Updated: May 26, 2019
If you would like to have a scintillating tasting experience then look no further than the new Wild Food Cafe in Islington, London. Readers of my blog will know by now that I'm fond of all things astrological, so you can imagine my delight when I saw that the Wild Food Cafe were offering an Alchemical five course tasting menu based on the influences of planet Venus! Whaaa? I hear you call.
Yes, it's true. In a new and innovative venture imagined by one of the head creative chefs, Joel Gazdar, at the establishment, diners are invited to partake in an Alchemical culinary journey via the joys of Venus.
I was greeted with a colourful drink, somewhere between a desert and a cocktail, made of coconut and mango coulis. It was refreshing and tasty and prepared the palet and the mind for what was to come. In a lovely gesture I was then offered a muse bouche confection of a fennel, sunflower and cardamon seed shell basket filled with a cucumber raita. It was cleansing and delicious. I also ate the potent garlic flower garnish which I found packed the power of wasabi.
The tasting menu started with a pungently aromatic first plate called: The Heart of Grandma's Tandoori. This consisted of 'sun-dried' artichoke hearts in a spiced coconut yoghurt sauce served with morel mushrooms. The meal was a real earthy treat: the piquant flavour of the artichoke was further enhanced by the turmeric in the sauce, added with a a colourful swish, and the delectable morel mushrooms that were so flavoursome my tastebuds confused them for something closer to Oxtail.
Next came the Alphonso Mango Jalfrezi. This consisted of: alphonso mango cheek, in a mango coconut and lime jalfrezi served on a bed of sun-bloomed wild rice, wild garlic saag and sunflower seed paneer.
This dish was a treat for the eyes that was presented on a slash of banana leaf that came with a little roti on the side. Each individual element had its own distinctive flavour, but the biggest revelation was the alphonso mango - of which the Wild Food Cafe is correct to crow about. Imagine the most buttery and unctuous mango you can dream of, and that comes close to the flavour of alphonso. It had a texture of a firm semifreddo ice cream that melted in the mouth: simply gorgeous. all this combined with the other textures and flavours of the other components created a stimulating culinary treat.
Next came the Asparagus Three Ways which was drizzled with a spicy shatavari sauce. This dish was the most simple and justifiably so as not to overpower the delicate freshness of the wild asparagus. I was expecting the asparagus to be cooked in three different ways, but the dish was delicious and its simplicity was its strength. Wild asparagus definitely has much more flavour than the standard and it was correct that this be celebrated without too much fuss. After the asparagus came a Moment of Freshness in the form of a cardamom and mint sorbet which was lovely. It was cool, calming and refreshing - the ideal thing to eat on a hot summer's day. To crown off the whole affair came a desert confection, called Venus Rising, that consisted of coconut chai mousse with an alphonso mango core, set within a white chocolate and saffron shell. Now, I'm not afraid of dessert. However, if there is one area where the Vegan church spire often falls down, it's when it's rattled by the seductive powers of eggs, cream and sugar. On this occasion Venus Rising did well, and indeed did rise above the sometimes desolate landscape of puddings on the vegan spectrum. Venus rising was light, colourful and pinging with flavour. The soft biscuit style base had a nice hit of wholesome chocolate snuck into it, and the alphonso core lifted the whole piece. Coconut substituted for cream making the whole dish light and carefree. It was good.
The Wild Food Cafe has genuinely come up with a concept that is a quirky and original contribution to culinary discourse and evolution. I'm passionate about astrology, especially the Sidereal Astrology that I advocate, so food creators that seek to incorporate those principles into their food will have my support. I recommend this tastebud treat to anyone, I'm neither Vegan or Vegetarian yet I enjoyed it. The Alchemical Series being explored by the Wild Food Cafe will be something I will attend again as I wish to see how they'll explore the other planets. What will they serve up for the expansive planet of Jupiter? What will they serve for the dark and disciplined Saturn? How will the red blooded passion of Mars be catered for? These questions remain and more, I look forward to seeing how the Wild Food Cafe will explore.