January 31, 2011

Just in Case

I just noticed that if I didn't post again until February (tomorrow), the archives of my first full month of blogging would have 13 posts. Forever. (Unless I decided to delete one, but why would I do that?) I'm slightly superstitious, and feel like that might put me off to a bad start. Why worry about it? Hence, this post.

Next Up: Bocca

Tonight: Second Restaurant Week dinner of the year, this time with cousin Stephanie at Bocca, an Italian joint in the Flatiron District. Now this is a RW menu:


Three options for appetizers, four for entrees, and three for desserts. That’s my kind of restaurant. I don’t know whether I’m up for embarrassing Steph by pulling out my camera and making her wait to dig in while I snap pictures of her food, so when reporting on tonight’s meal, the pictures may have to be in your mind. I don’t see my cousin often enough to risk her refusing to ever dine publicly with me again.

January 29, 2011

Nougatine at Jean Georges Restaurant: The Verdict

The menu for Restaurant Week 2011 at Nougatine at Jean Georges, according to their website:


I was going to order the tuna tartare, the salmon (I love sugar snap peas, and salmon is pretty good too), and that sour cherry soup… what in the world is that?! I planned to find out, even if I couldn’t have eaten it if it contained dairy. I would have had just one slurp. (I swear!)

But I couldn’t. Because this was the actual menu:


Granted, the website did say that menu items were subject to change. But really? You change EVERYTHING, except one dessert, and then don't even provide a second dessert option? Lame. Neither white bean soup nor shrimp measure up to tuna tartare, in my semi-humble opinion.

Good thing I informed the waitress that I can’t eat diary when ordering, because instead of the regular amuse-bouche she brought me the following:


While everyone else had a creamy shot and cheesy biscuit, what you see in my spoon was, basically, guacamole with chili oil and radishes on top. Delish. I love guacamole. Perhaps I’m easy to please when avocados are in the picture. The chili oil and crunch of the radishes were very nice.

In the glass was some sort of brothy concoction with black truffles “that we are serving in the main dining room,” as I was informed by the waitress, with barely suppressed snobbiness. Now that was interesting (not the suppressed snobbiness—I was getting used to that already—the black truffle concoction). I had never had truffles before (though I’ve tried a “truffle” oil that tasted like nothing, and a pasta dish “with truffles” that tasted kind of gross at a place that was too cheap to believably be serving truffles). The black truffle amuse-bouche tasted like something new. It was, as they say about truffles, "earthy," in an interesting, alluring way. I can’t quite compare it to anything else. I liked it though, and look forward to trying it again.

For my appetizer I had the white bean soup. The soup was standard, good, except when I got a bit of bacon and/or chili oil in a spoonful, which made it very good.


Already having my mind set on the salmon, I ordered this:


Though the waitress seemed ever so slightly put off when I informed her of my dairy allergy, she did seem to take it semi-seriously. Thanks be to posters! So she informed me that the salmon comes with some sort of dairy on top (no point in listening to the depressing details of what I can’t have—it’s easier that way), and I asked her to just leave that off. Even so, the salmon was excellent. Wonderfully, amazingly, perfectly cooked—somehow cooked all the way through but still juicy.

It was paired with carrots poached in (what tasted like) apple cider vinegar, with dollops of (what tasted like) olive tapenade and some kind of foie gras paste. The FG paste was delicious with the carrots, the olive tapenade a little bitter, and the carrots by themselves too tart from the vinegar. It was an odd pairing, the carrots and the salmon. Maybe the dollops of dairy tied it together. As for the green oily, herby stuff, I could not tell you what that was. Maybe cilantro pureed in oil? Maybe not. Whatever it was, it was nothing special.

For dessert I requested a non-dairy sorbet. I don’t know if you’re technically allowed to order off menu during RW, but sorbet must be cheaper than chocolate cake, right? (Which is what I asked the waitress when she balked a little at my request.) I’m pretty sure the sorbet (which tasted exactly like strawberry jelly) had milk in it. It was just too creamy. As my lactose intolerant Graybeard has taught me, when you give up milk for long enough, you start learning to detect its presence in foods—it’s hard to equal the rich creaminess of milk.

