Friday, April 25, 2008

"April is the cruellest month,..."

"...breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/ Dull roots with spring rain."

As my birthday rapidly descends in a few days, putting me firmly in my mid-thirties (oh yes the horror, avert your eyes), T.S. Eliot's line resounds in my head. The month of April is a mixed blessing depending on one's opinion of birthdays which invariably depends on what age you are creeping towards... In this month of April, there are taxes & birthdays to deal with like my own & Booboo's but then there is fun stuff like my vegananniversary. So instead of dwelling on birthday blues, I give you a recap of the last few weeks which were mostly fun indeed.

Most fun visitor in April award goes to: SKO!!

SKO was in NYC for her spring break & to visit colleges. Nothing beats having my sister in town for the camraderie and also I can drag her to try new vegan joints, but first, an SKO/VKO favorite- Gobo which has two locations in the West Village and on the Upper Eastside. We split the roti canai & the sweet & sour protein. yum yum yum yum yum.

Gobo 1426 3rd Avenue (bet 80th & 81st sts) NYC 10028 212.288.5099

And reminding us all that spring is here are the gorgeous daffodils that SKO brought me-

SKO & I doing goofy things on an empty subway car on a Sunday morning. SKO jumps for joy as we head downtown to our favorite yummy veg dim sum at Vegetarian Dim Sum House in Chinatown which I post no pictures because I have a bizillion of the them in other posts.

Vegetarian Dim Sum House 24 Pell Street (at Doyers St) NYC 10013 212.577.7176

Here's a place that I've been wanting to try- Birdie's in the East Village. They serve chicken & veg chik'n. The place is quite small- about 8 can sit at a table and then a few stools at the counter. It's quite cozy and the owner whose grandmother's name was Birdie was super welcoming. My only issue was sitting so close to others that I was surrounded by people chomping into their chicken carcasses, made me a bit ill. I will opt to sit at the counter next time when it's that crowded. SKO's chicken was much undercooked and had to be sent back- it's been awhile since I've had any chicken but I know it shouldn't be that pink. They apologetically took it back & replaced it & took it off our bill & offered us dessert- which was super sweet. SKO has decided to have the veg chik'n next time anyway. I had the Veggie Smoked Jerk BBQ which was good with a side of collard greens. See the cute collage placemats- the owner made those from childhood pics & 70's tv show cutouts.

SKO & even stayed watching a movie for about 45 mins after our meal- the owner is a big fan of old movies, especially those from the 70's and yes, I am a child of the 70's so I loved me some Sinbad movies & Sigmund and The Sea's the genie scene that we had been waiting to see. My only wish for the genie would be that Birdie's had some vegan desserts & vegan versions of biscuits & mac &cheez- that would have made it complete.
Birdie's 149 1st Avenue (bet 9th & 10th sts) NYC 10003 212.529.2512

We were so close to Atlas, I had to bring SKO to see the dessert case of Vegan Treats goodies at Atlas. Yes darlings- all that yumminess is vegan!
I took home a chocolate glazed donut & a slice of peanut butter chocolate "cheesecake".

Atlas 73 2nd Avenue (bet 4th & 5th Sts) NYC 10003 212.539.0966

Another day brought us down to the Lower Eastside to finally check out Moby's cafe, Teany.
The place is absolutely adorable. SKO & I both loved it. She got to order clotted cream (not vegan) and scones. My sister loves scones with clotted cream & tea so much that it makes her smile- I kid you not. Teany has a giant tea selection evidenced in this metal binder...

