Monday, September 22, 2014
The Roaming Spoon's Vegan Farm-to-Fork Dinner
I was really excited about Sacramento's farm-to-fork movement when I first heard about the concept. I thought it would be all about the fabulous fruits and vegetables that are available year-round from small farms in our region.
Not so much. "Farm-to-fork" seems to have morphed into what I call "ranch-to-fork," complete with pig roasts to feed the masses, while expensive meat-centric meals are served to the elite in an annual dinner that takes place on the Tower Bridge. Special farm-to-fork meals are available during Restaurant Weeks in trendy eateries all over town, but I've seen very few vegan options on any of those menus. I was beginning to think I was going to have to sleep through September, just waking up in time for the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge in October.
But then Chef Sylvanna Mislang of The Roaming Spoon came through with a six-course vegan farm-to-fork pop-up dinner, and my month was saved.
The Roaming Spoon's pop-up dinners are intimate gatherings, with no more than twelve diners sitting together at one long table. The location varies, with diners informed by email on the day of the event about where the dinner will be held. The cuisine is always vegan, and if you want wine with your meal, you bring it yourself.
Last night's dinner was held at The Mill in midtown. Guests were welcomed with a pear and champagne cocktail and mingled briefly until the dinner began. Chef Syl came out at the beginning of each course to introduce the dish that was being served.
The first course was a trio of roasted peppers, dressed with lemon and served with tiny edible flowers and a line of smoked salt. Only the bravest people at the table ate the small fiery red peppers, but everyone enjoyed the flavors of the other peppers in the trio.
Next, we had a salad of avocado, shaved carrot strips, arugula, and black salt. The produce for this and all the menu items was incredibly fresh and seemed to have been picked at its peak, probably due in no small part to the expertise of Chef Syl, who works in the produce department of Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and has built relationships with the proprietors of several local farms.
The third course was a huge favorite with the assembled guests. It consisted of zucchini ribbons, cherry tomatoes, microgreens, basil, and the pièce de résistance -- "meatballs" made from eggplant, white bean paste, and Panko crumbs. They were the best vegan meatballs I've ever eaten, and judging from the comments around the table, I'm not the only person who thought so.
Our next course was a cheese plate, with crostini slices, a wedge of deliciously creamy cashew cheese, and grapes. So good!
Our cheese plate was followed by a palate cleanser, consisting of bites of sweet cantaloupe topped with a "caviar" of tapioca soaked in watermelon juice.
Dessert was a lovely crème brûlée made of almond milk, sugar, and kaffir leaves. It provided a superb ending to a fabulous meal.
This was the second Roaming Spoon dinner I've attended, and I would happily attend many more. If you haven't had one of these special meals yet, I strongly recommend that you treat yourself to this unique experience soon.
More information about The Roaming Spoon is available at http://theroamingspoon.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theroamingspoon916. You can also follow The Roaming Spoon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/theroamingspoon.