I woke up this morning with a big smile on my face. Why? Because I got to share a meal last night with two of the most inspiring, uplifting, intelligent, and ambitious vegan bloggers, culinary masterminds, and activists I know. Before I get to them, let me tell you a bit about our dining spot: Blossom on Carmine.
Café Blossom, on the Upper West Side, is by now one of my regular dining spots. The food is organic, fresh, healthy, and delicious. Beyond that, the entire chain of Blossom restaurants is dedicated to sharing information about animal issues (they do so on their website), and to partnering with Farm Sanctuary and other organizations that help animals and the environment. The restaurant is frequently represented at NY vegetarian or vegan events, and the staff is always receptive to questions about the lifestyle, and passionate about sharing love for tasty, plant-based cuisine.
Blossom now has five NYC locations. Five! Talk about signs of the times. I love that vegan restaurants are not only flourishing, but multiplying more quickly than I can possibly keep up with. Each time I come home, I find a new outpost or flagship restaurant to try! Since Blossom Café on the UWS kept me company often during the years I lived in the West 80s, I was very excited to try their new location in the West Village. My dining companions? My friend, fellow raw foods lover, and activist extraordinaire Lisa Pitman:
Lisa and I have known each other through blogging for a long time, but we met for the first time last summer, at Vida Vegan Con. Here’s a photo of us (I’m just left of center, Lisa’s just right) with JL and Megan:
And on our own:
Lisa is one of those rare human beings who manages to be extraordinarily good without being even slightly saccharine sweet. I’ve never heard her utter an unkind word—seriously, I haven’t, not one—but no Pollyanna is she. Lisa is whip smart, a savvy self-starter, uproariously funny, and I think she’s destined to do wonderful things for people, animals, and raw foods. Not necessarily in that order. Her food alone is an epic accomplishment—especially her raw dessert recipes! As an interesting piece of trivia, Lisa was born without the enzymes necessary to digest animal protein, and so she’s been vegan since she was six years old, an ethical vegan since her teens, and an activist for pretty much the entire time, helping family and friends to explore plant-based dining with her delicious creations.
I don’t have a photo of Allyson and I because 1) yesterday was mad humid in NYC, and none of us felt like having our hair photographed, and 2) this was our first time meeting! But it’s been a long time coming. Blogging is a funny thing: you sometimes forget that what you send out into the blogosphere actually has an impact on other peoples’ lives. When I first discovered Manifest Vegan, Allyson’s site, I thought it had been around forever—it was so masterful and beautiful and accomplished. It was only recently, over email, that Allyson told me that our blogs had started at around the same time, and that Choosing Raw had actually been instrumental in her gluten free food journey (which followed a rather harrowing diagnosis with Celiac disease). I was so touched! All this time she’d been a blog hero of mine, and I had no idea that CR had had any impact on her.
Both Allyson and Lisa fall into the category of true friends made via blogging. When we all started tweeting about a dinner months ago, it seemed as though the stars would never align for us to make it happen with our crazy lives (Allyson is a mother of two, she has a cookbook launching as we speak, and she’s an artist; Lisa is a social worker, a raw foods chef, and a vegan advocate; and I’m…well, we know about the whole post-bacc thing). I am so glad that we made it happen, and I had a wonderful time.
To celebrate our meeting, we started with drinks. Allyson chose a glass of vegan wine, while Lisa and I got ginger lemon mocktails (yum):
It was tough deciding what to eat from the restaurant’s extensive menu, of course, but the “baby greens and flowers” salad with shaved radish and persian cucumber, sprouts, sunflower seeds, kiwi and avocado paradise dressing was calling all of our names. And so we all ordered it!
Gorgeous, no? Love the edible flowers. I also loved the sweet avocado dressing, which was filled with the taste of herbs, and highly delicious. My only complaint was that the portion, which was the larger of two sizes listed, was pretty small for a vegan restaurant. We know how I feel about small salads!
Fortunately, both Allyson and I ordered an entrée, too: the zucchini rollatini. I actually thought that this would be a raw dish, simply because of the cashew cheese involved, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the cooked version. It was delicious: the cashew cheese was light and fluffy, the zucchini delicately wrapped around the filling, and the warm, savory tomato sauce was stellar. I also loved how it came served in a little mini skillet with marinated arugula!
I polished most of it off, and took one rollatini home (which made a nice mid-morning snack today!). In all, this was a great meal.
Blossom is nestled into a townhouse space on Carmine street.
The restaurant actually comprises two floors, which I like. Somehow, I’m always a sucker for restaurants that are tucked into townhouse spaces. There’s something homey about it, and it’s always kind of delightfully intriguing to find downstairs rooms.
Allyson and Lisa and I chatted away into the wee hours about, well, everything: blogging, writing, activism, hopes and dreams, school, work, motherhood, and life. There was laughter aplenty, and we also discovered that Allyson and I may actually be long lost twins. At the least, we have a mutual loathing of organized group activity and team sports, which is ripe ground for sisterly bonding.
I am so lucky and grateful to have friends like this scattered near and far. Thank you, Lisa, for getting on that plane to NYC from Toronto—you made my weekend. And Allyson, this will be continued soon, in NYC, DC, or Philly.
I’ll be back tomorrow, of course! Happy Memorial Day weekend.