b.alive dinner club // Berlin
Vegan food isn’t considered the funkiest diet by most of us. But vegan raw food? That brings up images of skinny extremists hugging trees and worrying about their karma all day. If that is what comes to your mind, you probably haven’t heard of Boris Lauser and his b.alive dinner club in Berlin: Boris is a highly awarded chef, a first league culinary artist, getting requests from all over the World to attend food events or run workshops. And in between those and several other activities he hosts a vegan raw food supper club in his private apartment in Kreuzberg.
A gourmet supper club, to be precise. It’s a place for really surprising taste discoveries, all lively and colourful, a feast for the eyes. To give you an idea of the type of dishes, here are some examples: As a starter, you could have a creamy carrot cumin soup, or Chinese red beet dumplings on fermented plum sweet sour. Then, how about Zucchini Spaghetti Bolognese style, one of the guests’ favourites? Or rather the Coconut Ravioli with Pesto Cheese and Tomato Reduction? Nut Burgers are also part of Boris’ repertoire. And for dessert, he might seduce you with a pice of Pear Poppy Seed White Chocolate Cake, a Hazelnut Carob Mousse, or a Fig Walnut Icecream with Carrot Saffron Foam. The ingredients are 100% organic and mostly local and seasonal. Each dish is an edible piece of art, beautifully arranged and decorated, but never overdone. Boris does put great value also on elaborating the natural essence of the food, something he achieves by using specific preparation techniques and spices. Not less important to him is that the meals are easy to digest. For that reason he avoids using large amounts of nuts and other heavy things that tend to discourage people from eating raw food. They shouldn’t feel stuffed but light, satisfied and inspired by a unique taste experience, that’s the art. An art that Boris seems to master quite perfectly. Prominent US raw food author Mimi Kirk recently joined a dinner, and her feedback was short and clear:“This was one of the best raw meals I have ever had in my life!“
The b.alive dinner club attracts raw food enthusiasts as well as meat eaters who are curious for a new experience. On average, Boris hosts 8-12 guests, usually a mix of German speakers and international guests. If needed, up to 20 people can be fed comfortably in his loft-style apartment. Welcome is everyone who appreciates good food and company – and corresponding organic wines, in case you were already wondering whether asking for a glass of wine would make the air freeze and your co-diners stare at you little sinner in shock. You can be relaxed, it’s truly a dinner club, not a detox program.
Usually, people can hardly believe that all those delicacies are made from raw vegetables and fruit. So what’s the trick? Well, there seem to be quite many. One is the use of a dehydrator, a machine that looks a bit like an oven with baking trays in it. It works with low temperature and a fan to take off water from juicy food to dry it. Think of sun-dried tomatoes or dried fruit as a simple example: Reducing the liquid solidifies the food and also intensifies its taste, similar to when you put it into a normal oven – just that the temperature in a dehydrator is much lower so that the food doesn’t get cooked. The process takes several hours, depending on the type of food, but it gives dishes like lasagne and also bread, cookies or crisps the texture you want them to have. Another trick is fermentation, for example with salt water, which protects vegetables from getting rotten and softens them. Sauerkraut is made that way, showing that the method as such is no way new. Other fermentation methods are based on probiotics. This allows for example to make cheese from ground nuts mixed with water. The creamy cheese you get after 24 hours can be seasoned with salt, other spices, sundried tomatoes, olives or whatever one likes. If you want your cheese to be harder, you can continue the fermentation and then let the cheese ripe. Another preparation method that has made its way into the ambitious raw food cuisine is the currently very fashionable sous-vide “cooking” at low temperature: Food like vegetables or mushrooms get sealed in plastic foil and placed in mildly heated water for several hours. The result is juicy and tender, but still crunchy, not too soft.
Anyway, this should give you some first insight into the world of raw food and show that it goes far beyond salad leaves and smoothies. If you want to discover more and start at the high end, the b.alive dinner club seems a great place. It’s also a totally non-dogmatic one. Boris is a trained raw food chef, and raw food is his expertise, dedication and conviction. But he is also a strong believer in feeling comfortable and balanced. And if that requires having a cooked meal from time to time, why not? There is no evidence this is necessarily less healthy. And after all he is a foodie, he loves to eat and is always curious for new flavours. A lot of the inspiration for his dishes comes from travels, and not necessarily from vegan raw food only. He does go to “normal” restaurants also, whether in Berlin or abroad, and even occasionally has some meat or fish, provided it’s high quality and made with love and dedication. Sure, the art of cooking is a different discipline. But it’s one that he very highly appreciates and that fuels his creativity when developing new raw food recipes. Without that, he is convinced he wouldn’t be able to run the b.alive dinner club at such high level. The same goes for the Italian cappuccino, a real one, that is part of his morning routine: He can’t do without it, he lived in Italy for just too long to give up on coffee.
If reading this has made you hungry for more rawsome information, just click through to the b.alive website where you can also subscribe to a newsletter, to the b.alive fanpage or the b.alive Berlin Group on Facebook.
Or click through to the lime banana chocolate cream pie recipe that Boris has kindly allowed me to share with the readers of funtasty adventures.