by Susan Schenck
Cuenca has a new restaurant serving raw gourmet dishes!
Nectar, which opened on October 28, is a vegetarian tea house and gallery located on Benigno Malo 10-42 between Gran Columbia and Mariscal Lamar (on the second floor) and is open from noon to 6 p.m Tuesday through Saturday. (In a few weeks, they plan to be open on Mondays and for Sunday brunch.)
Nectar serves five raw gourmet dishes at local prices: gazpacho (raw soup); zucchini spaghetti; “rice” of cauliflower; raw mango ceviche or raw sprouted lupine-bean ceviche; and chocolate mousse; (all $2), plus $1.50 guacamole wraps, and a variety of fresh squeezed juices. For now, it’s best to call ahead (284-4118) for the raw orders, which are labor-intensive.
The owners (Tania, of Ecuador and her husband Yianni, of Greece) speak fluent English, having lived in the U.S.; their one-and-a-half-year-old baby is on his way to being trilingual. They explain what inspired this restaurant, “It is our way of living and eating that made us want to open a restaurant of this kind. The fact is that healthy eating has positively affected both our lives, so we advocate the same for all people. We are ninety-nine-percent vegan and we try to eat at least fifty-percent raw.”
Tania and Yanni are anxious to expand the menu. “We are looking to add raw vegan recipes, like sushi, more cold soups like fruit soups in addition to gazpacho, and sprouts. We also plan to purchase a sugar-cane extractor to make some fermented drinks. Once we get more organized in our kitchen, there should not be any need for calling beforehand if one wants to eat raw. For now, calling an hour and a half beforehand is sufficient for us to be prepared.”
For those who prefer a less expensive menu, the lunch of the day includes a drink, soup, salad, entrée, and dessert—five items for only $2.50.
Nectar boasts a menu of “international vegetarian cooking”—including Andean, Hindu, Mediterranean, and Thai food. The restaurant is 99% vegan—the only dish with some animal products is the Greek spinach pie, which requires feta cheese. Other Mediterranean dishes include babaganoush, hummus, pita bread pizza, and more. You can also get quinoa, a traditional Ecuadorian dish. The desserts are reminiscent of health-food restaurants in the U.S.: muffins and breads with flavors that include spicy apple, carrot, mango with fruit, and zucchini. Traditional drinks include yahuana, rosero, chicha; herbal teas include rosemary, lemon verbena, lemongrass, chai, etc. Lattes include chocolate, chai, yerba matte, and ginger. Everything is caffeine-free.
Even the décor is impressive. The walls are painted with an artsy sponge design and are decorated with modern art. Sometimes musicians contribute to the ambience.
Let’s keep Nectar in business! Though I’m no longer vegan after developing some deficiencies (as I explain in my book Beyond Broccoli), I nonetheless advocate (and consume, myself) a high-plant high-raw diet. So I’m thrilled to have a restaurant here in Cuenca where I can eat 100% raw — especially when it’s at local prices!
Susan Schenck, LAc, is a raw-food coach, lecturer, and author of the two-time award-winning book, The Live Food Factor, The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet, which has gained a reputation as the encyclopedia of the raw food diet, as well as Beyond Broccoli, Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet When a Vegetarian Diet Doesn’t Work. Go to www.livefoodfactor.com and register for the free newsletter to get a copy of the first chapter of The Live Food Factor.