Happy New Year!

2 Jan

New Year’s Eve is overrated, especially when you live in New York City. These are some of your traditional options: go to Times Square and watch the ball drop after hours of being penned in with tourists and unable to drink/eat/go to the bathroom/move; pay $100 or more to go to an all you can eat/drink party where you end up spending most of your night waiting on long lines to get your “free” drinks; go to parties of friends aka travel from borough to borough on the subway all night - you aren’t getting a cab and the traffic is terrible anyway; and of course, you could always stay home and fall asleep on the couch before midnight. After years of trying to force myself to enjoy a traditional NYC NYE, I’ve come up with a tradition that I actually look forward to.

The night began at Don’s Bogam for Korean BBQ. I had a glass of bubbly at the bar while we waited for the rest of our party to arrive.

sparkling

Who says vegetarians can’t enjoy Korean BBQ?  We had the Beosot-Modum-Gui  (mushroom platter in special sauce. shitaki, enoki, king oyster, button, oyster mushroom). We also split an order of Bibimbap (Assorted vegetables & fried egg with rice and spicy sauce).

mushrooms

One of my favorite things about NYC is the whole private room karaoke scene.  For about $8/hr per person, give or take a few dollars depending on where you go, you and your friends can lock yourselves in a room and belt out all of your guilty pleasures. Here are some of my favorite spots:  Sing Sing Duet 48Karaoke one 7 , and  5Bar Karaoke .

We stayed locked in the safety of our private karaoke room until well after midnight and then we headed to a random nearby bar. Bars are less crowded at 2:00 am on January 1st and you get to witness so many delightful scenes on the street. This year we saw a girl sitting on the curb in her party dress puking on her iPhone, a guy holding his hand to his freshly blackened eye, and a well-dressed man sleeping in a doorway. Oh, New York City.

And no New Year’s Eve celebration would be complete without fourth meal at a diner at 3:00am. My go to is either the cheese fries or zucchini sticks (sometimes both) at Mike’s Diner in Astoria. We always order our food and then spend the time waiting for it trying not to fall asleep at the table before it arrives. After delivering our meals, our waitress quipped “enjoy the rest of your morning”.

zsticks

We generally sleep till noon and then it’s time to eat again. Igloo is our favorite spot for a late breakfast. I love the blueberry pancakes, goat cheese and portobello mushroom omelette, the hash brown patties, and the smoothies.

East Village Eats

24 Dec

Tuck Shop is an Australian pie shop. My husband loves pies, so I took him here for lunch on his birthday. (This was after breakfast at Shopsin’s and before dinner at Trattoria L’incontro, in case you thought I was being a cheapo.) We had a veggie chili pie, which was one of the specials that day and a mac and cheese pie off their regular menu. We split them for a very satisfying and inexpensive lunch.

tuck 1

tuck 2

tuckshop

Crif dogs  is great because you can get any hot dog on their menu prepared with a veggie hot dog. We had the sour cheese dog (thinly sliced half sour pickles and melted cheese) Admittedly, it’s not the healthiest of all veggie hot dogs – note how the “cheese” doth glisten – but it was very tasty. Tater tots are a must.

crif dogs

Sometimes, you just want a plate full of vegetables. Westville has the best market plate in the city and it changes daily. On this particular occasion, I had kale with garlic, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, and fried plantains with cotija cheese. No matter where I go, if there are plantains on the menu, I will order them. Yum.

westville

Red Bamboo

19 Dec

Red Bamboo is a cozy little vegan eatery in the West Village. It’s the perfect place to satisfy your junk food cravings. We love the “barbeque buffalo wings” (Our famous soy buffalo wings marinated in our spiced citrus barbecue sauce.  Served with our vegan sesame garlic dressing and celery sticks). I have to have these every time I go there.

redbamboo 2

I never had a pulled pork sandwich back when I was a meat eater, but I tried the Red Bamboo version (Shredded smoked BBQ vegan pork atop caramelized onions and sliced pickles served on a toasted sesame bun with your choice of fries or coleslaw) and loved it!

red bamboo

My husband enjoyed the BBQ Ribs (Grilled soy ribs served with a side of steamed carrots, broccoli, snowpeas, sweet corn mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy).

red bamboo3

NYC Pizza

16 Dec

I heart NYC pizza! There are too many amazing pizza places to try in NYC, s0 here are just a few that I’ve enjoyed.

We went to the famous John’s of Bleecker Street in the West Village for a classic New York pie. We had fresh tomato, mozzarella, ricotta, and basil. Mmmm.

John's

We tried Pizza Roma when we were missing Italy. We sat in the back garden area and sipped house wine while we waited for our meals. I had the Pizza with Potato and Cheese! First time that I had potato on my pizza since I was in Rome. My husband had his favorite – mushrooms and cheese.

Roma

Alba’s Pizza is our go to neighborhood spot in Astoria for a doughy slice of comfort. We recently tried the Penne Vodka Pie. I always made fun of pizza with pasta for a topping. Well, that’s just gluttonous, I thought, it doesn’t even look that good. And then one day, I went out on a limb and tried a slice from Alba’s. So good. Deliciously creamy. Not for amateurs.

