Bittersweet in Brooklyn

Hey––just returned from a whirlwind trip to Brooklyn, New York where I was helping my recent college grad daughter get settled in her new apartment before she starts her new job. I titled this “Bitterweet” as it seemed nothing went as planned but if it had we would have never discovered a new place!

fullsizeoutput_69e

Of course, my mind was on the food. Before we left, I researched all the fabulous Vegan restaurants that we’d have to try. I was so excited that I’d get to see all the wonderful places the I had coveted on Instagram. We had a list of some favorites––Modern Love Brooklyn, The Butcher’s Daughter and Wild Ginger. I was only staying two nights, but we thought we had a plan?!!

Thursday night turned out to be a monsoon rainstorm. It was raining so hard that we couldn’t leave our hotel. Seamless food delivery came to the rescue to bring us some Thai food from a nearby place. It was just so-so. OK, moving forward, there was still Friday, right?

Friday brought a new set of problems involving plumbing and furniture delivery issues. Lunch had to be delivered. Luckily we found a great place to order falafel and hummus. After a whole day of problems, we were determined to make my last night a good one. One in which we could actually have a sit down dinner.

We didn’t want to venture too far from the area and we preferred a short subway ride, if possible. We found a place online that looked rather intriguing. It was called Greedi Vegan. I hadn’t heard of it before, but the website looked really nice and I liked the owner/chef’s story.  So, on the subway we went.

Wow. That’s all I can really say. We walked up to a modest storefront located on a quiet residential street located inwhat I think bordered Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy.  (Excuse me if you have to correct my geography). We walked into a cozy little place where three people busily workded behind the counter. We were greeted with a friendly hello as we seated ourselves at two of the four sets at the counter. Latisha, chef and owner of Greedi Vegan, was busy cooking and chatting with a few diners. As she wrapped up some dessert to go for a customer, she asked if we had been here before.  I told her we were here to move my daugher and I mentioned that I was a plant based blogger. We explained that everything had gone wrong and this was our first sit down meal since we arrived the day before.

After taking a look at the menu, we had a tough time deciding because everything looked THAT good! Latisha told us there are a few things not on the menu that she could also make for us. We decided on the “beef” nachos to start, followed by the Portobello Sliders (me) and the Loaded Grilled Cheeze (not on the menu-Darcy).

As Latisha cooked, we chatted about her place and how she got there. She told us she was raised as a vegan (at a time when it wasn’t really a thing). She had gotten away from eating that way, but slowly came back to it and opened Greedi Vegan only a year ago, And from what I could see in my short time there, it is quite a success. Regulars were streaming in and out with take out orders and a few others joined us at the counter to order as well. Even in the tight space, no one felt rushed to give up their place. It was like eating at the kitchen counter in your own home. If your own home served the most delicious vegan food EVER!

Latisha’s attitude and delicious food really inspired me when I returned home to Florida. Last night for dinner I made some quinoa “taco meat” and some air fryer corn tortillas to try to replicate the nachos. I was short on time and wasn’t able to make a “cheesy” sauce, but next time I’m craving those scrumptious nachos, I will be ALL IN! Watch my blog for some new recipes inspired by Greedi Vegan. And please stop in and say hello and get yourself some fantastic vegan eats next time you’re in Brooklyn.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

Viva Las Vegan!

I just returned from a quick trip to Vegas and I thought I’d give you my culinary diary while I was there. From a vegan diet perspective, the choices were better than I expected. From a plant-based diet view, the choices were not exactly on plan and I’ll explain why and what the differences were.

We arrived on Sunday evening, and with a three hour time change, we were starving! Let me backtrack by saying that I did a lot of research before our trip and found the Vegans,baby  website extremely helpful in deciding which restaurants to choose.  We used a Groupon for dinner on Sunday night at SEA, The Thai Experience. SEA is located in the Bally’s Casino. We had eaten there on a previous trip, so we were familiar with the food and knew it would be a good choice. Our Groupon was for 2 appetizers and 2 entrees. For my appetizer, I chose the coconut spring roll, and I ordered the Malay Massaman Curry with Tofu for my entree. The spring rolls were fried, so probably not the healthiest choice-but it’s vacay, right? My curry dish was very good, although I did have to send it back because the spice level was too high when I had ordered it “mild”. The staff was very attentive and took care of it right away.

