Thursday, December 31, 2009

Raw Adventure Day 3: Salem and New Year's Eve!

First off, Happy New Year again to everyone! We've spent another wonderful day in Salem, strolling the streets, visiting little shops some more, walking to Pickering Wharf, checking out the House of Seven Gables, and visiting America's oldest commercial candy shop, 'Ye Olde Pepper Companie'.

Apparently, the first candy ever commercially sold in the States in 1806 were called Gibralters (because they were rock hard like the rocks in the straight of Gibraltar??) Made of Molasses and flavored either with lemon or peppermint oil, they were a hard candy that never went bad and had a dinner mint-like texture. Though we won't be eating them, we bought some as souvenirs for the people in our lives who still eat candy :) All the other old-style candies they sold there were also pretty much variations on the Gibralter, aka. sugar, molasses, starch, cream of tartar... I guess they didn't have much to work with in the New World.

Nowadays, the candy shop makes all sorts of things from fudge, chocolate covered gummy bears, licorice, chocolate turtles, truffles, and more. Despite being on a raw diet, I'm still a die-hard foodie, so I still really enjoyed and visually appreciated all the pretty and/or yummy goodies they had on display. I think it actually adds something to my life to be able to appreciate something for what it's worth (the craft, the visual appeal, etc. of a food) without having the need or the desire to eat it (especially knowing that it would probably make me sick or would not be beneficial to my health in the least). It's like food enlightenment in some ways.

Anyway, it's getting pretty late so we'll be off to our Masquerade. But for a quick recap of the lack of raw food we can find around here:

After doing yogadownload's 20 Minutes of Power Yoga to start my day (which surprisingly kicked my ass... I guess I should seriously be doing more yoga), we started with breakfast at the b&b around 9:30am where the only thing we could have were slices of melon (though still wonderful!). We also had a glass of orange juice which was a MISTAKE because I could instantly tell that it was packed with sugar (and hopefully not high fructose corn syrup) and other nasties.

Later on in the morning (around 11am-noon) we snacked on some of the raw foods that I brought along that I've already mentioned. Around 2pm, we cracked and stopped by the Gulu Gulu again where we had a big mixed greens salad with cranberries and golden raisins. Andrew had a bowl of vegan chili, and we shared a glass of warm apple cider.

For our 4 o'clock snack, we finally ate one of those raw hemp brownies from Grezzo. It was SO delicious, but filled me up so much I've needed little since. I did have some sprouts, cucumber slices, and a kiwi later on. But off we go! Goodbye 2009! Thanks for all the amazing times! Up next: resolutions for the new year as we head back down to DC!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Raw Adventure Day 2: Salem (and more Grezzo's)

Yet another thing I appreciate about the raw diet is the quality of sleep I now get because of it. Before, I used to have to sleep 9-10 (maybe more) hours, had to drag myself out of bed because of the sound of my alarm clock, and not really wake up 'til breakfast or a shower. Now, without any obnoxious beeping and with usually only 7-8 hours, I can get up perfectly fine on my own and feel amazing. So after the rough morning we had yesterday after only about 5 hours of sleep, I got 8 and I'm as good as new.

After getting out of our comfy king size bed, we went to the Radisson hotel's gym where I did some warm-up cardio on the treadmill (which I swear was stuck on an incline), an ab routine (4 x4 sets of 12 repetitions to target different ab areas + 2 minutes of plank + 1 minute of side planks), and 3 sets of 12 of chest, shoulders, backs, biceps, and triceps. I had to cram a lot in today only because we probably won't find a gym for the next couple days.

Then, we packed up and went for our second raw food adventure at Grezzo around 11am. I have to repeat before anything else that it's SO cold in Boston... I don't know how I'm going to survive Canada again when we move back... I don't even know how I did it for 4 years before moving back down to DC.

We started off with a green juice (which went through a Vitamix, not a juicer, since their's was broken... isn't having a broken juicer at a raw restaurant like having no rice at sushi place? and yes, my sister and I couldn't get to our favourite sushi place once because of that...). It was a mix of celery, ginger, garlic, cucumber, and some leafy green. Great way to start the day!

Had just enough time to digest that, before they brought out our BLTA with sweet potato chips and their 'pepperoni' pizzetta (which had watermelon radish as the pepperoni, yet another vegetable I had never even heard of... love discovering new foods!). I loved the creaminess of whatever they used as cheese on their pizzetta, I could swear it was real cream cheese. I also think you can never go wrong with raw wraps given my love for avocados, and this one definitely justified my belief! Another triple yum for Grezzo!

