Connecticut, New York’s northern neighbor, has plenty of vegan eats to feast upon. It’s an ideal destination for a day trip. I can get to Connecticut without heading far into the New York City area and her more messy crossings. The Throgs Neck Bridge is an easy breeze. A couple of hours later on the I-95 and you feel like you’re very far away, with billboards of diners advertising vegan options. How wonderful. But today, it was Middletown’s ION (It’s Only Natural) for their Southern Plate.DSC_0005

The dish hits all the marks with Southern fried tofu, sauteed garlicky greens, black beans, and a warm piece of cornbread with an aioli. The texture of the tofu was divine. The breading didn’t all fall off the tofu after a bite–they had the perfect texture. But I wished the tofu hadn’t been marinated. The taste of the marinated tofu inside the breading, along with a ton of garlic in the greens, had me seeking refuge in the black beans! It needed something to balance the assertive flavors.DSC_0002

But boy, was it a gorgeous dish!IMG_4874

Next, I got baked. I mean, I went to Get Baked in Windsor, housed in a great, tucked away space that hosts an antiques auction and seasonal pop-ups.  IMG_4876

They have a ton of rotating vegan options. And a very sweet counter woman. IMG_4879

I got a red velvet cupcake, a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream, and a chocolate shortbread cookie. To go! I ate the red velvet when I got home and thought it spectacular. Sturdy texture but not dry or dense. It was exceptional, texture-wise and taste-wise! Boy, vegan cupcakes have come so far. IMG_4885

The last stop: The Sweet Beet in Granby, a carry-out spot with clean eats and sweet treats. IMG_4888

I picked an assortment of their one-bite cupcakes: chocolate chip, Mexican hot chocolate, toasted coconut, lemon, snicker doodle, and chocolate. Of course the intention was to get them home and share them, but the ride home had me popping open the box several times. I loved that the chocolate had beet in it… and the vanilla tasted like it also had natural goodness inside, not overly sweet in a compensatory fashion. Texture was a bit dry though, as if they weren’t made recently. IMG_4886

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They have a selection of pre-made eats. I choose a version of their Mac No Cheese with a cashew cheese sauce. IMG_4890

Thanks for the eats, Connecticut! I’ll be back soon.

For more hearty winter cravings, I met with CP for a Brooklyn pizza dinner. After a tremendous wait time thwarting our dinner plans a few weeks back, I couldn’t get Paulie Gee’s out of my head. It had been several years since we had been there, and there were plenty of new vegan pizza options to sample. We door-busted on a school night to ensure the best seat in the house. IMG_4848

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The Red, White & Greenpeace: Baby arugula, olive oil, house pickled red onions and cashew ricotta dollops. Very delicious! I loved how the wood-fired crust complemented the tastes of the red, white and green. One tip to the sweet Paulie, who checked on us twice, a quick chop of the greens might ensure a bite doesn’t drag off all the toppings. IMG_4850

The Jackie Green: vegan tomato sauce, almond milk & onion cream and meatballs made with green jackfruit. Another delicious daiya-free and all-housemade delight! The meatballs had the soft texture of bean balls. IMG_4854

See you next time, Paulie! I’m sure there will be even more vegan options to come.

In these frigid days and nights, a coveted sunspot is boardwalk real estate. To Frankenstein, a concentrated dose of sun is well worth a bit of awkward positioning. IMG_4763

It’s chili weather once again! These cold days have me craving a big bowl of hearty chili with a nice kick of heat. Bell peppers, sweet peppers, and jalapeno? This was going to take a lot of prep time.IMG_4755

Do mix the colors.IMG_4759

And top with some freshness. Green onions, because lots of white onions just ain’t enough. And cilantro. Add homemade cornbread with a big fat slice of jalapeno with the seeds baked right on top. IMG_4805

The cold morning had the Big Galoot returning a week after his disappearance. We feared the worst, the harsh circle of life for homeless cats. It was a shock to see him yelping on the driveway. Oh, what adventures he must of had.IMG_4813

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Sometimes a “vegan” key word search in Yelp turns up a tucked away vegan option, one that might otherwise fly under the radar. After reading from a Yelper that Thai Chef Cuisine had a separate vegan menu, we made a b-line to the city I grew up in: North Merrick. IMG_4568

The unassuming take-out counter looked like a Chinese take-out spot, like one of the millions Long Island had to offer. Except this was not Chinese. It was real Thai: authentic Thai offerings, pictures of the King on the wall, food and drink offering to Buddha… and a friendly Thai man who knew what vegan meant. Besides the 100% vegan menu, they had a board of vegan specials. I ordered excitedly, pleased that when I confirmed that the dishes did not contain fish sauce, the affirmation had a hint of “Yeah lady, I do know what vegan means.” IMG_4567

