Top | Views from the Carrot Condo
(post, Trista Cornelius)
In May, I wrote about taking myself out for "Live Pizza" at Blossoming Lotus for my birthday and ending up near tears and shorted $15 of my $25 gift card. My heart vowed never to go back. My palate, however, yearned for the satisfying vegan and raw delights. Well, wouldn’t you know, they opened their second restaurant just a swift bike ride away from my house. For opening night, they promised free desserts. My palate won out over my heart; in 107 degree heat, my husband and I pedaled our sweaty selves out for dinner. We arrived shortly after 5pm, relieved to feel the AC inside, dazzled by the conversion of a frou-frou gift shop into a frou-frou restaurant, and drawn like hummingbirds to the icy aloe-vera-green drinks arranged under the “sample” sign. “Two?” a well-dressed and smiling server asked. My shoulders relaxed and I considered that I might actually enjoy this place. He noticed our inability to pull our gaze away from the gimlet-like drinks and added, “Please, try a mojito.” Buzzed by the sweet, lime treat, I settled into my chair and smiled at my husband. “Nice…!” we both thought, admiring the calm brown tones, warm lighting, and relative spaciousness of the place. And so far, no mean staff. “It will be noisy when it’s full,” my husband said, pointing to the tall ceilings and cement floor. “Really? It’s practically full now, and it’s not too bad.” Little did I know. The menu barely resembled the fare at the NW location. We considered a kombucha cocktail or the coconut juice sipped through a straw right out of a young Thai coconut (looking much more delicate than my Hawaiian coconut drink), but saved ourselves instead for LIVE NACHOS: crackers made from a rich assortment of seeds and nuts, probably sprouted then dehydrated, spicy nacho cheese drizzled with sour cream (both made from nuts) and sprinkled with red bell pepper, onion, and a delicate wedge of avocado. Rich, spicy, and palate-popping. “We have to find a day to take A & T here,” my husband says. “And the Brennifers when they’re in PDX,” I add enthusiastically. We’d not even finished our appetizer and already planned future visits. And I never have to go to the other location again, I thought! For dinner, my husband settled on the THREE CHEESE LASAGNA, the size of an unabridged pocket dictionary made of lasagna noodles layered with thick spreads of nut cheeses topped with a ratatouille type tomato, zucchini, eggplant, and carrot sauce keeping it all juicy and sprinkled with a parmesan “cheese.” Instead of the raw sampler that included Pad Thai with coconut noodles, I ordered the CARIBBEAN PLATTER, tofu twice marinated in jerk sauce, coconut rice, black beans, broccoli, and plantains all drizzled in a blueberry vinaigrette. Amazing! Especially the plantains—-thick pieces in a crunchy caramelized coating, the warm, soft interior sweet and rich with a surprise of lime. I could barely eat half my dinner, already envisioning how I’d prepare the leftovers for lunch the next day, when our server described the dessert options: raw pecan pie, raw berry shortcake, chocolate cake, warm cookies and milk (made from hemp seed), and raspberry tart. My stomach put its digestion efforts into high gear and made room. “I read that the desserts are free tonight as part of the grand opening” I told the server. “Oh, I hadn’t heard that. I can go back and ask about it,” she said, not a shred of the fierceness I faced on my birthday when I dared to suggest that my hour-long wait might be a mistake on their part. “Well, we know we want dessert anyway,” I said, gushing over the fact that people aren’t mean here, “We’ll just order now.” My husband ordered the RAW BERRY SHORTCAKE: fresh-off-the-vine raspberries and blueberries poured on top of a thick mound of whipped cream (made from what non-animal, non-heated source I don’t know), on top of a shortbread-like cake made from seeds and nuts and other raw alchemy. He loved it, especially the short cake. Knowing I could have a bite of his shortcake freed me to order the CHOCOLATE CAKE: an individual sized cake, perfectly rounded edges draped in thick, creamy chocolate with an off-center dollop of whipped cream and a bright green sprig of mint—-all dairy free. A summer-green sauce formed a shallow mote around the deep brown cake giving the cake a seasoning of nectar and lime. No word describes the thrilling experience of eating this cake.... We had to shout at each other to be heard as we ate our dessert. Packed from corner to corner, the place hopped with folks all dressed up for a night out. A line formed out the door for tables. Those seated frequently got up to join some other table across the room for a conversation. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, except the two of us watching the scene. “Does NW Veg do Twitter?” my husband asked me. We belong to NW Veg, a group for vegetarians, vegans, and others interested in an animal-free diet. “I don’t know,” I answered. “I’ve never checked, but there wasn’t an email about a dine-out here tonight.” Later, however, I saw Kegan the Vegan,, the no-steroids, all vegan body builder, former wrestler, and kind of a quirky celebrity in the veg world. He smiled broadly at everyone, paying acute attention to his girlfriend, and looking permanently flexed. “We’re definitely at the ‘it spot’ tonight!” I tell my husband, neither of us accustomed to being part of such swanky scenes. We admired our status, then felt eager for the bill so we could escape to the bookstore, not sure how to handle all veg celebrities. “We comped the desserts for you,” our server said, handing us the bill, “since you’d read that they were free.” “Oh, you don’t need to do that,” I say, still gushing over the fact that no one’s been mean to us. “The dessert samples they were going to give away totally fell apart” she explained, gesturing her arms in a way that suggested a raw, vegan, sweet-treat riot in the kitchen. I look over the bill then look up at my husband, “Vindicated!” “What?” he says, returning my high-five faithfully, even though he’s not sure what we’re celebrating. “Our two desserts cost exactly fifteen dollars,” I explain. “The same amount I lost on my gift card on my birthday!” “Sweet!” he says, high-fiving me again, more enthusiastically. We linger outside at our bikes, looking in at the scene, feeling cool we happened upon it. Blossoming Lotus and I are back in balance, I think as we pedal to the bookstore where I decide to buy Any Phyo’s raw “un-cookbook,” knowing I can go back to Blossoming Lotus to taste how it’s really done any time.