Day 2 of my culinary adventure brought me to Cañonita at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. Cañonita is situated on the Canal and we had a beautiful table next to the water and throughout lunch, we were serenaded by the Gondeliers. It was lunch and a show! The menu didn’t offer too many vegan options, and I chose the Herbed Mushroom Tacos and made sure there was no dairy added. It’s very typical of Mexican restaurants to add “crema” on their dishes-so I always ask. The soft corn tortilla tacos were served with cilantro rice and black beans. If we hadn’t started our meal with the basket of chips, then this would’ve been my healthiest meal of the trip.

fullsizeoutput_392

After some serious steps walking The Strip (25,000+) on my step counter, it was time for dinner. Again, after consulting Vegans, Baby, I made a reservation at Stack, located in the Mirage Hotel.  Before our trip, I scanned the menu carefully and saw that there were multiple vegan offerings. When we were seated and I opened the menu, my heart sank because I didn’t see any of those menu items. Could they have changed their menu that suddenly? This is a steakhouse-clearly not what I had in mind. I quickly flagged down the waiter and asked where the vegan menu was and he brought me the separate menu (whew!). My dinner choice here was the “Chicken” Piccata and a side order of Roasted Wild Mushrooms. The “chicken” was Gardein “chicken” transformed into the most flavorful dish I’ve ever had. The chicken was served on top of peewee potatoes and cauliflower florets, all garnished with a creamy, lemony piccata sauce and lots of capers. It was delicious. My side order of roasted wild mushrooms was a very generous bowl, enough to share with my carnivorous dinner companion/husband!

And just like that, it’s our last day in Vegas. I spent most of the afternoon at the Fashion Show Mall, mostly browsing the hundreds of shops and again, accumulating thousands of steps on my step counter app. Lunch today was a little disappointing. I had high hopes of finding a really innovative and plant based restaurant at the mall, but all I found were chain restaurants that don’t exactly cater to vegan or plant based diners. I settled for a hummus and falafel wrap in the Food Court, where I had to have them re-make my salad without cheese (story of my life). The falafel was very tasty and although it was fried, it wasn’t greasy. After being refueled, I was ready to make the long trek back to my hotel and rest my feet.

Dinner on our last night was at Jardin, located in the Encore Hotel. This was my favorite meal of the trip-because of the food and the atmosphere. The decor is just beautiful.  The mid-century modern decor was what I’d call upscale Brady Bunch. The tables are white lacquer with a gold veining running through and the chairs were chunky and covered in white leather. The tables and chairs made a fabulous contrast against the bright floral mosaic tiled floor. The while ceiling and rotunda were certainly designed to bring in the light and make you feel as though you are in your own private garden.

The food was just as spectacular as the furnishings. I chose the Mushroom Tartine as my starter and the Kale and Spinach Ravioli for my entree. Our server told me that the Mushroom Tartine, was one of the most popular menu items (even though it’s vegan!). I was served with three large pieces of sourdough bread which was topped with an artisan asmod milk cheese, a marsala glaze and mushrooms with a truffle vinaigrette-it was so delicious.  My ravioli entree was a gorgeous green pasta filled with a vegan almond ricotta-topped with roasted mushrooms and pine nuts and served over a red pepper puree.  A magnificent way to end our getaway to Vegas.

As I mentioned earlier, my meals were Vegan, but not necessarily Plant-Based. I certainly met the criteria for avoiding any animal products, but most everything I ate was cooked with oil-which goes against the plant-based philosophy. I do adhere to the plant based way of eating at home, but for a vacation, I allow myself to indulge. As soon as I’m home, I go right back to my plant based plan. And I’m okay with that–it’s all about balance and enjoying your life.

I hope this helps you if there’s a Vegan trip in your future. What restaurants have you found that serve spectacular vegan food? Leave me a comment!  And I’ll see you soon in the kitchen!

Heidi