Quitiversary, Part Two: The Celebration!

First of all, thank you so much for the many incredible comments you all left me yesterday. I can’t tell you how much they meant to me. My celebration was so much richer because of all the support I got from all of you. To the women who’ve emailed me about quitting, and to those quitters who shared their stories: you guys are an inspiration. Future quitters, I applaud you on your soon-to-be triumphs, and quitters, I’m inspired by your determination and success. Thank you, thank you.

So, on to the good stuff: my celebration. I didn’t originally intend for this post to be an epic poem to Pure Food and Wine, but I see now that it is. I also should apologize in advance for the lousy photo documentation. I was so eager to dive into my delicious food today that I totally forgot to take pictures of most of it! I promise to be a more efficient food chronicler next time.

I had three wishes for my quitiversary:

1)    No editing
2)    A facial
3)    Dinner with my Mom at Pure Food and Wine

The first simply meant ignoring the mountains of paper that are accumulating in my apartment. Easy. The second was enabled by a gift card I have yet to redeem from Christmas. The third was arranged by my generous mother. I also had a bonus event: lunch at One Lucky Duck with my friend Cassie. It’s always a joy to spend time with Cassie: she and I have very similar views on nutrition and health, and she was tremendously supportive about commemorating the day. We met up at 12:30 and chatted for nearly three hours—fueled by raw chocolate! We had both ordered salads (mine was a mixed green, sprout, kale, carrot, cucumber, and almond crumble mix; hers was the signature seaweed salad with miso dressing), but we came to the mutual agreement that leaving without splitting at least two of Pure’s incredible raw treats was unacceptable. It took us some time to settle on the winners, but we chose the chocolate Moon Pie and the chocolate cheesecake. Here’s what they looked like after we had already attacked them:


A close up of the cheesecake:


Dear god, these were good. The cheesecake was frighteningly authentic, and the moon pie was so, so delicious: layers of nut brownie and vanilla cream, all wrapped in a dark chocolate ganache coating. We ordered the desserts to go, thinking that we’d “taste” them and take some home, but who were we kidding? We polished both off with no trouble. Oh, and we got ice cream samples, too. That’s right. Chocolate orgy.

After the dessert lovefest, I headed uptown to Feline, one of the few really excellent spas on the Upper West Side (which is my hood).


I confess, I’m a sucker for spa treatments, possibly because I never can afford them without gift cards. I had an aromatherapy facial that was much needed after a long winter and trotted to my Mom’s fresh-faced and (nearly) ready to eat again.

Of the many people who were proud when I quit, no one was prouder—or more relieved—than my mother, who lost her own father to emphysema and throat cancer. My mom handled my smoking as she handles all issues of child-rearing: gracefully. She expressed disappointment, and she was known to hide my packs from me when I came home for Christmas (which made for some comic search operations on my part), but she was also wise enough to know that she had to let me reach the decision to quit on my own. She never patronized or preached, and for that I am forever grateful.

My mom has handled my raw journey in much the same way: wisely and respectfully. She, like most parents of the newly raw, expressed some concerns at first. But as soon as I showed her that I had educated myself about the nutrition, she not only respected my new lifestyle, but started making efforts to participate in it—from calling me from the supermarket as she’s comparing cereal brands to making real changes in her own diet. She’s ditched the Splenda for agave nectar and begun cooking vegan meals at home—could I ask for a more supportive parent?

Which is why I was so happy to take her to my favorite dining spot in the city. I probably don’t need to wax poetic about the joys of Pure to you guys—some of you have eaten there, and others have read all about it. But to be brief: the place is unsurpassable. Dearly though I love most vegan restaurants in NYC, many still feel a bit too “healthy” for mainstream diners (which is most of my friends and family). They’re tasty, but they’re cramped, and they smell like wheatgrass. Sarma Melngailis’s genius was to make Pure a lush, sexy dining environment—a seductive place for raw foodists and omnivores alike—and to endow it with an extensive cocktail, wine, and dessert menu. (My ex, who lives on a diet of meat and cupcakes, would go to Pure for the master cleanse martini and the classic sundae.) The food is seasonal, astonishingly creative, and always delicious. I have yet to take a diner there who left without awe, and no matter how many times I eat there, I’m amazed, too.

I knew what was on my wish list for the night: the asparagus Sushi Rolls with mirin soaked forest mushrooms avocado, red pepper, and scallion, followed by my old favorite, the S&M salad (which I described in a post last week). I also knew what I was ordering my Mom to get: the Caesar salad with pignoli parmesan and the heirloom tomato lasagna with basil-pistachio pesto, sundried tomato sauce, and pignoli ricotta. The latter two are, I think, the most accessible menu items for raw newcomers. And when the first course came, Mom was thrilled. Here’s a photo of the food, after we started eating – sorry!


(The sushi “rice,” if you’re curious, is a mixture of jicama and pine nuts: it’s something I’ve made at home, and it’s totally delicious!)


And of course I forgot to snap pictures of the entrees. We were way too busy chatting and pigging out. Fortunately, there are numerous photos of the lasagna floating around, so here’s a sample of what it looks like:


Finally, we ordered the mint ice cream sundae for dessert. That’s right, kids, I ate not one, but three Pure desserts yesterday, and I savored every single bite. I should commemorate personal anniversaries more often.

Mom loved her meal, and she even noted an hour later that she felt totally satisfied, and yet not full—ah, the joys of eating raw!

