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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No Vegan MoFo in NYC

Sorry, guys, I lost my camera. Oops. 'Til next time.
...To Be Continued...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Vegan MoFo in NYC, Day 23: Taim

I mentioned in the pizza post that I'm sometimes jealous of non-vegan friends who can stop on almost any corner of the city at any time and "grab a slice" for cheap. Vegans have to plan ahead for the most part.
However, I sometimes find myself substituting another ubiquitous street food - falafel! There are tons of cheap falafel places around (maybe not so many as pizza) and they do a great job of filling you up, if that's what you need, or soaking up the night's beer if that's more yr speed. For late night soakage, I usually turn to Mamoun's, which has locations on St. Marks place in the East Village and on MacDougal street in the West Village. Bonus points for being cheap! cheap! at $2.50 for a falafel sandwich, especially since I've typically spent most of my money on beer at that point.
However, if you want to go the filling route and enjoy a special lunch, my favorite falafel place in the city is Taim in the West Village at 222 Waverly Place. In typical West Village fashion, though, it doesn't really matter if you know the address.

                        You know you're in the Village when you hit the cobblestone streets.

                                                      You aren't in Bushwick anymore.

You'll either find it or you'll get frustrated trying to find it. I accidentally walked past it yesterday after a slight panic of how I'd NEVER FIND MY WAY OUT OF THE VILLAGE before I turned around and stumbled onto people munching on their sandwiches.
It's a small spot, but they offer options you don't see elsewhere:

Three different types of falafel! Green (traditional), Harissa (spicy), Roasted Red Pepper (delicious). You can also pick from white or whole wheat pitas. (Get the falafel platter if you are gluten-free!)
Obviously I'm here for the falafel but they also offer salads, sides, smoothies, spreads, and platters.

They also explicitly state which of their dishes are NOT vegan - everything else is. (Small gripe, WHY is it necessary to put yogurt in baba ganoush? It is delicious without dairy!!)
I opted for a Harissa falafel (actually not all that spicy) andwich, which comes with pickled cabbage, tahini sauce, hummus, and Israeli salad. You can also get pickles and spices for no charge. They offer olives and other non-vegan toppings for about a dollar. My fairly unadorned sandwich was $6.75, but worth it.

I appreciate that Taim evenly distributes the various ingredients throughout the pita. Nothing worse than eating all of the falafel in the first two bites and then eating a salad sandwich for the rest of the meal.
See? Still falafel! Good to the last drop.

Oh, and you KNOW it's good falafel when you see Mike D from the Beastie Boys eating here too!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vegan MoFo in NYC, Day 22: Chelsea Market

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous fall day here in the city so I got up early (well, kinda early) and headed into the city to Chelsea Market. Would you believe I have never once been there? Actually, I bet you can. These NYC tours are as much for myself as they are for you guys.

You can probably guess what I was most excited about visiting: One Lucky Duck, the all vegan, raw, and organic little takeaway shop affiliated with Pure Food and Wine.

                                       Actually this duck looks really unhappy to me. No?
I picked up a Swan Greens juice (cucumber, spinach, dandelion greens, pear, grapefruit, tarragon, spearmint, and yuzu) What is yuzu, you ask? I have no idea. The juice was great though! Kind of bitter from the grapefruit and dandelion but I really liked it that way. It wasn't supersweet like a lot of green juices can be when they add too much fruit in. The pear was just enough of a hint of sweet.

I also picked up some "quackers" - rosemary flavor:
These are nice. Light, crunchy, and delicately flavored. I bet they'd be fantastic with a raw cashew cheese. Apparently, the shop also uses them to crumble on top of salads, like Sarah shows you in today's recreated meal.
Beyond One Lucky Duck, you can also stop at Nutbox if you are so inclined and find tons of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, and candy. Personally, I find it a little overpriced but I like what they're doing.
                                            In case you need dried wasabi peas in a pinch.
The other shop I stopped into is Manhattan Fruit Exchange. I wasn't expecting much but I like to browse new grocery stores, so I looked around. First of all, they had some incredible foods I've never even heard of before! Sea beans?? Behind them are quenepas, which also ??!?

Secondly, I thought the store was very fairly priced with their produce. Huge bunches of chard for less than 2 dollars, crowns of broccoli for about the same, etc. etc. Way cheaper than Whole Foods or the farmers' market and with more options than a local grocery.
They also had a huge spice selection that I was impressed with, as well as mushrooms! These are King Trumpet on the left, beautiful Blue Oyster mushrooms in the back, and Chanterelles in the front. There were about 5 other varieties too.
Those are the only places I stopped into but there is more to be had for vegans in Chelsea Market: Hale & Hearty Soups, Amy's Bread, People's Pops, and, well, the Bowery Kitchen Supply if you want to gaze longingly. The inside was decorated for Halloween. Here, Sir Skeletor shows you the directory.

