Friday, March 29, 2013

Georgetown Cupcake - Vegan Cupcake

Georgetown Cupcake, the famous cupcake shop in Georgetown in Washington, DC, is finally making vegan cupcakes!  I got to try all three flavors at a party -- carrot, apple cinnamon, and cranberry spice.

Overall, I was not that impressed. In general, I found the cake part of the cupcakes to either be too dry or too oily depending upon which one I tried. As a result, they crumbled in my hand, which made them hard to eat.

The cranberry spice was my favorite of the three. It had a nice flavor, but the texture and density were lacking. I also thought that the ratio of frosting to cake was off for all of them -- way too much frosting. But, the frosting tasted pretty good.

I would say that it isn't likely I'll get any more of these anytime soon for two reasons: (1) I'm not waiting for 30 minutes in a line around the block for a cupcake and (2) Sticky Fingers cupcakes are so much better.

That's not to mention that Georgetown Cupcakes are tiny! They must be half the size of a Sticky Fingers cupcake. So while I'm happy to see they are taking a stab at it, they don't compare to Sticky's. I only hope they stick with it and improve on their vegan cupcakes over time.

Georgetown Cupcake
3301 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-8448

Georgetown Cupcake on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fruit Bliss - Dried Fruit

What makes a great dried fruit? Moistness! Recently, Fruit Bliss just came out of nowhere and immediately began filling the stores with their moist, yet dried, figs, apricots, dates, and plums. I know what you are thinking -- that you've had dried fruit that is moist before. Yes, but did it have preservatives?? Most likely so. I eat prunes on a regular basis so I know a lot about this. I used to eat the moister prunes that had preservative potassium sorbate in them because they were so much moister than the ones that didn't. Now that I am on my super clean kick, I stopped buying the ones with preservatives and now my prunes are dry as a bone!  Fruit Bliss takes the dried fruit and rehydrates it with water to make it extra juicy without using any preservatives. So you can have your moist prunes and eat them too!

I get a kick out of how prunes are now being called dried plums because people are more likely to buy plums than prunes! Who said there aren't marketing companies for fruit? See the moistness below?!

Oh, and even better is to coat your dried plum/prune in a chocolate hazelnut spread and eat it as dessert -- you get all the goodness and fiber of plums along with a little chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth!

The apricots are just as sweet and delicious as the plums.

And the figs, are just, well, figs. I have to say I love the figs too.

And if you are generally indecisive, just buy the variety pack.

These products were created by a mother who wanted her son to eat dried fruits as a snack and wanted them to be tasty, yet preservative-free. Awesome job, Susan! And she even donates 5% of the profits to organizations that share the same purpose.

So go ahead and get your guilt-free snack on with these wonderful fruits. They retail for around $3.80 per bag and are sold at various stores including Whole Foods. If you can't find them locally, you can buy them here. Find your bliss!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nature's Health Food Market & Cafe, Palm Springs

Here I was, stuck in Palm Springs, California for a conference and wondering where I could find good, vegan fare. There weren't too many options so I decided to head to the local natural foods store to see what they offered at their fresh foods counter.

Nature's Health Food Market & Cafe is an old-school health store like the ones you'd see in the 1970's. It is small and filled with random healthy food that is probably pretty hard to find in this town. Inside the health food store is a counter where they prepare fresh vegetarian salads and sandwiches.

Their menu was pretty extensive listing tons of salads, sandwiches, wraps, elixirs, and smoothies. I had a hard time trying to decide what to order so I asked their advice. They first asked if I was vegan and, if so, if I ate honey to which I stated that vegans do not eat honey. This question is really starting to agitate me. It is only being asked because a bunch of vegans have decided to start eating honey for some reason. Anyway, they proceeded to tell me that all of the bread has honey in it so I couldn't order any of the sandwiches. I thought this was pretty odd. I mean, they are a vegetarian cafe so you'd think they'd have vegan bread so they could make their sandwiches either vegetarian or vegan based upon the customer's preferences. I expressed my dissatisfaction with this and proceeded to order the Braised Tofu Wrap as per their recommendations.

