New York City Pt. I

I was planning on posting about our vacation much sooner, but I was busy on the hunt for a job after graduating. I’m happy to say that I’ve found one, and in the food writing industry no less! I’ll be MyRecipes.com’s recipe editor and officially start in two weeks. On top of that Peter and I will be moving soon, so there’s a lot of exciting change happening in our household!

Back to our December vacation though:

It was a challenge to find someplace reasonably priced (and not 100% sketchy) in New York City, but we finally settled for the Harlem YMCA. Our room was a pristinely clean private bunk bed with very nice bathrooms, a simple kitchen with a fridge and microwave, and it was just one block from the subway.

A plus was the good view of Harlem!DSCF0376We arrived to the city ridiculously early at the crack of dawn and decided that we would skip the subway and walk the still peaceful streets to Central Park. DSCF0317DSCF0319We arrived at the park and spent the next hour wandering around and dodging early morning runners and cyclists. DSCF0329DSCF0327DSCF0325DSCF0335DSCF0331DSCF0333To avoid a hangry meltdown from us both after walking several miles with no food, we ate breakfast. We found a small, unmarked food truck (we’re still not sure it was legal) that was whipping out sandwiches. Peter got an egg and cheese and I got a PB&J on a plain bagel. Both sandwiches were toasted on the griddle and delightfully warm after being in the cold wind for a while.

Ready to give our feet a rest, we jumped on the subway and headed to The New York Public Library.DSCF0345DSCF0347The architecture was everything we hoped for and we spent half the time with heads craned back and mouths open. Sadly, the reading room, which is one of the main attractions for visitors of the library, was closed for ceiling restoration. We’ll just have to add it to our “see it next time” list!DSCF0352The kid’s room had a rad lego version of the lions on the front steps.DSCF0359Our next stop was the Morgan Library and Museum. While the picture below is of the original building owned by J.P. Morgan, the actual museum now spans through several buildings with various exhibits and galleries. DSCF0370The sheer amount of ornamentation was astounding and down to the most minute parts of the building were embellished. DSCF0364The most stunning part, hands down, was the library. All I could think was “This is my dream!” as we saw the thousands of books.DSCF0369They also had several Medieval manuscripts on display that Peter promptly had a freak out over.DSCF0367Lunch was at Franchia, a vegan Korean restaurant. We were both really excited to try Korean because despite being voracious eaters of kimchi at home we’d never eaten anything close to the traditional cuisine. Although both of us ended up getting dishes that had names from other countries in it, so it may not have been as traditional as we intended.

I got the Penang Noodles with Spicy Curry and Coconut Broth. I have a weakness for any type of Asian noodles, so this was right up my alley. Not very spicy, but it was a flavorful creamy broth full of vegetables, chunks of tofu and mock chicken, and delightfully chewy noodles.DSCF0374Peter also took the pasta route and chose the Singapore Curry Angel Hair. It was a good size plate of noodles in a thin curry sauce tossed with vegetables and served with lobster balls. The latter was new to us, and it tasted like a soft seafood-y meatball. It was a great meal and the service was extremely good with very friendly waiters.DSCF0373After our lunch we were fairly tired from all we’d packed into the morning, so we went back to the YMCA for a small power nap to regain some energy.

Feeling fresh and ready to go, we went to the most obnoxious of all American landmarks: Time Square. Despite the overwhelming amount of ads and flashing lights, we had a good time people watching and doing what we do best. Eating.

We got snacks and some hot drinks for our frozen bodies from Nuchas, which was a tiny food truck in the thick of things. DSCF0381I got an almond milk cappuccino and shiitake curry empanada. They both were great and we had a great time laughing at all the insane people in costumes in the square.DSCF0384Our personal favorite was the guy who had a giant pot leaf shirt and was carrying around US and UN flags while screaming “LEGALIZE IT!” He wasn’t even asking for money. Just spreading the word, apparently.DSCF0390Our main entertainment for the night was Matilda the Musical at the Shubert Theatre. DSCF0395I have to start by saying this was my first Broadway show ever. So I may just be not be used to something of this quality, but Matilda the Musical was the best live performance I’ve ever seen. The cast was amazing, the story was equally funny and melancholy, and the props were so good that when Peter and I left we were still trying to figure out how they did a few of the scenes.

