Eats, Chews and Leaves: The healthy joy of Café Bliss


I’d like to ask you to travel back in time while enjoying this installment of Eats, Chews and Leaves. Forget the dreariness of February and imagine how you felt the first week of January. For some (not me), setting a New Year’s resolution is customary. I forgo this chance to start fresh. Instead, I cobble together a few intentions and hope for the best. An intention is like a resolution, but less serious, just like the Clone Wars television series compared to the Star Wars films.

My 2013 intentions spanned all areas of my life, including this column. I intended for the first article of 2013 to feature a restaurant committed to healthy dining, a way to encourage those who’d picked “be healthier” as their resolution.

After a month, I finally wrangled enough time and found a willing dining partner to accompany me to Café Bliss.

Café Bliss specializes in raw food, and all dishes are 100 per cent organic, vegetarian, wheat- and gluten-free. For meal components that do require heat, no ingredient is heated over 115˚F.

Their downtown location allows a diverse cross-section of Victoria to dine without guilt. Avid yogis, young professionals and retired couples all gathered in the small, brightly lit space for lunch when I visited.

I have never seen so many Mason jars in one place before, and if popular media can be trusted, the rows and rows of glass containers lining the restaurant walls makes Café Bliss #instacool.

Despite an intriguing list of juices and smoothies with names such as the Earth Blood Tonic or Cacao Jedi, I couldn’t pass up a warm beverage during this chilly month. The Medicinal Chai Tea ($3.50) appeared watery and translucent, a visual disappointment compared to Starbucks’ creamy version, but made up lost ground with taste. The tea, in addition to the customary honey, milk (almond in this case) and spices, was blended with reishi, cat’s claw (the herb, not the mammal appendage) and pau d’arco, all known to fight viral infections and boost the immune system.

I paired my sickness-fighting beverage with the Pachamama Bowl ($12), and my friend ordered the avocado shitake wrap ($8.50). My bowl packed a hearty mouthful: a bed of brown rice topped with warm black beans, sliced avocado, cherry tomato-pineapple salsa and cashew “sour cream.” The smoky spiciness from the beans received balance from the acidic pineapple and the creaminess of the avocado and cashew. I have a suspicion ingesting this bowl makes one’s insides smile.

The wrap took the shape of large, uncut sushi. Nori was wrapped around brown rice, avocado, sprouts and marinated shitake mushrooms with a sesame-ginger dip. Personally, I’m a big fan of vegetarian sushi, but this dish was cumbersome to eat and not nearly as vibrant as my colourful rice bowl.

Café Bliss deserves a visit this month or whenever you need a healthy nibble, because remember: we’re only just out of January.