The thought of a restaurant that serves only uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts and seaweed makes me shudder, but I walked out of Roxanne's, a "living foods" restaurant in Marin County, California (where else?), not just satisfied but thrilled. I'm not the only one who's been impressed; four-star Chicago chef Charlie Trotter was so blown away by Roxanne Klein's food that he's asked her to collaborate on a cookbook, scheduled to be published this summer.
Klein, who trained at the respected California restaurants Stars, Square One and the Lark Creek Inn, cooks meals that are complex and voluptuous. I use the word "cooks" metaphorically, because nothing is heated above 118 degrees--to preserve natural enzymes, I am told. This means no grains or even tofu, which is heated in processing, are part of the cuisine. Many ingredients come from a 15-acre organic garden started by Roxanne's husband, Michael, the restaurant's co-owner, who formerly ran his own tech companies.
Klein layers flavors and textures until she gets the effects she wants. Her wild mushroom "pizza," for example, is made with almond flour, zucchini, flax seed and cashew "cheese." Yes, it sounds awful. But it's delicious, with the perfume of fresh herbs and dark mushrooms, the complexity of aged cheese and--although the pie is served barely warm--the savoriness of cooked food.