JUNE 30, 2007 10:13 AM

Exalted Vegan Cuisine Just Down the Block

It is notoriously difficult to find passable vegan cuisine in a restaurant that caters largely to omnivores. It is even more difficult to get satisfaction when the bar by which you measure passable vegan cuisine has been set by the finest vegan chefs in the world, whose gustatory revelations are still emblazoned on your palate from the Vegetarian Awakening conference back in April.

Culinary Genius in the Bloom of Youth

That's why we were absolutely blown away when Chad Miller, 24-year-old co-owner and executive chef of Restaurant Bloom right here on Cherry Street in Grand Rapids (he's the headless-but-not-breadless torso in the above photo), dished up one of the most innovative, aesthetically pleasing, and downright delectable vegan dining experiences we've ever had the pleasure of enjoying. To get a sense of how much we loved Chad's cuisine, take into account that we've also had the pleasure here, here, here, and here, among other places.

Pea + Rhubard Reduction + Coconut = A Really Good Start

I suppose we shouldn't have been too surprised, since Chad received his training at GRCC, home of Chef Kevin Dunn, the vegan culinary pioneer who brought Vegetarian Awakening to Grand Rapids. In any case, we gave Chef Miller 4 days notice (he recommends a minimum of 2), and he prepared a tour de force of six inspired vegan dishes--three courses each for the ladies and the gentlemen. My antique 2.0 megapixel camera, Bloom's ambient lighting, and my remedial photographic sense have conspired against my intent to provide pictures that do justice to Chef Miller's breathtaking platings. Nevertheless, the following photos will give you at least an inkling of his considerable talents.

First Courses

Carrot in Variations, Sunflower Seed

Toasted Almond Gazpacho, Pickled Cucumber, Grape, Powdered Vanilla
Second Courses

Smoked Tofu, Sugar Snaps, Baby Potatoes, Pea Puree

Chanterelle Mushrooms, Baby Zucchini, Lentils, Ligurian Olive Oil
Third Courses

Roast Banana, Chocolate Sorbet, Cashew, Smoked Salt

Fresh Strawberry, Fresh Blueberry, Vanilla Bean Tapioca, Pistachio, Basil

Alas, Alack...
Bloom is not an exclusively vegan restaurant. And they are as yet in the process of acquiring a liquour license, so dinner was still a glass or two of Sancerre from perfect. But the food was so ingeniously and meticulously conceived, expertly executed, and beautifully plated that those thoughts didn't occur to me until dinner was over. Go to Bloom and put this guy through the VEGAN paces! He's got the chops, and then some.

Comments (7)

JUNE 28, 2007 7:25 PM

Listen Up, Legislators Everywhere!
Oregon has become the first state in the U.S. to employ representative government as a means of banning the use of gestation crates for breeding pigs. Other states including Arizona and Florida have used voter ballot initiatives to ban the practice, but Oregon state Senator Ginny Burdick did it the hard way by introducing a bill and shepherding it through both houses. Read all about it in this press release from The Humane Society of the United States.

Comments (1)

JUNE 25, 2007 9:19 AM

or "NYTimes Public Editor Deals Planck Shattering Blow"
The torrents of indignant letters from people affronted by Nina Planck's misinformed op-ed on veganism apparently swamped the New York Times editorial office to such an extent that they had their "Public Editor" investigate. The result? Planck gets another spanking. Check it out here.

Comments (1)

JUNE 22, 2007 12:18 PM

Surf these links to some great ideas!
If you're like the person pictured above, you're so busy raking, carrying around large panes of glass, showing rectangles to clowns, and giving lit matches to babies that you scarcely have time to get dinner on the table! Sure, sure, you're inspired to do better by the sumptuous looking food photos featured on extraVEGANza!, but the lazy ne'er-do-wells who "run" the site hardly ever post the recipes, and you need concrete instruction.

We understand your predicament, and until we have the time to do more by way of recipes, perhaps you can find the cure for what ails you at one of these EXCELLENT vegan recipe blogs (don't let the boring names put you off; the content is usually FAB): Eat Air; Melomeals; Fat Free Vegan.

As you browse their wares, please remember who sent you, and check back with us from time to time to stay abreast of all the other exciting aspects of the vegan lifestyle--it's not just about the FOOD, after all.

Comments (3)

JUNE 21, 2007 1:41 PM

Rake those veggies over the coals!
You don't have to eat animal corpses or use nasty petrolium-laden briquets to enjoy the taste of summer. Just grab a bag of natural hardwood charcoalfrom Harvest Health, fire up the grill, and throw on asparagus, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and pineapple for a great VEG twist on fajitas.

JUNE 20, 2007 9:44 AM

The solution? Turn off the stove and EAT IT RAW! At least that's the route we decided to take in a shameless attempt to impress the daylights out of our celebrity vegan friends Harold and Linda Brown and Dr. Kerrie Saunders when they dropped in for a weekend visit earlier this month. We had hoped to do a public event, but schedules were tight, so there wasn't time to do much of anything but eat and run. Here are some of the highlights:

Raw Green Gazpacho

Raw Sun Burgers with Mini "Krab" Cakes

(Almost) Raw Spring Rolls

Raw Fettucini Alfredo

Raw Coconut Peppermint Pattie

Comments (2)

JUNE 18, 2007 11:08 AM

For "edu-tainment" animals, the cost of admission may be higher than you think.
Animal enterprises such as aquariums and zoos count on the public perception that their reasons for being are noble ones: education, conservation, and research that benefits the animals themselves. But is this scenario really plausible? The authors of this article challenge us to think before we patronize such establishments.

Comments (1)

JUNE 17, 2007 6:15 PM

Sunday Brunch
Buckwheat, pecans, caramelized bananas, vanilla, maple syrup: now THAT'S a pancake. Moles fixed them with a side of tofu scrambled with fresh Trillium Haven spinach and organic tomatoes from Noodles' grandmother's garden. We supplemented the water from the wilting spinach and the fresh tomato juices with a mixture of tahini and tamari, and the result was a very rich tasting sauce that reminded us of a marsala.

Comments (1)

JUNE 17, 2007 1:10 PM

Secure Your Pineapple Moustache While Supplies Last!
It may look a tad on the fufu side, but this itsy bitsy little velvet hammer has some serious bell-ringing heft. Get out the blender, and throw in some tequila, some lime juice, some Cointreau (or triple sec), a handful of ice cubes, and a few sizeable chunks of fresh pineapple. Whirl until smooth, drink it up, and keep that frothy tropical stache as a little flavor saver for later.

JUNE 9, 2007 9:38 AM

Mercy Makes A Difference!
The next time you and your high school chums are racking up a two dollar tab during a four hour dishwater coffee binge, you can be assured that the open-faced turkey sandwich ordered by the robust looking gentleman in the booth next to you was NOT sourced by House of Raeford, the North Carolina poultry processing plant featured in the Mercy For Animals Expose posted on June 7. Read all about it in Denny's Dumps Supplier After Bird Abuse Video.

Congratulations to Nathan Runkle and Mercy For Animals on this very successful campaign. Visit them here and support their good work!

JUNE 7, 2007 9:50 PM

Mercy For Animals Documents Cruelty in N.C. Processing Facility
One nagging concern I have about the prospects of ostensibly "humane" smaller-scale animal farming is that even the most well-intentioned, conscientious farmers cannot insure that their animals do not undergo horrific cruelty, since in many cases they have no choice but to transport their animals to slaughter in facilities where they themselves have no control over how their animals are treated.

As you can see from this sobering undercover footage of a poultry processing plant in North Carolina, even on the unlikely supposition that these turkeys and chickens lived blissful lives on Old McDonald's Farm, the fate waiting for them in this facility was unimaginably cruel. This footage is graphic. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

JUNE 5, 2007 7:41 PM

"The 'Babe' Vegetarians: Bioethics, Animal Minds and Moral Methodology"

From Bioethics and the Movies
Questions for Discussion:

1. Bioethicist Bernard Rollin suggests that “there is perhaps no set of social issues on which otherwise sane people on either side of the question allow themselves to be as overwhelmingly irrational as in matters pertaining to the treatment of animals, and our moral obligations to them.” Is this true? If so, what is it about ethics and animals issues that might explain why people respond these ways? Is it bad when people respond “irrationally” to moral issues? What can be done to lessen this kind of response and encourage better responses (what are these?)?
2. Some people argue that movies like “Babe” and “Charlotte’s Web” “anthropomorphize” animals. What does it mean to “anthropomorphize” something? Is it a mistake to anthropomorphize any animals? It is a mistaken to anthropomorphize all human beings (or all beings who are biologically human?)? Why or why not?
3. Some people claim that there are “more important” moral issues to address than the treatment of animals in farms, labs, slaughterhouses, etc. How does one argue that one moral issues is “more important” than another? Is the number of beings affected relevant? Is it the severity of the harms relevant? How does one decide this? If one issue is more important than another, does that mean another is not important? Discuss these issues as they relate to animal issues.
4. Some animal advocates argue that there are important similarities between (past) movements for women’s rights, rights for minorities (e.g., African-Americans) and other oppressed humans and the (present) movement for animal rights. What are these similarities? What are the differences? Which are more morally important here, the similarities or the differences? Why?
5. Most people would not eat their pet dog or cat. What would their best reasons for not doing this imply for whether they should eat chickens, pigs and cows?

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