Raising A Glass To Vegan Cuisine

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - July 18, 2007
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Are you eating healthier? If you are like me, you’re realizing that there are more and more people in your life who are really watching what they eat. To that end, I also have been curbing my own appetite for fatty foods, and even going vegetarian and vegan with some meals. But just because you go vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean that you have to go without wine. Wine can certainly be a part of a healthy diet and can make the meal even better.

I recently had the pleasure of trying some of the best vegan food I’ve ever had from a meal plan company called ‘Licious Dishes, recently opened by Sylvia Thompson, who trained in raw food preparation, meaning that the plant-based foods are not cooked over 115 degrees to keep the enzymes, life-giving water, and health-giving nutrients and anti-oxidants of the plant alive to aid digestion and health. The food is completely vegan; no animal products, no meats, seafood, poultry or dairy of any kind are used. Some people may think that it can’t be very good, but this food is absolutely delicious. With wine it was a complete gourmet experience. And you know what? I found some great wine pairings in the process!

One would think that with so many greens, the only wines that could go well with this cuisine would be white. But with the first dish I tried, the Porcini and Crimini Mushroom Enchilada with Romaine, Guacamole and Salsa, the best thing was Pinot Noir - my favorite! It went especially well with an Old World version in the form of the 2004 Bouchard Beaune du Chateau Rouge ($32). This premier cru has plenty of satiny tannin with cherry pit fruit and spice. The enchilada is fairly dense, and with the earthiness of the mushrooms and guacamole the earthiness and texture of the red Burgundy matched it more than well. Just for fun I also tasted it with a New Zealand Pinot Noir, the 2005 Amisfield from Central Otago ($32). It had a terrifically fruity and forward nose and great texture, a really fun and delicious wine. But the earthier Burgundy just paired better.

My wife’s favorite dish of the bunch was the Butternut Squash, Shiitake Mushroom Torta with Tatsoi Salad, marinated Red Onions, Greek Olives and Fresh Mint. This dish had notes of ginger and a refreshing note with the mint. It was very Mediterranean to me, so I had it with a 2005 Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio ($25) from Italy, but it really didn’t stand up to the dish and added some bitterness. So instead I tried a bottle of 2005 Regis Minet Pouilly Fume Vieilles Vignes ($17). This minerally and guava, grapefruit-scented Sauvignon Blanc pulled in the ginger as well as the earth-iness of the mushrooms. The tatsoi also was a great foil for the herbaceousness of the wine.

The spiciest dish on my menu was the Spicy Almond Thai Veggie Wraps with Tamarind Sauce. The crunchiness of the fresh vegetables and the greenness and bitterness of the collard green wrap along with the Thai spiciness of the sauce screamed for an off-dry Riesling. It was absolutely brilliant with the bottle of 2005 Josef Leitz Rudesheimer Klosterlay Riesling Kabinett ($16). The raciness and light sweetness of the Riesling cut through the heat of the sauce without adding any bitterness to the wrap. It was cleansing and vibrant.

The menu is so varied that there is plenty more to try from Middle Eastern Tacos to Spaghetti Squash. I must emphasize that the food here is more than just salad; its preparation and the recipes themselves are quite intricate and can satisfy the true gourmand. Just add wine and you have a fun, healthy and satisfying experience.

‘Licious Dishes, 536-9680 or 753-0050, 650 Iwilei Road #170 Shops at Dole Cannery across the parking lot from Costco.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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