by Ian McNulty
No holiday menu would be complete without Sri Lankan borscht, right? And can it really feel like December until you’ve had hearts of palm stuffed with marrow bean and cashew cheese?
Those are a few of the dishes to be served next week at what’s looking like one of the season’s most unusual holiday dinners, which is dubbed the “Vegan Fine Dining Festivals of Light.” The menu, from a selection of hors d'oeuvres through four courses (see below), is all vegan and it will be served Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Feelings Café, a Marigny restaurant with old New Orleans ambiance in overdrive.
The restaurant usually serves a menu full of meat and local seafood, to say nothing of dairy and assorted other vegan verbotens, but the rambling old Creole restaurant has been branching out lately. Last summer saw the transformation of one of its under-used upstairs dining rooms into a twice-weekly pop-up wine bar called Sentiments, and another part of the restaurant is now a yoga studio.
Feelings also added a number of vegan dishes to its regular menu, like mushroom boudin and brochette of marinated tofu. Those dishes were created by local freelance chef and caterer Anne Churchill, who is also behind next week's Vegan Fine Dining Festivals of Light.
Churchill isn’t a vegan herself, but she finds special inspiration in this style of cooking and she’s had plenty of opportunity recently to explore it. Earlier this year she served as the specialty vegan chef for cast members of Glee Live, a touring concert based on the popular TV show.
“It’s easy to make something taste great when you’re using pork fat, but it’s a little more challenging to get an interesting, satisfying meal without using animals and I like that challenge,” she says.
Churchill hosted a similar vegan dinner at Feeling’s in October and future editions may be on the calendar soon.
“Last time it was an experiment but people went crazy, so if this one is successful too we’ll be looking at making it a monthly event,” she says.
The cost for Wednesday’s dinner is $60, plus tax and tip. Add a wine pairing to the courses for $20. Seatings are at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and reservations are required. Call Feelings Café at 945-2222.
Here’s the menu:
Feeling’s Café and Chef Anne Churchill
Vegan Fine Dining Festivals of Light Menu
Amouses Bouche, served with pre dinner drinks in the courtyard
Beluga Lentils atop buckwheat blini with macadamia nut crème fraiche and preserved lemon
Potato and pea samosa with tamarind dipping sauce
Ratatouille in phyllo cup with arugula cream
Local citrus, sprouts, lettuces, pomegranate, spiced pumpkin seeds, Meyer lemon vinaigrette, pumpkin seed oil
Sri Lankan Borscht with fried curry leaves
Fresh Hearts of Palm, stuffed with marrow bean and cashew cheese puree, with a mushroom marrow bean sauce with truffle oil and pickled shallot
Badam Phirni-saffron coconut custard, served with fresh local strawberries