Monday, January 30, 2017

The Art of Fine Dining

My Trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

I happened to be with a group attending a special exhibit at The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.  We stopped for lunch at Eleven, the chichi café on the premises.  (Eleven gets its name in honor of the Museum's opening on November 11, 2011 at 11:11 am.)

Eleven is pleased to offer gourmet food, light years ahead of the standard cafeteria fare which tarnishes the reputation of many a fine museum.  Vegan options were advertised in the menu’s legend, along with vegetarian and gluten-free selections, but the menu changes every three to four months, and this “season” didn’t offer any actual vegan dishes.  I had to be creative.

The white bean soup lived up to expectations.  Even without the jalapeno cornbread (it contains butter) it was a filling bowl of savory beans in a rich vegetable broth with a stewed tomato as the centerpiece.  You know you’ve picked a good dish when several people at your table want to taste a sample.  

But there was still plenty left to warm my tummy on this frigid winter day.  Had it not been so bitterly cold, I might have considered the Autumn Harvest Salad (have them leave off the parmesan), or the Ozark All Seasons Leaf Salad (substitute the yogurt cucumber dressing with a balsamic vinaigrette.)

There’s also a coffee bar at the opposite end of the dining hall, and their latte was delicious.  (Yes, they have both soy and coconut milk.)
This was a simple enough lunch, but very filling.  Prices are a smidge high, but then, you’re in a world class museum whose admittance is free, so enjoy the fabulous collection before and after your vegan repast.  It’s food for the soul.

The cornbread I took a pass on at lunch reminded me of my own beloved vegan version of this classic dish:
1 cup each whole wheat flour and stone-ground cornmeal
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon oil
4 tablespoons melted margarine (cooled)
1 cup soy or almond milk
Mix all ingredients, but not too thoroughly; leave texture course
Pour into a greased 9” pan and bake at 400 ° 25-30 minutes
Serve hot with non-dairy spread and agave syrup – D-lish!

Monday, January 16, 2017


Khana is a very user-friendly purveyor of Indian cuisine.  They’ll cheerfully answer any questions which might come from the uninitiated, and believe me, I put them through their paces.  I got both a meal and an education on my lunch hour.

Indian cuisine is all about the spices, lots of them.  As many as ten spices can be combined to form what is known as a masala, which is then used to flavor sauces, soups or a main dish (known as a curry).  This isn’t the pitiful shake of salt and pepper Americans are used to.  Exotics such as saffron, cardamom, and curry leaves are added to more familiar players such as ginger, nutmeg, and hot chilies to create unusual yet mouth-watering combinations.

The Vegan Coconut Malai Curry  comes with slender, long grain basmati rice, blended with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves.  Malai translates as “cream”, but in this vegan incarnation it’s rich nutty coconut milk, blended with a flavorful curry.

The Vegan Coconut Malai Curry
For the side carbohydrate I substituted the traditional naan flatbread because naan contains yogurt and egg.  Paratha bread is a flaky wheat flour creation that is India’s answer to the croissant.

My lunch partner ordered the Samosa.

Samosa and Sambar

It is little crispy pastry pillows stuffed with potatoes and peas. They are complimented by ramekins of tamarind (a pulpy fruit) and cilantro chutney.  It was a cold day, so she also ordered the Sambar, a spicy lentil soup with green beans, carrots and squash.

Neither of us left hungry, nor did I suffer the indigestion for which I had braced myself.  Either my pallet has matured, or these folks really know how to make excellent Indian food.  I would check the box next to “both of the above”.

A word about where we ate as well as what we ate.  The décor is as authentic as the food.  Check out the imported hand-carved pendant lights.  Khana is also eco-conscious, outfitted with sustainably forested furniture, and using biodegradable serving ware for to-go orders.

So, for your next vegan adventure, travel to the subcontinent, or better yet, to 2101 North College Avenue in Fayetteville to Khana Indian Grill.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The best resolution for a new year is...
pledging to give the vegan lifestyle a try!

Hope this video gives you some inspiration!