Overall, I would say that Nougatine broke even. The good and less-good balanced out, so I wouldn’t write it off forever, though it is not going on the top of my list for special occasions, at least not when I'm fortunate enough to have so many other incredible restaurants in the city, some of which even try to impress us philistines during Restaurant Week.

January 28, 2011

NYC Winter Resaturant Week 2011 at Last!

Tonight Graybeard and I shall feast at Nougatine at Jean Georges, in the "casual dining area," I was snootily informed when I called yesterday to confirm our reservations. Not off to the best start. Sounds like this might be one of those places where restaurant week is beneath them. Why do it then? The restaurant must make money and gain future business from RW, so why the attitude? I looked up the RW menu on their website (how embarrassing for them--their website actually has the words "restaurant week" in tiny type), and it does sound amazing (tuna tartare, ginger marinade, and market radishes, anyone?). NYC is great. Judgment shall be reserved until this evening.

January 27, 2011

Will Write for Food

I'm too old to be using words like semester, but use them I will. Last semester I enrolled in a food writing class, and it was one of the most enjoyable classes I’ve ever taken (next to nutrition). Granted, I did not appreciate my schooling in my younger years. School was just something I did, relatively thoughtlessly. Now, however, I see the value of an education, and I want another go at it, so I'm taking a few prerequisite classes before applying to grad school.

Though the food writing class was not a prerequisite, it is my ultimate goal, and when my amazing nutrition teacher recommended it, I couldn't resist. I had so much fun in that class that I was disappointed when it ended. My food writing teacher, a former food editor for the Houston Chronicle, recommended the book Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob, which I am learning so much from. DJ showed me that I don’t have to stop writing about food just because class is over. Hence, here we are together.

As a recovering English major, it is fascinating to discover all the incredibly useful information that one can learn in a class or a book. That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything at UT Austin. I love that school, but reading Shakespeare and taking a Jane Austen seminar don’t really provide one with the most practical skills. I can tell you that Jane Austen is even funnier than you think. (You do think she’s funny, right?) When she wrote about a certain type of carriage that a pompous character boasted about, it was equivalent to her character bragging about owning a cherry red Porcshe convertible. There’s probably a pretty small group of people that would get me anywhere with. I should’ve taken the advice from a fellow student one semester written on the huge sheets of paper laid out on tables surrounding the library before enrollment each semester (oh, the days before the internet) under the English Department section: “CHANGE YOUR MAJOR! YOU WON’T GET A JOB! I KNOW!” Slightly alarming, but I really liked reading books as homework. Seriously, can there be better homework than reading literature? I think not.


As for getting a job, I did get one eventually, thank you very much. And then lost it (damn you, dot com crash). Then got another one. Then lost it (bad economy). Then got one again, which somehow I still have after a shockingly long time (based on my initial experiences, I should've been laid off like eight more times by now). Those first two jobs got me off to a bit of a rocky start coming out of college, which is a story for another day, but now I've been editing for a ginormous Fortune 500 company for nine years. That's a long time and a lot of boring reading. Just imagine if I had been reading something practical or at least interesting all this time (instead of about computers, which is not where my interest lies). I can’t say that the advice scrawled in marker across that table was the worst I've ever read.

So back to school I go, now that I’ve finally found something that fascinates me and has a practical application. It’s about time I learn something practical. So up next: chemistry. Hush your mouth. I’ve already heard how hard it is. And get ready. I plan on sharing all the interesting stuff I learn with YOU. How does chemistry relate to writing? All shall be revealed. Just not in this post.

Good advice, that’s what I want, and I’m getting loads of it from Dianne Jacob. Awesome book. You may thank her (or curse her, depending on your opinion) for me starting this blog. She recommends blogs for those interested in food writing, and provides very helpful advice about how to get started. She also writes about freelancing, cookbooks, reviews, memoirs, and so on. Will Write for Food is an easy and fascinating read, and if you’re at all interested in learning about food writing, I highly recommend it.

January 25, 2011

The Consolation Bowl

In consolation for his loss (er… the Jets’ loss), I baked Graybeard brownies. But not just any brownies: Rocky Road Brownies.

