My adventures in raw continued with an Advanced Raw Cuisine Class at Organic Avenue in NYC on Sunday. I signed up immediately when I heard about the class - I had been watching some Russell James (the Raw Chef) videos and there was so much I wanted to learn. On the list for the 3-hour session: Coconut Yogurt, Coconut Kefir, Cashew Ice Cream, Tempering Chocolate, Kimchee, Cashew and Macadamia Cheeses, Sushi Rolls, Porcini Gnocchi Arrabiata, and Chocolate Marble Cake...
I was like a kid in a raw candy store. I've been to the main Organic Avenue space before and it's spacious enough for this kind of thing and I immediately knew I was not going to be able to leave the store without bringing home all kinds of raw treats. The selection of raw products, tools, and health and beauty items is extensive...
I found a seat in the second row next to JL from JLGoesVegan - who was warm and friendly from the second I met her.
Russell shared his background and his personality really came through. He was funny, engaging, extremely knowledgeable and in touch with everything he talked about. This is a man who is very passionate about the raw lifestyle and its benefits, while still being approachable and fun. He is the rockstar of raw food.
We began with chocolate, by "melting" cacao butter below 118 degrees (it starts to melt at 105), and mixing it with cacao powder and agave before placing it in molds. What did it taste like? Only the finest, purest, most"energetic" chocolate.
We moved on to kimchee, kefir made from coconut water, and coconut yogurt. I finally decided to purchase probiotics so that I can make my own yogurt at home. Russell made it look so easy...
Here's as close as I could get to that yogurt. I missed the samples...
Speaking of samples, they disappeared very quickly! But I was able to try a couple of things. It was like a raw tapas style dinner for me, as I had to catch my bus back to Philadelphia immediately after class.
Samples of chocolate, kimchee, and coconut kefir:
After I realized that my camera and a crowd around food did not mix, I switched over to quick cell phone shots. Kefir & Canon is not a good look.
Gnocchi and Sushi:
Cashew Cheese and Macadamia Cheese with Caraway, Fennel, and Olives:
Marble Cake & Cashew Ice Cream:
Chocolate, up close & personal:
Russell continued with sushi using jicama "rice" and went through the process of culturing nut cheese (this cleared up a lot for me!) and then delved into the most decadent raw treat of all: Marble Cake. Starting with chocolate and ending with chocolate? That's pure class.
I was nowhere near the level of most of the attendees (I juice, prepare nut milks & creams, and dabble with dehydrating) but there is so much to be learned when it comes to raw cuisine. Rather than be overwhelmed, I left feeling inspired with a packet of recipes, lots of energy, and yes, some chocolate for the road:
Fine & Raw Chocolate is a Brooklyn-based chocolatier and it is almost as good as that lustrous piece of chocolate above. It's hard to beat something that was just made. If you're a fan of Mast Bros., then you will love these bars as well.
This is the Almond Chunky...made with almond butter:
If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with the incredible Russell James - I highly recommend that you do, for the sake of your wellness and yes, the chocolate.