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10-course vegan tasting menu at Nana Restaurant

November 3, 2011

It’s here! The post you’ve been waiting for: all about our epic ten-course vegan dinner (with wine pairings) at Nana Restaurant in Dallas the night Matt proposed to me.

I took tasting notes all night long – literally, I grabbed a pen out of my purse and scrawled comments on the back of the menu between each course! – so in this post, I’m mostly just going to transcribe the notes I wrote that night. I think that’ll provide the best possible window into the wondrous meal we experienced, as well give you some fun (and sometimes funny) insights into what was going on in my head as I was eating each course. Here we go!

Amuse bouche: Pineapple Gazpacho
Sweet, garlicky, crunchy red bits (?) on top

Appetizer: Focaccia Bread, three kinds
Caramelized onion, grape tomato, white grape

The bread was served with softened vegan butter and, silly as this may sound, THE best salt and pepper Matt and I have ever tasted in our lives. Every grain of the coarse Hawaiian pink sea salt danced on our tongues, and the pepper was made of the most fragrant, flavorful, freshly ground peppercorns on the planet. We’d go back to this restaurant just for the salt and pepper. No joke.

Then the actual menu dishes started coming out! Those first two were just freebies.
Nine of the ten courses came with perfectly-paired 2-ounce wine pours. Matt and I really enjoyed how the sommelier himself came to our table between each course to pour the wines and explain why he chose them.

Course #1: Pickled Cucumber Spaghetti, Fresh Basil
Wine: Lamberti, Prosecco, Veneto, Italy, NV
Raw! Crunchy, very fresh fragrant basil, tightly wound/bundled cucumber noodles, hint of vinegar. With bubbly Prosecco = ๐Ÿ˜€
Excellent, light opener.

Course #2: “Cruciferous” Vichyssoise, Cauliflower Couscous, Fried Leeks, Chives
Wine: Marc Bredif, Chenin Blanc, Vouvray, France, 2008
Zero “sea” taste, naturally sweet (soy or almond?) cream, well-seasoned cauli, hair-like fried leeks. Fruity-tart wine intensified sweetness of cream. Also raw?
I love the bowl it was served in! This was a surprise early favorite of mine.

Course #3: Grilled Pain Rustique Panzanella
Wine: Craggy Range, Sauvingnon Blanc, Martinborough, New Zealand, 2009
Citrusy/grapefruity wine, bread cubes like toy blocksโ€”fresh charred smell, strong tomato scent, fruity extra-virgin olive oil, pickled onions, microgreens, oil + wine play off each other, divine with the salt
This simple salad elevated panzanella to truly gourmet heights.

Course #4: Broccolini Tempura, Thai Dipping Sauce
Wine: Riefle, Gewurtztraminer, Alsace, France, 2009
Sweet & sour effect with the wineโ€”Thai basil, lime, ginger in sauce; TENDER broccolini lightly salted, slight greasiness, tip-of-tongue heat, lemongrass? Cilantro, “white” spice, pickled scallion
Unbelievably light; Matt’s early favorite.

Course #5: Cavatelli Pasta, Mojo Verde, Cilantro, Avocado
Wine: Mer Soleil, “Silver,” Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, California, 2008
Served warm, avocado + basil fragrance, lemony avo mash, toothsome fresh pasta, microgreens. SPRINGY. Tart, unoaked wine.
Forgot to take a photo till I’d already had some bitesโ€”oops! Loved the chewy, handmade pasta.

Course #6: Carrot Marmalade, Passionfruit Granita, Peanuts
No wine. Granita = puckeringly tart, ice cold. Soft, mild carrot. Peanuts = much-needed fattiness. Matt liked; too tart for me.
We got a break from the wine for this course. The marmalade was good, the granita too sour.

Course #7: Grilled Leeks, Glazed Cipollini Onions, Romesco Sauce
Wine: Terrazas, Cabernet Sauvignon, “Reserva,” Mendoza, Argentina, 2006
PURE leek/onionโ€”overwhelmingly allium. Onions actually better than leeks. Buttery-tasting, but not GOOD. Matt liked. Wine pairing = eh…don’t like cab sauv either. Least fave.
My least favorite course, unfortunately, though Matt loved it.

