Vegan food is the bomb. It really is.
Theres just one thing that plant-based cuisine fails to get right, however, and thats patisserie.
Oh, for those heady days when we used to scoff buttery croissants on our way to work. Urgh, what you wouldnt give for a cream puff as light and airy as a cloud – and full of dairy.
But you know who does pastry best? The French.
And a vegan Parisian pastry chef has finally opened the first plant-based patisserie in London.
Clarisse Flon launched her new menu at Cafe Forty One opened at La Suite West Hotel earlier this week, with promises of updated French favourites.
British and American food seems to revolve around sugar and heavy things like brownies and cupcakes right now, Clarisse tells Metro.co.uk.
Everythings really colourful or got icing on top. My training was in French patisserie and in France, youre really concentrating on textures, fresh fruits and the best ingredients.
Bizarrely, she admits that shes not actually a massive fan of cakes and pastries.
I dont have much of a sweet tooth; I might make pastry but Im more of a savoury person so I like fruits and nuts and I like to play with texture.
As well as cakes and flakey offerings, Cafe Forty One is also offering a new vegan breakfast, lunch, and Afternoon Tea.
Shes got a smoked salmon and cream cheese offering made from seaweed, miso and liquid smoke-infused carrot, as well as Asian slaw with gluten-free breaded shimeji mushrooms.
And of course, theres a mushroom bourguignon pie and mash – a nod to her mums pie back in France…a traditionally vegan-unfriendly country.
Ive been vegan for five years and still, my mum asks if Im still vegan when I come home!
Come on – its my career mum! Shell be like, “Ive made beef bourguignon – you can just fish out the mushroom”.
Clarisse turned to veganism, as so many seem to do these days, following an undetectable digestive system illness. She started looking into food preparation and its impact on health and the environment and after working in a patisserie, realised that there were few vegan or gluten-free options out there.
So, she set about creating them herself.
She launched her own business, The Sunny Spoon, in 2015 and spent a year working at a luxury hotel in St Barths, before being appointed as Head Chef at La Suite West – which hopes to become the first fully vegan hotel in London.
When we tried some of Clarisses offerings and they were everything wed hoped for.
Flakey, creamy millefeuilles. Super airy meringues (made from chickpea water and sugar). Moist madeleines filled with fresh jam and topped with thick coconut fondant.
Most of the vegan croissants that Ive tasted have been crushing disappointments – heavy, dense and tasteless.
Anyone whos ever tried to make pastry beyond simply bunging a Jus-Rol slab into the oven knows that its incredibly tricky to make vegan pastry taste anything like the regular stuff.
Its so different to classic pastry, Clarisse says of making vegan patisserie.
I tried to translate my classic training to veganism and it was so hard – it took me years to develop a recipe. Now we have amazing vegan butter, oat milk, rice milk…in French patisserie, you just tend to have one kind of milk and now we have all plant based things.
One can only hope that other vegan businesses somehow get hold of Clarisses recipe, or at least figure out a way of turning stodgy pastry into nut-based delights.