Anyone who’s been checking in with my Veggie Challenge blog will know that I was in a mega, bread and cheese induced slump, right up until yesterday. I’m trying (I’ve failed once) to go vegetarian for October, and somewhat struggling with the lack of food variety.
And then a vegan saved my life. Okay, maybe not exactly, and maybe that’s just the title of a great feature that you should really read. But he did sort of rescue my faith that food without meat or fish, and now, dairy or anything produced by an animal, could be delicious.
It all started with a salad, a fresh, crunchy, fruit infused salad from Mr Watson (Gin Michaels) at one of his Vegan Pop-up Nights. There were so many great, complimentary flavours in action on the plate. Back in my meat-eating days, if I was getting too full, I’d search my food for what I thought of as ‘treats’, little chunks of meat swimming in my curry etc. I didn’t think I’d ever consider every sweet bite of a salad a treat. But here we are, especially after the past carb-loading two weeks, it was a reviving delight. I loved the lychee and juicy mango against the chilli hit. For the first time, now coated in papaya yoghurt, I enjoyed radish.
Then the thai curry with coconut rice arrived, and my mood continued to improve. The rice was fluffy and perfectly cooked, accompanied by a large dish of wonderfully fragrant, just rich enough curry. The man can really cook. My husband and I stopped talking entirely and focused on tucking in. He invited me to try his meal and I eagerly stuck my fork in – Allotment Stew – ‘A blend of root vegetables, served with herb dumplings and a light pesto drizzle.’ We were both truly chuffed with our lot, but also continued to pick at one another’s plate – a real perk of marriage.
The night had been so popular that initially Gin had said, ‘Unfortunately only the brownie is available for dessert.’ The best bad news I’ll ever receive. Later on he managed to salvage one portion of the Upside Down Toffee Apple cake. Thank God. Again, this meant we got to try everything. The desserts were a collaboration between Gin and our Undercover Baker – what a talented team. The apple cake tasted like Christmas. It transported me through a mulled wine, cinnamon coated, front of the fire day dream. One of the bar staff overheard our over-excited chatter about the desserts and joined in – also amazed (and also a meat-eater) that such incredible food could spring forth from veganism (lucky him – he gets to be an early test bunny on nights like this).
I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. It just goes to show that it probably isn’t the fault of the restrictions of a vegetarian diet that I’ve not been enjoying my food, just the lack of imagination and effort going into it. This whole time all I really needed was a full-time live-in Chef. I’ll ask Gin if he fancies it.
We were so in love with the brownie that Gin let us take some home. Other tables saw and kicked off – no one wanted to miss out on the opportunity to take the best part of the night away with them. At only £20 for three courses, the experience is already a real steal.
We simply couldn’t eat another bite. We leant back in our chairs, sleepy and full. Then the truffles came out – coated gold, reminiscent of the Harry Potter snitch, full of delectable dark chocolate. Well, I thought, it would be rude not to.
Follow Mr Watson’s here, to keep abreast of his future, and no doubt fabulous, events.