Body & Soul seasonal vegan bakery

I wander. That’s one of my many talents.

I met up with someone near Union Square this morning. This evening I’m meeting up with another person there. Pretty inconvenient. So, I was like, “Fuck it. I’ll meander. That’s one of my many talents”.

I did that for a while, but got bored… tired. I headed back to the train. Nap time. Nope. Cookie time. That park thing- Union Square had the hippie version of food trucks- food stands. Fruit stands. Apples. Cider. Okay guys, I get it. Apples are in season.

Not feelin’ that. Then I saw it- a cookie stand. Didn’t think much of it. They never have vegan treats; gluten-free, but no vegan. They need to check statistics. There’s more vegans than people with celiac disease.

All that rant was for nought. It was exclusively vegan baked goods! I scanned through their selection. A little too eclectic. Ya know, the shit that non-vegans make for vegans. Then I saw the staples- chocolate chip & oatmeal raisin cookies.

I asked the man at the stand which one was better. He didn’t know. He’d never eaten anything that he was vending. Assumption- confirmed. We exchanged cash & cookies. Then I walked.

Oatmeal raisin- chewy, moist, firm… more sweet than average. Huge. Lunch sized. Good timing.

Would I go back? Yeah… I’ve gotta be at that stop again in several hours.

Ohhhhh… cookie yumminess?

Turned me into a monster!


Vegetarian Ginger (Brooklyn Heights)

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Brooklyn Heights lately. Whenever I’m hungry, I stroll down to Montague Avenue. There are plenty of places to eat & shop there. This particular time I ended up at Vegetarian Ginger. Their signage isn’t too visible from the street. Luckily, I’m still in gawking tourist mode, so I was looking up (2nd floor restaurant).

When I walked up, I almost didn’t open the door. The place was empty. Mind you, it was around 9 pm on a Tuesday evening. My waitress seated me. Their menu was a little confusing & redundant. Meh.

I’m one of those people who orders thai basil rolls- no basil. So, It wasn’t unusual (for me) that I ordered a pepper steak- no peppers. I’m not a picky eater; just discerning. hahaha

It came with a choice of soup or salad. I went for the wonton soup (cold day). It was comprised of a light broth, cabbage, tvp & of course wontons. Flavor- strong overtone of celery, with hints of onion & carrot. It was fairly mild- perfect as a starter.

My waitress replaced my soup with the (non)pepper steak & a side of brown rice. The presentation was unexpectidly impressive ($10 meal). The chef had smothered my steak strips in grilled onions to compensate for the absence of peppers. Once again, I was impressed. They were grilled long enough to bring out their flavor. Most restaurants turn onions into some sort of slimy stringy mush.

Everything else was cooked to perfection, as well. Righteous. Alright, let’s get down to the nitty gritty- the steak. The steak was seiten based. It was marinated in a mysteriously fabulous brown sauce.

Have you ever eaten something that’s so similar to the real thing that you feel uncomfortable consuming it? You know, the “did I just cheat?!” freakout. I had one of those moments. The sauce was exactly like au jus! Freaky. Vegetarian Ginger is completely vegan, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

Because the servings are so large (easily enough for two), I was unable to order desert. FYI- They regulary offer soy milkshakes, fried & regular icecream & cheesecake. Orange slices were served with my check. Way better than fortune cookies. :]

Before I wrap it up, I have to mention their atmosphere. The frames of their windows were lined with garland & holiday lights. This was in early January. The glass had flower & heart window clings on it. I’m guessing that they change holiday decorations quarterly.

My pepper steak soundtrack was comprised of top 40 music from the past decade. Maroon 5 was in misery because Justin had brought sexy back. Brittnay couldn’t take it anymore! Neither could I. I threw down some cash & dipped out.

Return visits? For sure. My sweet tooth wants to know if their cheesecake is legit. To be continued.

The Cake Shop (Lower East Side)

The Cake Shop (Lower East Side)

Have you ever been out so late that even the diners are closed? Does the craving for cupcakes or ice cream hit you around then? That’s what happens to me nearly every night. My body has some sort of inner alarm clock that goes off somewhere between 11 pm & 3 am. It demands sweets.

Where can you get decent vegan goodies at that time of night? There’s the accidentally vegan treats, like Nutter Butter & Skittles. Those suffice sometimes. Most of the time I end up yelling at Siri, because she doesn’t know what’s open “right now“. One night I ended up stumbling upon this gem. They serve vegan cakes, cupcakes & whoopie pies.

I’ll start this off by giving you a heads up. The Cake Shop isn’t a bakery. It’s a music venue. Specifically, it’s a punk rock music venue. However, they DO serve cake & the like, so that’s how I ended up there. It’s located in what I’ve been told used to be a seedy Puerto Rican neighborhood. It’s still a little on the seedy side. Seedy enough for hipsters at least.

When I walked in, there was a stack of records on my right (they sell them). On my left was a glorious display of mainly vegan noms & a bar. Behind the counter stood a gorgeous, clever bartender. Holy hell. Yummy vegan treats & a yummy bartender? The sky opened up & angels were singing. I had to remind myself that I was there for baked goodies.

I had a super hard time deciding what to get. Their assortment is nothing to scoff at. I selected a chocolate peanut butter whoopie pie & a slice of Oreo cake. My slice was huge. I think she gave me 1/5 of the cake!

The whoopie pie was about the size of a Big Mac (don’t pretend you don’t know what those are). She talked me into a cup of coffee. It was a no-go, but she was crazy hot, so I included it in the order. I’m not usually one of those people, but damn!

Those sweets lasted me nearly a week. The Oreo cake had amazing frosting (sweet & fluffy)! However, the cake part was too chocolately & dense. I went through 1/2 a glass of almond milk every time that I ate a few forkfuls! It was pretty yummy (in moderation), so I’d say that it was worth it.

