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!