There's a whole raw food movement going on in LA, and I'm sure other places, of which I have been quite ignorant.
I had heard about 'raw foodism' but quite honestly, the thought of eating uncooked vegetables for the rest of my days was quite unappealing. That was until my recent trip to LA where I was introduced to two very exciting raw food restaurants, Juliano's Raw and RAWvolution, both in Santa Monica.
The premise behind raw food is eating primarily uncooked, unprocessed and organic fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts. Raw foodists believe that cooking food either kills most of the essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes or transforms them into carcinogens or 'free radicals'. So to get the most out of most foods, it is important to eat them either raw or cooked at temperatures under 100F (38C).
There are recipes for raw breads, cakes, soups and even French fries. While I am not a complete raw food convert by any means, I was really impressed by the creativity, diversity and deliciousness of some of the raw meals I tried whilst in LA.
Take, for instance, the two meals in my photos, both from RAWvolution, run by renowned raw food chef, Matt Amsden. The first image is a trio of salads including a finely chopped broccolini with parsley and olive oil, cauliflower cous cous, and a 'mock tuna' salad with macadamia nuts, parsley, zucchini, olive oil and nama shoyu; raw organic unpasteurized soy sauce. The little crackers on the side were made from leftover almond pulp, flax seeds and rosemary.
Below is the 'cocophoria burger'. The 'bun' was made from ground onions and the filling was salad and 'coconut jerky' -- basically sun-dried coconut flesh marinated in curry powder and nama shoyu.
All this was followed by a dessert of coconut pie and one of the best chocolate brownies I've ever tasted - all raw.
Unfortunately I don't have any photos from Juliano's restaurant but trust me when I say that his 'strawberry parfait' was taste bud blowing. It was made of pinenuts, vanilla bean, honey, strawberries and a secret ingredient which I'm afraid I can't share. The parfait was rich and velvety and I savoured every mouthful.
If you're curious to find out about some chef Juliano's raw food secrets, he holds cooking classes on the first Saturday of each month.
2301 Main Street, Santa Monica 90405
609 Broadway Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90405