I sat down at a table and waited for the order. A few minutes later, it was ready. It was a fresh spinach wrap filled with slices of braised tofu, mixed greens, tomatoes, cilantro, brown rice, and Vegenaise. I found it to be a nice, fresh wrap, but, unfortunately, it lacked much taste. I think if there had been a bit more sauce, it could have been pretty good. It was also served with a nice side salad with a lemon tahini dressing.

All in all, it was a satisfying lunch for an area that has few options. I just hope they start offering vegan bread in the future. I'd come back and eat here, but I'd probably request extra sauce with my wrap. It's not a bad deal for a $10 lunch.

Nature's Health Food Market & Cafe
555 S. Sunriseway #301
Palm Springs, CA 92264
(760) 323-9487

Nature's Health Food & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Vigilant Eats - Superfood Cereals - New Flavors

Food is the fuel that your body uses to function on a day-to-day basis so it would make sense that one would want to put high quality fuel in their body to achieve maximum functionality. Enter Vigilant  Eats Superfood Cereals into the picture. These oat-based cereals are made with nothing but healthy ingredients including lots of superfoods. And I couldn't think of a better way to start my day than with cereals like these.

You may recall that I had written about these cereals in the past when I first discovered the Goji-Cacao flavor. Well, since the introduction of that cereal, Vigilant Eats has introduced three others on the market and I just had to try them. Simply put -- they did not disappoint.

I'll start with the Espresso Maca Mulberry. Now anyone who knows me knows that I avoid caffeine as much as possible, but this cereal sounded good enough to make the exception.  Imagine espresso, maca, soft sun-dried mulberries, crunchy cacao nibs, smoky mesquite powder plus maple and lucuma powder, and oat and hemp flour sweetened with coconut palm sugar.  That's a mouthful of superfoods.

The Maca Double Chocolate fills your mouth with chocolate goodness and finishes it off with big chunks of dates. It left me saying, "Healthy chocolate for breakfast? Yes, please!" Inside you'll find gluten-free oats, cacao nibs, coconut palm sugar, cacao powder, dates, oat flour, coconut flour, maple powder, mesquite powder, lucuma powder, maca root, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and hemp flour. Mmm, mmm, good.

Finally, I tried the Coconut Maple Vanilla. This one will make anyone realize how good good-for-you food can taste. I'm talking huge slices of coconut and big chunky dates. It seriously was like having dessert for breakfast. I'd prefer it to coconut milk ice cream any day.

Oh, and I should mention that these cereals are perfect for when you are stuck in a hotel as they each come with a spoon and you just add cold water. Easy as can be. I've started bringing them with me on all my flights!

And on top of it all, the ingredients are certified organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan. Most recently, Prevention Magazine chose the cereals as one of the 100 Most Cleanly Packaged Foods for 2013.  Because these cereals are packed with such pure ingredients, they are a bit pricey at $5 per container, but we all know that, unfortunately, good, organic food is often expensive. Luckily, the guys over at Vigilant Eats were nice enough to offer my readers a discount! By using the code "VVEGAN," you can get a 10% discount off your order when you place it direct through Vigilant Eats here. And there is free shipping too.  So order a bunch now. Luckily for me, they are now in many Whole Foods stores across the Mid-Atlantic region. It is time to stock up!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mad Momos Giveaway

You may recall my excitement about the new restaurant Mad Momos and their vegan brunch offerings. Well, since then the owner got in touch with me and in the spirit of promoting local DC businesses, I am pleased to announce a giveaway of a $50 credit to Mad Momos!

