"I am extraordinary" isn't just a self-affirming mantra for serenity-seeking Californians anymore. The phrase is also the name of a vegan BLT sandwich at the newly-opened Los Angeles location of Cafe Gratitude -- an organic, vegan, and locavore-friendly restaurant beloved by many health-conscious, serenity-seeking Californians.
Long popular in the Bay Area, Cafe Gratitude opened its much-anticipated Los Angeles restaurant yesterday at Larchmont and Melrose (639 N. Larchmont Blvd.) with a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu with both raw and cooked options -- as well as organic juices, smoothies, beer, and wines. Aside from the alcoholic beverages, all menu items have self-affirming names like "I am elated" (raw enchilada) and "I am renewed" (wheatgrass shot) -- a quirk that can make ordering both a fun and slightly self-conscious task ("I'd like to be beautiful -- I mean, I AM beautiful!).
On the top of Cafe Gratitude's menu is "I am thankful," a popular raw Thai Coconut Soup. To try making the dish at home, pick up some fresh ingredients at the farmers market and follow the Cafe Gratitude recipe below.
I Am Thankful - Thai Coconut Soup
4 cups coconut milk (blend together coconut meat and coconut milk from a Thai young coconut)
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon large date, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Nama Shoyu
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon East Indian curry powder
1 jalapeño pepper
For the garnish
1 avocado, cubed
1/3 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms marinated in lemon juice & Nama Shoyu
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Add all but the garnish ingredients to the blender and puree until smooth. You should have a nice rich golden soup. Taste your soup and adjust the flavors: sweet, spicy, and salty as necessary. Some coconuts can be sweeter than others. Jalapeños can also vary greatly in heat.
When the soup base is to your liking, divide among four bowls, add the garnish ingredients and top with a few cilantro leaves.