Time flies when you’re buried in snow. It seems like only a few weeks ago I was down in Florida enjoying the ocean and the sun. Months have passed but the memories remain. I took a road trip with my former girl friend and now good friend Stacia down to Bradenton, Florida in mid December. We spent Christmas with her cousin Tess Challis and family. Tess is a vegan chef and author who is also the co-founder of Get Waisted, a healthy vegan version of weight watchers. Tess’ husband Carl is the head chef at a raw food cafe in Sarasota called Ionie. I spent a day in the kitchen Tess and Carl… tasty good times.
Now I’m back in Michigan at Camp Rawnora. There’s no shortage of snow in these parts. I’m looking forward to the start of the 2014 season here at the camp. We still have 2014 Raw Recipe calendars available. It’s never too late to pick one up.
Our first event this year is the March Maple Water Fast beginning on Wednesday March 19th through Sunday March 23rd.
Greetings and Aloha boys and girls. It’s about time I shared a post regarding my latest adventures. Early in March I boarded a plane for Honolulu on the paradise island state of Hawaii. My friend Brian was there to greet me at the airport and so my adventure began. I was only in Honolulu for one day and then we were off to Kauai, the garden isle. They say timing is everything and once again my timing put me in the right place at an interesting time… tsunami. Yes, we were staying on the ocean front in Kappaa, Kauai at the time of the big earthquake in Japan and had to be evacuated to higher ground. It was a beautiful night and we found a scenic place to park overlooking the coast. With in minutes of arriving a number of other cars showed up and parked and eventually we had a full on frat boy acoustic serenade going on which would have been nice if it wasn’t 3am. At 6:30 am we were able to return to our hotel and get some sleep.
After our tsunami experience Brian and I took up an offer to rent a couple of rooms at the fabled Noni Land. This is not any easy invitation to get being that it’s the personal home, research center and farm of David Wolfe. Since we were visiting Kauai on a raw food mission, we got the thumbs up and were promoted from ocean front 1960’s era cheap hotel to mountain side raw food paradise. David was traveling the globe when we arrived and met the Noni Land tribe… Nick, Nathaniel, Charis, Kota, Trevor and Kelly. After 3 nights indoors I moved to outdoor sleeping quarters in a tree house. This wasn’t quite Swiss Family Robinson, more like a platform with a tent on it. Very basic with a clear rain fly and enough room for a single person; the set up was perfect for my needs. Each night was highlighted by an ever changing celestial display. At one point the moon was so bright that I had to hide under my blanket just to fall asleep. The wind whipped the trees overhead into a frenzy and almost every night and/or morning featured random downpours. It has rained every day that I have been in Kauai, typically at night. I can’t forget to mention the wild life. Bulls in the neighboring pasture come up to the fence in the night and grunt like they’re trying to cough up a cactus pad. In the mornings I am awoken to the crowing of wild roosters which are the unofficial state bird of Hawaii. Actually the roosters crow starting on one side of the island the the message is passed in a continuous and never ending circle, kinda like and audio version of the wave at a stadium football game. Chickens are everywhere on this island. They are on the road side, in parking lots, on the beach, even in trees. Some interesting things I’ve discovered about chickens and cats since visiting Kauai is that they both love eating coconut meat. The Noni Land cat, Gartina, relentlessly begs for the stuff once you start cracking coconuts. The only thing she loves more than coconuts is baby chickens. Yes, the Noni Land cat is not a vegan. She’s earning her keep by controlling the wild chicken population.
After getting settled in the tree house, it was time to get to work. The mission in Kauai was to design a raw food menu for a once thriving and now transitioning restaurant in Hanalei. The Polynesian Cafe was a popular dining hub in the center of Ching Young Village in the heart of Hanalei. Now it is a shadow of what it used to be, a literal grave yard of used restaurant equipment; walk-in fridge, freezer, ice cream cooler, sandwich stations, a bakery complete with a mixer big enough to bathe in. Unfortunately much of the equipment is non-functional and has no use in a raw food restaurant. I did whip up a super batch of macaroons in a medium sized bread mixer. The main thing I noticed upon arriving was that the restaurant was a feng shui nightmare; no flow and a gluttonous waste off space. I staked out a little corner that was formerly used for bread making. It was more than enough room for me to do my thing. I often tell people that I can prepare raw foods in a phone booth if I have to. I do my best work in tight spaces… food preparation of course. I should also mention that I didn’t have exclusive rein of the kitchen. There is still a hot line in operation that uses fish and dairy. I made sure I kept clear of possible cross contamination. I found that in this situation the best way to keep my sanity is to only introduce a few simple menu items and that’s what I did. Wraps seemed like a good place to start so I introduced the Tu-No Collard Wrap and the Buckwheat Bean Burrito. The bean burrito was also done inside a collard leaf because the absence of a dehydrator. At this point we don’t have the staff to rock out crackers, chips and wraps from the dehydrator so that will just have to wait. The perfect scenario would have us stocked with a surplus of dehydrated wraps to make burritos, until then collards and nori sheets will have to do.
For dessert items I created a pie using a local treat the egg fruit. I’ve become a bit of an egg fruit addict since arriving here. These tasty little carb bombs are known to be the most calorically dense fruits having more calories than avocado and durian. They have very little water content and when ripe they have the consistency of a fluffly cake frosting. When I feast on egg fruit it often ends up in my beard and caked on my lips. Egg fruit’s brilliant orange color and dense yumminess made them a perfect candidate for making desserts so I combined egg fruit with cacao butter to make a white chocolate egg fruit pie. The recipe is is quite simple and simply delicious. My next dessert offering was a pineapple creme pie. That was followed with macadamia maca chocolate brownies. These were a little more “maca’y” than I wanted them to be and the macadamia nuts added a tastes twist I wasn’t accustomed to. People loved them though and they flew out of the cold case. The “cold case” was another method for keeping my sanity. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed with tasks that appear to be massive so confining myself to a single cold case allowed me to start small and expand from there. After 2 days in the shop the case was full… and then David Wolfe and his entourage showed up and bought everything in the case! We were all pretty stoked with this little surprise. David had just arrived in town for a brief visit before he had to fly to the West Coast to continue his touring and Longevity conference schedule. The timing worked out perfectly for me to be able to share some of my raw culinary creations with him. What was his response to what he tried? “The Best Ever!” of course.
That pretty much sums up my adventures in Kauai so far, “the best ever and getting better”. I have to admit there have been some speed bumps and challenges but that all part of what makes it worthwhile. Challenges are opportunities for expansion and personal growth and there’s a whole lot of that going on. This island is a magical place and the interactions and synchronicity that have led me here are indescribable. I look back on the random phone call I received from my friend Phoebe telling me that she was with someone that she felt I needed to meet, that was Brian, the crazy dude who jumped in head first into a raw food restaurant project in paradise and I went and followed him into the vortex. Tune in next time for an in depth look at some of the local fruits in Kauai and tasty culinary creations I have been making with them. Aloha and keep it live!
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: