On Wednesday morning, I arrived at Penn Station, after a character-building summer in D.C.. I was enveloped into the foliage of the Upper West Side:
…and into my Mom’s arms.
For the next five days, I get to enjoy the culinary, cultural, and social treats of NYC. It all began on Thursday night, when I had some time with my good friend Cassie, and then trotted over to Quintessence for some takeout dinner.
As I was leaving, Cassie mentioned that Quintessence is her favorite raw restaurant in NYC. She’s even more of a raw connoisseur than I am, so this is high praise. When it comes to high quality, tasty raw food, Quintessence is hard to beat. Where else can you find a raw bagel and cream cheese that’s actually soft and warm (rather than the brick-like crackers that masquerade as raw bagels most of the time)? Or what about the delicious kamut bread? The raw nori cone rolls, or the manicotti? Everything at Quintessence is top of the line, but, true to form, the thing I order most often there is their Buddha bowl, which is simply a giant salad, complete with a generous list of potential add-ons.
I cannot tell a lie: what makes these salads so extraordinary is the house dressing, which is a rich, herb-filled mix. What you taste most is fruity olive oil (and possibly some flax, too) and basil, but it’s a lot more complex than that, and I’ve never really replicated it properly. I also love how Quintessence packs curly kale into the salad base, and offers spiralized zucchini, raw “onion rings,” nut cheese, guac, and seaweed as toppers. A far cry from the typical deli offering of cherry tomatoes and conventional canned beans.
I got myself a mix of extra kale, spiralized zukes, sundried tomato, cherry tomato, cucumber, sea veggie mix, and house dressing. And when I got home for a long evening of cuddling with Mom, I topped this giant bowl ‘o plants with some leftover millet salad, which I’d brought on the train from DC (that recipe is to come).
Some of my conscious omnivore friends say that they treat meat as a “special treat” that appears in small portions when they sit down to eat. It occurred to me some time ago that that’s typically how I treat my cooked grains and beans: they provide a lot of the density and nutrition in my diet, and yet they usually take up a third or so of my plate when I’m eating a raw/cooked mix. The raw veggies are always the bulk of what I’m eating.
I also had a side of the restaurant’s veggie bread, which had an odd, coconut flavor (not my past experience). Maybe coconut oil as binder? Anyway, it was strange, but I enjoyed it well enough:
On Friday, I enjoyed a walk throw Washington Square park and a trip to Shakespeare and Co (an essential NYC destination) with my friend Jim, and then a late night chat and juice with my friend Allison. Throughout the day, I stopped into some of my favorite NYC spots, including Liquiteria for a morning juice break:
And Stogo, my fave vegan ice cream spot, where I picked up some late afternoon coconut key lime ice cream:
Last night, on my way to meet my friend Gabi for a night of girl talk, I stopped into one of my NYC dining homes, Candle Café, for some nourishing and flavorful fare. As always, I was so happy I walked across the park. Can’t you see the sigh of “ah, finally” in my face?
As I sat at the bar and dug into some midcentury male rage (Hannah, to answer your question, I just finished St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, which is amazing, and now I’m catching up on my Rabbit Angstrom novels), I treated myself to the amazing summer rolls (cilantro, avocado, seared tempeh, raw veggies, peanut sauce):
The market salad of the day, a mix of roast summer veggies, toasted cashews, organic greens, and a creamy basil dressing:
And the house quinoa-veggie pilaf, which has touches of Mexican spice:
Having licked all three plates clean, I also treated myself to an oatmeal carob cookie, and thanked the restaurant’s staff for such wholesome and tasty fare.
All the food is great, but what’s been most meaningful about my trip so far is the chance to connect with old friends. I left New York in a spirit of determination: I would make the move work, I would build a life in DC, I would experience and appreciate Georgetown. This was necessary, but I also overlooked how hard it would be to separate myself from a close circle of longstanding friends and confidantes. It’s good to jump right back into the rhythms of these relationships, which are so dear to me. As much as I would have loved to see some other good friends at the HLS this weekend—and I missed Anne, Valerie, and Melissa like crazy—I’m also really glad I opted to come home, enjoy more time in New York, and rest a little, too.
On that note, it’s back to a day of family time with my Mom and her boyfriend. We’re having dinner at Josie’s, which is a fabulous UWS restaurant I’ve never given a proper review, so I’m excited to share that. And if you missed yesterday night’s “ABC’s of Me” post, check it out. The trivia is fun, and if you’re like me, and had no idea what a “meme” was, the comments section should be a good little primer.