Monday, April 29, 2013

My Vegan Mondays

I've been reading so many great food articles and books lately, feeling so excited about the momentum of the food movement and all the stellar minds that guide our stomachs. 

There was a must-read article in New York magazine last week—Adam Platt in conversation with the so impressively cool and modest Michael Pollan (can't wait to read his new book, Cooked).

The article made many similar points that are in Peter Kaminsky's Culinary Intelligence, another must-read for anyone who loves and values food, not only where it comes from but how to make it a satisfying yet sustainable habit forever after. The title may be didactic, but Kaminsky is a great story-teller and it's super enjoyable.

My friend Ann Mah wrote about DC's healthy fast food scene for the New York Times, a theme to which the Times also devoted its magazine's cover story a few weeks back. That piece was written by Mark Bittman, who just announced he's starting a new column called The Flexitarian, named for his philosophy of being a mindful, moderate eater of all things. I was floored to hear that he eats vegan for the first two meals of the day, and then eats whatever—within reason, of course, being a flexitarian himself—for dinner. And excited to know he has a book coming out devoted to this eating pattern/philosophy, titled VB6 (Vegan Before 6).
And there's a quick and fun read about home cooks by Gabrielle Hamilton in this month's Bon Appetit, which she wrote in preparation for her new cookbook (woot woot!)

Coffee with soy milk
Cheerios and granola with almond milk

Salad with avocado, white beans, roasted tomato and pumpkin seeds (thank you, Amy's Bread)
A big, juicy mutsu apple

Lentil soup 

Is anyone else feeling as obsessed about food as I am??

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Always something there to remind me

Bien Cuit in Carroll Gardens.
One Girl Cookies in Carroll Gardens.
Runner & Stone in Gowanus. 
Brooklyn is looking more and more like Paris.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Vegan Mondays & 10 Things You Can Do for Earth Day

I can think of no other holiday better paired with Vegan Monday than Earth Day. I was in college when I became aware of Earth Day. I was always a tree hugger, a raging feminist at my conservative business school. To have one day of the year when other hippies came out, played frisbee in the quad, drank and danced in the sunshine, was a wonderful and affirming jolt to my system. 

I'm still mindful of my practices: my consumption, my connectivity to the earth, how I live and the choices I make. That's not to say I'm perfect or pious. There's so much more I can do. But I'm happy to support my environmental beliefs by not eating red meat, as I didn't today, and I try not to every Monday.

Coffee with soy milk
A mixture of granola and Cheerios with almond milk

Curried cauliflower wrap
A piece of Jacques Torres dark chocolate bark, courtesy of a generous colleague
A clementine

Lentil soup

Are you looking for a way to have a lesser impact on the earth on a regular basis? Here are 10 doable ideas:

1. Try Meatless Mondays. Or Vegan Monday. Or do as Mark Bittman does and eat vegan until dinner.
2. Use those strip sockets for your electronics and turn them off when you leave the room or apartment.
3. Opt for bars of soap instead of plastic containers.
4. Limit your use of water bottles.
5. Plant some herbs. Or a tree.
6. Walk or bike to work if you can. Even if it's just one day a week.
7. Go paperless for billing and banking.
8. Reuse your plastic takeout containers. They're as good as Tupperware! I use mine for freezing food, taking lunch to work, to organize pens and makeup in drawers, and more.
9. Walk or jog outside instead of on a treadmill. Again, maybe not all the time, but once in a while.
10. Stop and savor. Watch the sun set. Smell some flowers. Admire a tree's shape. The more connected you feel to the world, the more you're going to fight for it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting around town

The weather in New York is still cool, but it's glorious. Dogwoods are blooming...
... the views are drop-dead...

... and there's so much to see and do. In addition to hoofing it around Brooklyn—and now, Manhattan—in search of an apartment, we went to see Aimee Mann...

...and ate plenty. Like this beautiful spring frittata at ABV.