Say it ain't so?! I kid you not. And you don't have to use it for brunch. You can feel free to use it for whichever meal you'd like. In fact, they offer vegan options for every meal!  Here are some examples (subject to change with the upcoming spring menu):
  • Crispy Vegan Rock and Roll with fresh mango and black bean chutney
  • Pita and Dal
  • Carrots with King Cardamom soup
  • Orange and Beet salad (without blue cheese)
  • Curly Kale salad (without feta cheese)
  • Roquette salad (without parmesan cheese)
  • Compassionate Vegan (brown rice dish with veggies)
  • Vegan Thukpa (braised tofu, veggies, and noodles)
  • Sun Salutation Taco Platter with scrambled tofu (brunch only)
  • Scrambled Tofu Mad Wrap (brunch only)

About Mad Momos
Mad Momos is a new American and Himalayan restaurant located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of DC that opened in December of 2012. They focus on hand-crafted momos and offer a variety of other eclectic dishes.

Giveaway details:
  • Requirements: just complete the form below
  • Prize: a $50 credit for Mad Momos at 3605 14th Street NW in DC
  • Restrictions:  Must be fully redeemed in one visit; Must be used by July 3, 2013.
  • Deadline to enter: Monday, April 2 by 5 p.m.
  • Winners will be announced on this blog on Tuesday, April 3
  • For an additional chance to win, like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and let me know that you did so in the comment box below (please indicate the name you used to register for this giveaway). If you already liked my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please just let me know in the comment box below and I'll put you in for a second entry.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Goûter - Special Vegan Dinner

The adorable couple behind Goûter is certainly making a splash in DC. After several successful classes through Living Social, not to mention producing some of the best juices and cleanses in town, Steve and V have certainly developed a following. I know that I, for one, have really enjoyed every snack I've ever tried from them. So, Zach and I decided to go to their special dinner benefiting COK and The Kindness Collective at the 410 GooDBuddY art gallery in DC. Since we had never tried a meal made by these notable chefs, we were looking forward to seeing what they would cook up. And, surprisingly, it was not all raw!

The night began with some socializing as we admired the work of the artist, Dana Ellyn who had some in-your-face animal rights-themed works displayed. I really appreciated her courage in displaying her work exactly as she had imagined it as she is obviously a very talented painter. All the while, we were sipping a drink made with one of Goûter's signature tonics featuring lemon, cayenne, and maple sugar -- so delicious.

After an hour or so, we took a seat at a large table and the fun really began. Four courses would be served beginning with a spectacular bisque made of almond milk and topped with burnt broccoli and lemon foam. Everyone immediately cleared their plates and waited for the next course.

Next, we were served a delightfully light salad made with baby lettuce, radicchio, and crispy kale. It was a creative mix of fresh lettuces mixed with dehydrated kale and topped with a citrus dressing.

For the entree, we were served a dish with raw pasta -- tagliatelle made of celery root in a cashew cream sauce with roasted mushrooms and truffle pine nut parmesan. Now up until this point, the dishes had been great, but this one was truly fantastic. I mean, this dish could stand up to some of the one's created by this country's best raw chefs. I realize it wasn't 100% raw, but even without the roasted mushrooms, it was truly one of the best raw dishes Zach and I had ever had.

Lastly, we were served bite-size "tootsie rolls" made of hemp seeds, cacao nibs, spirulina and raspberry. There was also some raw chocolate bark made with maca, sprouted buckwheat, and sea salt. It was all very satisfying.

As we all sat back and remarked upon how delicious everything was, the question in my mind was "when are they going to open a restaurant?"  Only time will tell. But, in the meantime, I'd recommend you attend their events whenever they are held because you are sure to be in for a treat.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pasta Valente - Noodles

It's kind of a funny story -- how I found out about Pasta Valente. It was when one of my friends changed her name to "Pasta Valente" on her Facebook page. Come to find out, my animal-rights activist, yoga-teacher friend had an aunt who made pasta under the name of Pasta Valente! And so my interest sparked.

Though not a fully vegan company, Pasta Valente, founded by Fran Valente in 1982, offers a bunch of hard-to-find vegan pastas. Fran teamed up with her daughter, Mary Ann, in 1987 and now the team is in full force selling their pastas all over the country.  Using custom, locally-milled wheat flour mixed with herbs, spices, and dried vegetables, they roll, hand-cut, and air dry the pasta the old-fashioned way to make the finished product. Each package is even hand-packed to ensure quality control.

They may be using locally-milled flour, but I can assure you these aren't your run of the mill pastas. They are by far some of the best pastas I have ever tasted. And what makes them so?  The flavor! If I had a dime for every spinach pasta I've ever bought that tasted like nothing, I'd be a rich woman! I tried Pasta Valente's Spinach Angel Hair and it was bursting with spinach flavor. It tasted as if she had ground fresh spinach up, mixed it with flour, and made it into pasta! But, actually, I'm not too far off as the ingredients are all natural -- just vegetables and unbleached wheat flour!

The Black Olive and Garlic Fettuccine was oh so fresh. It cooked in just 3 minutes and I topped it with a tomato vodka sauce that I modified based on the recipe that came with the package. You could even see and taste the speckles of black olives. To make the pasta, they just use unbleached wheat flour, freeze-dried garlic, black olives, salt, and, ferrouse gluconate (to stabilize color).

Finally, I have to say that the Chipotle Fettuccine was my favorite. The fettuccine noodles were bursting with chipotle flavor. I made the vegan alfredo sauce that came with the package and served the noodles with the sauce. I didn't love the alfredo sauce, but I did love the noodles. Wow!

Everything about these noodles was great -- the soft texture, the flavor, and that they cook in just a few minutes. I also love that there are no additives, preservatives, or sugar substitutes. You can even find some of their vegan varieties on Amazon here. Next, on my list to try is the red pepper fettuccine - yum!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vegan Eggs Benedict

If you get the VegNews newsletter or recipe club emails, you are likely to have recently seen an extremely appetizing picture of a vegan eggs benedict. Since trying the Renedict at Bouldin Creek Cafe in Austin, I have been intrigued by the idea of vegan eggs benedicts so Zach and I gave this one a try.

It consists of smoky tofu, sauteed spinach, fried tomatoes, and an eggless hollandaise sauce.  And we found it to be pretty good. We found vegan whole wheat English muffins made by Rudi's that we toasted, then topped them with the sauteed spinach, fried tomatoes, and marinated tofu. Then we poured this rich, creamy Hollandaise sauce on top. In the end, I felt like it needed something else -- maybe some tempeh bacon or something, but overall it was pretty good. And it looked so pretty.

Tip: we used the TofuXpress tofu press to press our tofu first, then marinated it in the container. The container is the size of a block of tofu so it marinates quite well in there. On to the recipe!

Vegan Eggs Benedict
Serves 4

For the smoky tofu
  • 1 16-ounce container firm tofu, sliced lengthwise into 4 slabs
  • 1/4 cup wheat-free tamari
  • 3 Tbsp filtered water
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp liquid smoke
  • 3 Tbsp grapeseed oil

For the Hollandaise sauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 3 Tbsp dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the fried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup coarse grind cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp whole fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 large vine tomato, cut into 4 slices approximately 1/2-inch thick
For the spinach
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups tightly packed baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 English muffins
  • Freshly ground black pepper and chopped fresh chives, for garnish

For the smoky tofu, press it for 30 minutes. Then mix the tamari, water, agave, and liquid smoke together and pour it over the tofu. Cover and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

For the Hollandaise sauce, in a small saucepan over medium heat, add coconut oil, brown rice flour, and turmeric and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook until a thick sauce has formed. Add almond milk and stir until smooth, then lower heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and stir in nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, and salt. Pass sauce through a fine mesh strainer and keep warm until ready to use.

For the fried tomatoes, in a bowl, combine cornmeal, fennel seeds, garlic powder, paprika, and salt until well combined. In a small sauté pan on medium heat, heat grapeseed oil. Dip the tomato in the cornmeal mixture and then sear one side of tomato until golden brown and crisp in the pan. Flip tomato and cook on other side for 1 to 2 minutes, then set aside. Repeat with others.

