These are a Few of My Favorite Things
July 10, 2011

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Good morning, friends. Thanks for all the enthusiasm about the Kathy and Gena show, episode 1! I’m glad you want to see more.

You may recognize the photo above as the telltale sun dappled brownstones of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, one of my favorite neighborhoods, whence I write this post. New York City is sun-soaked and dry and beautiful this morning, and the last three days have been like a drink of cool water after a drought.

OK, that’s icky hyperbole. But there really aren’t any words to describe how good it is to be home. As well as (I hope) I’m adjusting to DC, this little sojourn has made me feel so refreshed, and reminded, somehow, of who I am.

My first priority upon arriving in NYC on Thursday night (after a brutal 2 hours trapped in Weehawken), was to soak in a few of my favorite things. These included friends, time with my Mom, great vegan food, some yoga, and some of my favorite juice spots. It’ll take me more than a single post to wrap up the weekend, but I thought I’d start you off with the first thing I did when I got to NYC: I made my way to one of my favorite restaurants, Candle Cafe to see one of my favorite people, my friend Melissa.

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And as I waited for her to arrive (and chatted with Mark and Benay, the gracious Candle team) I replenished my travel-weary body with a giant green goddess juice. Fresh fruits and vegetables have never tasted better:

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The dearth of juice bars in DC is a sad and sorry topic I’ll get to in a dedicated post later this week, but let’s just say that having a plethora of juice options at my fingertips is one of the many reasons I <3 NY.

Green juice, while exciting, was soon eclipsed by the Candle Café menu. I started with the summer rolls:

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That’s avocado, carrots, cabbage, marinated tempeh, and black sesame seeds, all with a peanut sauce that is to die for.

Next, and at the recommendation of our friendly waitress, I got the Aztec salad:

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Black beans, corn, toasted pumpkin seeds, grilled tempeh, greens, avocado, and a cumin vinaigrette that was outstanding: I have to make this at home!

Melissa went with a “good food plate” (you mix and match simple sides) of steamed veggies, tempeh, greens, potatoes, and two dipping sauces:

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This is all the kind of simple, brightly flavored, and honestly prepared food that I go crazy for. Eating at Candle really does feel like coming home!

After dinner, I made my way back to Mom’s, where we watched my favorite movie. You guys know what it is, and no, I never do get tired of it:

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The following morning, I woke up with a grin on my face. It’s impossible to quantify what makes us love a place: so often it’s not one quality or feature, but rather what that place evokes in us. When I wake up in New York, I wake up excited.

And when you have yoga at your favorite yoga studio to look forward to, who isn’t excited?

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I’ve been spending a lot of time at new yoga studios lately, as I get to know my new home. D.C. really is a yoga lover’s dream! But I have to confess that no studio has captured my heart quite the way this one does. It’s the perfect mix of hippie chanting and togetherness coupled with a vigorous and challenging workout: it’s warm and fuzzy, but it’s not cutesy or cloying, either. The teachers present you with challenges, but not for the sake of being stern, as it so often seems in other studios (ahem, Jivamukti). I have a bigger yoga post coming up (dedicated to my new fave DC spots) but for now, I’ll just simply give Laughing Lotus my heartiest thumbs up.

After yoga, I was off to one of my favorite NYC places: Grand Central station, with its exquisite windows and its tacky, yet loveable, constellation ceiling. I like to pay homage to my birth month by gazing up at the twins:

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I sat at Grand Central and had coffee with another one of my favorite people, my friend Jim, who made time for a get together in spite of the fact that he was dashing off to CT for the weekend and that hanging out meant shouting over the din of a group of French teenage tourists. Jim, you are a trooper.

And yesterday, after breakfast at my Mom’s, I met my friend Nelly for coffee at my favorite coffee shop in NYC: Joe’s.

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There’s a lot of great espresso and plenty of frothy beverages floating around Manhattan, but I am firm in my opinion that Joe’s drip coffee is the best the city has to offer: bright, bold, and always brewed to perfection.

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I have missed my morning Joe, as it were, now that I don’t live across the street from it, though I’ll admit that my wallet is glad for the distance! I got a small cup and savored it over a long, leisurely conversation on a bench in Central Park—which happens to be one of my favorite activities.

