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IMG_2076Today I wanted to stray a little from my own kitchen and talk about one of my favorite restaurants around here. This weekend, hubby and I went to Milano for ‘date night’. Whenever we have a special evening or want to bring friends to an original restaurant, we go to Joia. Joia, meaning joy in italian (but written a ‘wrong way’) is an all vegetarian restaurant (everything can be made vegan – 75% of their menu is already vegan) that is super artistic and original. It is one of the few vegetarian restaurants that also has a Michelin star. What I love the most is the way every dish has a story and imaginative name. You feel like a lot of thought has gone into their creation. Their plating is also pretty amazing, every dish is like art.

Every time we plan an evening there we reserve ahead and let them know we are 2 vegans. This usually gets us very attentive service (and very KIND! Unlike most places.) Once, the bread roll of the day was a brioche and we got our own vegan ones made. That was beyond nice. The great thing is that a lot of the menu is also gluten free. So, everyone can find something to indulge in while there.

Hubby and I usually get the tasting menu. We eventually decided to do this after trying to order our own plates a few times and never enjoying the experience as much. Reasons why I love the menus: one, being that they know what plates work best with others, while we tended to order very similar things. Second, you get more variety as the portions are smaller and therefore you can really taste the best the kitchen has to offer, without feeling like you are going to explode. This was our menu this week, each dish name/ description doesn’t tell you a lot about the dish. I took some pictures of my favorite courses, excuse the really bad lighting!

L’Enfasi della Natura

Wild

Di non solo pane

Il sole a occidente

L’ombelico del mondo

Il tao della farfalla

Madre Terra

Il dolce che preferite

Dinner was a total discovery as usual. I wasn’t crazy about the first two dishes as I felt like they missed some sort of ‘wow’ factor, so I didn’t take any pictures of them either! The ‘Di non solo pane’ (‘of not only bread’) was a multicolored ball of tiny cubed pieces of veggies (carrots, celery..) stuck together by vegan mayo and all encompassing a soft ball of bread and wasabi. The look was great, but you tasted the mayo way too much. It overpowered all the actual veggie flavors. I felt like it was too acidic, and I don’t do well with acidic foods.

My favorite dish was the ‘Il sole a occidente’ (picture up top). The large raviolo was gluten free and made from corn flour, steamed and filled with porcini mushrooms and cauliflower. The green soup was warm zucchini cream. I loved it!

IMG_2080

The risotto dish was ‘L’ombelico del mondo’ (center of the world). The beautiful pink risotto was made with blueberries and, it was lovely. As a vegan option we didn’t get the usual dairy on the top but we got a delicate bean paste to mix into the risotto. It was completed with some roasted seasonal vegetables and mushroom.

IMG_2081Another thing I like about this restaurant is that it always puts a good emphasis on raw foods. The first 2 courses were mostly raw and the last course before dessert went back to raw again. I like to think it gives a good balance of vitamins and cooking techniques. The last savory course was the ‘Il tao della farfalla’ (the tao of the butterfly), a raw roll made to look like a butterfly. The stuffing was made of sprouted quinoa, smoked cauliflower, shiitake and ginger. And the sauce was a delicious raspberry puree. I really liked this course. I loved the little smoky flavor it had.

IMG_2084Since you could pick the dessert, hubby and I got two different ones. Hubby went for the ‘Gong’ which is a very famous/popular dessert which is usually not vegan! For this menu they made it vegan using almond milk mousse. So we obviously wanted to try it. The Gong is a sort of parfait served in a closed jar which you open once the waiter has hit and actual gong disk. It is really a creative dessert. Usually, over winter they have chestnut cream inside which is to die for! This time it was layers of wild berries, corn crumble, raspberry jam, vanilla and mint and some apricot compote. It was delicious.

IMG_2089My dessert was the typical choice for a chocoholic. The ‘5 Minutes’ is a medley of chocolate desserts which you need to eat in more than 5 minutes. They serve it with a 5 minute hourglass and it’s super fun. It’s all about taking time to enjoy life. Or in this case, chocolate! Served was a chocolate and raspberry terrine, a raw chocolate mousse, a coconut truffle and a palate cleanser of melon. Surprisingly enough, my favorite component was the coconut truffle! Best thing all evening! It was so flavorful and totally decadent, I loved it!

So, this was our little escapade to Italy! Now back to my own kitchen!

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