Blissings to you all as the holiday season approaches. Usually I have a lull in things to do as the holidays approach, not this year though. I’ve got a Thanksgiving potluck, a top secret raw Malibu mission in December and a Jamaica Retreat in January or is it a January Retreat in Jamaica? Oh yeah, and I can’t forget the Raw 2012 calendars, the holiday gift that keeps giving the whole year round. The calendar features 13 recipes complete with pictures and a virtual tour of Camp Rawnora. The calendars are priced to move at $10, with free shipping when you order 4 or more… as it says below.Naughty or nice, anyone can benefit from having a Raw 2012 calendar… and if you’re really nice you can treat yourself to a Raw Retreat in Jamaica to start off 2012. Chase away the winter blues by basking in the sun while sipping coconut water at an ocean front villa in Jamaica. That’s only the beginning though, you’ll also receive hands on raw food training, fresh prepared meals, a visit to the famous YS waterfall and more. Just visit the events page or click this link to learn more about this event.
Now for some restaurant reviews… recently I visited LA to provide some juicing support for my friend Robyn who had her jaw wired shut as the result of a Sorority Weekend ATV accident in Mexico… girls gone wild, gone wrong. Robyn has a army of angels looking out for her and also a raw food chef. I cracked coconuts and made her green juice and in return she took me to 3 raw restaurants and watched me stuff my face as she sipped green juice through a straw. We visited Cafe Gratitude, Cru and Better Life Cuisine.
As I expected, Cafe Gratitude was amazing. If only I had known we were going, I would have fasted all day in preparation. Here’s a video review of our dining experience. I’ll be posting a review for Cru and Better Life shortly…. Keep it Live!
Recently I was in Grand Rapids, MI on a raw food detox mission. I’m not at liberty to discuss the details of this covert operation at this time… just kidding. I was there doing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox stuff and visiting Lansing for a raw potluck and screening of Forks Over Knives. If you haven’t seen Forks Over Knives you need to get with it and watch it online, rent it, buy it… you could even steal it as long as you promise to show it to everyone in your life. It’s great to see conscious media catching on. This movie was made for all those people that felt totally jipped when they watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Yeah, you know the film about global warming that completely overlooks factory farming’s contribution to green house gas emission… it tops all of the worlds motor vehicle emissions. Al Gore was too busy tending cattle on his family farm and polishing his Oscar and Nobel Peace prize to notice Livestock’s Long Shadow. No worries, even though Forks Over Knives is about degenerative diseases and diet they still manage to squeeze the facts in. Livestock production is the main source of human-made methane which is responsible for 22% of man’s total contribution. I say “man” because I think if it were left up to woman, factory farms would have never come into existence.
The film screening was a great success with close to 100 people showing up. I had the honors of conducting the Q and A session after the screening. A big
“THANK YOU” to Charles Terry for organizing the event in Lansing.
Grand Rapids, MI is one of my new favorite cities. The city has a cozy and clean downtown surrounded by welcoming neighborhoods. There’s a mixture of college housing and residential homes from the turn of the century. My friend Kim lives with in walking distance of the local vegan restaurant Bartertown Diner. This blurb from their website rings true with me for many reasons:
“We as Chefs want to take back the food and serve it to you the way it was meant to be: fresh and local. We are craftsmen and want to have the space to perform our craft for you. At Bartertown education is the key. We will not hide recipes from you. We will have classes on cooking raw/vegan and vegi dishes, and what it means to eat this way. Our focus will also be on the having a simple diner atmosphere that will be fun and exciting to visit for all”
Bartertown is also a worker owned business. At the time we visited they were a “cash only” establishment but as of Oct. 18th 2011 it shows on their website that they are taking steps to be able to accept credit/debit cards. We stopped in for lunch and tried all the raw items on the menu that day. Keep in mind this review is coming from a seasoned raw food chef who has done his fair share of work in the trenches. With that said, here’s my review of the raw items we tried.
I expected a little more from a menu item touted as raw pizza. There’s 101 ways to peel a mango and just as many to make “raw pizza” but one thing that is critical for pulling off a believable pizza is a dehydrator for making the crust. Then you need some nut/seed cheese and tomatoes. And the final touch is some herbs to bring it home. This was zucchini slices with a cauliflower medley perched on top of it. It was good, don’t get me wrong. It just needed a more appropriate name.
