I promise there will be more recaps of our Honeymoon in Colombia coming soon, but first I’m taking a slight detour to New York City. Last Mon-Wed I had a business trip to Connecticut and I worked it out so that I could fly out early and spend the weekend at my friend Amy’s place in Jersey City. (Three Cheers for Free Plane Tickets!!!)
I arrived at her place late Friday night so our time together really didn’t get started until Saturday morning. We had a very light breakfast at her place, knowing there’d be lots of food in store for us that day.
Then before we headed out the door, Amy surprised me with a present that is proof of how well she knows me: SNACKS for my trip!
(P.S. the new Dark Chocolate Turtle Uber-Bar was as amazing as it sounds!)
(There’s Amy in front of the restaurant!)
As soon as we stepped in the door and saw the chic yet calm atmosphere, we were glad we had come.
We were also impressed with the healthfulness of their entirely vegan menu, including creative fruit & veggie juices (including “Asian Roots” with daikon, sweet potato, apple & ginger), raw options, and lots of veggie-heavy choices.
Amy and I each ordered a bowl of their Wonton Soup – one of the soup’s of the day. Amy ordered the combo of 2 veggies & a soup, choosing sauteed kale and japanese pumpkin (kabocha squash) for her veggies.
I had the Caesar Salad with Smoked Tempeh along with my soup.
We enjoyed our meal very much, though our dishes weren’t memorable. Amy’s veggies could have used a little more seasoning, and I couldn’t help but compare the Wonton Soup & Caesar Salads to my favorite renditions elsewhere (Zen Palate’s Wonton Soup & Sublime’s Caesar Salad).
The meal ended, however, with a taste I couldn’t get enough of:
***The Ginger Soy Latte***
I ordered my Latte without the agave and found it to have the perfect hint of natural sweetness. I have never had a drink like this before – a creamy, frothy drink spiked with generous amounts of fresh ginger. I took my drink to-go since the next portion of our day was going to be outside in freezing weather.
Next up was a visit to the Tenement Museum, one of my favorite museums in the city. I’ve been on several of their tours of the tenement building on the museum property, but this time we decided to do something different there – a walking tour of the neighborhood.
The tour we did was called “Storefront Stories” which was a walk up and down Orchard Street, learning about the neighborhood’s past, present, and future.
Our tour-guide told us the history of the “Max Feinberg” building and several others in the area. The businesses within these storefronts changed as the surrounding neighborhood morphed from a home to a large number of German Immigrants, to a Eastern European Jewish community, to the rapidly gentrifying area of today. The “SHIRTS” storefront above is actually now an art gallery, and I spotted at least a dozen upscale Coffee Roasters along our tour route.
And yet, as the tour wound up, we soon found ourselves within one of those fancy Coffee Roasters, sipping on decaf lattes (soy for me!) to warm up from the cold.
Babycakes NYC was just around the corner from the Tenement Museum, so I had to pop in for a bite at this famous gluten-free, vegan bakery.
As well-known as Babycakes is (they have 2 cookbooks and locations in NYC, LA, and Disney World), we were surprised at how small their shop was, with only a few benches along the walls to sit on.
We knew we had a special dinner coming up, so we each selected a mini-bite – I had a Frosted Chocolate Brownie Bite and Amy had a mini Vanilla Cupcake.
I hate to say it, but we were both very glad we had chosen miniature desserts. I found the brownie to be pretty dry and the frosting somewhat gummy. Maybe we just ordered wrong?
Next on our agenda was a reservation at Hangawi, an all-vegetarian Korean restaurant in NYC’s Korea-town. This place has been on my Must-Try list ever since Carolina blogged about it over 2 years ago!
Hangawi is a truly special restaurant. As Amy and I took our shoes off and sat down onto the pillow cushions on the floor, we both remarked what a great place this would be for a romantic dinner or a cozy double-date.
I love eating at restaurants with on-the-floor seating, though usually my legs start to cramp up half-way through the meal. Hangawi is the only place I’ve ever dined at that cleverly solves for that by having holes cut underneath the table for our legs to dangle into. We were so comfortable we didn’t want to leave and wound up dragging our dinner on for a couple of hours!
My absolute favorite item at Hangawi is their Date Paste Tea. This is made by boiling dates in water for 6 to 8 hours. The flavor of the tea ranges from sweet to sour, depending on the ripeness of the dates. The day we were there, it was right in between sweet & sour and even better than we had imagined.
It took us a really long time to decide what to order. The menu is intended to be shared family style, but it seemed that everyone at the tables nearby was ordering individual dishes and we did the same.
I had the Organic Zen Stone Bowl with organic vegetables, mushrooms and mountain greens, served with brown rice. The stone bowl stayed piping hot throughout my meal and the dish was seasoned perfectly.
Amy ordered the Organic Sauteed Mixed Mushrooms with a side of Brown Rice. The brown sauce was so savory & delicious! I think it may have had a hint of wine or sake in it.
While both of our entrees were pricy ($26 each), we thought it was worth it since the restaurant’s decor & service were so spectacular, and the meals we selected were both Organic.
Our meals also came with Hangawi’s house-made Kimchi including a mild white kimchi and a spicy green kimchi (which I didn’t actually think was very spicy at all). Both were delicious enough to eat on their own, though I wound up stirring most of mine into my rice bowl.
Still wanting to linger a bit longer, Amy and I shared a bowl of this non-dairy Tofu Chocolate Pudding with Vegan Marshmallows before heading back to Jersey City for the night.
The next day was a much calmer, quieter day, yet was actually the highlight of my trip. Amy and I started out the day with a Reformer Pilates class at her local studio.
We then had an awesome visit with our friends Stefanie & Dave who drove in from Pennsylvania to see us! Our visit included brunch, followed by a game of Taboo and a Yonanas lesson at Amy’s place.
Amy gave us a demo of her new Yonanas machine (which makes “fro-yo” out of just frozen bananas), without reading the instructions first. We didn’t let our bananas rest on the counter long enough and wound up getting a serious abdominal workout from laughing as Amy tried forcing the bananas through the machine.
Regardless, the final product was really tasty (we made Blueberry-Lemon and Cocoa-Cinnamon-Peanut-Butter flavors) and the machine was very easy to clean-up, but I think I’ll stick with making my Banana Ice-cream in a Food Processor for now
After a very fun weekend, Stefanie & Dave dropped me off at the PATH-train station. Just a couple hours later, after 3 trains & a taxi ride – including a transfer by the new Freedom Tower and dinner at the Grand Central Station food-court, I made it safely to my hotel in Connecticut.
I’d love to hear from you!
Have you been to any of these places before?
What are your favorite flavor mix-ins for Banana “Ice-Cream”?