In my last post, I regaled my experience perusing the tables of compassionate businesses and organizations, as well as listening to thought-provoking lectures on a number of vegan-related topics, at the first annual Twin Cities Veg Fest, along the way offering a couple suggestions for improving the festival in future years. Concluding with a bit of a cliffhanger, I promised a full recap in a soon-to-come post of the raw dinner Maddie, my festival companion, and I verily enjoyed at Ecopolitan right after our final moments of veg fest excitement.
Not merely a 100% raw, vegan restaurant and juice bar sporting a super hip, young vibe, Ecopolitan also offers holistic spa treatments, environmentally friendly body and home products, health lectures from founder Doctor Adiel Tel-Oren, and “eco-adventures” including hiking treks through Nepal and Thailand. While Maddie and I opted to limit our Ecopolitan experience to a scrumptious raw meal, the breadth of Ecopolitan’s wellness services quite impressed us (as did its brightly colored, welcoming decor and sunny atmosphere).
At every single raw restaurant I patronize, the exact same dilemma consistently wreaks havoc upon my psyche: choosing only one dish from a menu bursting with tantalizing, wholesome goodies. Needless to say, Maddie and I scrutinized Ecopolitan’s selections for a good fifteen minutes, noses brushing up against the laminated menu, before hesitantly declaring our meal decisions.
Since I highly prefer to wait to drink any liquid at least 30 minutes before or after eating (I’ve found it greatly aids in digestion), I opted not to partake in the plethora of freshly pressed juices Ecopolitan boasted (both “Grandma’s Garden” of carrot, tomato, celery, and garlic as well as “Heavenly” of apple, celery, and pineapple particularly appealed to me). However, since I seldom have access to wheatgrass juice in Madison and consider it rather foolhardy to pass up such a healthful elixir when available, I ordered a small shot of the energizing forest-green juice to at least minimally sample Ecopolitan’s wide array of liquid nutrition.
After entertaining a culinary mental debacle between two Mediterranean-style entrees, I crowned the Falafel Wrap champion over the Mediterranean Salad, incredibly pleased with my choice. A collard leaf encased a filling of raw hummus (zucchini-based, I would assume), nut falafel, cucumber slices, tomato, kalamata olives, and loads of alfalfa sprouts, accompanied by a salad of mixed greens and tomatoes in a tangy tahini-garlic dressing. Enamored upon first glance thanks to the adorable, juicy blueberries skewered on the ends of the toothpicks holding the wrap together, I reveled in every crunchy, crispy, savory bite of the vibrant-tasting dish. The falafel sported a lovely dehydrated texture that mingled well with the creamy hummus, while both components effectively avoided the heavy, bitter flavor often harbored by nut-based raw spreads and crackers. I also wholeheartedly appreciated the generous helping of alfalfa sprouts, which provided a refreshing counterpart to the more boldly flavored wrap ingredients, such as the in-your-face olives and garlicky hummus. The side salad proved simple yet satisfying with impressively fresh, tender greens and a succulent dressing.
Opting for a more Asian-inspired entree, Maddie ordered the Ginger Nut Noodles—a veritable mountain of zucchini, carrot, and daikon noodles in a peanut-style ginger sauce of brazil nuts, garnished with basil, cilantro, scallions, and cucumber, served atop a huge bed of house-dressed greens. This particular dish seemed overwhelmingly portioned as opposed to my respectably sized meal, and I certainly did not blame Maddie for not even coming close to conquering Mount Raw Noodle, though she attested to greatly enjoying what she did actually eat. I stole a few slurps of the well-sauced, brightly flavored noodles, as well as a couple forkfuls of the unassuming yet suprisingly impressively dressed mixed greens.
Though the raw ice cream sundae offered as one of that night’s dessert specials sounded absolutely decadent, I opted for a more modestly sized confection after witnessing the enormous bowl full of creamy fruit puree shared between the party of four seated beside our table. Essentially a larger version of a classic raw truffle, the Cardamom Orange Pistachio Cookie harbored the delightfully sticky yet crunchy texture so attributable to date-and-nut-based raw desserts. With cardamom as one of my favorite spices and pistachios as one of my favorite nuts, how could I not have considered this powerfully flavored cookie absolutely divine?
Since Maddie and I planned on departing from Minneapolis early the next morning, we picked up two smoothies for breakfast (packaged to-go in mason jars, no less!) while lingering in the wake of a delicious dinner. I chose the Greenway—a refreshingly sweet, perfect sunrise pick-me-up of coconut water, banana, pear, spinach, berries, and vanilla—from the “Coconut Drinks” portion of the menu, while Maddie settled upon the Apple Pie smoothie—a creamy blush-hued blend of banana, pear, apple juice, walnuts, dates, and cinnamon—which she announced tasted quite similar to an actual baked apple pie.
A large handful of my friends plan on attending the University of Minnesota for college in the fall, and I most definitely intend on paying them visits as often as possible in order to nom my way through the rest of Ecopolitan’s wholesome, healthy, and absolutely delicious menu. Raw Nachos Supreme and Flaxseed Tostadas, anyone?
Until next time, Ali.