Permanently changed by my experience at Plant Food + Wine in Venice, Los Angeles, CA (my review with photos can be found here on the blog), I started following the owner, Matthew Kenney, of the “brand”, for lack of a better word, and learned about other locations of vegan fine dining establishments that go above and beyond the trendy vegan eateries of the day that capitalize on acai bowls, avocado toast, and other extremely basic and boring (but don’t get me wrong, delicious and satiating and absolutely some of my favorite meals) vegan and plant-based meals. They are very “everyday”, whereas the meals at Plant Food + Wine was elevated and special and gourmet – something that is rare for vegans and vegetarians alike in the restaurant industry. Matthew Kenney not only has a variety of other elegant vegan restaurants but also established a culinary “school” (again, lack of a better word for the lifestyle and business that Matthew has created), dubbed PlantLab Culinary. For a chance to win a free online course with PlantLab, those interested were able to submit a remake of PlantLab’s almond ricotta and pears recipe. The original recipe can be found here if you want to try this dish out. As I share my attempt with you, do know I absolutely did not win this contest (there are some insanely talented
people future chefs who entered). Nonetheless, I’m all about a decadent yet vegan and simple dish so I loved making this dessert as much as eating it (it actually turned out so well that my animal product loving boyfriend enjoyed it enormously). The catch of the contest was that each entry needed to put an individual “twist” on the recipe. As a tea enthusiast, I figured I could infuse parts of the almond ricotta with lapsang souchong tea to create a smokiness that adds an interesting layer of flavor. You can see other entries for this contest on Instagram under the hashtag #plpears (my IG is sydlyisaacs so you can see my entry there).
Although I was given a significant discount on the cooking course of interest for having entered the contest, I am still debating whether I want to hold out and try to win a course for free, or to take this probably one-time offer. In the meantime, I’ll be cooking my way through the PlantLab Culinary cookbook (just released late 2017). Check back regularly (weekly? Monthly? Bi-monthly? I don’t know, I’m busy) for new recipes with ratings and reviews to decide which you might want to try out for yourself.
*UPDATE: I did ultimately win the course for free in the next contest! See what my winning dish was here.