Albas

Rubirosa is the coziest litle pizza place in Little Italy. If you want the taste of vodka sauce but don’t want to be a jerk about it (see above), then this is the pie for you. Vodka sauce with blobs of fresh mozzarella on a thin crust. Perfection.

photo

Weekend Brunch at Queens Comfort

4 Nov

I love Queens Comfort. It’s one of my favorite Astoria brunch spots. It’s small and popular, so be prepared to wait. You won’t be disappointed!They don’t have a liquor license, so we brought our own California Champagne and drank it out of jars because it’s classy.

We started with sweet potato tots and maple mustard. They were light and sweet and delicious.

My husband always gets the Breakfast Burrito ( Eggs, Esposito Breakfast Sausage, Tots, Cheddar, Scallions, Spicy Mayo) without sausage, of course.

I also love the Breakfast Burrito and the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich (Hot Pepper Jelly, Slaw, Martins Bun, Fries), but today I tried the new Fried BBQ Tofu Sandwich (Siu Haau Sauce, Crunchy Asian Slaw). It’s officially my new favorite thing on their menu.

Denver in a day

28 Sep

I went to visit my friend in Denver a couple of weeks ago for about 24 hours. It was supposed to be a longer weekend, but I accidentally booked a red eye for Sunday morning instead of Monday morning. Oops. That’s what happens when I get impulsive! Anyway, she brought me to some great vegetarian restaurants in my short stay.

First stop was a yummy brunch at Watercourse foods . We started with mimosas while we perused the menu. There were so many good options – it was hard to make a decision!  I had the Amsterdam Hash (Grilled vegetables and homefries scrambled with eggs or tofu and topped with gravy) with sweet potato homefries and the cage-free (yay!) eggs. I also had a biscuit on the side because as a vegetarian, I never get to eat biscuits and gravy! It was comfort food heaven. My friend had the breakfast burrito (Two eggs or tofu with homefries, peppers, zucchini, pico de gallo and asadero wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with a choice of beans, chorizo or both. Smothered in green chili or gravy)

After brunch, we headed over to Broadway to do some shopping (and day drinking) and eventually ended up at Sweet Action Ice Cream. We sampled a few different flavors like corn and thai ice cream before settling on salted butterscotch and roasted green chile. It was perfectly creamy and delicious, so I wasn’t at all surprised by the huge line that formed behind us.

We finished the day with a late dinner at City, O City. Another hard decision, but I finally chose the BBQ sandwich (Dry rubbed tofu, bourbon BBQ sauce with slaw and house pickles on a kaiser). So good and smothered in sauce, so make sure to ask for extra napkins. My friend had the  grilled shishito peppers (you can get them grilled or tempura battered, with garlic, sesame dressing and sweet soy). She said they were the perfect snack and I think she kinda wanted to eat the paper they came on because the sauce was just that tasty.

I heart Astoria

14 Sep

I moved to NYC almost 10 years ago and have lived in Astoria the entire time. I love it. I often get asked “haven’t you ever wanted to live in the city?” I do live in the city. Astoria is in Queens, which is one of the five boroughs of NYC. Bloomingdales is only 15 minutes away via subway and I walk off the train and into the store. I don’t even need to go outside. It’s like we have our own special entrance. But seriously, besides the convenient commute to Bloomingdales (and Manhattan), the cheaper rent for a much larger apartment, and the overall charm of the neighborhood, the food is a big reason to stay in Astoria.

One of our favorite spots is Michael Angelo’s. I guess a lot of people order take out and grab slices here because it’s never crowded. My favorite thing to do is sit on the back patio, order a salad and a glass of wine and this delicious thin crust marscapone and gorgonzola pie with mushrooms.

Il Bambino is a new obsession. Fabulous crostini and panini and my husband is a big fan of their Crabbie’s Ginger Beer. The last time we went, we split two paninis: Artichoke (chickpea butter, piquillo peppers, rosemary aioli, goat cheese) and Roast Mushroom (caramelized onions, dirty chips, truffle spread, fontina). These are probably not the best options if you are on a diet, but who cares? These calories were more than worth it.  Did I mention that we like to sit on their back patio? I feel like every post is about me eating outside.

The Sparrow Tavern looks like a dive bar from the outside and it’s across from the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, so I never paid much attention to it until a co-worker told me I should try it and that it had been featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. So glad I listened to her. I’ve loved everything I’ve tried here. The first time we went,  I had the Grilled Cheese sandwich (fontina, manouri, truffle oil, radicchio, and herbs). Perfect. When we went home, we watched the clip from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and decided we had to go back the next day to try the famous veggie burger. We were not disappointed. I love the fries – all garlic and herby and the honey mustard dipping sauce.

We’ve been coming to Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden since we first moved to Astoria. It’s a huge outdoor space lined with big trees and picnic tables and their menu has a lot of veggie friendly options to choose from. We love the Fried Muenster with french fries:

and the potato pierogies with red cabbage.  Sour cream on the side always as my husband hates it and I love it!

De Mole is the best Mexican restaurant I’ve found in Astoria. The only thing missing? They don’t have margaritas on the menu or any booze for that matter. It’s ok though. The food more than makes up for it. We had guacamole and chips and I had two tacos: Huitlacoche (corn mushroom) and Flor De Calabaza (squash blossom)

Dick Martin

Author. Teacher. Farmer.

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