Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Vegetarian eating in New York (part 1 of 3) - BROOKLYN

It's all about the food - it's a hugely important part of any trip for me. So this is the first of 3 New York food posts. I'm starting with Brooklyn and will follow on with LIC in Queens and Manhattan. My food highlights of the trip were actually in Brooklyn, I'm still fantasizing about chilli mango flowers. Sigh.

I'm probably doing this all wrong to start with what I loved best but I can't stop talking about Smorgasburg! Our visit to Smorgasburg was unplanned, I hadn't heard of this market before I arrived in New York but our lovely airbnb host mentioned it and then when my good friend messaged me on Sunday morning and suggested we go to the Prospect Park Smorgasburg I said YES.

Smorgasburg is a food market spin off of Brooklyn Flea and has various locations at the weekend. Prospect Park is huge and sprawling. We did get a little lost trying to find the market in there - it doesn't seem to be signposted at all - but it was a gorgeous walk and a beautiful day.

We arrived early (about noon) so the queues were short and it all felt very happy and relaxed and cheery. There's so much amazing food choice! Stu went a bit nuts buying a cheesesteak, smores, ice cream sandwich and a vegan pulled jackfruit bun...he was very happy!

I was super happy to discover Monk's Meats - a vegan place of yum! I had Jerk Seitan - (the seitan was like donner meat, in a bun with pineapple chutney, slaw and coriander) which tasted so flavoursome and fresh and satisfying. Omg.

Stu bought us a coconut ice tea which was excellently refreshing and just the right amount of sweet.

OH the mango flower. I walked past someone eating one as my friend pulled me towards a stand selling corn and I squeaked excitedly at my friend (Shu) - 'I just saw someone eating something amazing!!!! It looked like a fruit cut like a flower dusted in red!'

Then we arrived at the corn stall and there they were! Dessert of my dreams! In Thailand I was obsessed with pineapple dipped in chilli sugar....this is the beautiful mango version. I feel overwhelmed with food joy just thinking about it now! I should really learn to do this myself....

 I thought Smorgasburg was fantastic and I could have relaxed there all day in the sunshine enjoying different foods and drinks if I'd had the time and money!

A restaurant I'm a little less excited to talk about is Scalino - a less successful impulse visit. Another friend took us there (we hadn't intended to eat out but we were having so much fun and got too hungry) and the food is actually very delicious, reasonably priced and the place seems really nice and relaxed. It's just that they do not cater for vegetarians and we had had such an indecisive cufuffle just finding a place to eat that I didn't like to make a fuss and I thought it would be ok. I selected the one thing on the menu that didn't contain meat (ravioli) and didn't list parmesan in the description (parmesan is not vegetarian). When my ravioli arrived and I turned down the offer of a sprinkle of parmesan, the guy serving joked 'What's wrong with you!?' and I explained, he seemed to hesitate before leaving the table and once I was eating I realised why....I'm pretty sure there was already parmesan in/on the ravioli. Which isn't a huge deal and perhaps not eating parmesan is quite strict. But I felt a bit upset with myself for not checking before ordering.

It surprised me how often we found ourselves in restaurants in New York that had no vegetarian options on the menu, or didn't clearly mark dishes out as vegetarian as this is pretty standard in the UK. There were really great specifically vegetarian/vegan places to eat but when eating at restaurants with meat eaters, it was a little awkward! At one place I had a feast of side dishes.

Speaking of specifically vegetarian/vegan places though and sticking to Brooklyn for now, Champs Diner is totally vegan and great fun.

Champs allowed me to indulge my dirty food craving with no factory farming related guilt whatsoever. Yay! I had 'chicken' and waffles with maple syrup. I'm not going to pretend it was as good as the last time I had chicken and waffles, when I had real chicken, but it was good and it hit the spot. Shu had a proper breakfast with pretend egg, bacon, sausage and pancakes - she is NOT veggie, she loves her meat. She found the pretend stuff a bit weird at first and then good and she ate it all.
Stu had a breakfast burrito but it wasn't very photogenic!

Then a short stroll from Champs, past loads of colourful painted walls, you can find the most hipster coffee shop I have ever entered - City of Saints.

Stu and Shu got cold brews (apparently this is a special, time consuming method of making coffee cold) - I was too unadventurous and got my usual plain hot black coffee. I did regret that a little though as it was a baking hot day and when I sipped Stu's, it was deliciously refreshing.

Last but not least - Peter Pan Donuts - is a little old donut shop with delicious cakey donuts. It was highly recommended by our airbnb host and we had a lovely stroll down there on our last day. Took our donuts to the nearby McCarren Park to eat. I had red velvet and it was yum, even though I'm not usually a donut fan.

As I said at the start of the post, my favourite eats were in Brooklyn. I wish I'd had more time to spend eating through Brooklyn!

Do you have any Brookyn eats to recommend? Do you/your friends ever find it hard to eat out as a vegetarian?

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