All in all, it was a really special day, and I’m so happy that I shared it with all of you. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new recipe, and I hope in the meantime that your weeks are off to a good start! xo

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Categories: Main Dishes

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  1. Wow, what a great review and great day for you! You should be very proud of yourself and you deserved every bit of goodness you enjoyed today. 🙂

    I’d love it if you would add me to your blogroll (www.gettingfitandhappy), and I’ll be happy to do the same for you. I love reading your blog.

  2. holy god… SARMA commented on your post
    i’m seriously even more stoked to go to ny 😀

  3. Although Pure seems way fancier, your place reminded me of a great raw place here in Culver City, CA. If anything, checking out their menu can give you some great food ideas. 😉


    Sad to say I’ve only had their wraps & kale chips, but they’re soo good!

  4. I’m ALREADY craving salad this week, and you’ve made it worse! I’m heading to Whole Foods tonight for some greens 🙂

    It’s such a treat to see NYC through your eyes. If and when I ever make it back to New York, perhaps we could go to Pure together? How fun would that be!

  5. what a perfect quitiversary celebration! 😀
    we have some gift cards to one lucky duck and pure food (megan’s bf won them in sarma’s contest) and we totally need to start planning our trip! i can’t wait to try it! i’m pretty sure we’re going to spend each day in ny walking around with a pint of raw ice cream
    enjoy your day!

  6. thanks for the tips…and congrats to you again. i try to choose my moments, and i think im pretty good at sensing who will recieve the comments well vs who wont…anyways, i appreciate the advice on ways to approach it. i really love your blog. i am going to have to make it to pure soon. YUM.

  7. WHAT! No choclate ganache? That’s my FAVORITE lucky duck (pure food) dessert!!!

    I live on UWS also! Feline is a good place. But the best spa in the city…Great Jones Spa! Far for us, but worth it! Check it out!

  8. What a wonderful celebration you had! I am with you on the spa thing, I am obsessed with treatments but only get them with a gift certificate! Love love love spa days! 🙂
    I’ve had the moonpie and I am still dreaming about it!! Sooooo goooood! That’s so wonderful how supportive your mom is! My mom is to selfish to be that way.

    I am so happy you enjoyed your day! 🙂

  9. Your desserts look and sound AMAZING. I want them! Thanks for the info on Feline, I always like learning about good spas. And your dinner at Pure looks incredible. Great celebration!

  10. looks like a great day that your had. and with great connection.
    so important to have good connection with the people around you.


  11. Looks like you had an amazing time with your mom! 🙂

    You are making me want to get out my Raw Food, Real World book and make something!

    I didn’t comment on your post yesterday, but I wanted to let you know that it was beautifully written and, although I never smoked, I could relate to much of what you said.

  12. Hi Gena! What a lovely post and thanks for all the compliments on the restaurant. It makes me so happy to hear about the restaurant making people happy, b/c that’s what it’s all about. 🙂 Congratulations on your quitiversary!! And my Mom’s the same way… always let me make my own decisions, mistakes, changes, etc. and supportive all the way. And she’s slowly easing into more raw too.
    All my best to you and see you soon!!
    XOXO Sarma

  13. This midwestern gal only dreams of dining at Pure Food & Wine. Thanks for giving me the vicarious experience of your celebratory meal. So glad you had a yummy day on your Quitiversary!

    • Thanks so much, Earthmother! It was such a nice treat. It’s a luxury to dine out, but when it’s Pure, it’s worth it 🙂

  14. My favorite restaurant EVAR. I hope to go back this summer, but at the moment, I am most jealous. Congrats.

  15. Darling you so deserve it! I am glad you enjoyed! Master cleanse tini and classic sundae=best combo ever. It’s all about the balance (wink wink)

    Although, the cheesecake looks ridiculously good.

    • Hehe. Raw ice cream is a balance I am totally happy to accept! I missed you, my dear: it’s not the same at Pure without you 😉

  16. Gena, I never commented on your quitiversary post yesterday because it really struck a chord with me for many reasons. Both of my parents smoked while I was growing up, and my grandfather passed away from lung cancer in 1997. My dad quit cold turkey then, but my mom still smokes almost a pack a day. I’ve fought with her, I’ve educated her, I’ve had sensible and respectful discussions with her, but I’ve come to realize that until she has that revelation that you did that it just won’t happen. I’m still hopeful, for her lungs and mine, but it’s still really hard because it’s probably the one thing I’ve always wanted in my whole life is for her to quit.

    Secondly, someone I love dearly is an alcoholic so the bits about addiction and health really hit me hard. It was a beautifully written and emotional post, and I am thankful that you opened up to all of us. Congrats on quitting, and bravo for treating yourself well for the wonderful things you have accomplished! You are an inspiration.

    I’ll just end with saying: holy yum, raw cheesecake!

    • Heather, what a beautiful thing to say to me. I am so glad that my post moved you.

      And I, sadly, know all about addiction and alcoholism, too: I’ve seen a very close family member struggle, and an ex boyfriend struggle. It’s a terrible disease, and it’s hard to watch someone self-destruct. At the end of the day, you simply have to do all you can to help, but also accept your limits: you can’t be a savior figure unless that person WANTS help.

      Same with smoking: my father still smokes a pack a day, and even my quitting can’t change it. But I hold out hope that maybe one day he’ll feel differently.

      The cheesecake rocked. Thanks for reading. Can’t wait to read your blog!

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