That was the question posed by one of the guests at the first all vegan fine dining dinner, hosted by yours truly in Cork on Saturday night. All was soon to be revealed! Chef Mark Cronin of Barden’s Private Dining Club did not reveal until after the meal, that this was in fact his first ALL VEGAN menu and not only that, it was gluten-free too. Quite the challenge indeed!. We discussed how easy it is to make food taste nice by adding lots of cheese and butter, especially in vegetarian dishes and as if to put paid to the vegan cliche, there wasn’t a leaf of lettuce in sight!
The flavour combinations and honourable treatment of the vegetables on the plate deserved the large round of applause Chef Mark received after the 10 course degustation menu was served. I organised the event to demonstrate that vegetables can be exciting and tasty and that you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy vegan food! In fact only 2 of the guests were 100% Vegan. Mark’s innovative use of seaweeds added a whole extra dimension to the truffled grilled asparagus, this dish was a flavour bomb! My other favourite was the wasabi and peanut grilled stuffed aubergine, the granny smith salsa was inspired and added a beautifully crisp offset to the the peanutty aubergine.
Barden private dining is a private, members only dining club, Mark and his cool venue are available for anyone to book and I highly recommend it for your next get together with family or friends. It is BYOB and a minimum 10 people are needed to book but the table can seat up to 14, you become a member on the night. Read more about the venue and concept from Chef Mark herewww.bardendining.com Mark’s C.V. includes the Ivory Tower and I should inform he does do non-vegan menus too!
The comments from the night were “If you served this menu to a party of guests without saying it was vegan, they wouldn’t even notice until afterwards” my favourite comment of the night was “…the strawberry adds a delicate hint of YUM!”
There were 3 chefs in attendance as guests, no pressure Mark! Everyone enjoyed the evening and for those that had never eaten a full vegan menu before it was a real “eye-opener” as to how flavoursome and filling vegetables are when given the respect they deserve!
Here is the menu from the night
oyster mushroom tempura maki roll sushi, daikon nigiri –
spinach and mushroom souffle, smoked paprika and cashew oil –
fennel smoked beetroot, poitin infused pears, toasted mixed nuts, rocket salad, tangerine and basil infusion
truffled grilled asparagus, mixed seaweed salad
bloody mary sorbet
globe artichoke heart, kale and sesame, nori jus
pan-fried miso tofu and kimchee
wasabi and peanut grilled stuffed aubergine on butternut squash puree, granny smith salsa
sauteed porcini gnocchi, garlic saffron, red pepper “cream
chocolate coconut and strawberry mousse