Well…where do I start? Berlin was such an amazing experience, I’m going to find it very difficult to put down in words.
A few weekends ago I flew out to Germany to help my friend and fellow chef, Jack Cosson from Plant Box Solutions, with his Nomadic Supper Clubs. Jack and I met at Wulf and Lamb, where he was sous chef and I was chef de partie.
Ever since our first meeting we have bounced off each other with food ideas, supper club plans and adventures. Jack is currently travelling around the world with his ‘Nomadic Supper Clubs’ and I jumped at the opportunity to join him in Berlin – the vegan capital of Europe! I was excited to work once more with Jack and his plant-based ethos ahead of our ‘The Ethical Chef’s collaboration on the 28th April at Brother Marcus in Balham.
Before I tell you about the food, I want to start by talking about Berlin. The moment I got off the plane I felt an amazing vibe from the city and more importantly, from the residents. I was surrounded by extremely friendly, outgoing and forward thinking people. Moreover, I found myself constantly stumbling upon vegan establishments: restaurants with vegan menus, vegan supermarkets and organic shops. The choice of products there was outstanding, even better than London and that is saying something.
I was extremely impressed by the tasting menu at Kopps (see above pictures for a few examples of their dishes). Their flavour combinations were insane, particularly the turnip ice cream!!! It felt like Berlin had enough people moving the vegan scene forward to ensure that there were a wide range of options – from fine dining to junk food. London is already great for junk food, but I am really looking forward to the formation of a fine dining vegan culture!
I also had to make sure I tried the traditional local delicacies, but veganised – there is no need to miss out anymore. I loved the vegan currywurst found at Curry at the Wall.
But this wasn’t all that I tried…I also managed to find stomach space for the delicious doughnuts at Brammibals and also the Tempura Bao Burger at Ryong (I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything quite like it!).
Now, enough about what I’ve eaten. On to what we cooked!
The idea behind Jack’s Nomadic Supper Clubs is to use local ingredients to bind together his fusion foods, learnt and discovered on his travels and through meeting people.
For the Berlin supper club, with the help of his amazing friends – Jens and Geraldine (to name a few) – we put on a 5 course tasting menu, based on a selection of 5 incredibly tasty local beers.
The venue was beautiful and proved to be the perfect environment for an intimate event. I’d recommend The Hidden to anyone who ever visits Berlin: a tailor-made venue for events and for foodies! The kitchen was to die for, including ‘his’ and ‘her’ stoves and sinks.
Our first course was a root veg garden, made using fresh local ingredients from the market. I had to stop myself from eating most of the raw ingredients, the produce was so tasty! This allowed us to create a simple, yet extremely delicious first course – showing off the vegetables with a zingy soya ricotta. Served with the beer sponsor – Lucky Lip (I found myself drinking all of the leftovers…hehe yum).
The second course was a typical fusion dish conjured up over Whatsapp between Jack and I just before my arrival and then adapted using the produce bought on the day. We wanted pumpkin gnocchi, which then evolved into an asian fusion, using gram flour and rice flour, to create some sort of golden nugget to sit in a fresh green curry sauce. A perfect combination for our ginger ale pairing.
Our third course was inspired by our local surroundings and Jack’s mum’s bangers and mash. We made seitan fresh on the day to create a German-style sausage, served with mash, mushroom gravy, smoky salsify, sauerkraut and sprouts. This was paired with a delicious smoked ale, that was also used in a lot of the cooking processes.
Our fourth course was to be served with a sour beer – Berliner Weisse (one of my personal favourites). The idea of this course was to be a palette cleanser. So we went for a lime tapioca pudding, mango sorbet, passionfruit, kumquat and coconut meat.
The finale was a stuffed apple, making the most of their delicious local produce. The stuffing included miso, chocolate, dates and nuts. This was served with an insane beer – a maple stout that felt like pure heaven on my tongue.
The evening didn’t end there. All the guests assembled to ask us questions and got us to join them afterwards! Their hospitality was fantastic and luckily, it meant I got to try some more of the drinks too… 😉
The evening was incredible and the beer pairings worked perfectly. Everyone left with massive smiles on their faces.
I hope to one day return to Berlin to cook more in that wonderful city for more amazing locals. I felt involved in their evening and they felt involved in ours; the venue allowed for interaction between all of us. It reminds you of the very reason you cook for people.
Until next time Berlin!!
Massive thank you to Jack as always!
P.S. If you would like to experience one of our supper clubs firsthand, Jack and I will be doing a collaborative supper club, showcasing both of our food on the 28th April at Brother Marcus in Balham. Be sure to check us out 😉