Words do not begin to express my joy at being back. To me, the best part of any trip, anywhere, is coming back to my life NYC. Travel’s nice and all, but no adventure beats the adventure of living and working in the Big Apple. Period.
So where was I? Last time we talked, I think I was just recapping my fabulous dinner at Escopazzo . Well, that dinner was not my last at the restaurant, but lots of fun transpired in between. I spent my mornings in Hollywood running along the famous boardwalk:
And spent my afternoons doing this:
I may be married to the streets of Manhattan till death do us part, but I’ve got an inner sun worshipper, and she loves to be indulged.
What was I eating at the beach, you ask? Great question! Most of my mornings began with sprouted bread and raw hemp or almond butter; vegan overnight oats and blueberry-banana smoothies also made appearances. Packing for the beach was a bit trickier; as I mentioned in my last post, eating on the go as a vegan who likes raw food isn’t always a cinch; fresh veggies don’t enjoy spending hours in backpacks and beach bags under the sweltering sun. For that reason, I made it my first order of business on Friday to arm myself with some transportable greens. Enter Averie’skale chips !
This was my first kale chip experience! I’ve wanted to make them for ages, and promising Mike’s Mom a quick and easy dehydrator tutorial afforded me a good excuse. This was a simple a process as can be. I began with a big bunch of curly kale:
…and I followed Averie’s “coating” recipe , which was inspired by a Matthew Kenney recipe, nearly to a T. I substituted cherry tomatoes for bell peppers, since that’s what I had on hand.
It’s a cashew, nooch, date, salt, lemon, tomato blend that looks something like this:
Making the chips simply involves smothering the raw kale with the divine cashew goo, and mushing it all together (not unlike making massaged kale salad, though messier). Smothered kale went onto a dehydrator tray and was put into the machine at 105 for 7 hours (overnight). They emerged looking and tasting divine!
Mike’s Mom and I agreed that the recipe was perfection. Thanks, Averie , for the inspiration!
My beach lunches, then, consisted of varying combinations of the following:
Tons of bagged carrots, celery, and cucumber slices, kept as close to the bottom of our backpack as possible for coolness
Celery sticks with individual servings of raw nut butter
Homemade raw trail mix
Raw brazil nuts
Lots of water
I would have loved some avocados to transport, but alas, we didn’t have any on hand.
The beach was dreamy, but the real highlight of Friday was a blogger meetup I’d been eagerly anticipating for weeks: dinner at Sublime with Melissa !
I’ve been reading Melissa’s blog for a long time, and I can’t think of many bloggers who are more honest, thoughtful, and fun than she. It’s been especially special to watch her write more openly about her eating disorder recovery in recent months; for those of you who visit her blog, check out the “ side notes ” tab for her more contemplative posts on the recovery process. It’s no easy task to bare one’s soul in discussing emotional struggles of any kind, and Melissa does it with courage and a genuine desire to help others who suffer. I applaud her, and I’m lucky to have met the woman behind the words!
Sublime is one of South Florida’s most well known vegan dining destinations. With its accessible menu and lavish decor, it’s a fun experience that seems to appeal to both vegans and omnis (Melissa and I had a hunch that the place was packed with at least 50% omnivores).
Check out that indoor waterfall action!
It features a seriously extensive and fancy menu:
With dishes that are both creative and familiar. There’s a whole list of sushi rolls and vegan pizzas, as well as filling entrees and sides:
No wonder it took us ages to decide on what we wanted! As we deliberated and chatted, we were charmed by the antics of our theatrical waiter, who nicknamed me “the seductress.”
Not sure why.
He also treated us to a magnificent amuse-bouche: basil polenta squares.
If these were meant to set the tone of the meal, well then, they were a success. Melissa and I were swooning over how good they were! Can you tell my tastebuds are dancing?
When we finally got around to ordering, Melissa and I were proud of ourselves for sampling a fairly broad range of menu items! We began with the “frito misto,” which were crispy cauliflower in a sweet chili sauce:
These were really tasty, but not totally for me. They were on the fried side (I guess they put the frito in frito misto), and also a little reminiscent of sweet and sour chicken, a childhood takeout dish I do not recall with fondness. The dish was also pretty huge, and we were both eager to save our appetites, so we didn’t have too much. With all of that said, I think the fact that the cauliflower did taste so much like traditional Chinese-American staple cuisine probably works in its favor when appealing to mainstream eaters, and any dish that helps people to warm up to veganism gets two big thumbs up from me!
We also got grilled asparagus, which were smoky and delicious, but still crisp. Perfect!
Next up, the main courses. I was craving vegan sushi, so I ordered two rolls. The first was the “dynamite roll,” made with Veganaise, asparagus, capers, and cucumber. The restaurant graciously made it without onion for me!
