Sunday, February 21, 2010

Urgent Update: An LA Vegan is Missing

I learned today that Andrew Koenig, a very sweet, compassionate member of our LA vegan community has been missing since Valentine's Day. Please read his father's message and contact the appropriate authorities if you have any information at all. Thanks so very much.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day at Madeleine Bistro

Knowing there was a culinary adventure to be had, my friend over at I Eat Vegan and I decided to splurge on the Valentine's Day menu at Madeleine Bistro. It was an ambitious menu, one that originally included a smoked cashew cheese soufflé that I was dying to try but didn't make it to the final menu, and we were eager to taste the results of Chef Dave's newest experiments. The table was beautifully set with a vase of roses and rose petals strewn on the table and the experience was wonderful, enhanced by a delightful conversation with the ever-lovely co-owner, Molly Anderson.

Each of the six courses was comprised of two different dishes to share, which meant twelve dishes total. As this will be a long photo post (the first set of photos are dark and then we figured out a better lighting scheme), I'll simply give the menu descriptions unless embellishment seems necessary.

Forgoing the offered champagne, we opted for sparkling pear cider.

Lemongrass-scented "beef" (Bean sprout salad, rice noodle gâteau, pho broth).

Vietnamese dip ("beef bao) (Bahn chung, pickled green papaya). To the left is a stack of rice fries (similar to polenta fries). There are tiny open-faced faux beef sandwiches on homemade bread circles in the center, each topped with a thin onion ring, and the green papaya salad is to the right.

"Butter"-poached white asparagus salad (Portabella prosciutto, radish, spring mix, passion fruit vinaigrette).

Asparagus wrapped in portabella prosciutto (Braised Yukon gold potato, roasted peppers, lemon marmalade).

Panko-crusted eggplant "steak" (Artichoke tortellini, cauliflower purée, mousseline sauce).

Grilled artichoke a la Greque (Cauliflower dolma, roasted eggplant purée, petite ratatouille).

Grilled shiitake mushroom (Mustard spätzle, pistachio-sunchoke purée, juniper berry sauce).

Pistachio risotto (Shiitake mushrooms and their purée, mustard green froth).

Herb-crusted boursin ("Egg" served sunny-side up, baby arugula, portabella bacon, black truffle vinaigrette). We were very curious about the faux sunny-side up egg, since neither of us had heard of someone attempting a vegan version. The faux yolk was mousse-like and the faux egg white was similar in texture to a tofu omelet. Neither part of the faux egg actually tasted like egg (it was really quite mild in flavor), but it was pleasant and interesting. The boursin was really good; thick, tangy, and edged in delicious fresh herbs.

A duo of spreadable cheeses (Truffled and smoked, shallot marmalade, poached pear salad).

Chocolate-dipped cheesecake "lollipop" (Blood orange creme anglaise and sorbet, candied ginger). There was also a chocolate peanut butter cup on the right and a small piece of cheesecake at center that were not listed on the menu. The cheesecake center of the lollipop and the piece of cheesecake were the same, boasting a lovely caramel flavor (I suspected the use of brown rice syrup, but I couldn't be sure).

Blood orange curd (White chocolate "pudding," candied ginger, almond tuile). Also included was a scrumptious (albeit hard) "Butterfinger" bite at front and a fudgy chocolate rope wrapped around raspberry sorbet at center. The raspberry sorbet sat on an identical almond tuile to the one that garnished the top. Together, the delicious blood orange sorbet and white chocolate "pudding" (I thought this was creme anglaise because it had a thicker texture) created a nostalgic Creamsicle (aka 50/50 bar) effect.

All in all, this was a creatively and thoughtfully prepared meal that I was happy to share with a friend and fellow blogger. We weren't alone in the sentiment, either. We spotted Rory Freedman of Skinny Bitch fame, Emily Deschanel of Bones and her boyfriend, and the owners of Follow Your Heart were there, too. It was an energy-filled, joyous event.

Monday, February 8, 2010


One of these days (hopefully very soon), I will tell you about the whole foods cleanse that I worked on throughout the month of January. In the meantime, I had a wonderful dinner-and-a-movie night with one of my most fantastic friends last night (you may recall that I previously gave him producer credit for our visit to Swingers and he certainly deserves another producer credit for this current evening in question). We saw Crazy Heart (go see it!) and then headed to BoHo without knowing if there would be any vegan options on the menu.

When faced with a seemingly vegan-unfriendly menu, my rule of thumb is to ask the server if there are any veganizable dishes. Our friendly and knowledgeable server pointed out that many of the vegetable sides could easily be made vegan and I quite happily chose the Baked Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts, both of which were delicious!

The cauliflower was cooked until tender and was subtly flavored with garlic. The Brussels sprouts were really special. They were baked with thin slices of Meyer lemon with the peel intact. Since Meyer lemons are a little sweeter than the average lemon, I ate them, peel and all, with the Brussels. The result was tangy and fresh, something that I will certainly attempt at home.

By coincidence, around the time that our food arrived at the table, a couple was seated next to us. The first thing I heard the woman say was, "Is there anything vegan on the menu?" Fortunately for our server, he had my meal to use as a guideline and maybe having two vegans in a row will encourage the chef to add some vegan appetizers, entrees, and desserts to the menu. As it was, though, I had an excellent meal with even better company.