Summers End Vegan Dinner [second annual]

As I look forward to Departure’s Third Annual Summers End Vegan Dinner, I realized I neglected to share last years. Looking through the photos and remembering the details has me looking forward to this years event even more – please enjoy:

Here we are, at the end of summer. The crisp cool evenings with the smoky scented air, the savoring of the last summer fruits and veggies, the cutting into pumpkins and squash, the creating comfort foods of fall.

For the second year in a row, Departure Restaurant’s Summers End Vegan Dinner fell on my birthday! I could not think of a more perfect way to celebrate than with the culinary skills of Chef Gregory Gourdet.

This year, he partnered with Chef Aaron Adams of another favorite restaurant, Portobello Vegan Trattoria, to bring a group of lucky Portlanders an amazing seasonal seven-course meal.

We began with cocktails, and got to know our table mates sharing the family style seating at our table. We had a really great group this year, and some interesting and fun conversation!

My cocktail choice was in the martini glass – the Luck or Fortune – Belvedere orange, Stolichnaya vanilla, orange, coconut milk. This is always my favorite cocktail at Departure. Although after tasting Jason’s choice, I think I will order his next time – the Crazy 88 – Thai chili vodka, mango, orange juice, citrus. The Crazy 88 has a hint of spicy heat at the start and finish, with a fantastic citrus flavor that is bold but only slightly sweet – perfect.

The seven courses, in order:

Macadamia Nut Cheese, Coconut Jam, Watermelon Rind Mostarda

The cheese? Oh so very good – creamy and tangy, perfect. I loved the flavor of the coconut jam, but not the texture (I have a thing with large pieces of fresh coconut). All of the flavors here paired very well – this was thoughtful.

Vegetable Terrines, Late Summer Pickles

We all agreed this must have been a Chef Aaron creation, as the whole table is quite familiar with his terrines. The top flavor was the table favorite – a roasted red pepper flavor. They were all brightly flavored, and arrived with large crisp thin crackers.

Matsutake Broth, Pine Nut Dumplings, Ginger, Wasabi 

Bright from the ginger and full bodied from the mushroom – this was a spicy warm “break” between colorful vibrant flavors.

Farm Lettuce and Vegetable Composition, Candied Fruits, Crispy Herbs

Layers of flavor and texture, accessorized with fresh herbs – this was delightful.

Vegetable, Nut and Seed Bulgogi, Ban Chan, Pickled Garlic

Here is where the small chat with our dining neighbors becomes major interaction – the following courses were plentiful, and served in the middle of the table for several of us to share.

A family style course with grilled Korean marinated vegetables, nuts and seeds, white rice and lettuce for making savory wraps. Served with an assortment of the seasons pickled, marinated, dried and fermented vegetables and fruits.

Some spicy hot flavors, some cool lettuce wraps, some good natured scuffling over the last of the kimchi – where we all wind down and relax, knowing some spectacular ends were on the way…

Ginger-Blueberry Financier, Thai Basil Ice Cream, Almond Brittle

The desserts here never disappoint.

Mixed Chocolates- Crystallized Nori, Salted Coconut Caramel, Huckleberry and Jalapeno

…and you know how much I love my truffles and chocolates.

To see even more deliciousness, see last year’s Summer’s End Vegan Dinner.




  1. oh Holland says

    Portobello must be a world class restaurant, even counting those that offer traditional food. The photos and descriptions of vegan fare are beyond stunning! No wonder I adore Portland and can’t wait to move there.

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