Haute raw vegan cuisine - not words you usually imagine putting together. But you can at Pure Food & Wine on Irving Place in Manhattan. I had the pleasure of dining there a few nights ago with a good friend and I cannot wait to go back. I love casual, down-to-earth eateries too but for a change of pace, haute raw vegan rocks it!
The restaurant space is beautiful and sophisticated and it has a large back garden (but it was too hot a night for me to enjoy outdoor dining so we opted for inside). The menu is likewise sophisticated. I started with king oyster mushroom scallops in a lemongrass/coconut broth and my friend had an heirloom tomato and watermelon salad. Both were amazing. The king oyster mushrooms had a texture that was remarkably like a scallop. We shared a plate of Dr. Cow's nut cheeses (made locally in Williamsburg (Brooklyn)), with rosemary crisps and strawberries, mache and raw honey as accompaniments. Yum! For a main course I had a delicious zucchini "fettuccini" with asparagus and peppers and my friend had beautiful stuffed squash blossoms. We were too full for dessert - a huge regret because they all looked great.
You can also order some of the products used to create delicious raw vegan cuisine, along with some awesome raw cookbooks featuring recipes from the restaurant, at the OneLuckyDuck website. I am going to try the tomato/watermelon salad in the next few days - I think that was my favorite thing out of all the things I tasted at dinner.
I have stockpiled a bunch of raw cookbooks and want to start incorporating more raw meals into my diet. I appreciate that Sarma Melngailis, the owner of Pure Food and Wine, admits to not being raw, or even vegan or vegetarian, all the time - definitely takes some of the pressure off - especially for raw newbies, like me. That said, every raw recipe I have tried so far has been great - so fresh and just "good" - getting back to the essence of what food tastes like. You don't even need a recipe to be raw (though there are some great ones). One day I just pureed chunks of butternut squash in the VitaMix (this may be a must-have for vegans and raw food enthusiasts -- never have I seen a blender work so well. It costs $$$ but is worth it). The raw butternut squash soup - seasoned with some fresh herbs, was amazing. This past week, I had a lot of Crenshaw melon at home - I pureed it, with some lovely oil, vanilla infused sea salt, a touch of (non raw I think) maple syrup, cayenne pepper and seeded cucumber - delish, even my husband loved the fresh and 99% raw fruit soup.
Plus, eating raw brings incredible health benefits, preserving many of the enzymes naturally found in foods. I have a tendency to go full bore at something for awhile and then tucker out but I can definitely see slowly incorporating more raw cooking ideas into everyday life -- it is all about the balance (see Sunday's post - but then ask why I am up at 3am??? - work in progress....).