For the spinach, in a sauté pan over medium heat, heat grapeseed oil. Add garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until garlic just begins to brown. Add spinach and toss well to wilt. Add wine and cook until it evaporates. Season with salt and set aside.

To serve, toast English muffins until crisp. In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat grapeseed oil and sear both sides of tofu until lightly golden. Divide toasted English muffin slices equally between two to four plates. Top with spinach, fried tomatoes, and tofu. Ladle a generous amount of Hollandaise sauce over each, and garnish with pepper and chives.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Way Better Snacks & The Brooklyn Salsa Company

As healthy and pure as I try to be, I often find myself craving chips. So, when I noticed the Way Better Snacks chips showing up in all of my local grocery stores, I decided I'd give them a try. What I like about these chips is that they are, as they say, "simply sprouted." Sprouting has been known to enhance the bioavailability of nutrients and aid in digestion. So, what the Way Better people do is sprout the grains, beans, and seeds before using them in the chips enhancing their nutrient absorption levels. In comparing the ingredient lists on all of the bags, it appeared that each was very unique. The only overlap really was the organic sprouted quinoa. Oh, that's another thing, almost all ingredients are organic and all products are Certified Gluten-Free, Vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified, and Certified Kosher.

So then I contacted one of my favorite salsa companies, The Brooklyn Salsa Company, to see if they might be willing to send me six of their salsas to pair with the six bags of chips I was planning to try. They were! If you aren't familiar with The Brooklyn Salsa Company, you should get familiar with them soon and I mean on an upfront and personal basis. See, these salsas are different in that they are made by these guys in Brooklyn who blend small batch salsa with conscious methods utilizing locally sourced ingredients through organic farmers when possible and ensure direct trade when not.  Best of all, the ingredients are pure -- there are no artificial preservatives in any of the salsas. And they are all vegan and gluten-free.

Okay, so enough about all of that. Let's start the pairing. I started by pairing the Simply Sunny Multigrain chips with the Harvest salsa. The multigrain chips were neutral enough to allow the strong flavors of this amazing salsa/sauce shine through. I say "sauce" because many of these salsas are thick and flavorful enough to be used as sauces. I almost wished I hadn't started this review because I wanted to create recipes with the Harvest sauce as soon as I tasted it. It is a winter seasonal blend of butternut squash, coconut milk, and cinnamon that would be awesome on potatoes. It left me with a holy taste explosion in my mouth.  I found myself wishing that the chips were crunchier because the sauce was so thick, but I did really enjoy the texture of the sprouted grains.

Next, I tried the Simply Unbeatable Blues with the Mexico City-inspired Mild salsa. Again, I found the chips to be mildly neutral in taste while the salsa was filled with flavor. The mild salsa is made with a fresh blend of heirloom tomatoes, red and green peppers, mango, and jalapeno.

The Curry is a hot salsa made of charred red pepper and eggplant curry -- again, more like a sauce. This salsa was incredibly flavorful and delicious. If I could soak myself in a bath of this sauce, then eat my way out, I'd be a happy girl. I think it would make a great romesco-like sauce on top of asparagus, which is exactly how I plan to eat it next time. I paired it with another neutral chip -- the Naked Blues as I knew this salsa would have a bunch of flavor.

Next, I paired the Simply Sweeet (not a misspelling) Potato tortilla chips with The Green, a mild tomatillo-based salsa. This pairing really allowed the chips to shine. The sweet potato chips tasted uber good with their sprouted quinoa, sprouted chia seeds, pure salt, stone ground corn, high oleic sunflower or safflower oil, and sweet potatoes. A pure list of ingredients for good-for-you chips. These are a crowd pleaser.

Then, I tried the Simply Beyond Black Bean tortilla chips with The Tropical salsa inspired by Queens. I found the Tropical salsa to be similar in texture to the Harvest. It is made with orange juice, coconut milk, chili peppers, and cilantro so you get a varying mix of flavors. The black bean chips were a nice light flavor and had a nice crunch. They even sprouted the black beans!