Seriously, if you like Matilda the book or the movie, or you’re just wanting to see a good musical while in NYC, please think about this one.DSCF0405Pizza was something we felt like we had to do in New York. So we chose Pizza Suprema for dinner because of the combination of it being voted best slice in town and they had vegan pizza available!DSCF0419Right after I took this photo the place got ridiculously packed to where people were sharing booths with one another. A good sign when you’re someplace with as many pizza options as NYC.DSCF0416Peter got cheese and I got the vegan. The vegan was chock full mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and herbs. It was so juicy and good, it didn’t even need vegan cheese or anything. Peter didn’t even have words for his, he just kept going “Mmmmm” with his mouth full. It definitely lived up to our expectations.DSCF0412Overall a jam-packed first day in NYC and much more fun to come!

East Coast Christmas – Philadelphia Pt. II

Our next day in Philadelphia we hopped up and decided to take a long walk. Along the way we stopped in to see Elfreth’s Alley, which is the nation’s oldest continually inhabited street.DSCF0219DSCF0220The main goal of our walk was to reach Soy Cafe, which I couldn’t resist due to the name. It’s a tiny little cafe with a relaxed attitude and a ton of vegetarian/vegan options.DSCF0222I’m not usually a smoothie fan, but threw caution to the wind and got a Cookie Monster smoothie which had oats and vanilla in it. It was kind of like an oat-y tasting milkshake, which I thoroughly approved of.DSCF0230Peter got the Milli Vanilli (click here if you don’t know the duo this smoothie is named after) which had peach, banana, and vanilla in it.DSCF0229I was intrigued by wasabi hummus on the menu, so I got a hummus, avocado, and tomato sesame bagel! Guys, this was so good. I would have never (and I don’t know why not) thought to put wasabi in hummus, but now I’m definitely recreating this recipe at home. I mostly got the wasabi flavor with almost no heat, and it tasted like a bread-y sushi roll when combined with the avocado.DSCF0236Peter’s love of eggs held strong and he got a portabello mushroom omelette which came with a side salad. He gobbled down the omelette and described it as “Good and creamy, even though it’s soy cheese.” Which what else he expected from someplace with “soy” in the name, I’m not exactly sure.

The side salad was a flop that we left to wilt though, because (while beautifully presented) the ginger dressing was very lacking in flavor and a bit too thick to mix in properly.DSCF0234After brunch we visited the Eastern State Penitentiary, which is a looming remnant of the world’s first penitentiary. We got the audio tour and spent nearly two hours wandering around this behemoth of a building, hearing about both the good and the bad of it. Also Steve Buscemi narrated the tour, so props to Eastern State for the good choice!DSCF0289Even though there were other visitors, for the most part Peter and I had large sections of the building to ourselves. This resulted in some eerily quiet moments.DSCF0259The most moving part of the tour was this art installation “Other Absences” by Cindy Stockton Moore. The artist painted images of victims murdered by those who ended up living in the Penitentiary. DSCF0278The artist also wrote about how she had a very hard time finding photographs of victims who were minorities or lived in poverty, leaving her with no way to paint them or visually honor their memories.DSCF0277On a lighter note, a funny part of the visit was seeing Al Capone’s cell, which was dressed to the nines. The famous gangster, who was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, spent his first ever prison sentence in relative luxury.DSCF0286Just like with the Magic Gardens, I had way too many photos to share. So here are just a few highlights from our visit.

Next, we wanted to see around the Christ Church Burial Ground, which was sadly locked up. I’ve honestly never seen a cemetery that closed during the day or that charged money, so we left confused and disappointed. DSCF0294At least Benjamin Franklin’s grave was close enough to the fence that we could throw a penny onto it (because of his classic  quote “A penny saved is a penny earned”) before leaving.DSCF0290We spent more time just wandering around before heading to Blackbird Pizzeria, which has the reputation of having the best vegan Philly cheesesteak in town. DSCF0305The place was small and the staff a bit curt, but the food here was the best meal we had on this stop of the trip. DSCF0299Although I never ate them in my pre-vegan days, I really love buffalo wings. We decided to order several things off the menu with the plan to take leftovers back to the hostel for a late snack.