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And weaved into all of these last few days have been quite a few jogs around the Central Park Reservoir, which is one of my favorite runs:

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So many favorite things in such a very short time. Lucky girl, I am.

What are some of your favorite places? Favorite yoga studio? Favorite movies? Favorite books? For whatever reason, I’ve always enjoyed the picking and choosing of favorites, if only because the game is so inherently flawed. Try picking out a favorite book, and relish the pointlessness. But it’s a fun reminder that our lives are populated by a lot of adored stuff.

On that note, it’s time for me to enjoy lunch with the madre. More recapping of my NYC trip tomorrow!

xo

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    59 Comments
  1. And thanks for the kind mention of me and Candle Cafe. Have you gotten to try the frozen entrees yet?

    • Not yet! Only because I haven’t gotten to Whole Foods in 2 weeks (my summer class schedule is totally insane). I’m so excited for them…

  2. Your love for NYC is so beautifully captured in this post – makes me even yearn for the days I spent living there, despite the fact that I found them unsavory best during the time. Moving away from the city has made me appreciate it more fully and every visit back is a reminder of what potential the city holds for its inhabitants, both permanent and transient. Such an inspiring place – thank you for reminding me of that!

  3. It is a beautiful thing to find those places that fill your soul; you can feel the energy the ninute you arrive. It is your peace, exhilaration and inspiration all in one. For me it is Boston,but I have also felt it in Chicago, NYC & Seattle. We have a great raw food restaurant just outside of Boston- The Prana Cafe. It is wonderful. The best, healthy food ever!
    So glad you are feeling this happiness, Gena! It will come out in your writing and fabulous food!

  4. In the DC area, Willow Street Yoga is my home. There’s a teacher for every personality, so many classes to choose from and I love the studio’s focus on community. As a perk, both locations are really close to metro stops.

  5. Lauging Lotus is one of my favorite yoga studios too! It’s my “go to” studio in NYC. I love the vibe, and the practice, and the funky space. And I love Dana and Jasmine. How funny though, I wouldn’t have pegged you as a Laughing Lotus type … goes to show how little you can really “know” someone through a blog.

    • Oh, I think you know me fairly well, E!

      I can also see why you might not have thought LL was my place: I’m guessing you may have thought it was a little too warm & fuzzy or spirit-oriented for me 🙂 That’s actually pretty accurate as a read of my personality, but I really enjoy the difference of LL when I’m there: it’s not my usual frequency, and that’s part of what makes it fun. Plus, I find the instruction outstanding.

      If you ever visit DC, I can be your yoga guide!

  6. i can feel your love of new york radiating from this post, and i love it – you know i share that undying devotion to this city! i actually watched a screening of manhattan in brooklyn bridge park last thursday, and seeing that film with the actual manhattan skyline in the background was definitely one of the more special city experiences i’ve ever had.

    let’s see, i’ll join the favorites game:
    favorite places: ogunquit, maine is my heaven on earth. nyc, of course, and prague.
    favorite yoga studio: i love earth yoga in midtown east. laughing lotus is great too! i’m currently on the hunt for a new favorite in my new borough.
    favorite movie: a tie between gone with the wind, requiem for a dream, eternal sunshine, and annie hall.
    favorite book: that’s impossible. i recently finished the god of small things and adored it.

    i’m so glad you had a good trip! hope i’ll get to see you next time around. 🙂

  7. This is one of the loveliest posts ever. The opening lines read like a poem, so beautiful. Clearly, you adore and deeply miss your beloved NYC. I so admire that you willingly decided to move away, while appreciating the growth that comes along with that. You constantly amaze me, Gena.

  8. I love this post! As someone who’s lived in New York for just over 10 years I can say I felt exactly this way every time I visited, before I officially moved. Coming into the city and having my “list” of places to go and things to see – and feeling so invigorated at the end of the day for having done it all. The list of faves is always changes for me, but I used to go nuts over the West Village and Soho, just walking every single block and being so taken aback. Now I love the Brooklyn Bridge, any of the Piers, and any place where delicious vegan food is. So, I’ve too got a lot to be thankful for, living in this city!

  9. I just moved from the big city of San Francisco to the boonies of Vermont. Major cultural shockage. But I wanted to share my favorite SF locales since it’s more of a destination than South Royalton, Vermont- although it’s a hop, skip and jump from the capital, Montpelier, which has plenty to yoga and nourish.

