Who: VN contributor Jasmin Singer
What: Gracious Gourmand
Where: Second Stop Café, Brooklyn, NY
When: November 19, 2010
The Scoop: It’s true: Brooklyn is New York’s newest food Mecca. And last Friday, the L-train delivered me to the height of good taste.
“It’s a platform for chefs to get very experimental and avant garde with vegan cuisine, and really push the boundaries,” says Joshua Katcher, mastermind behind the city’s new hot ticket, Gracious Gourmand.
The bi-weekly Friday night supper club boasts a different chef each time. For my lucky day, Chef Ella Nemcova of The Regal Vegan outdid herself, winning the hearts and stomachs of even rabid meat-eaters. One guest remarked, “I am an avid carnivore, and that was an amazing meal.”
The impressive entrée was a mouthful indeed: Rice Cannelloni Stuffed with Lobster Mushroom, with Pecan Braised Leek and Tempeh in a Porcini Cream Sauce on Kabocha Squash Puree. It was not only superb, but substantial. (“I like to eat a meal and feel like I’ve eaten a meal,” Nemcova told me.) Though each course was extraordinary, most memorable was the Lebanese Garlic, Cashew Cheese, and Smoky Kale Napoleon. Vaguely reminiscent of spinach pie, it was infinitely more complex, with bold flavors that popped and perfectly blended textures.
Katcher, founder of The Discerning Brute, began Gracious Gourmand last summer to show off the delectable diversity of foods available to those with an appetite for compassion. Snuggled in the back of the quaint Second Stop Café (near the L train’s second stop in Brooklyn), Gracious Gourmand is “an iconoclastic feast for food-heretics,” explains Katcher, who will soon be in Paris organizing a cruelty-free fashion show for Paris Vegan Day. “And that really is my underhanded way of saying vegan.”