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Thanks for the comments on yesterday’s post, friends. It’s a good dialog to be having, so keep your thoughts coming!

Whenever I come home, I tell myself I’ll be disciplined about not eating out too often. I’ve realized that this goal is nearly impossible—for one thing, being home means seeing friends, and since my mom doesn’t appreciate me making kitchen messes, this means dining out. For another, there are so many great vegan and raw restaurants here, multiplying every day, that I just can’t help myself. So this year, I picked up a few freelance jobs and decided to eat out freely while home, as a Christmas gift to myself, so you can expect a bunch of restaurant recaps in the next few days.

Pure Food and Wine is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s the place where my love for raw cuisine was cemented, and I have the most utmost respect for Sarma Melngailis, Pure’s passionate, strong-minded, and beautiful founder. My meals at Pure are always memorable, and the restaurant itself is always a sexy, elegant place to eat. This week, I ate at Pure with my dear friend Melissa, with whom I’ve had many delicious Pure dinners. It was so great to catch up on life, love, and work, and to chat about Melissa’s upcoming wedding!

We began with a little amuse bouche courtesy of the house (thanks Sarma!). They were—and I’m sure I’m butchering this—truffled nut cheese tartlets with an incredible apricot sauce. A perfectly delightful bite.

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Melissa and I went through the standard Pure dilemma, which is that one wants to order something new and exciting, but is also so drawn toward the classic Pure salads that it’s hard to forgo them. Ultimately we both gave into our salad urges (Melissa with the S & M salad, me with a build-my-own that was rather like the S & M salad), but we started with some apps. Melissa got the spicy Thai lettuce wraps (and shared some with me!):

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I decided to get the king oyster mushroom scallops in a shitake miso broth. I’ve had these only once before, and they are pretty awesome. The texture is so close to actual scallops that I wager anyone might be fooled!

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(Sorry for the blurry pics—low lighting!)

And finally, a giant salad of dulse, avocado, hemp seeds, beets, carrots, basil, and pumpkinseed and lemon dressing. The photo barely turned out, but the taste was perfect!

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It was a wonderful meal, but most of all, it was wonderful to catch up with Melissa. I can’t wait till I’m back in New York more often, so that I can spend more time with her!

Also this week, I paid a visit to the lovely Café Blossom—which is right across the street from my old apartment—for dinner. Once again, I had a helping of delicious raw veggie dishes, starting with the autumn sweet potato rolls, which are stuffed with spiralized jicama, green onion, avocado, and young coconut. I’ve always been a HUGE fan of this dish:

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My friend and I split them, and she was just as impressed as I was!

Next up, I ordered the raw beet ravioli, which came served with a sesame, carrot, and sunflower sprout salad.

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Beautifully presented. It was almost too much cashew cheese—it kind of overwhelmed the dish—but it was certainly good cashew cheese. My friend got the phyllo “cigar” with root vegetables:

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Finally, I ordered the kale salad, massaged with avocado, peppers, and some red onions which were thankfully too teeny for me to balk:

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And my friend got the tofu salad with seaweed, curried cashews, carrots, tomatoes, and radicchio:

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Both salads were incredibly good!

I can’t think of a nicer holiday gift to myself than the chance to explore vegan dining establishments, both old and new. Later this week, I’ll introduce you to some new spots I’ve discovered. In the meantime, I feel mighty grateful for old favorites.

xo

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