It’s not easy being a plant-based gastronome in Hong Kong but we recently were invited to enjoy an elegant organic vegan tasting menu at new ultra luxe Italian eatery Emporio Antico created by head chef Mike Boyle and we were pleasantly surprised. Co-hosts included Eat FRESH, the popular organic produce delivery service and Parés Baltà, a family-owned certified organic and biodynamic vegan winery from from Spain and diners enjoyed an elegant five-course meal highlighting local & seasonal produce paired with boutique natural wines that hit all the right notes.
The meal begins with Toasted Sourdough Panna Cotta thickened with agar, served with pickled Jerusalem artichokes and garnished with vanilla and chive oil. Paired with a golden sparkling Brut Nature Cava, it’s a fresh and clean start to an intoxicating evening.
Next up, Eat FRESH’s lovely greens take the spotlight as Chef prepares a Charred Mixed Green Salad of kale, endive, breakfast radishes with pickled pears with a vegan spin on an old-school ’70s “green goddess” dressing. Alongside an aromatic, easy-going Blanc De Pacs, we loved how the slightly bitter/slightly sour of the veggies complimented the fresh and zesty white.
While some winemakers use animal products like gelatin, caseins, and bone marrow as fining agents to remove unwanted substances like proteins, yeast, off flavors, or cloudiness, such is not the case at Parés Baltà. Ecologically cultivating the vineyards without the use of any herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers, the winery employs a flock of sheep and goats to keep the bugs at bay while maintaining the integrity of their grapes.
Onto our personal fave of the night, Roasted Cabbage Brussel Sprouts with Apples and Dried Cranberries. Using charred, roasted Eat FRESH cabbage for the base, we loved how the flavors balanced so well when paired with apples, apple puree and dried cranberries that extended beyond the traditional Turkey Day/Christmas normalities. Together with the last white of the night, we loved this full-bodied, crisp Indigena Blanc (that funny enough, smells like blue cheese).
Up next, the table is blown away by Chef’s plant-based play on traditional beef bourguignon: Red Wine Braised Mushrooms. Stewing them overnight for six hours, accompanied by rosemary, charred broccoli and sweet rutabaga to offset the wined mushrooms, the tender chunks of portobello is even more astounding with a smooth, refreshing red Mas Petit.
For the last course of the evening, we are presented with a gorgeous Yellow Beetroot Spaghetti seasoned with salsa verde. On top a whole roasted celery root, we loved the perfect blend of acidity from the salsa to round out the flavors of the veggies, steamed baby beetroot, and toasted garlic cream. Polished off by voluptuous Indigena full of intensity and charm, it is the perfect meal to end with.
Rounding out the last meal of the night is death by chocolate – a Sweet Potato Chocolate Brownie with creamy raspberry puree and an almost sorbet-like chocolate ice cream. Sugar-free, dairy-free vegan goodness that’s rich in flavor with a nice velvety texture, we practically had to be rolled out of the restaurant.
Classic dishes, vegan ingredients, organic produce at its ripest- it was a wonderful tasting, not to mention a great selection of wine pairings. If you are looking for a date night for herbivores, this is a great option to consider.
Special thanks to Sarment for generously supplying the vegan wines.
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All images courtesy of Green Queen