Let me take you to a special evening at the restaurant of Hotel Esprit Montagne, where a simple pastry accidentally transformed into a vegan signature dish.
The summer of 2021 marked Adi’s first season as the hotel’s chef, and he was determined to create new dishes and surprise our guests’ taste buds. Adi recalls:

“That day, I got the idea to experiment with different textures of passion fruit. I opted for a sorbet, a jelly made with agar agar, and a custard based on almond milk. But… the base, what should I do with it?

Margot, a young trail runner from the Netherlands, was the vegan guest that week, and I wanted to develop a plant-based version of the dessert especially for her.

In my mind, I wandered back to a Sunday in Antwerp. It used to be a day of cultural and culinary highlights: wandering through museums with my son and enjoying a snack together. That’s how we ended up in a vegan bar in the heart of the port city. If the wall full of cakes didn’t make your mouth water, you’d surely swoon over the passion with which the proprietress talked about her work. We chose a lemon tart with a base so delicious it surpassed any cookbook.

Thinking back to that piece of cake, I threw dates, nuts, and a spoonful of nostalgia into the Magimix, the noisiest companion of the kitchen. Despite the noise, Raymond and I managed to forget about the mixture and continued with the rest of the service undisturbed.

My surprise was great when I later discovered the creamy dough ball in the kneading machine. With time pressure and no time to try something new, I added some hazelnut oil to the ball, rolled out the dough between parchment paper, and placed it in the fridge.

The evening progressed, and after the starters and main courses, we approached dessert. To our surprise, the base had completely set and could be served.

Of course, we also tasted a bite of the dessert ourselves and were immediately surprised by the explosion of flavors in our mouths.

The combination of the refreshing passion fruit sorbet, the silky cremeux, and the jelly with a slight acidity was perfectly balanced. But the real star of the dessert was undoubtedly the surprisingly delicious date and nut base. It had a rich, crunchy texture that perfectly contrasted with the creamy elements of the dessert. The sweet taste of the dates and the aromas of the nuts formed a harmonious blend. We all agreed unanimously: this plant-based version surpassed the original with shortcrust pastry.

Margot’s dessert’s success spread quickly throughout the hotel. Guests began specifically asking for “the vegan passion fruit dessert with that amazing tasty base.”
Margot’s dessert eventually became a permanent fixture on our menu and taught me an important lesson about embracing unexpected twists and finding inspiration in other places.

And so, that evening ended with a delightful dessert that enchanted not only our guests but also broadened my own culinary horizon.

And even though Margot is currently completing her last season in service, she leaves a lasting memory with her dessert at the Esprit Montagne Hotel.