Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Love affair with New York

We are finally having a torrid love affair with New York.  The cold is (mostly) gone and we are finding ourselves with days off work.  Spring is quickly turning to Summer and there are birthday celebrations abound!

Central Park was teeming with people over Memorial Day weekend, but in most parts it was still breathable and walkable. Everything was bright green and clear blue, with dots and speckles of every color.  It felt as if I had  walked into that ultra famous George Seurat painting I had just seen at the Met the day before. It's so peaceful and healing to plop down in the grass, have a snack, and take it all in.

I kept thinking how special and strange it is to have such a vast green space, even if it is man made, in a now-priceless area of an unstoppable city.  I wondered if the park would always remain unassailed or if future generations would have to fight for its honor.


We later walked down the Highline, which honestly felt like being in an outdoor subway car compared to the expansiveness of Central Park.  The Highline is pretty synonymous to the boardwalk along the Jersey Shore - great for people watching and enjoying a snack with a gorgeous unique view.  But it's also almost always jam-packed and not somewhere you go to breathe, slowly soak in the sunshine, or feel anonymous.

Tucked away on the edge of the west village is a sweet small little park.  It's a bit noisy from the traffic racing along the west side highway, but the view makes up for it.  It feels like a delightful secret, with a selection of classic NY characters, including an old man with a parrot in a cat carrier that he opened up so the bird could sit in his lap.  A muscley gay couple was canoodling in the lawn, and a tattooed unabashedly-in-love duo with sugary sweet vintage bikes parked nearby made the whole thing even more like a graphic novel come alive.

We watched the sunset over the river, toes in the chemically treated grass, and I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Vegan on the Go! Salem and Beverly, MA

As it turns out, Massachusetts has organic veg-friendly cafes pretty much everywhere. Also, they are actually not expensive, especially if you are used to NYC prices.

This is our second time visiting Salem, and once again we enjoyed walking all around, checking out the shops and historical sites, etc. The hokey magic shops are silly, and the Halloween-witch imagery is pretty insensitive considering the people hanged here in 1692 were not actually witches. But still, there are beautiful old buildings everywhere, a pretty little waterfront, and overall it's very peaceful and quiet.

We wanted to check out a Nick Cave exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum, but sadly it was closed. Luckily, we found an awesome organic cafe called Life Alive, a local MA-based chain.

Definitely hippie-tastic, with "inspirational" quotes and sayings all over the place in dreadful Papyrus font. I'm not sure why almost all "healthy" type eateries feel compelled to use this font, but I really wish some talented designer would help 'em out. Regardless, their hearts are in the right place and their food was super tasty.

Life Alive has smoothies, wraps, yummy food bowls, etc etc. I had a giant bowl filled with the most delicious mix of chopped red beets, kale, sprouted legumes, broccoli, brown rice, and house made goddess dressing. Ketch had a wrap with steamed tofu, carrots, corn, and other nice veggies. He gobbled it right up. Our smoothies were also off the hook and served in mason jars (of course). In the condiments section, there was a bottle of Bragg's and a shaker of nutritional yeast. I hope this chain comes to NYC ASAP because it was seriously soooo brutally delicious and crazy filling. Yummmm!!!!

Shit's deep.
So freakin' good.
Ketch is such a babe.
Papyrus WHY?!
A sweet sunny day in Salem.

Yesterday on our way from Gloucester to Boston, we ate at Organic Garden, an all veg cafe in Beverly, Mass. They also had a vast array of wraps, salads, bowls, pizzas, and other snackies. It's all mostly gluten free, raw, vegan, and of course the menu featured hippie musings in Papyrus font. The Thai bowl was pretty tasty flavor-wise, with cashews, brown rice, and all kinds of chopped organic veggies, sprouts, scallions, etc. However, the bowl was SATURATED with soy sauce and it was kind of a soupy mess. I ate the less saucy part and saved the rest for later.

The baked goods case was the real highlight of Organic Garden. They had loads of homemade raw organic vegan chocolates, coconut-based treats, and all of sorts of sweet indulgences made of good ingredients. I got a cashew cup (like a reese's but with raw cashew butter), almond cup, and hazelnut bark. All of them were chocolatey and mouth melt-y. Dreamboat city!!

Vegan on the Go! Gloucester, MA

I've been in a bit of a funk lately, feeling defeated and grumpy and not very inspired to write. And of course, after a few days of not writing, the guilt of not writing started piling up. I was avoiding it like it was an obligation, rather than appreciating it as a creative and fun project.

I came out of my crabbiness with the support of my amazing partner and my own resolve to shift my negative perceptions to positive or at least neutral. Too often, I forget that I can actively make a choice on how I want to let things affect me. So here I am, trying to jump back into this project and not let all the insecurities take over.
- - -
Ketch and I are on a desperately-needed mini vacation, in part to kick off my 30th Birthday celebrations.

We just spent the past two nights at Inn Magnolia, a sweet Victorian B&B in Cape Ann, Mass., just a twenty minute drive from Salem. We stayed here after we got married, in Octobert 2011, and just loved it. It's quiet, chill, beautiful, and immediately inspires us to dream up schemes of one day owning our vegan B&B....

Gloucester is a charming town, where things look old and beautiful and clean, but still very real. It's no Disney-ified tourist trap. The people are friendly, there is creativity everywhere, and the sea is all around you.

Our favorite restaurant in Gloucester is Alchemy, located just off the cute olden-timey main drag. Despite being in a small town, Alchemy would be right at home with New York's finest casual high quality restaurants. They have an insane selection of rare, artisanal liquors and will make you a delicious cocktail if you just tell them flavors you usually enjoy. They made me some super yummy dream drink with a juniper-y gin, champagne, and I think bitters but seriously I don't even know. I just know it was light pink, bubbly, and very enjoyable to consume.

The menu is fairly vegan friendly, with a red quinoa timbale in coconut pistachio sauce as the only vegan entree. The small plates, salads, and appetizers all have vegan or vegan friendly options marked.

Over the two nights in a row that we ate there, we had such intensely yummy food. The highlights include: roasted radishes with fresh chives, roasted Brussels sprouts in a maple orange glaze, watermelon red cress salad, spinach sweet potato salad with pepitas, fried potatoes with truffle oil, the above-mentioned timbale, and coconut panko breaded tofu in a creamy coconut curry sauce.

When we were here in 2011, we also came back two nights in a row because everything was so scrumptious. During that trip, the compressed watermelon, yellow roasted beets, and watercress salad was my jam and I've been pining for it ever since. The watermelon redcress number was lovely, but no substitute for my first love.

Seriously, I wish this place was near us in the city. Also, being located NOT in manhattan the prices were reasonable considering the quality of the meal. The staff were super friendly and we even ended up sharing pet photos and email addresses with one of our servers.

We are definitely going to make these trips up to Gloucester/Salem something we do regularly... We've found do much peace, romance, magic, and healing here. And if we are to continue living in Manhattan without going totally bonkers, we'll need adventures like this at least somewhat regularly.

Watermelon Red Cress Salad, with Toasted Almond Slivers. HEeeEEeeEey!

Vegan Timbale!!

What's up, maple-citrus brussel sprouts? You are no doubt tasty, but next time you could do with less syrup. You were kind of like a sweet brussel sprout soup after a while...

Coconut curry tofu, you were a dream come true.

Yea, so we're wearing coordinating nautical-themed outfits. Gay!