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The Beach Gourmet: Leaf Cuisine: How Green Is My Valley?

The term “green” is often tossed about these days like a salad at dinnertime. Some people consider that being “green” means simply recycling. Others like to drive a hybrid automobile or use “environmentally safe” household products. Very few individuals, or businesses, can boast a “green” policy that incorporates virtually every aspect of their day-to-day activities, yet Leaf Cuisine in Culver City is certainly one restaurant that can lay claim to an environmental crown that may make other pretenders, shall we say, green with envy.

How much more eco-aware can a business be than to not only serve raw, vegan organic foods, but to also use non-toxic cleaning supplies, recycle and compost their waste, use recycled and corn-based to-go cups, and also utilize bio-diesel vehicles? Short of having the staff dress in fig leaves, not much.

Raw food, although gaining in popularity, is still thought of by some as the culinary domain of tree-hugging, left-wing commie pinkos, the kind of folk who threaten all we hold dear in a free society, and who are now promoting the very notion that we must now make our beloved stoves objects of environmental disutility. Clearly that is not the case, and, equally clearly, raw organic dishes can make a sensible option, most especially if they are colorful and tasty, and Leaf Cuisine delivers admirably on both counts.

Leaf Cuisine serves dishes that are delicious, well portioned, and extremely satisfying, and with an extensive menu that mirrors many popular traditional recipes, there appears to be something for everyone.

Excluding the house specialties, all of the main dishes are served as a choice of collard green wraps (available in half or full servings) or as salads with options of side, regular, or large.

Dishes include a Bedouin Burrito (sprouted chickpea hummus, regular or with sun-dried tomato, mixed greens, tomatoes, and sprouts, $7.99 for a wrap or regular salad); a Bombay Burrito (sprouted lentil croquettes topped with creamy coconut-curry sauce, mixed greens, tomatoes, and sprouts, $8.99 for wrap or salad); and the Holy Moly Guacamole (an avocado plate with tomato, mixed greens, and sprouts, $9.99 for wrap or salad).

My friend chose the Holy Moly Guacamole, and after I had thoroughly scanned the menu, a dish called the Flying Falafel (sprouted chickpea falafel croquettes with creamy tahini sauce, mixed greens, marinated onions, tomatoes, and sprouts, $8.99 for wrap or salad) caught my eye and I duly ordered.

Kitchen to table time was quick (no cooking delay of course), and when our dishes arrived they were bright and well presented, with a cornucopia of colors that proclaimed freshness in no uncertain terms. And fresh they were; my falafel croquettes were crunchy and delicious, the greens (a vast array of lettuce and spinach) crisp, and the tomatoes and sprouts juicy and organic. Topped with quite the most delicious non-cream creamy tahini sauce, this was a satisfying dish and very generously portioned.

My friend’s Holy Moly Guacamole was described in the menu as an apotheosis, (defined in the dictionary as a model of excellence or perfection of a kind; one having no equal), and although this dish was delightful such modesty does it an injustice.

For dessert we shared the Cushy Carrot Cake ($4.99) that was very, very tasty and light, with a delicious Walnut Kreme topping, quite the perfect finale for our un-cooked experience.

Leaf Cuisine certainly raises the bar with raw food dishes, and short of kneeling on all fours and grazing in a field, I cannot imagine how one would find fresher ingredients. With two branches already, it looks as if Leaf and their take on raw food dishes are growing in popularity amongst Los Angeles area diners.

Leaf Cuisine, 11938 W. Washington Boulevard, Culver City, 310.390.6005.

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