NYC Eats and Treats
August 25, 2011

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Hi from my last night in NYC (for now). I’m wistful about leaving, but terribly excited to blog to you tomorrow from Vida Vegan Con!

My last few days in NYC have seen lots of time with friends, lots of time with my Mom, and even a few hours of sleeping in (gasp!) and reading for pleasure (double gasp!). As I move between neighborhoods and activities, my mind is always at least halfway devoted to what my next meal will be, and where. I’ve had a few good meals at home now, but I’ve mostly been eating out. A few recent highlights:

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Yesterday, I met my friend Tom for a quick lunch at Soy Café, a new-ish lunch spot that features sandwiches, salads, soups, and soy milk coffee and steamed drinks. I’d taken a peek at the menu online and found it really charming, and the place itself proved as cheery and welcoming as its website. Lots of people studying and reading in cozy, midday light. I went for a half sandwich and salad combo:

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I think it’s pretty cute that they a) cut the half sandwich into two quarters, so it feels like a whole, even if you only asked for a half, and b) they cut the crusts off the multigrain bread.

My sandwich was hummus, cucumber, a heap of fresh dill, and a light spread of soy mayo. Delish! Tom got himself a chicken curry crepe, unpictured; I love that this spot has options for both vegans and omnis to eat comfortably together.

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After our lunch, I took a West Village stroll and stopped into Integral Yoga’s fabulous health food store, which has a juice bar and tons of raw and vegan groceries:

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I picked up a green juice and some chunks of energy, which make great snacks.

The day before, I had lunch in NYC’s other village, the east village, at Angelica Kitchen. Angelica is, as you all know, one of my favorite restaurants here in New York. It’s so unbelievably wholesome and healthy! I started my meal with a bright veggie juice: mixed veggies, ginger, and watercress:

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For my lunch, I got the “picnic plate,” which is a choice of four cold dishes:

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My choices were the semi-raw lentil walnut pate, the special salad of the day (which had mesclun and asparagus and some sprouted quinoa), the simple salad (basically a coleslaw mix) and the hummus with crudites:

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I topped it all off with some tahini dressing. The rice crackers were sort of unnecessary, but aside from that, the meal was absolutely divine. I shared the crackers and licked the plate clean. My friend Kevin got some sort of tempeh sandwich with ruby slaw, which was really tasty, too:

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In the middle of lunch, the famous earthquake struck NYC and DC. I have to admit, I didn’t feel a thing: supposedly the New Yorkers who felt it most were all in taller office buildings. But most of them assumed they were having some neurotic dizzy spell, and were embarrassed to mention it at first. (How very New York of them.)

One of the nicest things about my visit so far has been a spell of dreamy weather; a little reprieve before Irene storms through the streets of Manhattan. So on Monday night, when my dear friend Nelly and I grabbed a movie and dinner, we chose to get something to go at Whole Foods, and sat outside the fountain at Lincoln Center:

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Lincoln Center is one of my favorite places in the world, for so many reasons: personal memories, the scent of live performance in the air, its proximity to my grandmother’s place. I was so happy to sit there for a little while, and get excited about the fall season at the Met:

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I got a big green salad of spinach, kale, guac, mixed veggies, and edamame:

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And a brown rice and avocado roll:

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Tasty and conveniant!

And last night, in the crowning moment of my NYC dining adventures, I had a spectacular dinner at Pure with my good friends Eric and Cherry. The lighting in the restaurant was really too dim for me to take photos, but it didn’t much matter: I was way too focused on conversation to mind. And on my way home, I stumbled upon something I new you all would love:

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The Soft Serve Fruit Company! This place is taking banana soft serve nationwide, in four flavors: raspberry banana, mango banana, blueberry banana, and banana banana. And it comes right out of a soft serve dispenser: dairy free!

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I’d already eaten a chocolate mint napoleon for dessert at Pure, but…I couldn’t pass this up! Raspberry banana it was:

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Very tasty. Fair warning to my soft serve loving friends: this stuff tastes fare more like sorbet than actual banana soft serve, which is richer and creamier. When I asked about ingredients, they said it’s banana, the other fruit, water, and a touch of cane sugar. You can taste the sugar, for sure, but in fairness I didn’t find it to be overwhelming.

I often get tweets and emails telling me that other people are posting or talking about banana ice cream, and aren’t I mad, because wasn’t it my idea? I’m super flattered, but to be fair, it wasn’t my idea! I just posted about the stuff. Bananas ice cream has been a staple among raw foodies for ages now. And even if it had been my idea, it’s really just a technique, not a recipe, right? And isn’t it better for more people nationwide to enjoy it, than less? The more people spreading the word, the better: that means more healthy frozen treats, and a shift, I hope, away from dairy-based ice creams.

