May 31, 2010

New York in Spring . Day 3

Pret a Manger is a great place for vegetarians.  When I don't have much time to eat or I just want to grab a bite to go, I always look for a Pret.  They have locations in New York, DC and Chicago as well as the UK.  They focus on easy things like sandwiches, salads and soups but they've also got great desserts and drinks.  My favorite drink is called Yoga Bunny Detox.  It's carbonated water mixed with juice and herbs like echinacea and ginseng.  And to go with it...a LOVE bar.  It's a graham cracker layer topped with coconut, chocolate, fruit and nuts and it's phenomenal.  They even have a cute miniature version called a 'LOVE bite'.

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The Ace Hotel has a sandwich shop on Broadway that is really fresh and unique.  I had their Fried Tofu sandwich for lunch and it was delicious and completely satisfying.  Shredded carrots, breaded fried tofu, cilantro and spicy sauce on freshly baked bread.  So good! 

May 28, 2010

New York in Spring . Day 2

Breakfast once again at Babycakes.  I went for the sole purpose of sending donuts and brownies to my mom for Mother's Day, but I had to try their blueberry donut for myself!  The lemon coconut is still my favorite, but blueberry is a close second. 

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For lunch I took my friend Alexia's suggestion and ventured to Red Bamboo.  It's a cute little restaurant on West 4th Street that was completely full on a Monday afternoon.  The menu is a mix of southern comfort food and traditional Asian fare.

Their Almond Coconut Chicken is served with a sweet chili sauce and it's a great meat substitute.  It's crunchy and salty with a touch of sweet, and extremely filling...I could only eat two of them. 
I also tried the Dragonfly Dumplings, which were filled with cabbage, carrots, vegetable protein + vegetarian shrimp on top of a mixed green salad.  The soy dressing that comes with it was great with the dumplings, but for the salad I ordered a side of their carrot ginger dressing, which you can never go wrong with.  The dumplings were incredible - the vegetable protein and veggie shrimp gave them a great texture and wonderful flavor.
If you're looking for somewhere to take both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, this is the place.  The flavors and textures leave nothing to be missed. 

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We stayed at The Ace Hotel on Broadway & 29th.  We've stayed there several times before and it has such a great vibe.  The lobby is meant to be a neighborhood hang out, with lots of comfy couches and communal tables.  The style is really similar to what my husband I are constantly trying to perfect - a mix of simple modern + raw vintage industrial.

This time was the first time we ate at their restaurant, The Breslin.  I wasn't terribly hungry, so I just had a few snacks.  The Sea Salt and Vinegar Crisps came in a cute little bag and they were completely delicious (I have a weakness for potato chips).  I also had their Bibb salad without the botarga and a side of Asparagus and Basil, both very good.

Our friend Victor Schrager had the best dish of all, Sauteed Radishes and Cippolini.  They were outstanding.  And he even held up the table lights to provide me with a good photo, as he himself is an extremely talented still life photographer.
Note:  If you are at all squeamish about meat, you might want to avoid The Breslin.  I saw parts of a pig there that a vegetarian should never see.

May 26, 2010

New York in Spring . Day 1

A few weeks ago, I was in New York and got to visit some of my favorite places + a couple new spots I've been meaning to try.

First stop - Babycakes.  I love going there early in the morning when their cases are full with all different colors of pastel frosting.  My favorite breakfast treat is their savory biscuit with raspberry jam and vanilla frosting.  It's the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

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For lunch, if I'm anywhere near a Maoz, chances are that's what I'm having.  I first discovered Maoz in Amsterdam.  It's a completely vegetarian falafel restaurant with the most amazing toppings.  You can order your falafel in a salad or in a pita, and use their toppings bar to customize it.  My toppings of choice include hummus, fried eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes and cucumbers, pickles + tahini.  Their broccoli is so good that I had to ask how they prepare it - it's flash fried and sprinkled with salt.  They also have Belgian or sweet potato fries...the Belgian fries are extra crispy.

There are several in Manhattan...I frequent the Union Square and Upper West Side locations.  Plan on taking yours to go if you're at Union Square, there aren't many seats.

