Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Day of Firsts

Last Saturday was a day of firsts for me. The fabulous Bazu, who is incredibly generous, sent me a packet of her sourdough starter (along with an adorable origami animal touting veganism). After reading the extensive instructions, I revived the starter, allowing it to work overnight, and baked some amazing biscuits with it Saturday morning. I admit that I was shocked when the starter actually worked for me; I expected it to fail due to my inexperience. Since I generally don't consume white flour (these were made with unbleached all-purpose flour), these biscuits tasted extremely decadent with some organic raspberry spread from Trader Joe's. Thank you, again, Bazu!

Next on the list was my first visit to Juliano's Raw. My friend R is considering a raw diet because she has horrendous, chronic migraines, so we planned a trip to try this restaurant together. The restaurant is unassuming with a plethora of raw food supplies and goodies for sale. The seats had cushions on them to make us cozy. We started off with a gorgeous and sweet waiter, who was unfortunately prompted to take a break by the waitress who was on staff that day. The reason I consider this unfortunate is that our waitress was incredibly rude and dismissive. R has a long list of foods she's not supposed to eat because of her migraines, among them nuts, which are raw food staples. So, we had a lot of questions for this waitress and she was quite impatient and decidedly unhelpful.

Now that I've gotten that complaint out of the way, let me tell you that the food at Raw is absolutely delicious! R and I split the kale chips, which I forgot to photograph in all the excitement. It's difficult to conjure appropriate words to describe exactly how incredibly scrumptious those kale chips were. They were chewy and a bit sticky from the delectable sauce that coated them. I could taste ginger and probably Bragg's in the sauce, but I couldn't put my finger on much else. When we asked Miss Unhelpful, she brought us a container of brownish powder without an ingredient-containing label. That was the best she could do to tell us what was in these kale treats. If I could eat those every day, I'd be an extremely happy girl.

For my entree, I chose the Green Curry Pasta (from the menu: Zucchini Pasta Mixed with an Amazing Thai Nut Curry Kream Topped with Coco-Noodles). You can see from the photo how beautiful this dish is (and imagine if I'd been using a real camera as opposed to my cell phone). The zucchini pasta was about the thickness of angel hair, possibly a bit thinner, and was coated in a spicy, creamy, deeply-flavored curry sauce. I was loathe to share even one bite of this dish with R, but I offered it up with a smile anyway. On top were noodles made of coconut with a texture that was a mix between fruit leather and corn tortilla. They were fabulous in their own right. There was a purple cabbage salad and broccoli that had been heated to the extent that raw food allows heating. Those vibrant swirls of sauce on the plate were as flavorful as they were colorful. Can you tell that I loved this dish every bit as much as I loved those kale chips? Again, I could eat this every day.

To cap off this amazing lunch, R and I got shakes. Mine was chocolate (from the menu: Sapote/Cherimoya, Carob, Cacao, Fresh Vanilla Bean, Honey & Nut Mylk). When I asked Miss Unhelpful if the shake could be made without honey, she volunteered agave syrup instead. I was shocked and very pleased that she understood what I was asking, temporarily earning her a reprieve from the moniker I've bestowed upon her. My shake had a very deep chocolate flavor and wonderful crunchy and chewy things on top (from the menu: Goji, Cacao, Dried Blueberries, Buckies & More (the more seeming to be finely chopped nuts and fresh mint leaves)). Wow, was that good. R got a strawberry shake, which you can see in the background. I tasted a bit of it and can tell you that it was fresh and extremely flavorful.

Be forewarned, Raw is not an inexpensive dining experience. With tip, this meal for two cost us $62. Neither one of us is made of money, so we won't be dining at Raw often, but we truly enjoyed this experience. We already have plans to try another Santa Monica raw restaurant in the (hopefully) near future.

After R and I finished lunch, we took our first trip to the Santa Monica Co-Op. I've been wanting to check out this store for ages, but it's nowhere near my home or office. Fortunately, it's near Raw and made for an easy drive up the street. R and I spent a solid hour and a half perusing the aisles, filling tiny baggies with different things in the bulk spices section (pumpkin pie spice and chia seeds for me), finding raw and gluten-free goodies for her to try and educating her on different vegan foods of which she was previously unaware. We had a great time and I'm looking forward to going back (next time, armed with a grocery list)!

On a refrigerated shelf at the Co-Op, I found these single-serving containers of young coconut water. I'd never tried it before, but I've heard that it's a very healthful beverage, so I bought one. I have to say that it wasn't the best beverage I've ever consumed and I probably wouldn't buy it again. It didn't taste like coconut to me and I felt like I was drinking something sweet and watered-down. I'd just rather have water than a sweet, watery drink.

R and I eventually parted ways and I headed to my local Trader Joe's, where I bought Asian pears. These are probably the most fragrant fruits I've ever smelled. They taste sweet and have a pear-like texture. I prefer the crispness of apples, but these are a very nice change of pace.

Last on my list of firsts for that Saturday, was my first use of the Lotus sanitizing system I received as a holiday gift last December (yes, I'm a bit behind). I got home from Trader Joe's and immediately washed my apples and Asian pears in this fancy contraption. The website says that the system "infuses cold tap water with an extra oxygen atom, creating a natural sanitizer," killing bacteria and viruses and neutralizing pesticides. The water smells a bit odd once the machine has processed it, but if it works, I'm all for it!

Foodeater and I went to lunch at Madeleine Bistro today as an early celebration of our May birthdays. Mine is May 5 and I'll let her tell you about hers. It was a fantastic meal and a blog post will be coming sometime soon!


Anonymous said...

My birthday is May 10th :)
(shared with Sid Vicious, Donovan and Fred Astaire!)

That sanitizing gizmo is the coolest thing I've never heard of before. And just like that, now I must have one.

trina said...

Hi ladies! I wish I didn't need millions of dollars to live near the co-op in Santa Monica. I'm looking forward to hearing about the birthday lunch!

Anonymous said...

WHOA! That sourdough looks fabulous. I've never attempted it myself, great work. =)


Now I want one of those sanitizers. Do you know where its made?
ANd it sounds like you had an awesome weekend!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Wow, I AM very proud of you for all your "firsts"! You ut me to shame-- I need to get my act together and try more new foods!

Lindsay (Happy Herbivore) said...

that shake looks A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

Unknown said...

Hey, this is sort of off topic--but how would I go about finding out more about this "Fat Free Tester Squad"?

I totally get it if the circle needs to be kept small for book selling reasons or whatever, I just enjoy Fat Free recipes.. and testers.. and squads... so I thought I'd ask.

Liz Ranger (Bubble Tea for Dinner) said...

oh wow... the way you described the food at Juliano's... <3! It looks so colourful and perfect, mail me some?? :D

and I know what you mean about white flour being decadent. But it is SO good every now and again. It's weird to think how rarely I eat it these days, having grown up on it, but that's just one of those awesome random thoughts. Anyway, the scones look awesome!

Wheeler's Frozen Dessert said...

That shake looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

i want that shake NOW

bazu said...

woah, I'm catching up to my blog reading and I've missed a lot! I'm glad the sourdough starter worked out for you! White flour is decadent, you are so right. I bake some whole grain breads with my starter too, and rye... basically I love bread!