Tuesday, September 26, 2006

for the love of thai.

i've known about pukk (1st ave between 4th and 5th st) for months. so how has it eluded me that it is so freaking awesome?! the first time i went there was one of the first dates that my boyfriend and i went on, so that could help explain why i was so oblivious. (i get nervous in restaurants with boys. yes, i know i'm 28. shut up.)

so, last night i went there again with the illustrious miss nina, and oh! my! i want to go there every night for the rest of my life! as far as i can tell, the only thing there that isn't vegan is the noodle dishes that contain egg. they are clearly labled on the menu as containing egg, and it can always be left out. !!! in poking around on the internet i've heard other things, but as of september 25, 2006 that's how it is. if only, if only i'd known that THEY MAKE THEIR THAI ICED TEA WITH SOYMILK! alas, next time.

ok. so it took us like 20 minutes for us to decide what we wanted, because we both wanted everything. we ended up getting two appatizers, two entrees, and two desserts. let me just say this about dessert: thai tea cheesecake. is. heaven. and i don't really like cheesecake. miss nina had these weird fried apple things that were amazing. but i've gotten ahead of myself. there was real food before there was dessert.

let's see if i can remember. as far as appetizers, we had dumplings (scallion? chive? i don't remember...) and the thai pancake (like a scallion pancake - deep fried bread essentially) that was served with a curried spicy gingery kind of sauce. it had chunks of deep fried tofu in it. i ate them. yeah. for dinner she got the pad thai, which is the first dish i always try at a thai place i've never been to before - i had it last time. it's... pad thai. it's perfect if you want pad thai. so. i had a noodle dish that is called something along the lines of ginger gravy noodles? i think? anyway, it's a nice stew-like object with big fat squishey noodles with lots of vegetables and mushrooms and little shreds of potent ginger root. we both cleaned our plates.

another wonderful thing to know: that place is crazy cheap! most of the entrees are a mere $7. me and miss nina got so excited about the prices that we ordered way too much food and spent a ton of money. ha. not like it's the first time. i think i do that at sacred chow every time i go.

so, in my internet-poking-around, i saw that some people were dissing the decour. whatever! that place looks awesome! the whole thing is lined in these tiny circular tiles in white and a funny lime green color. including the seats, which are built into the walls and floor. but they give you these awesome slab-of-rubber cushions that make it quite comfortable to sit there for an hour stuffing your face. it's all crazy modern and fancy and like eating inside of a space ship. i guess there are people who wouldn't like that, but those people suck. so whatever. everyone should want to eat inside of a spaceship.

i do, however, suggest not hitting it at peak dining hours - it may get rather loud with all those hard surfaces. is it so terrible to eat at 7 people? come on. avoid the rush. your food comes faster, your service is better, and you don't have to listen to some stranger complaining about her love life or some crap. and that goes for every restaurant in the city, as far as i'm concerned.

and in conclusion, pukk = happiness for me. yay.

Monday, September 18, 2006


a few words on brunch in new york. i never really "did brunch" before i came here; i thought that was an event that occurred only among very rich and awful people in movies, and in one simpsons episode. but here it's a thing, and like every other thing here there's a range from very casual to very fancy. i, of course, started on the casual end. i did, pre-veganity, once have brunch at the oh-so-chic balthazar bistro in soho. it's a very see-and-be-seen scene, and we saw kate moss. she looked like crap. i had the best damn fruit salad i've ever had in my life. i don't even remember what else i ate, actually. but when brunch became a thing for me, suffice it to say that being seen was not my first priority.

after my first brunch experience, i got addicted to the huevos con chorizo at curly's vegetarian lunch on 14th street. of course i got it made with tofu (they offer a good percentage of their menu in vegan versions). and when you order off the brunch menu there, a mimosa or a sangria is included! which is, of course, the way it should be but usually isn't. it's crazy good, still, but i sort of burned out on it. and while they have some other nice offerings, like the croque madamme and the breakfast burrito and the huevos rancheros, i've run them all into the ground. so then it became sacred chow, whose italian fritatta is still a thing of mystery and joy. and served with the prettiest little side of fruit you ever saw. i love sacred chow, and lament their uncomfortable seating. the food makes it worth it though...

