The Big Questions
July 11, 2011

1) Why does my Mom’s freshly brewed coffee taste so much better than mine?

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My mom makes her coffee in a simple drip. I make mine in a fancy French press, and I spend a lot of time trying to perfect it. And you know what? Without even trying, my Mom has me beat.

2) Why on earth don’t I travel with my Tribest Blender more often?

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It makes homemade smoothies a cinch, whether one happens to be home or not.

Also noteworthy: I traveled this weekend with samples of the Garden of Eden “raw” protein. A bit bland and tasteless, but a good nutrition profile and neutral enough that my mom didn’t detect it.

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3) Why is it that salads and sandwiches so often taste better when other people make them for you?

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I was in a time crunch at lunchtime on Friday, and didn’t have a chance to run back to mom’s to make a salad of my own. I wandered into Energy Kitchen, a chain I sometimes poke fun at because it’s the sort of 6-egg-white-omelet-no-oil-no-fat-no-salt-no-taste place that markets to the muscled set. But, just like The Pump (which is one of my favorite places in NYC), Energy Kitchen is also heavy on the produce, and it labels dishes honestly, which is great for vegans.

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I got the “very veggie” salad, which was broccoli, corn, tomatoes, edamame, cukes, romaine, and guac. Good guac, too! Garnished with lemon, this was a big hit with me:

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And we know I’m pretty picky about my guac.

4) Why is it so much fun to freak my mom out with raw food?

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Peeking out from underneath my fresh fruit is bright green chia seed and chlorella pudding.

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And this right here is a giant salad with some of my raw carrot falafel, which mom was eyeing with suspicion.

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When I arrived at my mom’s, it was with a few key travel items: raw snack bars and trail mix, some collard greens that I was hoping to save from fridge perishing in DC by sneaking them on the bus to NYC, some chia seeds, some of my raw juice pulp crackers, some of my raw falafel, and lots of organic pink lady apples. She stared at the chia seeds and crackers and declared, “I’m not quite sure what this is.”

One day, mom, some of my weird food will look normal to you. I promise.

5) How does Café Blossom manage to make raw sweet potato taste so good?

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That’s the café’s “raw autumn sweet potato rolls,” stuffed with jicama, scallions, avocado, young thai coconut, and served with almond butter dipping sauce.

I have made every imaginable effort to enjoy raw winter squashes and raw yams, but it’s to no avail. Blossom, however, has perfected a yam slicing technique, and marinates the paper-thin layers in something a little salty until they’re totally palatable. Delicious every time.

6) Why is pressed juice so much more awesome than the regular stuff?

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There is just no way to say this nicely, but pressed juice kicks the derriere of regular old centrifugal juicer juice. I will go on the record as stating that we should all use our juicers at home as often as we possibly can. But I’ll also say that, as soon as I can get my hands on the stuff that comes out of a Norwalk juicer, I will.

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7) Why must it be true that I should always listen to my mother?

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On Friday night, I came home to find a sparse fridge and got flustered about what on earth we should eat. My mom, who has the patience and grace to calm me down when I get super hungry and cranky about wanting dinner, NOW, suggested we order from a modest local Japanese spot. Not being a huge lover of global cuisine, and with a vision of a more spectacular NYC vegan feast in mind, I scrunched up my nose at the idea. But when my dinner arrived—a wonderful brown rice, avocado, asparagus, and cucumber role, paired with a papaya salad and all veggie summer rolls, I was blown away:

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What a fresh and delicious (and rather high raw!) meal this was. Mom, you are always right.

8) Why won’t Peacefood Café open up a DC outpost?

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With it’s user friendly menu, it’s fabulous raw sushi, it’s generous salads, its fresh juice bar, and it’s enormous array of vegan baked goods, this place is a neighborhood gem. Oh pretty please, Peacefood, follow me south!

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9) Why are flea markets, coffee shops, and new health food stores so fun to linger in on a beautiful Saturday afternoon?

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East Village, NYC.

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West Village, NYC.

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Greenwich Village, NYC.

10) Why is it so hard to leave NYC?

