Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon

The highlight of my brother’s second trip to NYC this summer was the Book of Mormon. I believe this was his very first Broadway experience, and it’s going to be a tough one to top! John and I are huge fans of all things Trey Parker and Matt Stone and watch South Park religiously. The Book of Mormon was absolutely hilarious, and I laughed through the entire show. It’s been on my list for a while, but tickets almost always cost a small fortune.

We spent a long time browsing seating charts since many of the cheaper tickets actually have blocked views. We initially considered side orchestra seats just a few rows from the stage, as well as back row orchestra seats, before settling on Row 2 center mezzanine seats (B109-B111). Those seats were turned out to be *perfect* as it was right in the middle with just one row in front of us. They weren’t cheap, but on the 4th of July, they were about 50% less than usual.

Ramen-Ya, Greenwich Village

Yasai Miso Ramen, Ramen-ya

While my brother was in town, we visited Ramen-ya for a quick, casual dinner. There are two locations just a few blocks away from each other. We visited the Greenwich Village location, and I really wanted to like this place as it would be great to have a good ramen in that area. I can’t remember if another blogger recommended this place, or if I found it on Yelp (where it has 4 stars), but man, this place was such a let down.

I don’t mind simple, no fuss places for a casual meal, but this place looked like a sad, abandoned food court. On top of that, they were blasting music during our entire meal. I could barely talk to the person right next to me. Even if the food were really good, the music would distract you from it. Oh, and the volume is even louder on the speakers in the restroom. When I was in there, it felt like the Jackson 5 were screaming that “ABC, it’s easy as 1-2-3” song at me.

Spicy Vegetable Gyoza, Ramen-ya

We ordered a pitcher of Sapporo ($15) and an order of the Spicy Tofu Vegetable Gyoza ($7) to share. The gyoza looked nice, and the wrappers were quite good. The filling was mushy and didn’t seem to have any tofu at all. I expected there to be spiciness inside the gyoza, but nope, it’s just chili powder thrown on top. Somehow that seems like cheating to me.

Yaki Yasai Ramen, Ramen-ya

John ordered the dry Yaki Yasai Ramen ($12). Wavy noodles with various vegetable toppings, pickled red ginger, dried seaweed, and some kind of sweet sauce. It was a lot of food, but flavor-wise, John said it was nothing special.

My brother ordered the Abura Soba ($12) with Musashi pork, vegetables, and a soy based sauce. Despite the name, this has ramen noodles instead of soba.

Abura Soba, Ramen-ya

I ordered the Yasai Ramen ($12), which had wavy noodles in a miso based vegetable broth. Topped with menma, bean sprouts, kikurage mushrooms, corn, and scallions. I actually liked the noodles quite a bit (yay, they got something right) as they were a firm, bouncy al dente. The broth was okay. Heavy miso flavor, very salty. I appreciate that they were generous with the toppings, but overall, nothing remarkable about this ramen. Sorry, not coming back!

Yasai Miso Ramen, Ramen-ya

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Restaurant Week at Root & Bone, East Village

Root and Bone, Lower East Side

When Summer Restaurant Week was in full swing, and Angela and I visited Root & Bone, a southern comfort food restaurant by two Top Chef alums. I know what you’re thinking… what is the vegetarian doing at a southern food joint?! Even though they’re known for their chicken and waffles, there were a couple meatless options on the Restaurant Week menu.

For $25 each, three courses plus a side for the table to share is a good deal. An outside table just happened to open up before we walked in. Since it was Friday, we decided to have cocktails ($13) with lunch! Angela had the Colonel’s Daughter, a strong bourbon cocktail, while I sipped on the light and summery Colette.

Root and Bone, Lower East Side

Even though the salads sounded tempting, we both ordered the Drunken Deviled Eggs to start. I’d say it’s more of an amuse bouche than a starter, but it’s such a beautiful dish! They soak the eggs in beet juice overnight to achieve that pretty pink color. The yolk filling was quite good, and the pickled roots and root vegetable chip topping were a nice touch.

Drunken Deviled Egg, Root and Bone

I had the Waffle Benedict, but asked them not to include the bacon. This is the first time I’ve had a benedict dish with waffles instead of English muffins. It was tasty, but I would have preferred savory instead of sweet waffles. The eggs were nicely poached. A good dish overall.

