Food Review

Vegetarian comfort food with friends: Home-made sweet potato gnocchi

Moving from one place to another has always been difficult, and I hope I am not the only one who feels this way. I had my first big move since years ago just now, from a shared apartment corridor to a private one. I am trying hard not to be clingy, but I might as well just embrace this moment of change from this 14 m2 room that I call home. It was here in this student apartment I met my first friends in this country, 14000 kms away from my hometown. It was also here in this student apartment that I experienced a whole range of international friendship through small to meaningful talks, gatherings, cultural adaptation and food. Yes, food!

It was around a year ago that I met my new neighbor, Magnus who came from Germany to study at the University of Gothenburg. I was excited to have him as my neighbor since he is a friendly and warm person since day 1.

Few weeks ago was my last week of living in this shared apartment with Magnus and two other friends. On those few last days, I came to know Magnus’ friend, Wendel, who is apparently a professional chef. I got to try the pancakes they made one day. They were fantastic! They had a little hint of cinnamon sugar which I love very much. They weren’t too mushy but very soft and had perfect thickness. After I basically worshipped the soft, sweet and balanced pancakes, Magnus and Wendel organised a dinner for all of us before I had to leave the house. They invited me and my boyfriend Kimi to join. We decided that Wendel and Magnus would prepare a main dish while Kimi and I would prepare the dessert. I was thrilled to watch a professional chef cooking in our kitchen!

By the way, if you are interested to follow Wendel’s kitchen journey on Instagram, go to the end of this post. Contact him through Instagram if you need someone to whip up some magic for your meals! He takes catering orders for savory dishes, desserts and pastries.

Alright, now back to our story.
As I was preparing a cherry trifle at Kimi’s kitchen, I couldn’t help but wanting to peep in to my corridor kitchen to see what is Wendel doing with his magic that day. As I finished topping my trifle with my home-made cherry compote, whipped cream and nuts, Kimi and I brought the four glasses of trifle and went downstairs to check on Magnus and Wendel. Oh boy, I couldn’t be happier. Wendel made his own gnocchi from scratch. And it was not your plain, usual gnocchi you get at the supermarket, it was orange! No, not orange the citrus fruit, I meant the color was orange as he used sweet potatoes as well in the dough.

I could see the expertise in his way of cooking, as he knead and cut the dough into small pieces confidently. Learning to know him better, I found out that he moved all the way from Brazil after he finished his culinary school to pursue a career as a chef in Sweden. He was motivated by the life here in Sweden that he saw when he was younger. Especially that Sweden is welcoming humans to be what they want to be, and who they want to be with. In short, the openness of Sweden towards LGBTQAI+ has been one of the important motivations. He was telling all these stories while we were spending time in the kitchen, drinking and chatting. And to be honest, I can’t be more inspired that day. To move away from home that is so far away must be scary. But with a strong motivation, he prove that we can actually do and learn a lot more from different parts of the world. In a way, I felt I was being reminded to remember why have I come this far. It is so motivating to hear such stories especially when time is uncertain.

Back to the cooking part. After Wendel cut all the gnocchi pieces, then came the part where Magnus boiled them while Wendel continued to prepare the mushroom cream sauce. Kimi and I were watching, feeling the excitement in our mind and tummy about this dish. And not long after, the gnocchi was ready to be served with chopped Swedish chives (Gräslök)!

Gnocchi gnocchi gnocchi!

By the way, Kimi and I didn’t help Wendel because he asked us just to sit down and watch, haha! But Magnus did! He was a great sous chef!

We sat down and enjoyed our warm, delicious home-made gnocchi dish that filled both our tummy and heart tremendously. It was soft and perfectly chewy, savory and creamy, without being too heavy. Oh did I mention it was all vegetarian? Yes, Wendel’s recipe did not use any meat products, but he used blue cheese and oatmilk in the cream sauce, and it tasted heavenly. It was light and creamy at the same time. I actually had 3x my regular portion as it was THAT GOOD. Wendel and Magnus made a huge portion, though! You can see it in the picture. It was yum yum yum.

We finished off with the dessert, and I was so relieved that everyone liked it. I was a tiny bit concerned as a chef will eat my food. I repeat! A professional chef and my important friends, will eat my food. I was so glad to see everyone’s trifle cups were empty. We sat down for some time, sharing our stories and thoughts. It was more than the food itself that I enjoyed. It was the meaningful time and conversation that we shared. It was a heartwarming evening to remember in this, soon-to-become-nostalgic student corridor.

Huge thanks and shout out to Magnus, Wendel and Kimi for the awesome evening! And as promised above, below are Wendel’s Instagram accounts where you can contact him to make special food and desserts orders!

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🍋Lemon curd tartelette🍋

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📸: @shantele_reid

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