Raw Trash Salad
Appropriately named this was a hearty salad combination that took me back to my college days of making “garbage time stew”. That’s where you open the pantry and the refrigerator and just start combining whatever is on hand. The only difference here is that there was some tasty method to the raw trash madness. The salad featured a mound of salad greens, walnut taco meat, marinated veggies, sliced apples and a cashew based creamy dressing. Good eat’n! Once again very fresh and hydrating unlike some of the raw food cuisine you encounter at raw cuisine establishments.
Zucchini Noodles Salad
This noodle salad was similar to Raw Trash Salad, minus the greens, plus the zucchini noodles, cauliflower and brocolli. Very fresh, very tasty. On their own each of the 3 salads is unique enough taste experience but when you have them all on the table at the same time you notice some similarities and overlapping of ingredients. As a chef I know that at times you must create a variety of menu items out of the same core ingredients. Not a big deal though. I realized that what Bartertown specialized in was vegan, local and seasonal cuisine… raw was just a bonus that I much appreciated.
After to speaking with chef/co-owner Ryan about the raw menu at Bartertown I found out they don’t have a dehydrator on premises. That explains a lot. They’re a vegan cooked diner with some raw food items so it’s not realistic to expect exotic and decadent raw cuisine from them. One thing to keep in mind is that with a seasonal menu things change. What we did get were some great fresh salad combinations featuring local produce, prepared with love and a couple slices of quality raw vegan pie.
Chocolate Pie, Lemon Pie
Bravo to Jeremy Kuhn of Deliciosity for producing raw vegan pies for Bartertown. We tried both a chocolate and lemon slice of cheese cake style pie. I enjoyed that the chocolate wasn’t super super chocolatey. I noticed slight hints of carob in the coconut oil based filling. The lemon pie was tasty as well with hints of banana. Needless to say when Kim and I left the table there wasn’t any food left behind. There’s more to the menu at Bartertown then just raw food so if you’re in Grand Rapids, stop in and give them a try. Keep in mind that as of this post they are CLOSED TUESDAYS. Grow your own, buy local, eat seasonally and Keep It Live!
Adam’s adventures with The Live Food Experience continue in Ireland. With the class in Wicklow completed, it was time to visit Dublin and see the sites. Donal acted as my knowledgeable tour guide. The Sunday schedule had us visiting a farmer’s market in Dun Laoghaire and then heading to a potluck with the Irish Raw Food Meetup group in Dublin. There were a few brief rain showers that had us ducking for cover at the market, but the rain/sun combo made for some great rainbow opportunities. At the market I was pleasantly surprised to see an entire booth dedicated to rawfoods. Donal commented that he knew the business owner, Natasha Czopor of Natasha’s Living Foods and that he could inquire about meeting with her. I was like “hells yes I want to meet her” and he set to arranging things.
I have to say I failed miserably as navigator while in Dublin. To my defense the street signage is practically non existant and when it is there it’s placed in random and obscure places on placards the size of a postcard. It took a while to find the meetup, but eventually we did. Keep in mind we were cruising the narrow neighborhood streets of Dublin in Donal’s camper van… u-turns are not an option. At the meetup I took a moment to snap a picture of another rawfooders fridge. It’s funny what I find fascinating these days. The hosts of the meetup were a married couple originally from South Africa; Caroline and Norman Rasmussen. Caroline had just returned from a long stay at the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona. We chatted a bit about life in that magical raw community. There were around 12 people at the meetup and I think that only 5 of them were originally from Ireland… quite an eclectic bunch. I had to excuse myself when an 80/10/10 discussion broke out. 80/10/10 needs to be added to the list of things not to be discussed at parties and potlucks along with religion, politics and urine therapy.
