Noshing Around the Lower East Side, NYC

What’s wrong with this pic? Answer in comments section!

I love a good walking tour almost as much as a hands-on cooking class. So when Jennifer Abadi sent me her Syrian cooking class schedule along with dates for Context Travel’s “Jewish Cuisine and Culture” walk on the Lower East Side, NYC, I was ready to zip on my warm boots, grab a proper winter hat and prepare for a big nosh fest.

What I found was that having an expert lead me from one culinary landmark to the next, while sharing historical and social history of the neighborhood where my grandparents lived in a tenement upon landing at Ellis Island, left even this knowledgeable New York eater to some thrilling new tidbits to chew on. Continue reading

Beyond Sushi, Rolling Outside of the Box

Beyond Sushi owner/chef Guy Vaknin

I arrived so early for lunch at Beyond Sushi, the shoebox of a vegan sushi spot just off Union Square in NYC, that it was almost a late breakfast for me. With only three tables and a rockin’ take-out business,  I wanted to be sure to nab a seat and settle in to feast on the creations that are all fair game for this kosher keeper.

Chef/Owner Guy Vaknin has let his imagination run wild here. His combos are the most unusual and perfectly paired flavors all rolled up in completely unfamiliar, purplish hued grains.

Vaknin popped up from the basement kitchen through a staircase leading to the sidewalk. Continue reading

Candle 79 Lights the Way

 

photo: Mimi Giboin

I’ll admit to feeling a quick flutter of excitement when friends suggest eating together and the expectation is that I chose the “perfect” spot.

I rapidly flip through my mental rolodex, wondering if they want the meal to comfort them or blow them away with offbeat creations? Do they want a hip, cacophonous environment or a conversation friendly dining room?

When I ask these questions, I often get the hand-wave and hopeful “YOU chose”. Continue reading

Maimonides of Brooklyn (M.O.B): Seasonal, Vegan and Affordable

by Java Nooryani, Brooklyn dweller, vegan explorer.

I try not to judge restaurants by their websites but it’s exciting when a place lives up to its own online design and hype. This was the case with M.O.B or Maimonides Of Brooklyn, a vegan restaurant in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood. On M.O.B’s website, interested foodies can read all about their origin and food philosophy, as well as look through their detailed, pictured menu. Continue reading

Farm to Table from Goat to Goatgurt

I’m still abuzz from all of the new experiences I had last weekend at the Hazon Food Conference.

Over the course of four jampacked days, I met  passionate, articulate and inspiring food, social and environmental activists, Rabbis, educators and students, chefs and home cooks, gardeners, farmers and food producers, writers and filmmakers. Continue reading

From Savory to Sweet at Green Leaf Organic Bakery and Cafe

Highlighting a bakery so soon after over-indulging last week may seem counterintuitive (hopefully not cruel) but Green Leaf Organic Bakery and Cafe is the perfect little cafe at any time of year. And there are plenty of savory items to quell your guilt before you succumb by diving into their magnificent French inspired treats.

Healthy eats with plenty of greens and fruit? Check. Organic and fair trade coffee? Check. Plenty of vegetarian choices among the soup, salad, tartine selections? Check.  Once you’ve eaten a light meal here you’ll feel no remorse about moving on to sweets. Continue reading

Landing on Latin American/ Vegan in Park Slope

Welcome to Java Nooryani, vegan enthusiast in Brooklyn. Java moved to NYC from LA to study literature at NYU. After being a vegetarian for 10 years, she shifted to adopt veganism. She shops NYC farmers’ markets for the freshest local ingredients and celebrates the many veg-friendly offerings in her new borough. Like many Kosher Like Me followers, Java is on the lookout for veg based dishes wherever she goes.

Here’s Java’s take on The V-Spot in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Park Slope is considered one of Brooklyn’s best residential neighborhoods to live in but it’s also just a great place to dine out. Its bustling 5th Ave block, just south of the Atlantic-Barclays Center and terminal, offers diners a large variety of eating options. Amidst this non-residential/business heavy block, I discovered The V-Spot—an all vegan Latin American restaurant. V-Spot provides healthy and animal-friendly alternatives to many dishes that traditionally contain meat and diary.

