Mystic, Connecticut: Pizza… and So Much More

Mystic, Connecticut: Pizza… and So Much More

Mystic, about the midpoint between NYC and Boston, is a fantastic getaway. In less than a two-hour drive, our family left the sweltering heat of the city for some quiet time in this quaint riverside community. Long before Julia Roberts and Co. made Mystic famous with a little film about a local pizza place (more about that in just a bit), Mystic was a shipbuilding town — there’s a rich history here to enjoy along with a sunset sail and walks along the river. Where To Eat The Engine Room This rustic, romantic spot was the perfect place to celebrate my wedding anniversary. I’m not usually especially jazzed about tofu, but my Smoked Tofu Salad (quinoa, spinach, mint, roasted carrots, toasted peanuts & ginger apricot dressing) was one of the best salads I’ve had in a long time. My husband Seth opted for the Crispy Tofu Burger, and there’s also a Portobello Burger on the menu. Definitely start with the Black-Eyed Pea Hummus, served with crispy sesame flatbread. The Oyster Club Sister restaurant of The Engine Room, a little more upscale and intimate. When we made our reservation, we gave them a heads up the vegans were coming, though there is a salad and entree that are already do-able. When we arrived, however, the chef wanted to surprise us a bit. So, in lieu of the salad on the menu as a starter, we were served fresh blueberries and basil drizzled with olive oil, and then an equally simple but bursting-with-flavor tomato salad. The entree — available on the regular menu — was a delicious mild tofu curry. If you’re up for a cocktail, I recommend a classic martini made with...
Vegan in Boston

Vegan in Boston

On a recent long weekend to Beantown, I had a chance to check out some local spots. So, whether you’re walking the Freedom Trail, heading to the ball park, or just looking for a romantic getaway, here are a few of my favorites. Veggie Galaxy Even if you don’t have a family member named after a famous astronomer as we do, this vegetarian diner/vegan bakery in Cambridge is a great place for brunch or lunch. Inside, the retro diner — complete with booths and tall glass pie case — was bustling with activity; with Galileo, we were able to enjoy patio dining and some people-watching on Massachusetts Ave. Not all the menu items are vegan, but VG is happy to substitute eggs with tofu and cheese with Daiya or its own homemade vegan cheese. Though the Benedict and Stuffed French Toast were tempting, my husband Seth and I went with lunch options. The Reuben came with copious slices of shaved corned “beef” seitan, homemade kraut, and vegan Thousand Island (we ordered it on rye, naturally!) and The Club was a delicious veganized version of what anyone from New Jersey knows is a “#2” on any diner menu in the state — the turkey club.  Here, you’ll get the triple decker with homemade tempeh bacon and smoked tofu, with balsamic tomatoes and red onion providing the perfect finishing touches. When in Rome… save room for a slice of Boston Cream Pie. Or at least, take it to go. Galileo savored his sample (the non-chocolate part of cake and custard) of this veganized version of the local dessert fave. True Bistro For an upscale dining experience, you’ll...
Best Bites of the Big Apple

Best Bites of the Big Apple

Over the past six years, I’ve had such fun exploring, sampling, and sharing with you all the amazing cruelty-free alternatives I’ve discovered. What better way to wrap things up — my 283rd and final piece! — than with an updated list of my faves here in my home of the Big Apple. As many of you know, I returned to the city a little over a year ago after spending the last nine years in Tucson. It’s been a remarkable homecoming in so many ways, not the least of which is having so many fantastic vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants just a quick walk or subway ride away. Though lengthy, this list is by no means exhaustive of all the delectables available in NYC; and I don’t venture much into the outer boroughs, so I encourage you to explore options in these areas on your own. I’ll start with my absolute favorites, but I’m also including a long list of other possibilities, all places I visit and recommend. Places marked with an asterisk * are expressly vegetarian or vegan. My New York City Faves Dinner Blossom on Columbus (Upper West Side)* Thank goodness, our favorite neighborhood place reopened in its new UWS location last month. Since moving back to New York, my husband Seth and I have made this Blossom “our place” to celebrate the personal family moments: closing on the co-op, finishing the bar exam, etc. Alas, the spinach salad is no longer on the menu, but there’s a nice arugala dish; I also love the Southern Seitan Sandwich, which I usually have for dinner rather than one of...
Visiting Newport, Rhode Island

