Saturday, January 06, 2018

NYC Funapalooza (& Cookbooklette Winners!)

New York, New York! 

Last fall, one of my besties, Sophia - and her excellent partner Max - moved to NYC and she is so rad and I miss her a lot. So, I knew I was going to have to visit them as soon as possible - and made a rush for it in November. It was a quick visit - just about 4 days, but oh geez did we ever have fun together! We did so much, walked for miles and miles, rode bikes, lazed around, saw the sites, met up with a couple of my other special NYC friends, and ate some pretty special meals together too... Here are a few culinary highlights from our vegan escapades! 
I love New York! 

I went straight from the airport to Double Zero, to meet up with my pal Sophia and her partner Max! We were so happy to see each other. This is a new-ish all-vegan fancy pizzeria in East Village. I loved it! It was a bit pricey, but I thought it was worth it - especially for a fun occasion. We got 3 pizzas and an appetizer and two drinks and I think it was about $100... so by NY standards that's practically cheap. These pictures are terrible because we ate outside and they had these reddish heat lamps over our table (generally much appreciated, but not great for photography!). That said, the pizzas themselves were quite fantastic - creative flavors, high quality ingredients, and (most importantly) excellent crust!! 

Here are the dishes we ordered:
Basil Sunflower Pesto, Tomato Confit, Slow Cooked Onion, Herb Macadamia Ricotta
Farro Fennel Sausage, Tomato and Cashew Mozzerella 
White Pizza, Roasted Corn, Garlic Macadamia Ricotta, Maitake Mushroom, Baby Kale
Broccolini, Preserved Lemon, Toasted Garlic, Green Raisin (side dish)

It is so exciting to go out to a restaurant with a creative and inspiring take on vegan food - and I especially loved the opportunity to go to a pizzeria using in-house vegan cheeses. Getting 3 pizzas for three people was just about right - we split them and so we each got to try two pieces of each pizza. So fun! The trip was off to a good start! 

side note: I got Matthew Kenney's cookbook PlantLab as an xmas present from my friend Jane, and it has many of these recipes in it! I can't wait to recreate that Farro Fennel pizza! 

We set off from my friends' apartment (in Crown Heights) for a long and generally aimless stroll, with the idea of finding a vegan breakfast. Happily we made our way to Clementine Bakery - which completely won us both over pretty much immediately. First of all, it is SUPER CUTE inside. So cozy and bright and comfortable. And they have one big case of vegan and gluten-free baked goodies, another huge case of enticing vegan baked goodies, and several appealing savory options. It was so hard to choose! In the end, I went for sweet and savory - I got a tofu scramble, a cinnamon roll, and a cup of coffee. You can't tell from the picture, but that scramble was huge and delicious and came with two *perfect* pieces of sourdough toast. Pretty much heaven. And all that food was only $12! I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of Sophia's amazing slice of breakfast cake. Ha ha. It wasn't really "breakfast cake," per se, as much as it was a huge slice of carrot cake that she had for breakfast. It was huge, beautiful, and crazy delicious. We were so happy with this charming spot. Highly recommended! 
Breakfast Cake:
trend of the future

Oh my gosh. Coming here was a dream come true. It felt like some sort of religious pilgrimage. I have been a fan of Lagusta's Luscious Chocolates for so long and it was such an awesome treat to come see all their goodies In Real Life and get to pick out a bunch of chocolates for myself! Lagusta's is located upstate in New Paltz, but this awesome little shop in the East Village sells their chocolates, pastries, and macarons by Sweet Maresa's (more on that below). We spent quite a while here because it is awesome. I definitely 100% think every vegan who goes to NYC needs to go here and bask in the glory of creative, delicious, ethical, and innovative vegan sweets. 

We came here with my excellent Instagram pal @gravelgirty and she also took us to Orchard Grocer vegan market, which is right near by. I didn't get pictures there (I think I was too busy freaking out), but that is another highly recommended stop -- an excellent array of vegan food, as well as a deli that sounds incredible. I will definitely eat there next time I get to go to NYC. 

OH. EM. GEE. This place was so incredible! Sophia and I decided that we would have one big special splurge meal together during my visit - and we decided to make a reservation at Dirt Candy for us three. This was an absolutely memorable and remarkable meal. It was so good and so exciting to experience really creative, innovative and delicious vegetable-based culinary creations -- from our amazing vegetal cocktails all the way to our vegetable desserts (!!!).

