Saturday, May 24, 2014

Key West

I am little late in writing this, as I was in Key West two weekends ago, but life has been a bit hectic.  I'm currently living in Northampton, but working in Ashland during the week, so time has been precious.  But I am taking advantage of a gray rainy day and I'm updating from my new favorite hangout spot in NoHo, Woodstar Cafe, where I am enjoying a decaf coffee and a vegan, gluten free doughnut with coconut on top.  Life is good!

I was in Key West May 8-11 for the beautiful wedding of my good friends Jen and Lauren.  We stayed at the resort where the wedding was being held, Casa Marina, which included its own private beach with hammocks and excellent poolside service.  We had breakfast outdoors at the resort the first two mornings we were there, where I enjoyed some excellent steel cut vanilla oatmeal with mangoes, bananas, and dried apricots.  After putting in a good showing at the pool the first day, I ventured downtown to try the vegan Sugar Apple Cafe.  The Cafe is attached to a natural foods store, which I explored while waiting for my lunch.  I had lots of time to do this, as the young man who took my order became quite busy flirting with some ladies who came into the cafe and therefore forgot to put my order in.  When it was finally ready, I enjoyed a smoked tempeh sandwich and a salad with key lime vinaigrette at a small table in the shade outside of the cade.  I also decided to try a raspberry banana smoothie, which was fabulous.  Well worth the wait, in my opinion.

On Saturday, after enjoying my oatmeal for breakfast and some time by the pool, I made my way to The Cafe for lunch.  The Cafe is a sit down, casual restaurant with significantly better service than Sugar Apple.  I went with one of the specials, which was a chick pea "tuna" sandwich with onions and a bit of seaweed, which I'm guessing was supposed to give it the "tuna" flavor.  It didn't really taste like tuna, which I was happy about, and I couldn't really taste the seaweed.  It was quite delicious!  It came with some yummy sweet potato fries and an amazing curry dipping sauce.  They had some pretty good looking vegan desserts, but I was full and decided against trying one.

Finally, the wedding!  The ceremony was one of the most beautiful I have ever been to, right on the beach with the waves lapping the shore just feet from where Jen and Lauren said their vows.  The weather was perfect, sunny and in the eighties with a breeze (the "relentless breezes" as my brother referred to them).  Dinner was a buffet with many vegan options.  I enjoyed seaweed salad, a variety of raw and cooked veggies, and a delicious quinoa dish.  For dessert, I got to toast vegan marshmallows.  Well done, Casa Marina!

Finally, on our way back to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, we stopped at Help Yourself, a natural food store and cafe.  I had a vegan breakfast wrap with tempeh, salsa, and lettuce, and an iced chai tea latte with homemade coconut milk.  A great way to fuel the long drive back to the mainland!  Though the trip was short, I left feeling refreshed, relaxed, and full of good vegan eats!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NYC, Days Two and Three

Tuesday started off snowy in the Big Apple, so we crowded onto a packed 5 train and headed to Brooklyn.  As we emerged from the depths of the city, the snow stopped and the loveliness that is Dun Well Donuts appeared before us.  A coconut glazed and vanilla dipped with sprinkles accompanied by a hot cup of coffee was all I needed to start the day.  Since it had stopped snowing, we decided to walk the two miles to TKTS where we scooped up half price tickets to "Beautiful", the Carole King musical.  We then made our way to MOB where I had a fantastic flatbread covered in chick peas, veggies, and Moroccan spices.  I tried a bit of Laura's "bacon" made from carrots, which mostly just tasted of liquid smoke to me.  However, her corn chowder was fantastic and the crispy fries were delicious!

After heading back to Manhattan and resting for a bit at the hotel, we made our way across town to an early dinner reservation at Cafe Blossom.  I had been there in November and really enjoyed it, but I wanted to try the famous soy bacon cheeseburger.  I started with a small cup of spicy vegetable tempeh soup which was good, but not very spicy.  The burger was amazing though!  Somehow they managed to get the "cheese" and "bacon" tasting pretty darn close to the real thing.  The sauteed mushrooms added even more to an already delicious burger.  The sweet potato fries and homemade ketchup were the perfect accompaniment.

We walked off our dinner in Times Square before heading to the theater.  "Beautiful" was excellent, and my favorite part of the trip.  We considered dessert afterwards, but there weren't any options in the theater district, and to be honest, I was still pretty full from my burger, so we called it a night.

On Wednesday, we checked out of the hotel early and had some coffee and tea before heading downtown.  (I may have had a chocolate peanut butter donut from the day before...)  Our first stop was Lush to check out their second generation perfume line.  We then headed to E.L.F. for inexpensive vegan makeup.  We refueled at Babycakes where I enjoyed a banana cinnamon cupcake before checking out Moo Shoes.  I finally found a good, vegan black belt!  We ended our time in the city with another stop at Peacefood Cafe, where we tried the Caesar salad, the veggie panini, and the chick pea fries.  The salad was good, the sandwich was excellent, and the fries were too salty.

We got back to New Haven just in time for dinner, so we went a little out of our way to have dinner at It's Only Natural in Middletown.  There we tried the smothered spicy cornbread, covered in cheese and hot peppers.  I had the coconut curry which was delicious, but I could only eat half - leftovers!  Laura tried the Portobello loaf which was yummy and covered in an excellent gravy.  Their new location is much bigger and easier to find, which I appreciated!

All in all, not a very healthy trip, but a very satisfying one in terms of vegan eats.  :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Candle 79

Laura and I are taking a mini-vacation in New York, mainly to eat and shop. Tonight we ate at Candle 79, which I have been wanting to try for quite some time. It did not disappoint!  We started off with the house made ginger ale, which was great - lots of ginger and not too sweet. Our server sold us on the special appetizer, which was a trio of artichokes - fried, sauteed, and grilled. All three were excellent!  After much deliberation, we decided on the tempeh with Mole sauce and the chick pea cake with red curry. The Mole sauce was fantastic, just the right amount of spice. The dish included some excellent Brussels sprouts. The chick pea cake was served over kale and broccoli with just a bit of red curry. We split each dish so that we could both enjoy. For dessert, we tried the Mexican brownie sundae, which was  just okay. The brownie bottom was burnt, which was not appealing. Overall, it was a great dining experience!

On a side note, we visited Peacefood Cafe for hot drinks and snacks. Laura had a delicious ginger soy latte, and I tried the Brazilian nut Chai. It was not nearly as sweet as most Chai, which I enjoyed. We tried a magic cookie, which contained nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, and carrots. It was good, but definitely not as good as the raspberry bar that we split. We are definitely going back for lunch on Wednesday to try their savory food!