On our first full day in Amsterdam with ClinkNOORD, we were treated to a full schedule of fun (which I’ll tell you all about tomorrow), and told that they would be providing us with dinner, but that there would be a twist to it.
We spent our day pondering what it could be, throwing ideas around which ranged from it being an entirely raw meal to something a bit more Henry VIII and a banquet with wine and mounted animals heads for décor. As you can tell, we had not a clue what to expect.
Having all got ourselves freshened up, we headed down to the Zinc Bar where we were given a bevvie of our choice and the twist dawned upon us all – the staff were all wearing Santa hats and the radio was blasting out Christmas tunes (much to the confusion of the other guests that walked in!)
We were taken to our table which was set up for a Christmas dinner, with hanging decorations and a tree in the corner, and, as a big fan of Christmas, I was pretty excited!
We settled down into our seats and Louisa and Daniel, ClinkNOORD’s wonderful hosts, explained that we were their guinea pigs for their festive plans later this year as they are looking to host a full, formal Christmas dinner for all their guests staying on 25th December, making it a communal, fun evening; getting everyone together and making friends. A great idea if you ask me!
But that wasn’t all – the Christmas dinner we were about to embark on was fully vegan, something I’ve never experienced before!
Veganism is becoming more and more popular, with a huge amount of people either taking it on as a full time way of life, or having at least 1 day a week where they embrace it, to remove the impact they have upon the planet.
However, being a non-vegan and with my standard Christmas dinner consisting of the traditional turkey and pigs in blankets, I was intrigued to see what ClinkNOORD’s chefs could come up with.
The menu I had was very slightly tweaked from the others in the group as, because of my allergy, I had to have a nut-free version. I was a little concerned about this as I always feel like nuts are a key part of vegan food, but I needn’t have worried, because the chefs did an amazing job and I was able to have pretty much the same as everyone else, just with a few little adjustments.
Masala, ginger, pumpkin and coconut soup, with vegan bitterballen (cauliflower, mushroom, green bell pepper, seitan, soya milk, bread crumbs) on a yoghurt, mint and garlic dressing.
This soup was UNREAL. The masala and ginger gave it a hit of heat, with the coconut giving it a sweet tone at the end which balanced it perfectly. The bitterballen was light yet full of flavour and I could definitely have eaten about 15 more of them.
Vegan Wellington (seitan, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, cabbage, puff pastry) served with tri-colour root vegetables, and baby potatoes roated on thyme, rosemary and garlic.
First of all, I need to talk to you about these potatoes. Honestly, if Ben could make potatoes that tasted like that, I’d be putting a ring on that STAT. The skins were crispy to the point of starting to lift slightly from the flesh of the potato within, which was so soft and delicate, it just melted in your mouth. The seasoning was perfectly balanced, with rosemary and thyme being the ultimate dream team when it comes to spuds. I’ll be scoring all other potatoes I have against these in the future.
Now onto the vegan Wellington – the seitan within is a meat replacement and although some feel it’s a like-for-like replacement, I couldn’t definitely tell it wasn’t meat. However, that said, despite it not tasting like meat, it didn’t taste bad at all and the vegetables within were perfectly soft, as were the roasted tri-colour vegetables served with it.
Brownie, mango sorbet and forest berry coulis
This, for me, was the real star of the show, as I always assumed to have a decent brownie you would need eggs and butter, but this one used neither and had an added element of rum giving it that grown-up edge that makes a dessert feel a bit more decadent. I don’t think I ever would have considered mixing chocolate and mango before, but the combination of these two on the plate was honestly heaven.
Overall, I think this menu is an absolute winner and a great idea for ClinkNOORD’s Christmas meal, not only catering for those already living the vegan lifestyle, but offering something different for those that would usually class themselves as meat-eaters through and through.
Has this meal tempted me to try and embrace a vegan lifestyle going forward? Not 100% but it’s definitely made me stop and consider how many non-animal products can substitute meat and how I can perhaps utilise them in the future. I’ve already bought some Quorn vegan products to use instead of real meat when making meals at home.
Thank you ClinkNOORD for giving us Christmas in September and opening my eyes to how much choice there is in a vegan life. Also, a big thanks to the Clink chef’s who did an absolutely sterling job!
* In Association With Brand *