Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Veggie Weekend in NYC: Guest Blogger - Erin

She's back! Erin, who also shared her account of being Happy and Healthy on a Plant-Based Diet, spent the Memorial Day weekend in New York City with her best friend and Matron of  Honor, Cait. Lucky for us, she was willing to share her photos and write a synopsis of her visit. 

Since I live in an area where vegan dining options are limited, I truly appreciate her enthusiasm in the post.


* * *

Cait and Me in Central Park
     As my Wedding day is coming closer and closer and I see my single lady status drifting farther and farther away I realized that I had never gone on a vacation with my best friend and Matron of Honor, Cait.  Many people do this in college, go away for spring break together with their friends or plan a trip over the summer, But Cait and I were always working over breaks, seeing family or both.  
  So with that realization we devised a plan: We were going to go to New York City and spend a weekend exploring the city and eating all the vegan food we could find.  
  Coincidentally Cait had also recently switched to a mostly vegan diet which made this trip all the more enjoyable. If you are vegan and have ever traveled with someone who is not vegan there is nothing more uncomfortable than having to jump from restaurant to restaurant scanning menus and impatiently trying to find something you can eat somewhere.  
    We started off our eating extravaganza with brunch at Cafe Blossom at 466 Columbus Ave (upper west side) where we met up with our friend (and one of my bridesmaids) Colleen.  Here I experienced the first time I have ever been able to look at a menu and be able to choose ANYTHING I want. I was so overwhelmed that I needed to start off with a Pimosa (pomegranate Mimosa YUM!). Finally I decided to go simple, a grilled Tofu sandwich with tomato, avocado, lettuce, balsamic, and veganaise on multigrain bread with sweet potato fries.  It was delicious to say the least. Cait ordered the traditional country breakfast which included a tofu scramble and sweet potato hash browns that she said were amazing. And Colleen had a Southern Fried Sietan Sandwhich which looked exactly like fried chicken in a sandwich it was creepy. She also said it was delicious and hearty. Colleen is a tried and true omnivore and she was thoroughly satisfied with our vegan lunch, which I feel definitely says something about a place.  
   I find that a lot of Vegans or people who follow a plant based diet will eat just about anything that isn’t an animal product, we tend to love all things veggie and delicious.  But if a vegan restaurant can satisfy a non vegan customer I think that is huge plus.

Tofu Sandwich 
Outside Babycakes enjoying my lovely vegan donut!

Me enjoying my sangria!
Seitan Chimichurris
Seitan Piccatta
Strawberry rubarb pie with ICE CREAM!
    After Brunch we decided to meander along the streets roaming in and out of the different boroughs.  We found an awesome flea market, some cute boutique shops, second hand stores and antique stores.  We wandered through little Italy and into a street fair for some saint or another, and roamed through Chinatown but somewhere in between the two we found Babycakes and I squealed with delight!  Babycakes is a Vegan dessert shop that also only uses all natural sweeteners in their pastries and often creates allergen free pastries as well.         
   After basking in the glory of being able to choose anything I’d like I settled on a plain donut with chocolate frosting and also a plain donut with glazed frosting and sprinkles. The adorable ladies behind the counter said their favorites were the cookie sandwiches but I really had a donut craving. Everything was amazing! The shop was tiny and cramped but filled with quirky vegan love and laughter and after all that walking it really lifted my spirits.  
    Our final food destination was our much anticipated dinner at Candle79 at 79th and Lexington in the Upper East Side. This is the place for fine vegan dining.  Once again the menu was so overwhelmingly delicious cocktails were needed!  Sangria for me and Cait went with one of their Refreshing juices: Aloe, cucumber, and lime mixed with sparkling water!  She said it made her feel all fresh and clean!   
    For starters I went with a special of the day, chilled avocado and cucumber soup and Cait was instantly drawn to the seitan chimichurris. Both were delicious and a perfect pair, we shared and were practically full when the entrees came around. Our dashing server, Adam, helped us decide on our entrees.  Cait went with his favorite on the menu, the Enchilladas and I went with the house special, the seitan piccata with a lemon caper white wine sauce.    Both were out of this world delicious! The Piccatta I could have served to my picky meat eater and he would never have guessed it was seitan. It actually tasted so much like normal chicken piccatta that I had to pause and remind myself that it definitely wasn’t chicken.   
    After that enormous meal we got a brief respite with tea and espresso and then we had to try the dessert. Cait being the Italian girl that she is had to get the canoli, I on the other hand was reminiscent of my grandmother and had to try the strawberry rubarb pie with dulce de leche ICECREAM! I don’t even remember what the canoli tasted like because I was too busy inhaling my pie, I would have licked the plate afterwards had it not been totally inappropriate.  It was the best overall dessert I had ever had anywhere, far surpassing anything I had ever eaten in my non vegan days.  Now here is the good news!  If you can’t day trip out to NYC for some fabulous Candle Cafe goodness then you can make it at home!  Candle Cafe has a cookbook that you can get here so you can make your own vegan delights and soon they are coming out with frozen meals! Nothing will beat the real thing but this will definitely hold me over until my next trip to NYC.
    To sum it up, it was not hard to eat in NYC, especially if you know where to look. In practically every part of the city there was at least one vegan/veggie eatery if not a handful of them.  Even when we were walking around, not looking for vegan delights, we stumbled upon places that we just didn’t have time or the stomach capacity to try. But even though it was so veg friendly I still love that dirty water (bamp bamp bam) Boston you’re my home!



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