Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Loving the Lotus

Welcome to the Lotus!

Like a good raw foodie, I enjoy my fresh fruit, my salads and my smoothies on a regular basis. Their freshness and simplicity make me feel good, and I can appreciate the intense natural flavors of good, organic produce. But while I may be raw, I still put a lot of emphasis on the second part of my self-defined title - foodie. I have a weakness for the gourmet, for unexpected combinations, for well considered flavors, for skillfully designed dishes that go beyond what even an adventurous domestic cook can come up with in a modest home kitchen. It may often be at odds with the raw foods lifestyle, but I simply love restaurant food.

This passion for gourmet dishes, expertly prepared by someone else in a decked-out kitchen and presented to me while I sip a special beverage and lap up the luxury, is generally a bit of a problem. It doesn't stop me going to restaurants, but no matter how I order it's a bit of a compromise. Either I order whatever I can get raw on the menu, skipping the more exotic sounding dishes, or I go for cooked and end up with a troubled tummy. If only I could go to a restaurant that serves raw foods!

Tranquility greets you outside the Blossoming Lotus (photo from BL website).

Enter Blossoming Lotus. Okay, it's on the island of Kauai, not exactly a hop skip and a jump from Australia. But seeing as I happened to be vacationing there, I made a point of having as many meals as possible at this oasis of raw and vegan cuisine. I started with brunch on the very first day I arrived, and it was beautifully satisfying after 30 hours of nibbling on plain vegetables and fruit whilst in transit. There was only one raw option, but it was so much more fancy than anything I'd make myself at home: a parfait of fresh tropical fruit, live granola (oh buckwheat, how I love thee), and lusciously decadent macadamia cream. I suspect the secret to a good macadamia cream is in the quality of the food processor, but it might also have something to do with the rich macs that grow in Hawaii. Later that day I bought a bag of the crunchy-creamy nuggets to nibble on, and they disappeared into the mouths of my family pretty quickly. I washed the parfait down with coconut water, a fantastic remedy for the dehydration of air travel.

Blossoming Lotus is not an entirely raw restaurant. It's self-described as "vegan world fusion," and the dinner menu is true to this moniker with dishes such as Pesto Lasagna, Thai green curry, Moroccan seared tofu, and Indian pumpkin curry - all entirely vegan, entirely delicious, and entirely enormous. Jayson's dinner choice, "Senorita Bombla's Enchilada Casserole," was a particularly amazing cooked vegan dish, presented with style and tasting better than any non-vegan enchilada I've ever come across.

Vegan enchilada goodness swimming in carob mole. Exquisite.

For me, the highlight was the excitement of having gourmet raw entree and main dishes, and this excitement was actually matched by the exquisite preparations and flavors. Live Moo Shu featured lovely, soft, pliable little tortillas that seemed to be made of coconut and flax, overflowing with marinated Asian vegetables and served with sweet-tangy dipping sauce. This is something I will have to try to recreate at home if I can only figure out how to make such delicate wrappers in my modest home dehydrator. The main course of Live Pad Thai was fantastic as well - a generous mound of coconut meat and assorted vegetables cut into noodle-like strips and fantastically dressed with a well balanced almond-chili-citrus sauce. Spicy cashews added a bit of crunch and kept me going back in for bite after delicious bite. I was the only one of our foodie group who finished my entire plate, and I was also the only one who didn't walk away terribly stuffed. It may be gourmet, but it's still raw food - it satisfies in such a more comfortable way than cooked food.

Mind blowing moo shoo with super dip (photo courtesy of BL website).

Raw meets gourmet on my dinner plate.

The Blossoming Lotus is not open for lunch, but they have this market cornered with a tidy little cafe and juice bar just down the road in Kapaa town. I came back twice for their perfect individual raw pizza. A thick, crumbly base was hidden under a mountain of marinated veggies spiralized to the texture of angel hair pasta and topped with really intensely flavored pesto, garnished with a pretty little edible flower (which I just had to shock my grandfather by popping into my mouth whole). They also make really gorgeous and refreshing drinks - my favorite on a hot day was the living limeade, with fresh lime juice, coconut water and agave. Heaven. Or so I thought, until I encountered my true love...

What you should be looking at here is one big, lovely chunk of fudge. Not just any fudge, but raw fudge, and also the richest, most delicious fudge in the world. So amazingly decadent, in fact, that I had it twice and both times failed to take a photo because I was so deeply and appreciately present in the moment while experiencing it that all thoughts of photography were banished from my mind. Every non-raw member of my family was treated to a taste and they were all bowled over, even my mother who avowedly dislikes fudge. So there you have it. Raw chocolate, rocking my world once again.

Though this blog entry has mostly focused on the food, Blossoming Lotus is really so much more than a restaurant. With nightly live music entertaining diners, walls decked out with local art, and a menu that reflects consciousness of the planet and our bodies, this place is a mecca of inspiration and gratitude.

Blossoming Lotus, I want to take you home with me to Australia. If the Lotus can blossom on the tiny island of Kauai, there's no reason we can't create a similar place of joyous, blissful eating here in Oz. I put the challenge out there: let's bring the spirit of the Lotus down under and create a vegan/raw restaurant, serving quality cuisine in an invigorating space, here in Australia. I'm on board, but I can't do it alone. Who's with me?


Anonymous said...

hey, nice looking tuna. I must say your description of the seared tuna salad is making my mouth water. I think I may try it this weekend if I can find a good source for the Tuna.

Your descriptions of Melbourne make me want to visit, but alas, it is so far away and very costly to get there.

Love and kisses,

Daddy R

Jessica Loyer said...

Awww, Daddy R, I love you too! Did you try the tuna? I have made so other gorgeous salads lately, but usually I'm hungry and it's dark outside by the time I get around to eating them, so alas, no photos.

I must admit, I'm holding out a secret hope for a devastating election result so that you'll become disenchanted with life in America and come move with me to Australia, where we all acknowledge that politics is a big joke.

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