1 of the Top
There is a recent dish that made my Top 10, and it is deceptively simple. I am sure when I try to re-create it at home, it is not going to be as good. The dish sounds incredibly simple. The dish is grilled asparagus on top of chevre, and topped with with sliced radish, mint, and bread crumbs. This dish has the perfect texture combination of smooth from the chevre, toothy from the asparagus and the crunch from the radish and bread crumbs. The dish has the perfect flavor of creamy from the chevre, acid brightness from lemon, pungent bite from the radish, and the salty/peppery-ness from the salt, pepper and good olive oil. The version of this dish I tasted was so good, that I literally licked the plate. This dish tasted good because the base ingredients were really good. I am guessing the chevre was from one of the local goat cheese farms near Nashville, the asparagus and radishes were form a local farm, and the bread crumbs are made by Tandy Wilson, and his bread crumbs are so friggin' good, and possibly the best bread crumbs you can get! I cannot duplicate the bread crumbs. I can guess where the radishes are from, and I can get excellent radishes from the Barefoot Farmer. I do have some single source, organic, California grown, olive oil I can use. I think the bread crumbs are going to be the ingredient I will have to research, to be able to get the crunchy, toasty and nuttiness that you get with a Tandy Wilson bread crumb.
A few weeks ago, Tandy Wilson, Chef and Owner of City House, and multiple year James Beard nominated Chef, invited Steven Satterfield, Chef and Co-Owner of Miller Union Atlanta, and also a James Beard nominated Chef, to cook a special multi-course dinner to celebrate Satterfield's new book Root to Leaf (2015). This asparagus dish is on page 10 of the cook book. This is a break through cook book for me. I am an omnivore, and sometimes I struggle with getting enough fruits and veggies into my diet. Root to Leaf is cook book that puts veggies and fruits as central elements to the dishes, rather than meat. There are recipes which include meat, and there are also vegetarian, vegan dishes as well. The recipes are organized by season, so it is easy to look to see what is fresh and good to eat now. This is quite helpful now that the Nashville Farmer's Market is a producers only market, and is only selling what is seasonally harvested. I am looking forward to winter when I have a house load of kale, root veggies and butternut squash as my veggie base. I can only make so much butternut squash soup and sauteed kale.
The Root to Leaf cook book is really great for me because I have been a bit turned-off by vegetarian and vegan dishes of my past. I came to learn about vegan and vegetarian foods in the 1990s, in Western MA where I was taught that the main-stay vegan dish was beans and rice with bee pollen sprinkle. I did not eat a lot of meat back then because I could not afford it, and college cafeteria had the worst, bottom quality Ar@m@rk meat. The burgers had hard chunks in them like bone chips, the "veal" pucks were more breading and soy than veal (and corporate veal is a complete no-go for ethical treatment of livestock), and the chicken patties were more deep fried breading and chicken by-products than chicken. All the veggies on the hot-line were canned. Canned peas, corn, carrots, and potatoes were on every menu. The canned peas and carrots were so slimy mushy and yucky, that I cannot eat canned carrots or peas even now. That cafeteria food made me sluggish and it made me not want to eat meat. There was an alternative to cafeteria food, and it was called "Earth Foods" at the student common. "Earth Foods" everyday has a bean and rice dish, everything was this brownish/grey color, and everything had a texture of a think gloppy paste. It didn't taste great, the texture was mushy terrible, but it also did not make me feel sick to my stomach like the crappy highly-processed yuck at the cafeteria. I said to myself, when I can afford better food, I was never going to eat vegan brownish/grey beans and rice pasty mush ever again.
I am looking forward to diving into Root to Leaf and start a new relationship with veggie and fruit based dishes which taste good, have a good texture and are pleasant to look at. I need to change my mind and bring it to the present, and believe vegetarian and vegan food doesn't have to be brownish-grey mushy pasty beans and rice. Veggie foods can be tasty, crunchy, smooth, bright, and plate licking good.