The market was kind of nice in spite of itself. I don't particularly love typical tourist destinations (even food ones) but this wasn't so bad. maybe because it was still early in the day and mostly harried parents with a newspaper under their arm and four bags and three kids in tow. "We're already late for Sunday school!"
Sooooo once you've gotten yr refreshments, walk one block west and down to 13th street to tour along the New York City Highline. The park is a 1-mile stretch of formerly abandoned El train tracks along 10th avenue, which has been rehabilitated and turned into an urban greenspace. Exciting! I took a lot of photos and really enjoyed myself, despite being slightly agoraphobic and anxious about being stuck on a path behind slllloooowwww walkers. It was nice to see the city from the outside and raised above street level - it makes all the tall buildings feel a little less oppressive. I'd like to come back to the Highline again, for sure. With that, I'll just leave you with some photos.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vegan MoFo in NYC, Day 21: Korma

Indian food may not be the first cuisine you think of when you think of traditional New York foods - I guess that's usually Eastern European and Italian food - nevertheless, the cultural profile of the city is always changing (most recently Mexican, Dominican, and West Indian) and at this point, I think it's fair to say that Indian cuisine definitely factors into NY's cultural food spectrum.
There are some fantastic restaurants in Queens, particularly in Jackson Heights and Richmond Hill (where I grew up, holla holla!) In Manhattan, there is a stretch of Indian restaurants along 6th street between 1st and 2nd avenues called (a bit offensively) Curry Row. People like to joke that they all share one gigantic kitchen in the middle of the block (which also sounds offensive to me? Am I just being hyper-sensitive?). Either way, I DID pass Brick Lane Curry House, followed by Raj Mahal, followed by Taj, followed by Mitali East, which is across the street from Ghandi, cattycorner to Banjara... so. I would just go into the ones with the best decorations outside. Or try them all.

To get to the source, there are numerous Indian spice stores in the East Village stretching down near the Lower East Side. I've previously blogged about Kalustyan's, a spice emporium, if you can't find what you need in the smaller shops.
This is Dual, on 5th and 1st, one of the best stocked smaller spice shops.

                                                curry pastes, chutneys, pickled condiments
      soooo many spices: different curry powders, cinnamon, chilli, (this was the c section)
dried stuff for teas etc. lavender, chammomile flowers.... plus, like, arrowroot powder, asoefetida nuggets, tamarind paste, chlorella powder, and just so, so much more. It was incredible. And smelled nice. I was overwhelmed and walked away with only black salt (kala namak) which, as it turns out, is not black:

Anyway, while I could have eaten at any number of Indian restaurants, I am often wary of ghee being used, or even if the food is vegan, I find a lot of Indian food to be a little too greasy for my tastes. So I turned to Isa, again, for her 2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma from Appetite for Reduction.

While hers might not be the most authentic Indian food recipe, I feel like this is her New York Indian version. And, whatever. It is really flavorful. It includes zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, peas, veggie broth, light coconut milk, a ton of fun spices (I even added extra), cilantro, and some other stuff.
I served it once over mashed sweet potato, as Isa suggests - and once with steamed spinach stirred in.

To me, the dominant flavors seemed to be ginger and cumin. I could have gone for a bit more spice. This is perhaps due to the fact that my curry powder is way, way old. I may have to re-stock at an aforementioned Indian grocer. I treated this more as a soup than a stew but Google image search seems to show this as more of a thick topping over rice. Oh well. I definitely want to try making this again, if only to smell the garlic and ginger and onions cooking in coconut milk!
My favorite Indian restaurant memory is one of my friend's birthdays in a place on 6th street that had live musicians playing while we ate. So, cook up some korma and groove on while chopping:

What is yr favorite Indian dish? For people in New York (or who have visited), what is the best Indian restaurant you've been to?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Vegan MoFo in NYC, Day 20: The LES, part 3

Okay! Finally the end to the vegan trilogy of the Lower East Side! (Parts 1 and 2.)
I mentioned Bluestockings in yesterday's post. Well, if a vegan cookie and coffee isn't enough to tide you over, Tiengarden is right next door.
They've been around since the early 90s, at least, and they pretty much stick to the basics of early vegan Buddhist food. And, yes, the restaurant is entirely vegan!

I got the Buddha's Delight for 8 dollars (another lunch special!):
Tofu, shiitake mushroom, bok choy, broccoli, and carrot in a ginger sauce with a rice mix. Very generous portion and totally satisfying. The sauce is not overly greasy and the vegetables were the perfect mix of tender and crisp.
It's kind of confusing because there isn't much seating and I feel like most of their business is take-out but you order at a counter and sit wherever you want.
After a healthy lunch, I couldn't help but treat myself to um, a store full of candy. Enter, Economy Candy!