On the way out, we picked up two hemp brownies and a super chocolate cookie (super because it has blue-algae and other delicious superfoods) which we have yet to eat.

After another frosty walk, we were on our way to Salem. I haven't been there since my 11th grade class trip, but my love for Renaissance-styled costumes, quaint New England towns and houses, and old lore made it an absolute necessity for me to show Andrew. Salem definitely does not disappoint.

After I took a wrong turn, taking us pretty much to the exact opposite of town we should have been heading towards, we made it to the Salem Inn, where we dropped off our heavy heavy bags and immediately headed back out to discover (or re-discover) the town. Before heading out, at around 2pm, I snacked on a couple apricots and pieces of ginger, one of my nopal-chia-chili bars, and some more vegan chocolate.

Our love for architecture is making this trip so worthwhile. We walked
down Essex St. and stopped in all the little shops selling everything from chintzy 'witch souvenirs' to beautiful artisan crafts. We bought two little fairy houses which I intend to put into my wheatgrass planter until we get a garden (photos to come!) and I found little tartlet pans with removable bottoms which will be perfect for me-sized raw pies and treats + they'll fit in my dehydrator since I have the round model which is much trickier than the shelf kind (one day I will upgrade from the one I currently have!)

Obviously what draws most tourists to Salem is its history of witch trials. I've always been fascinated by why people have so vividly chosen to remember a crazy community of puritans who hung 20 people 300 years ago after falsely accusing them of being witches. When so many awful things have happened over the course of history, why the focus on the small town of Salem? I realize though, that humans are inherently irrational, and our interest in these witch trials are our way of trying to deal with our own personal and social insanity. Peer pressure, zealotry, fear of others, and a closed mindset are what led to the ultimate death of 20 innocent men and women who would not confess to being something they were not. It's a terrible story that actually makes me sick to my stomach when I think of the horrors that people have been and are still able to commit on absolutely no reasonable basis.

Coming to Salem was in part more than just a fun tourist trip for us. I knew that we were also coming here to pay respect to these 20 people and every other injustice like the ones they suffered, be they the prejudices put upon innocent people, the fear and suspicion (and incredible misinformation) that pagans have to face from others every single day, etc.

Once it started getting dark, we headed back to the Inn, but stopped by the Gulu Gulu for dinner. As I mentioned, very little choice for organic raw food in Salem, so we opted for their one vegan option on this cold night: a deliciously warm potato leek soup, as well as a veggie hummus platter sans pita.

We picked up our tickets for tomorrow evening before leaving. We'll also be spending the transition to the New Year at the Gulu Gulu for their Masquerade Ball (though I fear the cold in our costumes). Oh well, I'm a girl, freezing for fashion is part of what we do... Now back at the inn and in front of a warm fireplace, I'm ready to go to sleep to wake up for a kick-ass last day of 2009.

On that note, I really enjoyed Susan Power's post on her Rawmazing blog on establishing key principles to live by during the new year. I intend on doing this too, and have been putting together a mental list which I'll share with you come the New Year... there is so much I plan on doing, and a million ways I plan on growing! Happy New Year to all of you, and stay healthy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Raw Adventure #2: Boston!

So as part of my New Year's resolutions (which I'm starting early), I've decided to start blogging more frequently (for real this time!) More specifically, we're currently on our end of 2009 trip to Massachusetts, more specifically to Boston and the awesome town of Salem. The not so great part? Having to wake up at 6am and being on the bus for 8 hours... I don't think my body knows what to do with itself when it sits for that long. Anyhoo, that was lots of time to catch up on some raw food reading, I've been reading up on the amazingly fit and talented Tonya Kay's diet and workouts, and watched a raw documentary called "Raw for Life: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of the Raw Food Lifestyle" I randomly found online.

I think David Wolfe (who was in it) looks like such an awesome guy to know. He just seems so holistically happy and positive. Every time I've seen or heard him interviewed he seems to bouncy and excited and lives life with the wonderment you only ever see in a child. I want to live with that kind of awe my whole life too. That's what I love about everyone I've met who has also adopted a raw food diet, they seem so much more grounded than people in the standard world, so much more in tune with others and everything around them.

But more about our trip: We started our day at 6am. Don't like to eat early, so just headed out. We left our apartment much to the dismay of our kitty who spend all night sleeping on our backpacks to let us know he wasn't so cool with the idea of being ditched again... it's too cute. Shared an orange about 9:30am on the bus, then had an apple around 10:30am. I got hungry around noon so had a slice of dehydrated papaya, a dried apricot, and a couple pieces of ginger (which we bought at High Vibe in NY last week). Yum. Got to NY and had to feed Andrew whose muscle mass makes him need to eat about 3 times as much as I do... With only one hour between buses we were lucky to find the Loving Huton 7th Ave. (near 30th St.?), which serves 100% vegan non-MSG food! Good find! Like most places in NY, the setting was pretty sterile and the place tiny, but the food was just what we needed. I also loved that they had subtle yet powerful vegan propaganda at their counter.

