blog, Raw Food Adventures, Restaurant Review

Bartertown Diner, Vegan Raw Restaurant Review

 

bartertown vegan diner grand rapids
good vegan eats

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

forks over knives lansing
full theater in Lansing, MI

“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.

raw pizza bites
Raw Pizza Bites

Pizza Bites

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.

vegan salad
raw trash salad

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.

raw zucchini pasta
raw pasta

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.

raw vegan pie
chocolate and lemon 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!

blog, How To, Raw Food Adventures, Recipe

Banana Lama Ding… gone… part 2, the filling

Three bananas Johnny Utah, three.
Three bananas Johnny Utah, three.

I think it’s safe to say that the pie was a success. With little resistance the pie was happily consumed by the JaxRaw meetup members before it could melt in the sun. I will be posting a short video clip from the event but first I must share part 2 of 3 in the making of this yummy raw vegan pie. This filling is a modified version of some of the pie fillings that are listed in I Am Grateful, the amazing recipe book from Cafe Gratitude. I was looking for a pie filling that used Irish Moss. I did a combo of Irish moss and ground chia to thicken things up. Enjoy the latest video. As always, your feedback is appreciated.
Blessings, Adam

Banana Filling Recipe:
1 C water
.3 oz Irish Moss, soaked
3 T hemp seed
2 T ground chia seed
6 pitted dates
2 T lucuma powder
3 bananas
1 vanilla bean scraped
1 t salt

blog, Raw Food Adventures

Viva Italia in Tallahassee

Viva Italia Eggplant Parm
Viva Italia Eggplant Parm

This week I had a blast visiting Tallahassee, FL to teach a live food class and host a dinner. The theme of the evening was Viva Italia which allowed me to connect with my Italian roots in a vegan raw food way. The menu was eggplant Parmesan, bell peppers stuffed with pecan basil pesto, zucchini and squash noodles with a hemp alfredo sauce, a fresh garden salad with sorrel, kale, baby lettuce and a fig tarragon vinaigrette… dessert was a avocado chocolate mousse that was off the charts. Thank you to everyone who helped and all those who attended. I can’t wait to do it again. Enjoy this clip from the festive event.

blog, How To, Raw Food Adventures, Recipe

Summer Spinach Soup

Fresh Produce
Fresh Produce

Down in Florida the local gardens are producing goodies in all shades of the rainbow. Recently I visited the local beaches farmers market and picked up some fresh produce. With my purchases spread out before me I saw a vision of soup, spinach soup and the rest is history. Enjoy this simple Summer Spinach Soup recipe.

2 Cups nut or seed mylk

1 Bunch of Spinach, rinsed and chopped

2 T chick pea miso

1 fresh tomato or 1/4 C soaked sundried tomato

6 black olives, pitted

1 T Mexican Seasoning Blend – cilantro, cayenne, black pepper, coriander, cumin

1 t cumin

salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in blender. Bleand until smooth. Transfer into a bowl. Garnish with diced veggies… corn, tomato, bell pepper, fresh herbs. Enjoy.