A Baker's Dozen of Vegan Courses
The goal was simple: serve my dad, an avowed meat eater, a meal so mind-blowingly delicious that he wouldn't even notice that there wasn't a single animal product included. (If you count the amuse and the mignardise and the pre-dessert, it was more like 13 courses.)
Tony Preps the First Course
The open kitchen at Craigie on Main makes a meal at the kitchen-side counter seats equal parts theater and restaurant.
Trio of Dashi-Marinated Vegetables
Three different winter vegetables simmered in a vegan dashi: Fennel with Alfonso olive puree and pistachios, radish with yuzu-tofu coulis and nori, and celery with a beet-pomegranate coulis. When Maws said "tofu," I thought the gig was going to be up immediately, but my dad didn't flinch.
Semi-Dried Vegetables, Sprouts, and Shoots
Chewy, meaty semi-dried matsutake mushrooms and sweet potatoes with a black garlic puree and a lemon vinaigrette.
Fresh Garbanzo Hummus
Fresh green garbanzo beans with plenty of garlic and cilantro pureed into an ultra-light hummus flavored with extra-virgin olive oil and miso powder. The cucumbers on the side are very lightly pickled and served with bloomed chia seeds.
Crispy Soba Noodle Salad
Soba noodles with the light crunch of raw ramen (who doesn't like eating raw crunchy ramen?), with pea greens, radishes, shiso salt, an edamame puree, and a mango vinaigrette. Dad still hasn't registered that we haven't consumed a single animal product yet.
Grilled Leeks Vinaigrette
A hot version of the classic French dish, this one comes with a miso vinaigrette, Tennessee black truffles (yep, they got truffles in Tennessee), sunflower sprouts, walnut oil, and some crunchy fried leeks.
Grilled Avocado and Hearts of Palm
Now things are starting to get really substantial. I've never thought much of hot avocado, but it worked stunningly well here with charred hearts of palm that get an almost corn-like sweetness. Grilled olives, preserved lemon, and a spiced artichoke puree complete the dish.
Fried Garnet Yam
I'm a sucker for good fried sweet potatoes or pumpkin—I love the textural contrast between the crisp coating and the tender, sweet interior. A vadouvan-spiced tofu-based mayonnaise came on the side for dipping.
Yellow Split Peat Miso Soup
Yet another use of miso, a great ingredient for adding savory backbone to a vegetable dish. A shower of Tennessee truffle finishes the simple soup.
Beet Bowtie Pasta
The bright red bowtie pasta came with pistachios and red peas. Pasta and grains come together in a thoroughly modern (and vegan) take on kasha varnishkes.
Tony with the Main Course
Tony brings out the final course to show to us pre-carving. It's a whole king oyster mushroom, marinated in chile, and slow-grilled.
Grilled Chile-Marinated Whole King Oyster Mushroom
Sliced and served in medallions, it came with a mushroom jus, bok choy, kasha, and a topping of crispy wild rice. A thoroughly satisfying final savory course.
Meyer Lemon Sorbet
A simple palate cleansing sorbet topped with a candied kumquat.
A coconut sorbet with a Valrhona chocolate sauce with a pourover of hot espresso. Luckily for me, I'm not that into sweets, but this might actually be the first vegan dessert outside of fresh fruit I've enjoyed.
Spiced Apple Cider
A fine hot drink to prepare us for a very cold Boston night.
Tonka bean caramel corn and spiced fruit truffles rolled in pistachio. This is the dish that brought the experience to a close. The next morning, I had milk with my coffee.