A taste of Byron Bay…

Posted on Oct 27, 2015

A taste of Byron Bay…

One of the many delights Byron Bay has to offer is the local farmers markets, and there’s a great number of them too! Spoilt for choice really- Byron Growers Market, Bangalow Farmers Market, and the Mullumbimby Farmers Market just to name a few. And all of which our “celebrity chef” on retreat, Rodney Sen, set out at the crack of dawn for in order to source the freshest ‘cream of the crop’ produce to fuel and nourish our yogis during their retreat.

Experienced chef Clarissa De Castro joined us to cater the entire retreat, and boy did she cook up a storm in that kitchen! It was obvious she has a real love and passion for food, and the cuisine she laid on the table was a beautiful, colourful, delicious reflection of that. Every day we would see box loads of seasonal, freshly harvested local produce flood into the kitchen and come out the other side as a banquet of healthy, balanced vegetarian creations. Even the most carnivorous of us were most satisfied! How could one not feel completely nourished after a week of organic food fully charged with chi and cooked with the utmost respect and love?

After a 5.45am start for yang pranayama & meditation we would dawdle our way to the dining room to be greeted with an array of fruits and muesli’s, alongside some Barzura classics inspired by Rod. (Shhh don’t tell the head chef his legendary corn fritter recipe has been leaked beyond his kitchen!) But seriously, it was just as well considering our dreamy states of bliss, it seemed difficult to choose which variety of tea to accompany breakfast, let alone having to cook for ourselves… what a luxury it was to have these basic needs taken care of. After a short break, the yoga schedule resumes for a three-hour yang session, workshopping different aspects of the asana. Plenty of blood, sweat and tears and certainly a healthy appetite to follow. Clarissa is our salvation, once again a luscious meal is ready and waiting for us. So now, what better way to rest and digest? Perhaps an indulgent arvo nap? A healing massage with our very own on site therapist? Or a long refreshing dip in the pool? The intention here is not to rave on, this really is reality on retreat, and it really is this good!

Four O’clock rolls around and it’s time to reconvene for afternoon yin yoga and breath work. All the while Clarissa has been buzzing around the kitchen, working her magic to prepare yet another beautiful meal. Dinner is served, and again we are presented with a selection of tasty salads, homemade sauces, savoury morsels and even little desserts for the sweet tooths among us. Need I go on? I think not, you get the idea. And so did Clarissa when the dining room roared with a standing ovation of praise and applause on our last evening meal together as a huge thank you for all her hard work. Rod summed it up perfectly in saying we finished the week “Clean on the inside, clean on the outside!”

A quick thank you also, to all yogis who assisted Clarissa along the way, preparing, washing up and keeping good company. She wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. All in all, a fantastic karma kitchen collective!

Clarissa has kindly given us one her most popular recipes on retreat, for her raw vegan coconut lemon cheesecake if you wish to recreate the taste of our Byron Bay retreat…

The Yoga Travel Company 2016/17 retreat schedule is now live too if you wish to join us on retreat in future!

Heaven on earth cheesecake

200g pitted dates
150g almonds
100g hazelnuts

300g soaked cashew nuts
2 tbsp shredded coconut
4 lemons, zest & juice
250ml maple syrup
165ml coconut oil
2 vanilla pods
Coconut butter for greasing

1 cup Coconut sugar
2 bunches Rhubarb
1 tbsp Cinnamon
Vanilla Pods
Handful of fresh berries (chef’s choice)
½ cup chia seeds


Soak dates in hot water, leave until water cools. Toast almonds & hazelnuts, once cooled roughly blend in food processor. Drain the dates and add to food processor with nuts until just combined. Press mixture into a long deep tin lined with baking paper. Set in fridge.

Soak cashew nuts (longer is better, a few hours or overnight if possible). Drain all water and pop into the blender with lemon juice, shredded coconut, maple syrup, lemon zest, scrape inside of the vanilla pods and blend until really smooth. Remove base from fridge and place filling on top and place back in the fridge to cool.

Wash, peel, chop and cook the Rhubarb with a little water, coconut sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Cook until soft. Take off the heat and add a handful of fresh berries. Mix in chia seeds once rhubarb is cool and leave to sit. Once chia seeds expand and thicken, check filling has set and add compote as the last layer. Pop back into the fridge to cool and set once again.

Remove baking paper from the tin and slice the cheesecake to your liking.
Serve with fresh berries, and enjoy!

Photography & blog post by Georgia Brownlee