Thank you, Soft Serve Fruit Co! I hope you guys arrive in DC soon.

Finally, tonight, I enjoyed my final NYC dinner of the week by stopping in on my friends at Candle Cafe for some takeout (and a nice chat with Mark, the tireless and thoughtful manager). As I sipped on a giant green goddess juice, I ordered the “good food plate,” a diner’s choice of several sides. I opted for quinoa, simple salad, marinated veggies, and arame and carrot salad, all topped off with a creamy herb dressing:

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When I got it home and dug in, I think Mom was jealous.

And that, friends, is how you eat your way through a vegan paradise in six days. Of course, I’ll have some amazing food photos and stories to share from Portland, too—you can be sure of it! But in my mind, NYC really is the high-raw vegan’s dream city. So many options, and all of them so wholesome. In many ways, I’m glad I moved to DC, because the bounty of food in my home town has never felt more precious to me.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting a late day smoothie recipe with a hidden vegetable star. I’ll be attending a fabulous, six course meal in PDX with some dear friends, and on Saturday, I’ll be telling you guys alllll about it. I can’t wait.

xo

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    33 Comments
  1. Gosh, you’ve been busy! It seems like NYC is a vegan mecca. I need to get my booty down there, apparently for a whole week! Everything looks delectable. I just made myself banana mango soft serve for dessert!

  2. I’m a long-time reader but infrequent commenter, and I have to speak up because I love this post! I just moved to NY, and I actually work at Integral yoga. I have been wanting to try soy cafe so thanks for the review, and your other recs! I stumbled across the soft serve fruit place the other day and got so dorkily excited! I’m bummed to see that they add sugar, but oh well-more reason to save money by making my own!
    p.s.- stay safe and dry this weekend!

  3. Gena- I live on the UES, and my delivery staple for too tired to cook evenings has become Candle Cafe. After spotting the spring rolls on your blog I finally ordered them last night. They were heavenly! The perfect sweet, crunchy, slightly salty and spicy bite. Thank you, thank you!

    PS – I’m looking forward to trying Soy Cafe. I’m always appreciative of spots where I can enjoy a veg meal with my meat-loving friends and husband.

  4. AGH I can’t believe you were in NYC! I was there Mon- Thurs, and even had lunch at Angelica Kitchen on Wednesday (LOVE) and had banana soft serve at that fruit place on Monday! Crazy. I’m sad I missed you!

  5. as both a vegan and frequent reader of your blog, (and nyc resident!), i’ve really enjoyed these nyc posts. you’ve turned me on to stogo and candle cafe – both great finds.

  6. It looks like you did the vegan scene in New York up right my friend! And I looks like you may have eaten your weight in quinoa whilst you were there! It all sounds and looks wonderful. I am sure your mom must have had a titch of envy in her looking at your food.

  7. Angelica Kitchen is a block away from where I live! I just went there the other night and got the dragon bowl, corn bread with miso tahini spread and fresh peach crisp with maple tofu whip for dessert. It was delicious!

  8. I wish I had your ability to find every amazing vegan restaurant that exists in an area. This past week I haven’t been home to make dinner, and I’ve resorted to getting the exact same vegan takeout every night. I’m not exaggerating. Every. Single. Night. The worst part is that I’ve ordered the same thing every time! I need help. I’m finally sick of it, and now I have no idea what I’ll be eating for dinner. Haha! Come to LA and make me a list of the best places you find! (We actually have a lot!) I’m also incredibly jealous over that frozen yogurt joint. Whenever people ask me if I want to get frozen yogurt, I always decline because I can’t stand the fake sugary taste (chemicals, obviously) in all the mainstream frozen yogurt places. Basically Gena, I want to be your best friend, because–if I’m going to be completely honest–I want you to feed me!

