Sunday, November 11, 2012

NYC or Bust (your pants from all the eating)

This blog's grand adventure was a another big fat vegan roadtrip! We had the incredible luck of travelling just days before Hurricane Sandy hit. When writing this, I still can barely believe the destruction and devastation that's happen in the short time since we've been there.

Since April 2011, I've been living the nerdy dream by working my way through Vegnew's "99 things you must do: A vegan bucket list". Given my love for trying new things, eating, travel and checking things off lists-I couldn't love this challenge any more. So far, I've done 45 of 99 and travelling to NYC would let me get multiple checks into one trip! Woot!

My journey began with a very long drive. Technically it started before the really long drive with a rental car who's alarm was broken. Do you know what's awesome? Driving 20 minutes through town with your alarm going off! After a switch, I was now one person driving a big mini van over 7 hours!Environmentalist fail. First stop was Strong Hearts Cafe, a vegan cafe tucked away in a historic building in Syracuse, NY that came highly recommended. To be totally honest, my "chicken" Caesar was pretty meh but I took a menu and planned to visit on my return anyways-they had freakin cupcakes *and* milkshakes.

Here begins the portion of this journey that I call "4 hours in hell". Original plan was as such: Drive rental to airport. Park at airport, public transport into and around city. Easy right? Yuhuh. So my gas light goes on about 40 minutes from the airport. I figured there would be gas stations right on the road further into the city, and didn't want to risk getting lost. Ha. So I get to the bridge that goes over to the airport, and the sign tells me 60 minutes of traffic until I get there! As I'm sitting in the middle of 8 lanes of gridlock traffic- the last exit before the bridge 100 metres from my vehicle. AHH! After numerous middle fingers, I was off the road and in the Bronx. Isn't this where drive bys happen? *small city girl in a rental minivan hyperventilating*. From here, my GPS kept taking me in the same loop for an hour. FML. With our dinner reservations looming closer, and her flight having arrived three hours prior, Kristi (who you might recognize from our previous adventures in Las Angeles and Las Vegas) suggested I meet her at the hotel. Perfect. Well, except that it was in Manhattan, three blocks from Times Square at Friday rush hour. I've got this. Except I didn't, and almost imploded from stress. Once I finally arrived (shaking and nauseous), it was a failed subway attempt (times two) and we were *finally* eating at Blossom Cafe. Bucket list check one. My dinner was amazing,
Vegetable crepes with a bunch of fancy delicious accroudements.
But by far the winner was Butterfinger milkshakes for dessert. ZOMG.
Get used to my crazy dessert face, you're going to see it a lot.
The other great thing we got there was insider info on the best places to visit on an NYC vegan pilgrimage. Score! Our first stop the next morning was the highly recommended Champs Cafe in Brooklyn.
It was hipster heaven with tattooed servers, interesting crap on the walls,
That's what she said.
A whole case of baked heaven, and VEGAN EGGS BENEDICT. Ahhhh, delicious!
I wish we lived in the future, where I'm sure we'll have the technology for you to be able to taste this on the screen.
 Pictures don't adequately capture it's heart stopping deliciousness.
 1.5 hours into the day and I was already overloaded with happiness. A few cake pops for the journey and we were off.
Flags! People! Buildings! Adventure!
We explored some funk-tastic vintage stores, people watched, and took lame pictures wherever we could.
Anyone that says vegans are unattractive, or don't wear aviator sunglasses clearly hasn't seen this photo.
I also happened to find more Vegan baked goods. How does this always happen to me? Most likely  because I never stop thinking about them.
This is my red velvet crazy face.
We also spent a good portion of time trying to find parking in Chinatown. $46 later, it was getting close to dinner at Candle 79! Number 21 on Vegnews bucket list "Dine at Candle 79 in New York. Go with people whom you truly adore, and feast on appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts." My pen was freakin ready to check this one off. And my tummy was ready for it's endurance test. First, we had to get ready for our big night out, which also included a trip to Pine Box Rock Shop-vegan bars don't just happen every day for this girl!
Vintage shop find. "Oh this old thing?"
Dinner was amazing, and we were so absorbed in great conversation, ambiance and wine that it's hard to recall exactly what we ate. Most like because it was one of those fancy meals that has 20 different elaborate sauces and frou frou names for things.
I know somewhere in there were glazed brussel sprouts, pomegranate seeds, sweet potato gratin and seitan something or other. It was amaaaazing. The rest of the night whizzed by in a blur of fancy drinks at a vegan bar that had both a Big Shot hunter game (oooh the irony) and Jamaican jerk Empanadas, late night subway rides, and an $84 trip through the Times Scare haunted house (perfect idea at 2 am).

The next morning didn't hurt as much as it could have, so we got up and went to foodie heaven. a.k.a. A Food Tuck rally. For those of you that don't know about Food Trucks other than ones that sell french fries; food trucks are making a comeback as gourmet eateries on wheels. In large centers like NYC, Las Angeles and others, food trucks have devoted followers who follow them from location to location with tips from facebook and twitter. My big fat hairy dream is to one day have my own mobile gourmet restaurant! A food truck rally is when many get together to set up food courts on wheels! Our choices were curried shitake Empanadas (you know it's a great trip when it's all Empanadas all the time), Kimchi Tacos made with falafel (Sounds totally weird, and it is! Pickled cabbage, spicy sauce and falafel. Weirdly delicious that is.)
Sesame noodle salad with dumplings and a carrot cake ice cream sandwich with lychee champagne sorbet in the middle. All from different trucks! *siiiiiigh* It was awesome.
This is my ice cream sandwich happiness face.
After this, our whirlwind trip wrapped up so Kristi could return to LaLaland, and I could return to the great white(or in this case multicoloured fall splendor) North. I got lost no less than 7 different times trying to leave the city and the state. Once I got to Pennsylvania, I had to pull over to sleep so my soul didn't cave in on itself. In short, travelling to NYC is a grand adventure, but for the love of yourself, do NOT drive there. I'm sure you could have told me that, just as everyone else has. Though if you *really* know me, you'll know I like to learn things the way that teaches the most concrete lesson and tells the best story. Check. Mark.

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