Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Eating Out: Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen

I have a lot of eating out posts still to share, but I am skipping a head a bit so I can tell you about a very special dinner I had recently! Earlier this month I was lucky to be able to attend a pop-up vegan degustation dinner held at Wandering Cooks near South Bank in Brisbane. The event was run by The Chicken Pen. I had never been to the Wandering Cooks facility before, but it was very pretty. And thankfully it was a lovely evening as well. I went with my friend Ashleigh, and we met up with a couple of other people to complete our table of four.

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


The original booking page said eight courses, but when the menu came out there were 12 different little delights to look forward to!

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


Let's get onto the actual food though! Please forgive the photos. The lighting was not set up to be photo friendly. I ended up taking photos with the low light setting on both my phone and my fancy camera, and just had to pick the best one.

1. Flaxseed cracker with fresh peas and bergamot jam: This was a lovely fresh start to the dinner. The bergamot jam was almost like a little marmalade. The only issue I take with this was all the inedible leaves and twigs on the plate!

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


2. Local variety of cucumber cooked with thyme and dill: Four varieties of cucumber, in fact. I loved the cucumbers and the dill (my favourite herb). I had hoped the white crumbles were going to be some sort of nut feta or something, but it was some sort of coconut cream. I scraped as much of that off as I could, given my coconut fat issues.

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


3. White lentils fermented in the basement with wild mushrooms and burned toast: I love that these are fermented in the basement. I googled and it seems to be a home brew related thing? Much better than fermented in the attic? I was looking forward to this, and the flavour did not disappoint. It was great!

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


4. Plate of biodynamic beetroot glazed in bitter apple vinegar blackberry consomme and wild pickled lavender: This was a favourite at our table! It was great, the beetroot was cooked a variety of ways, and the sauce was perfect. We were scraping our plates to try and get more off!

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


5. Tofu cooked in hay with fermented and juiced celariac: This was my favourite of the savoury dishes. The tofu was crumbed in something that was almost cheesy tasting, and the cooked celeriac was just divine. The celeriac sauce they came around and drizzled over the top was lovely as well. Unfortunately at this point they also brought out some smoking leaves to the table, which smelled pretty much like a campfire and are really not great for someone like me who has asthma triggered by smoke. We blew ours out and put them far away from me!

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


6. Sourdough bread with cashew butter, black salt and burnt scallions: One person at our table was gluten free, and they bought gluten free bread out for the whole table. This made me a little sad, as I had seen them taking loaves of delicious hot sourdough around to other tables. So I mentioned I was not gluten free and they bought me a sourdough. And that meant instead of having to share a plate, we each got to eat all the bread. Mwahahaha. This was so good. The bread was hot and crusty and perfect with the cashew butter. I only used a sprinkling of salt. Ashleigh said the gluten free bread was amazing as well.

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


7. Tempeh from Byron Bay with blueberries and local beer: This one divided the table, but I liked it! The tempeh was hidden under slices of roasted heirloom carrots and pickled daikon, and was actually finely minced and mixed up with seasonings and blueberries. Apparently someone said it was miso based. I loved the combination of sweet blueberry and salty miso with the tempeh.

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


8. Liquid nitrogen poached pear sorbet with dried ginger and coconut: This could have been amazing, but it was a bit unbalanced. The top part was delicious frozen pear sorbet that I could have eaten forever, and the bottom was chunks of coconut and ginger with a drizzle of coconut cream (but not too much for me). However the middle was a very sour lime granita. A little lime would have been great with it, but there was so much of it that it just took over the other flavours. I just really wanted all the pear sorbet bits!

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


9. Toffee apple from the school fair: This was a fun little spoonful that sort of melted in your mouth to release a yummy toffee apple flavoured syrup. Only issue for me was that the shell was white chocolate, which I don't like, and that was the flavour that really lingered.

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


10. Dark chocolate pulled and stretched potatoes from the southern highlands: Say what? No dish had me more excited than this one. Chocolate and potatoes? It ended up coming out in the form of a slice of deliciously dense and rich tart, which was amazing. Sprinkled with a great oaty crumble and served with some sort of chew berry wafers. This was my dessert highlight of the night!

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


11. Aerated beetroot meringue and bitter chocolate: I really liked this, though it was more like the chocolate was the meringue and the beetroot was a rich, earthy gel. I loved the combination. Some of the tablet found the chocolate too bitter, but I prefer my chocolate dark and bitter so I was super happy! It was served on a mound of dirt (underneath the baking paper), which seemed a little silly, but I am willing to overlook it because the actually edible part was great.

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


12. Stone fruit whiskey: These seemed to be chocolate shell with a lime liquid centre. Tragically, as I was putting mine in my mouth (you had to eat it whole), the chocolate unexpectedly cracked and the liquid went everywhere! It was kind of funny. A little bit sticky! Though miraculously I managed to get almost none of it on my dress!

Vegan Degustation by The Chicken Pen


This was a fun night, but very long. The kitchen was running behind, so there was a long weight between courses and we got pretty hungry. The bread course saved my life! Instead of finishing at 10pm if finished at just after 11pm. I was exhausted at work the next day (even 10pm is a really late night for me). Thankfully, the exceptional company kept the evening moving! And I did really enjoy the food for the most part.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim on her 16th birthday


Yesterday (the 16th of February) was my little Dim Sim's 16th birthday. Here she is, on her birthday. I am having a hard time coping with her getting older, but she is still sweet and frisky!

12 comments:

  1. Awww, happy b'day Dim Sim! Such a cutie!

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  2. Whoa. That menu sounds crazy!! Almost too fancy for me. I think the bread sounds like the best part. Hahaha.


    Happy Birthday Dim Sim!

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    1. The bread was great. It is fun to do these things every now and then, but honestly it is not the eating style for me.

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  3. Happy belated birthday to Dim Sim! What a cute pose! :)

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  4. Happy sweet 16th Dim Sim! And what a beautiful degustation :)

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  5. WOW! This sounds amazing! I have never enjoyed a pop up before. They always sound so good though.
    Cucumbers are probably my favourite food ever. I didn't realise there could be so many varieties.
    "White lentils fermented in the basement with wild mushrooms and burned toast"
    That sounds like my favourite dish. Mushrooms are so good! And lentils. And anything ferment. Mmmmm.
    And the bread.... oh the bread! I love how they brought gf bread out for people. It's nice you got your own all to yourself ;)
    The desserts sound interesting. I would have never thought of pairing chocolate and potatoes. But why not? That would be totally delicious. Liquid nitrogen sorbet? Too bad about the lime.
    10pm is a late night for me as well haha ;p
    Happy Champagne Birthday Dim Sim!

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    Replies
    1. This is the first pop up I've ever been to as well.
      Cucumbers are an interesting choice as a favourite food ever! Though I agree that they are wonderful, I eat some almost every day.
      I thought it was great that they had gf bread. And I didn't mean to be a gluten-full snob, but I just really really wanted that damn sourdough. ;)
      Dim Sim says thank you!

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