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Where is the Raw Food in Stockholm?

28 Apr
The hypocrite even loves curried herring

The hypocrite even loves curried herring

I love Sweden, Swedish people, Swedish design, language and, at risk of sounding like a Swedophile, I even love Swedish food, which is, let’s face it, not for everybody. Elk meatballs, reindeer pizza, curried herring, pickled herring, chilli herring, cardamom buns, schnapps – it’s an acquired taste. To me, the flavours of Swedish food always seem just like their culture; creative, uncomplicated, nourishing and distinct. Their chefs are also known for being edgy, so I was surprised not to find a single dedicated raw food bar in Stockholm. However, an hour before departure, I did find Renee Voltaire.

I hadn’t been to Stockholm for ages so this weekend when my Aussie mate Sarah and I went to see my good friend Lotta Lindblad’s art exhibition, I was in heaven, especially as my visit coincided with the first official hot (15C) and sunny day of the year. It seemed as though the entire population was out walking in Djurgarden, one of the central islands of the 20,000 the archipelago of Stockholm is based on and home to the worlds’ only National Park based in a city. It was a beautiful, natural, warm way to hunt down raw food, even it meant navigating hot dog stands and a traffic jam of prams.

img00365-20090425-15341Having researched potential raw food havens in Stockholm prior to flying, I knew there were endless vegan and vegetarian outlets (I popped into Hermitage and Ekologiskt Bageri in Gamla Stan) but I was disappointed that there weren’t any raw food bars. I did note that almost every cafe (see Waynes coffee) served vegetarian options and even if serving a salmon option, the salad was generous and very green. Raw fruit smoothies were also on offer but overall I have to admit it felt like a let-down. However all was not lost on my international raw food mission. I came across my first real, grown up, slick and superb savoury raw food brand.

Renee Voltaire is a grown up slick and fantastic Swedish raw food brand
Renee Voltaire is a grown up slick and fantastic Swedish raw food brand

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Sweden is home to some of the world’s best loved brands; Ikea, Ericsson, Volvo, Absolut, Orefors, Saab, Abba…Even Pippi Longstocking is a global phenomenon. They know how to do it and do it very well. I bought the dehydrated flax seed biscuits at 699SKR or roughly £6 from a ‘normal’ supermarket chain in Gamla Stan (Old Town), Renee had an entire end of aisle to herself and I was amazed at that alone. As far as I can tell, here in London Sainsbury’s and Tescos, there are no specific raw food products besides the obvious nuts, dried fruits and fruit and veggies. The thing that makes Renee Voltaire’s products so particularly delectable is her packaging and brand. It totally rocks and turns a boring dried fruit product into a raw food experience that I am proud to be a part of.

Sverige klippa

Walk on the wild raw green side

4 Apr

A few years ago I considered vegetarianism extreme, veganism crazy and I hadn’t even heard of a raw food diet.  And now – as a fully convinced yet try-hard raw foodist – the bar has again been raised.  Today I was guided on a walk through Stave Hill Ecological Park in the centre of metropolis London by ‘wild raw’ foodist, Rob from Funky Raw.  

Rob from Funky Raw and some edible thistle

Funky Raw Rob and edible thistle

‘There’s no way I can go back. If I eat a cooked meal – the next day, I know it – cooked food is not for me,’ said Rob, who hasn’t been sick for the seven years he has been raw. Rob runs Funky Raw, an online raw food shop, publishes Raw magazine and is no less than a raw food guru who very generously allowed eight of us into his secret world of wild raw greens.

 

Walking from Canada Water tube towards the Eco Park, Rob explained that this is the first raw wild walk of the year. ‘Last winter there were wild greens everywhere but this winter these’s been almost none. But in the last three weeks, it’s all blossomed.’

