Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts Food Tasting

The Natural Epicurean

I didn't know what to expect when I attended The Natural Epicurean's tasting event showcasing the newest graduates' creations.  I'm not particulary health conscious when it comes to what I eat.  Ever since I became more curious about the culinary world (c. 2006), I decided to try as many kinds of food as possible, especially the more adventurous stuff.  Unfortunately, a lot of the exciting stuff usually isn't that good for you.

The Natural Epicurean offers a culinary arts program that centers around a plant-based diet (macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan, and raw foods).  Um.  Yeah.  My blog rarely features food that falls under those categories.  You don't believe me?  Please see the following posts: Pork Galore; Mutton, Mutton, and More Mutton; Banquet Food throughout Northeast China

Regardless of my biases, I was really excited about tasting what Natural Epicurean grads can do with what I originally thought was a very limited cooking palette.  I seriously never thought that vegetarian and vegan food could taste this good!  I used to think that vegetarian and vegan dishes are generally dull and unfilling, and thus I avoid eating meals that don't have at least one meat dish.  I don't even order Margherita Pizzas because I've convinced myself that nothing savory tastes good without meat!  I actually never admitted this before because I feared that this prejudice against vegetarian dishes would reveal my utter lack of knowledge about what constitutes good food.  But, at least I'm a self-proclaimed dilettante and not a self-proclaimed expert, so please don't hold this foodie flaw against me!

This tasting was unlike the other tastings I've attended in the past.  This was a learning experience for me, my taste buds, and my body.  Basically, my quest for culinary excitement has been satisfying my curiousity about food, people, different chefs' creativity, and various cultures.  But I have not yet explored the more fundamental facets of food - how it nurtures the body.  Yes, it's a "duh" statement.  But it's true that I never thought twice about what I eat.  I just thought that if I avoid junk food, then I'm taking care of myself.  Well, that's a good start, but that doesn't count as healthy eating. 

I don't know anything about macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan, and raw foods, so I'm not going to pretend to explain what I ate, but I will say that everything I tasted at Natural Epicurean was delectable. The food was refreshing.  Everything tasted clean.  I felt like my body took in the food differently than the foods I normally eat.  I won't say that I will immediately change my diet, but this tasting experience has made me more open to breaking away from my habit of avoiding vegetarian and vegan meals.

I thank the graduates, Nancy Ashton, Jenna Drewes, Cara Greene, Roni Johnson, Shannon King, Kerry Lane, Georgina Mayer, Leanne Valenti, Donnalyn Watt, and Reba Wiedner, for a wonderful vegetarian and vegan experience!

Fresh Bing Cherries with Pickled Ginger

Velvet Crimini Mushroom Soup with Truffle Oil and a Rosemary Vegetable Kabob

Anjou Pear and Fig Goat Cheese with a Raspberry Balsamic Reduction

Spicy Garden Samosa

Daikon, Lemon, and Apple Bundle

Golden and Rouge Beets, Roasted Garlic Risotto, and Spinach Asparagus Pesto

Smokin' CLT - Smoked Coconut, Butter Lettuce, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Dill Aioli

Natural Epicurean Graduates

Blood Orange Infused Hand-rolled Truffles with Candied Zest and Dressed Blood Oranges

Mint and Red Pepper Infused Hand-rolled Dark Chocolate Truffles with Candied Mint Leaves and Cocoa Powder

Spiced Apricot and Date Truffles Rolled in Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, and Ginger

Pistachio Cherry Flourless Biscotti Bites

Thank you, Natural Epicurean, for opening my eyes!  Best of luck to all the graduates!

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