travels vegetarian writing

A Southerly Weekend, and More Cauliflower Love

9 April 2008

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Whew. That was a time.

I feel like I need to eat strictly vegetables and fruit for the next week to make up for all the — delicious — cheese and pasta I consumed over the past wedding weekend. I’ve missed kiwis. And cauliflower.

I haven’t spent much time in the south (this past weekend was exclusive to North Carolina) — though I have been to Raleigh once, and to the Outer Banks, and then there was that whole living in Washington, DC thing — so it was nice to get out of my element for a little bit and hear some different accents and eat some different food (specifically, mac and cheese, because while the barbecue at the pre-wedding dinner smelled delicious, my vegetarian sensibilities wouldn’t let me indulge). Still, as the plane swooped around and down into San Francisco on Sunday night, I must admit I took a deep breath: home, home again, at last. I was gone only five days but, you know. Today my lovely, lovely city is shining in the sunshine, preening itself for me it seems, maybe because it missed me just the tiniest bit.

[Darling, I won’t leave you again! At least not ’til my work conference next month in Texas (!) and the next wedding to attend, in Greece.]

It’s a fine thing to attend the nuptials of one of your best friends, and it’s finer still when you can count both bride and groom among your most special pals. I feel extremely lucky I was able to be a part of their celebration (and, no, I did not cry during my little toast; I think the shot of whiskey beforehand definitely helped with that). The weekend, too, was a reunion of sorts, because all my buddies came down from their respective homes — in Baltimore, Rochester, New York, and DC — and we had such fun catching up with each other. If my wallet wasn’t already groaning, I’d ask them all to get married (and remarried) once a month just so we could hang out more frequently.

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[Jessie’s flowers, April 2008.]

Weddings seem to be tricky things when it comes to food, and if you’re vegetarian, good luck. I remember one wedding I went to years ago, where the food was lovely and simple — and sans a vegetarian entree. I loaded up my plate with green salad, rice, and asparagus (which, now that I think about it, might have been my first try with asparagus as an adult; luckily it went well) and had so much fun I hardly missed the protein. However, it’s nice when the hosts are aware that some of their guests forgo meat and fish, and because my friends are wonderful people, there was plenty for me to eat at their reception buffet on Saturday night (and, did I mention? the cheese? There was a lot of cheese).

Some of us ate: chicken in a cream sauce; salmon with dill; little crab cake appetizer things. Most of us ate: sharp cheese and creamy cheeses with crackers, crunchy raw cucumbers and peppers, an enormous fresh salad, delicious stir-fried green beans, and a few other things I forget. I personally ate, but certainly not enough of: wild mushroom ravioli
in a rich sauce that was so good I felt like licking my plate to get every last bit of it (I didn’t, because I felt some sense of decorum was required, at least at that early stage of the evening). The cake was, luckily, chocolate, so I didn’t mind too much I didn’t get to make it myself (next time! Err …). We danced late into the night and some of us maybe didn’t go to bed until the very wee-est of hours, which made the flight home the next afternoon a bit more difficult than it could have been.

But that’s what vacation is for, I suppose. It was good to get out of town for a few days, if only because it made me especially glad to be home.

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[Wedding flowers, April 2008.]

Now I’m back to California again, trying to catch up on sleep again, and thinking — yet again — about cauliflower. Honestly, you would be, too, after such weekend decadence (I forgot to tell you about the vegetarian omelet I had at the hotel breakfast that was surprisingly one of the best omelettes I’ve ever had, just cheese and spinach and mushrooms all folded together into the lightest of eggs; oh, and the grits with butter and plenty of salt). It would seem that I’m not only obsessed with this prettiest of crucifers, as my latest for NPR can attest, but wholly smitten, tumbling head-over-heels, willing to cross mountains and ski down black diamonds all for the sake of it. I ask you: have you made roasted cauliflower lately? And if so, can you argue with me about my amour?

All of the recipes included in this article are, I think, appropriate to this chilly, in-between time that’s technically spring on the calendar, even if it doesn’t feel like it. These are recipes for curling up with a loved one on the couch, glass of wine in hand — or they could work just beautifully for a simple, sophisticated mid-week dinner party.

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[Morning cauliflower, April 2008.]

As if those vegetable-heavy recipes weren’t enough, I also wrote an article for chow about whole grains — including my best beloved, quinoa — that might inspire some intrepid cooks to seek a world beyond white rice, or white flour.

Don’t worry, though; I’ll be back with some cake-love soon enough. Like maybe even this weekend.

ps: check out the link to the podcast at the top of the NPR story — and please excuse any incoherencies; I’d only had one cup of coffee by that point. And did I mention that whole whirlwind weekend thing? Yeah.

  • Jeff Weber 22 April 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Last night I made your roasted cauliflower that I saw on npr.org . I used steak seasoning on it. Wow! One of the best vegetable dishes I’ve ever had. My wife wants me to make it again this week!
    Thanks for the tip.

    Jeff

  • Jill 21 April 2008 at 9:06 pm

    ok i’m going to make roasted cauliflower this week! maybe even hannah and alex will eat it!

  • Jessie Schlosberg 20 April 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Hey Nic… so glad you enjoyed the yummy veggie options at the wedding! We were so glad to give you such a delicious entree. I too wanted to lick the plate, but I was afraid I would spill on the huge dress!!! Thanks for the loving shout-outs and the pics of the flowers are beautiful!

    Love,
    Jess

  • Emily Benn 14 April 2008 at 7:11 pm

    I intend to try the roasted cauliflower but would like to pass on a recipe for cauliflower fritters that my Italian mother makes.

    Cooked cauliflower florets – slightly mashed with a fork
    added to
    a simple batter: 1 cup flour, salt and pepper, 1 egg, and water to yield a slightly thick pancake type batter and pecorino romano grated cheese – about 1/4 to 1/2 cup according to taste
    Drop by large spoonfuls into hot olive oil and fry until golden brown on both sides.
    Serve immediately

  • Julie O'Hara 10 April 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Nicole, I just made curried roasted cauliflower tonight! What a coincidence. Your other recipes look great, especially the gratin. I love cauliflower too–roasted, mashed, or in an omelete with feta cheese and parsley.

  • E 9 April 2008 at 10:21 pm

    we all secret foods that we are madly in love with but don’t like to share out loud and i believe you just found out my secret. thank you for the beautiful article. never thought that i’d count roasted cauliflower as one of the loves of my life, but I do, I do and i’m glad to hear someone else shares that same love.

    cheers!