To make an understatement, none of us have any experience with fine dining. So we were a little confused about what was going on! The way it works here is: you can select either 5 courses or 9 courses. Then you select vegetarian or vegan. Everyone at the table has to agree, because then the courses are presented in a family-style way. We chose 5 courses, vegan (duh!). 

For the first course, we had some amazing Gochujang Buffalo Cauliflower with bok choy and two special sauces. It was so good. Next, they brought out 3 small plates with very elegant (and small) salads. We were all so startled because we thought these were courses 2, 3, and 4. We were like "holy crap, is this all we get to eat???" Ha ha. NOOBS. It's so embarassing, but we had to call the waiter over to ask. To his immense credit, he was extremely gracious and without a hitch, explained that in fact, all three dishes comprised the 2nd course, and that more food would be coming. OMG. It was a bit embarrassing. After that, we were off and running. Because there were 3 of us, we received 3 different dishes for the second course. Get it? I am just telling you in case you don't know, so that you don't have to embarrass yourself like we did. Ha ha ha. 

3rd Course was an amazing hot dog and hamburger course: Carrot Sliders with a slice of crunchy taro and some marinated carrots that were incredible. And some Broccoli Hot Dogs, with salt and vinegar kale chips. Everything was so well-balanced with interesting and surprising flavors. 

4th course was a big spread of Brussels Sprouts Tacos with Butter Lettuce for taco shells, and a great selection of toppings/taco components. The Brussels were perfectly seared and served on a super hot stone. So neat. We ate pretty much every last drop of every little dish. 

Desserts - again, we got three different desserts, and the desserts all included vegetables. SO FUN. Our two favorites were the chocolate & caramelized onion cake, and the popcorn cake with corn ice cream and corn custard and powdered popcorn. Both of these desserts were super creative, but creativity isn't enough -- they were also legitimately delicious, with fantastic flavors, excellent and surprising textural elements. 

The food here was so unique and good and sophisticated, but also playful and fun. It surprised us, made us laugh, we didn't know what to expect, and we were delighted. What a super, super fun evening. 

Note: also cool that Dirt Candy's head chef is a woman, and their wine list features entirely female vintners! 

Cruising around Brooklyn, we were near Riverdel Cheese Shop, so off course we had to stop in. This adorable and elegant spot is tiny, but is also awesome - an all vegan cheese shop and deli. They have a refrigerated wall of vegan cheeses, a wide selection of artisanal seitan, another huge wall of condiments, cheese mixes, and other special products -- all that plus a deli. While we were here, we ran into one of my friends from the PPK!! How fun! She was in town visiting from Texas, and so we finally got to meet each other in Brooklyn. So excellent. I was extremely overwhelmed by all the options in here - especially as a traveler. I would have liked to try SO MANY things here. In the end I got one seitan salami, and we got a container of Kite Hill Jalepeno Cream Cheese, which I had been waiting to find in a shop! 

We didn't time it right to eat here, but my friend who we ran into later told me that the Croissant Sandwich she ordered here was one of the best things she ate in NYC. I will try their deli for sure on one of my next trips to see Sophia! 

Kite Hill Jalepeno Cream Cheese and Elmhurst Hazelnut Milk

Pretty much every vegan goodie I've ever heard of seems to be available in New York! These two are products I've heard of and seen people on Instagram raving about them, but I haven't ever seen them in little ol' Santa Cruz. Of course we had to have several lazy and quiet mornings to be cozy and relaxed together, and that definitely involves some good bagels and some hot coffee! A good NY bagel is really something special, and that Kite Hill Jalepeno cream cheese is SO GOOD. It's got a real kick to it! I hope it will show up in the stores here soon! 

And the Elmhurst milk, oh man, it's so thick and creamy and flavorful. We got hazelnut milk, and they also make milks out of peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and oats. So many options! I would really like to try more of their milks, I might even resort to ordering some off their site so that I can try them! 

Oh Glorious Bagel, I salute you and celebrate your majestic deliciousness!

