Restaurant Review: Raw

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, then you may remember that I’ve wanted to try Raw. since I set eye upon it during my first trip to the Chicago French Market about three years ago.  You might even remember when I missed the HLS meetup there in 2010.  Well, I finally did it friends!

Last Wednesday I met up with the very sweet and awesome Diana from Veggie Next Door for lunch at Raw.  I met Diana through my bestie Laura, and have been reading her blog and tweeting with her for a couple of months now.  As it turns out, her and I work pretty close to each other and within walking distance of Raw.  I finally had a partner in crime for a lunch at Raw.!

There are a ton of options available, and everything is packaged grab-and-go for a quick-lunch or dinner.  The options were a bit overwhelming at first, but that didn’t last long.  Diana recommended I go with the sampler platter since it gave me an opportunity to try a lot of their offerings.  I decided to heed her advice and go for the sampler platter and get a little taste of everything. The Sampler Platter included the spaghetti and marinara with a “meat”ball, garden burger, ravioli, and a dessert. Everything tasted amazing, and I was surprised by how much of it tasted like the “real” thing.

[Source]

The spaghetti (top left) was my favorite closely followed by the ravioli (top right). I actually LOVED the ravioli filling, but the wrapper didn’t quite do it for me with its slight crunchiness. Oh wait, I forgot about the lemon bar (bottom middle). The lemon bar was definitely my favorite item.

The staff is extremely friendly and very enthusiastic. They’re also incredibly helpful. Plus Raw. is extremely generous with the samples so you can get a good idea of what you might like before you buy something. I got to sample the salmon pate sandwich, the empanadas, and a third item I can’t remember right now.  I wasn’t 100% sold on the raw bread, but the salmon pate was so good that I foresee myself getting it in the future.

I did think it was a bit pricey. When you consider the amount of time and energy that goes into the production of making really good raw food, I can forgive the cost, but it will definitely make me think twice about eating here regularly.

So breaking it down:
+ Delicious food
+ Generous samples
+ Awesome staff
– A little bit pricey

Overall I was extremely impressed with Raw, and will definitely be going back.

May Foodie Penpals

It’s that time of the month again – Foodie Penpals Reveal Day!!!

This month I was paired up with Lauren the sweetheart behind LivingLocally.  One of my “requests” was for local NYC treats.  I spent about two days in New York before my cruise last August, but it hardly felt like enough time to experience all the tasty treats the city has to offer.

Lauren obliged me with some chocolate peanut clusters and a chocolate covered graham cracker from Li-Lac.  Let me tell you; the chocolate from Li-Lac lasted about 60 seconds after I opened the box.  I actually didn’t even get them in the picture…only the wrapper.

The second item to disappear quickly were the seaweed snacks.  Lauren told me lived in Japan for a while and these were her favor snacks while she was there.  I actually tried the Trader Joe’s seaweed snacks about a year ago.  I wasn’t sure I loved them, but I definitely didn’t hate them.  This time around, I’m definitely sold.

The other items in my box were ingredients for a recipe she included: soba noodles with walnuts and kale.  I was actually super excited to get the soba noodles.  I’ve actually never had soba noodles before, but last month, I was looking for soba noodles to send to my penpal and came up empty-handed.  Of course since I couldn’t find them, I immediately needed to try them!  I haven’t made them yet since I a) haven’t been cooking a ton lately, and b) I need to either find a different recipe or wait until I’m making a meal that Nik isn’t eating since he hates nuts.  I am extremely excited to use them though!

All in all it was another awesome month for me!  Are you interested in participating yourself? Check of the details below:

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. Contact your penpal as soon as possible to get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies, dietary restrictions, and/ or preferences.
-Fill a box with $15 worth of fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box to a fun recipe.
-Get your box in the mail no later than the 15th of the month. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes when you go to ship your items!)
-On the last day of the month, you post about the package you received from your penpal!
-Foodie Penpals is open to bloggers and blog readers in the US & Canada. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you will write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received.

For even more information, or if you’re interested in participating for June, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by June 4th as pairings will be emailed on June 5th (my birthday!)!

April Foodie Penpals

After months of seeing Laura and other blog friends post the awesome treats they were getting and hearing them talk about the awesome people they met through Foodie Pen Pals, I decided to join up for the April round. I had considered participating a couple of months ago, but I missed the sign up deadline and it sort of fell off my radar for a bit. I am so glad I finally decided to go ahead and join!  I’m not sure which task I had more fun with: shopping for the box I sent to Elizabeth at Four and Twenty Blackberries or opening the box I received, tasting all my goodies and writing this post!

This month I was paired up with Leah, who doesn’t currently have a blog but is thinking of starting one soon with a friend. She asked me about my likes/ dislikes and what I’d like to receive. I told her I would really love desk friendly, healthy snacks, and oh boy, did the girl ever deliver!
My box o goodies contained granny smith Apple chips, dried fruit, ginger thins (swoon), cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds, roasted edamame, some dark chocolate covered passion fruit jelly, and some Power Bar Energy cheese which she included because they’re her favorite running fuel. (I mentioned I was still looking for a running fuel I love.)
I was so interested in the cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds I tore into the bag before even taking pictures. These little guys are SO.GOOD. They remind me of those cinnamon roasted almonds that they sell all over the place around the holidays. Surprisingly the bag did make it to my desk at work, but it didn’t survive very long.

I was also extremely excited by the Ginger Thins. I love ginger cookies, but Nik doesn’t so I rarely buy them. (Ya know, to avoid eating the whole package myself – like I did with this one.)
I was definitely a little leery of the passion fruit things, but I gave them a try, and they were pretty okay. I’m not sure I loved them enough to seek them out (like those pumpkin seeds…Leah, where did you get those anyway?!?) but I certainly didn’t spit them out.

Overall my first Foodie Pen Pals experience was an awesome one, and I am definitely looking forward to participating again next month. Are you interested in participating yourself? Check of the details below

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. Contact your penpal as soon as possible to get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies, dietary restrictions, and/ or preferences.
-Fill a box with $15 worth of fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats!  The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box to a fun recipe.
-Get your box in the mail no later than the 15th of the month.  (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes when you go to ship your items!)
-On the last day of the month, you post about the package you received from your penpal!
-Foodie Penpals is open to bloggers and blog readers in the US & Canada. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you will write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received.

For even more information, or if you’re interested in participating for May, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by May 4th as pairings will be emailed on May 5th!