That's what I told James before his final departure to his new home in Austin. We considered going to dinner at Blue Nile, and Ethiopian restaurant we have both been wanting to try. But, after I found out that the bread was not vegan friendly, and practically all of ethiopian food is consumed with assistance from the bread, we opted out of that plan. After some consideration, I decided that I wanted to make a special meal for the two of us. It was looking to be a beautiful weekend, so we decided a picnic was in order. I planned a wonderful 4-course meal, inspired by the abundance of spring offerings.
First, the "appeteaser" as we found ourselves calling it. An assorted mix of yummy things, consisting of (from top, going right) wedges of lavender pizzette from Tafia, mixed salted nuts and beans, Quinoa Almond Creme that I bought in Paris and have been waiting to try, dates, and shaved 90% chocolate. Everything paired really well together. The Quinoa Almond Creme was more bitter than I expected, but went nicely with the pizzette.
First course was a vanilla poached pear salad. Fresh mixed greens from the farmers market, bartlett pears poached in vanilla infused white wine, thinly siced red onions, golden raisins, and a light dressing of cider vinegar, olive oil, and a bit of soy yogurt. This went paired excellently with our bottled of Freys table white wine.
Second course was a pasta dish with my favorite spring vegetables. Brown rice noodles, tossed with sauteed baby artichokes, asparagus, olive oil, lemon, thyme, parley, and a bit of nutritional yeast. Very fresh, and light. I accidently burned some of the artichokes, so they were a little bitter, but they balanced well with the sweet asparagus. If you are jonesing for a taste of spring, try this dish.
Last, but not least, dessert. Soy based gelato with almonds and two lemon cookies. The gelato is made by Trentino Gelato, a local gelato and sorbet maker in Houston. They serve it at Tafia, so I was able to get some after work one night. It is so smooth, you can hardly tell it is soy based. The cookies are also lovely. Soft and sweet, with a tangy lemon flavor.
And there you have it. A beautiful spring meal, enjoyed sitting in the shade, watching bikers, joggers, walkers, and strollers get their daily dose of activity while we ate with abandon and shared a bottle of wine. Who could ask for more?