The verdict? Yummy. The veganaise was kept to a bare minimum (which was good for me, since I’m not a huge fan), and I loved the clean flavors. My second roll was even better! This was the quinoa roll, which was quinoa, carrots, and cucumber. Melissa (consummate sushi chef that she is), noted how remarkable it was that they managed to get quinoa to hold together in a roll, since it’s not very sticky. I agreed, and vowed that I’d soon learn how to make this happen in my kitchen:
My final entree component was the wonderful chopped salad: tomatoes, romaine, cukes, peppers, olives, and chickpeas, dressed with olive oil and lemon:
We both adored this! The only issue was that the salad first arrived swimming in dressing. I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to dressing: I like it a lot, and actually find it sort of annoying when people act as though oil is going to bite. But there are limits, and drippy greens are my upward limit. Thankfully, the restaurant didn’t mind sending out a lightly dressed second portion, and in split timing, too. Thank you, Sublime !
For her part, Melissa went for the “margherita classico” pizza, made with fresh tomato sauce and vegan ‘rella. I tried it and thought it was great–especially the handmade whole wheat crust!
This was perfect timing, since Melissa had a long run planned for the next morning, and she tends to choose pizza as a pre-race meal.
In all, it was an awesome dinner. I’d probably have tweaked a few little things: for example, using brown rice in the dynamite roll instead of white. But I love that Sublime offers eaters of all varieties an experience that feels tasty, welcoming, and desirable–not to mention service and decor that’s truly special.
And I especially loved the company. Melissa is a gem — so sweet, smart, and genuine — and I hope I get to have her in town for an NYC dinner soon. Here are our end-of-meal outtakes!
With flash (ew, but at least our features are visible):
Thanks, Melissa, for driving all the way to Ft. Lauderdale to share this lovely meal with me!
The weekend ambled on, punctuated with sun, with lavishing attention on Mike’s dog, and with long walks around the marina. On Saturday night, Mike and I drove into South Beach for a movie, and we decided to make a second stop at Escopazzo . Once was not enough, especially since I was dying to try the lasagna that Mike’s Mom had ordered on my first trip there! I started with a baby arugula, red kale, and sprout salad:
And helped myself to the spectacular cashew, zucchini, and tomato lasagna, which was adorned with shitake mushrooms this time, too!
It was wonderful.
On Sunday morning, I woke up early to jog down to Josh’s farmer’s market on the Hollywood boardwalk, which numerous readers and Tweet pals had recommended. I knew it would be sad to visit without being able to purchase any wonderful local produce–I was, after all, about to fly home–but I wanted to at least witness and support the farmer’s market in writing.
It was every bit as wonderful as I’d been led to believe! Gorgeous local fruits and avocados:
Greens as far as the eye could see:
As well as a truly awesome selection of raw nuts and dried fruit, all at reasonable prices! I helped myself to some almonds, dried apples, and dried pineapples to snack on before my flight later that day:
I also scoped out the juice bar. I wanted a juice like no other, but they were priced on the steep side: all $8.00 and $9.00! I totally respect that they’re organic and local, but this was above my travel budget, so I sadly moved along.
As I made my way home, I tried to erase the smell of fresh durian from my nose (durian smoothies had been on the menu). It’s a fruit I have an especially hard time getting friendly with. Probably because it smells like onion to me. (Shudders at her desk).
In the afternoon, Mike and I made our way back to South Beach for some last hours in the sun. We decided to have lunch outside on the fabulous see-and-be-seen Lincoln Road (which Melissa had recommended, too). We settled on a fun, Turkish-inspired healthy fast food joint called Pasha , which has several Florida locations. It had an awesome menu!
…featuring salads, falafel, hummus, kebabs, and smoothies. I decided to get a large salad with a grilled veggie kebab deconstructed on top:
And a big side of hummus, which I dumped onto the salad along with lots of fresh lemon!
In spite of the fact that my Yaya would berate me for dining in a Turkish restaurant (old rivalries die hard along the Mediterranean shores), the grilled veggies, lemon, and spread, coupled with my tan, made me feel quite Greek. Opa!
A few hours of sun and some street-side veggie juice later, I was on my way to the airport. Edge-of-my-seat enthusiasm for returning to New York waned over the course of a long and exhausting trip home. Apparently there were lightening storms between VA and NY, and we ended up circling Norfolk for two hours before landing to re-fuel, waiting on the tarmac for an hour in sweltering heat, and taking off again. By the time I reached Newark (instead of LaGuardia), it was 3 AM. I waited in line for a $71.00 taxi back to Manhattan in the chilly rain, and fought the urge to rip the cigarettes out of the hand of the woman in front of me (don’t worry, everyone, I resisted).
But today, I woke up in my cozy bed, windows open, horns honking, and garbage trucks ambling along the avenue. New York: it’s music to my ears.
Thanks to everyone who sent supportive tweets last night in the midst of my travel woes, and to you all for following my Chicago and Florida adventures this week. Thanks also to those of you who noticed, via Twitter, that this post went up a few hours ago, was accidentally deleted, and re-posted. Because of your Google readers, I didn’t have to re-write it! Yeesh: between the 3 a.m. landing, the torn jeans (I ripped a hole in my favorite jeans by accident today, and not near a seam, but a blog reader tipped me off to Denim Therapy !) this has been one manic Monday.
I hope to check in this week with a fresh recipe for the first time in two whole weeks, but work may keep me buried. I will do my best! Have a great night, guys.