Great disappoint called for great brownies, and a bowl game of our own. Therefore, as we sat on the sofa eating/wolfing down (depending on which of us you are) marshmallow- and pecan-smothered rich chocolaty brownies, I defeated Graybeard at Risk. Not nice, I know, but necessary. He beat me last game, and I couldn’t let that happen again.

Last night, the world was mine, thanks to our great friend Doug, who introduced us to Risk on the iPhone. I will never play Risk as a board game again. While fun, it’s agonizingly slow, and it took me years (and beers) to persuade a few friends to play it with me recently anyway, and I doubt I could convince anyone to do it again for several more years, when their memories of the pain and drain have faded. You really have to carve out an entire day to play it, and people I know don't seem to think it's worth it. And now, thanks to the iPhone version, neither do I. I much prefer defeating my husband in battle in a mere 30 minutes rather than dragging it out all day.

But enough about my military prowess, let’s get back to the brownies. It is possible that I may have thoughtlessly started heating up black bean soup in the microwave that I was using as a timer, losing all idea of how long the brownies had been in the oven, and therefore overcooking them a bit. The marshmallows were a little more golden and less gooey than intended, but they still tasted great, just a little extra crispy. I recommend waiting till after the brownies come out of the oven before heating up your black bean soup.

Graybeard called me a nerd today for taking these pictures. Knowing nothing about photography, I read up on it a bit and learned that natural light is best. Seeing as how the pictures I took last night under the yellow kitchen light didn’t capture the hearty chunkiness of the brownies, I plated them today, set them on a cutting board on a stack of books on the windowsill, and took pictures for 10 minutes. Apparently that’s not cool. Well I’ll be uncool for you any day, my hungry reader(s). (I usually am anyway, so there’s no difference really. Graybeard should know that by now.) I tried to get the snow-covered trees in the background, but that eluded my present skill set (if you wanted to be generous and call it that).

This recipe is also from EatingWell magazine’s October 2010 issue. The Curried Chicken Thighs turned out so mouthwateringly (we just finished them off for lunch, and they were possibly even more tasty today), that I decided to try another of its recipes posthaste. I’m not sure about all the rules of blogging yet, so I don’t know whether I can copy a recipe word for word; so to be on the safe side, check it out here: Rocky Road Brownies. Best part about the brownies: milk-free, no adaptations necessary.

January 24, 2011

Heartbreak and Chicken Thighs

The start of the 6pm AFC Championship game last night was perhaps not the best time to try a new labor-intensive recipe, but I had pulled chicken thighs out of the freezer Sunday morning with no plan in mind, and Curried Chicken Thighs with Buttery Croutons was the recipe that I stumbled upon that I had most of the ingredients for. So, while Graybeard suffered in front of the TV, I cooked, so that at half-time we could eat this creamy deliciousness and forget for a few minutes about the pummeling that the Jets were taking.

The dish, if not the game, turned out great. It took pretty much the entire first half of the game to put it together (I am a slow cook, and it always seems to take me three times longer than a recipe claims it will), but that way I didn't get so sucked into the agony of the first two quarters.

The curry turned out nice and creamy, even when adapted to be milk-free. The croutons really took it over the top. I served the chicken with brown rice and a simple salad, and am very much looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch today. I will make this again, very soon, for Graybeard and me, and I would definitely make it for guests.

At least that turned out well last night. The Jets are not moving on to the Super Bowl this year. Heartbreak. But Sanchez is off to a heck of a start, and under Rex Ryan's coaching the Jets will take the AFC Championship game next year. (Yes, this year my husband's extensive efforts to make me a Jets fan have finally paid off, with the help of a New York Times magazine article by Nicholas Dawidoff about what an amazing coach Rex Ryan is. How could you not get behind an inspiring guy like that?)

Here is the recipe from EatingWell magazine's October 2010 issue, adapted for the dairy-impaired. Try it, you will like it (even if you have to use real dairy).

