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Raw Travelings: Kansas City's Cafe Gratitude in the Spotlight

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"It's 8˚F (-13˚C) outside right now" said the woman on the other end of the phone… Ouch. I was pretty much ready to cancel my flight! ;)

It was my first time, since living the raw lifestyle, to go on an adventure to some place so cold that I didn't even remember what that felt like. No matter how often I used to freeze my butt off waiting for the bus as a child on my way to school, I somehow forgot how that feels. Living in California for the past 3+ years has definitely left its mark on my "comfort zone", ha!

Ok, so I was that brave. I got on a plane, not knowing what to expect at all once we land there. NO. Not exactly. Guess what! The universe is always there for you, right? So, while you might think (and righteously) a raw girl could never survive those conditions, I did my best to prepare for the 4, weather-wise-challenging days I was about to go through...

The first thing I do (and have been doing for many years) when I travel is get online and take a virtual tour of the vicinity of my destination. When you care about what you put into your body you want to know ahead of time where to get the good stuff. Being aware of what is accessible and how much of an effort it will take to get it can save so much stress. You know what to pack, you know how to plan your route from the airport to the place you are staying at and you know where you will be able to go for daily replenishment of your tiny ice box in that hotel room, or where to get fresh produce to prepare in the kitchenette (if you can book one) that will be your temporary home for your stay.

But how on Earth is it possible that my favorite restaurant (in my neighborhood) is also in Kansas City (and nowhere else!)? I mean, what are the chances of that???? Tons, you may say…knowing how the Universe operates... Yes, there is a Cafe Gratitude in KC and you better believe that I was a daily guest! In fact, I was there twice a day! With Whole Foods being far away, what else would I have done?

And it doesn't stop there! I had a friend with me who had never eaten dishes that are made of, well, plants, and yet, he was not only willing to try it once but came with me to the restaurant every single time! The first day I thought he would just drop me off (we shared a car) but no, he came in with me  and ate and kept doing that every day.

As far as my expectations….let's just say they were quite high, but this sister restaurant delivered!
Great ambiance, knowledgable staff, fresh and delicious dishes that came so fast….yep, I was impressed right away, on the first visit…And so I tried a lot of things over the rest of our stay and so did my friend.

…here is the line-up:

I had to start with the "I Am Dazzling" caesar salad, the one I've had many times in California and always love

…….Ouch, ok, I'm trying to get passed the poor quality of these iPhone shots and move on…….

Dazzling was ever so rich and creamy. It's romaine lettuce and chunks of avocado plus capers, tossed in a generous amount of dressing, and topped with ground up brazil nuts (in place of pasteurized cheese)….so yummy.

I'm notorious for sticking with dishes I like and ordering the same old stuff whenever I'm in Berkeley, but this time I had to browse the menu and "try to" find something other than my usual favorite since they had different creations at this restaurant. And let me just say, I'm so glad I did, because everything was very tasty! So, next, I tried a new-to-me dish that was incredibly delicious. "I Am Happy is an apple-curry wrap filled with seed pate and veggies and it comes with a side of mixed greens salad

but I substituted "Kim Chee" (truly that pink, btw), which was spicy, just the way I like it. I could have eaten a large bowl of it!

The first thing my friend tried was the "I Am Super Plentiful", a bowl of chili (off the cooked section of the menu) and he said it was delicious and filling.

But we didn't stop there, or at least, I didn't. You will understand why, once you see the dessert plate they brought out…

Starting from the top left corner, the selection on our first day there was tiramisu, key lime pie, "Bliss", which is a chocolate-hazelnut cream pie, coconut cream pie, macaroons, truffles, and a chocolate-dipped superfood bar. If you don't know yet, they're famous for their dessert but even if they were not, how could you pass? I went with the tiramisu and took it "home" with me to devour it in the hotel room…ahhh so delicious…

And it continues, since we were regular guests there during our 4-day visit… My friend tried the "I Am Extraordinary" sandwich, a CLT with spicy cashew aioli, toasted chipotle-maple coconut, romaine, tomato and guacamole

And I chose the buckwheat flatbread, " I Am Creative". It was basically a large cracker topped with hemp seed pesto, tomatoes, basil, nut parmesan and cashew ricotta cheese…fabulous, I will definitely go for it during my next visit!

Pesto up close…it's obvious I liked this one… :)

Mint chocolate chip shake was the dessert of the night. "I Am Cool" was so delicious, I had to order it again our last morning for our ride to the airport…of course, I ended up having to "inhale" it too fast before going through the TSA "stuff"

And, since my friend decided to get his first piece of raw vegan dessert, I got to try Cafe Gratitude's key lime pie for the first time ever….yummy!

My friend tried the bruschetta, "I Am Present", one day and loved the crunchiness of the toasted baguette and especially appreciated the cashew mozzarella, all drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette

and I tried a new-to-me salad, "I Am Gorgeous", which was incredible! I highly recommend this delicious pile of mixed greens, carrots, dukes, apples, herbs and mission figs, tossed in a sesame-ginger dressing. I really was wishing it was a never-ending buffet instead of "just" one plate! So good...

The last slice of pie I tried was a chocolate-mint cream pie. It was so rich and creamy, dense, like "Bliss" that I'm so used to. It was our last night and how could I have turned down this green and brown marbled wedge sprinkled with cacao nibs?…

I didn't. I took a piece with me to eat in the car while we were on our way to a steak house where I watched a couple of friends have a different kind of dinner ;)

So, yes, it was a lot of eating over a short period of time…too much of the gourmet for me all at once but I couldn't be happier about having this restaurant there! It saved me!

Thanks, Cafe Gratitude, for being there! I'm so grateful!… See you soon! :)

What are YOU grateful for?

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