Vegetarian dish takes centre-stage at Vaudeville
I sometimes think that vegetarians get a rough deal. Unless you’re somewhere like India, it can be difficult to find interesting/thoughtful/tasty vegetarian food. Let’s face it, the world is set up around the preferences of people that regard a meal as falling a long way short if it doesn’t have at least 200 grams of some kind of flesh.
Generally speaking, chefs also get a lot more excited about cooking the perfect piece of fish, meat or foie gras than they do about a fabulous stir-fry of chickpeas with spinach, olive tapenade and NoMU’s Moroccan Rub (I’ll never forget Mr Pinocho’s delicious example in Barcelona’s Boqueria Market). Most of the time the kitchen takes the view that it’s a vegetarian meal as long as it doesn’t contain any flesh.
I wonder how many times vegetarians have had to make do with a meal – and probably even pay full price for it – that comprised only the vegetables that accompanied the meal prepared for the non-veggies.
Professional kitchens are famous for the ire inspired by non-regular orders (I have to admit to the use of expletives on occasion, especially when being told – in the final moments before service – of a garlic intolerance).
Through my marital connection to Dish Food & Social, the caterer contracted to Cape Town’s burlesque supper club, Vaudeville, I have been involved in planning the February/March menu (it runs from mid-month to mid-month). The starter comprises a mezze platter, fresh sourdough ciabatta and generous salad. Main course is a choice of a meat, fish or vegetarian dish, and dessert is the same for everyone.
One of our major constraints is that the plated main course has to be served to +-250 people in 10 to 15 minutes, so there’s a limit to how complex we can get.
Vegetarians – neglected for so long – really do have something to look forward to on the next menu (not that they haven’t in the past). The accompanying pictures are of rosa tomatoes that I wood-roasted with a hint of chilli in preparation for today’s menu tasting with Vaudeville’s management team. They (the tomatoes, not the managers) get a lovely smokey flavour in the wood oven, and the juices are concentrated by the cooking process. We add these to wilted spinach, crunchy greens, lemon zest, ripped basil and shavings of fresh parmesan, and then toss them with freshly drained penne.
It’s a dish with bags of flavour, a nice contrast of textures, and the spectrum of colours makes it really easy on the eye.
It may well be hyperbolic – if not immodest – to suggest that more people would be vegetarian (if only for part of the week) if dishes like this were widely available. But one thing’s for certain; at least as much love has gone into this dish as any of the others on the menu.
So, get to Vaudeville for a great show … and food to match!