I recently spent the weekend in NYC and I made it my goal to go to as many vegan restaurants as possible. Sadly, I didn’t achieve quite as much as I had hoped for. It’s hard when travelling with non-vegans. I feel like I can only drag my husband to vegan restaurants so much before I start to feel bad and he starts to ask for cheese.
New York City is a vegan food paradise. I could find vegan cafes and restaurants around almost every second corner. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration but it’s quite frequent). But first thing on my to-do list when in America is to go to Whole Foods. We sadly don’t have a Whole Foods in Montreal. We do have some in Toronto and Ottawa, but there are products that you can get in America that we just can’t get here in Canada. Organic turmeric, beet and ginger larabars for example. I can’t even order those to Canada from Amazon or anywhere else online. I have also discovered Munk Pack Oatmeal Squeeze packs that are made with oatmeal, quinoa and fruits. I stocked up on these because they are the perfect travel snack for when I’m off travelling the World to competitions. I like that the ingredients are all natural, and I know each one of them. I try to avoid products that the ingredient list is lined with so much chemicals that it looks like a lab experiment, not food that one should put into their body.
Not only do I follow a vegan diet, but I follow a vegan lifestyle. This involves not using any products that are tested on animals. This includes make-up, body products, cleaning products, dish soap and laundry detergent. You’d be surprised to know that all the brands that you probably buy (Tide, Johnson and Johnson, Clorox, Dove, Aveeno, Mac, Clean and Clear, Febreze, and the list goes on and on) all test on animals! We now live in 2016. Science has evolved beyond what anyone could have imagined, and the time has come to stop blinding, injuring, burning and eventually killing animals to test these products. The number one animals used for these testing procedures is beagle dogs (My Theo for example). There is a great company in America called the Beagle Freedom Project and they are doing great work saving Beagles from testing laboratories and finding them loving and caring homes.
Products that are cruelty-free have a flying bunny logo on them, or they simply say “This product was not tested on animals”. I’m always on the look out for great companies that are compassionate, understanding and support animals. Tom’s is a pioneering company of cruelty-free products, and in Canada we can find their products quite regularly, but I always find different flavours (tea tree oil toothpaste?) and more variety when I go shopping at Whole Foods in America. Let’s not forget that Tom’s is completely natural and free of fluoride, parabans and SLS. We’re putting that stuff in our mouths people, so please be careful about the toxic ingredients in what your using.
One other thing I always struggle to find is good quality cruelty free shaving cream. I was so happy to discover Alba’s foam shave, completely natural and cruelty-free. Also free of parabans and aerosol, they also don’t test on animals and print it very proudly on the front of their products. I also stocked up on Seventh Generation Laundry detergent, Pacifica make-up and perfumes and bamboo reusable utensils that I can carry around with me, to avoid using plastic utensils while on the road, in an airplane or at Starbucks.
So cheers for a successful Wholefoods shopping trip!
We went for lunch here almost by accident. After walking for 40 minutes to the amazing Lululemon Lab store (Only located in New York and Vancouver), I asked the lady working there if there was a vegan or vegetarian place nearby. She pointed me down the street to The Butcher’s Daughter. Surprising name, but I realized that they pride themselves on working with fruits and vegetables the same way a butcher would work with meat. I was recommended by our server to have their avocado on toast. Although I love this and have it on a regular basis at home, I found it an interesting suggestion, as their menu was filled with so many unique dishes, such as Rueben sandwiches and tacos. I figured I’d follow the advice of the experienced server, and I truly loved my avocado on toast. The cilantro, lime and mustard seeds topped it off perfectly, and the 12-grain bread was the perfect consistency.
Bruno got the Rueben sandwich and also enjoyed it. The plating was nice and rustic, on a thick wooden cutting board.
Bruno and I first went to Blossom about 5 years ago and we have been craving their chocolate mousse (Which they didn’t have this time) ever since. It is located in Chelsea, near the rink where Bruno was working for the weekend, so the location was ideal.
We were a party of 4, so we started with the Chef’s Sampler for Two (which was barely enough for us because it was so good). It was a beautifully presented plate of buffalo risotto croquettes, seitan empanadas, fried pickles with ranch dip, cashew ricotta and raw zucchini rolatini. The buffalo risotto croquettes were my favourite, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the fried pickles!
For the main meal I ordered the Rolls in Bloom which was supposed to be collard greens wrappers with zucchini, asparagus, cashew ricotta and chickpea filling with cauliflower and sautéed chard. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed, because the dish was pretty much 80% collard greens. I like my greens, but I was hoping for a bit more cashew ricotta and chickpea filling, zucchini and asparagus.
When Mervin’s lasagna came out, I immediately became jealous, as I knew he made the better choice. Marissa got the tofu dish of the day and it was also a disappointment as her tofu was so burnt that it tasted like smoke. Bruno’s seitan scaloppini and mashed potatoes were a hit, so it was about 50/50 in terms of vegan dinner success. I have to say though, that our lemon cheesecake dessert was a thing of beauty, and I could have had seconds.
Thanks to my agent, David Baden, we got a nice lunch reservation at Candle 79 on what seemed like the hottest Saturday afternoon of the summer! Candle 79 serves organic vegan food with great service. As I was contemplating between ordering brunch or lunch, I saw the table next to me devouring a huge plate of what looked like guacamole, beans and plantain chips. After asking them what it was, I knew this is what I needed in my stomach. The Guacamole Timbale is a starter of guacamole, black beans, tomato-cucumber salsa, plantain chips and ranchero sauce.
I wish I had remembered to take a photo before we finished the dish. Luckily, I didn’t have to finish it alone, as Bruno and I were at lunch with my friends Kaitlyn and Andrew. So I had some help (I’m stealing a photo from pinterest just so you can see the amazingness of this dish). After I opted out on brunch because this starter was so filling, I decided on a simple grilled kale salad with string beans, lentils, squash, more avocado, sunflower seeds and spelt berries.
It was great and I was proud that I made the healthier decision, because I was leaning towards French toast for brunch! Bruno got a nice plate of nachos to celebrate his second birthday meal (We had already been for breakfast that morning. Sadly, it was not a veg restaurant).
Kaitlyn and Andrew both got the Mexican Brunch and it looked like a great choice. We were pleasantly surprised with the chocolate peanut butter bliss cake for Bruno’s birthday surprise (Thanks David!) The peanut butter and chocolate mousse and salted peanut caramel crust was perfection!
And this marked an end to my vegan adventures in New York City. There are still so many places for a vegan to love, visit and explore in the city, but I just didn’t have time for them all. I can’t wait to go back and try something different next time (And maybe Candle 79 once again, because it’s that good)!