 Economy Candy is not vegan, but they are a candy store specializing in hard to find candy, bulk bins of....candy, as well as nuts and dried fruit alongside halvah and kosher sweets.
                                               (A SMALL selection of chocolates)
This store has been around since 1937! Since a large part of the LES was Jewish back then, the kosher sweets are important because they do not contain gelatin, making for finding vegan candy easier. Bulk bins mostly have ingredient lists on them. This store is also perfect for finding goodies for upcoming Halloween (or buying bulk peanut chews to eat all by yrself - the option I picked.)
I tried not to stay in here for very long. But anyway, if you can, stop by Economy Candy and look around in awe. Then buy some cute stickers to slap on some goodies and veganize yr trick or treaters a la Abby Bean.
(Economy Candy is at 108 Rivington St.)
That concludes the Lower East Side posts. Phew!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vegan MoFo in NYC, Day 19: The LES, part 2

This post has been a long time in the works, and sorry for missing yesterday. I mean, I know YOU don't care but my completist self hates it. Whatever, I had to have an episode yesterday so there. ONWARD!
When we last left off in the Lower East Side, I showed you vegan shoes, a store cat, and two vegan baked goods from Babycakes. There is so much more for the vegan taking in that area! Too much! I think I'll extend the LES into one more post for another night.
First, places I didn't really go into: Teany. I've heard mixed reviews. Sometimes it's vegan and they don't make it clear and sometimes it's vegetarian and it isn't made clear? This place sounds good to have around, but it looks a little too cute for me.

Cakeshop is actually a music venue! I've seen some friends' bands play here a few times. It is a cool space, but I've also included it here because they DO actually sell (all) vegan baked goods and coffee and stuff upstairs. Downstairs is the bar and music space. I did not enter this time, as I was on a vegan mission. (152 Ludlow Street)

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics is an all-vegan makeup company with a storefront at 174 Ludlow Street. I didn't go in because I don't wear makeup, but if I did, this would be it. Extra points for the company name.
 Eine kleine nacht sky:

Walking around, random shots:

                                                           "No Vomit!" "No Pissing!"
This is not vegan in any way, haha, but I am a really big history nerd and I love this museum. If you ever find yrself in the hood looking for vegan shoes and vegan baked goods, do try to stop at the NYC Tenement museum. So much incredible history in this tiny little tenement.
And finally, probably my favorite stop on the LES, Bluestockings. Bluestockings is a radical bookstore with a special collection of political science, women's studies, gender studies, philosophy, queer theory, environmental studies and the like.

They also have a small cookbook section, which is almost entirely vegan or raw cookbooks! I've missed signings by both Jae Steele and Hannah Kaminsky here. There are other events almost every night.
Fittingly, the "Cafe" part of the sign means that after purchasing yr independent press published, fair trade gender studies book, you can sit at one of the small tables by the window and eat a vegan cookie and sip a coffee with non-milk! They did also used to have a dog at the store but I haven't seen him in a while. Anyway, I love this shop. Anytime I'm in here I run into someone cool I know. Stop by 172 Allen Street and maybe run into me!
That's all for today! I wish I could show you the path I traced walking this day (okay it took me two days to hit everything) because it was so much circling around and back and forth but seriously, only about 10 blocks around. Tomorrow, more food and only a little bit more walking of the Lower East Side.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Vegan MoFo in NYC, Day 17: Pretzels

Ugh! This post is disappointing. Unfortunately MoFo demands that we forge ahead no matter what has come out of the day's work.
So, I tried to make pretzels - you know, the NYC street food that appears on every corner of every block. The filling and delicious but nowhere near healthy, salty, perfect snack to keep you running for a few more hours. Well, I failed miserably!
I used this recipe and, while they tasted okay, they were certainly not the crusted, sort of stale, rubbery to eat pretzels I've oddly come to love.

These were thyme-touched, soft, fluffy, light little dough bites. Ugh! They didn't even brown, so they looked like palid, flaccid, little yeasty dummies. They are also annoying to roll out and fold. These aren't pretzels.

I did use all-purpose flour rather than whole wheat...maybe that made a difference. Anyway, I really want to keep trying! This is like, my white whale of this month's MoFoing so far. Ditch the thyme, brush with soy milk and lemon rather than olive oil and lemon juice, and use a heartier flour. Also, make them smaller. Those are the tips I'll incorporate next time, and then we'll see what's up.

Eat with mustard. That helps everything.