 

And wow! Blossoming it is indeed. Less than a metre into the park, we were chewing delicious hawthorn, a few steps later I ate the bitter and natural diuretic dandelion leaf (‘piss de lit’ in French), followed by a ‘slice’ of dock. Rob was hesitant to point out the nettles, but lost the battle considering that was the only plant we all recognised. A few brave team members closely followed his instructions, rolled up the nettle leaf and popped it in their mouths! I have to admit I was curious to see what would happen to someone’s tongue if they were stung half chew, but am also glad to report that my perverse curiosity was not satisfied.

 

Rob also gave us a strict health warning. ‘Some plants are poisonous, and because flowers are similar across plants, you mustn’t use them as the only identification.’ He told us that hemlock can kill and for the above reason, he doesn’t go near wild carrot or wild parsley as the leaves are fairly alike.

 

Because wild greens grow when they grow best and where they grow best, their nutrients are maximised. That means they are a super-rich and natural source of essential proteins and vitamins as well as enzymes and invaluable chlorophyll.  The two hour walk was a raw food adventure that has completely changed my narrow, superficial and commercial view of greens.  As much as I love lettuce and spinach, I can’t believe that’s been the limit of my leafy green experience until now. 

Here are some the wild raw greens we came across in the centre of London today:

make a nettle smoothy

make a nettle smoothy

I'm hooked on wild garlic

I'm hooked on wild garlic

Diuretic detox dandelion

Diuretic detox dandelion

wild leek rocks

wild leek rocks

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edible thistle – a slightly bitter taste, but delicious and as with dandelion and milk thistle – good for the liver.
Dandelion is a well known diuretic and liver tonic.  The flower heads and leaves are great in salads and the leaves make a great tea.

Wild leek is amazing and delicious. Looking a bit like out-of-control grass, it is a definite must in my future vegetable patch.

Wild Garlic – these leaves were stunningly garlicky flavoured. I am hooked.

Nettles – great steeped to make tea, juiced or added to smoothies.

 

We also saw and ate chick weed, green alkanet, mallow, plantain, which is good for de-toxing heavy metals, and sweet violet.  My salads will be a whole lot more interesting from now on. Although Rob reiterated one important rule of ‘harvesting’ wild greens; ‘If you see a plant and pick it, only pick a little and move on to make sure that particular plant will continue to thrive.’

 

Rob isn’t sure if he will be doing more of these walks but I suggest you keep an eye on the events section of his website www.funkyraw.com.

Where is the Raw Food in Tignes?

17 Mar

Raw food is everywhere in the Savoyarde region of the French Alps, but your willpower will have to work its pants off to ignore the gooey, cheesey, dreamy, creamy, heaven-sent dauphinoises, fondues, raclettes and tartiflettes. 

You don't need this cheesey and potato dream! It's bad for you!

Dauphinoise tastes delicious but you're asking your body to digest cement.

Not to mention the tarte tatins the size of tractor tyres and the mountains of fresh pain au chocolats, eclairs and mille feuilles at the many patisseries dotted around town.  Anyway – enough drooling – it’s not impossible to go raw on the slopes. 

Self catering helps because you will at least have control of the menu.  There are several supermarkets, so prices for fresh fruit and vegetables are competitive, not exorbitant and the selection is broad.  However if you fancy popping out for some restaurant food, I found a fantastic Mexican spot in Val Claret in Tignes. 

 Daffy’s is probably more widely known for its margherita happy hour and free wi fi, but I think it also deserves a mention for its fantastic range of salads that can be easily tailored sans fromage and crème. I enjoyed the obviously named ‘Mexican salad’; a huge corn tortilla loaded with leafy lettuce, tomato and avocado, covered in a light olive oil and French herb dressing.

Raw Food Long Long Road Trip Tips

3 Mar
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A passenger view of French highways on Black Saturday

There are two totally different types of people on a long car trip and both require a very different menu of raw travelling delights. 

And from my recent experience, nothing fresh and raw whatsover is available from any of the highway pitstops dotted along the tarmac from London to the Alps.  So it is really, really, really worthwhile preparing ahead, particularly if you are dim enough to take that car trip through France on a February Black Saturday.


