I met up with Paul at Ten Belles yesterday--easily the sunniest, warmest day so far this year--to talk creative projects over a good cup of caffeine-saturated drip coffee. It was my first time at this hipster cafe, where everyone, including the studly Australian barrista, looked like they sauntered off the pages of Paris Hipster magazine. (Has anyone started that yet? I think it would sell.)
The meetup was productive and the coffee was tasty. I didn't expect them to have any vegan options on the carte, but I went ahead and asked Studly Australian Dude (SAD) anyway, and he just cocked his head to the side and repeated "vegan?" back to me as if he'd never heard the word before. OK. That's alright.
But while Paul and I said our goodbyes on the trottoir outside the cafe, the word "vegan" chalked onto a sign next door caught my eye. I resisted the urge to grab SAD by his arm and drag him over to his neighbor's sign. Instead, I window-licked for a minute (that's what the French call window-shopping), then popped into Carmen Ragosta for a good look.
|Head downstairs to the artist's atelier .|
I stayed for a good half-hour, chatting with Carmen about her life and her art and ideas, and when I found out she was open on Sundays, I promised to return the following day to taste her home-made cuisine, sip a glass of Montepulciano, and fondle some more of those delectable Melissa shoes that call out from every corner.
|I love those pink-and-red Melissa shoes.|
|An arty vibe permeates every inch of space at Carmen Ragosta.|
|A beautiful bloom decorates each table.|
We sat down, and didn't order, because you don't do that at Carmen Ragosta; you eat what Carmen cooks. If you're vegan, you get a lovely plate of food that might include risotto, seasonal vegetables, unusual salad combinations (yam and fennel? Interesting! And miamy.), savory croquettes, and bread. If you're vegetarian, you have the option of having cheese sprinkled over your meal, and, maybe an extra thing or two that has cheese inside, like eggplant Parmiagiana.
|Pretty clothes representing the colors of late winter and early spring.|
|The plat du jour: Risotta with beans, a savory croquette, braised endive, poached pear, and different salads.|
I loved my lunch, which (as is nearly always the case) I didn't think would be filling when the plate was first set before me. My favorite component was the braised endive with almonds and raisins, cooked in a balsamic reduction sauce. (I think.)
|Pippo, the friendly, heat-loving dog-of-the-house|
For dessert, we had espresso and tiramisu. I'm a total newbie on the tiramisu front, but I loved Carmen's version--a creamy, not-too-sweet melange that tasted of coffee, Speculoos, and vanilla.
|This is what vegan tiramisu looks like.|
|The vivacious, friendly, and talented Carmen, on her way to her magic kitchen.|
|Do you remember these bags from high school?|