A Perfect Raw, Vegan Dinner at Pure Food and Wine

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Hello, friends. I hope you had happy weekends, and I’m grateful for your kind responses to Sharon’s story on Friday.

As you may have seen on Instagram or via Twitter, I’m home in New York, here to enjoy some time with my mom and catch up with friends. On Friday night, I had a chance to share a meal and enjoy some long overdue conversation and laughter with my friend Sarma, whom many of you know as the owner of Pure Food and Wine, New York City (and probably the world’s) most extraordinary raw, vegan dining establishment.

I’ve interviewed Sarma here on the blog, for articles in VegNews, and I’ve mentioned her frequently. I admire her on so many fronts; she’s a passionate health activist, eco-activist, and animal activist. When she adopted her shelter pet, Leon (who is now an internet celebrity, boasting his own Twitter account and making frequent appearances on Sarma’s Instagram feed), she also became a loving champion of adopt/fostering companion animals. When she’s not caring for her extraordinary restaurant or Leon, she’s busy managing One Lucky Duck, her online company and brand, which sells raw food ingredients, skincare, apparel, pet care items, and more.

Throughout all of this entrepreneurial activity, Sarma remains a levelheaded spokesperson for raw food. Her openminded approach left a big impression on me when I was first exploring raw foods, and finding that so many of the cookbook authors and raw foods proponents I admired were very, very hung up on being “100% raw”–something I really didn’t want to be, though I did very much want to explore uncooking. Sarma has always been open about the fact that her diet includes some cooked food, and while Pure Food and Wine remains a mecca of raw food cuisine–a place where people can experience the creativity and beauty of raw dishes–she herself remains flexible and balanced in her approach.

Above all, Sarma is a lover of great food, and that love shines through in the meticulously prepared, sumptuous dishes at Pure. Eating at Pure always brings me back to my early raw food days, and the way my approach to food was changing during that time. I remember how new and exciting it was to be eating abundant portions, to be enjoying healthy fats, to savor desserts, and to experience food that was beautiful, fresh, and whole. It was such a dramatic change from my years of portion control and dry, fatless, unimaginative food. It wasn’t long before I figured out how to create beauty in my own kitchen, but in a lot of real ways I have Sarma (and Pure) to thank for showing me a new way to eat.


Returning to Pure, no matter how much time goes by, is always a thrill for me, and this dinner was no exception. We started with an amuse bouche: basil seeds (with vinaigrette) over fresh strawberries. Don’t they look like chia seeds?

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Next came our starters. I got the restaurant’s original sushi (available at lunchtime and at One Lucky Duch). These rolls are filled with jicama rice, asparagus, and mirin soaked shitake mushrooms. They are to die for–one of the dishes I never pass up at the restaurant.

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Sarma got a new crostini dish with nut cheese, balsamic glaze, and soaked figs. It was complex and delicious.

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As a little treat, we got some of the restaurant’s pecan and black pepper pinot noir tart shells with herbed cashew cheese and black truffle. These guys are divine–how could that combination of flavors not be?

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For my entree, I couldn’t pass up a chance to get one of the restaurant’s ginormous, meal-sized salads. There are always dishes on the Pure menu that are tempting, but often what tempts me most is the chance to enjoy a salad done right. I built my own, and it included dulse, beets, carrots, jicama, kale, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and a pumpkinseed herb vinaigrette. Yum.

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Sarma got the curried vegetables, which I forgot to photograph but will be ordering myself soon! They were delicious, as was the raw “pappadam.”

No trip to Pure is complete without one of the restaurant’s signature, artful desserts–probably the most exciting part of any visit! We helped ourselves to two: chocolate and raspberry cheesecake pops (available at the takeaway), and the lemon cheesecake.

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I have no words.

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Not a bite of either of these remained.

It’s always fun to enjoy exceptional raw food, but it was even nicer to see Sarma. For someone who has accomplished so much–two thriving businesses, caring for a companion animal, activism, and changing the way people perceive vegan and raw foods–she is incredibly modest and down-to-earth. She has also been incredibly supportive of my post-bacc journey, offering me love and good vibes every step of the way. Sarma: you rock. Thank you!

