Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Native Cooking Class

Last Sunday, I was privileged to attend Native Food's monthly cooking demo. The demo is actually open to the public and is completely free to attend if you are one of the lucky people to get to your computer or mobile device in time to register.  There are a few times when I have tried to sign up, only to be closed out. This time, I somehow managed to get lucky and scored a spot. I set my alarm for 9 am and dragged myself out of bed, only motivated by the thought of delicious food. I arrived at the Culver City Native Foods fairly early and was able to snatch a seat up front.

The theme of the cooking demo was Cinco De Mayo and Chef Tanya was giving away some of her beloved Mexican recipes.  My favorite part of the cooking demos is that Chef Tanya explains how to veganize comfort foods and also provides tips that not every vegan knows. She also manages to draw in a crowd that isn't completely vegan, but rather enthusiasts that hope to learn more about veganism. I am so glad she is willing to give this info for free and that her recipes seem fairly easy to make.

The cooking demo began with the Native Foods servers handing out samples of Chai tea.

The tea was so delicious. It was very well-spiced and had a hint of vanilla. It was sweet but not overly so. It also had a slight milkiness from what I believe was soy milk.

Next, Chef Tanya demonstrated how to make the baked black bean zucchini chilaquiles, while the servers handed out samples.

The chilaquiles were so good. The vegetables were very fresh and were coated in a savory sauce. There was a thin layer of daiya cheese melted in and a kick of spiciness from the chipotle. The chilaquiles had a slightly eggy texture and seemed like they would be great as a breakfast food.

The servers then brought out some watermelon fresca which was refreshing and very sweet. The taste of watermelon was really strong and the drink was quite seedy.

Next, Chef Tanya demonstrated how to create the fresh cactus salad, while the servers passed out samples.

The cactus salad was very light and cooling. The cactus mixed really well with the beans and created a slight spiciness, along with the onions. The tomatoes and corn helped balance them out. The vinaigrette was very refreshing and also had a mild spicy taste.

To further cool our mouths down and help us digest the food, the servers passed out some lavender lemonade.

I really enjoyed the lemonade. It was so different from lemonades I've had in the past and was not nearly as sweet. The lavender overpowered the lemon and was very calming. It almost seemed like a hybrid lemonade and iced tea drink.

Lastly, Chef Tanya finished her demo with some dessert: Upside Down Coconut Flan.

I really wanted to enjoy this but I was a little creeped out by how closely it mimicked a gelatin. It also was not as sweet as I was expecting, despite the fruit compote. I still think it tasted pretty good, but it did not match my expectations for a dessert. 

Overall, I found the cooking demo to be very informative and I love that Native Foods generously offers this and even gives samples. I cannot wait for the next cooking demo and I really hope I snag a spot again!

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