Root and Bone, Lower East Side

Angela ordered Root & Bone’s award winning Fried Chicken & Waffles. The chicken is supposed to be brined in sweet tea and dusted with lemon. It’s serves with a spiked tabasco honey sauce. The waffles part of this dish is a grilled cheese sandwich that comes with whiskey maple syrup.

Before ordering, Angela asked me if we should get the mac and cheese or the watermelon. My response? “The mac and cheese, of course! What kind of question is that?!” As much as I love watermelon, Root & Bone is clearly the kind of place that knows mac and cheese. It definitely lived up to my expectations, and the crust on top was perfection.

Mac and Cheese, Root and Bone

The Restaurant Week brunch menu had desserts: Strawberry Shortcake and Peaches & Cream. I got the strawberry, Angela got the peaches, and we got to feast our eyes on both desserts.

Strawberry Shortcake, Peaches and Cream, Root and Bone

The Strawberry Shortcake was an adorable single serving stacked dessert with strawberry consome with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. The actual cake was light, but had a richness that I would expect more from puff pastry.

Peaches & Cream, a classic southern, summertime dessert, was served in a little jar with vanilla panna cotta, poached peaches, and oatmeal crumble. I didn’t taste any of it, but it looked lovely and prompted me to recreate it at home.

Root & Bone Click to add a blog post for Root & Bone on Zomato

Carrot Greens & Scallion Meat(less)balls

Carrot Greens & Scallions Meatballs

In one of our weekly CSA deliveries, we received a big bunch of carrots with the leafiest green tops. There’s some fuss online about carrot tops being poisonous, but some online research soon confirmed that’s not true. Carrot tops are not only edible, but loaded with vitamins. The challenge is managing the bitterness of the greens.

On the same day I found myself wondering how I could use up those carrot greens, a Food52 recipe for making greens into meatballs popped up on my Facebook feed. Perfecto! I used all the carrot greens available and substituted a couple items, and the mixture was easy to form into meatballs. They disappeared quickly because they were so good, even just with ketchup. Gotta love them balls!

Carrot Greens & Scallion Meat(less)balls
Recipe from Food52 – Substituted ingredients in the version below

Ingredients
1 bunch carrot greens
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 scallion stalks, green and white parts chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
1 or 2 eggs
Cooking spray for frying

Directions
Pulse greens in a food processor or finely chop with a knife — they should be small but not puréed or mushy. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the oil, scallions, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cilantro, and cumin. Stir for 30 seconds.

Add greens to pan and sauté for a minute or two, until they have wilted. Turn the mixture into a large bowl.

Let cool for five minutes, then add the breadcrumbs and cheese. Mix well, then taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if necessary — this is your chance to get the seasoning right while the mixture is egg-free. Crack one egg into the bowl and mix with your hands to incorporate. Squeeze a small ball of the mixture. If it holds together, begin portioning out the remaining mixture into small balls. If it doesn’t hold together, add another egg.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add balls to pan — they should sizzle when they hit the oil — then turn heat down to medium or medium-low. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Use a fork to flip the balls to the other side and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

The Hamilton Inn, Jersey City

Brunch, Hamilton Inn, Jersey City

On a sunny Saturday in August, John and I visited the Hamilton Inn for brunch. We had done brunch there once, but somehow forgot about this place even though we had enjoyed it. Unfortunately, we got there later than expected and all the outdoor tables were taken. It was still nice sitting inside as the decor is lovely and the space is bright.

The Hamilton Inn offers a different special every day of the week. On weekends, they offer brunch cocktails starting at $4. I was starving by the time we got here, and a bloody mary ($4) managed to tide me over until our food arrived. I later switched to a grapefruit bellini ($5), which was nice, but the grapefruit juice seemed to be very light and watered down.

Brunch, Hamilton Inn, Jersey City

John had a craving for sweets, so he went with the Brioche French Toast ($14) and a scoop of ice cream on the side ($3). The french toast was served with nutella, vermont butter, maple syrup, and strawberries. I’ve never been a french toast person, but it looked good.

Brioche French Toast, Hamilton Inn

My entree features the best of both worlds: avocado toast with poached eggs ($12). Toasted english muffin, avocado with jalapeno and lime, beautifully poached eggs, pickled onions, and a side salad. The perfect poach and the yolks were delish with the avocado. The side salad was refreshing, and I also got a side of home fries ($5) as I remember enjoying the fries here. They’re sliced thin and have a nice crisp exterior without being too dry.

