What I Ate Wednesday: Manhattan & Jersey City

Okay, it’s been a little while since I wrote my first ever What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) post, but I’m excited to be participating again, and I have some really great Eats to share!  I spent the weekend in New York City visiting one of my best friends, Amy, who is also a vegetarian. Here I’m sharing what I ate on Saturday, and I’ll be sure to cover the rest of my trip (and eats!) in an upcoming post! 

 

Amy actually lives in Jersey City, NJ, but it’s well connected by trains and as easy to get into Manhattan from here as it is from Brooklyn or Queens.  We spent our morning in Jersey City, then headed into the city in the afternoon.

  

I had bought some really great Muesli while I was in Ireland in May and brought it with me in my suitcase.  Not only was this a great way to share one of my foodie-finds with Amy, I figured it was also a good way to be a low-maintenance house guest.  When she asked if I wanted her to pick up anything from the store for me, I just asked for Peanut Butter and Bananas, which she typically has on hand anyway.  For Breakfast, I stirred together Peanut ButterMuesli, and a splash of water, and topped it with a sliced banana.   The What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) theme for this month is Fun, Food & Fitness, and that was the unofficial theme of our weekend too!  Yes, we ate a lot, but we also moved a lot too! After my energizing breakfast, we headed to my first ever Pilates Tower class.  It was a lot of fun using the equipment’s pulleys which added extra resistance and helped me to get a deeper stretch.   

After Pilates, I snacked on a few Roasted Seaweed flavored Almond Rice Stix (which I had bought at the airport the night before) while we changed into clothes for the rest of our day.  A handful was enough to keep me going without filling me up too much for lunch.

Next up was Brunch at one of Amy’s favorite restaurants in Jersey City – Marco & Pepe’s. I have to say that Amy has excellent taste in food because this place blew me away.  

  

Amy ordered the Poached Egg with Country Bread over a mixture of a half portion each of their Spanish Lentils & Wild Mushrooms. After one bite of the perfectly seasoned lentils, I was so tempted to go into the kitchen and demand their recipe.  If I knew how to make these, I think I’d make them every day for breakfast, lunch & dinner!

  

I ordered their “Spring Vegetable Plate” of red quinoa, chickpeasasparagus, and cherry tomatoes.  I was very pleasantly surprised when the dish came out and all of those ingredients were stuffed inside of a roasted eggplant, along with a yummy white wine sauce.  This was a little bit on the oily side, but if not for that, I could absolutely eat this every day too.

From there we headed to the PATH train and into Manhattan.  There were two specialty food stores I wanted to check out: Kalustyan’s & Eataly.

I had seen Kalustyan’s on the Martha Stewart Show. This small specialty food store carries ingredients from around the world and supplies many NYC restaurants with their spices.  We had fun browsing around the narrow aisles overflowing with exotic ingredients.  Since we didn’t want to carry any food around the city with us, we each simply got a couple of pieces of Turkish Candy to snack on.  I had a small piece of candy with both dried Apricot and Coconut, and we each had a piece of Rose flavored Turkish Delight, though it tasted too perfume-y for my taste.

  

Next, we headed a few blocks away to Eataly, an Italian Food emporium owned by Mario Batali.  Entire sections of the store were devoted to Gelato, Breads, Cheeses and more.  There are also several restaurants inside the store, including Le Verdure, which is vegetarian.

 

Most of all, I loved Eataly’s concept of the “Vegetable Butcher” in the Produce Section.  Once you’ve picked out your produce, they will clean & prep it for you however you’d like for no extra charge.  This would certainly save a lot of time from my weekly meal preps if grocery stores back home had this service!

 

Eataly was a cool store, and I hear the quality is spectacular, but prices were high and the Saturday afternoon crowd was huge, so we were soon on our way.  We did, however, snag ourselves a snack.  While I was eyeing a basket of Strawberries which we could have had the ‘butcher’ wash for us, we instead chose to split a container of Pre-cut Papaya (not pictured), which we ate just outside  of the store, at a table in front of the Flat Iron building.

Soon, it was time for dinner!  After reading Cait Plus Ate’s rave review, we had made a reservation at Pure Food & Wine, an upscale Raw & Vegan restaurant in the city.

When we arrived, we were stunned by their beautiful backyard patio, but unfortunately we didn’t know that they take reservations separately for the backyard and it was all full that evening (if you plan to dine there, be sure request the backyard when you reserve!).  Instead, we sat inside the restaurant, which was very classy, though the tables were very close & it was too dark for most photos.

  

To taste as many dishes as possible without spending too much, we decided to get 2 appetizers and 2 entrees and share both.

For our starters, we had Morels, Asparagus, Fava Beans and Spring Peas  and Pear Ravioli with Preserved Lemon.  Both were so tasty that I kept forgetting I was eating raw food.  I especially loved the Tarragon-Ramp sauce on Morels dish.  The Pear Ravioli was interesting in that the Pears actually replaced the noodles – not the filling!

 

One of our entrees was the Hen of the Woods Tacos al Pastor over fresh corn with a crema fresca.  This was also fresh and tasty and could appeal to even those who are new to eating Raw food.

As delicious as the three dishes above were, none of them really stood out to me though.  While I enjoyed these courses, they didn’t convince me that this was a must-visit restaurant destination in NYC.

But that all changed when we took a bite of our other Entree: Citrus Creme Filled Squash Blossoms with Fresh Figs.  This dish was a taste of heaven, and the picture below doesn’t do it justice.  It was a piece of art work too.  The fresh figs, cardamom creme and candied nuts on the plate paired perfectly with the delicate blossoms stuffed with a light, Citrusy cream.  This entree was dessert-worthy, and I think, the best thing I ate all weekend.

On that sweet note, we decided we didn’t need to order dessert at the restaurant, though that didn’t stop us from picking up dessert on our way back to the train.

“Soft Serve” fruit (ice-cream made out of pure fruit)  is all over the blogosphere.  To make it at home, you place the frozen fruit of your choice in a food processor with a little bit of the liquid & sweetener of your choice, and puree it until it reaches a smooth, ice-cream like consistency.  I’d been wanting to try this trick at home since last summer, but somehow hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  So when Amy told me about Soft Serve Fruit Co in NYC where I could order this treat from a counter, I made sure to save room at dinner!

This place exceeded my expectations.  The staff was friendly, the menu had a creative list of options (a pretzel cone or a hot waffle!), and the “soft serve” made from just fruit, water & organic cane sugar were incredible.  I tried samples all of the 4 flavors of the day – Banana, Dark Chocolate Banana, Blueberry, and Tangerine. All were so delicious, it was difficult to decide, though the sweet & tart Blueberry was my favorite by a very small margin.  I took a recommendation from one of the servers and ordered his favorite – a Blueberry-Tangerine Swirl topped with Dark Chocolate Chips, to which I also added some diced Mango.  It was the perfect light, refreshing, and DELICIOUS dessert, and I hope to see more of these shops pop up soon!

Overall, it was a very delicious day, and as an added bonus, our edible adventures resulted in over 7 miles (15,000 steps) of walking, for the perfect combination of Fun, Food & Fitness!

 

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you ever bring your own food when you travel?

Have you tried Fruit “Soft Serve” before?