And cocktails at the Dream Hotel with the fabulous Ally.
I also went to the C-CAP tasting benefit this afternoon, which featured sweets from an amazing assortment of local bakers and bloggers, including matcha pots de creme from Josephine Son of Saucy Smile...
Smoked sumatra cupcakes from Hazel Sy of Tasty Pursuits...
Italian rainbow cookies from Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert...
 Fruit tarts with lemon lavender cream from Lou and Esi...
And banana pudding with Nutella whipped cream from Angela Sanchez-Robles of Mind Over Batter.
There were many other incredible desserts, along with demos and, needless to say, I overindulged. But it was for a good cause! C-CAP offers scholarships, job training and other support to underprivileged kids in public high schools. Since it was founded by Richard Grausman in 1990, it's offered $40 million in scholarship, which is amazing. To see the group in action and get a sense of who these kids are, check out the documentary, Pressure Cooker

Life is good, mes amis.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I fell in love with these ladies

I'm reading the amazing Culinary Intelligence by Peter Kaminsky and, as I often do when I'm loving a book, and eked out a mini lunch break to read. At one moment, I looked up and saw these two ladies. I was smitten. 
A couple nights later, I fell for two gents: Will Guidara and Daniel Humm. They were interviewed by Melissa Clark at the 92Y, and they are beyond gracious, charming and talented. So much so, that I ponyed up the $50 for their new cookbook, I Heart NY.
There were other loves this week: Gooey on the Inside's red velvet cookie, for example. Ridiculously sweet and indulgent, I can't wait to tear into the other flavors.

Wherever you are, I hope your weekend is filled with delicious activities.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Little Birds

"Paris never gets too dark, because when natural light dissolves, you're never too far from a streetlamp—and they're often beautiful—set upon tall black stalks, each lamp a glowing pair of white balls in love with its very own length of street. Sometimes, they all flicker to life at the same time, as if together they can hold off darkness."

If you haven't discovered Simon Van Booy yet, I can't say enough about him. This lovely quote is from the story "Little Birds" in his collection titled The Secret Lives of People in Love. Last summer, I read his novel Everything Beautiful Began After, and fell in love. Go! Pick up one of his books!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Back to basics

Where would we be without the weekends? They're so essential and restorative.

This past weekend, I celebrated a friend's birthday, went to the movies (The Company You Keep - a solid B), tried a new yoga class and enjoyed the spring weather. More important, I let my schedule slide and indulged in just going with the day. It took me to beautiful places.

Saturday morning, I had what my old French tutor, Josephine, would have called "un gros matin." I booted Milo from the bedroom at 6:30 so I could sleep in, which I did to the (relatively) luxurious hour of 8 a.m. I then finished Hilary Reyl's Lessons in French, which gave me both happy memories of my first experiences and impressions of Paris and empathy for being that young in a foreign country. 

I puttered around my apartment and online (notice the new blog look? Accepting any and all comments!) and then head out for the day. It's been too long since I've had such a I Love NY weekend. 

From lunch (including the mindblowing Brass Monkey smoothie, made with bananas, peanut butter and almond milk) at the Butcher's Daughter...
... to roaming through Dean & Deluca, I had my culinary fix.

And then I popped around to some of my favorite stores, including Erica Tanov, Michele Varian, Ina and McNally Jackson. I sat for a good hour, researching and pondering and coveting this girl's cherry red Celine purse.

I left with just three books in tow and had some tea before heading to Brooklyn for date night.
Today was another futile effort of apartment hunting, but it was a beautiful day and overall such a soul-satisfying weekend and I think I loved it so much because it reminded me of the inspiration and contentment I used to feel in Paris.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring awakening

It's been a classic spring so far. Just a couple of weeks ago, we had a cool, grey Easter (and giant, prehistoric Easter eggs!)...
...which opened up into warm days, full of promise.

The New York vitrines are in the spirit. Fun, cheeky, ready for the party!

Then we nearly hit 80 degrees in New York. And then it came crashing back down to cold rain.
Where to, from here?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The agony of defeat

It’s a modern fairy tale: you meet someone, fall in love and decide, yes, you want to build a future together. Let’s start by finding the perfect place to call home! We’ll move in together, host dinner parties for friends, feed each other croissants in the morning, take bubble baths for two, it will be awesome. Let’s go!

And so, seeing as you’re on the cooler side, you decide that Brooklyn, not Manhattan, is the borough to find this home. Like, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill or Boerum Hill—quintessential Brooklyn. The search starts filled with anticipation, optimism, buoyancy. Look at all these adorable townhouses! Or maybe we should get a modern place down in DUMBO? So many options, where will we wind up??

