Saturday, January 21, 2006

I Thought I Loved Food...

Last night I ate my friend Claire's final project before graduation. It was unlike anything I have ever eaten before, which, I guess, is to be expected since she is graduating from the Natural Gourmet Cookery School. There were about one hundred guests who came to eat the vegan meal Claire and her teammates had created.

I have never been to a meal that was so personal. Claire and her teammates have been working on the concept for many weeks, creating decor, a menu, and each plate for their chosen theme of "Winter Revival: An Evening of Restoration and Renewal." The menu, which is by far the most beautiful menu I have ever seen, described the benefits of each of the foods we were eating. If you know me, you know that my stomach has rarely, if ever, been introduced to beets, black beans, most vegetables, or anything described as raw. These foods are never my first choice, but last night each dish was phenomenal.

And, fortunately for me, Claire's fiance Brad is just as dorky as I am, and we both felt perfectly comfortable taking pictures of each dish as it came out. My favorite is below:This is a root vegetable pave with spinach truffle creme fraiche, carrot ginger reduction, and baby arugula. This is also the part of the meal when I realized I give myself too much credit as a food lover. Brad was seated next to me, and described the process that Claire goes through to create a plate such as the one above, patiently trying different ingredients, combinations, and measurements. I love to eat, but have so little knowledge about what I am actually eating and its effects on my body or mood.

At the end of the night, Claire and her teammates came out for congratulations from the crowd, and a quick question and answer session. Again, it became clear that her imagination is made up of this mathematical creativity that results in these healthy, unique dishes that taste incredible. Her team won high praise from their teacher, who described it as one of the most "interesting and variable meals he had seen in a long time," and from Jenny Matthau, the Director and President of the school.

At the end of the night, I actually did feel renewed. It's so rare to have a meal that is an experience such as this one. It has inspired me to learn more, and nothing can be better than that...except for maybe another serving of the toasted walnut and black bean puree with Hijiki rice crisps.

1 comment:

Marcia said...

mmmmmm.....yummy vegetables. Don't get me wrong, I like a nice piece of steak now and again but it is nice to see vegetable presented in an imaginative and creative way rather than slightly brown, lumpy offerings one often sees on menus.

Congrats to your friend!