I like it raw
Typically when you mention you’re going for “vegan” or “raw food,” you’ll hear, “Are you going to eat some real food first?” Funny, sure, but my omnivorous self has learned that raw food doesn’t equal no food. By definition, the word cook means, “to prepare—food, a dish or a meal—by combining and heating the ingredients in various ways.” But cooking with no heat? Yes sir, there is such a thing, although it’s kind of mind-boggling to us cavemen slapping meat on a grill.
My wife and I invited a vegan friend to join us for dinner at The Seed Cafe, akin to hiring an interpreter when traveling through an exotic land. There was a wide assortment of organic juices and smoothies available and a tea bar featuring a broad array of loose, herbal concoctions that—with the addition of hot water—are the closest thing to anything “cooked” on the menu. Our friend and my wife enjoyed their teas ($2.15) while we perused the offerings.
First out, a pair of small kale salads ($5, large is $8). The kale is massaged by hand with some salt to loosen it up, then marinated in a mixture of olive oil, orange juice, Bragg Aminos, apple cider vinegar and sesame oil, chopped fine and tossed with cucumber, carrot, almond paté, marinated mushrooms and sesame seeds. If you’re a salad eater, you’ll love this. We all did.
Pho 108 ($9) arrived next, served just above room temperature with thin-sliced vegetables: zucchini, kelp “noodles,” cabbage, spinach, basil, cilantro, onion and mushrooms. I can’t quite describe the flavor of the broth, but it reminded me of true pho, though not as savory. A lot of chewing through raw veggies, but satisfying.
I didn’t care for the mock tuna sandwich ($8), but my dining companions enjoyed it. A mixture of “tuna” (sunflower seeds, nori, celery, mustard, lemon) was heaped on a square of onion “bread” (puréed onion dehydrated into a quasi-cracker), topped with sprouts, avocado, carrots and seasonings. It wasn’t bad, but paled compared to other dishes we sampled.
Next up, pizza ($8). An almond cracker was the stratum for a healthy pile of cashew “ricotta,” sun-dried tomato marinara, sprouts, tomato, avocado, pineapple, red bell pepper, marinated mushroom, onion and basil. I didn’t find it very pizza-like. It was more like a heavily-laden tostada with a lot of flavors competing for attention. A dash of red pepper flake and oregano might help this dish live up to its name, but as-is, we still enjoyed it.
The word sushi refers to vinegared rice, no fish required. So how to accomplish sushi rolls ($7) when you can’t employ cooked rice? Wrap sunflower paté, marinated mushroom, cucumber, carrot, jalapeño, red bell pepper, avocado and sprouts in nori (sushi wrapper), and serve with an amazing cashew-lemon-garlic aioli. The ocean flavor of nori tricks you into thinking you’re eating seafood, which I found a bit awe-inspiring.
Last up was creamy Alfredo pasta with red bell pepper tomato soup ($13). The soup was akin to gazpacho, basic-yet-flavorful at room temp. But pasta without noodles? Long, thin strips of raw zucchini substituted so well for pasta I forgot what I was eating. Though not really Alfredo in flavor, this cashew-based sauce aptly completed my new favorite way to eat summer squash.
The Seed's pumpkin pie ($4.50) is a knock-out. Holiday-spicier than average, this is a dessert with few equals. The crust is comprised of pressed nuts and coconut, the filling is amazing, and you can’t visit The Seed without trying it.