I made the mistake of assuming I could take the heat, and I ordered the smoked habanero wings. Now, before I get into the gory details, these were the best wings I’ve ever had. They were fried seitan with a crust that stayed crunchy despite the sauce and had a chewy flavorful inside. The dipping sauce that came with them was cucumber based and really deliciously creamy, but even that couldn’t save our mouths/esophaguses.

The wings weren’t so hot that you couldn’t taste anything (which I always hate) but you could taste the smoky flavor with a heat was so intense that I had a few tears rolling down my face by the finish. In the end (in this meal and when we took part home) we went through four containers of the creamy sauce to survive. I can say I’d happily order these again, but I’ll probably plan ahead and bring a half gallon of soymilk along next time.DSCF0300Peter is always happy with pizza, but when he naively said “Just two slices of the haymaker pizza.” I don’t think he expected them to be this large. The kind he chose came with seitan sausage, garlic butter, onions, and Daiya on top. DSCF0297Eventually, after sharing bites of the wings and pizza, we got around to the reason we came here: the Philly cheesesteak. As a disclaimer, I’ve never had a “real” cheesesteak, but I’m pretty positive this is close to the real-deal.

The seitan was thinly sliced and seared with garlic, rosemary, peppers, and onions. The accompanying cheese whiz was creamy and oozing out the sides of a thick and chewy buttered hoagie roll. So freakin’ good. I could only eat a few bites because of our previous snackings, but Peter ate a whole half. Throughout he kept exclaiming how much better it was than Carmen’s from the day before, which meant that Blackbird’s version must be amazing since he had just been talking about how he wasn’t sure you could find a better vegetarian version in town.DSCF0302

 

Honeymoon – San Diego (the grand finale)

Here we are, the last post about our cross-country trip… Nearly 5 months after we got married. This final semester of school is a real doozie, with more involved homework than any of my previous semesters. But since the honeymoons series is over, I’ve got a whole new theme for posts in the works (I’ll announce what it is next week) and also plan to start back writing Two Dollar Tuesday posts.

And without any further ado, here’s San Diego:

I had a really hard time choosing between ending our trip in San Francisco or San Diego. I’m really happy that we chose San Diego (which was because it didn’t require a train transfer) because it turned out to be Peter’s favorite city!

Having never seen any California city besides LA, I assumed San Diego would also be a sprawling city packed with people and traffic. It turned out to be a relaxed sea-side city full of amazing food and wonderful history.

Just like my Los Angeles portion of the trip, I am missing photographs of meals I know I took photos of. Alas, they are nowhere to be found, so I’ll just be mentioning where we ate with just a description.

We stayed at the budget-friendly Days Inn, which even at a bargain price was right across from the ocean and situated in the center of various museums and restaurants. We were able to easily walk there from the train station.

Right across from the hotel was a nice little park, which featured this deranged art installment. On the first day in town, after throwing our backpacks into the hotel room, we headed out to lunch. Happy Cow said there weren’t any restaurants nearby, so we stuck with Yelp and found Underbelly, an amazing ramen shop.

They had two vegetarian options (which you could also get vegan noodles for). Peter got the vegetable ramen, which had truffle oil, several types of mushrooms, and white asparagus. I went with the crazier sounding charred kimchi ramen, which had kimchi, rainbow carrots (which were divine), and a variety of shishito peppers.

While I loved Ramen Champ, I think this was probably the best bowl of ramen I’ve ever eaten. I love kimchi, and that combined with flavorful and brightly colored carrots and spicy peppers made a combination that was something entirely new for me. They also had a variety of condiments for customers to customize their own heat and saltiness. It was so good that we ended up eating dinner there again the next evening.

Full to the brim with noodles, we headed over the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Peter definitely finds ships more interesting than I do, so I just expected to spend about an hour or so wandering around the museum. Little did I know that this museum woould be extremely interesting and extensive, which is how we ended up spending all afternoon there.

