Saturday, May 22, 2010

Eat In Week: Vegan/Vegetarian Night

I would like to begin this post with a little story:

This year, Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day fell on the same day.  My roommate, my cousin, and I, decidedly NOT celebrating Valentine's Day, went to Congee Village to celebrate the New Year.  Well, it turns out that lots of people had the same idea.  While we were waiting for a table (it would be a long wait, we were told), we started chatting with some fellow diners, Mark and Jimmy.  When our names were called, so were theirs, and we ended up sitting at adjacent tables.  We chatted all through dinner about dumplings, congee, restaurants, and food in general, and exchanged information at the end of the night in the hopes of future joint adventures of the culinary persuasion.

Little did I know what kind of adventure this chance meeting would lead us to.

Mark emailed me a couple of days later to tell me about his weekly dinner parties at his apartment in Williamsburg.  Dinner party?  Williamsburg?  I wondered.  What kind of hipster gatherings were we talking about here?  I was skeptical, but intrigued, to say the least.

Several exchanges and scheduling conflicts later, I received a Facebook invitation to Eat In Week, hosted by Mark at his apartment.  Interest piqued, I quickly scanned the description.  Mark would be hosting a week-long series of dinner parties for friends and food lovers, a sort of counter to dining out for Restaurant Week, given these fickle financial times.  Each night would have a different theme and a different cook.

I was sold.  There was a website, a google spreadsheet, a guest list....  And the clincher?  He needed a cook for Vegan/Vegetarian night.  I signed us up (myself and my unsuspecting roommate) to cook and began to plan my menu.

And so, Eat In Week: Vegan/Vegetarian Night.

My goal for the dinner was simple: to make a delicious meal where diners would be unconcerned or even unaware that they were not eating meat or dairy.  To make sure that no one would feel as though they were missing out, because of the lack of meat.  To feed these people something tasty.

It turned out to be a wonderful dinner party.  Mark has a beautiful apartment with an unbelievable view, and he was the most gracious host.  He let me take over his kitchen and didn't even blink when I pulled out almost every kitchen utensil and appliance he had and made a mess.  In fact, he welcomed it, and even thanked me!

Our dining companions were equally sweet, heaping large portions of every dish onto their plates and mmm-ing as they ate (probably due to the fact that dinner was not served in the most timely fashion, but I'll take it!).  Even when dessert didn't come out quite right, everyone happily ate it up and even scraped their bowls.  I ask you, what more could a girl want?

First photo and photos below taken by Jimmy - check out his website here

working together in the kitchen

the beginnings of ratatouille and apple cake

bread, cheese, and beans to start

butter beans in olive oil with shallots

the beginnings of a kale panzanella

arugula, fennel, and chocolate salad

quinoa with oven-roasted tomatoes, tofu, and ramp pesto

ratatouille and kale panzanella

the spread

mangled apple cake - still delicious!


  1. Delicious! - Jimmy

  2. Great article by the way! - Jimmy

  3. in all of my watching, helping, and eating, i've never been so impressed by your cooking!! big WIN!

  4. When Brianna told me the tale of this enchanting evening my jaw dropped. Kat, this is so impressive! I wish I was there, you've really outdone yourself this time!

  5. Sounds like a great time,Kat. It made me recall all the dinner parties I used to go to in SF and wonder why we don't have more here outside of Boston. I'll have to work on that. The menun and presentation looked wonderful and I'm looking fwd to trying some of these recipes. I also liked reading your description of your friendship with Brianna. Keep up the good work.

  6. What a beautiful view and menu! I love how chance encounters can turn into friendships and fun times. The apple cake sounds awesome.