Lastly, I tried the Simply So Sweet Chili chips with The Hot salsa. These were by far my favorite chips. They are packed with sweet chili flavor so they aren't hot, but incredibly flavorful. And the ingredient list is impressive: sprouted flax seed, sprouted quinoa, sprouted daikon radish seed, sprouted chia seed, sprouted broccoli seed, and seasonings. It was very hard to stop eating these chips. The Hot salsa was truly hot, which made me love it. I can't tell you how often I've bought a "hot" salsa that was not at all hot. The guys from NY do it right with heirloom tomatoes, mango, chili peppers, red bell peppers, onions, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, and sea salt.

So, in a nutshell, The Brooklyn Salsa Company's salsas took my breath away. That's how good they were...and I mean every one of them. To try them for yourself, click here.  And the Way Better Snacks are much better for you than your average chips. And the Sweet Chili chips can be eaten straight out of the bag - one bag per day. So, if you have a hankering for salty chips like I do, pick up a pack of these chips for a somewhat guilt-free snack. If only they were fat-free, they'd be perfect. :) If you can't find them locally, you can buy them here.  These products bring a new meaning to chips and salsa.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Restaurant Eve, DC

Seeking to continue to expand our palates for fine foods, our journey led us to the famed Restaurant Eve located in Old Town Alexandria, 30 minutes outside of downtown Washington, DC. Over the past six years, we had heard nothing but good things about Restaurant Eve and having read the reviews including Tom Sietsma's 4 out of 4 rating, our expectations were extremely high.

The dimly lit Restaurant Eve sign was barely noticeable on the brick facade on this dark evening. As we peered down the alley lined with lanterns, we noticed the painted green bricks and realized this was the road that would lead us to Eve. It was already beginning to feel like an adventure. Upon entering the restaurant, we were told to take a seat outside of the beautiful wine cellar that was clearly visible through the glass panes. And, soon enough, we were whisked away by the hostess as she showed us to our seats.

Now, if I'm going to trek outside of DC for a nice meal, I'm going to go all out. So, instead of dining in their Bistro, which is the general dining area, Zach and I chose to dine in the Tasting Room, their even more upscale restaurant inside their upscale restaurant. We were seated in the middle of the room in large, plushy armchairs facing some sort of bar/station that the waiters and sommelier are stationed at. I felt like we were at the least private of all of the tables in this small room, but I wasn't going to complain about it. After all, we were expecting an amazing experience regardless of the seating arrangements so I convinced myself that it would be just fine. I will say though that we really did not like the large armchairs as it made it difficult to get up close and personal and to have a personal conversation. In fact, there were some dramatic setups throughout the Tasting Room of plush, high-backed chairs that seemed suitable for royalty. The Tasting Room, and presumably the entire restaurant, was very traditional in decor with brick fireplaces, candelabras, and old-fashioned furniture. It was very classy in a classic sort of way.

As we began looking at the drink menus, we were informed that it would be 25 minutes before the meal would begin. Our server encouraged us to order a drink in the meantime. So, I started with the "What Happened to the Party?" Cute name for a great drink. It was made with sauvignon blanc, Boyd and Blair vodka, cardamaro, fennel, white pepper, lemongrass, and grapefruit bitters.

As we were handed the food menus, the server acknowledged that he knew we'd be dining vegan and encouraged us to choose from the regular menu as anything could be modified he said. Huh?! We took a look at the menu and it was very meat- and cheese-heavy. Not only that, but this remark made it seem like the chef had not given any thought to the vegan menu for tonight and was planning to just wing it, which did not sit well for either of us. After deciding not to ask if I could have the foie gras done vegan in a smart ass sort of way, I politely handed the menus back to the server and told him we'd be having the 7-course degustation with courses chosen by the chef with wine pairings. I refused to sit here and ask a million questions about a menu that was clearly not designed for us.

And so it began. We were brought an amuse bouche of crusted pickles, jam with shallots, and butternut squash with pine nuts. The pickles and jam were fine while the butternut squash clearly stood out as the winner in this trio. This is the point at which I began to become concerned as in a restaurant like this, I was expecting to be blown away from the first bite...and clearly, I wasn't.

