... a dreamer, freelance writer, naturopath, mother & former social work student based in the Blue Mountains. Continue the journey with me- Soul Home: https://www.instagram.com/the_soul_home/thewildemoon: https://www.instagram.com/thewildemoon/
Published September 7th 2016
Food with a higher purpose
Dessert that's good for you - raw, vegan, gluten-free, and mostly organic. Pic courtesy of oFarm.
The heat and aroma of ginger rushes through me as I sip oFarm's Ginger Chai Latte – a new addition to the cafe's hot drink menu. There's a tonic quality to the brew. In the absence of sugar - which seems to overpower just about everything these days - the pure, raw ebullience of the spice and the delicate flavour of the almond milk charge to the front like two distinct notes.
It's my first introduction to the flavours of oFarm - Northern Sydney's first raw, vegan, organic food eatery. Located in Westfield Warringah (in Brookvale), within oFarm organic grocery store, it's the perfect place to eat and shop for the fit foodie, allergy sufferer or vegan. Opening to customers in June this year, the cafe offers food with a higher purpose – pure, high quality, nutritious and cruelty-free. And considering all that, it's decently priced with breakfast starting at $9.99, lunch at $13.99, snacks from $3 and beverages from $4.50.
Brekky option: sprouted banana bread with eggplant bacon. Pic courtesy of oFarm.
In between cooking, head chef Juan-Carlos steps over to explain what's in the brew – dehydrated ginger crushed into a powder within your choice of almond, coconut or soy milk.
My partner's chai latte also surprises with its bouquet of spices and defined aniseed taste. A Peruvian chocolate latte provides another tempting option. We learn the café make most of their own almond milk, a process which involves soaking almonds overnight and running them through a cloth.
Our friendly waitress piles the table with our lunch selections. Full of pent up anticipation we pore over the raw vegan pizza examining it like a strange, exotic animal species. This isn't pizza in the sense we're familiar with. After some poking, prodding and photographing the strange, new species, we devour it all too quickly.
But my fave are the California Rolls – surprising given I'm not a huge fan of sushi. In place of rice, the nori seaweed rolls are packed deliciously with lightly spiced cauliflower, vegetables and lashings of avocado. Creamy wasabi and spirulina mayo (drizzled over the plate) and an oriental dipping sauce add saltiness.
My personal fave - the California rolls with cauliflower rice - so yum! Writers pic.
The final dish in our trio is the Sexy Salad - zucchini noodles with mixed greens, carrots and avocado. It's woven with eggplant bacon and cashew parmesan. Crunchy coconut curry chips add texture amidst a punchy Caesar-style dressing.
The 'Sexy Salad'. Writers pic.
As the tables fill up, a young woman devours the Nachos (with organic corn chips, black beans, cashew cheese, salad, avocado, corn and coconut sour cream) with the laid-back zest of a regular who knows what they like. I'm informed it's one of the café's most popular dishes with the young crowd. It's also one of their only dishes to contain cooked ingredients. Next time, I'm having what she's having.
More lunch options at Ofarm. Pic supplied courtesy of oFarm.
Without further ado, we move onto dessert. It's a tough choice with a salted caramel and mocha slice and carrot cake with lime frosting amongst the options.
My partner grins smugly when his Triple Avocado Chocolate Slice arrives. It's super rich with a velvety chocolate mousse filling and firm chocolate base, Think the refined, slightly acrid flavour of dark chocolate not the sickly sugary Cadbury's variety.
The Inca Berry Cheese Cake is equally rich with a thick, fruity top layer and dense almond and walnut base. Packed with fruit and nuts it's so filling I can't fit in another thing.
At the conclusion of the meal, I feel unusually light and energetic. It's a unique sensation not to feel bloated and lethargic after eating. Is it the lack of pesticides and chemicals? The absence of heated oils, cooked starches and sugar overload? Or perhaps all of that? Either way, I'm grateful.
The Inca Berry Cheese Cake - more filling than it looks. Writers pic.
Those with food intolerances and allergies to gluten and dairy will find bliss here. As will vegans and raw foodists and anyone trying to lead a healthier life.
Raw food is considered more health-giving as heat destroys many essential nutrients and the living enzymes in food that help our bodies break down and utilise nutrients. As raw food eliminates cooked grains, heated oils, dairy foods and excess sugar it's also low in saturated fats, sugar and refined flour products.
Ofarm organic grocery store. Everything from personal care products and fish to cheese, pasta, fresh fruit and more. Pic courtesy of oFarm.
Open for breakfast and lunch, oFarm's café is a modest setup housed within their organic food supermarket. Which means easy access to shopping for healthful goodies afterwards.
Chartered accountants in a previous life, partners Sahil Mehta (a vegetarian and freelance food photographer) and Pablo Urbano (a pescarian or fish-eating vegetarian) opened the first oFarm organic grocery store in Manly last year. In June this year, they expanded into Brookvale.
Grab a quick bit at the cafe after some shopping. Pic courtesy of oFarm.
Their philosophy is healthy living, raw and vegetarian organic food and with in excess of 1,500 different organic products, there's plenty to choose from. "We stock everything you'd get in Coles and Woollies, but with less choice," Sahil explains. "We do fresh food produce, personal care, juices, purees, sauces, chips, ice-cream, honey, pasta, coffee." And much more.
Fresh fruit and vegetables organic style. Writers pic.
The business also have a price matching policy promising to match identical products with Coles and Woolworths or other organic food stockists.
A gently-spoken, spiritual man, Sahil's rationale for vegetarian eating centres around personal ethics. "Any reasonable mind that sees (the cruel practices of the factory farmed animal industry) and knows it, wouldn't be able to eat it," he explains, adding: "the vegan community is so strong and they have so less options." Thanks to Sahil and his partner, there are many more options here including vegan cheeses, yoghurts, ice-creams, dips and more.
And, with leftover food from the cafe going to Oz Harvest – the biggest non-profit food charity in Australia - not only vegans and animals benefit.
Sahil and head chef Juan-Carlos at Ofarm. Writers pic.
Head chef, Juan-Carlos' journey into cookery began in his father's restaurant. "My father had a BBQ restaurant in Peru," he tells. "My memory was lots of death. My first training started at age twelve."
After his father passed away, Juan-Carlos trained as a chef in Peru, then went to Switzerland and practised in Michelin-star restaurants. He says his life changed radically four years ago after his best friend died from cancer at only thirty-seven years old. "He was a surfer, no drugs," Juan-Carlos said. Exploring the issue, Juan-Carlos discovered one's relationship to food was the most important factor in staying healthy and he switched to a vegan diet.
Vegan raw food chef Juan-Carlos in action at Ofarm. Pic courtesy of Ofarm.
Juan-Carlos went on to study raw food in California with Matthew Keeney, an American celebrity chef specialising in plant-based food and founder of the world's first state-licensed raw food educational centre in the world.
We're glad he did!
oFarm also have a terrific blog featuring recipes and health information. Check it out here.
Bounties of oFarm - organic Australian olive oil, vegan tree nut and pepper cheese, spelt biscuits, blood plum and guava coconut yoghurt, rose and vanilla yoghurt. Super delicious, higher quality organic food made with love. Writers pic.