A jet-set lifestyle doesn’t have to be all private planes and decadent digs. In Paste Travel’s Jet-Set Bohemian series, we blend the best of high and low for just the right balance … enticing everyone from backpackers to luxury boutique hotel lovers to come along for the ride.
After an early morning
gym session on board Oceania’s
Riviera, I made my way toward the breakfast buffet expecting to find the typical offerings: omelet station, waffles and yogurt parfaits. That’s when I spotted exactly what I had in mind but never thought I’d see on board the ship: a raw vegan juice bar.
In cities like New York and Los Angeles, this is the norm. Every corner sports a different raw restaurant, cold-pressed juice bar and gourmet vegan eatery. But on a mainstream ocean liner where the average age skews much older, it was quite revolutionary to see a small but fully outfitted juice bar serving homemade cashew milk chia pudding and açai bowls topped with freshly baked granola.
“If I had 20 seats, I’d make a vegan restaurant,” explained Oceania’s executive culinary director Franck Garanger that evening over dinner. “If there’s two things to think about now when it comes to food [movements], it’s organic and vegan.”
For a French chef to herald the values of vegan cuisine, that’s saying something. The Normandy-born chef who cut his teeth working under Michelin-starred greats in France and Monaco is starting small with the grab-n-go juice bar that’s the first raw vegan one at sea, but he’s among the handful of classically trained chefs who are bringing this lifestyle to the masses.
As chain restaurants and fast food joints start throwing healthier options on the menu to cater to the variety of diets out there from paleo to gluten-free, culinary masters are taking their techniques and launching their own version of “fast food” with a fine dining spin.
Last November, farm-to-counter restaurant DIRT opened up on Miami Beach with diet-specific menus that include vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and paleo, serving organic grass-fed meat and non-GMO produce. Ingredients are sourced from Florida farms like Harpke Family Farm in Fort Lauderdale and drinks hail from local spots like Miami’s JoJo Tea. The concept here is true farm-to-table served counter service-style with seasonally changing menus and readymade juices.
The chef, Nicole Votano, worked in kitchens like James Beard Award winner Bradley Ogden’s One Market Restaurant in San Francisco, as well as Michelle Bernstein’s Miami café Crumb on Parchment, before opening French eatery Fooq’s in Downtown Miami.
Photo courtesy of DIRT
On DIRT’s menu you’ll find dishes like açai bowls and avocado toast that seem to be the trend du jour around the globe. But Nicole also weaves in touches from her travels with globally inspired dishes like the autumn Santorini salad, composed of sprouted chickpeas, lentils and house-made harissa-spiked hummus.
A few blocks away in the South of Fifth area, Argentinian Chef Manuel Torterola and his wife, Tina, launched a similar counter service concept this spring at their airy beach bistro Lilikoi. Combining their culinary and wine backgrounds (Manuel has worked everywhere from ARIA in Sydney to three Michelin-starred The Fat Duck in London, while Tina is a trained sommelier) the duo set out to make their own mark in the neighborhood with a menu heavy on locally sourced ingredients, as well as those with specific health spins, such as the vegan kale Caesar salad with nutritional yeast and nori. Mains play on dishes from around the globe with mushroom risotto that’s farro-based and Asian-style soba noodles served with activated black sesame. Dishes here come out in slightly more gourmet style, perfectly plated with just the right micro herb delicately set on top giving the fine dining feel but served in much more casual fashion.
Each time I’m back in Paris, it seems as though a dozen new juice bars have opened in neighborhoods like Oberkampf and the Marais. While many of these grab-n-go spots serve up green juices and superfood energy balls, one spot that takes it culinary creations to a higher level is Wild & The Moon.
Photo courtesy of DIRT
Lately my go-to spot when I need something on the run while in Paris, Wild has two locations in the Marais: the Wild Lab, where they’re preparing and prepping plant-based food and packaged sprouted buckwheat granola with a few seats up at the counter, and the more expansive boutique café a few blocks over with raw vegan chef Sati Faulks (who hails from California) at the helm creating the menu’s cuisine. Avocado is freshly pureed and served on dehydrated veggie crackers and chia pudding is crafted with homemade almond milk. All of the ingredients are organic and vegan, with daily changing quinoa and rice super bowls that go quickly come lunch time.
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, is bringing the plant-based movement to Monaco with his recently opened restaurant Eqvita, a 5-minute walk from Casino Square. Every aspect here centers on sustainability from the 100-percent recycled glassware to the biodegradable linen napkins. Novak and his team source ingredients for their vegan fare from local farms with dishes designed to provide daily servings of essential vitamins and minerals, and Chef Lee McClain (who cooked for the tennis pro during the Australian Open) developing the menu alongside a team of nutritionists.
With an aim to take the Eqvita brand global, the eatery is already making quite the mark on Monaco drawing the same kind of crowd who go for haute cuisine at nearby institutions like Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV with its menu of magnesium-heavy pastas (gluten-free, of course) and antioxidant-rich raw tostadas.
Lane Nieset is Paste’s Jet-Set Bohemian columnist and a freelance writer covering all things travel from her home base in Nice, France.