Tonight I went to a raw dinner party, which was an interesting experience. I have to say, having not been overwhelmed by raw food in the past, I was really impressed with this meal. Usually I find myself hungry directly after consuming a raw banquet, and I was surprised to learn that I felt…full..about three quarters of the way through the meal and almost didn’t finish dessert. The food was dense and rich and packed with flavour in a way a lot of cooked food doesn’t approach.

All the food was organic, and a lot of it was locally sourced. This is something I’m really striving for in my own life so it was wonderful to have a fully vegan, “environmentally correct” meal. I wish I could eat this well every day, in the sense that it was good for me and good for the earth. Balanced, even.

We started with an almond pesto torte, made with almond cheese sandwiching a layer of fresh tomato pesto and sundried tomato pesto, drizzled with infused oil and served with flax crackers. Think a n extremely rich pate like dish. It was creamy, and the interplay of flavor was complex and fun. The crackers crisped in a satisfying way in the mouth and foiled the flavours of the torte brilliantly. It sounds cliche because a lot of raw fooders say this, but the flavours really did feel more vibrant and alive in the dish. It was, uhm, really good.

We followed with a fresh tomato gazpacho soup which had a confetti of cucumber, radishes, and avocado. It was the perfect summer soup–cool in temperature yet spicy on the tongue. Fun. The tomato flavour really came through in a strong way–I felt like I was standing in our old garden in Elk in the late afternoon eating slightly cooled tomatoes from the vine. I also liked the radishes. Some of my dining companions disagreed so I stole their soup. Eat it or lose it, I always say.

Our entree was a traditional Caesar salad, which was in fact anything but traditional since it had no eggs, anchovies, croutons, or parmesan. Instead, it featured hearts of romaine, herbed croutons (which were not as crunchy as traditional croutons, sadly, more…chewy in texture), rawmesan, a creamy dressing and cracked fresh pepper. I was a little skeptical of the salad for entree ploy, I admit, but it was delicious. Especially after the rich appetizer, it was the perfect savory finish to that portion of dinner. Alas, I was among company so I couldn’t lick the plate.

We followed with an amuse-bouche which had a rich chocolate base with a layer of coconut over it, with a single almond perched on top. I forget what it was called, but it was really good. I looked around vainly in hopes of more, because I’m fairly certain I could eat them all day every day for the rest of my life. It was a living Mounds bar, and oh god was it good. Yes.

We finished with cashew vanilla ice cream served with fresh berries and a chocoalte brownie. It was also damn skippy. The first few bites tasted a little odd to me but then I got into it and demolished my bowl in short order. It’s true, I’m a sucker for frozen dessert products. And cashews.

It was certainly an eye opening meal. I hadn’t had a fully raw meal before, and I was a bit apprehensive about the whole affair. I don’t think I could ever convert to being totally raw, but it made me understand how it might be possible, how you could be fulfilled eating vibrant living foods every day. All of the dishes tasted…more…to me. Now, I’ve had some superb cooked meals too, with excellent plays of vibrant, delicious flavours, don’t get me wrong. But something about this hot summer night and this food was perfect–I was fully sated by the meal, and delighted with the new experience for my palate. It might be something I try more often, that’s for sure.

It also seemed like a lot of work, something which may not be practical for most diners. But it would be fun to try now and then, to push the envelope of food options. I always like to think of myself as a fearless food explorer, up for any challenge, and I’m glad I met raw food with an open stomach.

[raw food]