Last Friday we decided to go out to eat to a vegan cheese shop and restaurant that makes the best cheese I've ever had, vegan or not. This is by far one of my favorite restaurants of all time because they make beautiful (and incredibly delicious) vegan cheese plates, amazing panini sandwiches, and unbelievable mac and cheese. Seriously, if you're ever in Portland, be sure to visit Vtopia.
This restaurant was recently up for sale as the super sweet owners are moving to Australia this Spring (jealous!), but luckily another vegan in the community bought it so we can all enjoy their amazing food for years to come. Thank God! The night we decided to go there for dinner was just one week after the new owner had taken over, and true for any new business owner in transition, things were a little hectic. So I offered to help out over the weekend and to my surprise, they said yes! It was such a fun experience to help in the kitchen, meet customers- both local and visiting from out of state, and get to know other vegans in my community.
One woman I worked with in particular was such an inspiration. She is my parent's age, has beautiful rainbow hair (yes, literally), with a personality just as colorful to match...no one could forget her! We talked about her work as a vegan fusion instructor (see below*), the vegan food cart she is starting this fall, her vast involvement in the vegan community, and recipe ideas. We also talked about different ways to turn vegetables into dessert and she mentioned that cauliflower makes a great lemon tart "custard." I won't lie; at first I doubted her. Cauliflower...sweet? It seemed too odd. But then my imagination took off and I thought about using strawberries, tons of lemon juice and zest, and agave as a sweetener to cover the savory nature of cauliflower. I used a basic crust dough to make the tart shells as well, but plan to experiment with other ingredients to make a healthier crust and different flavors for the custard in the future. Chocolate? Apple? Cranberry? Sweet Potato? This could get crazy!
*Deb Kay will be instructing two upcoming vegan fusion workshops here in Portland. If you're local (or not!), you can find more info here.