I feel so terrible for neglecting my little blog! But I don’t feel bad for soaking up every last bit of our short summer season here in Michigan. It’s a beautiful time of year (my absolute favorite). I just wish it lasted longer. It’s funny because all winter long, when the days were so short and there was minimal light to work with, I had this grand plan in my head. I kept thinking that once spring/summer got here, I would work like crazy so I could have a stock pile of recipes/photos/posts to last me through the winter. Ha! So much for that plan. As it turns out, who wants to be stuck in a kitchen all summer long?! Duh.
Anyway… moving on. I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago for our annual Stella & Dot conference (did you see the new line? – amazeballs!). One evening, I had the pleasure of dining with a small group of old and new friends at Mon Ami Gabi, a French bistro in Paris Hotel. While it wasn’t exactly a vegan-friendly menu, our server was very helpful in pointing out a few items that happen to be vegan–such as Frites, Grilled Asparagus, Ratatouille and Gazpacho. I didn’t order Frites, but someone else at the table did. They were so good (the best french fries I’ve ever had) that I ordered a side to go (and they were just as good when I snacked on them later that night in the hotel room). Sometimes it’s just worth the splurge. For dinner, I ordered a bowl of Gazpacho, a side of Grilled Asparagus and a side of Ratatouille. The gazpacho was amazing, asparagus was good, ratatouille was okay (had a couple of bites and was over it).
Let me just stop here for one second and explain what gazpacho is for those who haven’t had it before. While there are many versions/styles of gazpacho around the world, it originates from Spain. It is a raw, tomato-based soup served cold. If that doesn’t sound appetizing, I can understand why. Cold soup isn’t something most people find appealing (Hubs thought it sounded gross). In the summer, though, the fresh blend of raw tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc., can be really refreshing. I especially prefer the creamy version over the chunky version. If you’re hesitant to give it a go, just start with a small batch. The wonderful thing about it is that you can make it very quickly. It’s also a perfect make-ahead dish that tastes even better the next day.
When I got home from Vegas, I was still craving that gazpacho! In fact, we went out for dinner the night after I got back and I ordered gazpacho. It was okay, but not even close to the MAG version. Later, I did a Google search for “Mon Ami Gabi gazpacho recipe” and what do ya know–there’s a video of Chef John Simmons (who was executive chef at MAG for four years) making the recipe!!! Score!
I don’t know if it’s the exact recipe still used by MAG today, but if it isn’t, you could have fooled me. The minute I tasted it, I thought it was a dead ringer for the version I had in the restaurant. There was only one snag. It was foamy and full of air bubbles. :( Back to Google. Apparently, I over blended. What I learned is that if you have a high-speed blender (like a Vitamix), you should stay in the lower speeds and should not blend for too long. I decided to try straining it through a fine-mesh strainer and was pleasantly surprised when it worked! The strainer backed up quickly, so I had to do this in batches. When the strainer was full, I slowly stirred the gazpacho until it was entirely strained, then scraped out the bits left in the strainer and stirred them into the strained soup. No more air bubbles! (Note–I took the photos before the straining process, so you can see some of the bubbles if you look closely.)
Hubs was a good sport and gave it a try. He actually liked it! It’s not something he would eat everyday… and probably not even anything he would order at a restaurant. But I don’t think he would mind having it at home once or twice a summer. What about you? Have you tried gazpacho? What’s your favorite version?