Vegan in NYC: Downtown

Vegan travels in New York CityOne of the most memorable things I did while in New York was to see a show called Fuerza Bruta Wayra. One of David’s co-workers suggested it. He’d seen other shows from Fuerza Bruta in the past, and he was over-the-moon excited about going again. As luck would have it, they offer rush tickets. You get to the theatre in Union Square at least two hours before the show, and then the first 30 people in line get $30 tickets to the show. Since there are no chairs, and the audience stands and moves throughout the theatre during the show, all of the “seats” are equally good. Usually tickets for the show are $79-$99/per person.

When we got there, there were just a few people in line. We lucked out, because one of the people in line said that other times he’d been there, the line had snaked down and around the street. We picked up our tickets and went to dinner since we still had time before the show.

Peacefood CafeThe downtown location of Peacefood Café wasn’t far away, and after a quick trip through the Strand Book Store and Forbidden Planet, we walked over. The clean and brightly lit space was decorated beautifully, and the dessert case beckoned.

Peacefood Cafe - NYCI ordered a dish that must have been a special, because it’s not listed on their online menu. It was a parsnip puree with fried chickpeas, oyster mushrooms, sautéed kale, and topped with crisp slices of lotus root.

Potato Pizza - Peacefood CafeNew York had put David in a pizza state of mind, and he ordered the roasted potatoes pizza, which was topped with mushrooms, oil cured black olives, pesto, and then a healthy helping of arugula.

With full stomachs, we skipped dessert this time around and headed to the show.

Here’s the official trailer for the show, which will give you a sense of the performance. I’ve seen a lot of stage shows in my life, and this was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It was like cirque du soleil on acid. The show is in a black box theatre, and there is a stage at one end, where a live band plays. At first, the feeling is kind of similar to Stomp, but then it just blows up.

There were actors on wires running alongside of the walls. There was an enormous plastic swimming pool that was lowered onto the audience, and actors splashed across it like an enormous Slip ‘N’ Slide. There was one part where a huge parachute was hoisted above the audience, and then actors ran across it, opened a hole from it, came down through the holes, and then pulled audience members onto the top of the parachute. All the while, cast members were moving the audience out of the way as large set pieces were moved in and out.

There were themes in the show, but I wouldn’t say that it had a plot. It felt like they were saying something about life/death and heaven/hell. However, it felt more like impressions, in the same way that you might feel after a dream.

When the show ended, water poured down from the ceiling, and some audience members ran to jump in it. There was such an energy in the room that seemed to take over the space. I can’t recommend the show highly enough. Although I scored $30 tickets, full price would have been totally worth it.

Cinnamon Snail - vegan food truck in NYCAnother must when I was in NYC was visiting the Cinnamon Snail truck. It has won a ton of food truck awards and seems to be universally loved by vegans and non-vegans alike. Everyone has absolutely raved about going there, and so I could hardly wait to visit. I hopped on the subway to the location where they were parked that day in the Flatiron neighborhood. (You can keep up with their whereabouts on Facebook and Twitter.)

Tempeh Reuben - Cinnamon Snail Food Truck in New York CityBy the time I arrived, I was famished. Luckily, the line wasn’t terribly long, and I only waited about 10 or 15 minutes. I was conflicted about what to get, but when I saw that they had a pretzel-crusted tempeh reuben special with fried capers, I knew what I had to order. I also ordered a couple of pastries to share later with David. I thought the sandwich was tasty, but next time I’d probably order one of the seitan options instead.

Eataly, the large Italian shopping/food court, wasn’t far away from there. So I walked over afterwards to peruse the pastas, sauces, and cookware for sale. There were also several eateries inside selling pizzas, coffee, wine, and more. Since I’d just eaten, I didn’t have any food, but it would be fun to do on a future visit.

Christmas shop in New York City with sorbetOn our last full day in New York, my friend, Katrina, joined us.  We walked around Little Italy and stopped at the Christmas in New York shop for sorbet. (All of the fruit flavors were dairy-free.)

Christmas in New York store - NYCI like to buy Christmas ornaments on my travels. It’s one of my favorite souvenirs, because then once a year I get to take my ornaments out of their boxes, enjoy them again, and remember the trip where I purchased them. David and I started the tradition on our honeymoon, and we’ve been collecting ornaments on our trips ever since.