Course #8: Ruby Red Grapefruit, Coconut-Mandarin Toffee, Cashews, Cilantro
Wine: Quady, “Essenia,” Orange Muscat, California, 2006
Thank goodness for fatty cashews. Grapefruit = too TART! No cilantro. Muscato too orangey. Syrup alone = syrupy, sticky toffee goodness. Master Cleanse flavors!
The whole thing altogether seriously tasted like the Master Cleanse lemonade drink! Ha.

Course #9: Vinegar Marinated Strawberries, Liquid Licorice, Vanilla Oil
Wine: Banfi, Brachetto d’Acqui, Italy, 2009
GORGEOUS sugar webs! “Liquid licorice” too anise-y for me, but marinated strawbs = sweet + acid, + sparkly Banfi = perfect. Hello Pernod! I taste Christmas…
Hehe, gotta love these tasting notes. Hey, I was on my 8th wine pour by then!

A blurry close-up of the impressive “sugar webs”:

Course #10: Caramelized Pineapple, Sweet Fennel, Mango Granita, Chervil
Wine: Michele Chiarlo, “Nivole,” Moscato d’Asti, Italy, 2009
Crunchy candied fennel, melty tart-sweet mango granita, grapefruity/grapey wine. Hint of orange throughout dish = eh.
The sweet courses were nice, though I did wish there’d been at least one non-fruit dessert.

It was between the ninth and tenth courses that Matt proposed.

But you’ve already read that story, right?

Thank you, Nana Restaurant, for creating this incredible fine-dining vegan tasting menu, for providing such a romantic and memorable 3-hour feast, and for being the greatest setting imaginable for our engagement! And an even bigger bravo for Matt, for finding this amazing venue and planning the most perfect proposal a [vegan foodie] girl could ever ask for.

QUESTION: What’s the best vegan restaurant meal you’ve ever had?

3 years ago…
Bon voyage, mes amis!
2 years ago…
Almost Vegan in Rome, Italy
1 year ago…
Almost raw in Dallas (again)
Matthew Kenney Academy: Irish moss, Tribest blender
Matthew Kenney Academy: garlic bread, kimchi-cashew dumplings
Matthew Kenney Academy: tacos & pizza!

41 Comments leave one →
  1. Monica Soto permalink
    November 3, 2011 12:53 pm

    I had to go eat something immediately after reading this.

    Good thing it was time for lunch!

    P.S. That’s the sexiest soup bowl I have ever seen and those sugar webs are totally metal.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:28 pm

      Sexy soup bowls and metal sugar webs…only in my world, eh? ๐Ÿ˜›

  2. November 3, 2011 12:55 pm

    congrats on your engagement and your dinner sounds like it was amazing! glad to have found your blog =) i love trying new vegan foods!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:28 pm

      Thank you! Glad you found me too ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. November 3, 2011 1:22 pm

    Wow, that is a LOT of food. I’m surprised that the portions are actually pretty big for being so many courses- but thank goodness you took notes! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Again, Congrats!!! What a great place to propose!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:29 pm

      Well, there’s not much in the photos to show scale…most courses were only a few bites (luckily!).

  4. November 3, 2011 1:40 pm

    Sounds like a fabulous dinner and a fantastic place for a proposal. That’ll be a very nice memory for you two. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:29 pm

      A very nice memory indeed, to put it mildly. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. November 3, 2011 2:51 pm

    Congrats! What a beautiful dinner. And such a sweet, adorable ring!!!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:30 pm

      Thank you! I agree! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. November 3, 2011 4:28 pm

    Sounds like a great memory-maker–and since I haven’t really had the ‘fine dining’ experience, it’s fascinating to get a walk-through like this. Carrot marmalade really gets me–reminds me of several middle-and far-eastern sweets i want to replicate…
    Congrats again!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:31 pm

      It was unlike any meal I’ve ever experienced (or even dreamed of) before. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. November 3, 2011 7:30 pm

    Wow; What a meal!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:32 pm

      Tell me about it!

  8. November 3, 2011 10:12 pm

    Oh my gosh, I would die! Everything looks amazing!

