Thursday, 30 July 2009

Dragonfly Wholefoods

He looks a bit like Christopher Walken, playing Russian roulette with alfalfa sprouts...

Guacamole with live crispbread


Highgate village has always been the staider sister to bohemian Hampstead. McDonald's haven't even asked to open up there so no protest was necessary. There are no trendy clothes boutiques. Highgate, I have heard, has the most pubs per square inch in Britain.
My junior school, St Michael's, had a progressive headmaster, Mr Grout, who would invite us up to his attic to listen to classical music. His brother was the Radio 4 actor, James Grout. Mr Grout used his showbiz connections to get local celebrities like Yehudi Menuhin to open our school fete. Another celebrity, the cockney actress Adrienne Posta, small and pixie-like, with bleached cropped hair and huge dark eyes, could thrillingly be found buying newspapers at Howe & Son, the newsagent where I got my newspaper round. I did my first shoplifting in Highgate; sweets of course (mentioned here), and Caran d'Ache felt pens (French! In a metal box! Amazing colours! Expensive!), beautifully illustrated Windsor & Newton inks, from the art shop. These shops are all gone now. The hardware shop, with it's characteristic wooden veranda, is now something trendy and useless, like a cafe Nero.
The Highgate branch of Oxfam famously got the spoils of Vanessa Feltz' plus size wardrobe when she lost weight via divorce and a black personal trainer. Taking my daughter to ballet class in Pond Square, where I too attended ballet, I was dazzled by the acres of sequins on size 22 cocktail tents proudly displayed in the Oxfam window.
Up Highgate Hill, past the statue of Dick Whittington's cat, past Waterlow park where I spent my childhood catching frogs spawn, Dragonfly Wholefoods lurks like an outpost of festival culture, lost in middle class Highgate.
You go through the shop to the back where there are a few tables scattered in the messy courtyard. Some nice hippies behind the counter take your order, you pay, then you sit down.
Everything on the menu is described as 'live'.
I ordered the 'live' guacamole with 'live' crispbread. The guacamole would have been good if they'd put in some 'live' salt (although salt is of course associated with death).
Cutlery was a long time coming. When the 'waiter' finally gave us some, he proffered, in a friendly way
"hey man, you could, like, eat with your hands yeah?"
I also asked for 'pizza'.
It turned out to be a cold dark brown crispbread (again) with olive paste, pesto and some kind of nut 'cheese'. Desperate. But 'live' of course.
It really was 'rabbit' food, presented with a modern flourish, plate graffiti dispensed from a squeegee bottle, adorned with little mounds of this and that.
For me, raw salt free vegan food is the absolute opposite of pleasure. It's molecular gastronomy without the adventure playground ride aspect. I have friends, one of whom 'channeled' her name and changed it to 'Dolphin', who would love this place.
I agree with Sir John Mortimer, sadly missed author of Rumpole of the Bailey:

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth foregoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward.

Adrienne Posta making chips, not something you are likely to see at Dragonfly

Dragonfly Wholefoods
24 Highgate High St


  1. The phrase 'amazing raw vegan ice cream' contains so many contradictions I'm surprised it hasn't been forced of the board due to infighting!

  2. Golly, that takes me back...reminds me of 1980's CND (meatless) fund raising barbeques...

  3. I must say that raw vegan ice cream can be completely amazing, Booja Booja make some that is to die for even though it costs a ridiculous amount.
    But all this raw pizza business...I'm so not convinced. Pizza is too simple to be messing around with like that!

  4. Booja Booja icecream is fabulous you are right.
    I guess it's raw because it doesn't contain egg custard?
    Icecream is one of the foods that tastes just as good when vegan.
    Pizza should be hot and comforting, carbs and calories...

  5. Now I want a really fatty, greasy, calorie-bomb of a pizza for dinner...

    There have been a couple of places like this near me too, including such gems as the "special nachos" (Doritos with ketchup) and hummus - £2.50, hummus with salad and pita - £1.

    I've sampled Booja booja chocolates, but haven't been brave enough to try any other raw stuff yet.

  6. These depressing places are an all too common site here in Brighton. They always seem to have slightly sticky tables or table cloths. Raw salt free vegan food? Gosh. When you even strip out the seasoning in food you know life has gone wrong somewhere.

