Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bloodroot revisited

Yesterday I promised to share a recipe from Bloodroot, a wonderfully special vegetarian restaurant in Black Rock, one of the last bastions of community left in Connecticut. And although Black Rock is in Bridgeport, it is the true essence of community, and a place I have often thought would be terrific to be a part. Bloodroot is the embodiment of community.

1976 was a momentous year for Bloodroot's owner, Selma Miriam, the year she got a divorce and started Bloodroot with the help of her parents. From the start, she wanted it to be a center for feminists and their friends.

It is that, and so much more. It is one of the more welcoming restaurants in the area, a no-frills oasis where the foods of the day are posted on two blackboards, one of the first things you notice when you enter Bloodroot. You give your order to the person at the front desk, you collect your order at the kitchen window, and you bus your table when you have finished your amazing meal. (If you are wondering, tipping is not allowed!)

The chairs, tables and dinnerware are mismatched, but this all lends an authenticity to the place that a matched set of china would never convey. Selma and her friends have created a genuine oasis, situated directly on Long Island Sound. It's certainly a place where women can feel comfortable. But thank goodness we have grown as a society, and not just evolved men feel comfortable here as well.

She named her restaurant after a native New England wildflower, which usually grows in the woods but it just as happy growing in the sandy soil along the shore. Its roots branch, throwing vertical leaves -- and finally flowers -- as it grows. For Selma, the plant is joined, but separate, never invasive, but long lived. And like the plant, Bloodroot it now in its 33rd year in business, a feat in itself.

And now for the food. It is always seasonal, so you never know what delights await on the blackboards. And the only hard decision once you enter the front door is what to order: Everything sounds delicious, and it is. Selma and the kitchen staff turn out dish after dish of honest, clean food, the type that we all should be eating more of because it is so healthy.

Our lunch on Saturday was a feast, starting with an artisan cheese course of two sheep cheeses, three cow, some jam and raw nuts. But the recipe I am sharing from the lunch is the salad I chose, a simple arugula dressed with a perfect vinaigrette. For me, one of the signs of a great cook is a salad that when I finish, I am sad the experience has ended. This is such a salad, perfect in its simplicity. I could have chosen one of the more unusual selections to share today, but for me, this salad is what Bloodroot is all about.

You will also notice that Bloodroot's recipe style is not traditional, but then why would it be? The recipe is from "The Best of Bloodroot, Volume One, Vegetarian Recipes." It is one of a pair, the other focusing on vegan recipes. A matched pair, and one worth buying if you give Bloodroot a try: 85 Ferris St., Bridgeport; 203-576-9168; www.Bloodroot.com. The books are $27.50 each, and worth every cent.

1. You will need a small bunch of arugula for each diner. Wash it well and combine with other greens or not, as you prefer, on each plate. Slice radishes over.
2. Make a garlic dressing by combining in a screw cap jar: 1 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup wine vinegar, 1 clove crushed garlic, and 2 teaspoons prepared mustard. Add 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. Use a cheese plane to make large curls of Reggiano Parmesan. A quarter pound will yield enough cheese for a dozen salads.
4. Just before dinner, top each salad with Parmesan curls and dressings.
Makes enough dressing for 6 to 8 servings.

1 comment:

  1. I just realized I never got back my Bloodroot cookbook when I loaned it to someone who, unfortunately is now faceless...darn it!

    My very favorite Bloodroot recipes are their Colcannon with their Miso-Beer Gravy. MAJOR yum! And perfect for tomorrow, St. Paddy's day - matter of fact that's when I had it, only it wasn't at Bloodroot but at our wonderful, tho now gone, Food for Thought food market. So good! The cabbage mixed in with the mashed potatoes with that wonderful fantastically rich-tasting gravy over all. I've made it several times over the years and it's always so good!

    Valerie - I think those two recipes are in the book you have. I'd LOVE it it I could get copies of them! Wonder what Jorge would think. I know, everything in moderation, and as long as those carbs and sugars are counted and not gone over the limit, all is good!