I've said it before and I'll say it again: Philip Gelb's dinner concerts are one of the reasons I love living in the Bay Area. I mean, where else will you eat 5 courses of locally-sourced, lovingly made, and insanely delicious vegan food AND enjoy a performance by some of the best musicians alive today, all in an intimate setting and for a very reasonable price? Nowhere, my friends. Philip's events are it, and I can't recommend a night spent with him more highly.
Yesterday's food was some of the best I've had in a long while, starting with the pea soup, above. The addition of pureed sweet potatoes, cashew "cream" and red miso made this way better than your traditional split pea, and the fresh whole peas and daikon shoots really balanced out the deep savory notes. A perfect way to start the meal, especially on such a chilly evening.
Next up was this amazing salad of baby romaine, string beans, fava beans, and 2 types of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans (check RG out if you haven't already!) with a sun-dried tomato and herb vinaigrette that was to die for. Not pictured was the Arizmendi baguette which I used to sop up every last drop of that dressing. Seriously tasty stuff!
The third course was the most surprising to my taste buds as the cherry dipping sauce was distinctly Indian in flavor and SO much better than any chutney or sauce you can find in a can or jar. The subtle hint of fresh cherry in the sauce was divine and perfectly complimented the cherry-roasted tempeh, wild rice, and root vegetable puree in the collard roll. Genius.
The fourth course was homemade tofu with mushrooms, asparagus and lotus root tempura, and chrysanthemum greens in a mustard dashi (Japanese soup stock). This earthy dish was so well-composed - as though maestro Gelb was conducting a symphony of ingredients as a prelude to the concert portion of the evening. The harmonious flavors certainly had me prepared for some music!
Stuart Dempster, along with his trombone and a slew of other toys, was the evening's pre-dessert entertainment, and entertain he did. Using the event space sonically, and even interacting with the street noise outside a bit, he demonstrated beautifully the relationship between performer and audience, silence and sound, and musician and instrument. When he put down the trombone to roam the room with an auditory garden hose, we were all entranced, including the chef:
After Stuart ended his performance with some gorgeous pvc-pipe playing (and a little help from the audience), we all gave thanks for his gift to us, and settled in for an edible gift from Cori (Phil's partner in crime) in the form of dessert:
Nothing better than chocolate cake I say....
... except for chocolate cake with raspberry rhubarb filling and cherry ice cream! Even my husband, who admittedly has no sweet tooth whatsoever, devoured his dessert. Cori really outdid herself with this cake - and there was no refined sugar (all maple, baby) to be found. Light yet decadent, it was a heavenly way to end another magical evening with In the Mood for Food. Seriously, if you live in the Bay Area, you must check out one of Philip's events pronto!
I'll be checking back in on Thursday with a full report on a restaurant getting rave reviews and which I've wanted to try for a long, long time. Meanwhile, have a fantastic week everyone...