A Weekend in NY, part 2
(If you missed the first part of this multi-blog entry, it can be found here. Enjoy!)
For dinner of day 1, we visited the Natural Gourmet Institute, for their “Friday Night Dinner.” Apparently the chefs-in-training at the school put together a 3 course dinner every week, for $40 per person. It’s BYOB, so I suggest that you find out what the menu is before showing up, but for $80 we couldn’t beat it.
The real highlight of the evening, not that the cucumber and watermelon gazpacho wasn’t awesome, was the little treat they added to each bowl of soup. It was an avocado fritter. Go ahead, judge me for loving fried food, but it was so good, that at the end of dinner, the chefs come out to answer some questions, and we had to ask how it was made. Apparently, they made guacamole, put it into balls, froze them, and then battered and fried the frozen balls. They were filthy-good.
Everything else was wonderful, mind you. The risotto was perfect, the greens couldn’t have been fresher (no, seriously, they explained that they grew corn shoots in the kitchen, and cut them right before service), and the timbale of summer veggies was beautiful.
The dessert, while I didn’t love it, was tasty and very interesting. They did paired coconut ice cream, of chocolate-chai tea and Earl Grey tea flavors. They were very well made, I just prefer my chocolate chocolate and my tea in a cup.
Because we were all a little underwhelmed by the dessert, we hailed a cab and went from downtown to uptown in about $15, to visit “v-note,” an organic wine and tapas restaurant 60 blocks north of us. The blonde and the Veg managed to split a dessert (although I was scared some fingers might be lost at the time) and I got my own. Don’t judge me.
The girls ordered the chocolate ganache cake with peanut butter center. Apparently it was pretty good, but I didn’t get to taste it. Had I reached over, I might have come back light a hand. The girls raved about it on Sunday morning, so, it couldn’t have been anything less that awesome. I, on the other hand, decided to stuff my face with tiramasu and cappuccino.
Ahh, tiramasu. It was light, sweet, and creamy, with the perfect crust of crispness and wheaty/almondy sweetness. I don’t often order tiramasu, because I’ve had it as a glorified rum cake, and it broke my heart. I had some fear that this was going to be a very “vegan” tiramasu. You know, extra tofu tasting, wheat-grassy, and a little like dirt. (You know what I mean, you’ve all had someone try to make you vegan food, and it tasted like you were licking an unwashed turnip.) This was totally un-tofu tasting. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d assume that they were lying and had given me tiramasu with dairy and eggs in it. (I know there was no dairy, because of my lactose intolerance. It’s like a warning alarm when someone has tried to ‘trick’ me.) In fact, intrepid reader, I devoured the tiramasu before taking a pic of it. It was that good. . .
The next morning, in order to try to make up for the 2nd dessert, and in anticipation of the food shoveling that was to ensue, we went to the gym. Be proud of us. 30 minutes on the elliptical, and 50 minutes of assorted strength training really helped me work up an appetite! So breakfast was from a juice vendor: pineapple, coconut, lime, orange. Pretty good, and it certainly gave me the energy to get on a train to Brooklyn!
Brooklyn, the 2nd borough of New York, and probably the 2nd most vegan-friendly. We took the N-Q-R to the L, then got off on Bedford Ave.
And were totally lost.
We turned around about 10 times, while we hoped to get a little bit of our bearings. After a few minutes, with our stomachs grumbling audibly, we managed to find Vinny’s Pizzeria, and their vegan pizza options.
(Side note: Lots of people love Daiya cheese, but Vinny’s makes their pizza with Teese, and there’s no contest. It is so much better that Daiya)
For the four of us, we ordered 6 slices. That makes sense, right? As usual, we passed around the pizza, munching in round-robin our slices of (in order of awesomeness):
Chickn and Jalapenos
Mac ‘n Cheese
and “Daiya-dilla” with Daiya cheese, tortilla chips, hot sauce, and Mexican ‘Chickn
To say that any of them weren’t really good would be unfair, but the BBQ was clearly the best, with sweet/hot barbecue sauce, whatever mock-chicken they used (I suspect TVP), and
the red onion whose sweetness and tartness just set it off. YUM. (Sorry we ate them so quickly that there wasn’t time to take pics.)
Pretty good day, right? Seems like we could have hopped back on the train and headed back to the hotel with no regrets. . . But instead, we walked to the place that won a contest for “Best Doughnuts in NYC,” according to the NY Daily News, Dun-Well Doughnuts. It was a little bit of a walk, and the rain threatened to start a few times, but we enjoyed it, and got to Dun-Well just before the rush.
Oh, did I mention that Dun-Well is all vegan? No, I left that part out? Silly me, not pointing out the best doughnuts in New York also just happen to be vegan. Wait, can I say that again? The best doughnuts in New York are vegan. No reason for non-vegans to complain about how they can’t give these babies up.
If you’ve read a few of my earlier posts, you know that two of my favorite things in the world are chocolate and peanut butter, and, as will be revealed in upcoming blog posts (SPOILER ALERT!) I eat PB+J pretty much every day for lunch. Can you guess which was my favorite? Yeah, the PB+J was pretty awesome. All four were really good, not too light, and not so dense as to be heavy, they were perfectly balanced in weight and sweetness. In fact, the chocolate ones could have been a tad sweeter, but I have a huge sweet tooth.
We strolled back towards where we got on the train, with the intention of visiting the Brooklyn Brewery for a tour, but wound down, and didn’t want to wait 45 minutes for the next tour to start, so instead we visited a bar and ordered a pair of Brooklyn Brewery beers.
As we sat sort-of watching the Olympics and drinking our beers, it was proposed that we walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s one of those everybody-should-do-it-once touristy things, but what they hell, we’re in the city as tourists, right? Rather than walk the 6.5 miles to the bridge, we called a cab, and had it leave us right at the entrance for walkers.
We started the walk across, and just past halfway, we saw a wedding taking place waaayyyy down below in Brooklyn. The walk itself was pretty easy, a little crowded, but nice, and we enjoyed it.
Once we were back in Manhattan, we sat down for a bit, the blonde saw actress Julia Stiles (although the other three of us only saw her from behind, and none of us are connoisseurs of mostly-famous butts to either confirm or deny), and then we returned to the hotel, to prepare for dinner at Caravan of Drams, again, waaayyyy downtown.
But the last two meals of our trip are for yet a third blog post. . .