Curried Chicken Thighs with (fake)Buttery Croutons

Ingredients
* 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
* 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
* 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
* 1 large onion, sliced
* 2 tablespoons curry powder
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
* 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
* 1 cup rice milk (Almond, soy, or coconut milk would probably work fine too.)
* 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise (I used vegan mayo. I like Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise.)
* 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
* 2 tablespoons vegan butter (I use Earth Balance.)
* 4 slices whole-wheat country bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch (or similar 3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add half the chicken to the pan and cook until browned on both sides and just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

3. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until softened and light brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add curry powder, ginger, pepper and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat. Add broth and rice milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in mayonnaise and vinegar. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

4. Wash and dry the pan. Melt vegan butter in the pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in bread cubes. Toss to coat. Arrange the bread on top of the casserole.

5. Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the croutons are golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

6. Dig in.

UPDATE: If you plan on following the original EatingWell recipe, which calls for peas, read this first.

January 21, 2011

Club A Steakhouse: The Verdict

The restaurant was warm and inviting. Red walls, two fire places, a unique decanter on each table, along with a single red rose. The service was perfect. Friendly, attentive waiters, but not too friendly, or too attentive.

Disclaimer: I eat at NYC restaurants all the time, and so am totally spoiled, especially since the advent of the glorious Restaurant Week (which is now two weeks, twice a year).

The food was meh. They had a "special" menu just for Yelpers. How... nice. (What I thought was a Groupon was actually a deal from Yelp, who, wisely, now mimics Groupon deals.) Anyway, the special menu was okay. Since I always order as though I were a 190-pound man, while Graybeard orders like a petite brunette, I ordered the bacon appetizer--a thick slab of bacony ham with BBQ sauce. It looked wonderful, but tasted pretty fatty, and not in a mouth-wateringly melty way. So I traded He Who Has Willpower for his carrot soup, which was divine. It tasted like the liquid form of the sweetest, orangest, brightest carrot that I've ever had. I shall look up a carrot soup recipe forthwith.

The included wine was a $10 bottle of pinot grigio. (I know, I've bought it before.) Though it was a nice $10 bottle of wine.

Next, the entree and the side. We assumed that at a steak place one must order steak. Our steak options were filet mignon and hanger steak, and so we ordered one of each. Filet mignon is not my favorite, but it was cooked very well, at Graybeard's preferred medium-rare. I ordered the hanger steak, medium, and it was a little chewy. We both chose the fries as sides, as our only other options were dairy-filled creamed spinach and mashed potatoes of doom. The fries, sprinkled with an unidentified herb, were fine.

For dessert, my Lactaid-taking hubby had the tiramisu, which he devoured in seconds. That man has never met a tiramisu he doesn't like. (When we went to Italy for our honeymoon he had tiramisu, no joke, every single day but one, when it was nowhere to be found.) I got the carrot cake, because it was the least dairy-filled option. I only had a couple bites, just to taste it. I did dip into the whipped cream for three tiny, tiny bites. I know, BAD! I am weak. But, holy freaking cow, it was heavenly. NO FAIR that I cannot eat dairy when most of my fellow Americans can. No fair. Grumble. Anyway, I'm not a big dessert person anyway, so let's forget about all that.

Overall, the atmosphere was very warm, cozy, and charming, especially on a cold, snowy night. The food was decent, though you never know how much your discount affects the experience--maybe it would've been amazing if we had ordered from the regular menu and paid full price. As during the wonderful, the amazing, Restaurant Week (that starts next week! Yay!), sometimes a restaurant treats you like you're paying full price, and you file that away for a future visit for a special occasion. Other times they act like they're suffering through RW, and you write them off entirely. They treated us wonderfully here, but I wouldn't pay $160 for that meal (or even $80 again, for that matter). However, I might go back for a drink at the bar, just for the atmosphere, and that wonderful carrot soup.

Groupon Fun

Tonight, Groupon in hand, Graybeard and I are going to Club A Steakhouse. No actual clubbing will occur (either the violent or the dancing kind), I presume; that's just the unfortunate name of the restaurant. Oh, how I adore Groupon. For $80 total we get to gorge ourselves on four courses of glorious steak and fried things and not feel guilty because our last two meals consisted of vegetarian sweet potato and black bean chili. Four courses and a bottle of wine included, a $160 value for $80. Considering that the reviews on Yelp are great (more than Groupons, even, I adore Yelp), that's not too shabby for date night in the city.