I sampled plenty of dishes: Below is the fried papaya salad, served with a sweet sauce with plenty of crushed peanut. Thais know texture and flavor balance! Though this was a lot of fried-ness to eat, it was delicious.IMG_4747

The summer rolls were very scrumptious, a good balance to the fried papaya salad. I would have preferred more vermicelli noodles over bean sprouts. The leaves of basil and the coating of thick tamarind sauce–perfect.IMG_4745

And my favorite Thai street food, the deep-fried corn fritters, were, as usual, a yummy bite of salty and crisp with bursts of corn sweetness. The breading wasn’t as crispy as I’ve had elsewhere. But these fritters are easy pleasers.IMG_4569

And yay, vegan pad thai! Without the worry of fish sauce. This dish was loaded with tasty tofu. It had all the texture pieces that make pad thai so wonderful, save for the crushed peanut. I did miss it. Next time I’d ask for it.IMG_4571

Last but not least, the mango and sweet sticky rice. I love this dessert and, besides the mango not being super ripe, it was just like the real thing I enjoyed so often in Thailand. IMG_4573

Thai Chef Cuisine is an amazing find! I look forward to supporting them, especially in light of their vegan friendliness.

alaska-1-map2My quest of conquering all of these great United States is nearing it’s end with state 49: Alaska!

This summer my sister and I will be boarding Ms. Oosterdam, one of Holland America‘s veg-friendly cruise ships, for southbound journey from Anchorage/Seward to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Cruises are not really my thing, but it makes perfect sense for this adventure. I did a lot of research before deciding on Holland America. To help others (and other vegans) who are interested in exploring Alaska via cruise, I compiled some helpful stuff here.

Why I choose Holland America:

1.) Holland America has a dedicated vegetarian menu with vegan options clearly labelled. Holland America cruise lines is pretty vegan friendly. And since food is a huge draw on a cruise, it didn’t make sense to spend a large chunk of money without being able to eat well. Vegetarian_Menu

Additionally, if you complete the special requirements form (sample below), the staff can prepare for your requirements. I will update this post after I have submitted this form to Holland and confirm how my listed specifications are considered. In general, staff wants your satisfaction as they depend on the customary gratuities at the end of the cruise. My satisfaction depends mostly on eating well! To be continued…HAL_VPXV8N_SR_EN

2.) There are only 5 cruise lines who are authorized to cruise in Alaska’s Glacier Bay: Princess, Holland America, Norwegian, Carnival, and Crystal Cruises. Carnival is the cheapest, which means you’re confined with lowest common denominator cruise-goers. Ones who likely believe that the Guy Fieri’s restaurant on board is fine dining. Does that sound snobby? I don’t care; it matters. You’re stuck with these folks morning, noon, and night, sharing all common areas of the boat. It might be interesting sociologically, however you don’t want to dread leaving your state room. On the other side of the spectrum, Crystal Cruises is a luxury cruise line and is way beyond our budget. Norwegian seemed to be geared towards families. I’d rather not be surrounded by children. Plus, with all of Norwegian’s advertising, I felt it’d be a popular choice for cruise goers. And, to me, popular = crappy. I’d rather pay more and not feel invaded socially. With great itineraries and great sales, Princess was the runner up. Both Princess and Holland had the goods we wanted: a cruise with tremendous scenic opportunities, great excursion options, and a lesser chance of being thrown together with white trash and screaming kids. But, in the end, the fact that Holland America had a dedicated vegetarian menu with vegan options labelled took the cake.

3.) Holland America is rated by Ethisphere, an independent and third party certifier of ethical business practices, as “World’s Most Ethical Company” under the leisure and hospitality.

 

 

Sweet eats for me on Valentine’s Day:

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Box of Divine Treasures chocolates.

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Red velvet pancakes at Champs Diner

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A box of Dun-well Doughnuts

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

IMG_4563Plants give us such glorious things: fruit, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves. And how delicious are these parts? To think that we eat the reproductive organs of plants? It’s all very wonderful, like we’re eating life. And in the case of bright, juicy blood oranges, it feels even more so. Citrus is a gorgeous representation of nature’s symmetry and beauty. Ok ok, lest you picture me as some pagan witch with a strange selection of mason jars and tinctures harnessing the powers of the natural world, I’ll stop.

IMG_4606Don’t even get me started about avocados. How is it that such a rich buttery cream, in such an appealing shade of yellow-green, just lie waiting inside a deep dark green barky skin? Butter pear, alligator fruit, cheese pear–this nomenclature sums ‘em up. What ever the Earth or want for fertilization has facilitated to create the avocado, as she is, I thank.

IMG_4703Chocolate avocado cupcakes with avocado glaze for my 31 valentines, though many were not brave enough to try (though chemical-laden, artificially colored processed food snacks are fine).

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