My brother and sister-in-law recently moved into their new condo. The best part, though, is that they live closer to me. I think we’ve been able to see each other more often this past month than I have during the past year.
As I said, I invited them over for dinner and giggled as I planned my menu. I nonchalantly pointed out that I didn’t want to cook in this atrocious heat so I would make tacos. I told them to come with an open mind and a hungry belly! You see, I wanted to make raw tacos.
A few weeks ago, Rob and I had a celebratory dinner at Raw Aura, where we were blown away by the food. In particular, we devoured the raw nachos which included corn chips with guacamole, cashew sour cream, fresh tomato salsa and walnut taco meat. It doesn’t sound that exciting, but it was delicious. The corn chips had so many levels of flavour, the cherry tomatoes were so fresh, the sour cream so creamy, and the walnut meat.. let’s just say I was blown away that it was made from walnuts, which I don’t typically like. The flavours were impeccable. I wanted to try to make it myself. I remembered seeing Sarah’s post for post for raw tacos, so I was eager to try my hand at something new.
So what exactly are raw tacos? The main component is the “meat” which is simply coarsely chopped walnuts with cumin, chili flakes, tamari and a bit of oil. Super simple to whip together in a food processor. My brother snuck some before it was served and exclaimed, “This tastes like taco!”. The walnuts are really a vector for the seasonings (aka a heavy dose of cumin and soy sauce) and in this case, I thought the meat itself was a bit salty when eaten solo. Combined with the rest of the ingredients, though, it worked wonderfully. I also whipped together a cashew sour cream with lemon juice, and a delightful cherry tomato salsa (my favourite part of the wrap). I used Swiss chard leaves to eat my tacos, but had tortillas for my guests.
I was worried they may have turned up their noses if they knew they were going to eat raw food, but as they pointed out – it wasn’t like I was going to feed them raw eggs or meat, so they weren’t phased in the slightest.
The perfect dinner guests: adventurist eaters with lovely conversation.
For the record, these tacos were great, but not nearly as fantastic as those at Raw Aura. It just gives me more incentive to go back to the resto. At least it is closer than Thrive Juice Bar in Waterloo, which is my other favourite restaurant.
Over the long weekend, I went cross border shopping. Yes, me, the Queen of Not Shopping (save grocery shopping, because I LOVE that!), drove 5 hours to an outlet mall in Michigan. I bought some clothes, but one of my must-visit destinations was Penzeys, a spice store in Detroit. Aimee at Sugared Ellipses mailed me some small containers of various spices from Penzeys in the fall, and let’s just say I fell in love with them. I already needed a refill.
I perused Penzeys’ catalogue and thought I knew what I wanted to buy. I thought! I never knew visiting a spice store could be that much fun. The difference with Penzeys is that there are so many different kinds of spices that you have to smell them to understand the differences. For paprika, did I want Hungarian, Californian or Spanish? Californian has the best colour but Hungarian the best flavour (who cares about looks anyways?, says the food blogger). Spanish is more all-around goodness. Thankfully someone was there to help me sniff every single one of them, and then again and even a third time, before I decided to stick with Hungarian paprika. But then there was other question – sweet or half-sharp? Sweet it was with its smokey flavour and my virgin palate.
Hungarian sweet smoked paprika is definitely one of my new favourite spices because of its smokey full flavour without too much heat. I already used it in a spiced brownie but it was mixed with a few spices. This soup really lets the paprika shine.
A creamy mushroom soup, without cream (wait, does sour cream count?) with a hint of fresh dill and the smokiness of the paprika really sets this soup apart from the pack. I really liked the soup with shiitakes, but that’s because I am a sucker for Japanese ‘shrooms.