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Monday, February 18, 2008

  Raw feast! Saturday evening, my friend Marcelle had several of us over for a fresh, made-in-front-of-us, all-raw, gourmet meal. It was absolutely superb - everything tasted great, was filling, and was remarkably gorgeous to look at. One of the continually amazing things to me about raw foods is the remarkable color of the dishes: uncooked and freshly pureed, so many fresh fruits and veggies are stunningly vivid.

This is one of those times when I'm not sure words can do the food justice, it was so remarkably fresh tasting. No, fresher than you are thinking right now. No, fresher even than that. We had a delicious soup (lava!) of pureed avocado, hot pepper, mint and basil (and carrot?) that was a gorgeous color; delicately shredded zucchini with a delicious salsa fresca-style tomato and garlic sauce; tender cauliflower masala with cilantro; and herb stuffed mushrooms; and a decadent chocolate mousse dessert on a macadamia and coconut crust.

I need to interview Marcelle about raw food, and how she came to be such a fabulous preparer of these gorgeous, delicious, filling dishes.

(You have my deepest apologies if I've mispelled anything in this entry, or any other recent entries: the spell checker has been down for some time, and so I'm winging it.)


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:36 PM

Saturday, September 01, 2007

  Valencia dining. I love the food at Dosa South Indian Cuisine (, but perhaps I like even more that it is so novel to the neighborhood that it has lines out the door nearly every night it is open. That distracts people from taking up table space that I want at Herivore ( just a few doors down.

This means other people are standing in the street, while I'm sitting down with a soju ginger cocktail and a steaming plate of lemongrass noodles: rice linguine piled high with grilled sweet peppers, zucchini, oyster mushrooms, and other veggies, tofu, and a heavenly lemongrass-ginger sauce. It is absolutely heavenly. I've never had a bad thing on the Herbivore menu, but as fabulous as many of the other dishes are (lasagna!), 'lemongrass noodles' is the dish I remember when I'm walking down Valencia, heading there.


As an added bonus, Herbivore (and Dosa) are just a few blocks away from Dog Eared Books ( and my favorite Mission District bookstore, Modern Times Bookstore (

This most recent trip to Modern Times, I found two items I couldn't resist (and then fled the store before caving in to others). The first is Theme Magazine (, which is a magazine of "global Asian culture." This primarily means it's a magazine about Asian designers, illustrators, and authors living in the northern hemisphere in hip cities. I bought it because it had a section on journals and sketchbooks, topics of great fetishism for me. It isn't that I didn't know that professional illustrators keep lovely personal sketchbooks, but I wanted details, and the magazine delivered - which was pleasant to see. The magazine was attractive throughout, and I was only teased by my partner briefly for buying an Asian culture magazine, what with my past "honorary Asian" status and all. (Thanks, Andy. :-)) Westernized Asian culture is quite familiar to me, and has probably been the dominant cultural influence out of many, many cultural influences I had while growing up.

As I was reading it, I had to wonder: what would a magazine devoted to MY global culture look like? Would it be a magazine devoted to bi-racial and/or multi-racial women, or multi-racial people in general? And, would our art (and our diaries and sketchbooks) look any different from anyone else's? Theme was full of photos of Asians, but I don't know that hypothetical publications I produced would be exclusive ethnically - heck, I don't know that many of my kind! I look at my work and my cousin's work, and I don't think anyone would guess what we are right away - even the photos of bears (the big hairy men, not the bruins) at various SF events would only hint a bit about my cousin, but not tell anyone about our ethnicity.

I think we're culturally more big-city (and thus naturally more multi-cultural) in our subjects than many people. I'm going to have to give that some more thought, and perhaps conspire with my cousin to see what he thinks.


Also from Modern Times, Raw by Roxanne Klein and Charlie Trotter (, a gorgeous food preparation book with coffee table book styling. I bought it primarily for the gorgeous food pictures, but also because of the fact that it is full of vegan recipes, and that means they are all available to me.

Years ago, I stopped buying cookbooks containing meat recipes, since it didn't make sense to buy a book for a mere chapter or two of things I could use. My ongoing slide toward veganism makes even some vegetarian cookbooks less useful to me. (I had actually gone to Modern Times specifically to buy an encyclopedic cookbook on a wide range of cuisines, which I had long resisted because I didn't think I'd use most of the recipes. A few intriguing recipes in it had won me over, but Steven randomly opened the book to a chapter on eggs, and pointed out the uselessness of that entire section... How many years has it been since I bought an egg? There are eggs in dishes I eat outside of home, especially at crepe places or dessert cafes, but I don't cook with eggs at all.)