Ah yes, SKO will do well down here with the Lower Eastside hipsters. She's the cutest.
Here's my chickenless-chicken salad sandwich, which was tasty.
And the yummiest was the rasberry chocolate cupcake courtesy of Vegan Treats- it was pure yum. The frosting was super light & airy and the chocolate cake part really chocolatey.
Teany 90 Rivington St (bet Orchard & Ludlow Sts) NYC 10002 212.475.9190

Then off to check out some vegan shoes & eco-friendly fashion at Moo Shoes & just acrosee the street, Kaight.
Moo Shoes has a few resident kitties- this sleepy one reminds me of Booboo with those giant paws.
And this little elegant one was admiring the sandals that I tried on.
Moo Shoes 78 Orchard Street (bet Broome & Grand Sts) NYC 10002 866.59.VEGAN

83 Orchard Street
NYC 10006

The weekend brought the Dean's brunch at the university that was seriously wooing SKO with a full scholarship. I was an awfully proud big sister to see a university pursuing my sister with such ardent financial promises. We were not that excited by the school at first, however our whole outlook changed when we went to visit. We were completely enamored by everything about the school. The small student/professor ratio, the commitment to integrating commuter students into the campus life and just the sincerity that really came across that the school really cared about it's students, not to mention having the advantages of a large university with the class size of a small college and of course having all the internship advantages of going to school in NYC.

While SKO met for individual student tours, Grandma & I headed to Whole Foods at Columbus Circle for lunch. We made a nice little sampler for ourselves & headed to Central Park. I had some dal, chickpea masala, broccoli, edamame salad, couscous just to name a few goodies.
SKO returned from the university tour with a giant shopping bag of goodies- a university mug, a bumper sticker for our dad's car and a stuffed ram, the university mascot. Of course, Booboo was subjected to a series of photos with the ram...I am so thrilled that SKO has found a great school that believes in her and that she is excited to go to. Yay SKO!!
Most fun way to celebrate my 2yr Vegananniversary: Candle 79

Was not that long ago that I went to Candle 79 with Veggie Girl and it was fine but nothing to rave about except the desserts, well it is my firm belief to always give a place that I don't love a second shot. So when Fcat asked me where I would like to go to celebrate, I decided to go to Candle 79 again and on my 2 yr vegan celebration, I am glad that I went with an open mind. I absolutely loved it this time!
Fcat started with a mimosa & I had a homemade ginger ale with crushed mint which was absolutely amazing- super gingery if you like ginger. It was so refreshing- I felt instantly revitalized!
We started with the special salad which was watercress with strawberries, lentils & pistachios and a vanilla infused dressing. Absolutely delectable.
Fcat had the falafel pita sandwich, which I enjoyed- it was surprisingly fresh & light for a deep-fried chickpea ball sandwich.
I had the breakfast burrito which was so tasty- the beans had a delicate smoky flavor and the seitan was so tender, really perfect.
And we had to have the brownie sundae for dessert- the ancho-chile chocolate sauce threw me off until I realized that it was ancho-chile versus some strange tasting chocolate, the brownie decadent and everything was delicious. Candle 79 was a perfect way to celebrate 2 yrs of true cruelty-free living!
Candle 79
154 East 79th St (bet Lex & 3rd Ave)
NYC 10021

The whole week that SKO was here, I was also busy getting ready for a big big celebrity shoot. To quell the work anxiety, Fcat and I decided to splurge a bit and go for sushi at one of the best sushi places, Sushi Seki. I started with the seaweed salad which was so mouthwatering-ly tasty.

My favorite is the Three Flowers veggie platter- expensive but so worth it. Love how they delicately slice the tomatoes to resemble sushi and the hijiki roll wrapped in cucumber is my absolute favorite.
Sushi Seki
1143 1st Avenue (bet 62nd & 63rd sts)
NYC 10021

As for work, everything came together pretty well. I found a fabulous location in the Bronx, an old warehouse converted into a studio. There isn't anything like this in the city anymore.

