Today, I had the pleasure of roaming around Dumbo, Brooklyn in the beautiful (and unseasonably strong) sunshine for Smorgasburg, the Brooklyn Flea Food Market. It's a crazy varied array of food stalls in Williamsburg on Saturdays, hence the name, with a smaller version on Sundays in Dumbo. The Dumbo version has fewer vendors, I think, but also lesser crowds, which is great. Today, I found several vegan options while I got sunburnt and couldn't find a toilet without a thirty minute line. Fun times! Let's see what we found!
After a very busy weekend as a bridesmaid in my best friend's insanely fun wedding, and after being awake and hyperactive for most of the past three days, I wrapped up my bridal party duties and hopped in a car to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In that little town of Bethlehem, we raise our glass - you bet your ass - toooooo VEEEEEGAAAAAN TREEEEEAAAATS! La Vegan Treats!
Ok, anyway, I've been wanting to go to this very best, most famous vegan bakery for years. However, I could buy a lot of VT's products at restaurants and cafes in Philly and NYC, so I just didn't deem the trip urgent. I should have. Going to Vegan Treats in person is of course much more exciting, but also you get fresher baked goods, a wider selection, and, most importantly, soft-serve! Special thanks to my friend Elli for finally taking me!
As a vegan, I don't feel much incentive to follow the fancy world of gourmet-level dining, what with their Zagat ratings and Michelin stars and whatever other rankings people in that spectrum of dining covet. In fact, there was a time when all I knew about Michelin stars came from the movie "Ratatouille". (Great film.) I'm sure it's interesting to some people, but it sounded odd to rank something as subjective as good food. Moreover, aside from the ratatouille, the honored restaurants and their prize dishes are pretty much the opposite of vegan-friendly. Why would I ever want to go to a restaurant that was lauded for its foie gras, or thought it was commendable to do weird things to all kinds of animals? Nope.
However, my boyfriend is into all of that, and while he goes to those places with friends, I felt a little bad that he couldn't enjoy these places with me. I'm fun company. But then we were planning a trip to Chicago, and he wanted to go to Alinea. He wanted to go there BAD. So bad, in fact, that he scoured the internet trying to find something that said they could accommodate a vegan. Luckily, he didn't have to search too long, thanks to the lovely Lagusta, who in 2009 blogged about the vegan menu at Alinea. That's right - anyone can request a vegan menu at a freaking top world restaurant with freaking THREE MICHELIN STARS. I was in! (I mean, I wasn't paying. Of course I was in.)
Before becoming a vegan, I fancied myself a sushi connoisseur. In high school, my brother and I would challenge each other to eat the craziest of the crazy rolls on offer at sushi restaurants. Once I went vegan, I didn't really expect awesome sushi to be on my radar anymore. And for the first few years, I was right: My sushi travails always led to cucumber roll after cucumber roll after avocado roll after, if I was lucky, cucumber-avocado roll.
But lately, things seem to be changing for the better in the vegan sushi arena. I had the most incredible raw sushi ever in Croatia, and now every time I go to NYC, I get to eat at least once a day at The Green Roll. (Yes, I have gotten both lunch and dinner from here before.) This little sushi counter rivals The Cinnamon Snail truck for the food I'm most guaranteed to eat on my NYC weekends.
The Green Roll counter in Chelsea Market is an outpost of Beyond Sushi restaurant in the East Village. I've not been to the sit-down restaurant yet, but I've eaten everything on offer at The Green Roll at least twice. The only bad part about the sushi is, it's so delicious that I rarely wait long enough to take pictures, let alone plate the food.
As a Philadelphia native, I was lucky enough to eat at Horizons restaurant several times in my life. It was the restaurant I always chose for celebrating a special occasion, but simply going there was a special occasion in itself. The food overall was sublime, the desserts and seitan in particular were just perfection. When Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby suddenly announced their decision to close Horizons and open a more vegetable-focused restaurant, I was crushed, as was every vegan, vegetarian, Philly person, and anyone who appreciated great food.
Luckily for me and my therapist, Vedge Restaurant is, if possible, even better than Horizons. Hurrah! Sure, it is different, and the focus on vegetables leaves little room on the menu for the wondrous things Landau can famously do with seitan, tofu, and tempeh. However, he graciously keeps a few of those dishes in rotation. More importantly, the focus on vegetables will blow your freaking mind. Obviously, I love vegetables, and my many years as a vegan have given me a pretty great appreciation of what you can do with them. But I'm still a civilian, and the chefs at Vedge, well, aren't. The food is ridiculous. I've been to Vedge about five times since it opened, and each time, the many (many) plates ordered were all stupendous. This post will cover what I had on the latest visit in August; I'll cover other seasons at Vedge in later posts.
I go out to eat often, in many different cities. I'm usually with a crowd of omnivores, so look here for tips on how to eat vegan at many non-vegan places. But primarily this section of the blog is a shrine to the fantastic and ever-increasing vegan restaurants in the world.