Happy New Year!
My New Year’s Resolution? To start posting yummy stuff again! So without further ado:
Today we took a break from the recent round of partying and heavy holiday food for a delightful excursion into Hartford. Fire-n-Spice is a vegan restaurant on Sisson Avenue just before it hits Farmington, a hop, skip n jump from exit 46 off I84. In other words, super easy access. Don’t judge this lovely gem from the outside — it appears to be just one storefront among many, but the inside is painted a warm yellow with African wall hangings and a welcoming vibe. The owners follow a Rastafarian way of life, and this flowers beautifully in their menu.
We were beckoned over to the counter, quickly assessed as first-timers, and given the skinny on the food. Since all 3 tofu dishes (BBQ, jerk AND scrambled tofu) had just run out, we opted to share one plate and go back for another once they were back in action. All in all, we had many options to choose from for an entree — spanish rice, red beans n rice, or quinoa, steamed kale (I went back for more of this simple-but-tasty delight!), stir fried veggies, curry pot (potatoes simmered in coconut milk, turmeric, cumin, coriander, thyme, onion and cilantro), chole (Indian-style chick peas in a creamy curry masala sauce), red lentil dahl and ital stew. Keeping warm in a case off to the side were samosas, plantains and lentil, soy or ackee patties, and chillin’ in the dessert case were sweet potato pudding (jamaican style, crustless), cornbread pudding and a cranberry ginger cake (I think — by the time talk came around to dessert, I was stuffed and on information overload!).
Everything was delicious — the curry pot had me wondering why on earth I’ve never made potatoes like that before. Ditto all 3 tofu dishes — I tend to fry mine and add it to asian dishes. Yawn! All 3 were yummy, including tofu scrambles which I’ve seen in cookbooks but never been inclined to try before. What have I been waiting for? These were scrumptious! And the BBQ tofu has me longing for summer picnics. The chole was also delicious and different than any I’ve ever had — most seem to be tomato based, but this one wasn’t, and didn’t suffer one bit for lack of tomatoes. I’ve wanted to make chole at home but haven’t since tomato cans are lined with BPA (even Eden, whose bean cans aren’t). This dish gives me hope that I can find a recipe for chole that doesn’t contain tomatoes… an exciting prospect indeed for a family that loves this Indian chick pea dish!
The word Ital is derived from the English “vital”, and refers to making lifestyle choices that bring about or maintain optimum Livity (quoting from wiki: “the life energy Rastas generally believe lives within all of us…what is put into one’s body should enhance Livity rather than reduce it. Though there are different interpretations of ital regarding specific foods, the general principle is that food should be natural, or pure, and from the earth”).
Sign me up! Especially if it means I can eat more ital stew! I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten okra before, but I’ve heard a lot of bad things about it. How it can be good if cooked properly, but that mostly it’s just slimy and icky and something to avoid. Or best eaten pickled. That sort of good press. Well, let me just say that my first bite of okra in the ital stew has me signed on as a fan! This stew was lovely, thick, creamy, sweet, warming, filling… the list goes on. Definitely something to go back for! Chock full of beans (three kinds!), sweet potatoes, dumplings and an array of spices, this option made it to both our plates!
After two plates of yummy goodness, we were too stuffed to try anything else. So let me report here that there is an array of food beyond what we had! Smoothies! Juices and wheat grass shots! Breakfast (including brunch on Sundays)! Salads, sandwiches, soups… well you can see for yourself by checking out their menu online — the brunt of it here with the smoothies, juices and drinks here.
Don’t miss out on all the raw food goodness, including everything from appetizers, salads to entrees and soups! They didn’t have the raw entrees ready to go today, so if you have your heart set on a raw meal, I’d ring them ahead of time and let them know you’re on your way with a hankerin’ for raw food. The options look interesting though, so definitely worth the call.
We like to eat out — heck, who doesn’t? But in the back of my mind, I always know that we are likely eating things we wouldn’t eat if we knew they were in the food. Oyster sauce and fish sauce at thai restaurants, milk and butter at indian restaurants, lard as the cooking grease and who knows what else at chinese food restaurants, etc. So it was a real treat to go to one of the few vegan restaurants I can think of in our area! We felt great, though full Full FULL afterwards!
I highly recommend this little gem, especially if you find yourself in the area. It’s but a stone’s throw from Real Art Ways, a great place to see a movie you aren’t likely to see elsewhere, as well as some thought-provoking art in the gallery. They serve freshly-made popcorn with real butter, as well as beer and wine! They have some interesting daytime programming (1st and 3rd Monday Matinees) coming up that might be of interest, including South: Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition (1/3/11), The Mystery of Picasso (1/17), West Side Story, Duck Soup, Grey Gardens, and Le Fleuve.
This weekend they’re showing the New York International Children’s Film Fest: Kidflix 2010 on Saturday, January 8 & Sunday, January 9, 11 AM. Recommended for ages 3-8. Curated for the youngest audiences, Kidflix is a selection of nine short films from around the world selected by the New York International Children’s Film Fest. We watched some of these online and even an old fuddy duddy 10-year-old enjoyed himself!
So make it a date — dinner and movie supporting local, independent business! I’ll bet that’s in keeping with your new year’s resolutions!
Best wishes for the year ahead!