For at least a year now, I've been following @veganshopup on Instagram - which has been fantastic but also sort of painful, because every month they have these amazing vegan pop-up markets at a vegan bar in Brooklyn and they have all these great vendors... and I'm on the other side of the country. I was so stoked that the one weekend I would be in the city they were going to have a pop up! I got there a little late, and I only had a little while to soak it in - but I still LOVED it! It was crazy jam-packed with vegans, and there were so many vendors: beauty supplies, chocolates, pizza, sweets, and lots of booths selling hot prepared foods. So much innovation and vegan entrepreneurialism!! I was kind of overwhelmed, but I did have time to buy some vegan macarons, specialty chocolate nut butter cups, a fancy artisanal cardamom extract, and I think that's it! It was so fun! 

These are the amazing macarons that I got at the ShopUp. Neither Sophia nor I had ever had a macaron before!! So, I decided to pick out a few fun flavors for us to share together with Max. Sophia and Max are into crazy and creative flavors - so I picked out fun ones:
Apple Fennel, Pistachio Cardamom, Bay Leaf Plum, and Corn
So fun to finally have a macaron at last! 

Brooklyn Eat-a-Thon!

One night we bussed up to Williamsburg and had a very excellent eating-based walkabout... Our primary destination was Xi'an Famous Foods. Some of my Instagram pals had mentioned this place and it was SO GOOD. It was exactly what we were in the mood for - hot and warming and spicy and delicious. Friends, I'm pretty sure that these are the best noodles I've ever had in my life. We had noodles, dumplings, salad, soup... all so good and I wish I was eating it again right now!! 

Right down the street was a Van Leeuwen Ice Cream shop - and so how could we resist?? Answer: we couldn't. Ha ha ha. This isn't an all-vegan establishment, but they've got lots of fun vegan options! Sophia got a super cool ice cream sandwich concoction: a scoop between two glorious and giant chocolate chip cookies. She is very smart! I got a big scoop of mint chip ice cream because I am into the classics. 

And then two doors down from Van Leeuwen was Screamer's Pizza - an all-vegan pizzeria! I couldn't stand to pass by this opportunity, even though I was stuffed full with noodles and dumplings and ice cream. Ha ha. What a glutton. So I got a piece with peppers and sausage and brought it home. It made an excellent midnight snack!

Omg! Every self-respecting vegan dreams of going to Modern Love, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's restaurant in Brooklyn... what a dream come true! The PPK (Isa's online vegan forum) has been a huge support for me in my own vegan journey and the source of many enduring and meaningful friendships for me. In fact, Sophia and I first met on the PPK! It was so fun to eat here together! 

The menu was quite enticing, but I didn't have any trouble choosing, I knew just what I wanted to order: Veggie Pot Pie. I had been thinking about pot pie for weeks, and as soon as I saw it on the menu, my mind was made up. And, it did not disappoint!! What an incredibly perfect and delicious pot pie: perfect flaky pie crust, excellently cooked veggie and seitan chunks, delicious gravy. So lovely! For an appetizer, I ordered a bowl of roasted Brussels Sprouts with aioli, for us all to share. It was SO GOOD. I didn't have any room left for dessert (tragedy!), but I was very eager to take bites of Sophia and Max's dessert! ha ha. Lucky me, they were willing to spare a nibble or two. I especially loved the ice cream sundae on a brownie! 

It was cold when I was there, so we had to bundle up!
Of course, now it's REALLY cold there! 

A few more NY eats! 

One day when we were walking around Manhattan, we *just happened* to pass by legendary all-vegan Dunwell Donuts. So, you know, I had to have one! I got chocolate with peanuts. I know this is a controversial opinion, but I am not actually the biggest fan of donuts. Nonetheless, this was a fine donut indeed! I had no problem putting it away! 

On my last day in town, I had dropped Sophia off at work, and had a little time left to explore Manhattan. I made my way down to Blossom Du Jour to meet a friend. I got this huge bowl of kale, roasted veggies, tofu scram, and corn & beans. It was such a perfect hearty and healthy meal to have before my flight. This wasn't the most glamorous or exotic meal, but it seriously did the trick in a more-than-utilitarian way. I'd definitely eat here again when I find myself hungry in Manhattan.

Lastly, this Spicy Salami made by The Tiny Vegan deserves mention. I got this at Riverdel and carried it around all day and flew home with it! ha ha. I liked this spicy little number! I came home from this trip excited about all the amazing goodies I found, and also kinda bummed out that it's so hard to find all these vegan products and this quality of vegan dining where I live. 