The moment we realized it wasn’t gonna be your average boat museum was when we saw they had an USSR submarine on the guide map.

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The best part was wandering around inside, where you could see how giant their missiles were.11113725_10205854054904314_2096309917352862767_o

And how claustrophobic-feeling the whole place was.
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Peter and I both agreed that the working periscope was the neatest part of the submarine.11169747_10205854055384326_4478064034377368015_oThe second coolest part (trailing close to the sub) was the Star of India.

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The ship has lived a plethora of lives. Starting as a spice trading vessel, moving on to sailing immigrants from Great Britain to New Zealand, shipping logs in Alaska, and then finally ending up here.11350444_10205854053784286_5066209630102428459_nWe were two of the few visitors they had that day, so we had free reign on the deck and below to explore.

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Below deck was equally as beautiful and informative as above. They had charts and drawings explaining the Star of India’s various jobs, different classifications of sailing ships, and even mannequins placed in the tiny cabins to show what room was like for those immigrating.If you’re ever in San Diego, please visit the Maritime Museum. It’s wonderful way to spend the afternoon.We spent the rest of the day lazily exploring the sea side and Little Italy (right behind our hotel). For dinner we didn’t want to walk far, and didn’t mind eating something super casual. So we walked down the block to a little Mexican fast food place, Los Panchitos. They had a veggie burrito that I easily made vegan by removing the cheese and sour cream. It was a super soft giant flour tortilla stuffed full of refried beans, rice, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole. Peter got the same, just without removing the dairy. It was really good and filling for just $5 and the staff was happy to accommodate to menu modifications.

The second day in San Diego we took the Old Town Trolley Tour to see the various major tourist attractions in town. We started by visiting the USS Midway Museum.One could easily spend the entire day exploring the Midway. We spent a solid 2.5 hours and had a great time. Inside we met a WWII veteran and he and Peter discussed the difference in the plane he flew back then versus the newer version.

They also had an awesome (though slightly nauseating) flight simulator where one person controlled the gun and the other flew the plane. Peter was pilot and we were upside down the majority of the time.
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On the upper deck was a huge collection of aircrafts. Some were for viewing (most had a sign telling their use/back story) but others allowed you to go inside and look around. 11026043_10205854060064443_9110357325304986009_o

The upper deck and inside had a large amount of mannequins doing everything from directing landing planes to serving up meals in the kitchen.
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Definitely the most wicked looking aircraft on deck.

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After the Midway we hopped on the Trolley and had a great time being toured through parts of San Diego we never would have gone to otherwise. We got off at Balboa Park and headed for the Museum of Man, which explores one of my favorite topics, anthropology.

The place was surprisingly small, but filled to the brim with folklore about monsters, carved Mayan and Egyptian stones, and more. We had a good time looking through it, and it was a beautiful building inside and out.

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After the MoM we headed to Evolution Fast Food for lunch. Sadly, as soon as we got to the parking lot, we saw it was empty. Two employees were outside and said that a kitchen fire inside was causing them to close for the day. When I asked what places nearby served vegan food, they pointed us to the Sanfilippo’s Italian restaurant next door. Thankfully, the place had Daiya cheese. So despite not having burgers, we got some decently good pizza for lunch.

Our last stop on the Trolley Tour was the Whaley House. The house is infamous for being named the most haunted house in the nation. We couldn’t resist getting a tour from there to end our trip.
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The tour guide (who I never managed to get a non-blurry picture of) was dressed in an 1800’s period-piece dress and did a great job telling the story of the Whaley family, plus she had several logical explanations for ghost stories, but didn’t totally scoff at the idea of a haunting. Sadly, I got no photographic evidence of the paranormal, but a few good shots of just the house itself.

The bottom floor of the house was where the first courthouse in the area was located.

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Very creepy, but common for that time, memorial wreath made of hair.

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Photographs and various items owned by the Whaley family.
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If I remember correctly the kitchen was a re-creation, but full of genuine period-pieces.

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By far the creepiest part of the house because of the doll collection.
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Last but not least, the upstairs had the area’s first theatre, which was taken over (along with all the upstairs bedrooms) by a travelling theatre troupe.

