First, before I forget, a reminder that entries for the first Vegetarian Feast blogging challenge are due tonight!! Please post a link to your entry in a comment or email me the information. We will have a second round-up after thanksgiving, but at this point the only entries are from me and my mother (thanks, mom!) so that's just a wee bit sad.
Second, last weekend I went to New York to surprise said mother for her fiftieth birthday and we had some fabulous eats. I know a few of my fellow foodbloggers are in the New York metro area, so I thought I'd tell you about them.
First, Friday night, we went to Alta in the West Village (64 W. 10th St., near the intersection with Sixth Avenue). Of course, my plane was delayed and the busses into Manhattan were screwed up, so I jogged back and forth across that intersection about five times before I found the place. Turns out the door is slightly hidden. Anyway, the atmosphere is lovely - it's very small and cosy - but it is a rather noisy restaurant. The menu is tapas, pretty much, though they call it "small plates" for a reason unknown to me. We tried a ton of different dishes between the six of us, including several vegetarian options for my benefit. I think my favourite were the fried goat cheese balls, which were deliciously melty and served with a lavender honey. I've been a big fan of lavender honey since I bought a jar in a market in Uzes, in the South of France, and though it's now available everywhere I don't get it nearly enough. I also tried a smoked eggplant and lebne dip, which was tasty enough but not spectacular, smoked mozarella which came with a really tasty balsamic and tomato sauce, the trumpet mushrooms, and a catalonian flatbread called "Coca."
Saturday, we had brunch/lunch at a cafe called La Madeleine on 43rd Street. The best part about that place was the atmosphere, because we managed to get a table in the indoor garden. It was lovely, and sufficiently lit for picture taking, so you can take a look at what I ate as well as hear about it. This mushroom-gruyere tart that I shared with Daddy was so delicious that I forgot to take a photo before digging into it. The velouté was perfectly seasoned, and the sort of "cracker" of Gruyere light enough that it didn't feel like a diet cheat. For my main course, I wanted something light so I went with the yoghurt, fruit, and granola bowl. It turns out there was enough honey that it didn't really qualify as "light," but it was still delicious. For dessert we all shared a Valharona mousse, which was quite tasty and I was particularly happy since I've been wanting to try Valharona. Saturday afternoon, while my folks were at a movie (supposed to be a play, but the stagehands' strike got in the way of that) I went with a local friend to The Telephone, a bar on the lower east side (Second Avenue). It was extremely cute, with several English telephone booths out in front and a very impressive cocktail menu including a lot of warm options. I had a mint tea that was spiked with rum and flavoured with an orange wedge and a cinnamon stick, perfect for a cold afternoon. After drinks, I was supposed to obtain dessert at the Little Pie Company, but since I was so far west I went to Whole Foods instead. Oh, how I miss Whole Foods! Of course, the line was a million people long but the New York store has this nifty innovation where a screen flashes the colour of your line and the register you go to, and it only took about ten minutes to shuffle a hundred people through the express line. So Saturday night, after I dropped off the cake, we finished up with a birthday dinner at the North Square Restaurant, right by Washington Square Park. Though the menu didn't include any vegetarian entrees, there were quite a few salads, so I tried the Endive Salad which included stilton and walnuts. It was very good, and the grilled asparagus I had along with it was also quite tasty. I thought the cake, a chocolate ganache layer cake, was a little dry, but everyone else liked it. So all in all, a success. At least, my belly thinks so.
Oh and by the way, a little note to vegetarians about one of my favourite chains - I've been going to TGI Fridays since I was a little kid, and on the whole I think their menu has gone way downhill as they've expanded, BUT I have to say the grilled portabella sandwich with fire roasted red pepper soup, which I tried in the Minneapolis Airport, is a total winner. Even with a side of fries and honey mustard, it only came to $10.50! And for an airport lunch, that's cheap. I'll probably be having it again when I fly through Minneapolis for Christmas.