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EST. 2011 BY LIZ RUEVEN
Pure Food and Wine Presents Fresh Flavors & Pasta-less Lasagna

Pure Food and Wine Presents Fresh Flavors & Pasta-less Lasagna

Just because I have great outdoor space for dining in CT. doesn’t mean that I don’t hanker for peaceful courtyards tucked away in the middle of NYC.

I found just that when I arrived for a late lunch at Pure Food and Wine, just off Union Square, last week.

What fun to have D. dining with me, too. As an effusive food enthusiast and savvy cool hunter of great eats in NYC, she was a newbie to raw and vegan. So I was psyched to be a part of her first voyage as this whole new world unfolded for her. She agreed to shoot pics for me, too, giving her insight into this food blogger’s world.

Eating with me can require patience as I move things around the table to catch better light, command all participants to WAIT! before messing with their forks, and generally act like Ms. Bossy Pants.  Ok. Now she knows. And considering her keen eye and good humor, I hope she will  forgive me and join me again, soon.

Just off the hub of busy Union Square, and down a few steps from Irving Street, we entered another world.  The vibe is casual and lively. It gets even better in the garden. The deck is simply appointed with wooden tables and cushioned chairs. Nothing fancy about the appointments. At night, the candlelit space adds to the magical, secret garden feel.

The plated wonders provide the interest here.

For kosher keepers, vegetarians and vegans, it is heaven. The menu is all fair game since we are talkin’ no animal product at all, which leads us to the vegan part. The second piece is understanding the meaning of “raw”.

Our patient server, Jenne, was a pro at explaining the lunch offerings and the sometimes mysterious and mostly enigmatic preparations. She suggested that we consider the Prix Fixed Lunch, a bargain at $30, considering the ample portions of salad, followed by three main dish choices and the ever enigmatic and wondrous desserts (no baking, no dairy, no eggs, REALLY?!)

Just get the rules down to better appreciate how great these dishes are.  The ingredients are organic, vegan, raw, and often locally sourced. The kitchen doesn’t have an oven or stove. Ingredients are not heated above 118 degrees, in order to preserve all enzymes and nutrients.

I can only imagine how much chopping is going on back there. A dehydrator is a key player in raw cuisine, as it takes ingredients and compresses them to form essentials like “tortilla wraps” and “ravioli” casings.

I’ve enjoyed vegan and raw many times and I always catch myself trying to decipher what’s going on with the ingredients. At Pure Food and Wine,  they get it just right with inventive,  delicious and sometimes elegantly prepared dishes that would turn most adventure seeking eaters on.

We started with the Mediterranean Salad, a generous mound of arugula, kale, salty kalamata olives, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and “parmesan”. The “cheese” is made from nuts and yet, the texture and thinly sliced slabs tells your brain to recognize it as “cheese”.

Making “cheese” and achieving various textures and flavors is so “fool the eye” and palate, that I was wow’ed again, when “macadamia ricotta” appeared in the Zucchini and Tomato Lasagna we shared as a second course. Perfectly sliced raw veggies, sans pasta, stacked up to blow me away with its boldly flavored pistachio basil pesto and pleasantly tangy, sun-dried tomato sauce.

Tortilla Wraps bursted with spicy sun-dried tomatoes, corn and cilantro laced guacamole. There’s that enigmatic ‘sour cream”, elicited from cashews.  It was cool, rich and creamy, just like I wanted it to be. Wow.

Two entrees weren’t enough for us as we played detective, marveling at the way these ingredients were imitating flavors we knew but  couldn’t recognize here.

So we moved on to Brazil Nut Sea Vegetable Croquettes with vitamin packed ingredients like wakame, arame, hijiki, and beets coming together with spicy chili sauce providing the contrast with the mildly flavored seaweed.

Desserts are always the coup of wonder in a vegan restaurant. Tiramisu and Mallomar here, didn’t disappoint. With all parts of each of these desserts resulting from creative re-imagining of these normally dairy desserts, my recommendation is to try to stop figuring it out and just dig in.

The garden deck is the coveted spot here so request it when making your reservation. Just know that you won’t be guaranteed the al fresco spot. Try arriving early or late for lunch or dinner and you will have a better chance.

All photos:  Danielle Goldstein

Enjoy this recipe and many more in Raw Food Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow by Sarma Melngailis and Matthew Kenny  available at oneluckyduck.com .

9 Comments

  1. Wonderful description and photos – have been wanting to try and now it’s at the top of the list. Will take my raw foodist sister when she visits in a couple of weeks. Thanks, Liz!

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