New York City, Baby! Sightseeing, Eating, and Prepping for the Academy

I'm in New York, baby! This city is ridiculous. Ridiculously cold and wet these last few days, but also: busy, huge, bustling, and also easy to be vegan. I'm here to attend the Main Street Vegan Academy and have spent the last day and a half with my weeklong classmates, presenting speakers, and hostess Victoria Moran (and, who could forget, her adorable pup Forbes!). My head is still delightfully spinning from what I've absorbed so far, so those posts will be saved for another day. I'd like to tell you what I've eaten and sight-seen so far!

Early Thursday morning my Greyhound pulled in and I made the decision that this would be the first and last time I would take a bus overnight anywhere in my life. Sure, I saved a couple hundred bucks, but can you put a price on quality sleep and not having either an armrest or seatbelt mechanism jammed into your back no matter how you shift in these godforsaken seats? I think not.

After I dropped my stuff off at my airbnb and showered away the bus experience, I made my way over to Blossom du Jour for breakfast. This super-casual, "fast" food vegan joint is incredible. Think: smoothies, wraps, sammiches, and to-go salads.

 Plus, there are multiple locations all over the city, making super-delicious vegan food accessible for everyone!

I decided on the breakfast muffin with tofu scramble, vegan cheese, and vegan bacon. And it was out of this world! The cheese, especially... this sandwich was so good I almost burned my tongue from trying to eat it so quickly. Plus, a green smoothie to keep up healthy appearances.

Part of the reason I chose Blossom du Jour is because it was one of the closest vegan spots to the American Museum of Natural History. Museums tend to be hit or miss with me, but I know I'll be happy anywhere there's geeky science stuff.

The hall of biodiversity is not to be missed and is absolutely fascinating. Could've spent hours here and still not seen everything I wanted to see!

After my lower back had had enough standing around, I chilled at a coffee shop before planning my next destination. The Butcher's Daughter was on my list of interesting vegan spots and so I decided to make my way down to its Chinatown-adjacent location.

This spot is super-hip and super-pricey, according to my midwestern spending habits. But the decor was very trendy and pleasant and I enjoyed the subtle adoption of butcher shop themes, totally transformed into the delivery of vegan fare.

I chose the Banh Mi sandwich: toasted baguette with mushroom pate, seared cauliflower, pickled daikon radish, carrots, cucumber, cilantro, and harissa mayo. It was quite tasty, very umami, and an nice-sized portion for walking around afterward.

Knowing that Erin McKenna's Bakery, formerly Babycakes, was right around the corner, I had to stop in for a cupcake. Every time I step foot in an all-vegan bakery my inner child goes out of her mind and it's all I can do to contain her.

I chose a mint brownie cupcake and it was yum! All of the products are allergen-free, which includes gluten. Honestly, I could tell that the cupcake was gluten-free. Typically, I'm much more of a fan of wheat cupcakes because they tend to be moister and fluffier.

Afterward, I visited the 9/11 memorial. Words can't really describe what this was like. It was an interesting combination of somber memories, defiantly loud, big, and beautiful monuments, and an eerie realization that all of the hustle and bustle still visible and audible around me really indicates that life does go on.

Each of the pools constructed in the shadows of time where the original towers stood were beyond breathtaking. My heart and head were so heavy thinking about the events and chaos that took place in the very spot in which I stood.

Truly beyond words.

Another heavy-hearted must-see was the African Burial Ground National Monument. Just a small section of land is dedicated to where 419 remains of African Americans from a period in time in which they were not permitted to have formal burials. The site was excavated and the remains re-interned in 7 mounds nearby. The site is very special to behold and I recommend anyone visit who is in town.

My first full day ended with dinner at Franchia, all-vegan "refined Asian fusion dining" restaurant with an impressive menu. I had a hard time settling on some bites, but was pretty satisfied with the vegan California roll and the sampler of savory pancakes: kim chi, scallion, and sweet corn cilantro. To be honest, I wasn't overly-impressed with the food itself. And the service wasn't great, either. I may have caught them on and off day or, perhaps, my bus-lag and tire of walking in the rain affected my take on the food.

The next morning, I made my way over to Champs Diner! Holy hell, an all-vegan diner with soooooo many breakfast items! I was in complete paradise. Vegan breakfast in the midwest means: oatmeal (maybe, if it's made with water), dry toast, and some sad-looking fruit.

I scored with the French Toast Slam: french toast, soysage, tempeh bacon, and a wonderfully creamy and herby tofu scramble. And a maple latte! Perfection.

Afterward, I waddled over to Dunwell Doughnuts - an all-vegan donut shop! 

Are you there? Shall I give you a minute to dust yourself off from fainting from excitement? Mmkay. So, naturally, I ordered a half dozen. So far, I've only dined on the glazed and it was SO GOOD.

After that, I trekked in the stinging rain and cold to the part of town where the MoMA is to meet up with the wonderful and beautiful Amey of Vegan Eats and Treats!

Amey and I fell in friend-love during all three of the Vida Vegan Con events and I was so psyched when it worked out that our vacations overlapped! Trudging through any amount of ridiculous rain or snow would be worth it to see her bright smile! I was even happy to share one of my doughnuts.

Sadly, we had to cut our meet-up short so she could browse glorious art and I could make my way to the first meeting of the Main Street Vegan Academy! I won't go into too much detail about this first meeting yet, but I will leave you with the delicious semi-catered dinner that greeted us all after our goofy, nervous introductions: Beyond Sushi and homemade quinoa salad and green salad! Out of this world and so fresh.

Tomorrow is our second full day and my tummy is grumbling, so I'm off to get some grub and then settle in before the next adventure begins. See you soon, blogosphere!

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