    In Vermont: Go to Stone Soup in Burlington for delicious vegan fare, also Kismut in Montpelier for fresh juices and tempeh bacon.

    Favorite Restaurants in SF: Cha-Ya Vegan Sushi for the *WIN*, Gracias Madre is a close second, The Plant Cafe, Cafe Gratitude, Herbivore, Millennium, ANY farmers market…

    Favorites for COFFEE: Bluebottle (any Bluebottle), Ritual on Valencia, and a new favorite was Summit on Valencia. Also Mojo Bicycle Shop and Cafe on Divisadero- Yay for outdoor seating!

    In Vermont: go to Uncommon Grounds on Church Street or Muddy Waters on Main Street in Burlington.

    Tea: Go to Samovar in the Castro. It’s pricey but everyone is really nice and the teas are fabulous.

    In Vermont: go to Dobra in Burlington.

    Yoga: THE YOGA LOFT on Divisadero, without a doubt. My favorite teachers in this order: Jessie Woletz, Marni Sclaroff and Jason Crandell. Check them out!

    Favorite movie(s): When Harry Met Sally, Manhattan, Hannah and her Sisters, Moonstruck…wow what a NY theme!

    Favorite book(s): wayyyyy too many..hmmm right now I’m reading “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver, so I will say that. So good! Please read!

    Glad to “hear your voice” too! Happy summer!

  10. I LOVE this post. Such a nice little tribute to a city you clearly love. And the Aztec Salad is one of my FAVORITE Candle Cafe dishes!! Must go back soon!

  11. I became vegan 22 years ago in Los Angeles, when there was only one cookbook on the market and no one had never even heard of raw food. It was impossible to find anything on a restaurant menu except salad. I have now been excepted at NYU for some graduate work and will be moving there shortly. I was worried that I was going to have the same food issues that I had in the beginning, but thanks to your post, it doesn’t sound like it.

  12. This is such a great post, it really reminded me that in the midst of stress and life we are surrounded by little adorations that we can always go back to as a source of comfort. My favourite place may actually be New York (even though I live in UK). I have never experienced a city like it, London can’t compare! There are so many things I consider to be my favourite, so thank you so much for reminding me how lucky we are to have so many things in our lives that we have 🙂 Your blog is a constant source of inspiration to me, thank you 🙂

  13. P.S. My mind imploded when you asked “favourite book”. Too hard, too hard! My Amazon UK order was supposed to arrive a week ago and I’m dying without my new escapist reads!

  14. There’s a show called Masterchef in Australia, and this whole week the eight remaining contestants are in New York. last night’s episode was the first there, and it killed me. I almost couldn’t breathe as I closed my eyes and picture myself getting the 6 subway line to union square and spending hours in Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, then Garden of Eden, as I’ve done every time I’ve visited New York. Oh, visa restrictions, I hate you and the way you ruin my life with yoru crushing of dreams!

    *ahem*

    Please recreate the salad, Gena. It’s the closest I’ll be getting to Candle Cafe for longer than I can bear thinking about.

  15. Great post, so fun to see a list of your favorite things in NYC and makes me want to plan my own trip ASAP. My current favorite place would be taking in vineyard views in Napa or one a cabin deck lakeside in Tahoe.

  16. Fave place: New York. Duh.
    Fave yoga studio: No clue. Despite being really into yoga for the past six years, I’ve never been to a class.
    Fave movie: You’ve Got Mail. I have yet to see Manhattan, but after seeing the trailer I’m kind of dying to do so.
    Fave book: Easy peasy, it’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. Or An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. Or Paper Towns by John Green. Hah, I take back the “easy peasy” bit 😉
    I like the favourite game too. I saw this video a few days ago (it was actually by John Green’s brother, Hank Green. Apparently I’m obsessed with that family) about how we like to put things/people into categories, and it had more to do with bias but I feel like it’s still relevant, and I think that’s why I like the favourite game.

  17. heyyynow, manhattan is one of my favorite movies too 🙂 laughing lotus is great! my favorite studio is called earth yoga – it’s hot vinyasa yoga on the UES. candle cafe looks great – i must make a return trip, i haven’t been in ages! glad you enjoyed your time at home 🙂

  18. Seeing all your favorite things of NYC – makes me want to move to NYC 🙂 I have so many favorite things : my family first, I am so blessed to have them! And Michelle and I are still trying to find a good yoga studio here in Charlotte that we love, there has been one so far, but there are a few more we would like to check out still! We hope to really get back into yoga soon! xoxo

  19. I am so happy for you and your awesome time in New York lady! You can really sense the difference in your mood in this post. You feel calmer and yet more excited than you have been in a while! I loved this quote – “It’s impossible to quantify what makes us love a place: so often it’s not one quality or feature, but rather what that place evokes in us.” This is how I feel about my new home! I lived in a town that was as red neck as you can get here in Canada, and for ten years it was hell! I moved to a far more vegan friendly, (and just generally more progressive) place a year ago, and I am in love! It is my favorite place, besides New Zealand. I know what you mean about the novelty of picking favorites. It is often so fleeting. It is a nice way of giving your life definition though, so I continue to do it, just like you do.

  20. When you find this, you never want to leave!!
    “It’s the perfect mix of hippie chanting and togetherness coupled with a vigorous and challenging workout: it’s warm and fuzzy, but it’s not cutesy or cloying, either. ”

    I have had a few of those over the years, truly amazing gifts from the yoga Gods I think 🙂

    So happy for you that you were back in NYC and savoring it all!

    Peanut sauce to die for, green juice, your Joe, yoga…loving it all FOR you!

    My favorite coffee = the kind I make at home!
    My favorite thing to do with 10 extra minutes = make photographs
    My favorite vacation destination = Aruba
    My favorite thing to do tomorrow = hug my family after being gone all weekend (currently in Mexico City and had SUCH an eye opening weekend to ALL the meat here. Gena, I blogged about it and it all re-dedicated me to a plant based lifestyle)

    Have a great week 🙂

  21. Awww! I heart this. There is nothing like returning to home to your favorite things and finding that they are just as good, if not better, than you remember them to be. You already know what my favorite yoga studio is, though I can see that will be a controversial post when you get to it because some people do find DDY to be strict (and/or militant). I have plenty of other favorite things, but I find them to be always evolving and changing just as you’ve said here. I’m so glad you’re getting to enjoy time in the best city in the world, but I shall you see soon in district where are there are pockets of favorite things. It’s an imperfect place but we must learn to like it.

  22. The next time I go to New York (I’ve only been once!), I’m definitely going to refer to your blog as my cyber tour guide. I love the colors in that yoga studio! I also love how I can see your reflection in Joe’s window. 🙂

    By the way, I have a question for you about tempeh (sparked by the photograph of that delicious looking Aztec salad.) Whenever I order it at vegan places, it tastes different than when I make it at home. Not necessarily better or worse, but just…different. Actually–why lie?–it tastes better than when I make it at home. Is there a magic time for boiling or steaming tempeh before doing whatever else with it? And between steaming and boiling, does one yield tastier results?

    • Ooo would totally love a post on tempeh, would be grateful forever cos the stuff mystifies me bit it looks great in these photos! Jen, I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t quite get it right!

  23. I’m glad you’re having such a great time.

    So interesting that ‘picking favorites’ is a favorite game of yours: I have the hardest time with it! Since I was a little kid, I’ve found it very hard to quantify, or even identify, what my favorite (fill in the blank) is. I love green. I love cardamom. I love poetry. But there are other variables in each of those sets that I love too! Whenever I’m really working on the innards of my recovery, I keep coming back to that. (I even had a boyfriend years ago who, when we broke up, said sadly that he could never figure out what I liked.

    Thanks for sharing your delight!
    love
    Ela

  24. in NYC i love going to housing works to browse all the books while drinking coffee.i also loved the pre-renovation 13th street souen and sitting around union square people-watching.

    where i go to school in cambridge, i love this little coffee/pie shop called petsi pies as well as a bakery/coffee shop called hi-rise bread & co.

    back at home in california i love a few of the local mom & pop coffee shops. i guess coffee’s my thing!

    in terms of favorite books, i love memoirs like blood bones and butter and mary karr’s lit. i also love nabokov’s writing, like in lolita and speak memory.

  25. I have a photo of myself in front of Candle Cafe. It was a major effort but I got myself there with my husband and three kids one really hot summer day last year! Back when Kate’s Paperie was still across the street (one of my best customers). Is that space vacant now or did some other cool institution snatch it up?

  26. So glad you had a great time in NYC! I still haven’t visited Candle Cafe. When I want vegetarian/vegan food, I usually visit Middle Eastern restaurants or Souen.

  27. Sounds like a wonderful visit home 🙂 I’m a born and bred New Yorker but it sounds like you get out and enjoy it much more than I do. It’s great to see your enthusiasm in the everyday sights.
    As to Moby Dick, I only recently read it and enjoyed it a lot – despite it being not at all vegan! (Though raw would certainly describe it.)

  28. I love all of these things! You have great taste in friends, food, restaurants, yoga spots and movies! Glad I got to share a little part of the weekend with you! And extra glad you got such a gorgeous NYC weekend!

  29. It’s so clear that you love NYC!! It must be awesome to have a place that you truly can call home and be happy with it.But I’m also glad you’re settling into DC! Surely absence makes the heart grow fonder. You’re such an inspiration, moving out of a place you’re comfortable to do what you need to do. I’m in a similar situation where I know I need to move to be happy. Though I’ll be moving AWAY from my boyfriend and I don’t quite have a school/work game plan yet.

    • Thanks Kaitlyn! Moving really is a formative and healthy experience, so I think that no matter what you’ll relish having done it. DC presented some bumps in the road but there’s no doubt in my mind that it was a good thing to do!

  30. This post makes me nostalgic for something I don’t really have- a city that owns my heart. I’ve lived in Boston, DC, and San Diego as an adult, and none feel like home (home is north of Seattle, but not where I currently want to live). If I had to pick, though, I’d pick DC. Fav DC restaurants- 4912 Thai, Mai Thai, Sweet Green, Amsterdam Falafelshop, and 2 Amys pizza. Fav DC places- Dupont circle, Teaism, and All Souls Unitarian Church. In San Diego, my favorite place is Scripps Beach, favorite restaurant is a vegan restaurant in LA- Native Foods Cafe-, and favorite yoga is a lovely eco-friendly hot yoga studio called Sol Yoga. I’m not sure Harry Potter can be beat, but I love Carl Sagan’s “Contact,” and reading Eating Animals has made me want to read more Jonathan Safran Foer.

  31. Glad you found a new favourite yoga studio. It can be such a fine balance finding the one that “speaks to you” in just the right way. It’s just as tough finding a good studio, as say, finding a new hairdresser. Have you tackled that one yet?

    Off for a week of school in Vancouver. Back to the big(gish) city! Your restaurant pics remind me of the all of the great options that I’ll have available this week.

  32. I got to spend yesterday in Toronto, my home for 10 years until leaving for school. I’m not far but between work and school and volunteer activities, I don’t get back as much as I want. I met one of my favorite people, had an amazing vegan lunch, spent hours wandering the boardwalk and taking a canoe tour and topped the evening off sipping beer on the boardwalk. Bliss

    And I am more refreshed today than I have been in months.

  33. I’m a born & bred new yorker moving to dc for grad school, and this post is making me anxious ! ahh.

    • Aw, don’t be! Nothing is quite like NYC, but DC is a really special town with so much to offer. Email me if you need to 🙂

  34. Wow, I live in Memphis and have never visited New York, but you make it sound amazing. I’ll have to go someday!
    I made your kale salad recipe last night and have a lot of dressing left over. How long do you think it will last in the fridge?

  35. It took me 3 years and 7 different studios in DC to find one that I loved- The Studio DC in Dupont. I love hot power vinyasa yoga, but Down Dog Yoga is WAY too militant and strict for my taste. I actually almost walked out of a class there once because I was so upset that the teacher was forcing me into poses my body couldn’t handle. But I love love love Studio DC for it’s challenging yet flexible teaching style.

  36. i’ve never actually seen that movie?! my fave places locally are a veg/vegan cafe called quiet storm, a pub called olive & twist & a restaurant called salt of the earth. my fave yoga studio is yoga hive & movie is amelie. i watched it on the morning of my wedding when i couldn’t sleep 🙂