The other day, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. That was right after Pure Natural Market reopened under the ownership and management of Tracy Owens and Brinsley Ellis.
All of us who have been eating whole food, plant-based for any length of time know how good eating that way can be. But that good? I don't know if any of us knew the food could be that good.
The food is Jamaican and includes both plant-based options as well as a couple of fish options. Dinners are served with rice and peas, but they're not just ordinary rice and peas - these are bursting with flavor.
In fact, as is the case with Jamaican food, there is a bit of a kick to the food. But it's a delightful kick and not overpowering.
As Owens told us, "We don't know how to cook kick-less."
Talking to Owens and Ellis, I learned that all their food is fresh and prepared on premises. In fact, even the coconut milk doesn't come from a can. Instead, Ellis will crack open coconuts and extract the milk himself.
He grew up learning to do these things, and he has transferred those skills to their new restaurant.
They use no GMO foods and no MSG. Vegan items on the menu are labeled "Ital/Vegan." "Ital" is Jamaican for what is basically a whole foods, plant-based way of eating. There are no processed foods involved and no animal products.
I tried several different options when I visited the restaurant at 1012 William Hilton Pkwy., near the Sea Pines Circle. My favorite was probably the Jackfruit barbecue. No oil is used in preparing it, but it does contain molasses.
You'd swear you were eating real barbecue meat. It was that good, and I could not tell the difference.
Another favorite of mine, and a popular item with other patrons, is the Better Than Egg Salad, which it definitely was.
In addition to items on the menu, specials will be offered based on foods that are fresh in the markets and creative ideas that Ellis develops on an almost daily basis.
One example of a popular special is the Ackee Callaloo, which is a Jamaican kale and fruit dish.
Of course, Pure Natural Market will continue to offer smoothies as it did before.
"We want people to leave feeling better than when they came in," Owens said. I know I sure did.
J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer focused on the whole foods, plant-based lifestyle.