Sunday, January 25, 2009

New York - January 2009

Now this isn't NYC - indeedy no. As a matter of fact we were waiting for hours and hours to take off and my dh suggested a glass of wine to make things a little, er, well, less stressed. And so it did, as you see from this silly photo. Now that's the trouble about travelling in the winter - weather happens!

Nevertheless, we did finally get off and a little over 12 hours after we started out we arrived at our little hotel in Manhattan. Since this was by now well after nine in the evening, we headed for the nearest place likely to be able to supply us with a vegan meal and - and we struck it lucky. The PongSri in Chelsea (but they've got a couple of other locations, I understand) produced a delicious meal to two starving travellers in short order. Love Thai food!!!

Above is my hungry dh perusing the extensive menu (and finding the vegan options) and below are the dishes quickly photographed before we demolished them.

This was a lovely eggplant with basil dish - excellent choice.

And this one was tofu etc. in a coconut sauce - spiced just right. (Sorry, I'm terrible at remembering the names of Thai dishes!)

This late at night (by the time we actually were eating) we skipped dessert and coffee, so I can't say what that part of the menu was like for vegans.

The next morning was a bit of a slow start - we had a nice breakfast (having to scavenge a bit for what was actually vegan) in the Library at our hotel, then headed off slowly for Lincoln Center to collect our pre-booked tickets from the box office - for Orfeo Ed Euridice which we were to see that night.

Then we headed off for lunch - which happened to be right at the time of the Inauguration, so we had the place almost completely to ourselves. The place? Beyoglu where we had been on a previous visit. Sublime food - and very friendly towards vegans. Sadly, I forgot I had the camera at first so didn't take pics of the food, but we ordered various mezze as we usually do in such circumstances. This restaurant might produce the best mezze I have ever tasted outside of Instanbul.

Here we are looking rather contented after a looooong lunch.

Since it was rather a special day for us (quite apart from the Inauguration of President Obama), we prevailed upon our server to take the above photo. Then it was off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We were here mainly to see the Renaissance and Love exhibition, but of course we wandered a bit first, as you see below.

Excellent - but not enough time before we had to go back to change for the evening and meet our friend pre-opera. The opera? Superb - of course. We went on to Cafe des Artistes afterwards. Superb venue - and if you're interested in the wall murals, see HERE. Well, it was a special event, as I say!

Another day, another place to eat (honestly, it's not ALL we did in NYC, but it certainly looks like it here):

This is Franchia - a Korean Tea House which is vegan and an excellent spot for a meal. Not just tea either. We had the prix-fixe menu, as we usually do there, and remembered to photograph the appetizer course (though not the first course - I had miso soup and it was very well made).

Lovely food and great presentation! Unfortunately, again we forgot to take pics of the main course - or at least until we had demolished half of it. It was so good!

We shared a wonderful vegan curry hotpot and also vegan 'meatballs' in a brown sauce. After the first taste, the rest was a blur! We finished with a simple sorbet - which disappeared pretty quickly.

That evening we were to meet up with friends at their apartment - but not before stopping by Bemelman's for a few minutes, as is our wont). We like to listen to Chris Gillespie sing at his piano - great retro music.

It's the decor that makes this place especially interesting (a bit different from that the previous evening, though!). Note the lampshade at dh's elbow . . .

. . . and the scrap of mural behind and above me. Such fun - and the walls are covered in them. Great illustrator, that Bemelman!

Then, having paid homage to painting, music and the god of wine, we rushed on to meet our friends!

The restaurant that evening was Candle 79 - which is a sister establishment of Candle Cafe but not to be confused with it. (The website has a link to the newer Candle 79 further down the window.) And the food and ambiance were superb as always. Now why can't we get the chef to move down the street from us here!!!! And of course, the food and ambiance paled against the company, as should always be the case when dining. Oh and did I mention that the food is absolutely vegan? How's that for the perfect place!

Lunchtime our last day was at Dawat, which is the famed actress-turned-cookbook-author Madhur Jaffrey's restaurant. It is of course Indian, and although not vegetarian it has a good veggie menu including several vegan selections. We enjoyed it enough the first time we were there - a couple of years ago - to want to return and we weren't sorry. This was another case of failing to remember the camera until we had made inroads into the main dishes. (The appetizer had been some lightly fried okra/bindi which had been sliced finely lengthways. It was more delicious than I imagined it could be.)

The above photo shows Bunhi Gobhi (stirfried cauliflower with cummin seeds, ginger and coriander leaves) and Channa Masala (chickpeas).

Apart from returning to the Met Museum and going on to a couple of others, we also found our way into the the J.P. Morgan Library and then the New York Public Library, which I hadn't visited in ages, for an exhibition or two.

I had forgotten what a marvellous interior it has.

The final evening? To HanGawi, a Korean restaurant which is totally vegan and which specializes in ancient grains, mountain greens and mountain roots. This is an experience not to be missed. It had been five years since we had first been there, and I did rather fear that my memory of it might have been enhanced over time. Not so.

This was the appetizer course - one serving requested since we had eaten so well at lunchtime.

A wonderful light selection of mountain greens and roots, delicately flavoured. We made short work of it.

The following photo shows tofu and mushrooms in a lemon ginger sauce (little bowls thoughtfully provided). As you see, we had all but finished it before I remembered I'd taken no photo (got to do something about that!)

And the second dish we ordered was this lovely Mongolian Hot Pot - also nearly depleted by the time the photo was taken.

My dh declared this to be one of the best restaurants ever!

Next morning, home to Canada - an uneventful trip, thank goodness. And we're already planning our next Great Escape.