East 12th St. between 1st/2nd Ave., NYC
The food was amazing and cheap but honestly the best part of this place was the people watching. Every table seemed to grill the servers for ten minutes about the exact contents of dishes to ensure everything was, as claimed, without refined sugars, preservatives, dairy, eggs, or any animal products. I had read on their website that the restaurant was BYO, but no one else at surrounding tables had brought alcohol in. What?? After overhearing the neighboring table checking to make sure the grain coffee contained no stimulants whatsoever, another table requesting rice removed from a dish because it sometimes contains gluten you know! (it doesn't), and a conversation on the way out about a recent "cleanse," it dawned on me that people who eschew animal products, processed foods, and caffeine probably also aren't inclined to bring booze into a vegan restaurant.
Well to each his own, and leave more of the free corkage for the rest of us.
Sides: curried cashew spread, garlic pickled shiitakes, walnut-lentil pate
I think the key to the dips might be soaking the raw nuts to give it a creamy consistency and then pureeing the life out of the mixture. Price might be prohibitive with the shiitakes, but maybe I can try a bastardized version using dried mushrooms.
Main: I'm an Old Cowhand from the Rio Zape - menu description:
"Delectable heirloom bean-vegetable stew featuring Rio Zape & Four Corners beans, butternut squash, turnips, parsnips, carrots & celery, accented with thyme & oregano; served with a quinoa-red quinoa blend & cilantro-pumpkin seed pesto. Accompanied by broccoli & marinated red onions; garnished with chicory."
Rio Zape beans are apparently somewhat of an heirloom pinto with "traces of coffee and chocolate with a velvety texture," and Four Corners are golden beans that come with a have their own native american tale. Great, but I'm not paying $6 a pound for beans. This stew was delicious and definitely doable with more easily accessible (and less wanky) ingredients, and a name that I'm not embarrassed about saying no matter how much I love Bing Crosby.
Dessert: coconut cashew tart with orange-ginger custard
Less tarty, more fillingy. Kind of like a pecan pie sort of? Investigation required.
Summary: vegan food does not necessarily suck.
4th and Bloomfield, Hoboken
If I wasn't already running late to work every day, I would certainly go broke with morning stops at Empire. Restricted to lazy weekend strolls.
Dirty Chai Latte. This drink is basically a soy chai latte with a shot of espresso. Chai is just black tea with spices right? I can definitely make that at home, and it might help get that pesky overflowing spice cupboard under control.
Beer, Bourbon, Barbeque Festival
11th ave and W. 28th St., NYC
I expected the BBB festival to focus on the first two B's and maybe have a few food vendors who were constantly slammed. I even got so excited that this wasn't the case that I inhaled at least 8 pork dishes in the first 30 minutes after arriving and had take a break.
The most memorable were the pulled pork sliders. I think I had three different kinds each with bun and sauce variations. My favorite was on a brioche style bun with sweet and crunchy coleslaw from Bubby's Brooklyn but argh they don't seem to have it on the regular menu. So so good. A replica must be on tap for this weekend.