Archive for the ‘chocolate’ category

Vegan adventures

May 9, 2008

So anyone who has perused this blog at any juncture is well aware of the fact that I am clearly not a vegetarian or vegan or any facsimile thereof, I mean have you seen the pictures of the deer heads and suckling pig? But even though I work with animal bones on a daily basis and am not at all afraid of meat on any level, I also am not on the carnivorous end of the omnivore spectrum. I do not eat a great deal of meat, but I don’t make an extra effort to cut it out of my diet either. I am equally happy to have chicken or tofu for dinner. For me, at least at this stage of the game, it is more about the experience of different flavors, textures, and cultural traditions, than it is about other aspects of food choices. (And believe me I am also well aware of the arguments for vegetarian and vegan dietary choices and I definitely support those people who decide that these lifestyles suit their personal goals and moral and political stances.) I, personally, am trying to move as far away from any sorts of restrictions or defined boundaries when it comes to foods as I can and so I choose to eat whatever might appear on my plate and to be more intrigued by the story behind the food.

With that information as a backdrop, I will admit that I definitely have an interest in vegetarian and vegan cuisine as such. I am very interested to experiment and experience the kinds of flavors and textures created with non-meat products. Following along this path, I and a few of my friends went to Horizons for dinner this evening. It was a special prix fixe menu that was a terrific deal and a wonderful opportunity to taste a few of the foods coming out of this well-known and well-loved Philly vegan hot-spot. Our menu included:

Jamaican bbq seitan with green jerk cabbage and scotch bonnet crema


Pan roasted tofu with exotic mushroom paella, english pea sauce, and tomato salad

Bittersweet chocolate cheesecake with balsamic strawberries
(ummm, yeah, so as is my wont, I got too excited when dessert came and I’d eaten the whole slice before I remembered that I was supposed to have taken a picture of it, but you know what cheesecake looks like, so just imagine it) ☺

The seitan appetizer, and this was the first time I’d ever had seitan, was a very unique texture. I described it as almost like a very fatty pork belly or some similar cut, but without the distinctly stringy texture of the meat and the overly disgusting feel of a big wad of fat in your mouth (I abhor chewing on large chunks of fat). The seitan was chewy in the way that pork belly is, but without all the associated guilt. The bbq sauce had a great punch, which was well balanced with the crispness of the cabbage and the crema sauce. The hot seitan also contrasted well with the cool cabbage and sauce.

Though the pan roasted tofu was a simple dish in and of itself, just add some seasoning on top and you’ve got your dish, the accoutrements were wonderful. The mushroom paella was more like a smooth creamy risotto and the pea sauce was fantastic! It added both a bright green color and an extremely fresh and bright flavor.

The chocolate cheesecake was also quite good, very light and fluffy. Not much to say there since I obviously liked it so much I forgot to take a photo. Chocolate in a dessert and I’m one happy woman.

Like so many others before me, I was quite impressed with the food at Horizons. The presentation was really nice, the colors were vibrant, and the flavors and textures were really well-balanced. The ambiance of the restaurant is also very pleasant and the staff were extremely congenial. At the very least I will have to make a return visit to try their mango crème brulée because it’s on the list of the top 5 crème brulées in the city (according to Citypaper), which I’m trying to, but doing a very poor job of, working my way through. But I’d want to go back anyway, this is a place you can take your vegetarian and vegan friends for sure, but also people who just like to eat these sorts of foods, to see, taste, and experience what is out there in all the various arenas of the culinary world.

Crème Brulée Adventures – Episode 1

December 13, 2007

A short while ago Philadelphia’s Citypaper published a list of the “Top 5” places to get Crème Brulée in the city. (See the article here http://www.citypaper.net/articles/2007/11/15/creme-brulee) This, I thought to myself, must be done, my friends and I must assign ourselves the arduous task of eating these wonders of the dessert menu. Now I know that you can make crème brulée at home and it’s not all that difficult and you don’t even necessarily need to have that little kitchen torch in order to do it, but I’ve never really had the inclination to try it at home. This is a dessert to let the restaurants excel at and you sit back and enjoy. I’ll stay away from the handheld flames for the moment, thank you very much.

This little blurb is just the first installment in the series of our bruléed adventures. We chose to go to Brasserie Perrier for the first foray. They were serving a chocolate caramel crème brulée, yum.
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Now to the dessert itself… I have no complaints really. It was a fabulously executed sweet ending, the chocolate layer on top was definitely distinct from the caramel layer on bottom and they were both lusciously smooth. The one thing that didn’t come through in this version of the crème brulée (and it remains to be seen if this is a function of the ingredients or the execution) was that it lacked that real crunchy burnt sugar layer on top. There was some thin, as in “do not walk on this ice you’ll fall in,” layer of melted sugar, but not enough to satisfy the inner crème brulée fanatic in me. It was served with a lovely cinnamon and chocolate biscotti that was a nice counterpoint to the smoothness of the crème. So if you don’t mind losing a little of the crispness on top in order to experience different flavor combinations in your crème brulée, then I would definitely recommend heading over to Brasserie Perrier, as I said, the dessert in and of itself was really nice, just lacking in some of the classic crème brulée characteristics. Stay tuned for the next episode of our adventures in the land of desserts…

Waxing Lyrical on Chocolate

November 29, 2007

One of my favorite things about food is considering the experience(s) of eating it. What and who it makes you think of, what it makes you feel, and going through the process of trying to describe these aspects of it. This practice is admittedly difficult, but it is also fun and exciting. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I’m so intrigued, indeed some may say obsessed, with aphrodisiacs. I enjoy exploring the effects that these foods have on my mental and physical condition. Admittedly this is a solo venture at the moment, but I’m viewing this as an opportunity to become more in tune with me, myself, and I; something we can all spend more time doing.

In this particular discussion, I wanted to focus in on one of my favorite aphrodisiacs, and hopefully yours, chocolate! Mmmm… I’m licking my lips just thinking about it.

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Chocolate… I used to shun it, I used to go months without eating a single bite of it, I used to pay no attention to it whatsoever, but everything is different now! Now, like a lovesick, sex-crazed female I can’t go a day without thinking about it continually, without indulging in it at least once, but preferably twice. My body yearns for it, I feel out of sync if I don’t have it, I daydream about it when I’m not eating it. With thoughts like this, no wonder chocolate is likened to sex!

Given the fact that it is a food that purportedly supplies your body with feelings similar to being in love, it’s no wonder people can become hooked on it. I’ve heard that it’s mainly a female thing, this yearning for chocolate, and I understand where some of these urges might originate. But for me it’s more than just a sometimes need, it’s a continual longing that can only be satisfied by one thing and that is pure, unadulterated chocolate. Not baked into a cake, or as chips in cookies, or liquefied in hot cocoa, just straight up, straight to the heart solid gold chocolate, preferably dark.

What I love most about chocolate is the texture, the solidness melting into liquid lusciousness on your tongue. Filling your mouth with a warm feeling of contentedness. The fact that the heat of your body serves to cause this transition from solid to liquid sensuality, brings your focus to your body, allows you to savor each bite all the more knowing you’re the one bringing about the change. The smoothness of chocolate is somehow so calming and yet invigorating at the same time. Given that a single bite can make you feel so many sensations is just one reason why we should all be eating more of this sweet indulgence.


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