Monday, June 25, 2012

Jasper's Vegan Italian Experience

Happy 5 year wedding anniversary to us!

It’s crazy how fast time flies! Erik and my wedding anniversary was this past Saturday, on the 23rd. This, of course, called for a celebration! Erik got us tickets quite awhile back to the grand finale symphony (Beethoven’s 9th) at the Kauffman for Friday night so that part was set.  Our next decision … where to go for dinner?

Back in December at a Portfolio Kitchen event we met Jasper, well known chef  and owner of Jasper’s Ristorante and Marco Polo's Italian Market as well as host of LIVE! from Jasper's Kitchen radio program.  During our conversation, we told him that we were vegan, and at that time he invited us to his restaurant for a special “Vegan Italian Experience”. Yes, please! So when our anniversary rolled around, we immediately thought of Jasper.

Jasper’s Ristorante

We didn’t know what to expect, but Jasper truly went above and beyond anything we could have expected or imagined, creating a special six course vegan meal! We’ve been raving about it all weekend long, and I’m sure our raving will continue for some time to come.  In all honesty, we could not deny that this was the best vegan meal we have ever eaten in Kansas City. For real.  So what was this delicious dinner all about? Allow me to walk you through its deliciousness! First up, as we were settling in, we had some bread dipped in olive oil from Jasper’s family’s hometown in Italy. It was so rich in flavor.


Now onto the start of the meal!

Jasper’s Vegan Menu

In The Beginning

Roasted Cauliflower & Local Heirloom Garlic Cappucino

A perfect way to start off our meal! Each bite was light and airy, packed with flavor. The prevalence of the cauliflower came through very well and was wonderfully accentuated by the olive oil and fresh garlic.

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Piadina & Tuscan White Beans

Jasper told us that in Italy, Piadina bread is commonly eaten similarly to a taco and is served with a wide range of other ingredients besides beans. The Piandina was perfectly charred, and had such wonderful flavor that went perfectly with the rich, creamy Tuscan white beans.
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Next, Jasper showed us the eggplants which would be in our upcoming course of pasta, and gave us a taste of what was soon to be my favorite taste of pesto ever!

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A Study of Two Grains

Garganelli “Risotto Style” Sicilian Egglant & San Marzano Tomatoes

Vialone Nano Risotto, Fresh Zucchini & Fresh Green Pea Pesto

The pasta, perfectly al dente, was topped with beautiful Sicilian eggplants (which are in the above picture) and made into a sauce with San Marzano Tomatoes which was especially close to Erik’s pizza fanatical heart. San Marzano tomatoes come from the Campania region of Italy known for its rich volcanic soil and are said to be the best sauce tomatoes in the world.
The risotto was, again, perfectly al dente and packed with rich, explosive flavors.
The green pea pesto, which I talked about above, was amazing! I’ve never tasted pesto that fresh and delicious. We both agreed we could have eaten a bowl of it just on its own, ha.

Jasper explaining to us our delicious pasta and risotto course:
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Ciabatta, local tomatoes and cucumbers, Greek Olives, XV Olive Oil & Basil Vinegrette

At this point, fullness ensued, and we truly wondered if we could eat another bite, but at first taste of the insalata, we both quickly changed our minds! Though it would be incredibly hard to pick a favorite part of the meal, this was one of the highlights for me. I was amazed at how much rich, delicious flavor this dish put forth.
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Piatti del  Giorno

Polenta Fritti & Local Corn Puree

Wild mushrooms, Local Potatoes, Spring Onions, artichokes and Marsala

We absolutely love how Jasper came up with a menu full of fresh, real, and simple ingredients that resulted in a vegan meal so rich and dense with flavor. The polenta had a magical crust on the outside with a rich, creamy interior which was a match made in heaven alongside the local corn puree.
The local potatoes had just been delivered to Jasper’s at 4:30 that afternoon, and were brought to our plate slightly crushed, topped with fresh wild mushrooms and a wonderful Marsala sauce.

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Fresh watermelon & 25 year old Balsamic

Missouri Peaches, The Berry Patch Strawberries, Mint, Cloves & Chianti Syrup

The 25 year old balsamic (so good!) over watermelon is simply a genius pairing. Not only was it beautiful to look at but the result of the flavor was the same.
The sliced fruit with mint and chianti syrup were absolutely fantastic, and were Erik’s favorite. We couldn’t have had a better, more refreshing closure to our meal!

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By the end of our meal, we were so stuffed, but even more satisfied. Though we knew of Jasper’s wonderful reputation, we had never been to his restaurant before, and hadn't really known what to expect. But after this experience, there is no doubt in our minds that Jasper is truly a master chef that loves what he does and really cares about those that he serves.

In case you can’t already tell, we will certainly be back, hopefully way sooner than later. Thanks again, Jasper and staff, for making our anniversary such a wonderful night to remember!


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