Thursday, 12 February 2009


I am sad that I haven't been able to spend enough time on here lately. Everything has happened at once and I have been quite ill. I knew it was bad when even the thought of food didn't excite me anymore.

I am feeling a bit better now, although I am fairly sure I will miss the dissertation deadline. You can't get an extension and have to gamble that your excuse will be accepted and they won't slap a late penalty on you.

I am making baked hot chocolate to cheer myself up.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Raw Food

We went for a walk to Stockbridge, which we had heard was a bit fancy, to check out the area. I've got a graduate job in Edinburgh in September, so I wanted to see where normal people lived as I've always stuck to the student end of town.

While we were there, we stopped in Red Sugar for a coffee. It's a raw food cafe, run by a pair of nutritionists. The premise is that cooking food destroys the nutrients within it, and it is better to eat food that is only warmed to about 40C. Luckily the coffee was an exception and was made with boiling water.

The other gimmick was that there were no additives, and everything was vegan. We got soy milk in our lattes, and sweetener instead of sugar. I forgot to ask what the sweetener was, I suspect it was fructose rather than Splenda or some other chemical substitute, but I found this a little strange. Sugar is made from sugar cane, and although white sugar has been processed intensively, brown sugar is fairly simple product, with minimal processing. I've had raw sugar cane before, and it was pretty tasty, and I can't see how it can be worse for you than any other naturally occuring sugar. I don't understand why extracting sugar from cane is bad, but extracting it from fruit is ok. I guess there might be some nutritional differences, but I would expect these to be minimal. Google reveals that turbinado sugar has roughy the same amount of calories as fructose, so I don't really know what they were aiming for here.

I don't think I've ever had a soy latte before, and I was pleasantly surprised. I really couldn't taste any difference between this coffee and a standard one. Although I found the logic behind the sweetener iffy, it did the same job as sugar in this case.

I really wanted to try one of the cakes, which looked delicious. I'm not sure exactly how they were made, but it was quite interesting trying to figure out how they could make cakes without heating the food. I read on their List review that they use a dehydrator to make flatbread, so I guess they could use this to make pastry too, and then have fillings that can set through chilling.

In the end, we got two Booja Booja raspberry truffles. These were also vegan friendly, and used cocoa beans that hadn't been roasted (and ths counted as "raw"). They were pretty tasty, and if I was a vegan I'm sure I'd love them. However, as an omnivore, it was too obvious that they'd used coconut oil in an attempt to recreate the natural creaminess of properly roasted beans. The chocolate had quite a strong coconut taste, although this might have been in the raspberry centre rather than just the chocolate. The raspberry centre was really good, the flavour of raspberry was strong, and the texture was creamy. I pulled a bit of chocolate off the raspberry to taste it on its own, and wasn't overly impressed. It was dry tasting, and although it was dark, it was still quite sweet. I think if you had food allergies, or were vegan, then this is a really decent substitute, but I think the flavour and texture compromises needed to make this "raw" weren't worth it. I can cope with eating raw vegetables for better nutrition, but I doubt very much that anyone eats chocolate for its nutritional value!

I would be interested to go back to eat a meal, rather than just having coffee. The decor was quite modern and smart, which makes a change from other vegan places I've been, which tend to look a bit rundown and messy. This isn't a bad thing, and sometimes it is nice to eat somewhere that feels like your hippy mate's living room, but sometimes it takes away from the "treat" element of eating out. I think the only other vegan/vegetarian place I have been that made a similar effort with decor is David Bann. I'm trying to eat less meat, partly for health reasons and partly because I am poor and vegetables and tofu are cheap. I might head back to Red Sugar for lunch in a few weeks when the dissertation is done and I have more time to investigate the whole raw food thing.