Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Ate Half of Manhattan: A Love Story, Part I

I am a lucky little vegan who gets to go to NYC on a regular basis. This last trip was somewhat bitter sweet, because I had recently been through some personal drama, but the fabulous food and the company of my best friend Julia (see matzo bellow) were very cathartic. I usually plan my trip itineraries around the many, many amazing vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in and around Manhattan I want to hit, so I thought I would share some of the fantastic food adventures I had during my last trip there.

One of the most wonderful food experiences I’ve had in a long time was going to 4 Course Vegan. This is one of those underground dinner party deals, where you reserve a spot at someone’s apartment and eat with strangers. Yes, it may sound sketchy, and in fact, I had my doubts as we trekked out to Brooklyn to what looked like an old warehouse to get to Chef Matteo’s loft. As soon as I took one bite, though, all of my doubts disappeared and I fell into food love! The meal started with a beautiful little amuse bouche that consisted of a raw cashew cheese ravioli. This had to be some of the best cashew cheese I’ve ever had. Chef Matteo told me that he made it using a similar technique to Roxanne Klein for whom I incidentally used to do PR and whose cookbook I happen to already own! I will surely be trying this out soon.

The next course was a lovely creamy parsnip bisque with crispy shallots and apple relish. The shallots were such a nice salty addition, and the soup was flavorful and hearty.

After that we had another amazing nut cheese! This romaine salad covers up a generous dollop of macadamia nut cheese that was also incredibly delicious and very much like soft cheese I remember from my dairy-eating days. Incidentally, I had nearly given up on vegan cheese recently after too many bad experiences with Follow Your Heart and Tofutti, but this trip really brought back my faith! Vive le fromage végétalien! I’m ready to join the vegan cheese revolution.

Our main course was a rich lasagna with portabella mushrooms and a pesto sort of sauce. The cream sauces he made were mind blowing. They would blow any omni’s socks off.

We ended with a cute little cinnamon and carrot torte that was light and sweet. It has been a long time since I’ve gotten a tasting menu where every course was this spot on, and this is just one guy in his own apartment, making only one set of dishes to please everyone! It was truly impressive.

We paired the entire meal with an Alsatian white wine we bought at wine shop down the street. By the way, we only paid $40 for this fresh gourmet 4 course meal! That is a serious deal.
This is me and Julia lookin' very happy at the dinner!
One spot I always, always have to hit when I’m in NYC is Atlas Café. They carry Vegan Treats desserts, which are the most orgasmically, unbelievably decadent and delicious desserts! This time we ordered a brownie with peanut butter mousse. I have no idea how they made this rich fluffy mousse, but my god, was it good. We also got a slice of chocolate s’more cake! This was almost too sweet, but we sacrificed ourselves and ate it anyway. The whole shebang was paired with soy hot chocolate.

As long as I’m talking about desserts, let’s move on to Babycakes. My friends and I ordered a vanilla, a chocolate, and a carrot cupcake. The carrot was by far the best with its thick coconutty frosting and light moist cake.

Another place that I will absolutely not miss when I go to Manhattan is Counter. Their brunch rivals that of Fellini in Berkeley, and that is one of my all time favorites. Pardon these terrible photos, but the lighting was poor at our little corner booth, but I decided to forego asking to be reseated, because I was enjoying the ambiance. We ordered a tofu frittata Florentine and breaded French toast with banana flambé. Both were painfully good. The frittata was eggy with a dreamy hollandaise sauce, and the French toast was decadently rich. We paired this with fresh orange juice and soy lattés. That’s all the vegan adventures I can tell you about tonight. Stay tuned for part II, and tales from my next trip this April.

1 comment:

Julia said...

Mmmm...memories of that food-tastic trip are making my mouth water! Can't wait for your next trip out here!!