Many thanks to Quaintrelle for hosting me at this Veganizer PDX popup. As always, all opinions are my own.
2019 has been a good year for Veganizer PDX. It’s exciting that we’ve reached a point where I’m no longer pitching #officiallyveganized popups to restaurants left and right and have settled into a steady flow of sold out events with incredible restaurant partners. It’s been a while since I’ve shared a Veganizer event on my website, partly because I’ve been busy and partly because some events don’t offer many opportunities for photos, but I had to share Quaintrelle’s late summer Veganizer tasting menu.
Back in February 2018, Veganizer and Quaintrelle teamed up for a winter popup with chef Bill Wallender. The menu consisted of Quaintrelle classics gone vegan, like sweet potato and broccoli tempura and roasted beets with winter radishes. As much as I loved Bill’s dreamy vegetable dishes, what the new chef Ryley Eckersley is crafting in the kitchen, both on the regular menu and on the Veganizer menu, is simply stunning. I’m sure there are plenty of other people who agree with me as our August 29 popup sold out in record time, then we sold out again after adding a second dinner on September 5. I don’t know if I’m allowed to pick favorites, but this event at Quaintrelle has been my favorite Veganizer meal to date.
Magical is a good word to describe the recent Veganizer PDX popup at Quaintrelle. Between Chef Ryley Eckersley’s delightful vegan tasting menu celebrating summer, Bar Manager Camille Cavan’s stellar bar program, and Wine Manager Chris Copper’s carefully curated selection, I knew we would be in for a real treat. If you missed this dinner, don’t worry, Quaintrelle is always able to cater to vegans. Just let your server know, and the kitchen will make it happen.
The first course of the Veganizer summer tasting menu is essentially a vegan interpretation of an oyster. Oyster mushrooms in a mushroom kombu dashi with nectarine mignonette, jalapeno, cucumber, and green oil. Delicate, yet juicy and umami.
Next up was the dish that probably had the most photos and videos taken of it at this dinner because check out that carrot yolk! I’ve had beets in this type of application before, but never in a carpaccio quite like this one. Paper thin smoked beets, silky carrot yolk, puffed rice, hazelnut, wasabi, and sesame. What a mixture of textures and flavors! To create the yolk, Ryley used sodium alginate in carrot juice with lemon, then transferred the juice into a calcium chloride bath to shape the liquid into spheres. Yay, science! Take a peek at my video below for a little carrot yolk porn.
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This next dish is what happens when perfect summer tomatoes meet embered cucumber, blistered peppers, ripe peach, earthy porcini, creamy miso tahini, and basil. The finishing touch is a sprinkle of flowers in a striking complementary blue/purple. A beautiful dish that captures the essence of summertime on a plate. If all salads were as special as this one, I could become a salad lover.
The final course was an aubergine (eggplant) dish with chanterelles, kohlrabi, purple peppers, bok choy, soy, and a touch of chili. When cooked correctly, eggplant is one of those vegetables that has a remarkably meaty texture, and when paired with the other components made a delicious and satisfying vegan entree. The sun had started to set when the servers brought the last course out, and it was lovely to enjoy this dish with a glass of pinot noir (confirmed vegan!) under the warm glow of the balcony lights.
Note: This post is in collaboration with Veganizer PDX. I’m the director of the local chapter of Veganizer, and Quaintrelle was our restaurant partner for this popup.