vegetarian

Pop-Up, Polar, & Pokémon Worlds

The new weekend vlog is here!  We mostly just shopped, but there’s a lot of good stuff in here, including the Littleburg Pop-Up I gushed about earlier this week.

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Littleburg Pop-Up

If you know me, you’ll know I love a good food pop-up.  If you know my fiancé, you’ll know that he will not eat at restaurants labelled “vegan.”  This weekend might have changed his mind, though!

Matt’s coworker’s boyfriend is a talented chef who hosted a pop-up at The Local Fare in Arlington this past weekend.  Littleburg Vegetable Kitchen offered veggie burgers, two sides, and two desserts.  We ordered everything and regret nothing.

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They coursed the meal out for us and we started with the summer vegetable salad of heirloom beans, almond dressing, polenta chips, and herbs.  Man, this was so good!  It had such a satisfying crunch and fresh taste.  Along with that we had the broccolini in a blanket with cashew ricotta and spicy tomato sauce.  This was like a broccoli quesadilla and I was so impressed by the “cheese.”  It felt like I was eating dairy, which obviously I loved!  This was actually my favorite thing I ate, I think.  Matt ate the sauce straight out of the container after we were done with the broccolini in a blanket, so that’s saying something.

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We then split the veggie burger.  I’ve never seen Matt eat a veggie burger, let alone enjoy one this much!  The spices gave it a bit of an Indian taste, and the vegetable toppings were super fresh.  I might have been obsessed with the thick slice of tomato.

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Finally, we had two amazing desserts that blew my mind.  How were these vegan?!  There was the chocolate mousse and Kimball Farm blueberries with shortcake and whipped cream.  Usually, I’m not one to eat dessert without chocolate but I may have actually liked this blueberry dish better?  Honestly, I can’t tell.  I loved them so much and I would never have known these were vegan.

This is 100% a meal I need to repeat.  I’ll be on the lookout for more Littleburg pop-ups, as this was his first, and you should be too!

MasterChef: Heads Up

The 8 remaining home cooks walk into the MasterChef kitchen this week and are greeted by two sets of large boxes: one labeled “vegetables” and one labelled “meat.”  This team challenge is captained by last week’s winners, Hetal and Tommy.  They’ll be cooking for 50 people dining in the MasterChef kitchen.

Tommy gets the first pick for his team and surprised everyone when he picks the urban gardener himself, Stephen.  Hetal snatches up Derrick for her pick.  Tommy then selects Katrina for his team.  Hetal picks Olivia.  Tommy takes Nick to complete the red team, and Claudia goes over to Hetal’s blue team.  Then they open the boxes.  Stephen is particularly happy at the beautiful plethora of fresh veggies.  Hetal is too, but she’s even happier when they open the meat box… which is empty!  That’s right, it’s the first ever MasterChef vegetarian challenge!

For the vegetarian diners, the team’s create:

IMG_8883Captain of the blue team, Hetal, has a definite direction.  She’s the vegetarian and should have this challenge on lock.  She goes Indian, but her team is unfamiliar with the flavors, thus can’t get enough direction from her.  The rice goes wrong, but the plate looks beautiful when all is said and done.

His teammates’ suggestions form the dish, Tommy finds his voice with the red team eventually.  (Read: he straight up tells Katrina to shut up.  And she does!)  Service goes particularly well with Tommy heading up plating, and he leads his team to victory! He even gets a smile out of Stephen when he plants a kiss on his cheek.

Bad day for the vegetarian.  And it’s about to get even worse.

The pressure test is the polar opposite.  Hetal, Derrick, Claudia, and Olivia find themselves in front of four different sized boxes.  Hetal’s reveals a sheep’s head, Derrick’s a halibut’s, Claudia’s a pig’s, and Olivia’s a horrifying cow’s.  Something from these heads must feature in each of their dishes.

This unlikely friendship was a supreme delight!

This unlikely friendship was a supreme delight!