Those are my questions of the day. What are yours?

xo

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    48 Comments
  1. I know I’m weird – but I always enjoy my own food the best! I think it’s because I know what’s in it and who prepared it – it’s totally the control freak in me! Loving your New York post – definitely need to visit there in the next year!

  2. I love this post so much!

    I, too, have never been able to “get” raw sweet potato. I’ve tried it before, but it was a little powdery and weird… Why did I not think to marinate it? Genius!

    Also – your Japanese dinner looks AMAZING.

    <3

  3. Why have my lovely NYC neighbors been celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks in the middle of the street directly outside my apartment building for the past two weeks at all hours of the day and night?

    That’s my big question! I definitely feel like New York fits ME better than any place I’ve ever visited, but sometimes I just want quiet!! And naturally, I also just moved uptown…I was also just a few blocks from Peacefood and Cafe Blossom before!! 🙁

  4. I agree with you on number 10. It is hard leaving NYC, despite the fact that I know I’ll be back soon!

    I feel like they mus be using a mandolin to get the sweet potato that thin, no?

    My questions: why is it so freaking hot in Southern France right now? And when will I get a job? Seriously, I’m pretty awesome. Why does it have to be so much work to find a job. Harumph.

    PS — I’m being semi-sarcastic. I know I’m not the greatest thing in the world. 🙂

  5. The raw/vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/healthy/humane etc. spectrum is conspicuously absent in Topeka, KS. We can manage local though.
    Wish I could afford to ship in the kind of foods one can find in the NE or West Coast – however, they wouldn’t be local then, would they?

  6. LOVE this post, Gena! Super cute!

    Oh, and good luck on that prediction that one day your weird food will look normal to your Mom…I’ve been eating a clean vegetarian/vegan diet for 25+ years and my otherwise worldly and intelligent and lovely parents still don’t get it! 🙂

  7. This reminds me we should figure out a time for you to try out my Omega masticating juicer. It is no Norwalk, but the juice that comes out of it is thicker/smoother than if it was from a centrifugal juicer. I also just realized my first experiences with green juice must have been pressed juices, since it was when I lived in NYC and spent lots of time at Liquiteria – which explains why I did not like the green juices I tried later on at the downtown juice bar near my job by WTC. At the time green juice was green juice to me, but now that I know the difference between centrifugal and pressed juice.

    DC has a handful of juice bars, but I get sketched out by Juice Zone and Roebeks, since they don’t necessarily use organic produce plus the juicers never look in great shape. I am always 50/50 on whether I should care that much about the organic produce for juicing – I mean, if I am getting juice out, that means things are too busy to juice at home, so some juice is better than none, though I generally skip the celery at those places. On the upside, Java Green on 19th uses all organic produce. And I wish Cafe Green would get real juicers. I need to try Peacock Cafe sometime too.

  8. Do you know if a Champion Juicer makes pressed juice? That’s the juicer that my fav restaurant uses and if there is something tastier and more delicious than that, I kinda have to know about it!

    • EV: Flea market around 11th and 1st
      WV: Doma on Perry ST
      GV: I realize that I messed up, and this isn’t actually GV, but it’s Elm Health on 14th and 7th.

  9. Hey Gena,
    I love this post! Looks like you had a great time in NYC, enjoy it!
    I’ve never tried pressed juice, I’m not sure what is the difference! and moms are regularly right hehe, no matter how much of a hard time I have admitting that 😛
    Have a great week,
    Lola.

  10. You honestly are so adorable! I am glad to see that you had an awesome time with your lovely mother. You do pose some great questions, and it is always hard to leave home. I think New York loves you as much as you love it (;

  11. Wait-what is the difference between centrifugal ( I have no idea what that means! ) and pressed juice? I’m so confused!

    These posts, Gena, make me more excited to visit NYC even more! And it seems like you have so many favorite eateries that trying to visit them all in one weekend would be impossible. So overwhelming!

    • Centrifugal juicers are the typical big ones you see with a plunger, that spin and emit juice. They oxygenate the juice, so it’s likely to start losing nutritional value if you don’t drink it immediately upon making. Pressed juicers manage to keep juice fresh, if you seal it after you make it, for up to 3 days or so. The texture is also different: thicker and smoother.

