Seven courses. Sweet!
Bento. Even better!
Vegan. Woo hoo?
To celebrate the official launch of HealthyBitchDaily.com, Breadbar in Century City held a book signing for Kim Barnouin (co-author of New York Times bestseller Skinny Bitch) and presented an extra-special vegan menu for the night formulated by Chef Noriyuki Sugie for only $30.
At the last minute, I convinced my vegetarian friend Rabecca to come with, threw on my wife beater featuring dachshunds eating a raw steak and hit Breadbar.
Breadbar, a non-vegan eatery featuring lots of breads with hidden eggs in them, made sure the evening had an auspicious start: Each Vegan Argonaut was offered a complimentary glass of vegan wine. Yes, it’s the same as regular wine. I chose a Syrah.
Course No. 1 – Watermelon gazpacho with tapioca pearls
Cynic, disbeliever, scoffer? That’s me. I really, really don’t like watermelon in any form except for the original and tend to stay away from watermelon drinks because they seem anemic.
Well, call me Davy Jones because I’m a believer now. There was a delicate, barely sweet watermelon flavor perfectly balanced with subtle saltiness. Oddly refreshing, and the granular quality was similar to tomato gazpacho — perhaps the two were mixed? The tiny pearls were more tender than the usual chewfest in bobas and didn’t overpower the flavor.
Kim Barnouin, a remarkably soft-spoken non-bitchy skinny bitch, was similarly taken with the gazpacho and said she would try to get the recipe to post on HealthyBitchDaily.com. Still waiting!
Course No. 2 & 3 – Broccolini bruschetta w/ kimchi; Smoky eggplant caviar hummus
The bruschetta was a bit of a letdown, creamy and bland. Oddly enough, the kimchi was similarly flavorless, and I had to point out to Rabecca that it had indeed been topped with slivers of the stuff. Ghost kimchi perhaps. Totally forgettable. The eggplant hummus was better, smoky and flavorful, although the bread was a bit mushy. Nothing exciting.
Course No. 4 – Seaweed salad, ginger, scallion-marinated tofu w/ white sesame vinaigrette
I expected the tofu to be fried, like how my mom does it, so it puffs up light, chewy and almost hollow. Instead, it was more like a block of tofu with a fried crust on it. Loved the nuttiness of the sesame dressing, and the seaweed was suprisingly subtle. A solid dish.
Course No. 5 – Kabocha squash soup with Asian pear, fried chickpea and thai basil pesto
I love curious textures and this soup became the second star of the evening for me because of it. Sure, it tasted great, but I just loved the contrast of the creamy, buttery squash on my tongue and the crispness of the pear and smoky crustiness of the chickpeas. Yummy pepitas too!
This time, I lucked out, and Healthybitchdaily does have the recipe. You have to scroll all the way down to the “Dinner for 60″ entry though. Kind of inconvenient.
Course No. 6 – Sweet potato okura, red curry quinoa, soy tzatziki
The flavors were fine together, but nothing exciting or special. Quinoa was cooked well though and the okra (it took me a while to figure out what “okura” was) added a bit of interest to the dish.
Course No. 7 – Mole chocolate risotto & avocado chocolate mousse
This was more interesting to me than pleasing, but not a bad effort. I felt that there were too many flavors taking away from the essential chocolate nature of the dessert. The risotto was inconsistently cooked — some mushy, some al dente — and had such a strong orange flavor, I thought there must be some sort of liqueur in it. I am not a fan of avocado at all, but luckily the mousse wasn’t very avocado-y, but enough to weaken the chocolate.
I was happy with the tart kumquat sauce and beets on the side though, as I felt these were more complementary to the chocolate.
Kim actually baked her own addition for us to bring home. What is it about vegan chocolate chip cookies I like so much? Those Trader Joe’s ones are killer. Anyway, Kim’s came with a nifty saying and once I tasted them, mmm. Buttery and salty, chewy and real, un-dumbed-down chocolate chunks.
Even better? She included the recipe.
I have always been open to vegan food and eat it quite often. I was hoping for a few revelations at this meal, and while everything was fairly tasty, only the gazpacho and soup were standouts for me. I love noodles, but it was refreshing to see the chef didn’t resort to the usual noodles as a course. I was, however, disappointed that mushrooms didn’t make an appearance anywhere.
The many courses did fill me up though, and with the addition of those cookies, I can’t see how anyone could leave without feeling satisfied.
10250 Santa Monica Boulevard
Century City, CA 90067