Next, we were served a palate cleanser -- a grapefruit sorbet with fennel pollen.

Finally, as an end to the gifts from the chef, we were brought a quinoa and kale soup with micro cilantro in a tomato-based broth. This soup was very good. And after these three small "courses," we would now begin our journey into the culinary delvings of Chef de Cuisine, Jeremy Hoffman.

For our first course, we were served a tempura of matsutake mushrooms with celery caper relish. It was very good, but I was expecting a little more creativity for the first dish. Granted it isn't easy to find matsutake mushrooms in DC, but it is easy enough to get them from Pennsylvania. The wine pairing that was introduced by the sommelier was a white Adegas dos eidos ‘Eidos de Padriñán’, Albariño 2011 from Rias Biaxas, Spain.

The second course was a roasted butternut squash with apples and a harissa vinaigrette. It was fine, but again, not very exciting. It was paired with Cantina del taburno, Taburno, Falaghina 2011 (Foglianese, Italy). A very nice pairing.

The third course consisted of grilled carrots, carrot puree, and housemade kimchi from daikon radish. We were very impressed with this dish. The wine pairing of the Pinot Gris from Chehalem Vineyards in Willamette Valley was perfect.

By this point, I started asking questions about the chef and was told he had no formal culinary training. In fact, he had just picked up these techniques by traveling to different countries and working with other chefs. Pretty impressive.

For the fourth course, we were served roasted sunchokes in smoked eggplant puree with smoked lentils. This dish was so-so. The wine pairing was Brooks ‘Janus’ Pinot Noir 2010 (Willamette, Oregon).

The fifth course was a grilled rutabaga with young chives in a roasted cippolini onion broth topped with sweet potato leaf and oyster mushrooms paired with a Mauritson Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Healdsburg, California).

The sixth course consisted of poached pears with red miso and Bob's walnuts topped with a sorrell leaf. It was paired with Selbach-oster Spätlese, Riesling 2009 (Mosel, Germany).

As a palate cleanser, we were served vanilla poached apples with honey. I asked if it was real honey and they said it was to which I replied that we don't eat honey. They apologized and took it back and returned with one without honey. Now normally, this would not bother me. But, I made these reservations two months ago and spoke to them three times regarding my dietary preferences to which I clearly expressed that we did not consume honey, which made this most disappointing. The dish without honey, however, was very nice.

Lastly, this is where the pastry chef, Joshua Jarvis, really shined. We were served dark chocolate with a chocolate sorbet, prunes, and orange. It was extremely rich and incredibly good. I have to say that this was the best course of the night. The pairing was a sweet wine -- La Giaretta Recioto della Valpolicella Classico, Corvina / Rondinella 2005 (Valpolicella, Italy).

Lastly, another gift from the chef -- an apple sorbet, brittle, and an apple jelly.

Despite how nice all of this sounded, I was really never wow'd in the same way I was when I dined at Cityzen and Rogue 24, which are at similar price points. So, in the end, we were disappointed. We were disappointed because the meals were priced at $135 per person plus $85 for the wine pairing not to mention the $14 cocktails we started off with, which made it about $600 for two with tip and with a meal priced that high, I would have expected him to concoct a special vegan menu for us in the same way that Cityzen and Rogue 24 did. But, they did not. Instead, they modified existing dishes and came up with dishes on the fly, which, while impressive, is not as impressive as it might have been had they thought it through ahead of time.  Don't get me wrong, the food was great, but not $600 great.

I will say that the sommelier did an incredible job in explaining the dishes and the drink pairings. In fact, we thought all of the wine pairings were great. The service was very good as well. But, in the end, it was overpriced for what it was. If you are vegan and are trying to find a very special restaurant, I would recommend Cityzen or Rogue 24 over Restaurant Eve. Unfortunately, I do not think we'll be back.

Restaurant Eve
110 South Pitt Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 706-0450

Restaurant Eve on Urbanspoon