  12. Why doesn’t Denver have veg-friendly options at all local restaurants?! You would think, around here… 😛

    This post was very timely! I was just wondering what to make for dinner, and I have the fixin’s for the Carrot Falafel! For the first time EVER my kitchen has Tahini in it, and I’m pretty excited about this… 🙂

  13. Uh, after reading this post, my question is “Why do I not live in NYC?” If I could get Japanese food that looks like THAT, delivered to my apartment, I would undoubtedly develop an ordering-in habit.

  14. it is a fact: salads made for you by someone else ALWAYS taste better! it must be some sort of law of the universe. this was a great post- it looks like you had a wonderful time! 🙂

  15. Gena, your pictures and stories always make me want to move to NYC so much more!! I am oozing with jealousy that you have lived some many years of your life in such a magical city.

  16. Your story about the Energy Kitchen made me smile. I love your questions, and your explorations with your mom.

    My questions have been much more introverted lately, or else along the lines of ‘how can I possibly fit that into a day?’

    Safe travels!

  17. I get that same raw protein for my hubby when he’s on business travel, he likes it and it works well with the Blender Ball. Hehe on raw food, it’s so much fun freaking co-workers out with green monsters. Never tried pressed juice, but clearly I need to! And why won’t Peacefood Cafe open one in the Sac area? 🙂 Cute post.

  18. Oooo! Could you tell me the name of that sushi place you and your mom ordered from? I’m an Upper West Sider and would LOVE that exact meal tonight! 🙂

  19. “5) How does Café Blossom manage to make raw sweet potato taste so good?”–

    I dont know HOW they make raw potatoes taste great. That’s an art right there!

    At the markets in Mexico City, they made some sort of cooked/grilled sweet potato that they then doused with maple syrup or some sort of sweet syrup and omg, I know you don’t have a raging sweet tooth or anything, but hands down the BEST sweet potatoes I have ever.eaten.

    Other than lots of fresh fruit, it was one of the ONLY things I ate much of this weekend.

    Thanks for the comment on my meat post. Gena, I kid you not, life changing, life reinforcing, the whole she-bang just by seeing those markets. *shudder* with what I saw. Will never forget those images. Reinforced my life path, for sure.

    Hope you have a great week back in D.C. 🙂

  20. Why am I stuck inside all day for the next year doing a job I don’t like? Why must I get dead E. coli all over me at said job?

    If you’re trying to perfect your own coffee, my boyfriend swears by his Chemex. He had a Keurig, a drip maker, a French press, and has Googled and research the hell out of every method for every single machine, and he claims he likes his Chemex coffee even more than Starbuck’s. That’s huge for him!

  21. Great post! I’m sure NYC misses you! And my question is, why don’t I travel into the city more? Although, I know the answer.. Because I have a 7 month old! 🙂 although, we brought her once already and she was excellent!

  22. #1 and #3 are for the same reason – you didn’t have to make it yourself! 🙂 My mom’s coffee tastes better too – I think it’s that she always adds cinnamon and a bit of salt to the grounds pre-brew. I always forget.

    Why have I never been to NYC?!

  23. Looks like you are having a lovely time!

    It is SO true that food often tastes better when it is prepared for you.

    My favorite latest salad is butter lettuce, arugula, white beans, avocado, tomato, and cucumber tossed with a bit of vinegar and olive oil but it tastes SO MUCH BETTER when Trig makes it for me.

  24. My question is: why don’t I live in NYC??? Omg, there are so many vegetarian and raw places there I want to visit, you are one lucky duck Gena!! 🙂
    Ana

    • That’s so funny you called her “one lucky duck”!! it’s probably the best raw/vegan spot in NYC- make that in the world!! 🙂

  25. love this post!!!!!!!!

    I wish peacefoods would open an east village outpost! One of my friends actually bought a norwalk press! I bet he’s used it 10 times in 3 years.

  26. why don’t ALL the good NYC places have a DC outpost?

    why don’t you get a masticating juicer?

    Will I regret selling my Tribest blender that I only used one vacation?

    • 1) Don’t know 🙁
      2) Laziness and the fact that I don’t juice very often at home these days
      3) Dude, maybe. They’re so great.