Red & Black Café Benefit : Vegan Family Style Dinner
Date: July 21, 2007
On Saturday, July 21, 2007, Red & Black Café held its first of four Vegan Family Style Dinner as a benefit for their upcoming move and hopeful building purchase. You can read more about their forced move here. The posted menu featured four courses which included an appetizer, soup, main course, side dishes and dessert. The vegan chef was Aaron Adams, formerly of Junior’s Café’s vegan family style dinners.
I attended with a few friends, and sat at a long table, eating the fresh, craftily prepared food by candle light for 3 lovely hours. The courses were well spaced out, and served courteously and all garnished remarkably. There was complimentary herbal tea and coffee.
The first course was a simple and soul warming corona bean soup. The broth was clear, the greens were in nice, short pieces and the beans were gigantic and starchy. I could see myself eating this soup once a week, in my secret Italian village, during cooler months. My partner actually thought it was a bit bland, and some commented on exceptionally peppery bites, but I didn’t notice anyone putting their spoon down.
Salad was up next, an heirloom tomato, yellow watermelon, basil, and avocado mix with a light lemon viniagarette. I couldn’t taste the lemon, but the chunky bites were a nice step in the night, again nothing too fancy, but certainly more unique than your average salad. The sweet watermelon and basil pair up alone was impressive. The next course was a pissaldiere, – a moist whole wheat flat bread with fennel, delicious amaranth greens and olives, an excellent flavor combination, even if I’m guilty of picking off the fennel. I had never had amaranth greens before and am officially an admirer. When a second plate came around during the main course, eyes were lit.
This was followed by what was listed beforehand as spicy polenta crisps with red onion jam, and what was actually on the menu as polenta with red onion jam. The polenta came as reliable, creamy cornmeal squares, and the jam was extremely well received by my fellow diners.
The main course of stuffed zucchini arrived cozily in a small casserole dish. I like zucchini, but as you can buy enormous zucchinis for 50 cents at local farmers markets throughout the summer, I can’t say I was excited beforehand. However, with the previous, well-proportioned courses whetting and partially satisfying my appetite, the small, stuffed, succulent zucchinis were a tasty and not too heavy of a main course. The flavor was not as complex as the presentation, but that was really also a positive thing.The zucchinis were stuffed with a light tasting tomato/zucchini concoction and topped with a baked oregano cashew ricotta that everyone seemed to want more of. I liked it so much I’ve made it at home twice since then!
Athough a berry crisp was listed as dessert on the listing I had read beforehand, when we arrived only different dessert options were available for purchase on the menu. Eyeing the dessert choices throughout the meal, I was thrilled when we were told after the main course that dessert would be our choice and complimentary. I chose the dark chocolate cake with fresh fruit . Beautifully garnished with blueberries ad peaches, as well as being one heck of a large slice, I must say that between two of us, it wasn’t finished. It was honestly quite dense and somewhat dry, though overall edible. However, the other desserts at the table: the almond tart with fresh fruit and almond cream, and the espresso affogato with naked coconut ice cream, were both finished. The espresso affogato looking and tasting, according to my partner, like perfection.
I’m already signed up for next month’s dinner, on August 18th and hope you can make it as well.
Corona white bean soup with kale and collards
Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Address: 2138 SE Division St. Portland, OR 97202
Next Dinner: August 18, 2007