  7. Judging on Raw Food from a one time bad experience is quite something... I have recently worked as a raw food chef for Radiantly Alive in Bali, where we created 3 Gourmet Raw Meals each day! The guests were all non raw foodist and without exception loved the food! I've been preparing raw foods now in Berlin for quite a while as well and so far got no single bad response, but only pleasantly surprised smiles.
    And there is excellent raw ice cream. Just get an ice cream maker and get creative! And if you get to the states, try out Coconut Bliss! It's better than any Ben and Jerries, Hagen Daaz or whatever other famous conventional ice cream I have ever tasted!
    Oh, and about raw pizza... well, my guests asked me for seconds and thirds of my warm raw "pizza" straight out of the dehydrator! Maybe you just have to try the "right" raw food ;-)

  8. I have tried loads of raw food. It has it's place but it's no replacement for decent food.
    Why go raw anyway?
    I know there is a load of health stuff but it is deprivation chic, only for neurotic people who worry relentlessly about their weight.

  9. I find it funny that you constantly have to rate it, comparing raw food and "decent food". What IS decent food? It is very personal, so for you a plate of spaghetti with meatballs might be decent, for another person a burger at McDonalds might be decent, for me I consider everything home made and unprocessed (not limited to raw food) to be decent... let's stop rating. It's all good and everybody has different priorities.
    Look, I have always been slim, I couldn't worry less about my weight, and I have been an omnivore up to less than a year ago!! Let me tell you there are tons of other reasons why raw food is beneficial: higher energy, feeling lighter, being more flexible, brighter eyes, better skin, being less sick, etc. etc. (all of that I experienced myself btw.).
    In any case, I don't go around educating other people about their diet habits or leaving random comments on people's food blogs judging on something I have not tried myself. Let's just be a little respectful of each other's different styles and needs!!

  10. Hi B alive,
    I've never left a negative comment on your blogs, I didn't even know you had blogs.
    It's true on the ghet I wrote a rude comment. I'm sorry. I will remove it if I can.
    I think I was just a bit hormonal that day.
    (which probably could be improved by raw food eh :))

  11. what an utterly boring review!! Vanessa Feltz plus size wardrobe? (are there folks out there who really invest their time into following such nonsense). catching frog spawn? radio 'actor' James Grout? This has got to be the most inverted profanity of critique I've ever had the discomfort to read. I dont think I've cringed quite so much in years. The writer really should really get out more, investigate the detriment of a high sodium diet, Explore the world, perhaps the city of London first. I'm sure he's in for a shock, the times they have a changed, we are no longer interested in the rites of passages of z list celebrities such as Vanessa felt tip pen!! have this chap spent the last twnety years knitting by candlelight listening to the archers eating steak and kidney pie out of a tin? I think so

  12. Love it! Please comment more! You will find several other crappy boring reviews for your delectation...
    High sodium diet: just been reading Jeffrey Steingarten who has done research into the salt thing. It's all bollocks:there is NO connection between high blood pressure and salt;we are genetically programmed to crave salt after the age of 4 months;in 1988 there was a massive Intersalt study, carried out all over the world, which confirmed that 92% can eat all the salt we want; only 8% of people have a problem with salt.
    You don't salt, your food will taste boring. You need salt to bring out the intrinsic flavour of foods.

  13. I think anon is suffering from some sort of deficiency themselves. And why on earth does he/she assume this blog is written by a male. Anon also missed the entire point of the post and obviously needs to get out more themselves. Mmn Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney pudding with ketchup. Yum.

  14. Of course! And salt is fantastic. The only thing is to use the right salt! If you use regular table salt that's been processed and mineral depleted, it will draw minerals out of your body tissue (just the normal osmoses process if you paid attention at chemistry in high school ;-)
    whereas, if you use mineral rich himalaya salt or celtic sea salt or unprocessed sea salts from other clean coasts, it's a great source of minerals for your body and absolutely essential!! I am using salt in everything, even desserts!!

  15. Just one comment on raw food - tomatoes are excellant for helping to prevent all sorts of things, particularly 'male' cancers, but the part of them which is active - lycopene - is only activated by heating / cooking them. I know that lots of stuff is partly destroyed by cooking food, but maybe it's just a case of swings and roundabouts and a BALANCED diet is best after all.

  16. MsMarmiteLover - when did you have your sex change?? Such fun for Anon to complain so vociferously but not be able to tell if you are male or female.. :0

    p.s. I do believe if we don't have salt, we die...

  17. Maldon salt is good with everything!

    although I admit to using the cheapest table salt for salting water for veggies....

  18. you forgot the processed peas...

  19. Actually you did give permission for me to take a picture, you can see, you are looking directly into the camera. I did say I was blogging it.
    And to be compared to Christopher Walken is absolutely a compliment, he's gorgeous! And so are you!


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