Having Eric and Cindy along on this raw adventure has made the experience a whole lot easier. Diving in solo might have felt way too isolating and overwhelming. There's something to be said for having people to commiserate and compare notes with, in person and on a daily basis.
I've also had the benefit of a third raw compatriot. My sister. She's dabbled in raw, but never went the distance and figured this was as good a time as any to take the plunge. The two of us are total health food dorks to begin with. We visit health food stores like fashion mavens do couture boutiques. We once snuck out of a family wedding reception to visit the tiny natural foods store next door, strolling the aisles with glee, palming bags of flax seeds like they were precious jewels. (Our family was none the wiser, too preoccupied with the Chicken Dance to notice).
So during this month of raw, she and I have had a good support system in each other. And I totally recommend recruiting a raw buddy if you're seriously going to try this. We've chattered on the phone and by e-mail daily, analyzing issues that come up, trading status reports and recipes. (This literally just in from her, by e-mail: can i also just say? i LOVE my new breakfast concoction of chopped watermelon, sprinkled with coconut and cacao nibs.)
So when I visited her in New York last weekend, it was a given we'd go on a raw food excursion. If you're living raw, hers is probably one of the best neighborhoods in the country to do it in. From shops, gourmet restaurants and juice joints, there are easily a dozen live foods resources within an 8-block radius of her. Here in Connecticut we've got places like Alchemy in Hartford and Catch a Healthy Habit Cafe in West Haven. But it's far from the hub my sister enjoys. If she doesn't feel like messing around in the kitchen, she can easily stop into the takeaway cafe at one of the top raw food resturants in the country, Pure Food and Wine, or head down to Quintessence or Caravan of Dreams. She's totally a little raw spoiled brat.
We started with a great dinner Saturday night a Candle 79, a gourmet organic vegan restaurant. It was such a relief not to have "the raw talk" with a waitress, or surrender to a puny house salad. Candle isn't fully raw, but they've got enough items on menu to make it a breeze. So, we sipped on young coconut water and shared our plates of avocado-tomato tartare, seaweed salad and and live zucchini enchiladas, made with cashew cheese and chipotle tomato sauce.
For dessert, we split an amazing live pineapple-cherry parfait with nut granola and raw coconut ice cream. It was all totally satisfying. But watching the staff trot out hot, savory dishes to nearby diners -- well, it was the first time I really craved a hot bite of comfort food.
We spent the next day whipping up our own breakfast smoothies, and later headed up to Bonobo's for a live foods lunch. We had actually only intended on peeking inside since we were passing through the neighborhood. But the sight of the colorful salad bar selections convinced us to pull up a chair and order a combination platter of various marinaded, seasoned vegetable salads.
We capped off the raw adventure by heading back down to two East Village shops: High Vibe and Live Live. I stocked up on snacks of essene bread (made from dehydrated sprouted grains and vegetable), cashew cheese and a raw version of Oreo cookies to share with Cindy and Eric. And my sister shelled out $14 for a package of raw tortillas. Cha-ching, indeed.