Ah the eternal struggle of being a vegetarian. Every restaurant has some cool, new exciting and innovative dish that they want everyone to try. But alas, it generally always ends up having some sort of meat or fish in it. Where are the exciting invites to go try out the secret sauce for some chargrilled Brussels sprouts? Or a restaurant’s over the top mac and cheese?? Or some new earth-shattering Thai green bean stirfry??? Alas these invitations never come and I continue to tag along as the weird vegetarian friend to less enticing events, like tasting a five course meal prepared by culinary prodigy as a fundraiser for children’s nutrition. Sigh. Never mind. I guess these events are pretty cool. Even as a vegetarian.
This week’s vegetarian adventure took me to Recipe House for the January Chef Surprise dinner. The meal was prepared by Chef Omar Pereney, who at the prime age of 20 is opening up a restaurant in Houston, Peska Seafood Culture, after having a totally mediocre, average childhood which included cooking professionally at 12, hosting a cooking show at 15, and teaching at Le Cordon Bleu at 18. It’s like whatever. Totally normal.
Anyways, being in a situation where you are expected to eat copious amounts of meat may cause some vegetarians to be uncomfortable. But I see it as a growing opportunity to learn the ways of meat eaters. Here is what I ate (or didn’t) and what I learned:
What I didn’t eat: Fire & Ice Chocolate Clams (Grilled Clam with white wine butter and portobella mushrooms and Crudo (raw) Clam with a lime vinaigrette, red onion, and cilantro)
What I learned: Clams can be described as chocolate, but not taste like chocolate. They used to be illegal. They can be served grilled and raw. Salt sometimes camouflages as ice. There are tiny forks in the world that exist for the sole purpose of eating clams.
What I didn’t eat: Ceviche Duo (Tuna with watermelon, orange jam, and herbs and Striped Bass Tiradito with cucumber, red onion, yuzu and mixed salt)
What I learned: That raw tuna with watermelon is apparently the best thing ever. It was described as the “gateway drug” of raw fish. Everyone at the dinner seemed to be #TeamTuna. This course is what the chopsticks was for. Also the jalopeno on the Tiradito was phenomenal.
What I didn’t eat: Tostadas (Tuna Tostada with citrus soy, red onion jam, chipotle mayo and crispy leeks and a Scallop Tostada with a smoky vinaigrette, avocado cream and cilantro)
What I learned: Seafood is the prettiest thing plated. Red onion jam is delicious. I am very good at sneakily shifting food from my plate to someone else’s.
What I didn’t eat: Daily Catch of grilled striped bass with sauce trainera and roasted veggies
What I learned: Apparently, people can eat a whole lot of seafood in one sitting. Carrots taste better when they still have the green part attached. Radishes are totally coming back in style. CALLING IT NOW.
What I ate: Shortcake with marscapone vanilla cream, berries compote, and basalmic glaze basil
What I learned: Two servings of this gourmet dessert is better than one. #noshame
What I ate: Dragon’s Kiss Cream Cookies
What I learned: You can never take too many pictures of yourself eating something dipped in liquid nitrogen.
Shout out to Recipe House for hosting such a cool event. The House is apart of Recipe for Success that is a foundation set out to teach children about nutrition and eating healthy. They fundraise and do Chef Surprise Dinners every month. The February dinner is featuring Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar, Brandi Key of Coppa Osteria and Punk’s Simple Southern Food. In March, they’re sponsoring a Veg Out campaign to challenge people to eat more vegetables. They also have tons of volunteer opportunities whether it’s in the classroom with the kids, at their events or at the farmer’s market. I know I’ll be participating in the 30 Day Veg Out Challenge. Will you?