Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Vegan Big Apple, Part 2

Here's part two of my recent trip to NYC! On the second morning, we had breakfast at home..lingering over African tea, fruit salad and some breakfast breads we brought back from Babycakes.

The breakfast breads were very tasty. I still can't decide if I like Babycakes' banana bread or corn bread better..all the more incentive to buy the cookbook!

Some non-breakfasty treats that we also brought back from Babycakes:

After breakfast, we walked through Harlem to the subway. We passed by Apollo Theater which had a gigantic Michael Jackson memorial outside. A moment of sadness for the king of pop...

I love the old style subway tile decorations..

After a 20 minute subway ride and then a 15 minute walk, we arrived at our destination: The New York Botanical Garden's Edible Garden.

To back track a little, we decided to pack a we stopped before our trip at Raw Soul, a vegan raw restaurant. Here's Michelle and Sarah waiting for our tasty takeout.

We ordered a "raw lasagna"..pretty tasty but a little heavy on the vinegar. Otherwise, delicious. When Michelle lived across the street during her grad school years, we would dine here whenever I visited..great place and much more affordable than other raw restaurants in NYC.

Michelle enjoying her lunch in the cafeteria inside the Botanical Garden.

We took a ton of pictures while touring the garden:

The garden included an edible heirloom vegetable garden. These are little peppers! I hope my heirloom peppers plants end up looking so cute (so far, it's promising).

Going all Georgia O'Keefe on you!

Sarah's uncanny ability for locating silly signage photo opps is unparalleled!

We stopped by a food demonstration. Didn't quite catch the theme but it was something about making fruit fun to eat by making it into flower arrangements. It seemed pretty simple..just basically cutting out fruit shapes with flower cookie cutters and putting them on a wooden stick. Easy easy. Now we can make our own edible arrangements, huh?!

Sarah relaxing in the garden shade:

The conservatory:

The conservatory hosts part of the Edible Garden exhibit, Tropical Edibles.

Guava! No, not that Guava..but a guava tree.

Cocoa pods..

Agave--how cool to see what it looks like in person!


Ginger root...

Hydrangeas..silly comments overhead from passerbys "Oh, I like totally love these flowers. They were all over my Bat Mitzvah. They are my favorite flower." Her companion: "What are they?" She answers "I had no idea!"

Inside the amazing garden shop.

They had a good vegan book selection. This book is adorable!

Michelle and I drooled over this book. Luckily it was very heavy and that discouraged me from overheating my credit card (and myself by lugging it around NYC). But I do intend to get it soon..the photography is inspiring and each recipe is a vegan recipe created by a non-vegan celebrity chef.

After several hours at the Garden, we decided to take the bus back to the subway. We were wilting in the heat and the AC on the bus felt great. This funny sign was posted inside the bus.

After taking a break, we headed to Union Square for the next big part of our day: dinner at Pure Food & Wine. A suitable welcome to three gals heading out to dine at a veggie restaurant in Union Square: a statue of Ghandi.

We started our dining adventure at Pure Food and Wine with an appetizer "Plate of Assorted Cultured Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses and Rosemary Crisps," and a pitcher of sangria. We were all first timers to Dr. Cow cheezes. It's really good! It was worth the nine months I've been waiting to try it.

Coincidentally, I had been hearing a lot about stuffed squash blossoms lately but it just wasn't something I had ever tried. So when I saw it on Pure's menu, "Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Spring Onion and Herb Cheese," I thought, this is the dish for me! It was stuffed with a raw cheeze. Really good. One of the best vegan meals I've ever had.

Sarah had the "White Corn Tamales with Raw Cacao Mole." I love tamales..had no idea you could do a raw version.

Michelle's dish wasn't great. It actually was terrible. I hate writing negative things about vegan restaurants but this dish definitely was not up to par with the other two that we ordered (those both were amazing). If you go, you might want to avoid the "Caper Lemon Roasted Chanterelle Mushroom with Truffle Creamed Broccoli"..the broccoli was very good but the rest was very bitter and not at all pleasant. And a big disappointment for the price. However, the other two dishes we shared and they more than made up for one miss.

The highlight of the meal was dessert..the vegan mint sundae was calling my name like a siren song. And it was so worth it! VeggieGirl has also written about this same dessert and raved about it too. Here's a shot without flash so you can catch the ambiance. I had trouble taking photos at this point because the light was so low so the rest of the photos are with a flash. And also because I risked getting a fork in my arm if I kept my dinner companions from enjoying their sweets!

Michelle's "Chocolate Passion Fruit Tart."

Sarah's "Trio of Dark Chocolate Coated Indian Spiced Ice Cream Treats."

An outside shot..a hot steamy New York night. Perfect for terrace dining. Pure is worth the splurge but the pricing is hard to swallow. Pure also does not offer a lunch menu which is too bad. A lunch menu would make it more affordable for some. Regardless of my complaint, I will be back to Pure. It's unique and amazing so I'm just going to have to deal!

Around the corner from Pure is its sister restaurant, One Lucky Duck, a kind of takeout version of Pure. We stopped there to pick up some Dr. Cow cheeze to bring home.

Very cute inside...

Another veggie restaurant to check out another is vegetarian not vegan but looks affordable.

A vegetarian chain we kept seeing around town..we checked out the menu and decided it wasn't worth the trip. If you live in NYC and want something fast, maybe, but with so many amazing restaurants nearby, as a visitor, I'd say check out something else first. We also discovered that the Zen Palette nearby has closed. No idea why but at least they still have one location open.

We never found out what this number is. The national debt? Or our bill at Pure? Ha ha ha! Do we really want to know? =)

That's it for now..the next day was spent relaxing and with a little more non-blog worthy retail therapy..then we headed home to Boston (me) and Portland (Sarah) with our heads full of great memories. We can't wait to go back asap. Hopefully Michelle is ready for us. Something tells me yes because she already sent me this link to try for our next trip: