Archive for NYC

Travel – NYC!

Over this past weekend I took a trip to NYC to visit The Dad. Most everyone knows that The Dad is pretty much my best friend – we get together not nearly often enough to hang out, eat great vegan food, get cultured (as I like to say), shop, and just in general – have a blast! Last year The Dad moved to Greenwich, CT and last Easter I went to visit (my first East Coast trip!). Ever since we’ve been saying how much me need to hang out in NYC a bit longer. With 2010 having been a crazy year for me (Moving, new job, etc) it never happened. Finally…I made it out there this last weekend. Added bonus: with my wonderful vegan friends on Twitter – we even planned to meetup.

We had a solid weekend of activities planned. My flight arrived Friday night a little after 10pm; after being delayed about 20min at O’Hare – someone apparently unplugged some extension cord and render the plane inoperable. After taking the most expensive taxi ride ever to our hotel The Dad said he was starved and we wonder around Times Square and ended up at Planet Hollywood. Not exactly – or even remotely – vegan, but I ate dinner earlier so I wasn’t hungry and just munched on a side salad while The Dad got himself some dinner. We made it back to the hotel and fell fast asleep by 2am. We set the alarm for 7am, we had a lot to do!

Saturday: I headed right to Starbucks for some much needed coffee & some oatmeal. Then we made out way to NBC for the Today Show. Promptly upon our arrival they were already filming…we didn’t even get into the “crowd” area before they were just. Drat! We just missed it. We hung out and spied through the studio windows while I drank my coffee and ate my oatmeal. Then we grabbed a taxi to Terri’s for a real breakfast.

The Dad got the Scramble Wrap (he said it was fab, I scored a bite and loved it!). It has some kick (thank you hot sauce) and the texture was great, with the added pieces of Italian sausage it rounded out to be quite a breakfast meal!

I opted for the Fat Elvis. Grilled Peanut Butter, Banana, & Tofu Bacon sandwich. Yes, it rocked.

After the breakfast we walked back to Time Square and headed to our second event of the day. The King Tut exhibit. I have no pictures as they were not allowed. But I can tell you it was incredible and I am telling you this too late as the exhibit has officially close (sorry!). We had the audio tour with our tickets and that was incredible helpful. Someone else to explain all the details so we didn’t have to sit and read every sign! I’m sure the exhibit is a traveling exhibit so if it’s ever in your area, it was well worth it!

After King Tut we headed to get some lunch at Zen Palate. We decided to get an appetizer, soup, and one entree to share (wise choice!)

Miso Soup
Celestial Tofu

After lunch it was time for the much anticipated Wicked!

It was fantastic, seriously amazing. Go see it if you haven’t, no really GO NOW! It was just so very good. This little girl sitting in front of us at the show said to her mother afterwards “Lets see it again!”. I whole heartily concur.

Me with The Dad

After Wicked we headed to Macy’s (Um, you can’t go to NYC without going to Macy’s). I bought a nice handbag and The Dad got a pair of boots. After the shopping excursion we headed to another highly anticipated event – dinner at Franchia’s with some twitter pals JL & Andrea! Nicole was supposed to join us as well, but she was under the weather (poo!) We got to chatting and had difficulty deciding what to order and then we annoyed the serve by pressing the call button (how cool is that!) way too many times.

The Most Wonderful Button of All…the Call Button!

Now, on to the food!

Appetizers: The Spicy Kimchi Pancakes were great and we were all impressed with how crispy they turned out.

Spicy Kimchi Pancakes

The dumplings were great, you can get them either steamed (as we did) or fried. I love dumplings, so tasty. I couldn’t tell what dumpling was which of the assorted variety, but they were all good!

Assorted Dumplings (photo: Andrea)

The main dishes are all pictured below, we scored…big time…

My Entree Option: Tofu and Roasted Kabocha Pumpkin in Sesame Soy Sauce

I love pumpkin and this dish delivered, the slices of Kabocha Pumpkin were wonderful with the sauce and tofu!

The Dad’s Entrée: Crispy Mushroom in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Oh how wonderful The Dad’s dish was. Mushrooms that are all crispy and wonderful…yum. My mouth is literally watering as I write this.

Andrea’s Entrée: Tofu Steak

Andrea was quite excited about ordering steak, the dish did not disappoint either. As you recall form our trip to Karyn’s, Andrea does not like mushrooms…so she promptly transplanted her mushrooms to my plate (yum!)

JL’s Entrée: Tofu Meatballs (photo: Andrea)

JL’s dish tasted great too. The texture seemed a bit soft on the tofu meatballs that and they were all perfectly formed (weird…somethings should not be so perfect!) but the flavor of the sauce and everythign were wonderful!

