Monday, December 16, 2013

Vegan Supper Club "Plate Invaders"

My sister is a vegan...not only does she live a meat and dairy and animal product free life, she is also a vegan educator and activist. She hosts a radio program on Vancouver Co-op Radio called "Animal Voices." The show covers topics and interviews people from the world of animal advocacy and vegan lifestyle. One of her colleagues on the show, Alissa and her partner, Tim, a vegan chef, run a monthly vegan supper club out, Plate Invaders, out of their East Van suite. My sister and her wife are regulars at these dinners and I've been talking about joining them for a supper club meal for a long time... and finally, I was able to attend an event in late November.

Plate Invaders hosts two seatings on event events; 5:45pm and 8:30pm. We made reservations for the late seating. The dinner takes place in the upper suite of a East Van duplex in a cozy, retro-styled living room that is transformed into a casual dining room with a ten-person long table, dinner music, and soft lighting. You can bring your own wine (which we did) and throughout the evening, our mason jar glasses were refilled with refreshing lemon water. I was there with my sister and her wife and it was nice to spend time chatting with them and getting to know our fellow supper club diners. The four course menu was handwritten on a small whiteboard on the wall and Tim, the chef, came out to introduce himself and the meal. It was really wonderful to have Tim present each course and provide an explanation of the dish and giving details about where the ingredients were sourced.

The first course was a Gem Squash Chowder. The presentation got a lot of ooohs and aaaahs from the table. Who doesn't love eating out of a gourd? It was actually quite amazing because although the gem squash skin seemed really thin, it was sturdy and a wonderful vessel for the chowder. This chowder was mild but full bodied. At first scoop, I felt like it might be too mild for me and need a kick, but the flavours developed in my mouth and the nice blend of squash, potato, and leek were quite pleasant and hearty.

The second course was Roasted Beet, Red Wine Tempeh, Marinated Black Kale.
The beets were so earthy and robust. The tempeh was full of flavour; red wine and thyme. But my favourite element of this dish was the Black Kale with Japanese sea salt, which gave it almost a seaweed taste. Orange segments added a nice fresh bite, adding some acidity and sweetness.

The third coarse was Marina di Chioggia gnocchi, fennel, pear gremolata. Tim explained the gnocchi was made of a blend of marina di chioggia (a sweet, dry, dark heirloom winter squash) and yukon gold potatoes from Helmer Organic's farm in Pemberton (they grow the most amazing potatoes EVER! look for them at a Vancouver farmer's market near you). This dish smelled amazing, probably from the bold gremolata, punchy with plenty of garlic, parsley, lemon and slivers of pear and fennel to mellow those bold flavours slightly. The soft, pillowy gnocchi and the bold gremolata made for a satisfying and memorable dish.

Dessert was prepared by a pastry chef that works regularly with Plate Invaders, Kishino Watari. Mont Blanc aux Marrons, traditionally a dessert of pureed, sweetened chestnuts topped with whipped cream. The base was more like a nutty, dense cake base and I believe this light, creamy topping was some delicious, light cashew cream creation. The whole dish had a delightful, refreshing, warm citrus flavour and a candied dried orange garnish.

This was a really fun experience. The food was wonderful, creative, and I really appreciated- could taste the fresh quality ingredients that they used. Rather than charge a flat rate, they ask for a donation +/ - $40 on a pay-what-you-can sliding scale. And they donate 10% of the proceeds from every Plate Invaders meal to a local animal charity.

To find out more about Plate Invaders and snag a reservation for an upcoming dinner, you can find them at:

No comments: