Monday, April 02, 2012

I am no Caroline Ishii :(

Almost two weeks ago, Kyle and I FINALLY made it out to Zen Kitchen. It was embarrassingly too long - only more embarrassing was the fact that it was also our first date in more than four years! But I digress. Between watching them open their restaurant on the W network series to dealing with nursing and the allergy situation, we finally had a chance to go!

We were pretty happy to have a reservation. It was good to see how busy it was! The service was awesome, and I was really impressed how everything flowed. We never had to wait between courses - it flowed beautifully.

We decided to go with the chef's tasting menu. We would have several courses and had no idea what we would be brought! It was exciting! Mainly for me, since most vegan restaurants in Ottawa are self-serve, thereby eliminating the suspense. Also, unless something has changed in the last couple of years, I don't think they are all vegan - just vegetarian. So it was great to be able to eat everything off the menu!

Things got started with an amuse-bouche consisting of a cracker with crème fraiche with pickled ginger. Then a smoky mushroom soup, followed by a beet and lentil risotto. Our main consisted of a harvest vegetable pie with grilled lettuce and radicchio. Finally, we finished things off with a pecan pie topped with coconut ice cream. It was heavenly! We could have licked the plates. Kyle also had the wine pairing and he tried some awesome wines. Given the we are not wine connoisseurs at all, it was great that Dave educated us. Kyle was served Colaneri wine, and after he finished it, the winemaker herself presented him with an invite to their winery! It was a very cool experience!

I have to admit that I was eating so many things that Kyson is allergic to, and I felt guilty for it. Soy, legumes, nuts and coconut were prevalent in so many dishes and while it was great to eat them, I was sad that Kyse is missing so much and that our diet isn't as exciting as it could be.

In any case, I thought I'd like to try to replicate the risotto. 'Try' is the operative word here. It was tasty, but not like Zen Kitchen's - lentils aside.

Beet Risotto

5 beets, scrubbed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
3/4 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups broth
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp salt
8 ounces seitan, finely diced

Wrap each beet in foil, place on a cookie sheet and roast for 1 1/2 hrs at 425 degrees. Once cool, unwrap, peel skin and chop. Set aside. (note: I did this the day before).

In a pressure cooker, sauté onions and garlic in oil for about 5 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat, about 1 minute. Add wine, stirring. Add broth, salt, pepper and marjoram. Lock lid into place and bring to high pressure. Once at high pressure, cook for 5 minutes.

Release pressure quickly. Stir in beets and seitan and warm everything through. Serve!

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