Warming up to raw fare at Gorilla Food
Before he left the building, Elvis was a raw food fan-- for about two days
Thursday, March, 12, 2009
Eatery is devoted to warming your heart with uncooked fruits, vegetables and nuts.
435 Richards St., 604-722-2504. www.gorillafood.com
. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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. Restaurant visits are conducted anonymously and interviews are done by phone.
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It might surprise you to know Elvis was a raw foodist. Before you start jumping up and down all huffy and demanding a correction on that, let me add this -- he did it for two days in 1973. Then it was back to fried chicken.
In the bio, Elvis Presley's Own Story, there's an excerpt from his friend Larry Geller's diary. "So that you all know what's happening around here, I'm changing my diet," Elvis apparently said to his pals. "Because the spiritual teachings say that you have to eat right, I'll be eating a lot of vegetables now, a lot of salads and raw fruits. I'm telling the maids and that's what they're going to make for me."
Elvis has left the room but hip hop artist Mike D of Beastie Boys picked it up. "D" (for Diamond) eats nothing but raw, organic, vegan food. And how do I know this? Aaron Ash was his personal raw food chef in L.A. and Ash now operates Gorilla Foods, a raw food/vegan/organic cafe a few blocks from my office. Gorilla Foods started as a takeout window on 422 Richards, then early last summer, it moved to a sit-down basement space. In keeping with walking softly upon the earth, Ash got some pals together to paint the premises greenly.
"I painted with spirulina, turmeric and cayenne pepper soaked in water and put a sealant from Green Works over it," he says, going boldly into deep ecology. "We experimented with kale juice." Some of the building material came from the beach on Sunshine Coast, he adds triumphantly.
When I had lunch there on a recent Saturday, I left feeling like I'd just had a refreshing shower. Raw food does that. When you think of it, it's like salad tricked out in costume. The menu masquerades in straight-ahead offerings -- pizzas, veggie burger, falafal, taco, linguini, wraps, salads, an assortment of desserts including carrot cake and cookies, juices, smoothies and shakes.
Only, they're made without a stove-top or oven. The warmest the food gets is when it naps in a food dryer -- blends of nuts and seeds and vegetables dry into crackers, bread, cookies and pizza crust. Instead of a bun for the burger, he uses a lettuce leaf. Instead of wheat noodles, he cuts long lengths of zucchini on a Stirooli slicer which spins them out.
The veggie burger is tall and statuesque with two patties (walnuts, sunflower seeds, hempseeds, veggies), guacamole, ginger tomato sauce, and shredded veggies. No fries.
I think the cracker-like crust needs to yield more so the toppings (sun-dried tomato, fresh tomato herb sauce, tenderized kale, season greens, pineapple bits, crumbled walnut 'cheese') don't tumble off. Just don't try to cut into it. The guacamole is familiar territory and very fresh at that. (Ash buys everything organic and one of his suppliers is a bio-dynamic farmer.) I snacked on chili almonds before lunch came out and it was addictive. I tried some of the "baked goods" and liked the carrot cake of shredded carrots, dates, coconut oil, star anise, spices, soaked raisins and an icing made of blended cashews, dates, spices.
The little cookies I tried didn't excite, however. For some of his desserts (truffles, chocolate hempseed pie), he grinds his own cocoa nibs.
Ash, who personally feeds raw foodist Woody Harrelson when he's in town (most recently in Whistler with his family) is earnestly trying to turn people on to a healthy cuisine. "At 117 F, enzymes [in the food] die, science has shown," he says.
I'm not sure about having to eat nothing but raw foods to keep healthy but I do say if you want to feel freshly showered, give it a try.
- VALUE ADDED
In my mailbox, on the day I wrote this, I co-incidentally received an advance copy of The Simply Raw Living Foods Detox Manual by Natasha Kyssa, a former international fashion model. It outlines a 28-day detox program eating raw foods (soaked, sprouted or fermented) and 135 recipes. It will be out in May.
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