Jay Kitchen Pop-Up Dinner: Fine dining by vegan wunderkind Jay Astafa »
Late last month, your Vegansaurus was invited to attend a fancypants vegan pop-up dinner by up-and-coming vegan chef Jay Astafa. As part of our constant effort to bring you the most important news on the best vegan dining, we accepted.
The pop-up was an eight-course tasting menu of Jay’s savory vegan delights, with dessert by vegan pastry chef and fellow wunderkind Dani McGrath, and wines by the Vegan Vine.
Here are some photos that I took. They’re … adequate.
First course: King oyster mushroom scallop with aged balsamic caviar and green pea purée
Second course (one of my favorites!): Spring crostini duo (ramps & cashew chèvre; sorrel-mint pesto, micro pea tendrils, green peas, cashew parmesan)
Third course: Chilled potato and leek soup with chive olive oil foam
Fourth course (SO GOOD YOU GUYS): Ravioli with asparagus and ricotta (house-made cashew cream butter, cashew parmesan)
Fifth course: Smoked cauliflower steak with sunchoke purée, morels, fava beans, snap peas, green garlic, truffle vinaigrette, shaved black summer truffle
Sixth course: House-made cheese plate with aged cashew cheese and brie, strawberry-rhubarb compote, orange-infused vegan honey, rosemary-almond crackers
Seventh course: “Dragon Breath” caramel popcorn
Eighth course: Grand Marnier-infused chocolate rart with pistachio gelato, raspberry coulis, pistachio tuile, raspberry pop candy, fleur de sel salted caramel powder
Lucky for you, Ms. Hannah “Bittersweet Blog” Kaminsky took much better pictures of the menu that really do Jay and Dani’s dishes justice. She also has Jay’s recipe for the sorrel-mint pesto crostini, which was one of my favorite dishes and which I fully intend to (attempt to) reproduce, because holy moly, it was so good. Go see for yourself!
To find out more about Jay Astafa and Jay Kitchen, follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He also catered Farm Sanctuary’s Fashion Loves Animals event (which we attended, too!) last weekend. Keep an eye out for more from this super-talented kid; he is amazing, and we are lucky to have him on team vegan.
(And seriously check out Hannah’s photos, they are gorgeous.)
Got a tip about an awesome vegan-friendly event? Let us know! We love fun!
Vedge: The fancy new vegan restaurant in Philly rules! »
Gold beets, smoked tofu, avocado, capers, cucumber dill sauce, pumpernickel
My sister missed my birthday celebration in Brooklyn last week, but I am so nice that I let her make it up to me by taking me to Vedge in Philly on Saturday! Vedge is the new(ish) restaurant opened by the owners of the late Horizons. We made reservations Friday night, and the only table we could get for Saturday was at 10 p.m. Make your reservations in advance!
It was quite full for 10 p.m. The crowd wasn’t particularly hip or stereotypically vegan, just kind of older society people. The staff was super nice (especially our server, another Megan!) and the space was pretty cool; it was an old structure with a series of rooms, kind of like a stoic, simply decorated, expensive house, with tables filled in. The tables are nicely spread out, though we still ended up talking to our neighboring table. The one guy went out with Goldie Hawn for two weeks when he was 19! My sis and I totally heart Goldie. [Ed.: Overboard was just added to Instant Netflix! Goldie is THE BEST. —Laura] Things took an odd turn when the guy told Cally he was looking for a nanny…for himself. But he struck me as exceedingly gay, so he didn’t get a knuckle sandwich.
The food was pretty amazing. The servings are on the smaller side so they suggest you order three or four plates—this is just how I like to eat! A little bit of everything. In the end though, the main plates weren’t actually that small so we did get pretty full. But we soldiered on! I think my favorite thing was the beet and tofu dish above. Cally’s rutabaga salad was pretty amazing too even though we were both scared of rutabaga—not any more!
Roasted rutabaga salad, little leaves, charred onion, farro, pistachio
Spice-cured little carrots, white bean sauerkraut purée, rye toast
Steak-spice-seared tofu, hedgehog mushrooms, kabocha sadeira, walnut picada
My other favorite thing was this “steak-spice” tofu. It was basically pan-seared with really good salt flakes on it. Very tasty. Cally even liked it, though she’s not one for tofu. The texture was excellent.
For dessert, we got the pot de crème and the apple cake fritters. The pot de creme was AWESOME. I don’t always love pot de crème but this was delicious, and the salt on top was just perfect. The biscotti was really good. Normally I stay away from biscotti unless I made it myself; people often confuse “dry” with “stale.” Biscotti is not supposed to be stale! This biscotti was not. It was perfect. But really, the apple cake fritters won the show. They were like apple-flavored zeppoles! I do love fried dough.
All in all, I give Vedge a million stars! It’s fine dining, but totally relaxed and fun. It’s a great place for a celebration dinner. I love that they encourage you to try so many dishes! Oh and I almost forgot, say it with me now!: POMEGRANATE SANGRIA. So, so necessary.
Apple cake fritters with Waldorf salad, cider caramel
Chocolate pot de crème with coffee salt, macadamia nut biscotti, and b-day candle!