I’m already a fan of mangoes, so I gladly jumped at the chance to attend a lunch for moms put on by the National Mango Board. Yes, there’s a board for mangoes. I felt a tad guilty since I already love them – I don’t need to be convinced that they’re delicious, do I? Feeling like the choir about to be preached-to, I set off.
Clearly the mango board sees a need to reach out to moms, because the recipes they shared were pretty basic, “kid-friendly” fare. I put that in quotes because my kids tend to be fairly adventurous, and are easily bored by typical kid-friendly fare.
Fortunately for me and the other women in attendance, the lunch menu was orchestrated by Simpatica Dining Hall. They have a cozy space (formerly part of La Luna, where I used to frequent mosh pits back in the day!) that would be lovely for intimate gatherings of up to 30 or so people. Take note, event planners. But the space was overshadowed by the DELIGHTFUL food! As you would expect, every course featured mangoes. I love a meal that begins at 11 a.m. with mango Bellinis!
We sipped the Bellinis and tried the sliced Ataulfo mangoes on the tables. These little babies are also marketed as “Champagne” mangoes, which I learned is a trade name, not a type of mango. But the Ataulfos are my new favorite. Who knew? They’re less fibrous than other mangoes, and as you might guess by the Bellini application, much more like a peach in texture than your typical mango. In fact, the kids keep calling them peaches. I’ve got to work on that, clearly. One thing I learned is that while you can tell your typical mango is ripe if it has a little bit of give to it (like a peach or avocado), the Ataulfos want to me much softer – and even a bit wrinkly of skin.
Our first course was the most delicate salad that I just have to attempt to recreate. The chef at Simpatica claimed the lettuce was baby romaine from Groundworks Organics, but it was so tender I’d swear it was baby butter leaf. A simple dressing of citrus and good olive oil (my standard already) also included some mango. I’m not sure quite how, it must have been pureed in. The amazing part of the salad, however was the Bellweather Farms Fromage Blanc, accompanied by local olives and olive oil from Durant Vineyards. Melt. In. Your. Mouth. That salad makes me salivate.
In between courses, our host Wendy demonstrated the preferred way to get into a mango. I have to admit, I’ve been peeling them first, then cutting the cheeks off the pit. But the Mango Board recommends cutting the cheeks off first, then slicing or dicing in without cutting through the skin, and scooping it out like an avocado. So much easier! In fact, the kids can even do it, as they’ve demonstrated several times since I showed them. I can’t seem to keep them away from the mangoes now.
The main course was accompanied by two side dishes served family-style. The baby Yukons were fantastic, but the mango wasn’t really prominent. No complaints here, potatoes aren’t included in my anti-inflammatory diet so I don’t eat them very often. These were DELICIOUS, just not very mango-riffic. The beet salad, on the other hand, had chunks of mango and whole basil leaves with a citrus vinaigrette. It was so good that another gal at my table took seconds on that, even though before that day she swore she didn’t like beets.
I chose the vegetarian option for the main course, a mushroom pastilla with Indian spices and a tangy mango sauce. It was so so good – smoky spicy mushrooms, offset by the light mango sauce. I have to admit, though… I was a little obsessed with the forbidden potatoes.
I thought the chefs at Simpatica did a great job of incorporating the mangoes into each course, and I certainly found some inspiration to use them more frequently. The frequent peach references made me wonder if my peach cardamom pie might work with mangoes instead of peaches… stay tuned!
If you redefine “local” as “North America” then you can feel good about getting mangoes year-round.
I made pancakes for the kiddles for breakfast this morning, and served a mango sauce with them. 2 Atoulfos with the juice of half a lemon and about a tablespoon of local berry-flower honey. Nobody needed butter or syrup!
It could have been the bellinis, but I had a great time meeting Carrie, Sofia and Laurel and some other fun local moms, as well as the Mango Proseletizers (who were always gracious and never heavy-handed, by the way). I’m glad I attended this lunch. I ate delicious food, discovered a new event venue, and learned a few things about mangoes. Turns out preaching to the choir can still have some benefits!
This lunch was sponsored by the National Mango Board and Fred Meyer. I received complimentary lunch and a gift bag. All opinions are my own.