Monday, March 31, 2008

Live, Learn, Steal

I am deliriously annoyed by Ubuntu, the newish vegetarian restaurant in Napa run by serious cooks.
I love vegetables.
I love being oomphed into a new take on preparing vegetables in my own home by a hotshit restaurant.
Thanks to Ubuntu, I have now created two of my own spin-offs of their lovely, though often flawed, cooking.
(Please note: Not so flawed that I will never go back, no. Ubuntu is still on my list.)
Here's the history of yesterday's meal. I ordered a dish at Ubuntu of toasted pearl pasta in broth, topped with greens. It was beautiful, hella. Although some of the greens tasted skanky. Not rotten, just... unfamiliar (and I'm not talking about the pea greens, yum).
So I didn't love it, but...
Back home, we have a cauliflower development. The beautiful green romanescos are bolting into shootiness. That is, the cauliflowers have unwinded themselves and sent tender buds skyward. The tender buds are even turning purple! Some of them.
So, how about an Ubuntu rip-off?
I waltzed around the spring garden yesterday, collecting frayed onion greens and boisterous herbs, then I robbed the refrigerator of carrots and other tasties for a vegetable broth.
Within that now strained broth, I cooked the cauliflower buds, along with some fregola, aka toasted pearl pasta. This cute mess was then topped with fresh sorrel leaves from the garden, which I pushed down into the hot broth to get them cooked (as they turned that sad shade of khaki). Cranky's cool idea was to strew shaved radish over the top for color and excitement.
Verdict: Oh, you know! We loved it. It was stylish, filling, delicious. We are so happy to be pushed into experimentation, and to be so pleased with our results.
Now you try.

22 comments:

peter said...

For me, restaurants are best visited occasionally for inspiration. Too much eating out and I don't feel good. This post is a perfect example of the inherent superiority of home cooking.

cookiecrumb said...

Totally agreed, amen, Peter.
Can I come over?

Lannae said...

Ah, the red radish skins adds such a lovely visual contrast to the clear and wheat color of the broth and pearls. Ah, a feast for the eyes :)

dancingmorganmouse said...

I love that we can do that, be inspired by what we eat out in restaurants, it makes home cooking so much fun. And you know, sometimes we do better than the original, that's a blast.
That soup looks fantastical btw.

Mary Coleman said...

yum yum yum..i love it when you go out to steal..i mean eat!

kudzu said...

Of course I don't know Ubuntu's soup in person, but if you want the sorrel to stay green it must be tossed in a second before you serve it, i.e. not really "cooked". It's easier if you add a chiffonade of the leaves. That also preserves its sorrel-sourness.

I love the looks of that soup!

Zoomie said...

What kind of broth did you use - it looks rich and meaty.

peter said...

Absolutely. (Laden with oranges and/or pears, I trust.)

Barbara said...

Well I'm green with envy

Rev. Biggles said...

I'm sorry, I missed that. What? Am busy enjoying hover bacon.

xo, Biggles aka Sweetnicks.

Anita said...

wait, Biggles is masquerading Cate? Now I am really confused.

Your soup looks as pretty as Ubuntu's... I bet it tasted better (if only less salty), too.

Sean said...

Yes ma'am!

Greg said...

You know me I'm all about "adapting"recipes:)

cookiecrumb said...

Lannae: Yes, the visuals are tasty, and the radish also added a nice crisp not-quite-crunch.

Morgan: We just have to not be hard on ourselves if we make a mess. It's good to be inspired.

Mary Coleman: I went out today... let's see, what should I steal? Garlic prawns? :)

Kudzu: Yeah, I should have cut a chiffonade. That would have been prettier, and fun to eat. (I actually think it needs more greens...)

Zoomie: Horrors! A meaty broth for a vegetable soup from Ubuntu? Heh. No, I cobbled together a real quick vegetable broth from garden items and refrigerator items (including one old, dried brown mushroom, which may have added the nice color).

Peter: The oranges are kaput. The pears are in utero. We can time this thing!

Barbara: "Green," a good choice of words. My reason for putting up this post is to remind people how easy it is to do a riff on restaurant food (provided it's simple enough in the first place).

Biggles: What is hover bacon?

Anita: Oh, I zinged Biggles with a compliment on his blog redesign, which is swanky and tasty, but whar's muh hillbilly?

Sean: Oh, god, it wasn't an order! At ease.

Greg: We adapt if we're missing ingredients, or didn't like the original ingredients, or didn't know quite how to reproduce the meal. It's fun. Play with your food.

Zoomie said...

Aha! The mushroom brownness. Got it!

Rev. Biggles said...

Can you imagine if pork had levitation?

I've known about Joel for a long time, but hadn't been in the last year. CB sent this over the other day.

http://www.rathergood.com/bacon/

Love!

cookiecrumb said...

Biggles! Yoinks. That song just keeps going and going, and I think *I* wrote it, because I always float around my house singing "la la la la la." Not always on a slice of hover bacon, but still...
Wow, wonky British fun.

Stacie said...

you rule! I love your garden, and can almost envision it! Today I will rake the leaves off of my soggy wet plot, and make a space to plant spring peas.... yummy!

KathyF said...

I checked out their menu (I love to find new restaurant menus to saliate over; thanks!) and, OMG, are those the prices? 49 dollars for a whole menu? That's like...£25!

I can see why you guys eat out so often.

We have to sell off some jewelry to eat out here. And I refuse to sell my wedding ring for a plate of pasta. Well, maybe if there were porcini involved...

meg said...

always a pleasure to do something yourself better than a hotshit restaurant. i've found that veggie places are good, but generally overpriced and terribly overrated. i actually read a review of ubuntu in the new york times and remember rolling my eyes at the praise the reviewer gave the place. come on, it's just a restaurant.

Lore said...

Radishes are a satple in our house now and I thank spring for that. The soup looks great! Any left for a taste test? :)

cookiecrumb said...

Stacie: No, you rule. Because of you, I decided to grow broccoli over the winter, and it worked! Thank you for the idea. I wish you a restorative spring.

KathyF: Ah, but here I am re-creating dishes from the restaurant at home, for a fraction of the cost. It helps if you've eaten at the restaurant first, I admit.

Meg: I know. Guess what, the SF Chronicle will be naming Ubuntu one of the Bay Area's top 100 restaurants tomorrow. Feh. Just come over to my house!

Lore: The radishes! Cranky's idea, but he didn't know how to get them on the soup. I suggested thin slices with the carrot peeler. Very pretty.