Recently, I was invited to a raw dinner party hosted by Rhona Kamar, from Ramsi’s Cafe on the World and Raising Hope Farms. Rhona was a FACES of Louisville earlier this year and I wrote an article about Raising Hope Farm, as well. So if Rhona calls and wants to cook for me, I’m in. Rhona co-hosted the dinner with friend Wendy Mendoza who, like Rhona, takes an interest in raw foods and recipe development. As for the raw portion of the equation, well I’m sure it will be delicious and I’ll have no idea what I’m eating. Truer words could not have been spoken.
What exactly are the rules, besides the obvious, of being a raw foodist? They believe that cooked food makes our body use up too much of its own enzymes to digest it. Raw food comes with enzymes, thereby not depleting the body’s own supply during digestion. In other words, it is easier for the body to digest raw foods. They do cook some things, but only to 118 degrees; any degree hotter means that the enzymes have been destroyed in the food. Generally, raw foodists are vegetarians and vegans.
I was handed an Apple Kale Tini (delicious) and I took a seat at an intimate table of 11 people. I knew two people at the table, Tiffany and Sean Cardwell, but the rest of the group were strangers to us and each other. The three of us were the only ones who were carnivores. We went around the table talking about our eating preferences and I nodded and said “yes, I eat EVERYTHING,” for I have no dietary restrictions or dislikes (which is why I have to go to bootcamp all the time, but that’s a story for another time.)
The first appetizer was mushrooms and cream cheese on endive. Wait, how are raw vegans eating cheese? We will address that in a minute.
The second appetizer was Assorted Tree Nut Cheeses from Dr. Cow in New York City.
So how does a raw foodist make cheese? It is not made from dairy, it is made from tree nuts that have been soaked for at least a day and then put into a blender. The consistency is similar to heavy cream. They can then add bacteria to that cream and make cheese, or just use the “cream” as a mother sauce for other things.
We took a palate cleansing break with a Juice Flight. The first juice was the Master Cleanse: lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. (If you recall Beyonce swears by the Master Cleanse, as did a man at the dinner who did it for 40 days. That’s 40 days no food. Gulp.) Second juice was a pineapple jalepeno cayenne pepper blend. This was my personal favorite, though it would be been better with a shot of vodka. Third juice was a watermelon rosewater juice, very sweet and refreshing.
Now for the second course: Fall Squash Soup with Ras El-hanout (a spice) and cream coconut bechamel, fresh red pears and cayenne pepitas. Lot of questions here. One, how do you make soup if you cannot cook it and it’s not gazpacho? Well, you can heat it, but the magic number, the limit, is 118 degrees. And, what is coconut bechamel sauce. The same way tree nuts can make a heavy cream, so can the meat of a coconut if pulverized.
It tasted delicous, but like a soup that had gone cold waiting for you to come to dinner.
Third course was a kale salad in creamy chipotle vinaigrette, fresh grapefruit, honey-grapefruit glaze, cashew cheese, and pink peppercorns. Of everything I ate this night, this was my hands-down favorite. I could have eaten four bowls of just this. The dressing was divine. The recipe for this salad is here: www.hopefarmtestkitchen.com.
The main course was Moroccan couscous, tomato jam alfredo, shaved carrots and fennel, bourbon raisins, and cacao nibs. Again, how do you cook the couscous if you’re a raw foodist? And how do you manage an alfredo sauce? Well, we already know the answer to the alfredo sauce, it’s made from tree nuts. But the couscous? Take a look at the picture and tell me what you think.
Sure did taste like couscous. It was not. There was nary a grain on that plate. It was raw cauliflower that had been decimated in a food processor. Then she added herbs and spices and topped off with the carrots and fennel. The tomato jam was a combination of sundried tomatoes that had been soaked in water and regular tomatoes.
And last but not least, dessert. Here’s the kicker. Not only was the dessert raw, it also contained NO SUGAR.
We had a trio of Fall Caramel apple, carrot torte and raspberry mousse. The mousse was made with coconut meat. The caramel apple’s “caramel” is made from date paste and cashews. The carrot torte is made from carrots and cashews.
My verdict is that while raw food is delicious, it takes a lot of time and effort and preparation. Wendy recommends trying to go 50% raw at each meal, which with a green salad, raw veggies or fruit at each meal, is entirely doable.
Thank you Rhona and Wendy for a lovely meal. I left full and happy, and hopefully 10 pounds lighter after eating so healthy.