I took a disappointing cooking class the other night. Why?
Two words: vegan cheese.
The class was a hands-on vegan demo, led by Ann Gentry of the very popular Real Food Daily vegan organic restaurants in Los Angeles.
That's Ann on the left
I was not afraid - as a vegetarian of two decades, I am fully conversant with vegetarian/vegan food and it doesn't seem at all odd to me.
My classmates, about 20 eager would-be cooks, were very welcoming and congenial, which is far more than I can say for most people in the nouveau riche my-new-facelift-is-better-than-your-new-facelift Westlake Village area.
The hands-on part of the class was kinda fun. We cleaned, chopped, sliced and diced (though most people in class, I am sorry to say, had scary knife skills) while our faithful helpers from the cooking school did the dishes. All good.
But when we tasted the dishes a pall fell over the class. They were uniformly horrible. The tempeh and potato salad was sharp and pointy from too much vinegar, the barley salad was mooshy and tasteless. The broccoli ( I saw it spelled "brocli" at Farmer's Market the other day and am tempted to adopt that spelling) soup was beyond boring, with fibrous bits of brocli throughout
The lasagna had tough noodles and undercooked veggies as well as that damned salty-yuk so-called vegan cheese. Why are vegans possessed to try and copy foods like cheese that are all but impossible to copy?
To top it off, the restaurant's famous chocolate chip cookie (some kind of non-wheat flour - I don't care enough to look up the recipe, but it contains maple syrup, etc) was bitter and inedible. A chocolate chip cookie that I could not eat?!? Now, that IS shocking.
What is so weird to me is that Suzanne Goin's (see previous post) curried pea soup was vegan and her salad could have been vegan without the parmesan chunks, and both dishes were perfect and glorious.
Is wearing a culinary hair shirt part of being a vegan? Just wondering. Hit me with the comments.