April 2012 sees me being my training as a Kundalini Yoga teacher so I will be visiting Brighton a lot over the next 9 months. Which is great news as I love Brighton! It has a wonderful vibe and the best health food shop – the vast Infinity Foods – possibly beating my other favourite, Earthfare in Glastonbury.
Lunch on Day 1 saw me heading the beach with my new friends and a takeaway curry (very cooked). After a rather sleepy afternoon (no surprise there after a carb-laden meal), and in anticipation of a 4am start tomorrow for sadhana, I was in need of a light and nourishing green dinner.
So after a too short recce to the Steamer Trading Cook Shop, a real chef aladdin’s cave over 3 floors (prompting distant memories of a smaller version of the same treasure trove in Alfriston some years ago, they have a branch there too), I headed for Aloka in East St, which is conveniently close to the training venue.
Aloka promotes itself as a Quality of Life Centre – and rather fabulously the food menu includes many raw dishes, yippee! It’s so refreshing – and so rare in this country or any other – to be able to walk in to a restaurant and order proper raw food as opposed to a ‘salad’ composed of cooked veggies served cold.
Aloka has a lovely chilled ambiance, clean and calm. It is staffed by a team of vegans so there’s no danger of any ham or anchovies being slipped into the food. I had a bad experience in France years ago where I ordered veggie pizza which arrived sprinkled with ham, and then it returned rather too quickly when I sent it back so I knew they had simply picked off the offending animal parts.
So what did I eat? As I was dining early the dinner menu was not yet available and I was really ready to eat so I ordered two ‘bigger bites’ (at £4.50) from the early evening nibbles menu.
Chips and Dips was a celeriac, herb and cashew dip served with 2 types of cracker – one intensely flavoured with orange zest and strips of arame seaweed – and richly seasoned kale chips on the side.
Fresh Dulse and Capers Tartare were artfully served in quenelles on a sliver of daikon and glued on with miso cashew cream, and garnished with a coriander leaf. Beautiful presentation, and even more importantly utterly delicious! And filling too.
Other raw options today included cultured cashed cheese and a raw bruschetta. And of course the full dinner menu (that I was too tired/impatient to wait for) had a raw starter (£6.50) and main (£13.90). I have to say it was a tough decision. I’m not used to getting a choice in restaurants in terms on even one veggie dish, so to have an array of raw dishes was truly spectacular.
And then the desserts…. ALL raw and vegan. A kumquat cheesecake, Millionaire’s Shortbread (which intrigued me as I have recently been re-creating a recipe after being bowled over by the one Jenny brought to the raw potluck), ice creams, truffles and chocolates – and 3 flavours of macaroons which is what won my vote. Only one mind, I’m not that greedy! So I enjoyed an elegant vanilla and maca macaroon dome with the last of my mineral water.
Great music ( it suited the place perfectly, reminiscent of Jose Gonzalez but don’t ask me what) was punctuated by the sound of smoothies being prepared in the Vitamix and the happy conversation of waitresses sharing tips on where to get the best ripe avocados and exchanging food experiences in between serving more delicious dishes. That makes them real foodies, which gets a big tick from me. It makes all the difference to have the food prepared and served by people who are passionate about it. Which is why my Beautiful Heart Raw Kitchen dishes have that extra special vibration. I received very attentive and genuine, heart felt service in just the right measure.
Even the washroom was a good experience: the basin had a splashback made from 2 huge slices of rose quartz. And one of the marvellous Dyson Airblade hand dryers.
I felt very nurtured and nourished by my experience at Aloka, which was just what I needed after my first day immersion into the journey of training to be a yoga teacher. The day has not been demanding on the outside but the responsibility of the job and implications and stuff had started to hit home. And the terror of leading mantra singing … But that’s another story that will unfold over the next months.
As for Aloka, well the next training weekend is in Brighton in June so I’ll be back!
Aloka is at 14 East Street, Brighton BN1 1HP
Aloka’s blog www.alokabrighton.com