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Little Giant on the Lower East Side is a great place for dinner with friends.  At first glance, their menu isn't very vegetarian friendly, but just ask and they will be happy to accommodate.  The atmosphere is the real draw for me.  In spring and summer, they open their enormous windows so a light breeze can blow through and the entire restaurant is lit almost solely by candlelight.

Their chive biscuit is served with a sweet butter and it's completely irresistible.

As a side dish, they have polenta baked with mushrooms that is fantastic, but very rich and filling.  Their desserts are excellent (fresh strawberry shortcake in summer), but I prefer to go across the street for Babycakes.  They stay open until 10 most nights.

May 24, 2010

Miami Beach - non Standard version

I did leave the Standard occasionally while in were some of my favorite spots to grab a bite.

The Raleigh Hotel - we spent an afternoon at the beach + by the pool of this lovely hotel.

I love guacamole, and the Raleigh's version was just right, lots of salt + lots of lime.

When my husband wanted to grab a quick lunch before heading to work, he suggested Five Guys.  I thought for sure I would be having fries for my lunch, but they have do have a vegetarian option.  It's essentially their burger without the burger (with cheese or without).  With grilled onions, cheese, ketchup and mustard it was really decent.  On a similar note, you can also get this option at In N Out burger, should you ever find yourself there.

My favorite lunch option while in Miami Beach was Lime Fresh.  It's fast food Mexican that's very fresh and vegetarian friendly.  I always chose the crispy tacos with grilled vegetables and guacamole.  The South Miami Beach location has a courtyard to eat outside so it's a great spot to relax and enjoy the amazing weather.

We stopped by Planet Sushi one night for dinner and I was amazed at all of their vegetarian options.  I had the Planet Veggie, which consisted of a California Vegetarian roll, a Spring Vegetarian roll, vegetable tempura + miso soup.  It was delicious and very fresh.  They have flat screen TVs with live feed of the chefs preparing your's difficult to look away.

And for dessert...nutella + strawberry sushi!  It was a bit strange because of the rice, but nutella makes everything good.

And finally, Sushi Samba.  There are several locations in NYC and I love their grilled vegetable kebabs.  They come with a side of Peruvian giant corn, which I cannot seem to get enough of.  They have updated their menu recently and added this miso glazed eggplant...I just can't explain how good the flavor was.  The eggplant was very tender, not chewy, and covered in a miso reduction sauce and black sesame seeds.  It's such a great appetizer or accompaniment to your sushi.

Miami Beach - The Standard version

I recently spent 10 days in Miami Beach at The Standard Hotel.  The hotel is amazing.  The rooms are very simple, but the communal areas could not be better.  Their spa is gorgeous with a Hammam, steam room, sauna, the works.  And the best part...they have at least 6 yoga classes a day. 

I spent a lot of time at the hotel, and eating there was never a disappointment.  

For breakfast, the granola with bananas, strawberries + soymilk is very filling and a perfect way to start your day.

Sitting by the pool, the flatbread is a perfect snack to share.  Crispy flatbread topped with sprouts, tomatoes, mushrooms, hummus and feta cheese (you can easily skip the feta to make it vegan).

And for lunch...Greek salad with tofu (again, skip the feta to make it vegan).  They marinate the tofu and then grill it to perfection.  You can taste that wonderful charred flavor that vegetarians don't always get to experience.

The living lasagna is also a great option for lunch.  It's completely raw and full of flavor.  The layers consist of zucchini, squash and carrots with cashew nut cheese and raw vegan sausage.  The fresh tomato sauce throughout and on the side had to be the best ripe and fresh. 

For dinner, they have a customizable option...grilled tofu + a vegetable side + sauce.  Here I picked chickpea fries with pepper puree.  The vegetable options include broccoli rabe, grilled asparagus, and shaved brussel sprouts.  The sauces include salsa verde, sundried tomato citrus + raw coconut chutney just to name a few.

And you simply cannot miss the vegan Ding Dong.  It's such a pleasant way to end your day - chocolate cake, chocolate fondant and vanilla cream.