a beautiful spread at sacred chow...

i've done a few other brunch places here and there, like kate's joint (mediochre and largely non-vegan, like their regular menu) and organic grill. i've never had a truly bad brunch experience; sometimes it's just nothing to talk about.

but yesterday, we finally made it to brunch at blossom (9th ave between 21st and 22nd). (beware the website - there's music.) brunch there has eluded us mainly because of its very small window: 12 to 3 pm. but by the skin of our teeth we managed it, and my dear was it worth the walk. we had the grilled pizza appetizer, which we knew from our previous dinner experience was heaven topped with caramelized onions. then we had blueberry pancakes and the tofu scramble, which were seemingly unexciting options. but oh, but oh. those were the best pancakes i have ever had, and i mean that... sorry mom. the texture was perfect, soft and doughy but not too doughy, with tons of ripe wonderful colorful blueberries hidden inside. they were lightly dusted with powdered sugar, and had a very delicate cinnamon flavor, so that i didn't even want to pour the syrup on them. i did taste the syrup, however, to confirm what my boyfriend claimed: it's liquored. mmm. yes.

and then the tofu scrambe. so simple, right? but possibly the best i've ever had. not bland, but not too salty or seasoned, with skinny slices of red pepper and i don't even remember what else. and served with a very nice multi-grain toast and perfect (perfect!) french fries. we also got some coffee... which they serve in a lovely glass french press.

love. it.

by chance i suppose, we caught the place totally empty - my favorite. ok, so there was one other couple there, but whatever. we sat in the far corner (also my favorite), and our waiter was great, and they were playing the magnetic fields. the experience in all was pure brunch bliss.

Friday, September 15, 2006

midtown dregs.

the deal is this: i work in midtown. and i'm sure, know for a fact even, that i am not the only vegan stuck working and lunching in the meat-loving lands of the east 50's. there are solutions to clean lunch here, but you have to look hard to find them.

somehow, e. 53rd street between 3rd and 2nd avenues is a little oasis of good food. there's bunchberries, which at first appears to be just like all the other bodega/deli things in midtown. except that their "salad bar" has items like grilled tofu and pasta dishes with no cheese on them. and sometimes they have vegan muffins and cookies, which are quite good. they also have a nice seating area with windows in the back showing the world's tiniest back yard... it's cute.

there's also marakesh, a sit-down restaurant that serves middle eastern and mexican food. i wouldn't suggest the mexican, but the middle eastern stuff is great - standards like falafel, babaganouj, hummus, and vegetarian stuffed grapeleaves.

oddly enough, it's located just below organic harvest. while it is a little pricy, their menu is almost entirely vegan and the food is great. not much of a seating area, o.h. is more of a takeout place.

i've heard it rumored that there's a vegan food cart in these parts, but i haven't found him yet. i do know that there's a fantastic juice cart on the corner of 48th and 3rd, run by a nice guy named sam. it's great - he's got this beautiful array of fruits and vegetables laid out, and he'll make any combonation you can think of, and you just stand there and watch him put four carrots into the juicer, and then three orange halves, and then a nice big chunk of raw ginger... or whatever. it's awesome.

and of course, when pressed, you can usually do alright at the "salad bars" in the bodega/deli places. the one closest to me, azure on the corner of 51st and 3rd, usually has grilled vegetables, stuffed grape leaves, some pasta primavera type items, and that funny triangular concoction of tofu with minced seasoning veggies sitting in soy sauce. they also have, all the way in the back, a stir-fry station, where you pick out a bunch of raw veggies and tofu, and pour some sauce on it, and then they cook it on this huge flat-top with nothing added but water. it's a little tough to see your food sitting there next to raw strips of beef, but they do a pretty good job of keeping peoples' stuff separate, and they're constantly washing down the cooking surface.

