Sunday, August 17, 2008

Five years and counting

For once, I'm not referring to my 5-year-old at home. This time, I'm blogging about the NaturalZing potluck I went to in Mount Airy last night. The popular raw food source (don't forget to vote for them in the Veggie Awards in the category of online vegan store) was celebrating its 5-year anniversary, as well as its final event of the summer.

I'm so happy I was able to make it, especially since I wasn't sure if I'd feel like going right after my vacation (I was actually scheduled to leave the beach yesterday, but we decided to beat the traffic a day earlier). Lucky me, I made it to the Friday night farmers market to pick up some farm fresh peaches as my contribution to the feast. They may not be as exciting as some of the other dishes, but they made for a nice palate cleanser in between samplings.

Just check out this spread:
I see coleslaw, a spicy okra dish Jeff (owner of NaturalZing, as well as an amazing raw chef) made that was delish, marinated cucumbers, romaine scoops of pate, fresh raw corn on the cob, Jeff's famous sauerkraut, a variety of veggies and olives, and some lovely garden greens to help lighten up our plates.

There also was an avocado mayo-based coleslaw, as well as a simple but wonderful cucumber/avocado/cilantro salad, a hot (in taste, not temp) curry dish, and who could forget Blaq Berry's yummy apple cinnamon cereal crisps with almond milk? Not me, for sure. Someone needs to help her package and sell this one.

Hey, something is missing in this pic. What happened to the gazpacho? It was so good that we must have eaten, or perhaps drank it all. Everyone was carrying around a compostable cup of this fiery soup/drink.

Speaking of drinking, we also washed down some of this fare with either some raw chocolate "milk," or one of these tasty beverages.

I don't know how we all found room for dessert. As an appetizer, there were whole cacao bean brownies, marked "adult only" (I'm still not quite sure what that meant) and various truffles. There were even some raw candy bar bites (I hope Jeff put away a couple for his wife Helen, who is expecting their second child; congrats you two).

On the lighter side, guests nibbled on ripe strawberries, juicy blackberries, fresh watermelon wedges and my local peaches. But, then there was pie, starting with a almost cobbler style peach one containing a secret ingredient. We had a lot of fun trying to guess what nearly destroyed the whole thing. Thank goodness it turned out rather tasty.

My buddy Rawbin proudly showed off her dragon fruit cream pie, before we all devoured it. The brightly colored concoction she created herself, surprisingly survived the lengthy trip in an unairconditioned (I think I just made up that word myself) vehicle. Don't worry; she did have it in a cooler, which probably explains the little dent in one side. Its flavor held its own against Jeff's peach and chocolate pie offerings.

Here he is cutting into the peach one. Something tells me this fuzzy fruit is in season.

Jeff is a rawsome pie maker. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of the older NaturalZing catalogs, you can recreate one of his masterpieces in your raw kitchen.

Being the sly guy that he is (we all find him very entertaining), he cleverly disguised one of the company's past brochures as an uncookbook. One side gave away a few of his pie recipes, but if you flipped it over, there was the catalog. By displaying both sides at last year's Green Festival, many were tricked into picking up twice as many handouts (one to pass along to a friend). I think I may have fell for it, too. I'm so embarrassed.

In the future, he hopes to put together some mini uncookbooks to sell on his site. At the March event, we had discussed teaming up to make this happen. We'll see how it goes.

As scrumptious as his peach pie is, his chocolate one really takes the cake (oops, I meant to take a picture of this girl's shirt that said "90% raw, 10% cake." Ha ha; gotta love it). I missed getting a pic of the whole thing, but maybe you can find it on my dessert plate.

If not, don't fret. Even better was this coconut-based chocolate mint n'ice cream (my term for raw nondairy "ice cream"). Yummy!

After all that eating, we had to go outside for some fresh air and fun. We joked around with some crazy shots (Nic took this one herself; she's the one slightly cut off at the bottom). Blaq Berry and Rawbin were also nice enough to let me help recreate this Raw Fu pose (How did I get my fingers to bend back like that?).

"Patience young grasshopper." Hey, we actually found one in the garden. I'd show you more of the scenery, but Rawbin beat me to it in one of her past posts about NaturalZing and Spirit Bliss Farm. Check it out.

We were like little kids, running around on the farm. Nic taught us some kind of workout routine, while Blaq Berry and I toned our arms, legs and abs on the swing set (it's amazing how this childhood activity hits so many muscles on your body; I need to do this more often).

Later in the evening, Jeff scared us half to death by leading a walk through the darkness to the edge of the property, where Nic had heard an usual animal call. Could it have been a fox? I wasn't sure if I wanted to find out. To add to the spookiness, we found ourselves dodging some swooping bats (okay, so maybe I am exaggerating a little, but they were flying above our heads).

As a sweet treat after our trek, Jeff showed us the raspberries growing in the yard. I got the honors of sampling one that was ripe and ready for picking.

Then, we moved onto the blackberries. It was so dark that we needed to use our cameras for light. Some of us took random shots to help locate the berries. Look! I think Nic found one :-)

At the end of the night, we went inside to retrieve our dishes and fill them with products to take home. Jeff gave me some Artisana Raw Coconut Butter (a favorite of mine; he was out of it the last time I tried to order) and a new flavor of Lydia's Organics raw cereal (I hope to review it on this site or We Like It Raw soon). We were also given the opportunity to purchase some products, like these olives, chia seeds and some bars.

To make sure we had the energy to get home, we also got to sample some Live Liquid Marine Phytoplankton. Try it for yourself and see how long you can keep it under your tongue. I double dare you :-)


Dhrumil said...

Wow! You guys look like you had a blast!

RawBin said...

Oh, Yeah!!!! Shannon, you totally captured our evening! I've had so much fun at these events and I'm glad I could bring you along this time! Thanks for coming along:)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post! :D I concur, you definitely brought back all the good feelings and fun that was experienced. I lol'd about the "swooping bats". :P Great piccies too! Of course, you know I had to snatch up copies of the ones with us all. ;)

Was wonderful hanging out with you. Hope to do it again sometime!


shannonmarie said...

Dhru, we did have blast, but it would have been more fun if you were there.

Rawbin, thanks for taking me. Where are we going next?

Blaqberry, I'm so glad you dropped by. You can snag whatever photos you want. We definitely have to hang out again soon.

debbiedoesraw said...

OMG, you guys are KILLING me with all the good raw fun! wish I was there.. some day!

HiHoRosie said...

Oh my gosh! I want to jump into my computer that food looks so amazing! And you guys look like the rawsome threesome (hi Rawbin!)!! Really looks like a fun time and glad you were able to capture so much of it to share. I still can't get over all that delicious crazy food!

shannonmarie said...

Debbie and Rosie, we would have loved to have you there. I dream of attending a huge potluck with all my blogging friends in attendance.