I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day weekend, whether it was spent at home or if you were able to getaway. My husband and I were able to getaway this year to Washington D.C. for a night and it was the most memorable Valentine's of my life. We stayed in the beautiful Hotel Zena, which is a boutique hotel in D.C. central that is dedicated to showcasing art created by women and promoting women who have dedicated their lives to making a difference-one of them being the Supreme Court Justice Associate Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. From the moment you walk into the hotel, you are flooded with such beautiful art and creativity, one of them being (and I'm so upset I didn't take a picture of this 😫) the reception desk showcasing designer women's heels 😍. If that doesn't scream boujee, then I don't know what does! We stayed in a beautiful modernized suite (that was also decorated in women inspired art) that was equipped with a Google Home system that helps you connect to the downstairs reception, a bathtub that could swallow me whole, and a spiralized shower.
Elizabeth's Gone Raw
For our Valentine's Day dinner, we had reservations at the beautiful and popular Elizabeth's Gone Raw, which is a fine dining restaurant in D.C. that only serves vegan cuisine. That's right all the food is vegan. This establishment is owned by Elizabeth Petty who, after a battle with breast cancer, started implementing plant based foods to achieve better health and well-being, and then came Elizabeth's Gone Raw. Only open Friday and Saturday nights, it's the perfect date night with your loved one-especially on Valentine's Day, with a six course meal (including dessert) and a wine pairing option.
Before our meal began, there was a special offer for Valentine's Day for some caviar (at an extra cost), which veganized is composed of seaweed and algae. I used to love caviar before I became vegan, and I cannot hype this up enough for it tastes EXACTLY like caviar. Coupled with a "creme fraiche", an assortment of crackers and toppings (capers, pickled relish, and pickles), and a glass of champagne- it was the perfect way to start the evening.
The official first course of the evening was a kohlrabi consomme, which for those of you who are unsure of what it is that's okay- I didn't know either until I had the waitress explain it to me. Kohlrabi is a type of root vegetable that's closely related to the cabbage family, and the consomme is composed of whipped cashew-soy cheese with sea pearls on top. The waitress explained to us how to properly eat it, by eating the consomme first, then we drank the broth underneath by using the kohlrabi as a cup. After the broth was gone, then we dug into our kohlrabi.
The second course was a mustard green soup accompanied with an artichoke chip and horseradish mint powder. I've never been a big fan of green soup, which is very ironic since I absolutely love green, leafy vegetables. However I believe it's the super raw, greeny taste that I get and I prefer more savory soups such as potato. This green soup was by far the best soup I've ever had in my entire life. I would drive the almost three hour drive back to this restaurant just to order some more of this amazing soup.
In between the second and third course, we were served delicious kale chips. I make kale chips on a regular basis, however I usually bake them in the oven and I also drizzle olive oil on them. Sometimes I overdo it on the olive oil (what can I say) and they become soggy. These kale chips are unique in that they were dehydrated to give them that special crunch, which you can actually do in your own home oven if it comes with that option. Seasoned with nutritional yeast (to add that cheesy flavor) and spiced with pepper, you won't believe these chips are a vegetable.
The third course was a roasted apple and caramelized onion noodle, which made you feel as if you were in a fine dining Asian restaurant for the technique and execution was filled with Asian influence. For example, on top of the noodles was, in fact, an egg yolk. That's right, a vegan egg yolk. When you cut into this yolk, as you would expect from an actual egg, it melted like liquid gold and acted as another sauce for your noodles. In addition with the egg yolk was a sous vide purple radish, a chestnut sabayon, and it was finished with shaved black truffles. Thankfully this portion was small for it was incredibly filling, however you will not want to put your fork down once you take one bite of these delicious noodles.
The next course was more of a palate cleanser, as it was a sauerkraut and celery sorbet drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled sea salt on top. I will say, this course was not my favorite as it threw me off to have a savory sorbet, however it did fulfill it's purpose and cleanse my palate. Funny enough, I actually thought this was dessert and was surprised when the next course below came.
This course was probably my favorite, as it really looked and felt like a steak dinner. Below is a lemon cured artichoke heart (on the left) with a smoked maitake mushroom "steak" (right), a parsnip espuma (bottom), charred romaine lettuce, with a green cardamom sauce. This meal, was indescribable. I'm not a big mushroom fan due to the gummy texture, however when I took a bite of this mushroom patty, it melted like butter in my mouth-I couldn't believe it. I've never had a more delicious way to eat mushrooms, I wish I knew how to make it at home for I would make it every day.
The second to last course was a variety of different soy-based cheeses along with an assortment of different crackers, jellies, and fruit. Before becoming vegan, I would eat cheese on a weekly basis and I actually thought giving up cheese would be the hardest part. I've had several different types of soy-based cheeses that I found in the store that were good, however these cheeses were so soft and melted in your mouth, they tasted like the real thing.
The sixth and final course was our dessert course which was a trio of cold pressed mandarinquats. I'm not a big fan of this family of fruits, so I was a little hesitant at first, however these mandarinquats were unique in that they were infused with other desserts. One of the mandarinquats was filled with pacari chocolate mousse, the other was filled with citron-ginger ice cream, and on the side was a black tea creme brulee. I've never had a fruit filled with anything before, in fact I didn't even hear of anything like this until that night. This was definitely the most creative dish, let alone dessert, that I've ever had and would highly recommend to anyone and everyone.
If you're on the fence to become vegan, however are afraid to give up your favorite foods, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to give anything up. In fact, instead of losing anything, you gain everything. You can find and make amazing alternatives that are much healthier and better for the environment, you just might need to conduct a little research. Now, you probably won't be able to make the foods look like this (I know I won't) but I know that I can support local brands and restaurants that are committed to proving to the world that vegan food is delicious. On that note, cheers my dears and good tidings for a fantastic year. 🕊🤍
For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.
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