I have a girlfriend who goes for various periods of time eating almost exclusively fresh, uncooked foods, which it has an obvious appeal here in a place where we can get some really GREAT fresh produce. There are some obvious health advantages to eating fresh, unprocessed foods, and the book appears to be full of clever recipes for non-salad dishes that I would never have come up with on my own. So I'll give these dishes a try, and will report on how they turn out.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Cafe Gratitude

A friend of mine periodically "goes raw:" she goes onto a raw vegetarian or vegan foods diet. Raw foodism has been around... well, literally forever, since people have eaten fresh and natural foods since the most ancient times.

What makes "going raw" novel is largely the extent to which modern Americans eat heavily processed foods which are sometimes cooked repeatedly. (That frozen dinner you just popped into the microwave has been cooked more than once, and some of its components have been cooked separately, then assembled, then cooked, then frozen, and now will be heated by you again.) When you look at some of the alarmingly-non-food-like dishes that most people consider normal, breaking out of your routine to eat something you recognize in its original form seems completely sensible. Eating ultra-fresh foods has an obvious appeal.

Eating GOURMET ultra-fresh foods has even more appeal, and so my friend gathered a group of us, and we went out to Cafe Gratitude (, at their location on 9th Avenue near Irving.

This is a fabulous, fabulous, fancy-food place. The level of skill and complexity of presentation of raw ingredients is really stellar; the dishes we sampled were all delicious and subtly novel in some respect; the desserts were heavenly; and I left feeling full, cozy, completely satisfied, and believed that the folks who work there shared a very pleasant affection with us and everyone else present.


The restaurant is about positive living, and so the menu items all have positive affirmations as names. (Before you begin to fuss, note that you didn't carry on when the place down the block from you made you order in faux-Italian, you probably don't flinch when that junk food place you go to makes up fake not-Mexican snack names, and you probably use made-up names when you order coffee, so just relax and run with this.) It's not just the names, of course: the workers are pleasant and welcoming, and the food is made with affection and is amazingly good for you.

On this visit, I had the delicious "I am inspired," a delicious chai tea, served hot, with a lovely aroma and even better flavor. As appetizers, we had "I am bountiful," a collection of delicious spreads on seeded crackers, which we could happily have eaten all evening; "I am happy," a tasty hummus; and "I am generous," a smooth and flavorful guacamole. My entree was the enchilada of the day, which includes the daily special as a filling: it's called "I am elated," and of course I was. (Especially because of the fabulous rice that came with it, which inspired another adventure at home.) We also shared desserts, all of which were divine.

Aside from the obvious freshness that came out in all of the dishes, there was nothing about them that was so far removed from ordinary experience that the cooked-food-eating omnivores at the table couldn't handle. They knew what enchiladas are, and hummus, and guacamole; the sure as heck recognized cheesecake in its special incarnation here! Though there was some wide-eyed alarm upon our arrival, that faded once we settled in and started eating.

Actually, one of the entertaining aspects of this was seeing the omnivores in the group struggle conceptually with the very idea of uncooked foods. For example, lemonade was on the menu, but the whole 'raw' idea was so alien that one friend asked if it was going to be like NORMAL lemonade. To which I asked, "So, you COOK your lemonade??" I also had the privilege of explaining that guacamole, which was familiar to everyone at the table, is traditionally not cooked, and thus should be no surprise to anyone present. (I think being afraid of new things is like that: you try to view them through a filter of new-ness that obscures how familiar they are to you.)

Wait... hot tea? Enchiladas with rice? This isn't like that other raw food place you went to with us, is it? No, it isn't. According to my friend, there are a variety of approaches to the use of heat, and she subscribes to a theory that involves heating foods up to a point (103??) which provides warmth without destroying certain nutritious enzymes. This was that kind of place, so everything I expected to be warm was warm.

It's a great place, and I'll be taking friends there. You do pay for quality, and this is a quality place, but the cost is reasonable for the skill with which the dishes are prepared.

(Mmmmm: enchiladas!)

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posted by Arlene (Beth)8:55 PM

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