Archive for February 23rd, 2009

Vientiane

Eggplant Sweet Basil

Eggplant Sweet Basil

Senor Lanky and I love Vientiane, our local Laotion family-owned restaurant so much, we actually ended up there on Valentine’s Day with with our fancy bottle of Spanish wine. The restaurant was dimly lit, and on every high surface the staff had placed little glimmering votives in wine glasses. For about a year, I ordered the same thing over and over, because I loved it so much, but in the last two years I’ve allowed myself to branch out, and have never been disappointed. I ordered the above Eggplant Sweet Basil with basmati rice that night. While it was sweet, the basil had a enough bitterness left in it’s ample skin to balance the flavors.

Pad Ke Mao

Pad Ke Mao

Senor Lanky ordered the pad ke mao with tofu, so that he could share with me (what a sweetheart!). This is one of my favorite all-time dishes, and never disappoints. When it gets too spicy, just bite into one of those juicy chunks of tomato to cool your mouth off. Vientiane does NOT mess around with spice. Seriously. If it’s your first visit, let them prepare it they way they suggest, and add chili if you still want it after tasting your dish. On a rating system from one to five chilies, most people I know can’t handle more than two, and Senor Lanky and I (true chili lovers) never go higher than four, though five chilies, accomplished only by my friend Ryan who basically drinks hot sauce for breakfast, is a goal we continually strive for. We actually forgot to specify our spicy level, so you can see the extra crushed, dried chili the friendly staff brought for us.

Banana Chocolate Spring Roll

Banana Chocolate Spring Roll

We never make it to dessert (I always want to eat my entire dinner), but it was Valentine’s Day, so I took half of my entree home and we went for the sweets. Senor Lanky was head-over-heels for these banana chocolate spring rolls – and entire banana dipped in chocolate, fried in thin dough, and served with a mango dipping sauce.

Coconut Rice Pudding

Coconut Rice Pudding

My favorite was the coconut rice pudding – not too sweet and served in two cute little bowls – the perfect size.

Vientiane Café on Urbanspoon

Eggplant Rollitini from Veganomicon

Eggplant Rollitini from <em>Veganomicon</em>

Eggplant Rollitini from Veganomicon

I’ve been eyeing this Rollitini in Veganomican for quite awhile. The writers make it sound very difficult, but it’s really not. If you get all the steps going in order, you can have the whole thing completed in about an hour. The key is to slice the eggplant very thinly. While the have you cut-off the sides (to avoid more of the peel), I say peel the eggplant and use the whole thing! Note the vegan Parmesan – called “Almandsan” in Veganomicon. Made of crushed almonds, toasted sesame seeds, lemon zest and garlic, it adds texture and a pleasing flavor to vegan Italian dishes.

Rolled, pre-sauce

Rolled, pre-sauce

The most amazing part about this recipe, I think, is the tofu ricotta. It was so easy to make, and really, I couldn’t tell the difference at all. Success! Here are the eggplant slices fried, stuffed with spinach and “ricotta” and rolled up. I added extra breadcrumbs on top, for added textures.

Rollitini - smothered in sauce

Rollitini - smothered in sauce

I made this with a basic marinara sauce, but added aged Greek olives and about a half a cup of red wine. I tend to like my food smothered in sauce, so that’s the way I make it.

goat cheese and fresh tomato basil Bruchetta

goat cheese and fresh tomato basil Bruchetta

On the side, I served some bruchetta I made with a delicious seeded baguette from Metropolitan Bakery, spreadable goat cheese, and just a quick tapenade of tomatoes, fresh and ripe from Iovine’s that day, fresh basil, a bit of herbed olive oil, and some salt. Scrumptious.

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