Now…you can’t get a bunch of vegans together without us wanting dessert!

My Dessert Option: Banana Fritters
The Dad’s Dessert: Soy Cheesecake
JL’s Dessert: Blueberry Coconut Cake

Andrea had been so excited about the pudding that we were all excited for that dish to be ordered. As soon as she said it the server promptly said it was sold out for the night. The entire table gasped and the server litterally step away from the table. Maybe he was concerned we’d turn on him. But Andrea took it in strid and order another dish…only to be told that there was only one piece available & that JL had ordered it…when he returned with this bad news he brought out some mochi (read: peace offering) and Andrea ordered the cheesecake (and finally was rewarded with a dessert!)

The Door to Franchia’s

After dinner and all the chatting and friendliness I realized how great my twitter friends are. I know our entire friendship is built on this little online world of 140 characters, but some of my friends on twitter are truly amazing and wonderful friends. I am so looking forward to Vida Vegan Con when we all get to hang out again. JL & Andrea also mentioned The Natural Gourmet Institute – and well, lets just say I’ve got some more focus on my future. I’ve always enjoyed baking and cooking in general.  But, this school offers some rad classes and I fully intend to go to several of them. I might move into Andrea’s tiny room (please!) for any classes this spring.

So…that was all of Saturday for you…now on to Sunday! I start my Sunday off with a bit-o-time with God, so we headed over the the Cathedral of Saint Patrick for morning churchness.

Cathedral of Saint Patrick

It’s such a beautiful church, I’m still in awe of it.

After church we headed down to Curly’s Lunch, which was recommended by none other than Andrea (woot!). The place is tiny, eclectic, and just all around interesting. Crayons on the table mean you can color your place-mat and, if you’re lucky, get it up on the wall. Mine sucked, so no wall for me =) All the food was fantastic…no really, down right amazing!

Coffee in the best cup!
The Dad’s: Breakfast Napoleon

The Dad dislikes banana’s, so he let me snap the photo then promptly put those babies on my plate (yum!). I must say the French toast rocked. Topped with molasses…how have I never thought of this? Super yummy.

Mine: The Slumberjack’s Breakfast

I went classic with pancakes, scramble and curly fries (duh!). I’m not a big seitan fan so I actually pushed the vegan sham over to my dad’s plate (he liked it, although, not really a shocker) Anyway…scramble was really good, but perhaps a bit too much mustard was used (or maybe not mixed well enough) because the last half I ate tasted strongly of mustard. Which went well with the crispy fries – so it worked. But fair warning if you don’t like mustardy flavors. Pancakes we delicious as well. Classic, simple, wonderful.

After breakfast we spend the remaining time hanging at the hotel and then sent me on my way back to Chicago. I can’t wait to go back…so much fun!

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Travel – Greenwich & NYC

Over Easter I was in Greenwich, CT and NYC to visit my Dad. This was the first time I’ve ever been to the East Coast and I was so excited. You can check out my other blog for more about hanging with my Dad and the sites of the cities…but here you will find all the awesome vegan food we found on my visit. My Dad is always amazing about my vegan diet and he eats vegan while we’re out and lets me cook him all sorts of vegan dishes too (more on this later).

Me & Dad

Thursday my Dad had to work so I went for a run, which was planned at 3miles but ended up at about 6miles due to my getting lost! So I was ready for lunch at the Little Thai Kitchen. I usually go for spicy when I eat Thai or India food, but this time I opted to try something different and had this amazing dish!

Little Thai Kitchen - Garlic Broccoli & Tofu

I loved the flavor and the garlic was not overwhelming as it sometimes can be. The best part about the Little Thai Kitchen is that it’s only a few blocks from my Dad place and his office. He’s so lucky to have awesome food choices so close to him!

On Thursday night we headed into Stamford and wandered around the downtown area, which boasts several eateries and I had trouble choosing…Sushi, Indian, Japanese, Falafel, etc. But, once I saw the menu at Duo I was set and we went in.


I was all set to order the Asian Pear Sake, but the my Dad pointed out a drink called “Gunpowder” and I couldn’t say no.

Duo - Gunpowder Drink

This drink rocked, I would have had many more but didn’t want to subject my Dad to my drunkness so I stopped at one…but if you’re in Stamford, CT…go to Duo!

For appetizers we had the Edamame (we’re both huge fans of Edamame) and also some Steamed Vegetable Won-tons, both rocked.

Duo - Edamame

Duo - Steamed Veggie Won-tons

What struck me about the menu was that you could get a variety of dishes…curry, stir fry, sushi, it’s a great place to satisfy the masses. To take advantage of this we had a stir fry and sushi.