  9. The main reason I wish I lived in the city is right here in this post — the amazing array of healthy food places. It’s like a health foodie heaven. Seriously, we see nothing like that in Lancaster County farmland. 🙂

  10. hey Hoshigaki! i think you can totally be vegan-paleo. i know paleo vegetarians! i eat strict paleo and actually have been limiting my meat consumption so much that it’s mainly been an egg/fish for my “meat” portions and an abundance of veg, nuts/seeds, unprocessed soy, seaweeds, some fruit. paleo to some is a militant routine but i def see the room for a vegan to include garbonzos etc even if they are a legume and there has been some debate about allowing rice as well since it is non gluten & not considered to be inflammatory to the system. i eat a lower fat, higher carb form of paleo as well (i’m not for shoving spoonfuls of lard down my gullet). instead i let the avocado, nuts or fats from the proteins serve as my sources of fat.

    back to gena! i’m drooling over your eats! hope you get out before the hurricane takes over :/ i saw the banana soft serve on your blog first as well. even if it wasn’t your idea, it’s a great alternative to those who can’t tolerate dairy and honestly the dairy free ones wreck my gut (the stabilizers, guar & carrageenan + FOS and/or chicory)

    • Thanks for bringing “vegan-paleo” into the conversation, Miss DP.

      I like that there is this strong emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods here. This is in keeping with the form of med/high-raw veganism that I and Gena and many others here live by.
      I had this bad feeling while I was reading Taubes (since as a vegan I disagree with his lifestyle/conclusions/diet choices), this bad feeling- this fear- that an overweight or obese individual would come to veganism, eliminate animal products and suffer with blood-sugar issues, get frustrated and go back to meat and dairy. So my thinking was, yes- advertise a low-sugar vegan diet for those who are insulin resistant or sensitive to “carbs” (hate saying this because all are not created equal and my diet is like, 80% “carbs” haha).
      Especially for these overweight kids, who are born predisposed to insulin resistance, to be able to address their health concerns without harming animals.
      This is vital, don’t you think?

  11. Hi Gena,

    Have you read any Gary Taubes? Between two vegans, this question is as peculiar as asking whether we’ve read Atkins.
    Only, I think it’s a little different because Taubes focuses heavily on science with less emphasis on diet gimmicks. His books include no recipes or meal plans- he’s all about the scientific literature.
    For me, as a vegan considering a career in nutrition, and for you as a future physician, his work and the work he cites is highly important and should be included in our discussions.
    His work highlight obesity and its cause- less a matter of over-consumption and inactivity and largely a genetic predisposition or, in some cases, an environmentally triggered disposition, to store energy rather than use it. The main factor here being the secretion of insulin and regulation of fat tissue.
    For our obese and overweight friends interested in veganism or looking to veganism as a potential health solution, this is very important to acknowledge.
    It says that many of our obese and overweight friend cannot be “saved” by a vegan diet high in even the most nutrient-dense carbohydrates because of sensitive blood sugar conditions.
    Given this reality (and it’s a sucky reality), that overweight and obese people have systems predisposed to store sugar rather than use it, I have been thinking that in order to maintain a highly INCLUSIVE vegan community, a variation of our plant-based diet that is tailored to the insulin resistant among us should be in our discussions and prescriptions. This variation would focus on proteins and fats end of the diet spectrum with high volume of green, non-starchy vegetables.
    Suggestions might include:
    Eat in Abundance: all non-starchy vegetables, seeds, nuts, unsweetened dairy-free milks, tofu, tempeh, minimally-processed meat replacements, legumes, all protein powders especially hemp, seaweeds
    Test Yourself for Weight Gain: whole grains, whole grains adding cinnamon to regulate blood sugar, fruit, sweet potatoes, corn, squash
    Limit/Avoid: fruits, sweets and treats, processed foods, flours, pastas, potatoes, concentrated sugars, fruit juices, bread, dried fruits

    I’m no expert but a conversation on blood sugar issues, especially those experienced by the overweight, obese and type 2 diabetics should probably take place. And this is a great forum to make showcase how inclusive (and problem-solving) the vegan community truly is.

    • Hi Hoshigaki,

      Thanks for such a detailed and thoughtful comments. I’ve read Taubes’ work, sure: both book length (while I was in publishing) and of course his famous sugar article, which was admirable, though I thought it sparked a little hysteria among those who didn’t need to get hysterical.

      I’m not entiely sure what you’re asking here: do I think its right for the vegan community to accomodate those who are predisposed to insulin resistance by offering a mentality in which one is mindful of grains and sugar–akin to your methodology, shared here? Sure. Certainly a good many people would probably find that this is the correct dietary nuance for them. Do I think that all Americans are predisoposed to insulin resistance, thus limited to such an approach? Well, no, because many Americans thrive and lose weight by reducing animal fats and protein, and focusing on whole grains and vegetables (perhaps with some fruit). I think it all depends on lifestyle, history, and yesn genetics, though I believe there is also robust evidence that we tend to overemphasize the roll of genetics in our dialogues.

