August 17, 2012

Whole Food Supper Club: Grande Cena Italiana

Last night Bo and I tried something new: we went to a "Supper Club" hosted by our local Whole Foods (WH).  Come to find out, this is a new monthly event that our WH just started up last month.  We attended only the second event of its kind!

For a four course dinner, the event only cost $15.00 per person, and online registration was required.  Upon arrival, Bo and I were pleasantly surprised to see that the event was SOLD OUT!  Whole Foods must be on to something, because it was a packed house!

As you probably noticed from the title of this post, the theme of last night's Supper Club was "Grande Cena Italiana" (translated as "Big Italian Dinner").


Italian Chowder with Cod (or Tofu) & Kale
Mediterranean Crunch Salad
Eggplant Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash Noodles

The event started off with a brief explanation of what we would be eating, how it was prepared, and an overview of the "Four Pillars of Healthy Eating:"
  1. whole food - any food in its most essential, pure, delicious, and basic form: an asparagus spear, a lemon, a scoop of quinoa, or a fillet of salmon;
  2. plant-strong - begin to reconfigure your plate so that the majority of your meal is made from an abundance of plant-based foods;
  3. healthy fats - eat whole plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados.  Then, work to minimize (or eliminate) the amounts of extracted oils and processed fats you cook with on a daily basis; and
  4. nutrient dense - choose foods rich in micronutrients when compared to total caloric content.

Then we got straight to the best part: EATING!

Course #1 was soup: Italian Chowder with Cod & Kale.  I enjoyed my bowl with baked tofu, while Bo enjoyed his with fresh cod.  Overall the soup was delicious.  My only two points of contention were:
  1. it is still a little bit too hot outside for me to truly enjoy hot soup (for me, it needs to be at least 65 to warrant hot soup); and
  2. a pinch of salt would have taken this dish from "good" to "great"!

Course #2 was salad: Mediterranean Crunch Salad, to be specific.  The salad was one of both Bo and I's favorite courses of the night.  Although the only dressing that it had was a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar, it - surprisingly - didn't need it.  The tomatoes, cucumber, olives, and other vegetables were so flavorful and fresh that they really "popped" on their own.  In retrospect, I think that a heavy or creamy dressing would have just overwhelmed the natural flavors completely!

As you can see, I had no problem polishing off my entire salad...hehehe. :)

Throughout the evening, we drank Cucumber and Lemon Infused Water.  Who knew that something as simple as a few sliced of cucumber and lemons could elevate boring table water to something spectacular?  You better believe I will be recreating this at home!

For our main course, we enjoyed Eggplant Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash Noodles.  By far, the bolognese was my favorite part of the dish.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy spaghetti squash as much as the next person, but the vegetables were really far and above better than their "noodle" counterparts.

Again, the squash could have used some garlic, salt, pepper, and maybe even a little EVOO (while the bolognese was delicious all on its own).  I know that the point of the dinner was to show us how plant-based, fresh, food can be delicious without the added sodium and fat (i.e. oil), but a little bit really would have gone a long way here.

In the end, I ate all of the bolognese while leaving about half of the squash on my plate!

Course #4 was, by no surprise, another one of Bo and I's favorites of the evening.  I mean, truly, who can say no to decadent tiramisu?!  Surprisingly, the tiramisu was vegan!  To prove it to you, here is the ingredient list:
  • 4 cups medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 1/2 cups water;
  • 4oz. espresso;
  • 1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked and drained;
  • 1 cup coconut milk;
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour;
  • 1T baking powder;
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt;
  • 1 tsp lemon juice;
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract;
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon; and
  • 2T cocoa powder.

Creamy, D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S., and sinfully good, this dessert was as good as any tiramisu I have ever eaten.  Even Bo said that he never would have guessed it was vegan and relatively healthy!

Obviously, we both ate every single bite (and I might have even used my finger to swipe off the remaining cream a time or two). ;)

More photographic evidence of the deliciousness.

By the end of the evening, we were fulled (but not stuffed), a little bit more educated on healthy foods (but not overly inundated), and relaxed (the sign of any good date night, if you ask me).  I definitely think that we would be interested in attending another "Supper Club" at Whole Foods.  In fact, next months menu is already looking pretty intriguing:
  • Yellow Split-Pea and Sweet Potato Soup;
  • Kale Waldorf Salad;
  • Quinoa with Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms; and
  • Banana Ice Cream Cake.

Sounds pretty good, right?!

Question of the Day:

What sort of unique events does your community offer (and I'm not just talking about grocery stores here, it can be an event hosted by your local mall, pet store, etc.)?!

Ally and Bo

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