Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Herbivore's Delight

This is what I had for lunch on my birthday yesterday.
Cranky is sensitive to my reluctance to do celebratory meals involving undifferentiated slabs of mammal muscle, so he suggested we return to Ubuntu, in Napa, a vegetable restaurant.
It was a gray, rainy day, but the place was filled with bright, happy people enjoying their plants. The vibe is not weird. It's unbelievably normal, even if there is a yoga studio upstairs.
But, enough. I just want to tell you what I ate, and vow that I will try to get a close replication at home, no matter how many tries it takes. It was that good.
It's a bowl of yellow corn grits. I know. Dull dull dull. I think the grits were infused with goat's milk whey. Not dull!
Into the soft, flowing grits was dropped a fresh egg, to cook gently in the ambient warmth. You can see some of the pierced yolk on the left.
Finally, the grits were showered with shaved cheese (parmesan? something good), sprinkled with herbs, and topped with [bugle fanfare] "trumpet crisps," essentially crisp fried slices of trumpet mushrooms. Why didn't anybody tell me you could do this with mushrooms? Snappy and crackly as snack food, with amazing flavor. I still haven't decided if the kitchen sneaked a little truffle oil in there. Or, no, wait, maybe the flavor was more like vanilla. Maple!
See, this is going to be hard to replicate.
It doesn't matter, though. I'm just so thrilled to know this meal, I suspect anything that comes even close will be divine.


dancingmorganmouse said...

Why don't you ask them what they put in, friendly vegetable folk would surely love to share.
Are corn grits like polenta?

Anna Banana said...

Happy birthday!

Kailyn said...

A belated happy birthday! Now you have to try the grits at 1300. All I can remember is that they involve blue cheese. And perhaps a tomato marmalade and truffle oil.

kudzu said...

Perfetto! And doesn't Cranky always do just the right thing?

I grew up with white grits but the yellow ones are supposed to be even more nutritious.

natalia said...

happy belated birthday!
and that sounds dee-licious.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, happy late birthday!

That looks wholesomely lovely.

Anita (Married... with dinner) said...

happy birthday! Glad you had a better time this trip to Ubuntu. Less like a salt-lick? :)

Zoomie said...

Are those pine needles in the dish, too? Most intriguing combination of flavors and textures.

cookiecrumb said...

Mouse: Grits are like polenta, yes.
I appreciate your suggestion to ask the restaurant... They cook kind of ad hoc, though, so nobody will remember. I think I got a good mental image of it.

Anna Banana: Thankee!!

Kailyn: Thanks, you. OK, I'll check out 1300. Sounds good.

Kudzu: Cranky can be so thoughtful.
At our house, we just buy Bob's Red Mill Polenta and use it for everything... though I too grew up on white grits.

Natalia: You're not late; I'm celebrating all month!

El: Wholesome, yes, but they kicked it into the restaurant-worthy atmosphere. I am lucky.

Anita: Totally different experience. A happy bustle, no oversalting, charming staff... They seem to be doing well. Thanks for the BD wishes.

kudzu said...

Feel the need to expound. Grits are made from hominy (TREATED dried corn), while polenta is made from plain dried corn. That makes for a distinct difference in taste. Of course they can be used as side dishes in the same way -- as long as you don't live in Georgia.

cookiecrumb said...

Thanks for the expoundation, Kudzu. I have never tasted grits and polenta side by side, so I'm in for some larnin'. That would be fun. Bob's Red Mill to the rescue.

kudzu said...

Expounding -- one pound at a time!

Greg said...

Happy Birthday! That plate is a thing of beauty.

tammy said...

Happy belated birthday!!!

Zoomie said...

Better than birthday cake for Cookiecrumb and the so-sensitive Cranky! Brava and bravo and Happy Birthday month.

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: I try to experiment with my expounding in half pounds.

Greg: It's right up your way. Instead of an SF adventure, may I recommend this for a weekend lunch?

Tammy: So, I had to extort a comment from you by pretending it was my birthday!!!
Haw. Naw. :D

Zoomie: I'd be more than willing to share some birthday month with you two.

Zoomie said...

Oh, good! I'm in!

Heather said...

You know, it does sound better than what I thought it was based on the photo (eggs with fried ham). Still a little iffy on food these days, but I've been eating vegetarian just fine.

A merry unbirthday to you, Miss.

Sam said...

sorry I missed your birthday - I am glad you enjoyed your lunch. I want to visit Ubuntu again. Maybe I'll take Fred. Had the saltish levels improved?

I am missing my mum - she is in China - your talk of Ubuntu just reminded me of her and how all four of us tried it out for the first time together.


cookiecrumb said...

Heather: Thanks!
Ooh, it *does* look like ham slices. But nope, not at Ubuntu.
I'm surprised you have any appetite at all with that alien inside you. Best wishes for good health.

Sam: I was completely immersed in memories of our visit to Napa with your mum.
Yes! The salt problem has abated, at least on that latest visit. Maybe the salt problem was a fluke. Do go there with Fred.
I can't believe your mum's in China. She has the energy of a racehorse, and saddlebags full of prize money too, apparently. :)


Sam said...

unlike her sloppy, carefree daughter, my mother has lived a frugal and careful life which I am happy she is able to reap the rewards of now. She is by no means wealthy, she obviously just manages her government pension well. She has always been a saver whilst I, like my grandmother = big spender. They say things skip a generation, right?

cookiecrumb said...

Sam: I really don't see her as very spendy, so I'm always impressed when she manages another trip somewhere.
I do see her as generous though. Your whole family is. xx

EB of SpiceDish said...

Happy, Happy Belated!!

cookiecrumb said...

EB: Never too late. Thank you!!

cook eat FRET said...

that right there is a dream lunch
just perfection - truly.

i need to make a version of this
creamy grits, an egg, cheese, goats whatever, and crispy fancy shrooms.

why am i reexplaining your explanation?

cookiecrumb said...

Claudia: I know. It's... inevitable. Intuitive. Inuit.
Forget that last one.