January 11, 2011

Now for the Marinade

I am very, very interested in nutrition (more on that another time), so it is with hesitation that I share this magical marinade. At home, I cook with whole foods as much as possible. However, I have not yet found a substitute for this delicious marinade, which transforms all things grilled: chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, fish, peppers, onions, zucchini, etc. So I will share it, but I can’t even be sure that it’s milk-free, because the list of ingredients is absurdly non-specific:

* Salt
* Red pepper and other spices
* Garlic
* Silicon doxide (to prevent caking)

Sad. “Other spices” can mean anything, so be forewarned: This is delicious, but not for those who need to be militant about allergens.

The magic: Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning mixed with honey mustard salad dressing. Any honey mustard will do, though some work better than others. My favorite is Brianna’s Dijon Honey Mustard, though that’s also shady, with “natural flavor” in the list of ingredients. I’m not advertising for these places, just for the wonderful combination of flavors that works so well on meats. Kebabs are especially wonderful with this marinade brushed on. Shrimp and chicken with green peppers, onions, and cherry tomatoes, or beef with onions, cherry tomatoes, and zucchini or yellow squash = YUM.

A Dinner Revolution: The Grill Pan

My own personal dinner revolution came one day, like most wonderful things, because of my darling Graybeard. He sent me a dinner-altering article from The New York Times about grill pans. Dinner as I knew has never been the same.

I bought an inexpensive cast iron grill pan, and proceeded to grill pretty much every food every known to grill, most of which was better for it. Now a standard weekday dinner is marinated meat (chicken mostly, but occasionally steak or lamb shoulder), onions, and garlic grill-panned under the broiler, and two vegetables, possibly grilled panned as well.

I treasure my grill pan, a king among pans, above all other kitchen equipment. So my right arm muscle bulges slightly more than my left because of its heft… totally worth it. Easy to clean, it’s also non-stick, without the chemical coatings that seep into your food. The only substance that might seep into your food from a grill pan is iron, and that’s good, especially for vegetarians or vegans who need to take care to consume enough iron, since they don’t get it from meat.

Those are great reasons to enjoy a grill pan, but the real reason it has earned such a special place in my kitchen and heart is simple: indoor grilling. Grilling makes all food better.

Throwing together a weekday dinner has never been easier or tastier. The second best thing about the grill pan is how quickly and evenly it cooks meat.

I do worry about char, so we try to avoid it and toss out and cut off those bits.

This way lies culinary delight:

1. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. You want the oven hot and evenly heated for the magic to happen.

2. Turn on the broiler. Depending on your oven it might be in a drawer on the bottom or in the oven itself. If it’s in the drawer, just set the oven to broil. If it’s in the main cavity of the oven, you probably have a choice of high or low. I use high.

3. Put your well-seasoned (a.k.a. oiled) grill pan under the broiler and heat it for five minutes. I use olive oil to season the pan (which you do after cleaning it after use with a scrub brush—no soap, because the pan is porous and will absorb it), even though supposedly it has a lower smoke point than canola. Canola oil smokes up my entire apt in a matter of minutes, and my kitchen fan doesn't stand a chance against it.

4. Place your meat in the grill pan. Your meat should sizzle as soon as it hits the pan. Careful: You MUST use an oven mitt when touching the grill pan. It gets HOT. A standard sized chicken breast takes 4-5 minutes to cook. A lamb shoulder or small steak about 4 minutes for medium to medium rare.

It might take a few tries to gauge how quickly the meat will cook in your broiler, but once you get it right, the meat will come out perfectly cooked every time.

January 8, 2011

Non-Carnivorous Vegans

Or, as they call themselves, vegans. For the record, I want to say that I very much respect vegans. For them veganism is not merely a convenient tool, but a philosophy and lifestyle that rejects the exploitation of animals, for ethical, environmental, and health reasons. I find that incredibly admirable. Vegans take their commitment seriously. I can't eat dairy for health reasons, and I have a hard time doing that, whereas vegans actually choose to not eat dairy for ethical reasons. That's pretty badass. Vegans are no joke.

I think that one day most people will be vegan. Not anytime soon of course--maybe our great great grandkids--and that those young whippersnappers will look back at us with horror and disgust for ever eating the flesh of another living creature.