I had great catering from Green - really clean & organic stuff. Here's what I ate- yummy lentil salad and broccoli with eggplant.
Here's what the final wardrobe edit came down to...
And here is Uma Thurman standing on the roof of a dilapidated warehouse in the Bronx- fabulous. I have worked with Uma on many an occasion and she is pretty easy to work with. She is out promoting her new movie and had the most hectic schedule ever- the night before a late movie premiere and then 5am hair/makeup for Good Morning America appearance, then off to the Bronx for our shoot, then off to Letterman. She was in amazing form for running around ragged. I would have been one super cranky you-know-what, but Uma was super professional and great as always. And somewhat interesting tidbit, though not really- Uma & I share the same birthday- okay that's all on that front.
The clients wanted to go to Nobu that evening for dinner. Nobu is still amazing after all these years and they were more than happy to accommodate me, the vegan and the photographer's girlfriend who was vegetarian. We felt like we had extra special service there! Here's a dim pic of the vegetable ceviche- baby corn, edamamde, cucumber & other veggies in a citrus ceviche- absolutely delectable.
Then we had smoked eggplant with miso sauce- yum!
The seared tofu was so delicate- it was so delicious!
There were a few other dishes that I didn't get pics of because I didn't really want to explain to my clients why I had to take pictures of all my food. I had an amazing time at Nobu- it really is great when top top restaurants find innovative ways to accommodate vegan visitors. Nobu is super pricey but oh so worth it...

105 Hudson Street (at Franklin St)
NYC 10013

And to round up the week, I had a client lunch at Balthazar which fabulous French bistros usually have little to offer a vegan, but again a top restaurant is happy to accommodate vegan lifestyles. Balthazar is another of those tried & true NYC restaurants which had withstood the test of time.
I had a yummy beet & leek salad with delicious french fries.
And refreshing sorbet for dessert. Ah, I love a client luncheon!
80 Spring St (bet Bway & Crosby St)
NYC 10012

I know this post was super long as are most of my posts because I have to recap so much, but there's always so much to share. Next post- chock full of things like my being maid of honor at my BFF's wedding and my birthday dinner and belated Booboo bday pics to round out the month of April.

Have a great week- I hope to visit all my blog friends this week since I have so much catching up to do!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

In The Name Of All Things Fun & Vegan

It's tedious to keep apologizing for not blogging sooner- so I won't. It's also tedious to keep saying how busy I am with work- so I won't say that either. Will just dive right into the business of blogging with limited commentary because of not quite stated but definitely implied busyness.

First off - my lovely meeting with uber-blogger, Veggie Girl from Veggie Girl Vegan and her parents at Candle 79. I love Candle Cafe but had never been to Candle 79 so was really looking forward to the place & the company. The teapot was super cute & green tea yummy. The restaurant is suppose to be the more upscale sister restaurant, well the service was definitely not in line with upscale restaurants- service was slow and our waitress, not at all rude but definitely inattentive.
They do placate you with some yummy vegan strawberry muffins though!
My savory crepe with mushrooms & asparagus was quite tasty.
Veggie Girl's burger looked good too & those polenta fries were also tasty- a little crunch on the outside and soft on the inside.
Veggie Girl's dad had pancakes which looked good despite blurry picture.
And Veggie Girl's mom had the seitan piccata, also deemed good.
This live dessert parfait had by VG & her mom was pretty amazing. This is definitely the way to go here at Candle 79.
And my Mango Napoleon was yummy also!
So, the food was good but not mind-blowing- but honestly the company was the best part! Veggie Girl & her parents were super sweet and I could have easily spent the entire day hanging out with them. I really enjoyed our meeting and can't wait to welcome them back to my part of town.
Next up- dinner at the mega-restaurant fabulousness that is Buddakan. This cavernous restaurant in Chelsea is surprisingly always packed. Fcat & I dined with our fancy friends, so of course, the maitre'd/manager made sure to come over and introduce themselves and the service & food was of course, impeccable- where as I had read mixed reviews about both, we only had the best experience. Starting with my beverage named, Fate. Fate was sweet and this delicious pineapple based drink was easy going down.

Tried to get shots of how gorgeous the space is without disturbing all with the flash...

They are completely familiar with the term "vegan" and the restaurant sent over appetizers as a welcome. They were also nice enough to include a veganized fried rice with curry foam which was absolutely delectable. For my entree which I didn't take a picture of, they made a delicious tofu/veggie garlic sauce dish- they were even extra knowledgeable about avoiding oyster sauce.

Get thee to Buddakan for fabulosity and ask for vegan options!

