What comes to mind when you wonder what vegans eat? Tofu, right? Or perhaps soya or mung beans… Certainly nothing as exciting as ‘beetroot ravioli with an orange, fennel and grapefruit dressing’, or ‘roasted butternut tortellini with young spinach, pickled butternut and toasted pumpkin seeds’.
And yet last month I discovered that vegan food can be quite sensational – and all my preconceived ideas flew right out the window. The occasion: the Veggie Buntch Supper Club at the Mount Nelson. The food: completely blew my mind.
The newly launched Veggie Buntch Supper Club gets together once a month to celebrate exceptional vegan and vegetarian food in Cape Town.
I was excited to be invited to join the club for their second event, a specially-created entirely-vegan 6-course meal at the Chef’s Table at the Mount Nelson’s Planet Restaurant.
The evening started in the warm, cosy Planet Bar with the meeting of fellow diners and the savouring of mouth-wateringly delicious canapes and vegan-friendly bubbly (yes, it seems not all wines are vegan, as I soon discovered – more about that later).
Then it was on to the Chef’s Table, right in the heart of the Planet Restaurant’s kitchen, where we proceeded to work our way through six incredible courses, each one introduced by a member of the kitchen staff.
Even the wines were vegan-friendly – something I’d never considered before. The bubbly (Genevieve Blanc du Brut – probably the best I’ve ever tasted), the Boschendal Chardonnay Pinot Noir and the First Sightings Pinot Noir all employ vegan-friendly methods in their creation.
What this means, in practice, is that no animal products or by-products are used in the clarification process. Instead of the more commonly used products like gelatin, isinglass (obtained from dried swim bladders of fish!), casein or egg albumen, vegan-friendly wines are clarified using bentonite (a clay mineral). More about the finer details here.
Winemakers don’t have to label their clarifier of choice, so if you’re thinking dried fish parts ain’t your cup of tea (or are allergic to seafood), best make some enquiries.
Who knew vegan food could be so beautiful, and so delicious. I really was blown away by the creativity and flavour of each surprising combination. My photos (below) don’t really do them justice – so I’ve stolen the one above from the Veggie Buntch website, and you should have a look at the other gorgeous photos there.
What an experience. Even if I hadn’t been invited as a guest, I would still gladly have spent the R400 ticket price and gone home beaming.
So, if you’re vegan or simply curious and keen to experience vegan food at its best, in the company of friendly folk who love good food, you might like to join the Veggie Buntch on an upcoming culinary expedition.
Their next event takes place on the 15th of August at the Azure Restaurant at the 12 Apostles Hotel (4 course meal for R320), and I’m sure they have many other fantastic dinner ideas up their sleeves.