But for now I run away from the good people of PETA, with their videos and their fliers and their ethical treatment of animals, because I already feel so limited by not eating dairy, that I can't stand the thought of giving up meat too. I know that I would have a hard time savoring a bloody steak if I read their literature and watched their shocking videos. Crispy bacon that melts in my mouth is just too good. Sorry for now piggies.

Graybeard

The Husband has requested that I refer to him as Graybeard on my blog (as well as in everyday life). It's a little thing, and I am debating humoring him, on the blog at least. The problem is that he does not, in fact, have a gray beard. Nor a beard, for that matter. The Husband thinks that he has a baby face and that the three and a half gray hairs that appear in his stubble warrant the name Graybeard. He looks forward to the day when his hair gleams silver in the sunlight (ah, to be a man) so that people will treat him like the 33-year old (34 next week) he is, not the kid he thinks he looks like. In the meantime, it follows that the nickname Graybeard will lead people to believe that he's older. Right? I shall ponder it.

January 4, 2011

Go Vegan in New York City, Ya'll

NYC is a wonderful place: The glitz, the glamor, the grunge. The parks, the shopping, the people watching. The crowds, the noise, the pollution. The Broadway shows, the concerts, the celebrity sightings. The 24-hour everything. The new mandatory allergy-awareness posters that must be placed in all restaurants. Now when I ask a waiter whether there is cheese in the pesto, he is not allowed to say, "Cheese? In the pesto? Ummm... [looking vacantly off into the distance]. No, no cheese." To which I replied, "I'll have the spaghetti."

Two weeks after the posters went up our waitress at Ottomanelli New York Grill asked my husband, who had just questioned her about how much cheese was used in the Panko Chicken (which is tossed in a parmesan bread crumb blend), whether he was allergic to dairy, and informed him that if he was, she could not serve that dish to him. A tear of joy sprung to my eye, and my heart grew two inches. (The husband is lactose intolerant, btw, which means that he can pop a Lactaid and happily eat cheesy chicken as he pleases. No fair.)

Aside from this latest, truly wonderful development, there are the restaurants of New York City. There are the fancy-pants restaurants that care about your allergies, like Craft, where if you tell them that you cannot eat dairy they treat you like you're a wonderfully special creature whose every food whim deserves to be catered to, not the pain in the ass that you are, and then they make damn certain there's not one drop of butter anywhere near your food. And when all your friends order dessert (which = LOTS of dairy), they bring you your own little treat: a bowl of fresh berries, no charge. Love them.

Then there are the vegan places. Yes, vegan, that word that you are growing so fond of, much to the astonishment of Past You. Ah, the vegan places. You can order your food and not say a word to anyone about your dairy allergy because no one there eats it either. But you can say something, however, if the silent camaraderie isn't enough, and they will understand that too. Just don't talk about how you had a hamburger for dinner last night and that if you could have a nice big vegan-buttered steak alongside your dairy-free scalloped potatoes, this restaurant would be perfect. They might feel like you're just using them for their dairy-free desserts (which is not true, you are also interested in their dairy-free lasagna). Try Candle 79 on the Upper East Side for a classy night out, or its more casual incarnation, Candle Cafe.

Speaking of desserts, yes, there are dairy-free bakeries in NYC too, such as Babycakes on the Lower East Side. Two words: Cookie sandwiches. 'Nuff said.

Ah, and a vegan gourmet chocolate shop in Hell's Kitchen! The only one of it's kind in NYC, Cocoa-V. It's wildly expensive, so it feels just like you're in a regular gourmet chocolate shop, without the forlorn longing. Please, please try the salted caramel chocolate. And please buy one for me too. (You think I'm joking.) But, please, do NOT reveal your lack of true veganism here. You will get shooed out, least you be thought to be questioning whether vegans would eat meat if they knew for a fact that the animals were treated humanely. That is not allowed here. But hot chocolate! Really expensive and delicious hot chocolate is allowed here!

And YES! A vegan ice cream shop! With cones! And sundaes! And it's not that soy or rice crap either. It's made from nuts. And it tastes wonderful. Now you too can walk down the street licking ice cream off your hand thanks to Lula's Sweet Apothecary in the East Village, the only one (in NYC) of its lovely, lovely kind.