Bhutan is known as the happiest country on the planet ~ they calculate “gross national happiness” as a serious socio-economic indicator. And it is surpassing my expectations… it is incredibly beautiful, and the people are among the nicest and most helpful I’ve met.
The chef at the retreat center we are staying at has never made specifically vegan food before, so this is his first try ~ he is succeeding very well! Here is a quick recap of our first 24 hours of meals (keeping in mind that these Blackberry pictures are not doing justice to how wonderful the food has been)…
Our first lunch included these 2 amazing dishes – a wonderful yellow dal and the spiciest vegetable curry I’ve ever had. I’ve been to India several times, and yet this was the best curry ever. It was incredibly spicy yet the flavors were still distinctive – it wasn’t just one blast of indistinguishable fire. Great first meal.
Dinner that followed was equally good – clockwise from the top is whole wheat roti, buckwheat noodles, sauteed herbed vegetables, and kidney bean dal with rice hiding underneath. We have had these vegetables at nearly every meal so far, and they are amazing – perfectly cooked, soft yet with a perfect crunchiness. The buckwheat noodles were great – al dente with a nice coating of what was probably a bit of oil and some spices. Now I want to make my own buckwheat noodles at home!
Dessert was an amazing apple tart served with fruit. Each meal has also been followed with the most amazing fruit salad – perfect watermelon, canataloupe, pomegranate seeds, and the crunchiest pears. I don’t even like pears, and they have become my favorite part of the fruit because they are so perfectly crisp!
Ever since we arrived, our very hospitable hosts have been serving us tea (lemon, ginger and green), and the chef brought us still-warm-from-the-oven cookies yesterday! This was his first time making vegan cookies, and they were a perfect ginger cookie. And see the bumpy one in the middle? He made that one with the same dough but crusted it with cornflakes before baking. It was fantastic – the cornflakes gave it the most amazing texture. It would never have occurred to me to do that, but now I’m ready to make some!
And finally, today’s breakfast – the wonderful sauteed veggies, fruit salad, and the BEST buckwheat pancakes – they were topped with bananas and cashews carmellized in a brown sugar sauce. Truly amazing (and now I see that I need to expand my vocabulary of adjectives!). They were like nothing I’ve ever had before.
And that’s just the first 24 hours…. With all this wonderful food, I’m eating far more than normal… but hey, it’s vacation. And what’s a vegan chef to to? I have to try everything …. 🙂