Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Vegan Big Apple, Part 1

I mentioned a few times here that at the end of July I traveled to NYC to visit my younger sister, Michelle. I was so excited when I got an email from my friend Sarah asking if she could join us. Of course, the answer was yes! To get from Boston to NYC is pretty easy with a lot of choices. Neither of wanted to drive so it was simply deciding between Amtrak and one of the many bus lines that go between the two cities. As much as I love taking the train, the price can be prohibitive: ~$120..almost the same as flying (which I hate). It's a shame since the train is so much fun. However, a new bus line, Bolt Bus, had the perfect fare ($27 round trip with wireless on board..nice!). So two weeks ago, Sarah left Portland early in the morning to meet up with me in Cambridge where we headed into Boston to board the bus! The bus dropped off in NYC just a block from Michelle's work where she picked us up. Let the fun begin!

Michelle shares a townhouse in Harlem with a few other people. She has the entire third floor to herself and a pretty sweet guest bedroom for, well, guests like us!

When traveling, the adventures are so much better when your travel buddies are compatible, right? Nothing like being a vegan traveling with Burger Joe who freaks at the sight of tofu. Luckily that was not the case for this trip! Michelle and I come from a family of people who love to explore whether it is food or destinations and I knew Sarah loved these things too! Even before we boarded the bus, the three of us were busy emailing back and forth things we wanted to check out. First on the list: Han Gawi, a vegan Asian restaurant. I had first learned of this place through my chocolate co-conspirator Chocolate Covered Katie (check out her latest giveaway! )..she raved about the place so I figured it was a must visit. We were not disappointed.

The entrance to Han Gawi..Sarah reflected in the glass.

Shoes are removed at the entrance.

Tables and seats are sunken into the floor so legs and feet easily recline under the table.

One neat tip that we figured out in NYC is to plan your meals carefully if you want to do a lot of restaurant eating and are on a budget. If you can arrange to do a big lunch instead of a big dinner, you will get a great experience with less of a crowd while saving a bit of money! Luckily, Han Gawi had a very good lunch menu. So we splurged and got some drinks (lushes aren't we?). Sarah's delicious half-sipped sangria poses here.

Michelle and I both had mango drinks with spicy toppings..very good but we liked Sarah's sangria better!

Michelle poses with her was a perfect start to a hot, humid day.

Michelle and I both got the "Mini Prix Fixe Lunch." Each was $20 and included several items.
The first was a selection of the porridge of the day. I got a black sesame porridge.

Michelle's was a pumpkin porridge.

Michelle's lunch included some steamed veggie raviolis..

My lunch included a pumpkin vermicelli was delish!

Kimchi also came with the meal. I'm honestly not usually a fan but I enjoyed the two options that they served.

A rice dish...

This was Michelle's entree..a tofu clay pot with sauce.

I had the vegetarian stone bowl was pretty good. Reminded me of Bi Bim Bap in a Korean restaurant.

Sarah had the pumpkin vermicelli noodles..she enjoyed them but even the lunch portion was gigantic..almost too much.

Our meals came with a light fruit soup dessert. It was perfect as we knew there would be heavier indulgences later in the day (gotta pace ourselves).

Next we headed off to the Pearl River Market, a favorite of all of ours. Sarah getting touristy with me:

Love their dishes:

And love the paper decorations...would that I had something to decorate this way!

After an afternoon of shopping (Brooklyn Industries gobbled up A LOT of our cash..good news on their bags..vegan leather!), some vintage clothing stores and a coffee/bookstore cafe, we headed to Babycakes, NYC, cupcakery/bakery to the vegan/gluten-intolerant/health-conscious/celebrity masses!

Now for whatever reason, I had completely missed the boat on Babycakes. It's been around for a couple of years yet I had only briefly heard of it. It's worth a trip, folks! West Coasters: a location is supposedly open in LA! Another tip, if you're visiting a vegan place that has a cookbook, don't buy it your $$ and buy it back home or on Amazon. I found the prices to be full retail AND sure no shipping and handling but you've gotta lug the book around. Obviously learned this from experience..he he he..

Yes, frosting shots. The junkies were lining up outside the entrance for a hit. Okay, not really but I swore I saw a skinny model type snort some up her nose. OKAY, okay, she just ate it.

Oh yeah!

My cinnamon raisin coffee roll..sooo good!

Someone's cookie sandwich..won't say who but she couldn't wait for me to take a photo before she took a bite..he he he!

Yes, it is annoying to be sisters with a vegan food blogger who wants to take photos before you can enjoy your mint chocolate cupcake, Michelle. How you suffer.

And finally, our day ended in Korea Town where we picked up a block of tofu for 50 cents. Don't you just love NYC?? We saw this interesting fruit..still no idea what it is..anyone?

We went to bed with full of good food and contentment! To be continued...


Tara said...

It looks like you had such a wonderful time! It really makes a difference when you travel with compatible people.
And that fruit is a dragon fruit, methinks!

VeggieGirl said...

LOOOOVE your NYC recap!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Oh my gosh to the extreme, Amanda!

I was supposed to go to Babycakes two days ago, but we ran out of time. Now I am super-sad about that... especially after seeing that mint chocolate cupcake!

Amanda said...

It might be a certain looks like it.thanks Tara!

Katie--I'm getting the Babycakes cookbook from Amazon..will let you know if that cupcake recipe is in there!

For the Love of Guava said...

ooh ooh ooh... what fun!!!

Guava is getting might jealous of everyone's travels!!! I'm thinking we should plan some sort of Vegan BLogger World Tour where we you just keep hopping from Vegan hometown to Vegan hometown picking people up and dropping them off when you make a full round... hehehe....

P.S. my word verification is Boophot... made me chortle