Last week my friend from Deli Bluem took me to a vegan cooking class organized by Muso Koroni. The chef was Justin P. Moore, known for his cookbook ‘The Lotus and the Artichoke‘ as well as for his travels. That was actually the reason she asked me in the first place to come with her. A fact that I had missed in my research about the chef and the organizer.
I went to the cooking class without any expectations or reservations. Food needs to be good, no matter from which ‘drawer” it’s coming from. The class was held at a rent able kitchen/dining room which had it’s own charm and vibe. When we arrived it already smelled amazing of all kinds of things.
We had a five course meal with a salad as a starter, then soup followed by a Quiche and stuffed peppers and as a desert brownies. Sounds delicious, no? So let’s talk about how it turned out.
We started with the preparation for the soup. Everybody was chopping vegetables and I loved that it was a very interactive class not like the other one I attended in late summer. Justin told us that he has no professional training in the kitchen but learned cooking at home. Therefore his cooking style was quite interesting to watch (the roasting vegetables got checked by hand if they were done).
After that we worked on the filling for the Quiche (sun-dried tomatoes, spinach), a sauce with smoked tofu and some kind of ‘cheese’. So of course it was not a real cheese but something similar in texture and look. Justin ensured us that it was the first time that he used it (why now, why with us?). Then we moved on to the stuffed peppers. The peppers were halved, then stuffed with a spiced rice filling and also topped with the ‘cheese’ and bread crumbs. Justin oiled the peppers inside and out before filling them and the oil really did a good job because the peppers didn’t burn or got dry!
Then it was finally time to eat and we sat down with rocket salad with pears and caramelized walnuts.
The salad was ok. I think the problem were the pears, they were probably to hard when bought and had therefore not enough taste. Also I found the caramelized walnuts to sweet and there was not enough acid in the dressing to balance this.
The soup meanwhile was the best course of the whole meal. Thick, hot and not too finely mixed so one could still feel the texture of the vegetables. Plus the balsamic and the caramelized sunflower seeds balanced each other nicely and the crunch of the seeds gave the soup some extra kick. Very typical for me that I only have the one picture of it.
All the while we were drinking some organic wine which was good, a bit on sweet side maybe but drinkable nonetheless. At last we made to the main course: Quiche and stuffed pepper. It was really nicely presented on the plate, even the vegan eats with the eye.
The taste then was a bit off for me. The Quiche was too salty, the sun-dried tomatoes and the smoked tofu didn’t really go well together. Also the crust was too dry for me. I honestly miss the taste of butter in the vegan version. The stuffed peppers on the other hand were moist on the inside while the top was dry from the extra bread crumbs and the ‘cheese’. Plus the spiced rice lost almost all its taste in the oven (probably evaporated with the moisture of the pepper) and just tasted bland. Never mind, we still had one course to go. The brownies, next to the burger the best of what America has to offer!
Justin had roasted some walnuts before and ground them himself. They and the vanilla made up this amazing smell. And then I took a bite and the brownie was chocolatey in taste but also a bit dry and over-baked. It didn’t have this gooey texture that I came to expect from a brownie. It was just another cake although with a lot of chocolate taste.
I don’t know if it is the vegan cuisine or the cook that made this is dinner a bit of a disappointment. I got surprised so often now by my friend’s vegan cooking that for me it is not about the label vegan anymore but the good taste of fresh ingredients. And this was not it. Still the company was pleasant and I only felt one weird vibe when I mentioned that I was eating meat and that I don’t think about going vegan at all (I think if looks could kill I should have died on the spot; I could see the accusation clearly in the eyes of this person: I am a murderer even though I don’t personally hold the knife). But what does it matter, I had a great time with my friend.
PS: We later had a beer at the Vollpension dissecting the evening and the cooking in detail. Can only recommend the Vollpension, quite a relaxed crowd and good music!
PPS: The next day I had an urge to eat meat at home which I rarely do. And I gave in! It tasted fantastic!