March 18, 2012 by bethanjthomas
In celebration of my impending death, (aka the birthday marking the end of my 20s), several of my close friends agreed to join me for a 5 course entry into raw vegan haute cuisine.
I should state at this juncture that I am a meat eater. I care deeply about where my meat comes from, but not the fact that it once had a heart beat. As part of a family of farmers, I grew up helping to dock lambs’ tails in the Spring, seeing ducks and chickens have their necks wrung in my grandparents pantry and getting involved in the gutting and plucking of turkey at Christmas.
I do however stay with a vegan for 1-2 nights a week when I work in London. She is coincidentally my best friend. We’ve had passionate debates about whether its wrong to eat meat and I’ve attended meetings at the London Vegan Society to learn more about the vegan cause (they still email me to this day). Yet I still buy free range, organic meat every week to satisfy the carnivore inside me.
But when Laura told me about a raw vegan supper club in South London, I was intrigued. The premise of raw veganism is that it is not only wrong to eat meat, but also wrong to cook vegetables. The second fruit and veg are heated over c. 40 degrees, they begin to lose their goodness. So to absorb all of the anti-oxidants you require, you must eat them raw.
But the menu we received before arriving seemed to contradict that anything could be raw – soup, lasagne, spaghetti, pizza, chocolate mousse…how on earth could these be made simply from raw fruit and veg?
Firstly, the soup – a choice of tomato and basil, or lemon and fennel were simply heated incredibly slowly and carefully to prevent them rising above 40 degrees. The tang of lemon and crunch of fennel in the bowl that I had, was a great combination. Whilst the freezing temperatures outside might have made a steaming hot broth appealing, I certainly didn’t miss the heat given the fantastic flavour that the bowl contained.
The salad course was a no-brainer. I understood how this could be made, but the addition of kale crisps (dehydrated pieces of curly kale and salt) and numerous sprouts made the dish tasty and unlike those I prepare at home. The sprouts were also key to giving our bodies the protein they needed, and according to Amy (the chef) they are the most protein rich vegetable available to us.
My raw vegan lasagne was unlike any lasagne I have had before, or will have again. In a good way. Crafted from raw sweet potato, macadamia nut cheese (yes, nut cheese), spinach and mushrooms, it was a piece of art before I started to demolish it. The nut cheese (I can’t help but smile when I write that) was a revelation – a creamy, smooth alternative to goat’s cheese. Delicious. I tasted the raw garlic quite strongly in the dish, but the cheese and tender mushrooms came through alongside with no problem.
Our dessert was chocolate mousse – made from avocado, banana, vanilla, coconut and cacao. It was rich and less sweet than a conventional mousse (unsurprisingly), and it was nice to know that my dessert was full of natural goodness rather than cream and sugar.
As we sat back and spoke to Amy about the dishes and what she tends to eat on a day to day basis, I was surprised to be full. I had worried that the exclusion of real cheese, dairy and meat from the meal would leave me unsatisfied, but I was stuffed.
For anyone interested in having a meal that is completely unavailable in restaurants across London, hand made minutes before it is served, and created by a passionate and engaging raw vegan…this is the place to go! Well worth an experimental visit and a chance to review your own eating habits and shopping choices.
I should point out that I am still a meat eater, but I am definitely going to increase my salad intake, use of sprouts and am on the look out for nut cheese…
Photos courtesy of Jerry Young http://www.jerryyoung.co.uk/
Food courtesy of Amy Hughes – let me know if you want her details, she runs courses as well as supper clubs.