Mid winter inspires me to put a prime rib in the oven, roast some root vegetables and open up a good bottle of cabernet sauvingnon. The pleasures of this meal start the moment the aromas of the roasting meat and vegetables escape during a peak and poke into the oven . The meal is simple but the positive responses it elicits are staggering. Can a vegan meal even compete with the seductive power of meat?
Last weekend I roamed New York City seeking food inspiration. Not just a divine meal by some other chef, but an experience that would exalt great vegetarian cooking in me. A meatless meal that could rival the enticing powers of a roasted prime rib of beef. The frigid temperatures put a damper on my wandering the streets looking for enlightenment. The whole weekend became focused on finding a winter coat on sale. Oops, I got distracted.
My revelation occurred on the Metro North train back to Poughkeepsie Monday morning. I grabbed a Penzeys Spices catalog from the Grand Central Market since it always has great information about the origin, flavors and uses of unusual and common spices. Words of wisdom from one of my culinary students also simmered in my mind. "Vegan meals are about deriving flavors from a variety of ingredients to enhance the taste, texture, smell, visual appearance, and so on." Kachina's words reminded me that vegan cooking becomes seductive when we create layers of flavor by using spices, herbs, oils and quality ingredients. I can't rely on the predictable spices that have been sitting in my kitchen for the past 5 years to create a spectacular meal any more than I would expect a prime rib buried in my freezer for a year or two to entice me. So, I'm off to www.penzeys.com for a little culinary temptation.