Avocado Toast, Poached Eggs, Hamilton Inn

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BobbyPin Collab: Summer Lunches

Vegetarian Summer Lunch in NYC

Earlier this week, I debuted my collaboration with the lovely folks at BobbyPin! What’s BobbyPin? It’s a handy discovery app that helps you keep track of and share places. I know there are plenty of other similar apps out there, but what I like about BobbyPin is how simple it is. To be honest, it’s not too far off from an app I’ve always wanted to design for myself.

To kick things off, I’ve created maps of Vegetarian & Vegan and Ramen & Soba in NYC, as well as a Summer Veggie Lunches map to help you get your lunch on. Head on over to BobbyPin to check out and save the map. You may have also spotted me on their blog and social media channels. There are more delicious maps on the way… P.S. vegan burgers are up next!

View BobbyPin Map

Please note that even though this is a collab with BobbyPin, this is in no way a paid or sponsored post. All opinions are my own, including the selection of establishments on this list.

Herbivore, Downtown Berkeley

Herbivore, Berkeley

Visiting Herbivore was one of the many foodie highlights of our recent SF Bay Area trip. After we checked into our hotel, we strolled through our old stomping grounds in Berkeley. We used to live just a few blocks away from Herbivore, and it was hands down our favorite casual restaurant. And that was long before we became vegetarian!

Over the years, we’ve brought many friends and family here, and I have many fond memories of this place and its simple, but delicious vegan food. It was great to be back for brunch and to see that it’s as good as I remembered. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that the prices have not increased at all even though it has been 4 years since our last visit.

Ginger Cayenne Lemonade, Herbivore

A large fresh squeezed ginger cayenne lemonade only set me back $3.50. John spent some time debating which beer to order. Bottled beers are only $4.50. Cocktails start at $6.

I was craving spiciness that day and ordered the Savory Crepes ($8.95) with red curry sauce. The crepes were filled with spinach, tofu, vegan cheese, mushrooms, onions, artichoke hearts, and capers. A generous serving of potatoes on the side.

Savory Crepes with Curry, Herbivore

I feel like the crepes could have been a little lighter, but it wasn’t bad as is. The veggie filling was good, and I loved that tasty curry sauce. I ate every last drop of that sauce. The potatoes were nice, but not necessary as the crepes alone were plenty of food.

Savory Crepes with Curry, Herbivore

John ordered the Southwestern Tofu Scramble ($9.95), which was quite a monster. A very delicious monster, I might add. Comes with tomato chipotle salsa, black beans, guacamole, vegan sour cream, and blueberry corn bread.

Southwestern Scramble, Herbivore

We make tofu scrambles at home from time to time, and John frequently orders similar dishes at vegan restaurants. He seemed very pleased with his entree. I tasted some of the tofu and it was light and fluffy with the just right touch of seasoning.

Southwestern Scramble, Herbivore

Since I’ve never tried Herbivore’s biscuits before, I decided to get the Sausage Biscuit ($4.75) as a side. The biscuit is also available as a full sized entree with a side salad.

Sausage Biscuit with Mushroom Gravy

Ordering this ended up being a foolish decision as our entrees were huge to begin with. Chewy sausage wrapped in a flaky biscuit. There was a reasonable balance of sausage to biscuit, and I liked the mushroom gravy. Serious comfort food. Bonus points: it’s all vegan!

Sausage Biscuit with Mushroom Gravy

Maybe I’ve gotten used to NYC, but it seems rare to find a vegan sit down restaurant with tasty, generous portions that’s also easy on the wallet. Herbivore, I hope we meet again soon. I leave you with a little something that was in the restroom…

Herbivore, Berkeley

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Mikkeller Bar, Tenderloin, San Francisco

Mikkeller Bar, Tenderloin, San Francisco

Cassie and I randomly wandered into Mikkeller Bar late on a Saturday evening. We wanted somewhere to eat, drink, and catch up, and let’s be honest, there aren’t that many good options in the Tenderloin. Mikkeller Bar seemed very promising as soon as we stepped inside. Very cool gastropub with great food and an excellent selection of beers. Crowded, but not overly so.

I wish John came along with us since he’s the beer drinker! I don’t know much about beer other than what my own preferences are. Loved the Mikkeller Raspberry Cream Ale ($7.5), which was light on alcohol and tasted, well, like fresh raspberries and cream. Cassie ordered the Port Brewing Older Viscosity ($8), a strong dark ale that was aged in bourbon barrels. Very intense, like a rich espresso dark chocolate cake. Skip dessert and order this beer.

