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.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh! You have done your research. I'll have to come to the city to sample some of these delicacies!