Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vegan Divas Launches Dessert Line & Gluten-Free Tide Raises All Taste Buds

All hopeless romantics yearn to believe that when love is in the air all things are possible.

The Culinary Cupids flitting about the pastry table at Payard’s in Rio de Janeiro must have sensed a budding, soon-to-be-romantic coupling between Fernanda Capobianco, owner of Payard’s Rio, and François Payard, the Michelin award-winning, four-starred pastry chef was to be their glorious masterpiece.

Miss Capobianco, the stunningly elegant former political public relations expert was not cooperating, however.  
While the talented, handsome prince charming chef François seemed smitten from the first cream puff, Fernanda recalled pointing out that well, she had a boyfriend. 
Pastry builds stamina and endurance, it seems, and after a year or so – or in less time than it takes to learn how to make truly blissful croissants, François won Fernando’s heart. 

The Culinary Cupids were dancing on their croquembouche.

Wedding bells soon followed. 
Culinary Power Couple: Fernanda Copabianco & husband, Master Pastry Chef Francois Payard

Three years ago, Fernanda relocated to New York City, the epicenter of Payard’s culinary brands and, no surprise, before too long, visions of desserts were dancing around her intoxicating head.

But not just any desserts.  Mais non! 
Fernanda is from the land of bossa nova and string bikinis and caipirinha and Giselle.

Moreover, being a vegan herself, she bemoaned the lack of vegan desserts. 
Seriously, it wasn’t all that long ago that getting a vegan savory entree was considered a bit off the grid.

Vegan desserts? 
That was a joke.

Now, dessert lovers can be giggling and smiling. 
All the way through a variety of amazingly delicious vegan confections thanks to Fernanda’s dedication to offer fellow vegans sweets that taste good.

“Plus my father is a diabetic,” said Fernanda during an interview at the premiere tasting of her Vegan Divas product line that has more attributes and accolades than a Girl Scout cookie top seller’s merit badge.

Here’s the benchmark Vegan Divas value-added list that all others will have to measure up to:
* 100% natural
* Vegan
* Low-Calorie
* No Cholesterol
* Organic Ingredients
* High in Fiber
* Kosher
* Parve

Vegan Divas Carrot Cake
See the full product line of good-tasting, delicious desserts at www.vegandivasnyc.com  

Vegan Chocolate Mousse!

The product line launch tasting allowed food enthusiasts to sample outstanding confections, including the heart-shaped Spelt Chocolate Brownie. 
Vegan Divas Fernanda Capobianco & Food Networks "Sweet Genius" Master pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel
Master Pastry Chef Ron Ben-Israel smooching it up for Vegan Divas sweets!
Food Network TV Pastry Chef, Sweet Genius, Ron Ben-Israel, (www.weddingcakes.com) - there to support his “Pastry Peeps,” declared the brownies the best he’d ever tasted - bar none, according to Fernanda.  “Forget that they are vegan or gluten free,” he pronounced.  

At the same time, I believe the parenthetical “for a vegan or gluten-free” – or fill in whatever dietary guidelines that enlightened nutritionists have researched and advised people to follow -- misses the point for any recipe or line of food that is focused on dietary measures that lead to a better, healthier life for those who must avoid dairy, eggs, and casein.

Why can’t one have both taste and nutrition?  Why the need to whisper, … “For a vegan recipe, it’s “OK.” Or “Good.”
Truth be told, we are still in the early or beta stages of alternative and different nutritional cuisines.

Vegan Divas has established a benchmark that others would be wise to follow.

Fernanda researched her dessert recipes for more than a year. She established a bakery in Long Island City to accommodate both the vegan and the gluten free dessert making.

She tested and tried recipes using spelt flour, maple syrup, and coconut oil, for example. 
See Dr. Oz for his recommendation to use coconut oil in cooking – the good doctor touted the powerful health benefits of the tropical oil recently – very helpful for diabetics and blood sugar levels. (www.doctoroz.com/videos/coconut-oil-super-powers-pt-1)

I recommend coconut water in cooking and making smoothies.

Many at the tasting delighted in the samples with top honors going to the brownies; the doughnuts: cinnamon sugar, toasted coconut, chocolate iced doughnut; oatmeal raisin cookie with chili powder, and big-time favorites: Gluten-free coconut macaroon and the Decadent Chocolate cake -- Fernando’s favorite.  One taste of the layered dark chocolate and French ganache and one is in mmm, mmm heaven.  

The complete product line will soon be available from the Vegan Diva website. 
They also do parties and events: 646-499-4843.

Culinary Cupids can get these delicious confections in time for their sweeties now at Whole Foods, Garden of Eden, and the West Side Market. 

Behind every great relationship there is a story.

Vegan Divas is one sweet confection of a love story.  

And they’re just getting started.  

Gluten Free Restaurant

Are you yearning to go out and try a delicious gluten-free restaurant?  
There is no better place to dine than Rubirosa Ristorante Family Style Italian Restaurant. http://rubirosanyc.com/press.html

Located at 235 Mulberry Street between Prince and Spring, this down to Little Italy, home-style eatery.  

My dear childhood friend Mary Kay has recently been diagnosed with ciliacs disease, thank goodness.  
And you know I don't mean that the way it sounds.
Rather, we are so grateful that finally, after far too many years of doctors telling her -- and other women their condition is something else (pick your poisen: stress is usually the most proffered counsel) she was able to isolate what her demons are and then voila -- embrace the remedy.

Initially -- and this could take a book unto itself -- the gluten-free diet seemed so restricting. 
I scurried to Barnes & Noble thinking I'd research some obscure diet cookbooks. 
And while that notion was not too far off the mark only a few years ago, the helpful salesgirl, avec pierced nose and tattoos, pointed me to the best gluten-free cookbooks and added her father was now on board with her dietary guidelines, convinced it was healthier.

OK, but tastier?
That element had a ways to go back then.

My childhood girlfriends have a longstanding tradition to really celebrate twice a year for our birthdays. But given Mary Kay's newfound gluten-free diet, we'd eaten at home the last few times. Not that that is a bad thing. We're all wonderful, good cooks.
But a birthday is a time to go out. Kick up your heels. 

And so, enter Rubirosa Ristorante.  
It was terrific.  Family pulled strings to get us a reservation.  
Mary Kay loved the food. Yeah!  
And as noted earlier, the true test of vegan and gluten-free food is not so much how it is almost like real food, but that it IS real food.  
All three of us loved the food.    

Rubirosa is a family-owned and operated restaurant that knows good ingredients and is dedicated to serving the best tasting food. They saw an opportunity a few years ago to produce delicious gluten-free recipes for a burgeoning population of restaurant goers.  So now the menu is dedicated to terrific food: Gluten-free or ...

Rubirosa owner and hostess

Love a restaurant owner who can mug it up!
You can play a good dining game and aside from dietary constraints for those who cannot have the non gluten-free food - go ahead and try to taste test the two versions: "regular" and gluten-free.  
You will be hard-pressed to ID the vegan or gluten-free.
Bottom line?  
Who cares?  
If it tastes good, and challenges your heretofore conception of "food" relax and enjoy.

And judging by the jam-packed "butts to nuts" crowd of dining enthusiasts in the restaurant on our way out, there are more than enough foodies who enjoy being in such good company.



  1. Very interesting post! It sounds very good! Thanks for the info...

    1. Thank you so very much for your kind comment and interest, Eftychia! I hope you can get to enjoy the Vegan Divas' desserts and Rubirosa restaurant's quality, healthy food. And I look forward to welcoming you here at Master Chefs and their Gardens blog.... You are most discerning :)