Hetal is clearly uncomfortable, but with the lamb she’s actually gotten her best option.  She’s dissected a sheep’s head, she notes, but lamb is also pretty common in Indian cuisine, where she’s comfortable.  Derrick has probably the easiest one to work with, but with a short cooking time and Derrick’s tenacity, many expect him to overthink it.  He mentions smoked mango balls when the judges’ come asking, setting off Tommy and Stephen into snickers.  Claudia is beyond confident with pork being so important to her culturally.  She’s roasted whole pigs and has a plan of action.  Olivia is not a natural fit for a cow head, but she too formulates a plan and attempts something with the confidence of a MasterChef.

Here are the results:

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  • Hetal is always miraculously able to do wonderful things with meat, but Gordon thinks the other elements on the plate are confusing.
  • Derrick did overthink it, but the halibut is cooked perfectly.  The rest of plate’s components are doubled-up.
  • Claudia knocks it out of the park.  Christina just loves it.
  • Gordon notes Olivia’s dish looks like it came out of a bistro, but there’s no way of telling what the meat is… and that is the point of the challenge.

Olivia is sent packing.  It’s sad, because Olivia has been a pure joy to watch.  She’s grown a lot and made some very impressive dishes.  She leaves with more confidence than ever, saying the journey– the time spent with Gordon, Graham, and Christina– was really the reward.

Who do you think will be next to go?!

Dinner at Highland Kitchen

This winter has been a rough one.  I hadn’t really seen any of my friends since my birthday last month… we’ve all been hibernating a little.  Last Friday, we finally got out of our apartments for a good meal.  My friend Sarah chose Highland Kitchen in Somerville.  The cuisine, described as “Seasonal American Comfort Food,” was absolutely perfect for the rainy night.

We had a party of four, and we were all starving after our work days.  We heard the wait could be pretty intense, so we got there early, around 6:30.  We got seated immediately!  Within 15 minutes of being seated, the restaurant was packed and we were glad we got there when we did.

Everything that came out of the kitchen looked so, so good.  The cocktail menu was pretty overwhelming.  The winner was the elderflower margarita that Chelsea ordered, which was perfectly sweet and tangy!

We went ahead and ordered the buffalo fried brussel sprouts for an appetizer.  Man, these were delicious!  I’m a big fan of buffalo anything.  I make buffalo cauliflower at home fairly often, and would like to try to replicate a version of this sometime.

I ordered the pan roasted chicken which came with an herb gravy, sweet potato hash, and broccolini.  The chicken was super moist and cut like butter.  The sweet potato hash was the perfect side.

Sarah, the resident vegetarian, ordered a veggie burger and was over the moon about it.  She said it tasted like meat and thought it could be the best veggie burger she’s ever eaten.  Kelsey ordered the gumbo, which I had the opportunity to sample– its spiciness was perfect!

clockwise: ambiance @ Highland Kitchen, elderflower margarita, buffalo brussel sprouts, & my delicious pan roasted chicken!

clockwise: ambiance @ Highland Kitchen, elderflower margarita, buffalo brussel sprouts, & my delicious pan roasted chicken!

Finally, after reading rave reviews about the banana bread pudding, we decided to order it for dessert to share.  I usually only eat chocolate desserts, but I’m a huge fan of bananas foster and that’s exactly what this tasted like!

my favorite part of the meal-- dessert!

my favorite part of the meal– dessert!

This bread pudding was super light and airy, drenched in warm caramel and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Chelsea confessed she doesn’t even like bananas but loved the dessert.  The wait staff was nice and let us stay and chat without pressuring us to move on.  We all left extremely full and extremely happy!

I’d love to go back to Highland Kitchen– there’s a lot more on the menu I want to try!  I definitely suggest checking this place out!

My friends and I are looking forward to nicer weather so we can get out to more new spots.  We typically need them to be vegetarian-friendly– suggestions always appreciated!

{photos via iphone5 // all opinions are my own}