Last time I was in NYC, everyone on Instagram was talking about The Cinnamon Snail, The Cinnamon Snail... but back then, it was just a food truck and we were never able to be in the same part of time at the right time. I was bummed! SO, this time around I was determined to give it a go! Right before I caught a train to the airport, I made one final stop at their new-since-I-was-here-last location at Penn Station. WHOA. I got two pastries (an apple turnover and a cinnamon roll) and a sandwich to eat on the plane later. I ordered a Smoked Sage Seitan Burger - which is described on their website as: topped with sage seitan sausage baked ziti, with marinated kale, smoked chili coconut bacon, and roasted garlic aioli on a grilled pretzel bun. This was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my whole life. I felt so sorry for everyone else on the plane who didn't get to eat this. I seriously wish I could be eating this again and again and again and again. It was packed with rich and robust flavors, perfect textures, the bread was amazing... just thinking about it is making me crazy!!

A few non-culinary adventures! 

We had so many fun adventures together during my short visit - but two really stand out:
We went to see The Dinner Table, by Judy Chicago, at the Brooklyn Art Museum.  I had no idea this wonderful piece was in Brooklyn, and Sophia was a great person to see it with! She is a super smartie and a feminist whiz. The museum also had up a special exhibit about the making of The Dinner Table, which added so much to the piece itself. We both really loved this piece, and the exhibit about its creation. So exciting and moving to see a monumental piece of work by women and about women. Such a rare experience as an art lover.

On my last day in town, I had ONE priority: see the Balto statue in Central Park! I've wanted to see this statue for so long and every time I've tried to get there, something has come up or I've been waylayed. Not this time! This sculpture is so beautiful and it actually brought tears to my eyes. I first learned about this sculpture, and of the story of Balto when I was a little girl. It was a rainy and cold morning, and the park was pretty empty, which was perfect. I got to have lots of quality time with Balto! 

Cookbooklette Winners!

I was so touched by all the lovely comments on my annual holiday Cookbookette Giveaway that I decided to pick 10 winners instead of 5! More fun! As always, I used the random number generator to pick the winners. Congratulations to Elizabeth, Hannah, Mariela, Beth, Melissa Diane, Things2Eat, Patsy, GirlRunner, Jenny, and Jennifer! I'll try to email each of you, but just in case, you can also send me your mailing address to ameyfm (at) gmail (dot) com. 

woo hoo! 


  1. Whoa! SO many amazing looking eats! I am super jealous and also excited that there are so many amazing vegan places in NYC. I am way out of the vegan loop so all of this is kind of news to me. It's hard for me to even imagine going into one restaurant where I could eat everything on the menu, let alone whole trip's worth! Those pastries look especially delicious right about now.

    And thank you for the cookbooklette! I'm so excited to have won! I also want to say again how much I love your blog! Your enthusiasm is contagious and your posts always make me smile.

  2. Everything looks amazing, and the veggie pot pie at Modern Love sounds fantastic! I love that you got to see the Balto statue; I definitely want to visit it someday! :)

  3. I am completely overwhelmed by the volume of deliciousness in this post. All this in four days! You are an inspiration to us all.

  4. So many amazing eats!! This is seriously my dream trip to NYC right here. I'm drooling with envy, but also gratitude that you brought us all along to enjoy it vicariously through your photos and words.

    Now I can't wait to sink my teeth into your new cookbooklet! Thank you!

  5. What a wonderful holiday! I hope I am able to visit New York one day. I would especially love to eat at Modern Love :)

  6. Omg the cinnamon snail goodies! O_O And yayyyyyy I am so pleased about the wee cookbook and I am going to email you back shortly, thank you so much for a lovely giveaway :)

  7. It looks like an AMAZING trip! Super jealous of the visit to Modern Love, and Balto <3

    Very excited to have won one of your books! I can't wait to see what sort of deliciousness I have in store :)

  8. Yey I won! Sooooo many great places to eat in NYC! The first half of the post I never heard of those places! I'm not a huge donut person either BUT if you are ever in Frederick Maryland you MUST check out Glory Doughnuts. They do cake-y donuts and brunch. The best brunch I've ever had.

  9. This looks like such a fantastic trip! That pizza! Modern Love! New York's vegan food was already unbelievable when we went like 10 years ago, but it's really gotten amazing since then.


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