Participating in Veganuary has been an amazing adventure. Not only have I been cooking more, losing weight and feeling energetic, I have also tried foods that I may never have previously considered. So, when I was invited to a raw vegan dinner, I immediately responded with an enthusiastic yes. This is what I thought of Funky Gourmet’s, ‘Raw Food Journey – An Indulgent Popup’ at Maida Hill Place, West London.
Stepping in from the cold, I was greeted with warm smiles and friendly faces. The room was cosy and warm and decorated with colourful tulips. The evening was a five course set-menu which quashed any usual panic of choosing what to order! As the ingredients were all raw vegan, I was relaxed for what I was about to consume. Normally, I would be quite wary of what is placed in front of me if I haven’t ordered it, especially if it is meat. I’m useless with unlabelled buffets as I like to know what’s in my food.
Raw vegan food is prepared with temperatures that do not exceed 48°C. There are many reasons that people choose to live a raw vegan lifestyle, but the most common answer is that raw vegans believe that cooking foods at a higher temperature can negate the goodness in our ingredients and therefore lose vital micronutrients. I had never thought of this before, I had only been taught that you should cook most foods to a high temperature to kill off any harmful bacteria, not realising that this would also rid the food of its vital nutrients too. Hmm, something to think about.
The starter was served; a cucumber consommé, served with a wakame crostini and topped with wild garlic. This was refreshing and palate cleansing with the delicious sorbet. I loved the crostini as it complemented the consommé having an added crunchy texture and a hint of salt. The wild garlic topped the dish and was delicious.
From a distance, the second course looked a little like chorizo and cheese! What this was, however, was rolled pink peppercorns with flaxseeds and a cultured macadamia cheese. The smooth and creamy texture of the vegan cheese was a perfect match for the crunchy flaxseeds and peppercorns. The fig compote was the perfect addition, to add a touch of sweetness.
My favourite course came next. A rich, sweet and delicious, sweet potato rosti and shitake croquette, served with a bbq sauce. Wow, I loved this, I do have a sweet tooth! I want to try and recreate this at home because I am now craving it again, whilst writing! The ingredients, which included truffle cream, made the dish perfectly intense and filling.
Whilst participating in Veganuary I am also equally committed to dry January too, so my final course was the sorbet, but without the Prosecco. Even so, it was delicious and a perfect way to round the meal. I could not have the final dish, wine poached pear torte, due to the alcohol content, but the smile on people’s faces made me extremely jealous. Amaretto has to be one of my favourite liquors! Ed did give me a few of his candied pistachios that were decorating his plate, yum. My dish did not go to waste though, it was divided up and shared amongst my eager friends. I will definitely be ordering this after January.
Despite Chef Fatih Guven’s extensive experience, such as having attended culinary school and having worked for over twenty years in the industry, including his work at several SAF restaurants in Europe improving their menus, he was eager to come out from the kitchen to ask us our thoughts. He was gracious and accepting of all the comments, positive though they were, but it was admirable to learn that he was still eager to learn what people thought of his creations.
I took my doting boyfriend with me. Here are Ed’s thoughts…
“Always being a bit of a meat enthusiast, I was interested to experience the range of flavours and textures which could be offered by high-end vegan cuisine, and raw-vegan at that. I was not disappointed.
Upon walking into the restaurant I was impressed by the variety and length of the menu – five intricately designed courses with no trace of carrots and celery sticks to be seen. All the dishes were immaculately presented and tasted as they looked, stunning. Additional kudos to Chef Fatih Guven and his team for completing this feat in an unfamiliar kitchen.
The only slight negative aspect to the experience was the fact that I’m not sure my body is quite used to raw vegan cuisine so my digestive system had to work harder than normal. I assume this improves with regular consumption. Although I would not convert to being a vegan, my eyes have been opened to the wealth of flavours on offer from non-animal based foods. I will certainly try to diversify what I eat in the future and it will be my loss if I overlook vegan and vegetarian options in the future!”
I had a wonderful evening trying new and creative vegan recipes that I would love to recreate. The food was delicious and a great inspiration to vegans and all food lovers alike. I came away feeling full, but not bloated or uncomfortable. It is a shame that this experience is only a popup, as I would have otherwise been heading here again soon! I am eagerly anticipating the announcement of their next popup! However, with wedding season fast approaching, it is comforting to know that Funky Gourmet cater events, weddings, birthdays and host workshops too.
*Health Advice: Please check the ingredients, for any potential allergy information.