My roommate K and I went into V-Spot Thursday night for an early dinner. The vibe inside was friendly and relaxed; the staff was accommodating and attentive and the ambience was casual and cozy. K has a few food allergies and was happy to be in a restaurant with helpful servers and gluten-free options. Scanning the menu, we were excited to find so many items that catered not only to our respective diets but also our individual tastes.

Having grown up in Los Angeles, I have a taste for fresh Latin food—specifically vegetarian burritos—so I was eager to see if V-Spot’s burrito would meet my veggie Angeleno standards.

Short answer: it did.

Before totally devouring my burrito, I also enjoyed some of the kale tostadas and tofu scramble empanadas. The tostadas were light and crunchy, with fresh kale, ripe avocados, black beans, and just a touch of salsa and vegan parmesan (Daiya brand cheese).

The empanadas were a heartier affair, filled with scrambled tofu, assorted veggies, tempeh bacon, and Daiya cheddar cheese. Everything inside the empanadas were seasoned well and evenly cooked but the best part of the dish was the flour pastry itself. Golden brown and striking a flaky-soft balance, V-Spot’s empanadas are deliciously filling without being too heavy or greasy.

But the V-Spot burrito was definitely my favorite dish of the night. I love a basic burrito and V-Spot offered that and a little bit more. The burrito was filled with black beans, brown rice, fresh guacamole & salsa, vegan sour cream, and something I had never eaten before: vegan carne molida.

Although I’m not a huge fan of mock meat, I decided to try V-Spot’s homemade seiten ground beef. I was happy that I didn’t take the option to substitute it out; it was a softly-chewy and salty surprise! The burrito was reminiscent of the non-vegan burritos of my Southern California childhood but without the heaviness.

My favorite ingredients in the burrito were the brown rice and black beans, which K also ordered as a side. It may sound simple, but good rice and beans goes a long way with Latin food lovers like me. With a savory aroma of spices and herbs, V-Spot’s version of the Latin staple is sure to win you over too.

Caribbean Brown Rice

2 generous servings

Caribbean Brown Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup chopped red pepers
  • ½ cup chopped green peppers
  • ½ cup chopped red onions
  • ¼ cup chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup green peas
  • ¾ cup of corn
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup of cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 t of store-bought sofrito*
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In one pot, combine tomato paste, cumin, paprika, corn, carrots, and peas with 4 cups of water and boil at low to medium heat
  2. In large saucepan on medium heat, sauté peppers, garlic, and onions in canola oil, with salt and pepper until onions are soft.
  3. Add the rice and sofrito to the sauted vegetables and stir for about 5 minutes
  4. Combine everything in one pot, add cilantro, and cook till all water is absorbed
  5. Turn stove off and keep lid on pot for about 15 minutes to let everything meld together before serving

Notes

*Sofrito is at the heart of many Latin dishes. It is super easy to make and I haven't found a kosher product yet. Try this easy recipe:

Seed 1 each green and red pepper and pulse to chop with 1 tomato, 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, 1 c. cilantro leaves and 1/2 c. flat leaf parsley. Adjust flavors to your liking.

Rice recipe courtesy of V-Spot, Brooklyn

http://kosherlikeme.com/on-the-road/landing-on-latin-american-vegan-in-park-slope

Dining after Sunset in Orange County, CA.


Sunset along Orange County’s coastline is an event worth celebrating. After the sun dips below the horizon, casting its glorious technicolored drama on the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll start looking for places to eat dinner.  Check out some of these veg  friendly spots for your evening meal between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, CA.

Highlights for your apres- sunset meal range from vegan to veg friendly. I avoided the fish themed places, as I was already teetering on the brink of OD’ing on my daily dose of fish tacos.

Continue reading

Waking Up to Vegetarian/Kosher Friendly Cafes in Newport Beach, CA.- Part 1

 

The oh-so true adage that it’s all about location, location, location was as clear as the impossibly azure sky as we pulled off PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach soon after landing at LAX. We headed straight for the beach, hankering for that quintessentially California view of the  sunny southern coast.

