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New York, New York

November 15, 2009

Hello everybody,

I just got back from a weekend trip to NYC to visit Caitlin! That means: (a) I’m in a pretty good mood right now, and (b) I have lots to blog about! So let me jump right in…

Thursday

For this trip, I rode the overnight bus from Toronto to New York, arriving at around 7:30 am Thursday morning (two hours behind schedule due to engine failures!). Upon arrival, I drowsily made my way from Manhattan to Bushwick to be happily reunited with Caitlin. And then I slept for the rest of the morning.

Caitlin had a busy day on Thursday—the first day of her internship at Anthology Film Archives from noon to six and a night class from six to nine—so I was left on my own for the day. I decided to spend my day in the Upper West Side, hanging around Columbia University, doing some schoolwork, and browsing through the excellent Book Culture yet again. In the early evening, I stopped into the Hungarian Pastry Shop, a wonderful little nearby cafe that serves amazing coffee and lots of tasty pastries (I got a poppy seed cookie!).

Eventually nine o’clock rolled around and went downtown to meet Caitlin outside of her class, where I then surprised her with some surprise food adventures! The first adventure was a trip to Pommes Frites, an awesome awesome awesome (albeit not all that healthy) Belgian french fry shop. I had come there once before when I was visiting NYU last spring, and I knew someday me and Caitlin would have to come back. On this visit we got a big cone of fries with three awesome sauces: Irish Curry, Sweet Chili, and War Sauce (a mix of peanut satay, frites sauce, and raw onion). Check ’em out!

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These fries were, as expected, excellent. I think my favorite sauce was the Sweet Chili, although the Irish Curry was a dead ringer for a Japanese curry sauce and thus also quite good.

The second surprise food adventure was a trip to Stogo—the first time for both of us! This gourmet vegan ice cream shop has been all the rage across the food-blogosphere for months now, and I’ve been dying to experience it myself for ages. After sampling a few of their many varieties, we decided on a little cup for each us, me choosing Coconut Almond Joy (front) and Caitlin getting Coconut Key Lime (back):

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Both were superb! (And don’t worry, we’ll come back to that chocolate off to the side later!)

Of course, french fries and ice cream don’t really make for a complete dinner, so when Caitlin and I got back to her apartment that night we roasted up some carrot fries to eat the rest of our Pommes Frites sauces with and munched on some garlic rainbow bread.

Friday

We both slept in—way in—Friday morning, both of us being quite worn out from busy weeks and Thursday’s feasting. It being a yucky afternoon, we spent the first few hours of it just lazing around and watching some of our TV shows (30 Rock & The Office). As it got to be later in the afternoon, we decided to head out for a late lunch/early dinner at another NYC location I’d been much looking forward to trying out: Sproutcraft Cafe. Unfortunately, despite their website’s claims to the contrary, they were already closed when we got there (at around 5:15). I was very disappointed—and coupled with my empty stomach, I was hangry. We wandered around the Financial District for a while, checking out the sights and keeping our eyes open for any other tasty places, and just as I suggested that we just head home and make dinner ourselves, we passed by a green and orange eatery called Just Salad. It seemed too appropriate to pass up, so we headed inside and tried our luck.

Fortunately, it turned out very good! Just Salad is just that—salads, made to order. We decided to try one of their “chef-designed” salads and to make one of our own. For the former, we choose their Hudson Valley Mix:

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There was a lot in here: spinach, butternut squash, broccoli, apples, feta, beets, pumpkin seeds, croutons, and horseradish chive dressing. One of the cool things about this restaurant is that after they put all the ingredients of your salad together, they ask you if you want it tossed or chopped. I chose chopped, not really knowing what it meant, and they then chopped the salad into little bits using this specialty chopping blade thing. It’s an interesting way to prepare a salad; I especially appreciated it because it made the salad much easier to eat with a fork (I normally eat my salads exclusively with chopsticks, which is hope everyone should eat salads, too). And the salad itself was very good too; it was an excellent combination of all sorts of good things. (Side note: Part of the reason we chose this Hudson Valley Mix was because it was the only vegetarian salad option they had on their menu. Now as much as I appreciate a restaurant dedicated solely to the wonderfulness of salads, it perplexes me why they can’t embrace their veggie-friendliness to a little greater degree. But I digress…)

Our original salad combination was also a great success:

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This included romaine, baby spinach, mesclun, wheatberries, artichoke hearts, toasted almonds, eggplant, and a shiitake ginger dressing. I definitely liked being able to try out some different things in salad, as my daily salads tend to be more or less the same.

After Just Salad, we headed back to Bushwick for a quiet night of television, crosswords, and Monty Python. And later in the evening, Caitlin fixed up some potato pancakes!

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As I told Caitlin (much to her chagrin), I liked these a latke! They were made by mixing together grated potatoes with mashed potatoes, with some garlic and shallots thrown in there for good measure. We ate ours with nutritional yeast and jam on top.

We also munched on some of these Goya cookies, which were (much to my chagrin) not like digestive biscuits.

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Even still, they were not bad to munch on, or for 75 cents.

Saturday

Saturday was another laid back and relaxed day. Foodwise, we started the day off with some of Caitlin’s leftover kabocha soup:

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Boy, was this tasty! I wish there were more, or that I had some now!

Following that, Caitlin showed me one of her recent great ideas:

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It’s Kashi Go Lean! Crunch served hot, with maple syrup and cinnamon on top! All you do is put some cereal and milk in a bowl and stick it in the microwave until warm. It’s really good and really simple!

Finally, Saturday afternoon we also tried the chocolate we bought at Stogo on Thursday:

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Gena recently blogged (glowingly) about Fine & Raw Chocolate, and seeing it at Stogo I thought I might as well pick it up and try it for myself. One of the nice things about Fine & Raw is that they’re local, organic, and fair trade, which are always much appreciated. But their chocolate is also good, too! I first I wasn’t too impressed, but I ate through more of the bar I began to like it more and more. However, I do have to admit that this chocolate is expensive, and ultimately I think a little too expensive. There are other organic and fair trade chocolates out there that also taste good but won’t burn such a big hole in your wallet.

Saturday night I boarded the bus back to Toronto and arrived Sunday morning (for the first time in my experience) ahead of schedule (albeit only by fifteen minutes). Unfortunately, our punctuality did me no good, as Toronto subways don’t run at five in the morning on Sundays (or, as I later discovered, on weekdays). Thankfully, it was surprisingly temperate for an early mid-November morning in T.O., and I ended up just walking back. Next time, I’ll be sure to figure out the bus and streetcar system ahead of time, or just take a cab.

One interesting thing I saw on my walk, though: there was a hot dog & sausage stand already open and with two patrons standing in front of it—at 5:30 in the morning. I still can’t understand this, so I’ll leave it to you to mull over.

Until we eat again,

Willie

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