As I've gotten older, my tolerance for any alcohol has really dropped. One fateful drink from the night before and I was ready for a reviving brunch at Counter in the East Village. Now, let's just say being an Upper East Side girl, I am loathe to travel downtown to the East Village which I still find a bit too grungy/potently scented for me, but there is Counter which I have been waiting to try forever. With Fcat in tow, I was ready for a big vegan brunch.

Much needed coffee...
North African spiced scrambled tofu with rice, peas and vegan merguez. I didn't really care for the merguez, but if I recall the vegan version is similar to the lamb merguez which is normally on the mushy side. I also didn't care for the tofu so much, it was over-salted. Was a bit disappointing.

The chocolate pie was pretty good, but I was a bit let down from the entree. However, I am willing to go back at some point and give the place another try, though not rushing back anytime soon.

Being a hop, skip and a stone's throw away, I wanted to head to the Lower East Side to buy some vegan chocolate lentils- I miss eating M&M's so off to Economy Candy on Rivington.
This is the best candy store, though unfortunately not so vegan friendly- like these gummy brains, definitely not vegan- hehehe. Actually, none of the gummy stuff is vegan not even swedish fish because even without gelatin as an ingredient, I look out for anything listed as natural flavors. Natural flavors can include castoreum, an anal gland secretion from beavers- yum! Castoreum is also used in most perfumes. Natural flavors can come from any plant or animal/insect, so most likely not vegan.
But just look at all this candy and Fcat next to a giant scale to weigh the goodies in...
Economy candy is a definite visit to oh & awe over wall to wall, floor to ceiling candy, but also for their vegan lentils & dried fruits & nuts. Fun fun fun. Smiling like a kid in a candy store with vegan options!
Fcat & I also had a lovely little dinner at Bar Pitti downtown with my cousin & her husband. I haven't seen them in years which is ridiculous because we all live in NYC. My cousin is super super busy though because she has a big big job at Hermes. Being vegan, I thought that I could no longer enjoy gifts that came in that gorgeous orange box, but my sweet cousin set me straight... I used to buy lots of exquisite Hermes silk scarves with their intricate handiwork, but alas, they are no longer a part of my vegan lifestyle. So I was somewhat filled with dread that this sweet gift would go unused- you can imagine my surprise when I saw that it was gorgeous cotton scarf! I will be sporting it in the summer for sure, though I just noticed that it is a scene of an Indian tiger hunt, hmm...
Asparagus in season and delicious with lemon at Bar Pitti.

Sauteed Tuscan Kale with garlic- yum yum.
Pasta arrabiata for me...
Attended an interesting Japan-US goodwill concert at Carnegie Hall one evening- these lovely ladies dancing are between the ages of 65- 85, yep, they still have the moves. Amazing.
What else was fun and a great thing to do? Earth Hour! Hope as many people as possible participated that Saturday in shutting off all their lights & tv for an hour starting at 8pm across the world. Could probably have cheated by using my charged up laptop but I am not a cheater- so I read Herodotus by candle light instead, the dimness gave me a headache. Next time, I will just play with Booboo and meditate.

Finally got to the Vcon and made some mini pound cake- aren't they cute out of the oven?

And even cuter with some vanilla soy ice cream...

Fcat made a great dinner one night...

And I was able to indulge in some delicious Lightlife Smart Chili that I heated up when grandma came over for lunch...

Also made a tasty "BLT" with Lightlife Smart Bacon, spinach, cherry tomatoes & Vegenaise- so like a BLT from days of yore...

I was able to indulge because I got a giant cooler of Lightlife products- I always buy their tempeh & tempeh bacon & Gimme Lean, but I was so excited to try all their other stuff! What's great about Lightlife is that not only do they have great vegan products- they also give back to charities. I find that their products are tasty enough to lure non-vegans like me sister & grandma to indulge. Very very exciting...

Lastly, I give you the funnest thing of my weeks & days- my kitty, Booboo. That coy sweet look belies a temperamental attack kitty, but she is still pure joy.

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