Mid-Coast Maine Restaurant Challenge

aka My Big-Fat Vegan Birthday!
Most of you know that we serve up a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet here at the Leafy (virtual) Cafe and have been doing so for about 3 years. We make and serve such delicious and healthy food in our little kitchen on the Ridge that its often a challenge to dine out. Most area restaurants do not offer anything but fat laden meals heavy on animal products and light on the micronutrients we desire and need for optimal health! Well, recently we decided to venture out and re-try some of our former favorite jaunts (and these restaurants are faves of many local diners) in search of a place we could count on to serve us a plant-based meal we could not or would not make at home. Something way better for those special occasion meals. This month marked our 11th wedding anniversary and my XX birthday, both reasons for celebration. I won't give the names of the establishments we tried which did not please our discerning palettes, or the ones which would not even bother to offer a Plant-based option, rather I will focus on the Fabulous meal we did have at Natalies in the Camden Harbor Inn.

The Camden Harbor Inn and Natalie's Restaurant overlook charming seaside Camdentown.
 We had heard through the grape vine (RAYR wine store that is) that the chef at Natalie's is happy to prepare a Chef's Tasting Meal, VEGAN so we made our booking for Saturday evening, Sept. 24th. We were not disappointed this time and I had to show/tell you all what we enjoyed-which was EVERYTHING! I confess I did not even think about posting this dining experience on the blog until we were well into the third course but then I had the light-bulb moment. I had only my phone for photos so the pictures are not great but the meal was delicious! I was afraid to request vegan AND low-fat however I do believe the chef had some intuition as he laid low on the EVVO.

This was no messy plate of over-salted, greasy mass of side veggies to which I am often subjected at many of the better local hot-spots. The chef knew the perfect blend of avoiding too much salt and oil and the other nastys that bog food down to the point at which you cannot taste anything else. Our server Patrick, knew just the right amount of fussy attention mixed with leave-them-alone and delivered his perfect blend of service for the evening. 

David enjoys Natalie's warm decor and relaxed atmosphere!

Here is the Menu:
Amuse Bouche:
Watermelon & Apple Cider "Shooter" with tasty garnish
1st Course:
Chilled Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Bell Pepper, Poblano, Garlic and Onion
2cd Course:
Farm Fresh Fall Salad with Endive, Pear, Grapes & Walnuts. Apple Cider Dressing
A side treat of:
Semolina Pizza with Mixed Veggies
Main Course:
Basmati Risotto with locally foraged Beartooth & Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, Baby Carrots, Celeriac & Tomato Confit

The little side treat of Semolina Pizza

Main Course

Local Wild Mushroom Risotto with Baby Vegetables and Tomato Confit

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes filled with Espresso Pastry Cream

We then returned home for these fantastic (not so low fat but still better than the regular) cupcakes.
Thank you Chef Geoffroy Deconinck and team at Natalie's for a perfect Birthday Dinner, I only wish some of the other restaurants in the Mid-coast would follow suit!


Word? Tomatoes!

When Hurricane Irene blew by I was out of town. Luckily my sister had come over before the storm and moved our car to a safe place, secured all of the windows and harvested any ripe veggies. Then our neighbor Sid came over and took down awnings, placed projectiles out of the way of the wind and double checked everything else battening down all that needed to be.

I was so worried about the garden but there was nothing I could do. I just kept my fingers crossed and vowed to never leave Appleton in the Summer again. Upon my return to our home, I found the yard littered with tomatoes which had blown off the vine. The plants were bent over and looked as though they had taken quite a beating. Bean supports were completely blown over and some tree limbs were down but fortunately we did not really have the impact many others to our south and west experienced. Everyday since I've returned, I have to pick tomatoes. They are ripening like crazy! 
What should I do with the tomatoes?

Red ones, yellow ones, orange too!

Big ones, small ones, green ones, whew!

Tomato or apple?

Heirloom on the vine
Paste tomatoes yet to ripe
 I do not have enough tomatoes to make a batch to "put-up" (yet) but I did manage to make a few jars of rustic salsa, one of which we have already enjoyed on nachos. I can't decide what to do with the green tomatoes. My first inclination would be Fried Green Tomatoes but I know that "fried" is not a nice word in the Whole Foods, Plant-Based Health genre so perhaps Green Tomato Salsa?? Any ideas?

California Salsa!!

I found the perfect recipe to satisfy my Fried Green Tomato craving!  I immediately found a recipe on Susan V's site Fat Free Vegan. As we are both lovers of southern cooking, I knew I could count on Susan to have developed a recipe for this Southern favorite. Hey, Why re-invent the wheel? I think I will try it tonight and perhaps top it with some of the California Salsa! Here is a link to the recipe FFV Fried Green Tomato Recipe.
You will love Fat Free Vegan blog and website, trust me :-)

Here is the recipe for the Rustic California Salsa I made:
1/2 Sweet Onion
1 -2 cloves garlic
1 -2 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded
juice of 1 lime
chopped cilantro to taste
1 t. roasted cumin
1 t. salt
6 or so Roma Tomatoes (or equivalent, I used a mix of lots of types and colors :-) cut into quarters.

Process first 7 ingredients in food processor or blender on the "pulse" until chopped, add tomatoes and pulse again until just mixed but still a bit chunky. Taste and adjust seasonings.


One Word Can Save Your Life: No!

New research shows how some common tests and procedures aren’t just expensive, but can do more harm than good.

 To read the rest of this article published in the August 14th Edition of Newsweek magazine, click here.

Thank you Dr. McDougall, for bringing this forward in your recent newsletter!