April 30, 2011
Rebecca Rasch, Contributing Writer
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The sun shines through the window of Blossoming Lotus, creating many a spectrum in the bubbles of my apple mimosa. The atmosphere is elegant, yet comfortable. I'm excited to be dining in one of the most popular vegan restaurants in Portland - and even more thrilling is the fact that I'm chatting with Bo Rinaldi, long-term vegan entrepreneur and co-owner of Blossoming Lotus. “It’s a good time to be eating plants,” he says. Looking down at my pumpkin-stuffed French toast with a strawberry-banana-glazed topping I couldn’t agree more. The entire dish – the entire restaurant – is 100 percent vegan, 100 percent organic, and incredibly local.
Blossoming Lotus began as a personal chef service, with vegan chef and author Mark Reinfeld consulting with companies to find a healthier, more satisfying approach to meatless cooking. The idea took off, and the first Blossoming Lotus Café opened in Hawaii in 2002, where it received the I’lima Award for “Best Restaurant on Kaua’i”. That’s when Rinaldi entered the scene, added his own plethora of knowledge, and offered to foot the bill. A team was born, and in 2005 that team moved their idea to Portland, serving a blend of international influences and fresh produce called Vegan Fusion Cuisine.
“[Vegan Fusion World Cuisine] is just a natural, organic, simple way of eating and living, having a consciousness of the world’s limited resources and eating and living in a way that’s about stewardship and caring what happens to all life,” says Reinfeld on veganfusion.com. But you won’t hear a lick of that inside the restaurant located in the bustling, historic Irvington district. “We let the food be the activism,” says Rinaldi. The walls are free of pro-vegetarian literature and instead feature local artists. Blossoming Lotus also supports 300 local farmers, receiving produce daily. “Our food is out of the ground today, and in many instances on your table tomorrow,” says Rinaldi. This eliminates the need for preservatives altogether and makes for some body-enriching goodness. “We want people to feel better when they leave than when they came in,” says Rinaldi.
Must you leave, there are still several ways to get your hands on this impeccable fare. They offer “Grab & Go” items like pre-packaged drinks, wraps and desserts, as well as selling retail items at select stores including Food Fight, Food Front, People’s Co-op, and the Alberta Co-op. Also, one of the main goals of the Blossoming Lotus team is to stress that you can do this at home. Watching “National Hottest Chef” Wes Hannah on the Food Network Cooking Channel and copying his actions is an option, or simply enroll in one of Blossoming Lotus’s many upcoming workshops. Ranging from two days to two weeks in a variety of locations, the next one is being held July 9, 2011 in Portland.
Blossoming Lotus is located at 1713 NE 15th Avenue in Portland. Check their website www.blpdx.com for more information.