On Monday Donal and I were at it again, this time visiting Dublin and a few health savvy business owners. Highlights in Dublin were “the really big flag pole with no flag“, the James Joyce statue and Saint Stephens Green. Little did I know when we visited Natasha at Natasha’s Living Foods, that I would end up spending my last 5 days in Ireland hanging with her. Natasha radiates raw inspiration and I have yet to discover her source of endless energy. Could it be the energy bars? During our brief visit she gave us a tour of her production kitchen and gave us her background which sounded more like an adventure novel than a rawfooder’s bio. Natasha had done some living, and she had plenty more adventures in her as well. After our visit to the rawfoods fun factory, we visited Cornucopia, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant that has been open since 1986. Owner and operator Deirdre McCafferty met us for an afternoon munch and told us about her magical restaurant and the plans for expansion into the neighboring building. Do they have rawfoods on the menu at Cornucopia? They do have a variety of amazing salads to choose from that are above and beyond iceberg lettuce and canned corn. Deirdre said they were focused on the expansion at the moment and definitely considering raw editions to their evolving menu. I raised my hand and volunteered to come back to Dublin and help design some raw dishes when ever they were ready. It just doesn’t seem fair that Dublin and the area surrounding it would have a variety of vegetarian and vegan choices peppered across the landscape while I’m here in Jacksonville, Florida with no vegetarian options to speak of other than The Present Moment Cafe, which is an hour away in St. Augustine.
The next day Donal and I explored another veggie option just up the road from Cornucopia, known as Cafe Fresh. We arrived just before the lunch rush and got to see owner Mary Farell strap on her chefs gear and work the grill in preparation for the lunch crowd. Rumor has it Cafe Fresh has a raw lasagna on the menu on occasion… the rumors are true, but we missed out on the lasagna by a day. No worries, I was able to enjoy an uber salad with 3 choices from their raw salad selection, while Donal got the Super Uber salad with 5 choices. I’m not sure where he put it, but Donal polished off his mountain of salad with ease. Mary was able to take a moment to chat with us about her restaurant, rawfoods and future plans before jumping back behind the counter to meet the lunch crowd. Other restaurants and health shops of note around Dublin are The Happy Pear in Greystones and of course Healthy Habits Cafe in Wicklow. Join me as my Ireland adventure continues with Natasha of Natasha’s Living Foods.
Never miss an opportunity to help manifest someones dream, especially if it involves delicious vegan live food in the oldest city in the United States. This morning my friend Valerie casually mentioned she’d never been to The Present Moment Cafe in St. Augustine. Bummer I thought, continuing with the onion dehydrating project I had started. It took a moment for me to realize the opportunity at hand, the carpe diem, grab the reins by the bull kinda gusto that should be part of a life lived in the Present Moment. She had to work at 2pm at Shakti Life Kitchen in Atlantic Beach (North Florida’s other premiere vegan live food option)… it was totally doable… in the car by 11, we were at the Present Moment by 12 noon… our bellies were full and we were back on the road by 1pm.
With all that said, what tasty treats did we partake in at The Present Moment Cafe? We started out with an amazing Thai style soup with mushrooms, sesame seeds, onions and a hint of lemon grass… I could be totally wrong though on the ingredient list. That’s was my take on it and I neglected to ask for the break down. One things for sure, it wasn’t clam chowder and it was really good.
Next up was a massive Cesar salad and 2 stuffed portabellos with a creamy spinach filling, very rich and Frenchy style.
We ain’t done yet… a sampler platter with guacamole, salsa and a refried beans creation (no beans or refrying of course) To accompany the platter was a massive sunlight burger all drippy with cashew provolone… wait, there’s more… a mound of creamy white truffle pesto pasta. This was some serious eating and proof to this fact is that we walked with a to go container… unheard of when sit down to eat. To my defense I showed some restraint so I would have the slightest bit of room left for dessert…
Warm Pecan Apple Cobbler with a scoop of cashew vanilla ice cream… no to go’s on dessert.
On a scale of “1” to “damn that’s so good I wet my organic cotton briefs”… post meal I would be running to the bathroom to rinse my drawers in the sink… that is if I wore any. All joking aside, The Present Moment Cafe is a boot shooting chart topper with amazing food and very reasonable prices. The pictures don’t lie… portions and plating are superb, staff is wonderful and the atmosphere is so cozy that you’d consider moving in.
On the down side there’s a bunch of road work being done in front of the restaurant. Noise wasn’t an issue but the only access has been converted to one-way which sends you looking for a western route to India. Once you arrive in the Promise Land all your worries melt away like cacao butter basking in the sun.
If you’re ever in North Florida or even the South East you owe it to yourself to visit the Present Moment Cafe in St. Augustine, Florida. Check out there details here: