A Special Vegetable Tasting for Andersonville Green Week July 14th

Andersonville Green Week, a program of EcoAndersonville is July 11-17th, 2011 and we’ve thrown in for a couple of events. On Wednesday, July 13, I will be doing a Right Bite cooking demonstration with the Shedd Aquarium focusing on sustainable seafood. More on that later. Last year, we had so much fun with the local vegetable tasting menu we did for Green Week, we decided to do the same again.

I’ve always been candid about my own history as a vegetarian for years and even a vegan for a short while. The issues of sustainability where our food supply is concerned are many, complex, and it’s difficult to feel like we’re getting good information a lot of the time. My own decision years ago to go vegetarian had to do with my desire to check out of a system that treats sentient animals cruelly and leaves them diseased while creating pollution ranging from sewage runoff to methane gas to antibiotic resistance. Taking things further, I ultimately decided I couldn’t eat eggs if I wouldn’t eat the chicken when she could no longer lay and I couldn’t consume dairy because I couldn’t reconcile what happens to the cow when she can no longer give milk, and like it or not, if you consume dairy products, you’re subsidizing the veal industry because that’s what they do to male calves of dairy breeds. No thanks, I said.

Over time I found a great stable of farmers that could supply me with farm products from animals that are treated properly by good farmers who take care of their land. There are cases in which farm animals, properly raised in a sensible land management program, can actually improve marginal land, because healthy pasture is an excellent carbon sink. Both as a consumer and as a chef, I decided to be the change that I want to see in the world. That means to seek and support farmers who raise animals in healthy conditions both for the animals themselves and also the environment.

Today my personal belief is that it is possible to eat the diet of an omnivore and if we do so conscientiously, we can tread lightly on the earth. But, I still see vegetarian and vegan diets as honorable choices by thoughtful people, so we’ve always made a place at our table for vegetarians and vegans.

I hope to make the vegetable menu a more regular event than it’s been; the last one we did was for Green Week last year. Response was great, and we expect the same this year, so if you’re interested in a vegetable menu series (such as monthly) be sure to let us know. We’d love to hear what you think.

The tasting menu will be served Thursday, July 14 from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. Five courses will be forty dollars per person with optional beverage pairings for twenty. We do ask that if you would like to enjoy the vegetable menu, your entire table participates.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Smoked Almond Puree, Pickled Cherries, and Summer Savory

Sweet Corn Gazpacho with Zucchini Relish, Mint, and Marinated Beech Mushrooms

Gargouillou of Summer Vegetables with Puffed Farro, Pickled King Trumpet Mushrooms, Many Herbs and Flowers

Potato, Leek, and Walnut Strudel with Rosemary, Sunflower Vinaigrette, and Murray River Salt

Creamy Coconut Galette with Crispy Rice, Bittersweet Chocolate, and Strawberry Rose Sorbet

The vegetable menu will be 100% free of animal products aka vegan. You can look forward to produce from the following farms and producers among others: Shooting Star, Garden to Be, Ridgeland Harvest, Green Acres, Genesis Growers, Nichols Orchard, Paul Friday, Seedling, Growing Power, Three Sisters Garden, Smits. Plus organic mushrooms from Kinoko, grains from Three Sisters and Anson Mills, Sorghum from Burton’s, and certified organic chocolate and coconut. All in one meal in which no one would miss the meat.