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...
Faux-Fur Design Competition at Parsons

Faux-Fur Design Competition at Parsons

Several months ago, I was thrilled to attend the Cool vs. Cruel Competition Awards held at the TriBeCa Grand Hotel. The event was the culmination of  the creative efforts of both the Humane Society of the United States and students of the Art Institutes. The designs on display (and on models looking gorgeous as they mingled with the rest of us) were all so fantastic — proof that, even when there is a resurgence of fur on the runways,  it is possible to be fur-free and cutting edge at the same time. I especially love the HSUS Fur-Free Campaign for its work with fashion students; these budding designers are the future trendsetters of the fashion world. Giving them this kind of incentive early on, and helping them become more mindful in their design process of the potential impact on animals, is simply AWESOME! Since 2009, The HSUS has been presenting at the prestigious design school to educate students about the problems associated with animal fur. Now, more exciting news in the realm of cruelty-free fashion: The Humane Society of the United States and Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Furs have launched a faux-fur design competition at Parsons The New School for Design. Parsons alumni include Donna Karen, Marc Jacobs, Jason Wu, Tom Ford, Isaac Mizrahi, Anna Sui, Mark Badgley and James Mischka. So the winner of this competition will be in good company. The contest challenges students to create faux fur designs within the categories of women’s wear, menswear, children’s wear, or accessories, to be developed for inclusion in their senior thesis or other major studio project. Later this year, six finalists will be selected by a panel...
Dog Days of Summer in the Hamptons

Dog Days of Summer in the Hamptons

Our companion animals Otis and Galileo deserve a respite from the city as much as we do. Lucky for us, c/o The Maidstone in East Hampton offers the perfect family getaway for all of us. This boutique hotel’s rooms are named after various Swedish authors and artists, and come with a nice supply of bath and body products by Malin + Goetz.  The Maidstone makes every aspect of one’s stay relaxing and dog-friendly, including suggestions about where to enjoy some beach time with the pups or places to explore in East Hampton and the neighboring towns with them. Late afternoons, it’s time for “Yappy Hour” in the cozy lounge or on the patio; sip one of Leandro’s amazing Strawberry Mojitos while the pups enjoy something off the Woof Menu. And, in the evening, the four-legged guests are invited to dine along with you in The Living Room Restaurant. The Living Room embraces the slow-food philosophy and is vegan-friendly, with plenty of fresh, local produce at work in the kitchen. For dinner there on our most recent visit, we started with the amazing Living Room Salad (love the pine nuts and shaved zucchini!) and then each had the roasted root vegetables entree. Beach time! In the mornings and early evenings, we enjoyed long family walks on Main Beach, just three minutes from the hotel. (During summer season, dogs are allowed on the beach before 9am and after 6pm.) Other great spots for some beach time with the pups: the area surrounding Montauk Lighthouse, undeveloped coastline with pretty views into the horizon, and Maidstone Park Beach, secluded and serene. The Faves...
Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen

Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen

It was a special treat to visit Farm Sanctuary and participate in the annual Hoe Down weekend. Farm Sanctuary has been doing amazing work on behalf of farm animals for more than 25 years — rescuing animals who often have been left to die in stockyards, working to educate the public and promote the plant-based diet, and contributing to legal efforts on farm animals’ behalf. The hoe down is a celebration that brings advocates together to discuss what’s happening, celebrate recent milestones in animal rescue and protection, and spend time with the animals that call the sanctuary their home. What Came Before In addition to all the wonderful activities of the weekend, my husband Seth was honored with this year’s “Friend of Farm Animals” award for his work as producer of the short film What Came Before. The number of viewers is now in the millions, and the film is currently being translated into several languages. Over and over, we’re hearing from people that say this film was what made them decide to go vegan. WOW. While visiting the sanctuary this weekend, we were able to meet two of the three animals featured in the film — Fanny the dairy cow and Nikki the pig (and three of Nikki’s piglets!). If you haven’t watched the film yet, I encourage you to do so and please share: the stories of these three animals are so extraordinary, and they’re also a reminder that each animal has a story all her own. Turkey Time! Which brings me to to the highlight of all the highlights of the weekend: meeting Victoria, my little...
Vegan Mac n Cheese at S’MAC

Vegan Mac n Cheese at S’MAC

When S’Mac first opened its doors in New York’s East Village, I was among its fans. With a variety of cheeses and “mixins” to choose from, you could have a hand in your own comfort food creation, served up in a personal skillet straight out of the oven. Alas, S’Mac fell off my radar when I went from vegetarian to vegan. Until. A little over a week ago, a Facebook friend of a friend shared a picture from S’Mac. Oh — if only! I thought. So I posted a message to S’Mac’s Facebook page: “I would LOVE it if you would offer a vegan option… pretty please?” How elated was I when I received an almost immediate response with a link to S’Mac’s vegan section of the menu. YES! So here’s the deal: once you choose your skillet size, you’ll decide whether to fill it with traditional elbow macaroni, multi-grain, or gluten-free. Then you’ll select up to three ingredients from S’Mac’s vegetable and herb lists. I went with shitake mushrooms, broccoli, and roasted garlic; my husband Seth added jalapenos to his mix. Maybe your creation will include fresh rosemary or basil, or spinach with garlic. Once you place your order, the S’Mac crew works their magic. The velvety vegan cheese melts to perfection. And a fine layer of bread crumbs tops off all that smooth deliciousness with a delicate crust. Just feast your eyes on my dinner from last night: S’Mac Locations 345 E. 12th St. (between First & Second Ave.) 157 E. 33rd St. (between Lexington and Third Ave.) Kiosk at the corner of First Ave. and...
Favorite Eats on NYC’s Upper East Side

Favorite Eats on NYC’s Upper East Side

Last week was spring break, which meant  a week back home in the city! This visit, my husband Seth and I were extra busy co-op shopping; but we still managed to get our fix of museums, theater, music, and — of course — some great meals. I never have time to visit all my favorites in a single trip, but this time around we made it to a couple of my faves on the Upper East Side. Monday night was Candle Cafe (which came before its nearby sister restaurant and also a favorite, Candle 79); on Wednesday night, we had dinner at V-Note Organic Wine Bar & Bistro, a member of the Blossom family (Cafe Blossom on the UWS, Blossom in Chelsea, etc.).   Candle Cafe, 1307 Third Ave. near 75th St. Candle 79, 154 E. 79th at Lexington V-Note, 1522 First Ave. near 80th St. Bonus Tip! For the simple pleasure of a soft-serve ice cream cone, check out The Soft Serve Fruit Co. (formerly Simply Peeled). Vegan, gluten-free, fat free and low cal — definitely hits the sweet spot! Located at 1371 Third Avenue, between 78th and 79th...