      So if you’re asking if I think vegans should be sure to make clear that those who are predisposed to respond poorly to sugar and starch should be minbdful of grains and fruit, I sure do. But I don’t think it ought to be a universal prescription (I don’t think there are any such things). If the wuestion is whether the mention of dessert in this post should include a simultaneous disclaimer that not everyone processes sugar well–either because of genetics or temporarily–i guess I never feel the need, because I think most of my readers are of the “know thy body, to each his own” school, and take individualization of diet to suit one’s needs seriously already. Plus, my blog is generally gentle with sweets, so I don’t fret too much about spreading a pro-suagr message.

      • Hi Gena,

        Thanks for the response.

        I don’t think I was necessarily asking you, specifically, about making universal prescriptions (that would be quite silly). Further, I don’t think I was asking anything, really (not every comment is a question), other than trying to open a dialogue about potentially the need to include “low-carb vegan” into the equation. Of course not all Americans are predisposed to insulin resistance! But a lot of babies since the rise of the obesity epidemic are. And I think the vegan lifestyle can definitely be inclusive to the diabetic community as long as the right blood sugar-regulating tools are in their nutritional toolbox.

        What you mentioned about individualization is vital to understanding our own bodies and our own vegan diets. And that’s specifically why I put: “test it out” as a category for some foods that can spike blood sugar in many individuals.
        Often I find, we go to the literature for cure all diets to follow but in reality we need to be better about customizing and experimenting with our diets to tailor our specific needs and to be frank with ourselves about what we can handle and what we can’t. There’s nothing wrong with avoiding even nutritious foods that may make us gain weight or lose weight or negatively effect our tummies or blood sugar. Vegans are as in tune with this more than any. And you certainly have been a great role model for this practice of knowing thy bodily reactions when it comes to certain foods.

        I suppose I should have specified that my comment was not a specific response to your post on sweets. Nor was it critical of your blog (rereading it, I don’t think it was worded to imply that either).

        • Oh, I didn’t think it was critical! Sorry if my comment was abrupt, but I’m flying all day today and writing on my blackberry. I expect some comments to reflect personal trains of thought or revelations, and not to be direct questions or commentary on what I wrote. But usually there’s some connection between the post and the musing it provokes, so I was just curious about that. I think all of your points are very interesting and I’m glad you raised them.

  12. You are making ME nostalgic for Ny and I don’t even live there!! But on our yearly visits, we eat six times a day, healthy, I know, right? To me, it beats CA hands down. Just that there is so much within walking distance and less fake tits!! But do LOVE the Santa Monica Weather and lack of urine smell in the streets! However, NY is still my pick. The gritty with the beautiful. And rent is so high that fake boobs are harder to come by!

  13. Enjoy your Portland trip (my home town!), looking forward to hearing about your adventures. Loving these NYC posts!

  14. My list of places to eat in NYC (When I finally get around to another visit) is going to be longer than my arm! It sounds like paradise- thanks for the reviews!

    And the sleeping/reading bit sounds like utter bliss, too 🙂

  15. Could I possibly be more jealous? Is this your way of mocking the many ways in which I cannot have any of these things in DC?! 🙂

    I don’t know what sounds more lovely: the amazing food or the time spent with your friends in your favorite place? I vote for the latter.

    And let’s not get started on your trip to Vida Vegan Con! Can’t wait to hear all about it.

  16. Gena, ever since I’ve started reading your blog, I’ve been incredibly envious of your amazing new york eats. I’m from a suburb in mid-western Canada, where beef, rodeos, and duck hunting are the norm. Vegan eats? Not so much.

    Recently, I;ve moved across the country, and I’m finally getting to experience the thrills of a vegan restaurant. I’ll be going to my first ever raw vegan place tomorrow!! Oh. My. Goodness. It’s wonderful.

    Anyways, soak up all the vegan and raw food that you can while you’re in the Big Apple. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and you totally deserve it :).

  17. “even a few hours of sleeping in (gasp!) and reading for pleasure (double gasp!).”-

    Well you have me beat on both fronts…since I do very little of either. One day in the next decade or two though I’d like to get caught up on both 🙂

    The sushi rolls
    The time with friends
    The great weather
    The fact that you weren’t fazed by the earthquake
    The Integral Yoga healthfood store pit stop

    So many awesome things in this post.

    And I also like how you touched on the banana softserve topic. That your recipe was more of a technique than a recipe and that it’s been around for ages. Yes, it has been around for ages but you just brought it to a new generation; younger blog readers and newer raw-ish foodies or those who hadn’t previously heard of it and without you blogging about it, likely never would have. So it’s great you decided to share about it 🙂 thousands of people thank you!

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