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And that’s it! Our honeymoon was such an amazing and fun time and something we’re going to cherish forever. Also, I want to give a big thanks to our friends and family who gifted us many things we did on our trip through Honeyfund (which is awesome and I recommend to all engaged couples). I’m super excited about getting back to regularly scheduled blogging and I hope you readers are too.

Hummus Pizza

I’ve had pizza, I’ve had hummus, and I’ve even had pizza flavored hummus, but now two worlds will collide in this ridiculously delicious recipe. Really filling, and definitely cheaper than takeout, this is sure to be a hit with the whole family.

Hummus Pizza

Serves 4, 2 slices per serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tablespoon tahini  
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives

Directions:

  1. In a large heat-proof bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and brown sugar. Stir in the warm water until a soft dough forms. Knead for 5 minutes, then cover and let sit in a warm area for 1 hour.
  2. While the dough rises, make the hummus. In a food processor, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil and chickpeas through salt and blend until smooth.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a pizza pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread the dough on it. Bake for 10 minutes. Top the crust with the hummus and remaining ingredients, then broil in the oven for 1-2 minutes, until spinach is wilted and all toppings are heated through.
  4. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Nutrition per serving:
Calories: 473 Fat: 20g Saturated Fat: 2.7g Protein: 14.5g Carbohydrates: 63g Sugars: 7.6g

Atlanta – Pizza and Sword Fights

Last week we celebrated Peter’s 22nd birthday a few days early with a day trip to Atlanta. We were originally headed to Dulce Vegan Cafe, but forgot to account for the time difference between Alabama and Georgia, and sadly arrived right as they were closing. 😦

But all was not lost! When we asked where else was good to eat, they pointed us two doors down to the pizza joint Urban Pie.

Urban Pie, a vegan-friendly Atlanta Pizza Joint - Gallivanting Vegan

DSCN0973We got their garden variety pizza with Daiya. It was great, with a thin crispy crust and loads of veggies. It made the meal even better that the weather was nice enough that we could sit outside.

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After lunch, we wandered around some of the shops in the funkier part of Atlanta.

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This included the highly intriguing Junkman’s Daughter store. My favorite of their window displays was the mutant corn man whose name tag read “Hello, my name is GMO”.

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For that evening’s entertainment, we attended the Medieval Times show. I’m happy to say their vegetarian meal (which you choose when ordering your tickets) is entirely vegan! The arena was dark, so I took a picture of the table setting before the lights dimmed.

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The meal was three courses. The appetizer was tomato soup and hummus with veggies and pita bread. The main course was a stew with brown rice, beans, and a vegetable-rich tomato sauce. Dessert was a cinnamon apple turnover (Peter’s included a birthday candle).

Peter had a great birthday trip to Atlanta and we happily went back home with crowns on our head and bellies full of veggie food.

Pizza Planet (Vegan MoFo #1)

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Happy Vegan MoFo 2014, everyone! I am very excited to kick off my theme for this year, Disney movies. I’ll have a good mix of old and new, plus popular and obscure Disney films to feature yummy dishes from.

To start off, we’ll stick with a 90’s classic, Toy Story. In the original movie, Woody and Buzz Lightyear get stranded in a gas station, but manage to snag a ride to the Pizza Planet restaurant/arcade in search of their owner, Andy. I’ve always loved the idea of this kind of space-themed Chuck E. Cheese, so it inspired me to make pizza from it!

Since most kids seem to drift towards classic cheese pizza, I decided to lay low on the veggies and keep to the theme. I was quite proud of this pizza, due to everything being homemade.

toystorypizzaI used a whole wheat crust (which Peter proclaimed delicious), oil-free pizza sauce, and cashew mozzarella cheese with a sprinkle of fresh basil from my windowsill. The pizza sauce turned out a bit on the sweet side, but everything else was great.

The crust was chewy and used only whole wheat flour, so there was no guilt with making it. I was skeptical about the cheese, but once baked it firmed up and had a good texture for those craving cheese pizza, but not wanting to splurge on store-bought vegan cheeses. I may play around with the agave ratio in the sauce next time I make this, but I’ll definitely be baking up this pizza again.