Hello! I’m happy to be reporting to you from the safety of my home in Minneapolis, since we almost didn’t make it out of NYC before Hurricane Irene hit. Our trip was planned for Wednesday-Sunday, since a friend of mine was getting married at Brighton Beach in Brooklyn on Saturday. By Thursday afternoon we got word that a hurricane was coming, but we–(along with the bride and groom)–were determined to persevere with our plans (our plans being ‘have a good time and enjoy our friend’s wedding’; theirs being ‘get married on a beach’). Sadly, by Friday afternoon, it became apparent that there would be no beach wedding and that anyone who needed to be on a plane before Tuesday should probably get out of dodge by Saturday morning. We had a heck of a time getting our flight re-booked, but made it–barely made it—out by 9am on Saturday. I am writing with gratefulness that the storm was less severe than the news suggested (surprise, surprise), and that little damage was done.
What we were able to do before leaving town was EAT. New York is full of amazing vegan food–a lot of it healthy (so many juice bars!), a lot of it not (i was begged to try a knish–didn’t happen). Sadly, I didn’t snap pics of *everything* I ate—at times I forgot (I am clearly a newbie food blogger), at times I was too hungry to wait (like day 1 after a crazy day of travel, and having only eaten a power bar and nectarine all day). But I will try to recap as much as possible, so that if you ever go to NYC you will know which places not to miss!
Wednesday, after a day of vegan travel food–a piece of fruit and an Active Greens Organic Food bar (a fave)–we arrived in Brooklyn to visit a dear, old friend from Chicago, whose been living in NY for the past two years. We walked around the Flatbush neighborhood, enjoying the sights and sounds of a charming neighborhood and a beautiful park. Turns out Central Park was actually practice; the designers built Brooklyn’s Prospect Park after the green space in Manhattan. After about an hour of walking, I got that blood-sugar drop/raechelneedsfoodnoworyoullbesorry feeling, and asked my friend what he had in mind for dinner.
“Roti,” he informed us, “I always have people try Roti.”
I knew the word roti, because it’s the kind of bread they serve at Indian restaurants. But Brooklyn’s roti is far more than bread. It’s an amazing meal of West Indian-inspired flavors and veggies (well, you can get roti with meat, but we didn’t). Green beans, collard greens, onions, chick peas–I can’t even recall everything that went into this wrap, but it was truly one of the most satisfying meals I’ve ever had. I wish I had a picture, but I was famished and dove in without thinking to snap a record. :(
After a beautiful night talking politics and the past on the rooftop of the apartment, we fell asleep to the soundtrack of the subway…(a sound I miss desperately in the quietness of the minnie-apple). The next morning we went to a place called Scoops, an anti-salt African health shop, where I got fresh carrot/cucumber/apple juice. Yum! It was orange like the walls of my friend’s apartment (and so nicely accented by the Beehive Collective pic in the back, right?):
We left Brooklyn and voyaged to Manhattan to indulge in the bourgeois portion of our trip. We checked in to our small, but nice-for-the-price hotel, and just escaped an afternoon rain storm. I took a bit of time to work out during the rain, and by the time I was done and showered, it had cleared up to a beautiful sun-kissed city evening. My partner and I ventured to Blossom, which I had read about when Chocolate Covered Katie went to NYC last month.
Katie didn’t steer me wrong; Blossom was wonderful! Ambiance, staff, food deliciousness—high praises all around. We started out with a raw sweet potato rolls:
I played it kind of safe with a quinoa/black bean/mango guacamole/pablano pepper sauce salad, but it just sounded soooo good, I had to have it. (I say “safe” because it’s a meal I could have made on my own, but that’s what my tummy wanted, so that’s what I gave it!):
My partner had Cherry Wood Smoked Tempeh. Even though I avoid soy, it looked so great, I had to try it:
We passed on dessert so we could visit a new neighborhood and try Red Bamboo, which was recommended by several friends. We shared a delicious vegan mocha cheesecake and vegan mexican chocolate cake:
Friday/Manhattan/Lower East Side
Friday, after the most breathtakingly wonderful run through Central Park, we had brunch at Peacefood Cafe, which was conveniently located around the corner from our hotel. They had an amazing case of bakery, but I know better than to load up on baked goods in the AM (such an energy drain), even though PFC doesn’t used refined sugar, it still seemed like a bad idea. Instead, I ordered a green juice (my exact at-home recipe: spinach, lemon, apple, ginger, cucs!) and a quinoa porridge. Doesn’t look like much, but it was delish. My partner got a tofu scramble with home fries:
Friday afternoon was jam-packed with: communist landmark sightseeing (CP building in Chelsea, SEIU office in Times Square), general Times Square gawking/puking, walk through Chelsea that ended at the delightful Union Square farmer’s market, then a subway trip to the Lower East Side to check out Babycakes bakery, MooShoes, and ABC No Rio!
For dinner that night, we met up with a cousin of mine from the city who took us to a lovely omnivore spot where I was able to get roasted veggies over brown rice, and my partner got a really tasty lentil-loaf. I didn’t take pictures because I was distracted by my cousin’s cute new baby. :) Dessert was vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free cupcakes that we bought from Babycakes earlier that day. Yum!
Saturday/JFK Airport/Delta Jets
We literally had to flee the city at 630am to make it to the airport before the city shut down. I bought a banana from a grocery store the night before, and ate that after my super-quick morning workout at the hotel fitness center. We had no other food for the day. After a truly horrible experience getting through baggage checking at the airport, we had about twenty minutes to find edible food for the rest of the day (we were on planes/transfers/planes until about 2pm that afternoon). All we could find was Clif Bars. Clif Bars are vegan, but they are full of soy (okay for some, less for me), and sometimes sugar, depending on the flavor. Blergh! Oh, and a pear, I got a pear too. So lunch was Clif Bars and pears. Not picture worthy, not recommended!
Overall, and in spite of the drastic weather conditions, we had an amazing trip, full of friends, food and a city that is really like no other. There’s this saying, “True New Yorkers understand that people living anywhere else must be, in some sense, kidding,” and I sadly kind of get that. I am so absurdly in love with the energy of big cities–an energy that pushes you around, but pushes you to live fully and to the point of uncompromising joy–and as much as I love Chicago, I admit, fully, that New York City is, possibly, as good as it gets. This means that applying for jobs at schools in NY has become a pretty big priority. ;)
Having to cut the trip short meant having a good excuse to come back. Hopefully that means we’ll have a Vegan Eats in NYC Part II coming soon! (Preferably around holiday time, because I am a sucker for the way that city looks on TV at christmas!).