Feeding the soul can bring one closer to him or her and to the ones they love. Valentine’s Day is one moment in the year when soulmates can share an organic, plant-based meal with one another and the recently opened Soulpod Foods set the scene for a romantic, progressive Valentine’s dinner this week.
Finding a soulmate can be serendipitous, even at the times that are least expected. You could say that Soulpod Foods founders were destined to be together, in a professional sense. Adele McConnell is best known as Vegiehead, the best-selling plant-based food expert, author and chef, who’s passionate in sharing her expertise to bring a little more food love into people’s lives. Daniela De Martino, too, is passionate, being the owner of Eastfield Natural Foods (an organic grocery shop in the heart of Croydon South in Melbourne’s east) and helping Melburnians to choose ethical food choices while being socially conscious about it.
Soulpod Foods has now opened right next door to Eastfield Natural Foods as a day-time café, with both ladies (good friends) running the business to ‘bring the best organic, plant based foods to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne’. Valentine’s Day provided the perfect opportunity to extend the new business by hosting a special dinner event. According to reports, tickets to this exclusive dinner event sold out in less than two days with little promotion. This is testament to how Soulpod Foods has opened with impact. Tables are regularly packed during the day for lunch, especially on Saturdays.
Adele and Daniela deliver love through food, something that seemed to be effortless at their Valentine’s Day dinner. Of course, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on into bringing a Valentine’s Day dinner to life and to table. Yet, the night itself was calm, soothing and swooning. Over a three-course dinner, couples nibbled through creative, healthy dishes while being serenaded by the tender flavours abound.
Starting off, palates were cleansed with a shot of corn and lemongrass that offered a sneak glimpse into what was to come. The intimate floor-space at Soulpod Foods was transformed for night-time with white table linen and soft lighting, setting the scene while a choice of drink was sipped. I chose an apple Remedy Kombucha for my Valentine bubbles, while my own soulmate and husband chose a Mountain Goat beer.
What made this night work tremendously well is the option for ticket holders to choose their sitting, whether be early or later. A later booking meant couples could sit back a little longer, relax after a long day at work and re-connect with their love. To tighten those intimate connections, an Earth Share Platter was delivered to the table by Daniela; the flavours were made for culinary fun. Bite-sized nibbles like seasoned cashews and almonds, blushing strawberries, blueberries and cherry tomato halves were all dipped into beetroot dip or veggie chutney, or loaded onto to linseed crackers with leafy rocket then smeared with raw, plant-based cheese ball chunks. What I love about plant-based food is that all flavours can be melded together and the flavours work! Whether it’s dunking a blueberry into beetroot dip or loading cucumber with the cheese, it all works harmoniously. These flavours match one another in a dance of food-love only Adele and Daniela could craft together at Soulpod Foods.
Bellies filled fast after sharing the Earth Platter, though there were still two courses to devour. The menu offered two choices for mains and dessert, obvious opportunity for couples to choose one of each to share. Fragrant Thai green curry was sensually spicy; a hearty, bulky curry flavoured by the caramelised mix of spices and coconut, all sided by fluffy brown rice. Roasted vegetable polenta nests brought an earthy roasted alternative to the curry, with layers of roasted beetroot, pumpkin and golden-baked polenta, sided by sweetly-glazed whole baby carrots and the plate dripped gently with a green salsa verde.
It’s true that the menu was generous and fulfilling, just like any relationship of love should be. Yet, no matter how much you consume you still need the room to relish in those shared sweetest moments. That’s how dessert was for me, served in the form of a chocolate hazelnut tart and raw passionfruit ‘cheesecake’.
A Valentine’s Day isn’t complete without chocolate, and the tart was as rich and sweet as the night promised – a bowl cradling a thick slice with a smooth chocolate filling on a base of nutty crust, moated by glistening chocolate sauce and blueberries. Admittedly it was hard to switch plates with my husband, but that’s what true love is all about. Be one to give so you an experience what has not yet been tried. The last of the raw and fruity passionfruit ‘cheesecake’ balanced the richness of the tart beautifully, to emphasise the flavours abound on a special dinner night at Soulpod Foods. Food here is given in love and with a passion for brightening lives with what is possible, when one wants to deepen their relationship with plant-based dishes.
You can still experience the soulful flavours at the recently opened Soulpod Foods during the day. 43 The Mall, Croydon South Victoria 3136 Australia. Phone: 03 8201 8710. Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9.00am to 3.30pm. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Eastfield Natural Foods next door!