Duo - Sweet Potato Roll & Asparagus Roll

Duo - Sweet & Sour Tofu

This Sweet & Sour Tofu was pretty awesome. I’ve only had Sweet & Sour once before before in St. Louis and this was far better. I think it was the fact that the sauce was separate.

On Friday we drove around Connecticut to take in the sight. I love how you can drive for just a few miles and hit another town, so food & shops were plentiful and so were some beautiful buildings, rock formations, and just the buzz of activity. After driving for a bit we stopped in one such town and found Wild Ginger.

We had for starters the Edamame (shocking, I know)…It was good as well and I loved that it came in the bamboo steamer bowl. Rockin’

Wild Ginger - Edamame

The two dishes we’re great and the House Special Tofu came with a slightly sweet and spicy sauce which was very pleasing. If you’re in Darien, CT you should stop by Wild Ginger, plentiful vegan options on the menu and the service was great.

Wild Ginger - House Tofu Special

Wild Ginger - Veggie with Brown Sauce

On Saturday we headed into NYC on the train. I didn’t know what to expect of the city but I knew there was no way to see it all in one day, nor could I make it to all the vegan places I wanted to visit. I had a priority list of vegan-awesomeness and we got to most of them. Once into Grand Central we hopped onto the subway and made our way to Chinatown. I was amazed at the street vendors, and all the open markets we walked past on our way to BabyCakes NYC!

We scored a box of fresh goodies as we were among the first 10 people in the door at opening. My mouth was watering before we even got there as I have been craving vegan donuts as we don’t have those available here in MKE, so this was a special day for me…and it also sealed the deal that I must get a donut baking pan.

Babycakes NYC

Babycakes NYC - Chocolate Glazed Donut

The donuts were so fresh the glaze wasn’t set yet. I got this one fresh off the line! It had a good flavor and I liked it but, the donut below was bay far the best. It out ranked the chocolateness simply because it was unique and something I had not seen before. A Caramel Salted Donut. Yum!

Babycakes NYC - Caramel Salted Donut

After eating the above donuts we opted to save the other two treats for later snacking. Both a WunderBun and the Blueberry Crumb Cake.

Babycakes NYC - Wonderbun & Blueberry Crumb Cake

After the donuts we walked update towards Macy’s on 34th, sat down at a picnic table in the middle of what was once a street (freaking awesome to have all this space for the people, not the cars!). Enjoyed the views, rested the legs, and then headed to Terri to get some lunch. Since we were still on a sugar high we opted to just share one sandwich, the Thanksgiving, and it was incredible (tofurky, cranberry sauce, vegenaise, celery, crushed walnuts), I also plan to recreate it myself.


Terri - Thanksgiving Sandwich

Terri - Thanksgiving Sandwich Insides

As if we didn’t have enough sugar on hand, Terri also had some fresh Lemon “Cheesecake”, yeah, we got a slice. It was my fist experience with Vegan Cheesecake and I like it. The lemon flavor was very light and I would have preferred a stronger lemon flavor. I did enjoy how the cheesecake wasn’t too thick and actually seemed light. Very good texture!

Terri - Lemon Cheesecake

After eating our lunch we wound our way to Central Park and I have to say I was taken aback by the rocks. I was totally expecting it to be flat but the rocks were incredible!

After enjoying Central Park and eating the remaining BabyCakes NYC goodness we made our way over to Candle Cafe.

We started with soup, both were awesome.

Candle Cafe - Mushroom Barley Soup & Magical Miso Soup

And then enjoyed the Quesadilla for our appetizer. My Dad loved this and couldn’t stop talking about it. I enjoyed it as well, but I think we found a favorite for him.

Candle Cafe - Black Bean Quesadillas

And for dinner we split the Paradise Casserole, which I found to be a wonderful combination of flavors. The sweet potatoes were light and fluffy, which the millet was nice and firm. Great flavor and I liked the presentation of it being served over greens (which were great as well…I love my greens!)

Candle Cafe - Paradise Casserole

And, as if we didn’t eat enough sugar, we got dessert too…

Candle Cafe - Marble Bundt Cake w/ Vanilla Soy Ice Cream

After stuffing ourselves we scored a Taxi and made our way back to Grand Central for our Train (express this time) back to Greenwich.

Sunday we had breakfast at home and then headed out for a tour of Greenwich and stopped for lunch at Thai Basil. Again, another great little gem found just driving around.

We got the spring rolls to share and then I opted for the Tofu with Chili sauce, great level of heat in the dish but not too terribly spicy.

Thai Basil - Spring Rolls

Thai Basil - Tofu Vegetables with Chili Sauce

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