My boyfriend and I once went through a phase where we chose a different and new cuisine via restaurant each week. Well, that happened (intentionally) twice. Once was Ethiopian and the second time was Venezuelan food at El Cocotero in Chelsea. There, we tried their national dish called arepas, which are corn flour sandwiches of sort. El Cocotero’s were OK, but a little too bread-y for our taste.
Cut to some two years later and I finally revisited Venezuelan food, this time at Caracas, an East Village spot that my friends have been raving about for ages.
I spent four amazing, mostly bone-chatteringly cold years, as an undergrad in Chicago, and even though the sound of my graduation year already makes me feel old, the memories, mostly of food, are still fresh in my memory. I returned last week for a glorious, if not completely hectic, five days in the Windy City, partly to see college friends and partly for the wedding of two dear friends, who actually were my first real friends on campus. (Thank you for being nice to dorky Archana! Just kidding. We went to Northwestern; we were all dorks.) To celebrate such an occasion, I — what else? — ate my way through the city.
New York has this way of making you feel like if you’re not outside your apartment, taking advantage of the city, you’re missing out. There’s always some cool bar, restaurant, exhibit or park you MUST BE AT. And when it gets warm, that gravitational-like pull towards the streets is even more powerful. I don’t often fall victim to social pressures, but I’m a sucker when spring and summer arrives. There’s something so tedious about chopping vegetables when there’s fun to be had outside—especially after the miserable winter we had. (Among people who call themselves cooks, that’s probably sacrilege to say. So be it.) All I want to do is lounge outside a restaurant and lazily watch the night pass by.
All that to say: I ate out a lot this week. Among the spots were Shake Shack, B Bar and Grill, and, the one I’ll share today, La Esquina. More than the food, I’ve always heard about the famed door policy of their downstairs lounge. Snooty bouncers? Not so much. Tacos worth trying? Yes, that works.
I think it’s always nice, in this world of constant connectedness, to disconnect for at least a short period of time. Specific, to this blog, it’s nice to re-evaluate and re-energize and in general, with all our smart phones, Apple products, DVR, keyless car entry, etc., it’s hard to escape technology, so taking some time away from a blog is one way for me to get a little reprieve.
That being said — I’m back! And with a recipe for a super moist, super healthy, super delicious breakfast (or dessert) bread. This blueberry-oat loaf is perfect fresh out of the oven with some protein on the side for breakfast or topped with some whipped cream for dessert. (The latter is pretty epic.) You can feel good about yourself knowing it’s packed with fruit, oats and without a drop of oil or sliver of butter.
And if you end up with leftovers, know that it keeps extremely well in the fridge. Just be sure to reheat in the microwave so you do justice to that buttermilky-moist texture.
I like to say I have a love-hate relationship with New York City. I can go on and on about the hates, which include but are not limited to: dirty streets, rats, angry cabbies, a lack of greenery and overpriced everything. But for all those, I also have a bunch of loves, one of which is its seemingly endless array of cafes. And fortunately for me, a big city like New York affords plenty of options and even some hidden gems, like a cafe I stumbled across last weekend.
Oscar is situated on a calm, secluded section of MacDougal Street a.k.a. the part not overrun with dive bars and NYU kids. No, this French-style cafe is positively peaceful — and has some great deals, like this steal:
As a general rule, if I got out to eat and end up with a stomach ache, I don’t recommend it, and thus don’t blog about it. Last night, I went to Pure Food and Wine and got a stomach ache. Yet I’m blogging about it.
Well, I think this is a slightly different case. With other stomach ache-inducing meals, I figure it’s maybe the oil, the temperature at which it was cooked or — wait for it — some person’s dirty hands touching my food. Gross. But I don’t think any of those things afflicted my meal last night. You see, Pure Food is a raw vegan restaurant, and I think my westernized, modernized digestive system was just not ready to work that hard. So be warned if you go, this may not be the easiest meal to take in, but if raw and/or vegan is your thing, you’re in luck.
Pure Food had been on my to-go list for quite some time, and even more so once I interviewed its proprietor Sarma Melngailis for a freelance article. She basicallu spearheaded the recent raw food movement, so if I was going to try it anyway, might as well go for the top.