Wednesday 31 August 2011

Opening Up The Nectar

Today we give a warm welcome on board to Jo Balfe as she joins the TN blog crew. Jo is active in Transition Norwich in the Permaculture and Low Carbon Cookbook groups and is part of Norwich FarmShare. In her first post she talks about the opening of her new (mainly) raw food cafe in Norwich this coming Saturday and the passion, experience and (very transitional) principles it is based on. I'll leave the rest to her...(MW)

The Nectar cafe opens its bright red door on Saturday 3rd September. I have spent the last three months building, plumbing, painting, collecting, experimenting, feeling a whole range of emotions and coming to the last few days before opening going, "this is going to be really amazing!"

We have a beautiful space just off Unthank road in Norwich, small but cosy and intimate I like to think! There is no cooking equipment, only a small hand-built kitchen area where we will be making up fresh salads, sandwiches, soups, juices, smoothies and a huge range of teas.

Most of the produce we are using will be coming from the Norwich farmshare, so will have food miles of about 6! The rest we will source from other local organic suppliers and my own and others allotments. The herbs for teas are all coming from the Organic Herb Trading Company, which grows a lot of its own herbs on their farm and sources the rest ethically from organic growers.

We also have our own herb bed outside and lots in pots inside. Charlotte from Suffolk is supplying us with her hedgerow and garden cordials and preserves, we have local honey, bread baked two minutes walk away at the dozen bakery and lots of handmade gluten free-raw goodies.

It is a friendly and fun space, where you can come and relax, learn about local, seasonal food, join in a workshop, have a herbal tea made specifically for you and enjoy cakes and treats which you can be assured have been handmade with ethical ingredients and with optimum health in mind.

I personally have spent the past five years learning and living a high-raw food lifestyle, after discovering it whilst travelling in Australia. I met some “raw-foodists’’ who I ended up living and working with, running a farmers’ market stall selling cakes, chocolates, smoothies, breads, crackers, dips, even pizza, all made from totally un-cooked, organic vegan and dairy free ingredients. Most of the produce we used was grown locally, including lots of tropical fruit, year-round vegetables and coconuts.

After living in this community for a year, I came back to Norwich and carried on eating mainly raw foods, but realised that I didn’t feel good about eating this way when I was buying a lot of imported fruit and veg. I then started integrating a high-raw diet with my instincts of keeping the focus on local seasonal ingredients, listening to my body and combining warming cooked meals with nutrient dense living-foods such as sprouted seeds and pulses, wild greens, and juicing and preserving seasonal gluts.

This felt much more sustainable to me being able to still eat in a way which felt like it was keeping the life-force as high as possible, but without compromising with non-local produce. For me, a locally grown meal lovingly cooked and shared with friends is far better for us than a meal which is totally raw but full of tropical foods which are probably weeks old before reaching our plates. Its all about choosing what’s right for us and adapting to our environments and situations.

I have broken free of putting a ‘label’ on the way I eat nowadays, I just love what I eat and love using local, seasonal food as much as I can! Right now, I am eating my way through so many home grown tomatoes and making so much gaspacho and tomato and herb salads that I will be happy to wait another year once the season is over to eat another tomato!

Eating in season connects us to nature, time and the abundance which is all around us. I only need to walk out of my home a few minutes to find trees brimming with wild fruits, medicinal herbs, berries and nuts. People have asked me about organising some foraging walks from the café and it is something I would love to do!

From Saturday 3rd September, we will be open from Tuesday-Saturday 10-5, for fresh juices, smoothies using either our home made nut and oat milks, or organic cows milk. Our toasted or open sandwich menu will include homemade pesto and tomato, organic cheese or homemade raw vegan ‘cheese’ with chutney, or hummus and grated root vegetables. A tasty salad bowl or a dipping plate of our sprouted seed crackers and three dips.

Our sweets are our speciality, with most of the cakes being raw and all vegan and gluten free. For a special treat, we make our own raw chocolates; not so locally grown but using organic fair trade cacao and local honey. Come in for a warming mug of almond milk chai or hot chocolate, fresh herbal tea or a coffee from our brew bar. Our organic coffee is gently pressed through hand-extractors.

I am running monthly workshops on raw food, which are based on the seasonal produce and traditions of that particular month. I am opening up the space for other groups to use for meetings, creative clubs or workshops.

The other thing which differs the Nectar from other cafes, is our mobile smoothie maker, the bicycle blender! On sunny days outside the café or at local events, you can pedal for your own smoothie, blending up fruity goodness by your own leg power! We will have the bike outside the café this Saturday on opening day, so pop along and try your feet at making your own smoothie or sampling some of our special cakes or lunches.

If you can't make it to the café, we will be at the Waveney Greenpeace Fair at Henham Park on Sunday with the bicycle, so do come and see us there! Jo Balfe

The Nectar, 16 Onley Street (off Unthank Road) Open Tues-Sat.


  1. Sounds like my sort of place! Each year, I look forward to the first crop of raw carrots and radishes, in prime condition and straight from the soil - just wash under the tap in the garden and eat.

  2. It sounds amazing Jo. You have obviously made Nectar way more amazing than we even imagined it could be! I hope that your launch day is splendiferous. Ill be with you in spirit.

  3. what's the address?

  4. It's at 16 Onley Street (off the Unthank Road) and opening today. All the best, Charlotte

  5. oliver will twist6 September 2011 at 22:41

    can i have some more!!!!!!!!!!

  6. can i have some more