Raw Aura Organic Cuisine in Mississauga
1st Impression: Country Chic
Dress Code: Casual
Unique for: Raw Cuisine
Value: Bang On
Mains Price Range: $13-$15
I'd heard a few things about a restaurant located in the heart of Port Credit called Raw Aura Organic Cuisine that serves raw organic food. I was actually surprised I never noticed this quaint little resto, which has been around for four years.
Outside of sashimi and carpaccio, my idea of raw food was limited to the story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) in the movie Into the Wild. In the film (which is based on a true story), Christopher lives in the wilderness and forages for wild weeds, flowers and mushrooms. The concept of raw food was so foreign to me I was surprised to find something other than foraged wilderness grub.
Raw Aura describes their menu as "familiar, delicious, nutritious and environmentally friendly". Everything on the menu is raw, which means nothing is heated above 43degC. The theory behind raw cuisine is that plant foods, which are natural, are the most wholesome for the body because it retains the digestive enzymes, vitamins and mineral content. You will even find a list of organic wines and, upon request, organic cocktails.
On my first visit, I started with an appetizer of sour cream flavoured Kale Chips ($7) and they were delicious. I've tried making kale chips at home and it's quite the task, so I was happy to find out this delectable and super healthy treat is available to purchase.
I also had a taste of the red beet ravioli ($12), a hefty portion of sliced red beets topped with a red pepper marinara sauce and a creamy cashew ricotta cheese, then finished with crumbled dehydrated kale chips. It was a raw deconstructed ravioli rather than stuffed ravioli (as stated in the menu), bright, vibrant and flavourful. The portion size could easily pass for a main, or a shareable appetizer.
To help marinate the digestive wholesomeness of what I was about to consume, I had the Beet Me Up fresh fruit juice ($7), which included beets, carrots, apples and ginger. If you love your beets and ginger like I do, you won't mind the intensity of the beet flavour and ginger punch. It tasted like the beets and ginger were just picked from a garden that morning.
My entree was the Sweet and Sour Noodles ($14) and it was filled with so much flavour and so beautifully plated that it was no wonder it was the dish that got Raw Aura onto my frequent dining list.
It was a green spaghetti noodle/Thai looking dish that included a combination of kelp and zucchini noodles dressed in a maca-infused almond butter sauce with red pepper, finished with fresh cilantro, romaine lettuce, red onions and spicy almond bits. Maca is a South American super root plant that tastes nutty and is packed with all sorts of goodness (some claim it's an aphrodisiac).
The flavour profile of this dish is tangy, and it was so fresh I felt like I was giving my insides a wipe down. The amount of labour put into this dish is phenomenal. Vegetable prep alone is a ton of work. The labour of love includes spiraling the vegetables into noodles, chopping the red peppers and cilantro, slicing the red onions, blending the maca-based sauce, and crushing the almonds into bits. Kudos to Chef Patrick Hartt , the former The Curve Cocktail Lounge & Kitchen executive chef, for putting his heart and soul into creating these beautifully presented dishes.
My second visit to Raw Aura included a couple of repeats - the Kale Chips and the Beet Me Up fresh juice. My entree was the chalk board special of the day - Pad Thai ($15) -- that co-owner Harula Fraggoulis convinced me to order.
The Pad Thai was a version of the Sweet and Sour Noodle I had the first time, and not only did it look like a rendition of a Pad Thai, but the sauce was actually made with tamarind -- the traditional key ingredient in great Pad Thai. It included zucchini noodles with shredded carrot, almonds, green onion, and cilantro in a tamarind-based sauce with a lime slice on the side.
I polished off my meal with a dessert of chocolate truffles rolled in coconut. How could something this delicious and rich be raw and good for you? This dessert is a must if you love rich, dark chocolate and it's another item I packed for the road ($5 for three truffles).
I've been toying with the idea of removing meat and processed foods from my diet because I felt so good, clean and wholesome after both visits to Raw Aura. But I went for a burger only a few days later. I may not be a converted raw foodist, however there is room for raw food in my diet, especially those times when I need a good detox. And now I know just the place to go in Mississauga - Raw Aura.
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