks at the end of the night, so skipping wine was a good idea.  Here’s what we had:

-AMUSE-
Beet Aumoniere
pistachio mousse, avocado, parsley
This is my favorite dish.  It’s a spoonful (literally), but the flavors were dancing in my mouth.    

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-START –
Warm Cucumber Soup
apple, cashew yogurt, avocado
Super creamy and I can’t believe this is raw.


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-APPETIZER-
Parsnip Choux Froid
black olives, sun dried tomato, marjoram, beets
My husband’s favorite dish.  Such a pretty plate. 

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-INTERMEZZO-
Apple & Celery Sorbet
sel gris, olive oil
This was surprisingly a great combination. 

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-ENTRÉE-
Curry Scallop with Carrot Risotto
rutabaga, fennel, saffron cappuccino
The scallops were made out of trumpet mushrooms and the risotto was made out of carrots.  Yum-O!

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-SWEET-
Banana Chocolate Semifreddo
coconut, rum, almond
This was intimidating at first because I was full, but after one bite it was soon an empty plate with leftover chocolate smears.  Yea I wanted to lick the plate, but remained ladylike for the sake of not embarrassing my husband.  I would so do it if I was at home. 

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What a phenomenal experience!  My husband and I ate slowly to savor every single bite.  We were thinking about what to do after dinner – a stroll along Georgetown Waterfront like old times?  Or grab another cocktail in the area?  Something romantic?  When you’re married you can skip all that mumbo jumbo and tune in to your guilty pleasure.  For us it was Duck Dynasty.  Yup, we couldn’t get enough of that show.  Hey we were laughing together and to me that’s romance.

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picture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_Dynasty

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Oh Thanksgiving – a day for family, football, and lots of feasting.  I attended typical Thanksgiving dinners with turkey, stuffing, and gravy.  What on earth did I eat then?  Rule #1 if you’re a vegetarian or vegan attending a party – eat before you go or bring a vegetarian dish.  Trust me – people will appreciate a healthy dish in the mix.

The first Thanksgiving meal was at Richmond VA.  I made a pumpkin cheesecake that happens to be dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free.  Tastes like the real deal.  This was so easy to make.  I got the recipe from this video.  Give it a try!  You’ll be impressed.  My family absolutely loved it.  They didn’t believe it was a cheesecake without cheese.

pumpkin

I brought over eggplants I had in the fridge.  Forgot to take a photo, but I basically placed them in the oven for about 20 minutes and had it with sauce.  My mother-in-law then turned it into a sweet and sour eggplant salad for me. It was delish!

The next day I had my second Thanksgiving meal at my Uncle Mark’s lovely home.  They had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and all of the above except for a vegetable dish.  I had a feeling about this, so I brought over a big dish of roasted vegetables with  beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic, and white potatoes.  It’s seasoned with fresh thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sea salt, olive oil, and pepper.  They were soft in the inside but crispy on the outside.  Let’s just say there was nothing left at the end of the night.

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I was going to make a lentil loaf with cranberry sauce as another vegan dish, but there was so much food.  I’ll table that for another blog post, maybe for Christmas.

And then there are Chinese dishes.  One of Mama Chiang’s famous appetizers is her pork stuffed vegetables with oyster sauce.  Of course she wouldn’t leave out her plant-eating daughter, so she made me a special dish.  Instead of meat, she stuffed the vegetables with a secret tofu mix.  It’s better than the meat version.  It’s like a light hors d’oeuvre.  The slightly sweet topping was a perfect combo with peppers, tofu, eggplant, and even bitter melon.  I don’t like bitter melon, so my mom didn’t want to torture me.  She also made me yummy green beans, so I didn’t feel left out from the fam digging into the green bean casserole.  Mama Chiang is always so thoughtful.

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Being aware of what I eat this year made me appreciate the time with my family.  When I was a kid and up until now, my uncle always made an American Thanksgiving dinner.  I always looked forward to it because I pretty much ate Chinese food every day.  I realized it’s more than the American meal.  It’s an American tradition where I can really catch up with my family and be thankful.

Dining Vegan

As much as I enjoy experimenting with vegan recipes, I love to dine out and enjoy the company of others.  Most of my family and friends are omnivores, so I go to restaurants they choose.  I do get questions like what do vegans eat when they go out?  You don’t need to live in LA or chomp on lettuce eating out as a vegan.  You don’t even need to go to specific vegan digs to enjoy a good meal.   I never felt limited.  You just have think outside of the “menu”.

Here’s a couple tips dining vegan:

Research.  Read the menu a head of time.  You’ll be prepared to know what to order, what to ask, and how to be creative.  If it boils down to limited choices then you’ll know to eat something before you leave, but save room for snacks.  It can get awkward if your friends are having dinner and you’re not eating, so munch on fries and have a beer.  You also want to reassure your friends that you’re fine if there’s not a lot of vegan choices.  By the way, there is always a minimum of one or two vegan items in any menu.  I love when people think about me, but rest assured this will never deter me from having a great time with good company.

Ask.  Don’t be afraid to ask off the menu.  I asked many times and gotten great suggestions.  In fact, chefs might make dishes for you because they’re excited to experiment with something new.  My family wanted to go out for Japanese ramen from Maneki Neko at Falls Church VA, but there’s only ramen with meat listed on the menu.  I asked the waitress and the chefs were delighted to make me a vegetable miso ramen.  It was spectacular!  My husband even got jealous of the ramen I got.

Remove.  There are items that can be removed and it tastes just as good.  I was recently at Peking Gourmet for Father’s Day.  My dad loves this place, so I was looking at ways to order.  I always loved Chinese pancakes, cucumbers, scallions, and hoisin sauce (despite the name there’s actually no seafood in this).  I can still enjoy this with everyone and leave the duck out.  I just filled it up with more cucumbers.

Substitute.  If I see something like vegetables on the menu I’ll ask to get that substituted for my dish.  We were at Arcadia in Richmond VA and they had beets with a meat dish, so I asked if I can substitute one of the dishes with beets.  Sure enough they were happy to do that.  I started out with the roasted turnips & beets, polenta, chive sauce, and gala apple.  It was perfect.  The beets and turnips complimented the polenta very well.

Sides.  You can have sides as a la carte or tapas style.  There are always sides that are vegan-friendly.  If that’s the case, order a couple dishes for your meal like this side salad and sweet potato fries I had at Bistro 27, also in Richmond VA.

Digs to satisfy both parties.  If you have the option to choose a restaurant go for Asian, Mexican, Italian, and Indian.  They will have vegan options for you, so both you and your friends can enjoy.  For instance, my husband asked me to choose a place for lunch while we were in Tampa.  I was interested in Taco Bus because number one it was on the Food Network and it had vegan and meat options.  My vegan taco was so delicious my husband had one too.

As long as your creative there are no limits dining vegan.