Adrienne's Pizza - NYCWe went for pizza in the Financial District at a restaurant called Adrienne’s Pizzabar. It’s not a vegan restaurant, but their pizza sauce and crust is vegan if ordered without cheese. There was an outdoor eating area that reminded me of restaurant alleyways in Italy. Very quaint. However, on this hot day, we decided to eat inside.

We ordered one of the large rectangular pizzas that was more than enough for three. We picked our own toppings and chose mushrooms, basil, garlic, and kalamata olives. The pizza was absolutely fabulous and popping with flavor.

World Trade Center Memorial - NYCFinally, we went to the 9/11 Memorial nearby. The water from the memorial blocked out the sound from the city. It is a huge open square that flows into another square. The concept of emptiness flowing into emptiness is a powerful one. The names of the victims were written all around the sides.

There was a guard walking around the outside of the memorial. She reminded anyone with drinks not to put cups on the memorial. I appreciated that she was there to maintain respect for the space. There was one woman who was doing a rubbing of a name, and the guard asked if she knew that person. The woman said, “This is my daughter,” and the guard reached out and hugged her.

The last time I had been to New York wasn’t too long after 9/11 happened, and so to be back and see the memorial and the new Freedom Tower was powerful – both remembering and moving forward to create something new.

Tower One - NYC

NYC Vegan Travel: Greenwich Village, East Village, SoHo & Upper East Side

Sacred Chow - New York CityDo you know the best way to really see a city – especially one that can feel complicated and sprawling? While tagging along with a local! Luckily in New York, I had just such a person – my friend, Dianne (a.k.a. Veggie Girl). Dianne met me at my hotel, and we started off on a day of much walking, sightseeing, and shopping.

First stop – lunch. We went to Sacred Chow, where neither of us could decide between the Roasted Black Olive Seitan Panini and the Thai Ginger Barbecue Seitan Panini. Answer? We both ordered one and then gave half to the other person. It’s a good thing too – she preferred the one I ordered (BBQ), and I preferred the one she ordered (olive).

Washington Square - NYCWe walked through Washington Square Park, which was exciting to me as a long-time When Harry Met Sally fan. I imagined the two parting ways there after a long drive from Chicago.

Vegan Ice Cream - NYCVegan ice cream - New York CityFor dessert, we walked to Van Leeuwen for some ice cream made with coconut and cashew milk. I ordered a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of banana nut.   It was particularly hot and sticky that week, and so the ice cream went down deliciously well.

Moo Shoes - NYCWe stopped by the all-vegan shoe store, Moo Shoes, and got some much-needed kitty therapy by way of their friendly in-store kitty cat. There was one pair of shoes that particularly caught my eye, but I resisted. Then I noticed earlier this week that they’d gone on sale and had just one pair left in my size! So they arrived in the mail yesterday. Woo hoo! It’s a little post trip souvenir.  (Moo Shoes recently opened an L.A. location as well. Those SoCal locals are so lucky!)

Then we went to nearby Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics to check out their 100% vegan makeup.

Pearl River NYC - bunny bowlNext, we ventured to SoHo, because I wanted to visit a two-level Asian import store that I’d heard about, Pearl River. There’s clothing, stationery, stuff for the home, food, and dishes. I had the hardest time choosing and ended up picking this sweet bowl with rabbits running across it. I love the wet look of the paint.

Dianne and I met up again a few days later, this time with husbands in tow and my friend, Katrina. We went to V-Note for dinner, which is an organic wine bar and vegan bistro created by the same people who own Blossom.

French Onion Soup - V NoteTheir soup of the day was French Onion, and even though it had been a million degrees outside all day, I couldn’t resist ordering it. It was topped with a dollop of melted Daiya and a slice of crusty bread. The soup was rich and full bodied.

Crispy Pine Nut & Basil Seitan - V NoteFor my entrée, I ordered the Crispy Pine Nut & Basil Seitan. The seitan was covered in a creamy white wine sauce with roasted potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. It was then topped with grilled pineapple.

Tiramisu - V NoteBy this point I was well past full and skipped out on dessert, but I did snag a bite of the Tiramisu that Katrina ordered, and it was heavenly.

V NoteWe all had such a fun night and really clicked. The conversation flowed easily and non-stop.  I still have one more NYC post left, but this dinner was our last night in New York, and it was just the perfect cap on the week. Friends, food, and laughter – what more could a person want?

For more pictures from our visit, check out this post from Dianne on Veggie Girl.