And then you start going to the open houses. The first few weekends are like going to a friend’s friend’s cocktail party. It’s filled with people—if they could just get out of your way so you can check out the bathroom fixtures and living room view—who seem familiar, you’re all there for a common purpose, but they’re giving you the stink eye. Then these open house soirées become so popular that lines start forming outside. They trail down those covetable stoops, making you feel like an undesirable. So it's this competitive? Game on.

Weeks turn into months and you’ve been hauling your ass all over Brooklyn. Maybe Gowanus, Prospect Heights and Fort Greene should be added to the mix. So you go. And, apparently, so does the rest of the world. Or at least all the other young couples who are looking for a two-bedroom Brooklyn nest to call home. Then the self-loathing kicks in. You look around at all these people who look and act just like you. They want exactly what you’re looking for. And you thought you were so special. Silly girl.

Now you’re months in, devoting every Sunday to an open house circuit, and investing time in culling through financial statements and filling out offer forms and pre-approval letters. It’s not going so well. You’ve been outbid five times. By dozens of people and tens of thousands of dollars.  The price of apartments is going up before your very eyes.

Okay, it’s time to consider Lower Park Slope. Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy or Crown Heights? How important is convenient transportation? The length of your commute? A nearby grocery store? Do we really need that second bedroom? Or maybe we can get a loan big enough for a three bedroom?

You get to the “best and final offer” phase a couple times. It’s all within reach! If you can just pony up a more persuasive offer, a bigger down payment, a little more cash, then you just might get that apartment in that neighborhood that you’re just beginning to make peace with.

But no dice. Three and a half months, forty+ apartments, seven bids later, you’ve still not been granted the keys to a fabulous slice of Brooklyn. You're still searching, hoping, crunching numbers. And you thought Manhattan could be tough.

Monday, April 8, 2013

My Vegan Mondays

I've been remiss lately. If not with actually eating vegan on Mondays (which, admittedly, I didn't last week) than at least with posting about it. But I'm back on the Vegan Mondays!

Coffee with soy milk
Oatmeal with dehydrated raspberries

Falafel pita
Fuji apple

A homemade butternut squash salad
Jelly beans, lots and lots of jelly beans

Despite the jellies, I'm trying to cut back on sugar. And, gah, despite the jellies, I had a boost of renewed motivation after reading Mark Bittman's cover story on healthy fast food for the New York Times Magazine yesterday. Did you read it? If you still have it at home, be sure to read it. And then turn it over and check out the ad on the back cover—written by yours truly.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Has spring really sprung?

At least the cherry blossoms are blooming outside Shakespeare & Co. Have you picked up any good books there lately?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Une question: Paris with the husband

Dear Amy,
I've been reading your blog over and over again (loving it!!), but still have a simple question for you... We are planning a trip to Paris in May for 6 nights; I've been to Paris for several times, but my fresh husband hasn't. Please do name a few places I should 100% definitely drag him! You know the best.

Greetings from freezing Estonia,


Salut, JB!

How exciting that you get to play tour guide for your husband. May is glorious time in the City of Light and you should have a wonderful visit. A handful of places you should 100% definitely drag him?

There are boat tour that leave from Pont Neuf. Take one that leaves at dusk for a beautiful and romantic perspective of the city. You can bring some wine or chocolates. It lasts about an hour and only cost 10-12 euro per person.

There are obviously museums a’plenty in Paris. The Rodin is especially pretty and romantic. It’s a very doable size, with inspiring sculptures and beautiful grounds.

Grab some picnic provisions on rue Moufftard or rue Buci and kick back in the Luxembourg Gardens.

It’s totally extravagant, but you will never forget lunch at Grand Vefour. It’s exceptional in every sense.

Simply follow the Seine: Walk from Ile Saint Louis, past Notre Dame, poke along the bookstalls, criss-cross the bridges, admire the Louvre, Place de la Concorde, absorb the beauty of Pont Alexandre III and stare at the Eiffel Tower.

Lastly, a few restaurants to consider: Au Vieux au Comptoir in the 1e is a meat-centric locals’ gem. Chez Georges  in the 2eme is an adorable old-timey bistro—tres romantique! And Chez Janou in the Marais is a Provencal bistro—boisterous and delicious. 

Have a wonderful time next month!