Everything about the whoopie pie was intense. Maybe that’s why it’s called a whoopie pie. It was ginormous & thick. I prefer baked goods to be airy. The cake portion was as dense as a brownie, but spongey like cake. The frosting part was thicker than the Oreo cake frosting. It was peanut buttery, but had a subtle coffee overtone. I’m more than fine with that. This one ended up in the freezer until I’d polished off the cake. It took equally as long to consume.

I obviously enjoyed them, because I went back a month later. This time I got a slice of brownie cheesecake & a red velvet cupcake. Red velvet cupcakes are my kryptonite. I was understandably excited to find a vegan one at 2 am.

The cupcake was waxy & flavorless. The texture & color looked the part, but flavor didn’t follow through. The frosting was essentially whipped sugar. I’m guessing that it was a sugar coated beet cupcake. I couldn’t finish it & didn’t want to take it home. Total let down.

The brownie cheesecake had too much going on. It would’ve tasted better if it were the brownie & the cheesecake. I liked the brownies. They were pretty authentic. The cheesecake had the New York texture- my fav. The flavor was as disappointing as vegan sour cream. (Email me if you find a decent vegan sour cream. It would greatly enhance my life.)

My buddy had a slice of carrot cake. He’s not of the vegan persuasion, but effin loved it. That shit was legit. It was fluffy, perfectly spiced & had complimentary frosting. I ended up pirating it while he was socializing. Cute girls get away with everything.

Would I go back there a third time? Hells yes. Their soy milk is actually yummy. Both of the bartenders that I’ve encountered are charming. Folkies kick it there on weeknights (my kind of people). Annnnndddd… Where else can I nosh on gourmet vegan pastries at 3 am?


The Holy Grail

I love coffee. I hate terrible coffee. Most coffee is terrible.

Here’s an ongoing review of the shops that I’ve encountered during my quest for fabulous coffee.

Starbucks– Let’s just get this one out of the way. OH, HELL NO!!! That shit is offensive. You would have to pay me a handsome sum to consume their beverages. How are they still open?

Mud Coffee– I went with a girl who works at Starbucks. She liked it. I dug the vibe- mellow & cozy. Our waitress was on the impatient/dishonest side: the kind that says something is gluten free or vegan, regardless of it’s ingredients. She made me uneasy, so I played it safe & got a hot cocoa. Restroom? Yeah, I just went there. I’m pretty sure that men & the obese aren’t able to utilize their facilities. Luckily, I don’t identify as either.

Birdbath Neighborhood Green Bakery– They only brew one kind of coffee: the kind that you need to stay away from. First I tried it hot. I spat it out. Don’t judge me. That shit was nasty. Then I saw that they had a cold brew version (toddy). Fuck yussss!!!! Fuck no. It was smoother, due to the brewing process. I surmised that in during the 1.5 seconds that it was in my mouth. Good news: they have plenty of hippie dippy noms. Bad news: not too many of them are vegan.

Caffe Reggio– We walked in. A waitress sat us, walked across the room, walked back & expected us to be ready to order. Maybe I need to take a speed reading course. Speed blogging version of experience: no vegan food, bitchy waitress, scary coffee.

Hungarian Pastry Shop– The first thing that I noticed was their baked goods display. I guess that makes sense. They are a pastry shop. I glanced at the layout/patrons. The place was full of people who couldn’t hack it as hipsters (sad state of affairs). Whatevs. I’m there for coffee (& hopefully delicious vegan pastries). I ordered a black coffee (no vegan noms). I almost gagged when the runner set it on my table. It was acidic & bitter as fuck. I didn’t even have to taste it to know that. I gave it a go anyway. It assaulted my tongue (bitter, burnt & scalding hot). I pushed it away & backed into the corner of the booth. The stench was so strong that it nauseated me from across the table. I sat there for what seemed like eternity, waiting for my friend to finish his cappuccino. I am neva eva eva going back there. Ever.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters– Located in Ace Hotel, the trustfunder’s paradise. The coffee shop part is pretty much in & out- enough room to order… That’s about it. It opens up into Ace. Swanky crowd- anthropology majors (at the tables) & business moguls (at the bar). Music was subtly playing in the background. You won’t notice it, unless you’re listening for it. Decent selection. The coffee? Bitter- brewed too quickly (incredibly hot water). Vegan dairy options? Soy & rice- not my favs. Palatable? If surgeoned (heavily doctored), palatable. Revisits? Sure… for the bar.

Lantern (Brooklyn Heights)

Lantern (Brooklyn Heights)

The first thing that I noticed when I walked in was the lighting. It was dark; not romantic dark, just plain dark. There were lanterns… with little tea lights in them. There was also one tea light on each table. I could see it being advantageous if you’re hideous & had just duped a hottie from okc into meeting you for dinner.

All of the staff were courteous, attentive & demure… except for the head waiter. He reminded me of Johnny Bravo- hair, sideburns, black v-neck t-shirt & all. I could see in his stride that he knew he was pretty.

I ordered vegetable dumplings & tofu pad thai (no eggs / no fish sauce). The dumplings were mushy, bland & very attached to the plate. They were served with an oil based chili sauce- compensation? The pad thai emulated the dumplings… but it was attached to itself. Chopsticks were no longer an option. I had to use a fork & knife. Yes, a knife.

While I’m on my texture rant, I’ll mention the tofu. It was bland (surprise!) & had an eggy texture. Our waitress told me that it was delivered every morning from China Town. I can dig that. Maybe you could ask them to marinate it before they deliver it. I’d dig that even more.

Would I go there a second time? Maybe to run into the Thai Johnny Bravo again.