For drivers
You need lots of energy and obviously you need to be alert. 

 

1. Sugar up with lots of dried fruit, such as dates, apricots and prunes;
2. Also eat lots of fresh fruit, such as bananas and apples, cherries and grapes; and
3. Drink young coconut water and lots of H2O.  The extra water will force you to stop regularly so you can walk around, get your blood moving around your body and take in some fresh air. With the bonus electrolytes in the coconut water, your brain will also stay nice, fresh and hydrated to keep you thinking clearly.

 

For passengers
Unlike your driver, you need to stay as chilled out as possible.

 

1. Stay off sugars completely;
2. Swamp your system with magnesium and potassium to calm your nerves with vital salts. To do this, I suggest starting out with a tablespoon of Black Strap Molasses dissolved in a pint of warm water. A by-product of sugar cane production, and with more potassium than almost any other food, Black Strap Molasses is one of my absolute, all time favourite raw food superfoods. It is also a rich source of essential magnesium, iron and vitamin B;
3. Eat lots of avocado, carrots, nuts and celery to keep full. And make sure you share these with your focussed, hopefully wide-eyed driver.

Raw Food Dover Calais Ferry Trip

3 Mar
three out of your five a day

three out of five a day

I was pleasantly surprised that there was any raw food available in the ‘international food court’ on a P&O Ferry crossing the Channel at midnight. However the trio of a banana, a clementine/orange and an apple was the extent of it. And at £3.50 for the three, it’s no wonder that every average punter, was chowing down on a big greasy plate of hot chips for £1.50.

I differentiate the average punter because our P&O Ferry also offered the more discerning passenger the option to dine in an offshoot of Mayfair’s famous Langan’s Brasserie. Here I am certain there would be many more raw food options on request, from their talented chefs, at their lovely silvered and tableclothed tables, if it was open for the graveyard sitting.

Where is the raw food in Paris?

27 Jan
Not remotely raw french onion soup

Not remotely raw french onion soup

There’s only one answer to that question. There is none. Other than, of course, the fresh market fruit and veggies on every second street corner. But who on earth would consider eating raw food in Paris anyway? Well. Me. I did. But only for a very, very brief amount of time.

I thought that, in a country famed throughout history for being the leading innovator of cuisine, surely there would be a couple of raw food restaurants, such as SAF we have here in London or RAW in New York. My research began and ended with a list from http://www.HappyCow.net of 38 Parisian vegetarian restaurants, with nothing obviously raw. Nevertheless three hours later I’d checked into my hotel in the Latin Quarter, print out and raw food intentions in hand.

I meandered around nearby Parisian cobbled rues and boulevards, salivating involuntarily. I’m sure someone with more resolve would have jogged past the many restaurants and bistros, without being tempted for a moment. That person would have ducked into a supermarche, bought a pile of seasonal organic root vegetables, julienned them with their pen knife and eaten them piously in their hotel room. But not me.

I scanned my eighteenth menu outside a small and crowded bistro on a busy square. I looked briefly at the salad option; ‘salade du chef prepare selon humeur de jour’ – roughly translated as ‘salad of the chef according to his mood of the day’. The deal was done. Raw or not, I was not going to be victim of a stereotypically moody Parisian chef. I sat down and ordered the French onion soup loaded with melted gruyere on toast. I followed it with duck confit on truffle sauce. I could easily have skipped the duck. The soup was rich, filling and more than enough. But I’m glad I didn’t. The flesh du canard melted heavenly off the bone, onto my fork, and into my hypocritical mouth. On a positive note, I ate all the lettuce, which was 100% raw.

I slept badly and felt sluggish with a sore stomach the next day. I know if I’d eaten raw I would have felt light and fresh. But, I’m sorry to say, it was worth it. Next time I visit Paris, I’ll have to psyche myself up properly, do adequate research and stay somewhere less ‘cooked-french-food’ concentrated, if that’s even remotely possible. Any ideas?