Sunday, June 13, 2010

Seitan Kibbe with Couscous Pilaf, Sumac Salad, and Avocado-Tahini Dressing

...sadly folks, no recipe, this was prepared for me BUT I figured I'd blog about it to inspire any of you incredible chefs out there!

Currently, I'm in Delafield, Wisconsin, a short drive away from Milwaukee and an even shorter one from Madison.  Last night, my beau and I drove to Milwaukee to meet Jeremy's father and his father's lady friend to listen to some music and grab some dinner.  The restaurant chosen was Roots : a hip, inventive and pricey restaurant, but with excellent food.  Roots is a member of the Slow Food Movement that advocates locally grown foods, the celebration of local cuisine, family farms, and a movement away from fast food among MANY other things (besides, well, eating slower).  Though they still support eating meat, at the very least they're against factory farms.  They're easy to find on the net--check 'em out!

I looked at the menu before I left, and with few but interesting, complex choices, I assumed there wasn't much if any vegan fare.  On the contrary!  When I asked our lovely waitress if either of the two entrees that seemed vegetarian were vegan, she said BOTH were!  She recommended the Seitan Kibbe, and I went for it, choosing to start the night off with a lovely red wine and a house salad.

True to form, the pace of the dinner moved slowly, and we were there for about two to two and a half hours, and had a LOVELY time.  The starters to the dinner were great--rather than bring out bread for the table, the waitress brought us "snacks," three little bowls filled with MORE vegan choices: various pickled vegetables (so yummy and clearly made there, with broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, green beans), chickpea nuts (first time I've had them--loved the texture, would have personally toyed around a bit with the spices and gave them a kick but hey, not everyone likes spicy!) and perfectly popped popcorn!  What healthy treats to bring out beforehand!

The salad I had was seemingly very simple but delectable, with some really fascinating tastes.  Greens can be so complex...

Finally, the Seitan Kibbe entree.  Though I took zero pictures last night (it felt like it would have been rude) I found great pics online quite close to what I actually ate (though of course the presentation at Roots was much fancier, though these photographers did a great job!).

Let's start with the was delicate and light.  However, I have never seen couscous with such large balls (as seen left). But I loved it.  Perfect consistency.

The seitan intrigued me.  I was almost ready to send it back when she set the plate in front of me, it looked SO much like some sort of roast.  By itself, it was good, but not blow-your-mind incredible.  My beau gave it a go and said that it was seasoned well (and knowing my beau, this implies he didn't like the texture).  But for a veg-head like me, the texture is familiar.  And, when I combined all the lovely tastes of the dish--the couscous, the yummy and not overwhelming avocado-tahini sauce featured on the side of the plate and not dressing the dish, the sumac salad which consisted of unknown yet tasty spices flavoring cukes and onions, and the seitan, I was quite, quite pleased.  As you can see above, I'm having difficulty finding an adjective for the concept of lightness and unassuming...ness?  But everything in the dish was simply a team, and nothing overpowered anything else.  

I left the restaurant having had not just food but an experience, so it seems that the Slow Foods Movement achieved it's goal with me last night:).

Now, unfortunately I must include a bit of a caveat.  I left last night satiated but slightly uncomfortable, and as time wore on my digestive system was PISSED.OFF and I won't lie, I looked prego.  I can't help but think it was because I ingested such large, concentrated sources of wheat gluten at one sitting (seitan=vital wheat gluten).  Which makes me wonder if I have a sensitivity to wheat, something I've also wondered in the past.  Either that or it simply was too much gluten at once.  I may have to try an elimination diet....

Keep on keepin' on with grace, peace, love, and wellness:).

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