Visiting Newport, Rhode Island

For our August family getaway, this year we headed to Newport, a place equally rich in history and brilliant sunsets. In Newport — like many other New England vacation destinations — it can be challenging to find vegan-friendly spots in the midst of a sea(food)-focused culture, but I found some terrific options to share with you. Where to Eat Lucia Ristorante Italian restaurants are usually pretty easy on vegans  — even if there’s not a whole lot on the menu that is vegan, the kitchen can usually tweak some pasta dishes. We chose this local Italian place because it has a separate vegetarian menu, which made things even easier. I’m particularly discerning about Italian food, having grown up surrounded by some of the best; I was very happy about the food here, as were our non-vegan companions.  And as tempting as the Pasta Arrabbiata on the vegetarian menu sounded, Seth and I each ordered one of the two seitan dishes on the menu. Both delicioso! A lively restaurant, Lucia is also is a good choice for larger parties or families with children.  Perro Salado What a fantastic Mexican-inspired restaurant, and surprisingly inexpensive. For just $10, a couple of Vegetable Tacos that taste like everything was just picked from the garden; I topped mine with some green salsa. For starters, skip the usual chips and order the Avocado Fries (avocado wedges, breaded and fried), which we had with the homemade red salsa in place of the chipotle mayo usually served with it. On vacation, we can allow for some guilt-free indulgences, right? The Lawn at Castle Hill Inn For a...
Back to NY, by way of Baltimore

Back to NY, by way of Baltimore

These past two weeks, I’ve been sharing about our family’s recent trip to North Carolina’s Outerbanks. In the last piece, I wrote about our road trip getting there, specifically a delightful overnight stay in Delaware. In today’s installment, we’re heading back to the city… Where To Stay Hotel Monaco – This boutique hotel is located right in the heart of Baltimore’s historic district, and it could not be a more pet-friendly place! Harkening back to the old grandeur of the city, the hotel features practically cavernous common spaces combined with a retro interior (thick tapestries and carpets of intricate geometric patterns and designs). Our room was equally grand with a beautiful modern bath, and it also had its share of welcoming materials for the pups. Bowls of food and water were waiting for Galileo and Otis when we arrived, along with a goody bag of a few biscuits, a poop bag, and information for pup parents about nearby locations for dog walks. Right around the corner, there is a large grassy area in a park center, and only a couple of blocks down the road is a gated dog park (though dogs are required to remain on leash). The best walk, however, is just minutes away: a five-minute walk takes you to the city’s waterfront and Harborplace. Plenty of grassy areas, and the pier along the water is the perfect setting for a family walk. On a mild summer Saturday evening, Harborplace  was a hub of activity — people of all ages strolling along, others enjoying some outdoor dining, and a few street performers entertaining the crowd — but...
NYC to OBX: Delaware Delights

NYC to OBX: Delaware Delights

Last week, I wrote about our recent vacation to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. As promised, today I’m sharing with you some delightful discoveries on our road trip south from New York City, during our overnight stay in Rehoboth, Delaware. We chose Rehoboth simply because it was a good half-way stopping point on our route. What a pleasant surprise this little seaside town turned out to be be for us — the pups  included! Not only would I recommend Rehoboth as a a terrific stop for those on the road, but I also would recommend this as a nice weekend getaway. It’s just over three hours from Manhattan, including a scenic ferry ride from New Jersey’s Cape May crossing over into Delaware; and for those of you in the DC/Virginia area, it’s also not too far of a drive. Take note, there’s a lively LGBT community here as well; so while there’s definitely a laid-back seaside vibe, there’s also a lively night life happening around here. Where To Stay The Homestead Inn is one of the most charming pet-friendly Bed & Breakfasts I’ve stayed in — my thanks to BringFido.com for the recommendation. Innkeepers David and Joe are the perfect hosts — Joe came out to greet us right away as we first let Otis and Galileo run around the enclosed grassy backyard area before checking in. The common area is a cozy space of a few tables and, in the midst of all materials for travelers about local businesses and events, there’s an array of stuff for the pups, from treats to beach towels. When we made the reservation, we let...