a god-awful small affair: A Bowie Dinner with Joshua Ploeg

I’ve long espoused the idea that foodie culture rose from the smashed emotions of the Great Recession swizzled with Yelp. But lately I’ve been reading the theories of food as entertainment—a phrase that immediately rings true. Because foodie culture also rose along side Food Network, increasing obesity, grocery abundance, Salt Bae, and other bastions of 21st century American culture.

Our Birthday Lady, Beth

But for longer than that, food has been the fuel of the party season. Entertainment not aimed to sell us more or make us docile, but to share a bit of joy with friends, and friends of friends. Touring chef, Joshua Ploeg, tied it all together in an unironic David Bowie themed dinner theater for Beth’s birthday.

Is Ploeg’s food Michelin star worthy. LOL, of course not. His food is crafty, sarcastic, joyous, and frankly more fun then any tweezers plated, food as art, tasting menu could ever wish to be.

Dinner starts off wet with the Ploeg Ziggied out and serving up “In the wilds of Oh Lordy, Oh Lordy, You Know I Need Some Iced Tea”—a hibiscus lavender brew spiked with fresh mint and self-administered rum.

Joshua Ploeg as Ziggy Stardust

life’s a well-thumbed machine


Course 1
Doped up on 70’s cocktail party air, the meal opens with “Some Cat Was Layin’ Down Some Rock ‘n’ Roll Veggie Shrimps.” Adorned in Japanese robes, Ploeg shimmied little plates of turnip and jicama “shrimps” towards us. The bits are skewered with mini potatoes and broiled zucchini over a swirl of cocktail and garlic sauce.

He’d like to come and meet us But he thinks he’d blow our minds

Joshua Ploeg as Starman


Course 2
In the kitchen, baby leaves turned matte side up. Plated as “Nights Are Warm and the Greens Are Young,” the salad hides bits of rainbow carrots, Golden Years of young tomatoes, crescents of shaved fennel, and black lentil sprouts under a wild drizzle of sweetly aged mulberry balsamic.

gold whop whop whop

Joshua Ploeg in Station To Station


Course 3
The flair of “Living Nostalgia… Humble Pie or Bitter Fruit?” overshadowed the DJ performance on the soup course. A shallow dish of slow cooked squash and cucumber layered soup capped in a semi-sweet almond crust tart stuffed with black garlic pate. To the side, a sweet tamarind and bitter melon chutney bleeds slowly into the broth.

Joshua Ploeg as the DJ

I am a D.J., I am what I play


Course 4
As our ears filled with the ashes and melancholy of Major Tom, the “…But the Little Bean Wheels Are Following Me, Oh No Not Again” soothes our entry into the closing acts. Irregular pats of fava bean cakes arrives under a sandy toss of garlic herb crumble and creamy splats of pale pesto. Beside it, hearts of fancy mushrooms and roasted beets come obscured in the crumble as well.

Joshua Ploeg as Scary Monsters

The shrieking of nothing is killing

Course 5

With miniature Muppet dressed in trash bags and jute, Ploeg dons the classic fitted pants and shock of white hair of to deliver the Magic Dance of “Slime and Snails, or Corny Dog Tails?” Bamboo skewers of pecan caramel came battered and fried in sweet corn breading. The tip rests in a muck of coconut vanilla ice kreem snails swirling with blackberry slime sauce and bits of crunchy praline.

Joshua Ploeg as the Goblin King

Slap that baby, make him free


Joshua Ploeg: http://joshuaploeg.blogspot.com/

Debra with Joshua Ploeg as the Goblin King

Sweet Earth Foods

It’s not often that companies offer me products—and even rarer that I accept. But seeing as Sweet Earth already has a place in refrigerator, I accepted their mystery swag box.

This plant-based company, helmed by former Pepsico and Burger King important person Brian Swette and former Calvin Kline important person Kelly Swette, offers an ever growing array of refrigerated vegan meats and vegetarian and vegan frozen foods to grocery stores nationwide. Though known mostly to me for the unexpected burrito combinations, my box arrived with (2) frozen bowls and (2) mock meats.

I don’t often post my own cooking—mostly because if I’m cooking food that means I’m tired and hungry, the least photography compatible mood I have. Also, frozen meals are meant to be eaten in moments of rushed convenience wedges between the bustle of work, which is exactly when I devoured these bowls.

Cauliflower Mac

Noodles cut with cauliflower florets smothered in a cauliflower and sweet potato sauce under shreds of panko and vegan parmesan. Once microwaved, the dish still looked startlingly frozen, but when eaten seemed fully cooked. I found the small portion reasonably filling for 290 calories but followed up the meal with a bag of kettle chips.

General Tso’s Tofu

The ultra sweet glaze of General Tso’s is, by far, my favorite American-Chinese dish—both raising my bar of expectation and making me easy to please once the bar is met. This dish meets that bar. The cornstarch crusted tofu gives the glossy sauce something to cling to against the not-soggy broccoli and brown rice.  My only complaint is that the 330 calories is not nearly enough to complete a meal—I could easily eat double this for lunch. Still, I’ve already purchased more for my office’s freezer.

Harmless Ham

This is an example of me being too hungry and forgetting to take pictures before eating. These rounds of wheat gluten—which taste of an unspecified flavor I would liken more to onion, garlic, and pepper over “ham”—were quartered and caramelized in pineapple juice and turned into a Hawaiian Pizza.

Benevolent Bacon

Bacon. One of the more popular non-sequitur utterances after the mention of veganism—and one of the hardest meats to mimic. Expectations demand a flattened and fried vessel for delivering sweet, smoke, and fat—fat here being the hardest to deliver. So I took the wheat gluten strips—peppered with hickory, smoked paprika, tomato paste, maple syrup , and so on—and fried them up in an avocado oil greased cast iron for a luscious Buffalo BLT on everything bagel.

Sweet Earth

Facebook: @SweetEarthFoods
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Twitter: @SweetEarthFoods

Eating at Home 7/16/12

I love dining out, but sometimes you gotta eat at home. Living without my own kitchen for two years has been odd, but tonight I proved to myself that I can still wield a spatula!

Red Leaf Lettuce, Carrot, Red Pepper, Alfalfa and Radish Sprouts with Lemon and Black Pepper

Steamed Kale with the other half of the Lemon and Sea Salt

Fusilli Col Buco with Tomato Cream Sauce (for a lovely reason, I made it vegan)