Too many sporty convertibles passed us while we ogled the Pacific, so we pulled off the road for a good long gaze at the very California view. Below the 80 foot drop, descending through dense shrub and lush patches of thick grasses, was a wide open view of sandy beach stretching 3.2 miles and protected by the CA. state parks, known as Crystal Cove State Park.

It was the perfect introduction to what would be our favorite place in the sand, aptly named  The Beachcomber.

 

The next morning, with jet lag on our side, we scrambled out of bed early enough to see the sunrise, parked across PCH and walked down to the beach before the Beachcomber opened at 7 AM.

The cafe is elevated  just a few steps up from the sand and is the ideal spot to ease into the day, take a midday break for lunch or retreat under the heat lamps for dinner. Twelve tables are squeezed onto the deck  (umbrellas, fleece blankets and heaters are thoughtfully provided) and another few along a wraparound porch where spillover from lunch and happy hour lands.

My favorite breakfast dish was Smoked Salmon Flatbread, a deconstructed twist on bagels and lox. Green chile cream cheese is the foundation for thinly sliced smoked salmon, capers, pickled red onions, hard  cooked eggs dotted with micro greens and capers.

With music of the 20’s and 30’s and the crashing waves keeping time, the day was starting out just fine.

Try the Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes as a carbo loading alternative. The slightly tangy, light batter oozes with fresh berries and is worth the calories.

Just across the street from the beach is a shopping center where Bear Flag Fish Co. became our go-to lunch spot for super fresh, quick, casual lunches. Beach wear is expected and acceptable.

Bear Flag is fish market, taco joint, and great salad place all at once. Seating on the sidewalk alongside the parking lot? We got over it quickly as panko grilled fish tacos bursting with freshly chopped cabbage and house made pico de gallo beckoned us day after day when we tired of the beach.

Hastily handwritten boards list the freshest fish choices of the day and surfing videos are entrancing. Sides of avocado, black beans, brown rice and sauteed veggies all cost $1-2 so we had ourselves a fiesta.

We quickly integrated Zinc Cafe and Market into our rhythm as it is vegetarian, making it all fair game for breakfast and lunch. While table service is provided, it’s fine with them if you order from the market side and bring it to a table yourself.

Deviled eggs, house baked scones dotted with berries,  and breakfast burritos were highlights early in the day. Freshly baked fruit cakes and tartes are irresistible.

Lunches of personal sized chipotle sauced pizzette, easy sandwiches with runny brie and seasonal arugula or vegetable packed lasagna had us feeling happy to have landed in this veggie heaven.

Ready to whip up something special for breakfast?  Check out Susie Fishbein’s recipe for light and fluffy blueberry pancakes, below. Thanks, Susie, for sharing this treat from KOSHER BY DESIGN LIGHTENS UP.

Watch for part 2 of Newport Coast,CA. fave spots next week!  We found some great choices!

Blueberry Pancakes

makes 8 pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes

From Susie Fishbein: "Feel good in knowing that these pancakes are healthier than most. Most pancakes do not contain as much protein (milk, eggs, cottage cheese) or antioxidents from blueberries."

Susie suggests finding your own preferred balance of flour combinations, considering whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat, wheat or all purpose.

If using straight whole wheat, you may need to stir in a little milk to thin the batter.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. fat free milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 T canola oil, divided
  • 2 T water
  • 1 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 c fat free cottage cheese
  • heaping 1/2 c blueberries
  • fat-free sour cream
  • light pancake syrup

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, egg, sugar, vanilla, 2 tablespoons oil, and 2 tablespoons water.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.
  4. With a spatula, mix in the cottage cheese and fold in the blueberries.
  5. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  6. When the skillet is hot, drop the batter by 1/4 cup measures. An ice cream scoop works well.
  7. Cook for 3 minutes until golden: flip and cook another 2 minutes.
  8. Serve with fat free sour cream or light pancake syrup.

Notes

Recipe and photo courtesy of Susie Fishbein, KOSHER BY DESIGN LIGHTENS UP, 2008.

http://kosherlikeme.com/on-the-road/waking-up-to-vegetariankosher-friendly-cafes-in-newport-beach-ca-part-1