Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Carmelita and Huge Dandelion Things

Grilled white and green asparagus, pistacio-tarragon emulsion, miners lettuce and hearts of palm salad -vegan 

We had a (mostly) smashing dinner at our neighborhood veggie restaurant last night. I say mostly because this place, Carmelita, can be hit or miss. Their seasonal menu always sounds fabulous, and you can get a great meal there...but sometimes not so great. Last night was definitely a hit...with only one little miss. For starters we had grilled asparagus (above) in a pistacio-tarragon sauce...hit! (Sorry about the dark shots)

We also had this deliciously moist foccacia with a tangy and citrusy sun-dried tomato pesto...hit!

Homemade foccacia, truffled artichoke-sun dried tomato spread -vegan

PizzaFor mains, I ordered this foraged mushroom and nettle/spinach pesto pizza, topped with mizuna rabe. The crust was absolutely perfect and very tasty, and the mushrooms were tender, grilled to perfection and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The nettle-spinach pesto was earthy, rich, and full of flavor, and the raw rabe on the top added a fresh and peppery finish...definitely a hit and the star of the evening!

Nettle-spinach pesto, grilled spring onion, foraged mushrooms, seasonal greens, balsamic -vegan option 

Now for the miss part...this would have been a perfect dish as well if the linguine weren't overcooked. Such a basic mistake...not sure how a place that makes the rest of the food so delicious and beautiful can screw up on pasta..but it appeared that they cooked the fresh pasta like you would have done dry pasta, and as I said, the result was not good...would have been lovely otherwise as all the other flavors and ingredients were well-conceived and very good. I loved the little chive flower garnishes.

Housemade linguine, snap peas, morels, chive-pistacio pesto - vegan

We took a bit of a walk around the neighborhood afterwards and cut through the food co-op parking lot...they really have lovely gardens surrounding their lot. You'll find all sorts of wonderful aromatic shrubs, herbs, and vegetables growing there. Last night, I was struck (not literally...the dandelions were very peaceful) by these extra large dandelions. They are growing about 5 -6 feet high! I think these are wild variety...not sure whether they are technically called dandelion, but I'm sure they are in the same family at any rate.

Update From the Comments: Apparently, these plants are most likely salsify...and they are in the same family as dandelions: Asteraceae.

mammoth dandelion-type plants (salsify), worthy of prehistoric times


  1. tarragon and asparagus go so well together, looks great. sorry they messed up so badly on the pasta, you WOULD think that if its house-made that they would know how to prepare that pizza(!) def looks like it makes up for it!!!!!

    "...I was struck (not literally...the dandelions were very peaceful"

    lol you are so funny

  2. Michelle,

    I'm with you-- tarragon and asparagus are a great match. And I have to say, I'm a wimp when it comes to sending things back in restaurants...I once ate a salad that came out of the kitchen with a live spider on it...obviously, I freed the spider...(he was very relieved to be taken out of the food chain at that point)...but I mean, honestly, we should have sent the pasta back. But, you're right the pizza was great and all was forgiven! :)

  3. I've had the asparagus and a similar pizza at Carmelita, and they were both hits, like you said. But there's always something ... isn't there? I'm like you and never send food back, but maybe we should. They should know better to serve overcooked pasta! I didn't realize you lived so close to Carmelita. That makes us practically neighbors.

  4. Dinner looks good, I'm jealous.

    I think your giant dandelions were probably Salsify or their close cousins, Scorzonera.

  5. Rose,

    It looks like a lovely dinner. Too bad about the pasta being overcooked. I adore asparagus and tarragon. That salad was calling my name. ;-)

    I have never seen Dandelions like that before.

    talk to you soon,

  6. Oh, man... I want to eat an entire loaf of that focaccia bread and then bury my face in that pizza! (Clearly, I really need to eat some lunch!) :-) That's a shame about the overcooked pasta. I'm not fussy about most food textures, but mushy pasta - blech. I'm glad the vast majority of your meal was a hit. And how lucky are you to live in walking distance of a veggie restaurant?

    I'm almost certain that your giant dandelion-type critters are Salsify. We have them growing in wild abundance here, but with yellow flowers, not purple like you often see. Here's a good photo of one in seed (and a fun description of how those parachute seeds behave!)

  7. What an incredible menu! You are so lucky to live near such a place! I would go every day!

  8. Andrea,

    The Carmelita thing is odd isn't it? It would make more sense if the whole meal was under par, rather than just one dish/element. And, you're right, we probably should speak up more often...I used wo work in restaurants, and as long as the customer is polite and reasonable about it, getting something back in the kitchen is no big deal, and actually may alert them to something they didn't realilze was off.

    I figured we lived pretty near each do you like the "hood"?

    Cat of Stripes,

    Thanks for the plant ID...I always appreciate your expertise in that area.


    The asparagus was very good...I was also thinking of you when eating the morel mushrooms! From what I gather from these comments, the large dandies are salsify...I think they're spectacular.


    Thanks to you too for the plant seem to be in agreement with Cat of two will be my go-to people for plant ID from now on :) I will check out the link as soon as I can. I'm with you on "blech" to mushy pasta...the pizza did make up for it though...I know what to order in future!


    That restaurant is pretty cool, except for the undercooked pasta...and, I have to admit, it's a bit pricey. It's fun to have a pricey meal sometimes...we go there every once in a while.:)

  9. I hadn't even noticed Cat of Stripes' line about the Salsify in her comment! So we arrived at our conclusion independently, without colluding on it first behind the scenes. Didn't want you thinking we're an undercover cell for the Salsify Society: Marketing Division or anything. ;-) I've never heard of Scorzonera though ~ I'll need to learn about that one!

    I'll happily be on your "go to" plant ID team, but if it's not something that grows wild around my house, I'm not very likely to know what it is! :-)

  10. Wow! This looks great! Super fancy!

  11. Laurie,

    You can't fool me, why not come clean? I mean we all know you have a penchant for Secret Salsify Societies! I bet you'll be going undercover for Scorzonera next!


    Thanks for stopping is a fancy-smancy sort of place...great publicity of vegetarian/veganism!

  12. Gorgeous, trippy dandelion (or salsify) photos, in difficult lighting, too! I have been craving pizza all weekend, and this is an inspiration...

  13. Zoa,

    Thanks, I sort of liked those shots too...I've no idea how I managed was pure luck.

    If any pizza is an inspiration...that one is! You've got me thinking of trying to replicate it at home too! :)

  14. Oh, I've been eyeing this post for a couple of days! You are so lucky to have a restaurant like this near you! And, don't think I've forgotten that all-vegan grocery store you have! Harumph.

  15. Blessed Mama,

    I always feel like Seattle isn't anywhere near as vegan friendly as Portland, SF, or LA, but hopefully vegetarian restaurants and vegan shops will abound everywhere someday. :)

  16. Rose, Were you cutting through the parking lot of Green Lake Pcc? That's our coop. We can walk there but usually drive.

  17. Andrea,

    That's our local Coop too...we live a few blocks away from there. Maybe we don't live on opposite sides of the lake...I guess it depends on which way your're facing. :)

  18. The pizza looks amazing, and I love that they used nettles!

  19. Janet,

    That pizza was the best restaurant food I've eaten in a long time. The nettles were a nice touch, as were the fresh rabe on top.


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