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Vegans Gone Gourmet

Posted Jan 18 2011 1:35pm
The James Beard House, bastion of all things foodie & gourmet, held an event last week with restaurant extraordinaire,Candle 79. The event, Enlightened Eaters: Pig Out On Plants Cocktail Party, featured Candle chef, Angel Ramos and special guest, Ironman Triathelete/Vega Founder, Brendan Brazier. The last time The James Beard House invited vegans into their sacred space, it was the chefs of Horizon in Philadelphia, and I had balked at the hundred plus price tag for dinner. Of course, I've always regretted missing out on since I still haven't made it to Horizons. So when this vegan foodie opportunity arose, I was definitely not going to pass it up, (well maybe a brief second my budget doubted the merits of seventy-five buckaroos for three hours of hors d'oeuvres), but attend I did.

It was so worth it. A fortuitous event that combined vegan food and a term not normally synonymous with vegan, "foodies". Yes indeed, the prestigious James Beard House had vegans in the house! I went with my designer friend, Elizabeth of Olsen haus fabulousness and it was a blast. The food was amazing (to note, the food passing didn't come as quickly nor as copiously as I had expected, but then again, I should have been parked closer to the kitchen where all the smart hungry people were...duh.) and there was plenty of delicious wines from Calypso Organic Selections.

Without any further ado, here's the deliciousness that put vegans on the James Beard "foodie" map:
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Sage- everything about this was pure yum, down to the crispy sage. There was also the Seitan Grille with Chimichurri Sauce which I didn't catch a pic of because I was probably too busy shoving several down my gullet...
Arancini with Wild Mushrooms, Squash & Truffled Cashew Cream- delicately fried on the outside & creamy riceball on the inside, so delicious.
Seitan Cakes with Cashew Creme Fraiche- this was good, but my least favorite, hence the dark pic- (hehe, not really, just a bad pic).

Ravioli with Tofu Cheese, Roasted Tomato Sauce & Cashew Cheese, this was my absolute fave, tasted a slight hint of Thai spin to it- could that have been? Or too much Shiraz? I tasted a hint of lemongrass in the cheese & Sriacha in the sauce- whatever it was, it was true deliciousness!
And the perfect end to the party, Hot Mulled Apple Cider, Phyllo Cups with Cashew Cream with Berries and Miniature Chocolate Cakes with Chocolate Ganache- perfect bites.

Not only was it amazing to see vegan food & Candle 79 recognized by a main "foodie" institution, it was a wonderful event to mix with fabulous vegans. I met the glowing, Kris Carr (she's got a new book out, Crazy Sexy Diet- got to get on that!), Gena from Choosing Raw , Linda Long of Great Chefs Cook Vegan & Vegan Hotspot and Victoria Moran .

Look at the happy, smiling vegans: me with Elizabeth and Joy & Bart of the extraordinary Candle restaurants. Behind us is a portrait of James Beard, Bart joked that the last time vegan food was prepared here, he saw a tear roll down Beard's cheek.

The townhouse was filled with cookbooks, but what most of us found interesting was the area that was James Beard's bedroom- an area large enough for just a bed and this was not a man of svelte girth...but the kinky part, um the mirrored area above...just had to share that!Hopefully, there will many more vegan events like these and hopefully, more of us will be able to attend & support them. Last week was yet another giant step forward for vegan cuisine and that is definitely another step towards the abolition of animal exploitation.
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