    Congratulations on your engagement!! I was sent a link to your blog & am a new reader ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:33 pm

      Hehe, thanks Char! I’m glad Aparna sent you my way! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. November 4, 2011 12:21 am

    Beautiful, darling! I would’ve said that nothing could top such an evening of deliciousness, but a proposal? That definitely takes the (vegan) cake.

    Also, your tasting notes are so much more eloquent than mine ever are ๐Ÿ˜›

    Love you both, and am so filled with thrilling happiness that I truly might knock-on-wood-don’t-want-to-jinx-anything see you soon xoxoxo

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:34 pm

      I’d never taken tasting notes before! I didn’t know how detailed to be…but I suppose it worked out, in the end, either way. ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. November 4, 2011 10:16 am

    I have never been to a restaurant that had courses for the meals…..and vegan on top of that!!! I don’t even know if something like that exists around Michigan!!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:35 pm

      I hadn’t either, before this meal! There need to be more places like this out there!

  11. November 4, 2011 1:37 pm

    This sounds like so much fun! Not all the dishes sounds too good (I dont think I would like a dish that tasts like a master clease drink :P), but most of them doen. My fave here is the Panzella salad. Such a creative way to serve it!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:36 pm

      All the dishes but one were pretty great to me. The “Master Cleanse flavors” comment wasn’t an insult to the dish, I swear! It was pretty tasty. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Alicia permalink
    November 4, 2011 5:48 pm

    Congratulations! Very romantic photos! Very delicious food! : )

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:36 pm

      It was a SUPER romantic night!

  13. Lilly O. permalink
    November 4, 2011 5:49 pm

    Amber, just read your post-wow!!! Girl, you have a way with words! So VIVID…I could taste the foods and pairings with your delectable adjectives. Congrats once again. Much like the 10 course dinner and proposal, you two seem like such a truly great pair. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:36 pm

      Aw, thank you so much Lilly!

  14. November 5, 2011 11:44 am

    That truly looks like the meal of a lifetime! Your tasting notes were great, I love that you pulled out a pen and paper at the table. I think my fave would be the cucumber noodles or the tempura. The salt and pepper sounds incredible!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:37 pm

      Haha, yep, leave it to a food blogger ๐Ÿ˜› Oh man, that salt and pepper…I can’t even fully describe how crazy-good they were.

  15. November 5, 2011 3:39 pm

    yum! what an amazing meal!!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:37 pm

      “Amazing” is an understatement! Hehe.

  16. ellen permalink
    November 5, 2011 9:37 pm

    CONGRATULATION Amber!!! We are so happy for you both. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sending you both a life time of true love,joy,happiness you both share together! We loved your pictures and your story. Blessings to you both. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:38 pm

      Thank you so much, Ellen! Matt and I are lucky to have each other. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. November 6, 2011 6:27 am

    Truly amazing meal and a picture perfect setting for a proposal! Congratulations again!!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 6, 2011 3:38 pm

      Picture-perfect indeed! Thanks Jen!

  18. November 8, 2011 7:54 am

    This is a really great post, the pictures and adjectives used are spot on! Congratulations by the way.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 8, 2011 9:20 am

      Thanks so much, Dave!

  19. November 9, 2011 5:43 pm

    Wonderful post Amber! After reading your post, you have inspired a group of us from class at MKA to head to Dallas this weekend and give this restaurant a try ๐Ÿ™‚ We will be thinking of you!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 9, 2011 5:46 pm

      That is AWESOME! Just be prepared for the price tag at this place…well over $100 a person, even without the wine. And make reservations in advance!

      BUT while you’re in Dallas, don’t miss the other great veg places! Bliss Raw Cafe and Spiral Diner are NON-NEGOTIABLE – you HAVE to try them! – and Cosmic Cafe is a runner-up. Browse through my Travels page; I’ve got a whole bunch of posts on Dallas eats! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. November 16, 2011 7:06 pm

    Oh my…I’m drooling over here. What a fantastically wonderful and memorable proposal night! He did well ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 16, 2011 10:10 pm

      He really did, didn’t he? ๐Ÿ˜€

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