My Dinner at Blossom NYC

 

A Fabulous Tasting Assortment of Appetizers

A Fabulous Tasting Assortment of Appetizers

Every once in a while being a food writer hanging with other food writers has an unexpected perk.

In my case, when I went to teach and work in New York City, I got to bask in  the insider status of a famous vegan diva. Yes, I hate to burst your bubble, but it really does matter when you go into a restaurant with someone who knows the chef, or the owners. It might have helped that I have written a couple of vegan books, too. Either way, when I made a visit to Blossom NYC on Carmine with my dear friend Fran Costigan, we got a little extra fabulousness.

If you don’t know Fran, she is the vegan baking expert who wrote More Great Dairy Free Desserts, Naturally. Anybody who is anybody in the vegan community in New York and arguably, the US, France and England, knows her work. She teaches vegan baking classes at the Natural Gourmet Institute that draw students from all over the world, often teaching people who want to start their own vegan bakeries back home.

Most enticingly, Fran has a new book in the works, Vegan Chocolate Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy Free Desserts, to hit the shelves in Fall of 2013.

So, I give you the CV so you will understand why we got a surprise visit from Chef Shawain Jay, who was hand delivering the assortment of amazing appetizers in the photo above. Here is the list of apps we sampled:

Trumpet Mushroom Scallops, Cauliflower Puree, Sweet onion jam, Potato crisps (middle left and center)

Chickpea Fritters, Spicy Mayo, Housemade Whisky Barbecue Sauce (middle right)

Seaweed Caviar Canape with Avocado, White Cheese Batons and Truffle Oil (upper left corner)

Black Eyed Pea and Potato Cakes with Chili pepper Aioli (upper right corner)

Beet Carpaccio, Herbed cashew ricotta, Marinated figs, xvoo, Balsamic drizzle (lower right corner)

 

A beautifully plated Oyster Mushroom Scallop Appetizer

A beautifully plated Oyster Mushroom Scallop Appetizer

The mushroom scallops are rounds of tender trumpet mushroom, seared to mimic sea scallops, then plated with crispy-thick potato crisps and swirls of sauce. The chickpea fritters were like the garbanzo flour polenta or socca that is often made into fries, and they were crisp on the outside and creamy in the middle. The seaweed caviar, truly an amazing fake, is made with one of those molecular gastronomy techniques, in which tiny droplets of a seaweed liquid are made into little crunchy blobs, just like caviar. The blackeyed pea cakes were delightfully savory, with their creamy-spicy aioli topping. A carpaccio of beets was a fun idea, too, with creamy cashew ricotta and a drizzle of balsamic balancing with sweet figs.

Then I moved on to my Caesar salad, a tumble of crisp Romaine, tangy dressing, and marinated shiitakes that stood in for anchovy filets.

a tangy Caesar with Portobello Slices

a tangy Caesar with Shiitake Slices

Fran had a familiar favorite, the Berry Barbecue Tempeh with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Sauteed Collards, Horseradish Cream. I had a taste, but I was fully occupied with my own entree.

Berry-Barbecue Seitan with Collards

Berry-Barbecue Tempeh with Collards

I tried a special, Spinach and Cashew Ricotta Filled Fresh Ravioli in Tomato Sauce. It was a lively, wine-rich sauce, coating tender pillows of creamy filling. I never get a chance to eat a fresh, handmade plant based stuffed pasta, so this was a real treat. If you doubted that fresh pasta can happen without eggs, well, this dish proves that it can.

Delightful Vegan Ravioli

Delightful Vegan Ravioli

Of course, we indulged in the vegan wine list, and had a glass of the red blend by Vegan Vine. It was a big mouthful of wine, with fruit and tannins enough to keep me from quaffing it too quickly. As usual, I was too full to even think about dessert, which is a shame. The desserts list looked lovely, and diners around us were clearly enjoying the magic.

Fran Costigan and Chef Jay

Fran Costigan and Chef Jay

All in all, great food, great company, and great service. I even enjoyed walking around the West Village trying to find the place, in what has always been an Italian restaurant mecca.

There among the old school Italian joints and hipster coffee bars, this little veg-centric gem is flourishing, like a blossom of compassionate dining. It’s worth a trip.

 

 

 

5 Responses
  • Joan
    Jun 11, 2013

    Robin,
    A great post. Sounds and looks awesome! On my list for my next trip to NYC!

    Joan Jun 11, 2013
    Reply
  • veganempress
    Jul 5, 2013

    It seems ridiculous to post a good food review when you admit you got special treatment because of who you are since the general public is not celebrities like you. That is why, most big food critics, go in ANONYMOUSLY and PAY for the food, and then write an unbiased review so the public can know that they’ll get the same type of service and/or food quality that is discussed in the review.

    If it’s not done that way, the reviews are worthless as all they are is chiefs making special food with good service to reviewers so that they can get a good review to trick the public into coming to their restaurant and the unsuspecting public will NOT get the same quality or service.

    But, of course, you know this, being an experienced food reviewer, book author, etc. so it’s unfortunate that you’d sell our the public for the sake of a friend’s restaurant.

    Even if Cafe Blossom has good food and service (which is does), this review casts a dark shadow over it.

    veganempress Jul 5, 2013
    Reply
    • robin
      Jul 5, 2013

      Thanks for reading my blog, and so sorry about any bad feelings! I really think that since I presented the story from the beginning as my experience, and was completely up front about what went on, that I was not representing it as a restaurant review, in the official sense. If I had gone in and gotten special treatment and not said anything, but given a rave review, well, that would have been wrong. Instead, I was acting like a girl from Minneapolis who is genuinely still gob-smacked to even know a cool vegan goddess like Fran Costigan and to get to go to the big City and eat world class cuisine.
      I’m not a restaurant reviewer, I’m just a blogger telling about my experiences, really.
      In defense of Blossom, every thing that we tried was off the menu, the exact same items that were being served to anyone who walked in the door. There is no reason that any dark shadows should be cast over them.
      So, I hope you can forgive me for name-dropping and sharing my story in a way that didn’t sit right with you.

      robin Jul 5, 2013
  • Victorious Suavesito
    Jul 5, 2013

    here often. never had the ravioli. it looks slammin’ tho (and slamming is a good thing!)

    Victorious Suavesito Jul 5, 2013
    Reply
  • veganempress
    Jul 5, 2013

    I understand. Sorry. Just like reviews to be upfront.

    veganempress Jul 5, 2013
    Reply

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