Lunch was one spelt vanilla mint cupcake from vegan/gluten-free/refined-sugar-free bakeshop, Babycakes, in LES, with a Stumptown coffee. The specialist's indulgence. Anne Hathaway walked out with agave-sweetened cupper and male chaperone in tow. The throng of people that we assumed were there to chow on healthcakes dissipated in her wake.
The cake was a little more satisfying. This was the ideal adult cupcake. Drink real-stuff coffee with it and you're almost the kind of person who is above the mention of actors they've spotted.
Dinner, of all places, had to be Rockin Raw because I'd been long overdue for a raw trial. I've consumed raw fare (as we all commonly have), but never had a full dining experience. New York has a lot more to offer raw foodists and has several that are on my hit list. Rockin Raw is the newest option in Williamsburg, with a fully vegan and live menu, executed in what they describe as Peruvian and New Orleanian Creole.
Most of our party of four are oddly fond of me, enough to let their NYC trip turn into a raw vegan affair. Two of us are vegetarian, one is a part-timer that regularly trips to Horizons and rips into seitan anything, and one is a carnivore that had to be heavily persuaded before dinner. "How set are you on this Williamsburg thing?" was the theme of the night.
The interior is small, typical Brooklyn dinner cave, with lots of plants and garden seating that was closed because of a mosquito problem. We decided on three appetizers: flax chips with dip, the Rockin Roll with jicama, avocado, and cauliflower, and "crab" cakes with dill sauce. The chips were thin, flat crackers and should have been a complimentary starter, not a $9 app. The roll strongly mimicked sushi with cauliflower "rice", but there was one piece left over that someone reluctantly finished. The zucchini cakes were quite tiny, not something to be shared.
Both vegetarians oddly went for the Raw Boy Sandwich of “Tuna” with Cajun Mayo. The table decided that it did not taste like tuna, yet did have some zest, and that the manna bread (a sprouted bread that is baked under low heat for a long time) was just not cutting it. The other two split a live pasta dish with Huancaina (Peruvian yellow pepper). The pasta was actually spiraled zucchini and I thought it made for an incredible stand-in. I don't eat pasta or rice very often because it feels like a game of hockey in my stomach and would consider substituting like this at home. The plate was basically a mound of spicy vegetables, something that has grand appeal to me, and that all of us should partake in more often.
Since Rockin Raw does not serve alcohol, we ordered a round of cookies and cream nut milk shakes. The shakes were not cold enough and the almond milk was so nutty that you could not sip it straight. I did like the not-too-sweet flavor and the undercurrent of cacao nibs, but wished my drink was smoother and much colder. I drank a third of it and immediately winked at the dessert case.
This was a cashew-lover's game. There was a nice selection of raw cashew-based truffles (one of the simplest ways to make truffles), three kinds of cashew and coconut ice cream (vanilla, lucuma, and mint chocolate chip), lucuma cheesecake made with cashews, and an assortment of cookies and cobblers. The lucuma ice cream was made with lucuma fruit, which tastes like a mix of coffee and caramel. The cheesecake was something I'd go back for easily, a dense wedge that tasted like peanut butter with a fudgy layer of lucuma and a fruity date crust.
I was full but not overwhelmed and felt great for the rest of the night. The others were not so impressed. They were more concerned with sacrificing certain ingredients and flavors in order to maintain a raw diet. As much as I love fully cooked and baked food, I am more inclined to try raw restaurants after this experience. The way I feel whenever I eat this way, it sticks with me a lot longer. Thinking about how I will feel afterwards has influenced a much healthier lifestyle in the past few years.
Yes, both names are embarrassing to say out loud.
178 N 8th St., Brooklyn
Babycakes, 248 Broome St.