Back in the Dirty, Dirty

Oh Atlanta, you’re always here for me, whether I want you or not!  But it is good to be home, in some ways.  For instance, I just extended my lease through August (when I’ll be moving for grad school), but because I hate the apartment and I’m not looking forward to staying here longer than I expected, I’ve made a list of little improvements I can work on.  I’m buying a kitchen butcher block/island I found on Craigslist tomorrow, so I’ll have more space for chopping and kneading and storing things, and I’ve got a plan to do laundry in my tub and dry clothes outside on my back porch area.  There aren’t any laundromats in the area, so this, if it works, will hopefully solve some problems.  Anyways, it’s nice to have projects to work on!

View from our hotel window

Chicago was wonderful–the weather was great (not cold at all, in the 30s and 40s!), the food was occasionally great (whenever we managed to get away from the conference district), and the the conference itself was wonderful and exhausting and a fabulous time over all.  But speaking of food, I ate the best meal of my life, yes, my life!, last Wednesday night at Green ZebraBon Appetit was so correct in awarding it a spot, #2!, in their list of great vegetarian restaurants.  The meal exceeded my expectations.  I didn’t take any pictures, but the space itself is incredible–neutral tones of gray with an enveloping architecture, no sharp corners here!  The waiter was phenomenal, and when they didn’t have the vegan chocolate cake like I expected, he poured us complimentary flutes of sparkling white wine!  He also gave us recs for restaurants we didn’t have time to check out, but I loved his personality and over-all smoothness in the dining room.  I’ll leave you with a run-down of the experience at Green Zebra and then come back on Wednesday with a recipe post.  Hope you all had a wonderful Valentines Day!  Coincidentally, we celebrated Valentines on Wednesday night at Green Zebra.  Saturday night we ate Ethiopian goodness with the poet’s friend, wife, and uber cute baby.  So, without further ado, Green Zebra!

Blurry Flashless Picture, post-bar-going

Amuse Bouche: I don’t know what it was, but it included shitakes and eggplant and some other veggies diced into tiny squares and served in the most amazing sauce base EVER.  I swear to god I had 6 different flavors at 6 different times hit 6 different places on my palate.

First Course: I ordered the “Hawaiian heart of palm, grilled shiitakes, scallions kimchee” and the poet ordered veganized “Honey Crisp Apples, fresh horseradish, tarragon, hazelnuts.”  The heart of palm made me so so so happy.  The last time I had it was in Peru, and this was decidedly different than in the rainforest, but absolutely phenomenal.  Taste-wise, everything in the plate was surprising and exciting.  The apples were great too.  I found the tarragon to be a bit overwhelming, but the poet liked the licoricey play with the crisp, sweet apples, crunchy hazelnuts, and the spice of the horseradish.  Again, a surprising, in a great way, combination.

Second Course: “Thai Spiced Carrot Soup” split between us.  So cute, the waiter ordered that the one order of soup be split into two bowls with equal garnish!  The soup boasted a few thin strands of carrots as well as a garnish of cilantro coconut cream.  I normally hate cilantro, but apparently I love it in a liquid, cream form!  The galangal and carrots and coconut cream and everything balanced so well.  Dipped with a bit of the fresh, whole grain bread…oh man, I’m salivating right now!

Third Course: I ordered butternut potstickers (the description isn’t on the website) and the poet ordered the gnocchi (again, the description isn’t available).  The potstickers were great, served with hazzlenuts and mandarin oranges.  They were wrapped in something more substantial than the usual wonton wrappers–maybe puff pastry sheets?–and then baked, not fried.  I liked the play between baked squash and sweet, tangy oranges and garnish.  The gnocchi that the poet ordered was out of this world.  I cheated and sneaked a bite of the buttery gnocchi with broccoli rappini and some other tasty elements.  I managed to not get any cheese on the bite though.  Yums!

Fourth Course: I ordered the “Foraged Mushroom Dumplings, tofu, Thai basil, baby bok choy, star anise broth” and the poet ordered the “Chanterelle Mushroom Popover, cippolini, hazelnuts, blue cheese, browned butter.”  Honestly, this course was a bit of a disappointment to me.  The dumplings were tasty, the bok choy great, the broth wonderful–I loved all of the components of the dish.  But I had no idea how to eat it.  The baby bok choi came whole, which makes sense, but was impossible to cut in the small broth-filled dish.  And the other veggies served with it–carrots and peppers–were sliced big as well.  It was just awkward to eat.  The poet can’t stop raving about the popover though.  I had major food envy.

Fifth Course: Didn’t happen because the chocolate cake was no longer on the menu and I wasn’t keen on a rice pudding.  I’m just not a big fan.  But we drank some bubbly white wine instead.

Even though my last course wasn’t the best, I was blown away by Green Zebra.  They did offer one fish dish on the menu (not needed!!!), but almost every dish could be veganized, at least for the first two courses.  I wish they’d had more vegan options for the last two courses, because, on the last course, my only options were the dumplings or some dates, and even though I’m adventurous, I know that I don’t like dates all that much, so I felt a bit cornered.  As for the other dishes, I have no complaints.  I could tell that the chef, Shawn McClain, loves playing with food and is excited to offer vegans and vegetarians a fine dining experience.  The food was exciting and surprising, refined and playful, comforting and adventurous.  Granted, you have to pay fine dining prices for this experience, but it is so worth it.

11 Responses to “Back in the Dirty, Dirty”
  1. VeggieGirl says:

    Welcome back!! Glad that Green Zebra was a great meal experience, overall.

  2. Tara says:

    That sounds like a great meal! I’m glad that you enjoyed it so much!

  3. Vic says:

    Vegan? Cupcakes? Punk? Did you steal my personality? 😉

  4. jessy says:

    sweet awesomeness – just reading about all the yummies at Green Zebra was enough to get me drooling! wowzers! mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! sadface on no chocolate cake, but hooray for free white wine! butternut potstickers – oh my goodness! man, can’t wait for wednesday’s post! hooray for a butcher block! i want to see pics when you get it – this way i can be even more jealousfaced! ahahahahaa!! yay!

  5. I almost bought a kitchen butcher block/island (funny name for a vegan kitchen) on craigslist a couple of months ago. But then we decided we had no room for it. Good luck with yours!

    Bummer about the chocolate cake, but the rest of the food sounds awesome!

    That picture of you guys is too cool! The poet has a #7 on his head! Or is that an antenna? 🙂

  6. shellyfish says:

    I just had breakfast and i’m already starving! It sounds so good…I’d love to have a full-vegan meal served to me!
    Craigslist does rock, doesn’t it?

  7. mihl says:

    What a wonderful menu. Even though the options weren’t that big, it sounds amazing to me!

    P.S. If you’re washing in your tub – This may sound weird, but I sometimes use my salad spinner to spin my clothes a bit. It works well for shirts, socks, underwear.

  8. DaviMack says:

    Glad you’re back! 🙂

  9. Virginia says:

    that looks like a lovely view! (coming from a country girl like me) =)

  10. allularpunk says:

    it sounds like you had such a great meal there! hopefully they’ll include more vegan choices in the future. and by the way, the island/butcher block thing in your kitchen will help so much. our kitchen is tiny with about 1 foot of counter space, but with the addition of a moveable island, my whole cooking world has changed. it’s still not enough, of course (haha), but it’s much better.

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