We shared the Spicy Giardiniera ($6) mixture of cauliflower, carrots, peppers, and celery. Crunchy and spicier than I expected, but still good. Cassie had the Mary’s Free Range Chicken Breast ($16), which looked like quite a hefty entree for just  $16.

Free Range Chicken Breast, Mikkeller Bar

A little voice inside my head told me that I should have gotten the kale caesar salad or the cauliflower quinoa dish in an attempt to eat more healthily on this trip, but it was impossible to turn down the Mac & Cheese ($11). Meat eaters can add bacon to this, but you might induce a heart attack, especially as this dish is insanely rich and filling without bacon.

Served hot in a skillet, this mac is topped with fiscalini cheddar and grana padano. Amazing flavors and textures, perfectly melty, with a nice breadcrumb top. I was getting full about halfway through, but kept on eating partly because it’s so addictive and partly because I wouldn’t be able to store or reheat the leftovers back at the hotel. Probably should have had something healthier for dinner, but I have no regrets!

Mac & Cheese, Mikkeller Bar

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Lemon Blueberry Bread

Lemon Blueberry Bread

Every week, our CSA delivery includes at least one pint of fresh blueberries. I’ve been snacking on them, sprucing up cereals, tossing them into salads, and blending them into smoothies. I eventually tried the lemon blueberry bread recipe from the CSA blog. Simple recipe, and I’d like to veganize it next time I make it. I ended up only drizzling it with half the glaze as it’s already very sweet to begin with. Tastes like summertime!

Lemon Blueberry Bread
Recipe from Stony Hills CSA

Bread Ingredients
1/3 cup melted margarine
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup soy milk
2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh blueberries – dried with a paper towel

Glaze Ingredients
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp margarine melted
1 cup confectioners sugar

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Lightly sprinkle the loaf pan with a little sugar, if desired.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the margarine, sugar, lemon juice, and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, alternating with milk. Gently fold in the lemon zest and blueberries. Bake for 60-70 minutes.

Whisk together the ingredients for the glaze. Drizzle the glaze over cooled bread.

Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II, Upper East Side

Alice's Tea Cup Chapter II, Upper East Side

Alice’s Tea Cup is an adorable Alice in Wonderland themed tea room. The tea menu is extremely extensive, and they serve scones, sandwiches, and desserts on tierred platters. It’s a delightful girly girl kind of place, and I’m sure it’s a well loved spot for children’s birthday parties.

Angela and I recently visited the Chapter II location on the Upper East Side. You can order everything individually, but you should really get the Afternoon Tea Service for the true Alice’s Tea Cup experience. It’s actually served all day despite the name.

Alice's Tea Cup Chapter II, Upper East Side

We got The Mad Hatter “Tea for two!” ($48), which includes two pots of tea, three scones with preserves and cream, two sandwiches, assorted cookies, and your choice of dessert. We picked the chocolate mousse over the mocha cake and lemon tart. This was A LOT of food for two people, and there were plenty of leftovers to take home!

Alice's Tea Cup Chapter II, Upper East Side

I’m a huge tea drinker, and it was very difficult to make up my mind when the tea menu was huge. I eventually decided on the Rose Tea Melange blend of organic white tea, organic roses, and other botanicals. Very delicate with lovely floral notes.

We ordered the blackberry and cream cheese scone, raspberry and white chocolate scone, and the vegan chocolate chip scone. If it wasn’t for the toppings, I wouldn’t be able to tell the vegan scone apart from the other two. I wouldn’t say I’m a scone person, but these scones won me over. Perfect texture! Light and airy on the inside, crisp and flaky on the outside.

Alice's Tea Cup Chapter II, Upper East Side

Our sandwiches were tasty, but could use more dressing as the bread was a bit dry. The Chopped Tea Egg Salad Sandwich has tea infused eggs, watercress, and mayo on seven grain bread. The Roasted Cumin Carrots Sandwich combines thinly sliced roasted carrots with olive tapenade and goat cheese on semolina bread.

Alice's Tea Cup Chapter II, Upper East Side

Last, but not least, the cookies and chocolate mousse! The chocolate mousse was pretty good. I brought the four cookies home for John, and they disappeared very quickly. I would love to try their brunch and cocktails sometime too!

Alice's Tea Cup Chapter II, Upper East Side

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