New Zealand: The advantages of altruism

January 28th, 2012 · Lisa · Travel · Comments
Aloha all!

I just landed in Honolulu, thanks to the wonderful Andrea, I was whisked away to pick up some fresh produce and then delivered to my hotel in Waikiki. I still can’t believe I’m here.
Tonight, as I settle into another city and admire my last passport stamp on this journey, I’m finding it hard to wrap my mind around all that has happened since that first flight to Cochin (on October 31st).
When I boarded my plane in Toronto my itinerary of talks and demos felt exciting and very intimidating. I wasn’t sure I could keep up with the pace and would have enough content to keep audiences entertained across six countries. Luckily I was too distracted by logistics, flights and menus to let my anxiety slow me down.
Now, as I start to think about my last event, in Kapolei on February 4th (hosted by Down to Earth), I’m realizing how each opportunity has impacted me and my adventure.
In Auckland, my raw dessert demo was hosted by The Vegan Society of Aotearoa, New Zealand. In Toronto, I’m often involved in hosting events for local and international speakers, so I know how much work goes into preparing to invite a crowd to delight in delicious samples and learn some new techniques.  During the busy summer season in Auckland two volunteers stepped up to bring this event to fruition: Jessica and Peter, I am forever in their debt.
The highlight of working my way around the world has been the opportunity to connect with vegans and local activists along the way. The second day of my stay in Auckland I was welcomed to Jessica’s home to share a big vegan meal with her family, and fellow volunteer, Peter.

We chatted about logistics over raw cauliflower rice, topped with guacamole, tomatoes, carrots and cucumber. I felt right at home cheering on Nadia (the little one above) and Alex (the little one below)  as they bounced on the trampoline – although, it did make me miss my niece and nephews. It was wonderful to feel wrapped in a welcoming, loving family.

The local cherries made a spectacular, sweet dessert, but this special meeting of the minds was celebrated with luscious banana soft serve and a raw cheesecake (Chocolate Goji) that Peter procured from the city’s newest vegan restaurant, Celestial Garden. Alex, was reluctant to try the cheesecake but after one bite he broke out in this very satisfied smile.

Working with vegan hosts means having the inside info on the best eats in the city. I love listening to passionate discussions about the best markets, seasonal produce and favourite finds. It is through these casual connections that I’ve discovered the exciting food scene of India, Thailand, Bali, Australia and New Zealand.

The next day, Peter and I gathered groceries for the demo and visited Celestial Gardens and Wise Cicada, two of his favourite local spots. It turned into an amazing tour of Auckland, highlighted by moving meetings with vegan chefs who are nourishing the bodies and souls of thier city.

I took home the bounty and spent a few hours prepping and measuring all the goodies for my demo.

On Saturday it was show time! We had a great group of interested eaters arrive to learn more about creating beautiful, delicious desserts that celebrate the seasonal fruit available in New Zealand.

Thank you to Peter for capturing a few shots of me making some raw vegan magic.

I made a double layer Chocolate Cherry Cake, a Stone Fruit Tart with Cashew Cream (recipe below), and my all-time favourite treat, the Cookie Dough Blizzard.

The hour disappeared quickly, as did the samples, but my memories of the day still linger.

I was really touched by the generosity of the volunteers and the enthusiastic response of the attendees. The demo was followed by The Vegan Society’s monthly potluck where I had the opportunity to sit and chat with an amazing group of people, who shared travel advice, recipe recommendations and incredible kindness.

The vegan community never ceases to amaze me. I feel so lucky to find myself among people, committed to creating a more compassionate culture around the world. 

In gratitude for all you do and all you are, here is a little something sweet:

Stone Fruit Tart 
serves 8
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup large dates, pitted
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup cashews, soaked 2-4 hours and drained
1/4 cup water
1/4 date paste
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 cups sliced, pitted and peeled stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums)
In your food processor, pulse the almonds into a fine meal. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until it begins to clump together.
Press the crust evenly into a medium tart pan.In your blender combine the cream ingredients and blend until smooth.
Pour the cream into the prepared tart crust.
Top with slices of stone fruit.


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