Romance these days is so rare. On the one hand we have a slowly-desexualizing culture emerging and on the other hand, recourse to romantic opportunities are so limited due to our bulging, vein-popping work schedules, work goals work achievements and work, work, work. Some people even feel strange and disoriented when you pay them a compliment let alone pull out a solitary, blushing rose to gift them with.
Whether you’re gay or straight, I believe in the male-female polarity relationship as being one of balance and harmony. For the sake of not generalizing, I will speak from my own straight perspective. Thus: a man must be a man and a woman must be a woman. For me, it simply means that I love it when my man protects me, when he loves and adores me, when he makes good decisions that guide us well and when he lovingly tells me to get over my shit. I in turn, love serving him, supporting him, bringing more awareness to his strengths (I suck at this – I am very critical and complaining at times) and surrendering to him.
For those of you that know me and my man will think this is a bit of an, um… ideal. And yes, it is – to a certain extent. BUT, we are constantly in practice of these principles. For me, it is difficult to let go of decision-making. Now don’t get me wrong. Decision-making is not primarily of the masculine but I find that I bulldoze my decisions and choices onto my man at times and what it does is makes his voice smaller, his participation less. I believe, a man leads and a woman follows. That is my feminine strength – to surrender. But as a beautiful, spiritually energized man once said, a woman will only surrender when she feels led by the unabiding love of a conscious man. So here we are, I’m learning to surrender and he’s learning to lead.
What does this have to do with Joe Calpin? I mean who is Joe Calpin in the first place?! Joe Calpin is a very romantic man who called me up a few weeks ago and asked me to put together a gourmet raw food picnic for his beloved’s birthday. I hadn’t met Joe before and only met his girlfriend, Carolyn once, at one of my raw food workshops. She tried the macadamia nut pâté and fell in love.
I was deeply touched by Joe’s words and energy through his emails. He pulled out all the stops for Carolyn; patiently went through all my menu ideas with me and showed absolute enthusiasm all the way through. As you can imagine, this ignited my own creative juices, opened up my heart a whole lot and led me to dedicate myself to Joe and Carolyn’s birthday picnic. I love occasional doses of well-thought out romance (but too much makes me nauseous). Diamonds and pearls mean very little compared to a creative and honest gesture from the heart.
The week I worked on Joe and Carolyn’s picnic, I sourced and bought a good picnic basket, some good quality food containers, a cake tin, and some glass jars for drinks. Conceiving a menu was a little tricky because some of the ingredients used in raw food acts as a binder or soldifier so it energy-draining heat like we have in Taipei, I had to pay attention to what could handle being in the basket and what needed a cooler box.
As I was working on the food, I thought it would be a great idea to add some love quotes near the description of each dish as I cook with love and respect and pray that people feel that through my food. It was more importantly, a way for Carolyn to see how Joe honours her. I told him the idea and kind of expected him to say, “Now that’s taking things too far!” but instead, in true Joe Calpin style, of which I was slowly becoming accustomed to, he said, “Haha! Love quotes are perfectly fine :D”
Here’s the final elements:
I sun-cooked Rooibos (Red Bush) tea for about 10 hours then blended with cashews, dates and apricots, adding a bit of ice once Joe arrived to pick up.
A hint of the love quote at the back of the jar
The flavours and textures on this canape are wild and sublime. This is the original dish that Carolyn fell in love with.
Neatly packed into solid food containers, they made their way into the picnic basket.
Some Shakespeare with your pate?
Next we have the haute couture of raw food dishes: Raw Lasagne. This dish alone takes about 1 week of prep, if I make my own sundried tomatoes. Now that I make my own tomatoes, every single store-bought type kills the joy in any dish. You can’t help but taste the flatness and the preservatives in it.
Usually, when you say raw lasagne, people have no idea about the complement and quality of flavours inside this dish. I would go so far as to say that it is better than cooked lasagne any day.
Layers of zucchini, walnut meat, macadamia cheese, tomato sauce, basil pesto and marinated wilted spinach rock the socks off this dish
Serving for one
Looks very similar to cooked lasagne
The love quote for lasagne
The components of the lasagne are as follows:
Organic, Ceylon Spinach – this spinach has such an interesting, stretchy texture
Top left: walnut meat with miso, sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, tamari, etc
Top right: Ceylon spinach marinated with oregano and olive oil
Bottom left: Basil pesto, Middle: Tomato sauce and Bottom Right: Zucchini lasagne sheets
The walnut meat tastes like real meat with the addition of miso, tamari and sundried tomatoes. Since this is a really expensive dish to make, I tried my best to substitute ingredients to lower the cost. Thus, I used pumpkin seeds to make the pesto and it turned out great. Try it, just add more olive oil since it will be a bit drier.
macadamia cheese with yellow pepper is really such a strong player in this dish
That tomato sauce is one one of best and richest tomato sauces I have ever tasted. Simply made with sundried tomatoes, raw tomatoes, dates and garlic, this thing is a thing of beauty.
Finally, Joe and I decided to make Carolyn a raw chocolate mint cake.
Joe’s personal quote: “May our love always be marked by the deepest care intimately tied to both word and deed.”
No romantic rendezvous would be complete without raw chocolate truffles
I added some complimentary raw sunflower seed crackers
Final little feminine touch: a wonderful natural skin care product company called Emba and run by my friend, Emily McKee, decided to add their luscious, earthy skin care products as part of a free gift bag
Soft, gentle, organic and additive-free
Carolyn is a lucky girl!
Joe, on his way to meet his Beloved in the park:-)
Carolyn, absolutely beaming with delight:-)
Cheers to romance!
Thank you Joe, for bringing this wonderful project to me. I had a great time doing it. Here’s to many more years for you and Carolyn!