Two years ago, my friend Ambalinn toyed with the idea of going completely raw and in solidarity and out of curiosity, I decided to try it myself for one month. My friend quickly adapted and blossomed into a gourmet rawist seemingly overnight. In stark contrast, I found that my partial interest and demanding work schedule meant that I ate a lot of salads (when not sampling my friend's amazing and delicious concoctions, which wasn't often enough). At the end of the month, I went back to eating cooked foods, as I missed the warmth as well as the comfort of being able to make things that were familiar.
However, the endeavor did leave me with a deeper appreciation for raw foods and with an expanded repertoire of food preparation techniques (you wouldn't think that "massaging" greens would make them taste better, but it does). Now when I am out in my travels, sampling eateries all around the world, I can't help but stop in at raw restaurants and see what they have up their sleeves.
A recent trip to San Francisco gave me the opportunity to try out Cafe Gratitude. I have their (un)cookbook, I Am Grateful, and I have been loving most of the recipes from it, especially the desserts. I ordered the "I Am Abundant" sampler platter in order to try a little of...everything: sprouted almond hummus, Asian kale-sea vegetable salad, hempseed pesto crustini, spicy cashew nacho cheese with flax chips, olive tapenade, buckwheat crackers, spring roll, and mini house soup.
Before I give my impressions, I must confess to having bad habit of comparing all raw foods with those of Ms. Ambalinn, as she has developed a style that is flavorful without "cheating" (relying on fats, oils, and over-spicing), and instead produces simple combinations with basic ingredients to let the flavors of the food itself sing through the dish.
Having said that, here was my take on Cafe Gratitude: overall, each item was good, but did seem to be much stronger flavor-wise than necessary. That didn't stop me from finishing everything, though, and it certainly did not stop me from ordering dessert. Ah, dessert. I went with the pear-ginger "cheesecake", which was so incredibly delicious that I still think about it to this day.
So, if you are in the Bay Area and are curious about raw foods, make an effort to stop by Cafe Gratitude. You will be pleased that you did.
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