there's also "pump", which is in the basement of the building on the east side of 3rd ave between 49th and 50th. it's a 'health food' place, and i haven't actually tried it yet, but they seem to have a decent selection of tofu-based dishes.

ah! and how could i have forgotten! there is always ess-a-bagel on the east side of 3rd ave between 50th and 51st. they have five or six flavors of vegan cream cheese! they're awesome. one of the tofu cream cheeses has lox in it, which is weird and gross on a lot of levels. but the rest of them are really tasty. i believe they get the tofutti cream cheese and mix in their own extras. i love their bagels - of course i usually get the whole wheat. for a while i was going there so often that they knew my order... but i had to move on. i'll go back one day, i'm sure...

so yes, there are things around. and the truth is that at least in new york, a vegan when pressed can find something to eat pretty much anywhere. this gets harder in some places - say, small towns in the south where absolutely everything is cooked with hamhocks. but i've said it before and i'll say it again: new york is the best place to be vegan.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

italian food, i have not forsaken you!

so, i don't know how it took me practically a year of being here to figure it out, but i LOVE viva herbal pizzaria (2nd ave between 10th and 11th... i think). they have VEGAN CALZONES, people. and ravioli, and garlic knots, and several types of pizza, and innumerable other vegan delights that i haven't gotten to try yet. last night i got more food than my friend and i could eat for $20, and believe me, when you get me involved a pretty significant amount of food can be gotten rid of.

for the most part it has the look and feel of a typical nyc pizza place, with terrible tables and chairs and bad music and all. i dig that. they have your typical beverage cases, but they're stocked with 'natural' sodas like reed's ginger beer and other fun things, instead of coke and pepsi products. sadly, they do not have vegan cheese. i don't get that; we know that there is great vegan cheese available in these parts, that melts terriffically and all, since there are several restaurants that do have it. so what's the issue? but whatever. the food is quite enjoyable as is, and when you're eating you don't feel like it's missing anything at all.

since they do have real cheese, but are all vegetarian, it's a good place to go with non-vegan friends. i plan to force all sorts of people to go there. it'll be delightful. and you know what i haven't even checked out? if they have desserts...

Monday, September 11, 2006


veganity. new york. cupcakes. yes.

i am going to say here that think coffee on mercer (between 3rd and 4th) is my favorite coffee shop ever. now, that might not be true. i often say that things are "the ________ thing ever" or state that they're my favorite thing ever, when really they're a passing fancy. but it's true right now, and since right now is all i've got, well then so be it. i was in love with them right from the start, because they put soymilk right there on the bar, and because all of their coffee (that's right, ALL of it) is fair trade organic, and because the milk that they do use is local and organic. and then i found out that they donate 25% of profits to local community action.

and then it got really good. because they started carrying some food from sacred chow, one of my very favorite vegan restaurants in new york. i'd been saying from the first visit that it would be perfect if it just had vegan foodstuffs... and then they did! and then it was perfect! they get brownies and cupcakes (the ones with rainbow sprinkles on top!) and also the tofu spa salad and the peanut noodles sometimes. and they have vegan sandwiches of various compositions sometimes. so yes, when i saw my first sacred chow cupcake there, i knew it was love, pure and true. hopefully it will last.

its one true downside is that it's smack dab in the middle of nyu-land. now, this irks me for at least two reasons. 1) like many coffee shops, it is often overrun with students (and their books) who do not leave for hours. and 2) because i look like i could be, it is assumed that i am one of them. i'm freakin' not, alright? i can't afford your damn school and i resent all of you go away. so there. but it must be noted that it is the very presence of this irksome population that is probably enabling such an establishment to exist. so. there's also the minor problem of the ugly orange light fixtures, but most of the place is beautiful so those can be ignored.