Do you ever look at the plate of food in front of you and think, “What – this again!”? Are you stuck for ideas on how to liven up your menu or add new foods; maybe ingredients you don’t know how to use, or even items that are challenging for you? These were some of the things that brought a small group of us Beyond Chocolaters to a day long cooking and eating workshop in Audrey’s kitchen: the Beyond Chocolate Feast.
We had filled out short forms beforehand on our food likes, dislikes and goals, and Audrey had used these to devise a menu with something for everyone and lots to share. Although the three of us taking part all brought different perspectives on our food choices (one vegetarian, one vegan and an omnivore), as well as individual takes on healthy eating; we had each expressed a desire to be more creative and adventurous with veg, so many of the dishes made them the stars of the show.
Over the course of 3 hours, between us we learned how to prepare recipes such as Spring Salad with Asparagus, Baked Eggs with Spinach and Cheese, and the awesome and surprising Tomato & Pomegranate Salad (feast your eyes on the complete menu). All of us learned new skills: how to make basil mayonnaise; how to griddle asparagus; and in my case, how to get the seeds out of a fresh pomegranate ( I’ve always bought them pre-done in a little packet…). There were also personal challenges: I have a bit of a fear of oil and seeing how much was needed for the Baba ganoush ( aubergine dip) recipe I was making took me aback. However, tasting it afterwards, the realisation that it was the perfect amount and actually gave it the right flavour was a real learning experience.
But the key thing that set this day far apart from any ordinary cookery class was the shared understanding and atmosphere of support in the room. All of us who took part are on a journey with our relationship with food; all of us are working with the Beyond Chocolate principles, within which being your own guru is number one. A short time of sharing right at the beginning provided an opportunity to voice our hopes and goals for the day, as well as any concerns, and a Gremlin Jar was available on the table throughout, so we could write down any unkind or unhelpful thoughts that came up for us during the day and get rid of them. Ultimately, this created a very safe space to explore and experiment.
And so, just after 1pm, seven of us sat down to a real feast, topped off by a stunning chocolate fudge cake which had been delivered by the wonderful BC cake maker, Abbie. We had space to tune in before eating and the food was absolutely delicious. As someone who normally eats alone by choice, I really appreciated this opportunity to share beautiful food in the most accepting of environments. No expectations, no judgements; just mutual respect and friendship.
I know Audrey is planning the next feast on Saturday 22nd October. If you can come, definitely do – I know I’d love to do it again. You won’t regret it and I guarantee you’ll learn something new (and very tasty!).