Vegan Heaven

December 2008

One night recently, my wife and I were enjoying seared then roasted saltwater barramundi fillets with lentils and a crunchy green salad and she said, out of the blue, “What would a vegan eat on a mountain top in Switzerland?” This probably related to a previous conversation about the origins of that weird dish, fondue.

We’d surmised that a bunch of Swiss were stuck on said mountain top in a snow storm with nothing but bread, cheese and wine — and invented it. But if one of them was a vegan, they could only eat the bread, and even then only if it contained no animal fats: vegans eat nothing connected the exploitation of animals; no cheese, no eggs, no butter.

So a vegan cooking contest presents … challenges. Indeed, that’s what it was called: the Vegan Society Cooking Challenge, held this year on World Vegan Day (November 1) in Wolverhampton, UK, as part of the West Midlands Vegan Festival, no doubt a wild and riotous affair.

The overall winner was Paul Russell, a lecturer in Hospitality and Culinary Arts at University College Birmingham for his winning menu, which included Soupe au Pistou with a Potato Raviolo; Crisp Fried Baby Artichokes in a Poppy Seed Coating on a Pea & Roasted Pepper Risotto; and a Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake with Cherries.

All of which sounds wonderful — and wonderfully inventive considering the limitations placed on ingredients. All the vegan restaurants in Sydney are Asian and two out of three are in Newtown.

There’s Green Gourmet (115-117 King St, Ph 9519 5330) which is Chinese/Malaysian vegan, Green Palace (182 King St, Ph 9550 5234), a Thai vegan and there’s Bodhi in the Park, Cook & Phillip Park, College St, Ph 9360 2523. All the others are vegetarian/vegan. Let me know if I’m wrong — it’d be good to discover Sydney’s Paul Russell.

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