We started out with steamed (not so raw, I know) edamame:

I then had an awesome seaweed salad with ginger dressing, while Andrew had a protein salad (with barley and mock chicken).

Got back on the bus to Boston where we snacked on a couple pieces of the best vegan chocolate ever (will remember its name later). Andrew had a slice of my raw banana bread and of my raw nopal-chia-chili bar inspired by a bar also recently bought in NY (will also post recipe when we get back).

Then, we headed up to the North End of a Boston for a trip to Grezzo ('raw' in Italian) run by the Goddess of all Raw Food Restaurant Restaurateurs in Boston: Alissa Cohen. Oh... My... Raw.. God.

If restaurants could get more than 5 stars, it would get one hundred and fifty six. It epitomized raw food in all its glory. I can't even begin to describe. One of the most appealing things about Grezzo's is their absolutely beautiful platage (which I hope I have captured in these photos). What you see really does add to what you taste.

We started off with the Grezzo Sliders that were recommended to us by a friendly Bostonian we met at Quintessence in NY last week (thank you Sarah!):

We then shared a plate of Raw Gnocchi in a 'Carbonara' Sauce with English peas and sprouts.

And the orgasm of culinary orgasms: teriyaki papaya steak (made to have the texture of salmon) with zucchini-carrot fettucini and a tower of radishes and pickled cucumbers.

To finish off, we couldn't help but get dessert, which was an apple pie pave with clove raw ice cream and lucuma caramel (cloves + ice cream = yum) and a raw sundae (a to die for denseness of raw brownie goodness, raw vanilla ice cream, shaved brazil nuts, and raw chocolate sauce.)

Oh ya, and Andrew had raw nog too, which I only had the chance to photograph post-first sip (it came to us very pretty with a ball of vanilla ice cream in the middle + those pretty Brazil Nut shavings).

Got back to the Radisson (our hotel), and went for a workout after too little digestion time (for me anyway). Attempted 20 minutes of intervals on the treadmill and stretching, which went only moderately well because of too much food too soon. Oh well. At least I got to DO something today. My body really wanted to RUN!

All in all, Grezzo's was by far the most satisfying raw food experience I've had as of yet. We're going to go back tomorrow for lunch when I think I'll also pick up Alissa Cohen's book before we head off to Salem (which seems rather raw food deplete... good thing I've packed enough organic fruits and home-made bars to last us 2 days, just in case!). Join me tomorrow for more of my New England culinary adventures!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Best Deal!

So I've gotten totally lazy about posting despite the amazing food I've been eating recently, including my first raw food trip to NY where we spent our life savings at Quintessence and High Vibe (who has the friendlist and awesomest staff). The holidays have been amazing (and presents included a Vitamix from my amazing mom!) I have so much to say, but the laziness lingers. In the meantime, check out this amazing deal offered over at Chocolate-covered Katie's blog.

To make Decembers as awesome as mine was, I suggest everyone do something holiday-festive every week. That's what we did and it was so worthwhile this included:

1) Going to see the Nutcracker ballet twice (I felt like a five year old again, it was awesome), once with the Washington Ballet (whose Arabian Dance was literally ballet sex... it was beautiful and amazing) and the one by the Pennsylvania Ballet at the Kennedy Center (whose Pas de Deux, both the choreography and the music practically brought me to ecstatic tears of beauty)

2) Decorating our and my parents house really pretty for both Christmas and both Christmas & Yule for us, including burning advent candles after making our own advent wreath every Sunday

3) Going to Christmas markets and checking out the Christmas lights in both NY and Old Town Alexandria, VA

4) going caroling and listening to Christmas concerts wherever you can find them!

5) Checking out the National Zoo Lights

and so much more...

As I mentioned, we got a Vitamix from my mom for Christmas which is the coolest thing ever. I feel like my raw food life is going to be revolutionized by this wonderful new toy.

I'm also really psyched about starting ballet classes again in January. I want to keep working on my ATS/Tribal Fusion on my own time but really want to start taking dance classes again. After seeing the Nutcracker and generally wanting some form of greater 'structure' to my dance, I thought I would give ballet a shot again after stopping when I was a kid.

Next up, a New Year's trip to Boston and Salem (the prettiest and niftiest town EVER)! Can't wait. Happy Holidays to everyone and all the best for the coming year!