And thanks to everyone at Pure for a great meal, as always. Hope to be back soon.


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  1. No fair, this looks too darn gooood! I would travel far to get this! So jelous right now ๐Ÿ™‚ Guess I’ll go make some food now that will not put this to shame!

  2. pecan and black pepper pinot noir tart shells with herbed cashew cheese and black truffle, quite a mouthful to say but they look so delish, just my kind of food… but it all looks good

  3. Sarma sounds almost as wonderful as you.
    And the lemon cheesecake looks almost as wonderful as Sarma sounds.
    Thus is my hierarchy of awesomeness.

  4. I’m dying for a chance to visit Pure Food and Wine just from following your blog over the past years- It is a must-do whenever I get to NYC! Thanks for sharing, Gena.

  5. I have never seen anything quite like the chocolate and raspberry cheesecake pops before. They look absolutely amazing.

  6. Oh, I am so envious ! Looks so yummy ! I actually won Sarma’s book several years ago. She even threw in a one lucky duck re-usable bag and a few of the most amazing chocolate truffles I have ever tasted. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Wow! I wish I could… ! Glad you’re getting a break, hope you’re well xxxx

  8. Makes us miss Pure Food and Wine, we have only been able to eat there once and it was seriously one of the best meals of our life. And we admire Sarma as well.
    Everything looks amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. My cousins took me when I visited NYC in the summer of 2010 which seems like ages ago and we LOVED that place, although the waiter thought I was fussy when I asked for a specific type of Oolong tea. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yumminess. We were wondering what appliances they keep in a raw kitchen, just a blender and dehydrator probably. Great post, Gena.

  10. ::drool:: i can’t believe i have yet to experience this restaurant. it’s on my docket next nyc trip for sure! one of my fave things to get at raw eateries are nori rolls and well..as boring as it may be an enormous salad! i put my full trust in these places to reinvent the big bowl of green and i have yet to be disappointed!

  11. Amazing!! The desserts were my favorite part when I visited Pure Food and Wine. Even my meat-eating fiance enjoyed himself! That atmosphere is great too. I just visited a few months ago but I want to go back already!!!

  12. I got engaged on the evening we ate at this magical place. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Really wonderful food and vibe and environment. Hope everyone gets to enjoy it at least once!

  13. when my husband and i visited pure food and wine over the summer, we were blown away. i cannot wait to go back again this summer. your salad looks delightful, as does EVERYTHING else ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. I love how beautiful raw food can be. As ridiculously corny as this sounds, eating your salad must have felt like eating a rainbow. Haha! I’m curious about basil seeds now. Do they plump up the same way chia seeds do? That dressing looks so gelatinous!

  15. Those are great pics! I’ve sent this post to my (carnivorous) fiance, I’m trying to convince him we should go to Pure Food & Wine for our first married dinner together. =)

  16. All of that food looks amazing!! So jealous! I hope to one day be able to visit NYC and get the Pure experience!

  17. I’m always amazed when I see photos of meals from Pure. Everything looks almost too beautiful to eat! (except I don’t believe in such things, ha). This is on my “NYC bucket list” of places to go while I still live here. It’s high on the list, and I’m saving my pennies.

  18. Wow, those dishes look incredible, especially the sushi rolls! I’ll be dining at Millenium in San Francisco for the first time this coming weekend, I can’t wait! We have very few vegan/vegetarian (/friendly) restaurants here in Calgary, so we’ll be hunting down as many as we can in SFO!

  19. I just enjoyed my first meal at Pure Food and Wine with my mother a couple of weeks ago. It was such a magical experience and I hope to return soon. Thanks for helping me relive it, darling Gena!


  20. WOW! What a lovely spread. I think I’m going to be in NYC this summer. Gotta put this restaurant at the top of my list.

  21. YUM! I was just there for dinner Saturday night. My boyfriend had the AMAZING lasagna and I had the tamale. Next time I am getting the lasagna! And for dessert we split the classic banana split sundae.

  22. Sounds spectacular! I still fondly remember (and drool while doing so) my meal there last autumn. Such beautifully presented food, with such incredible flavor and texture. A perfect meal all around! Glad to see you’re having such a great time at home. ๐Ÿ™‚