["Hey, Mum, this is a really Big Apple!"]
How did the HH and I end up in New York last weekend? Well, it all started last December, after the HH had a car accident.
Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fender-bender, but that left my honey without a car. And since I’d been planning to buy a new one in 2011 anyway, I gave the HH my old vehicle and promptly paid the downpayment for my new one on credit (I’m sure there are a few financial advisors rolling over in their cubicles somewhere at that news). A few months later, I received my Airmiles statement and–based on the car purchase–I had amassed 6000 points! Whoo hoo!
A quick trip online confirmed what I’d been dreaming about: I had just enough points to cover the cost of a two-night stay at a hotel in New York City. Combined with a promotion from Porter Airlines ($49 each way), the HH and I were on our way!
Even with free hotel and (almost) free airfare, our junket still cost as much as our usual summer stay at a resort hotel up north. But no matter: we got to be in New York for a weekend! In honor of the frenetic, pulsing, humming, city-that-never-sleeps energy that is The Big Apple, here is an abridged version of our 36-hour stay.
Saturday: Read, Meet, Eat, Kick up Your Feet on Broadway!
[Two rockin' Over-40 blogger gals!]
3:30 PM: Upon arrival at the hotel, drop bags off in the room and scurry to Lincoln Center and the Performing Arts Library so the HH can request an archived copy of an audio magazine he’s been wanting to read. Yes, we went to the library. Before we did anything else. In New York City. (That HH is one wacky nerd, isn’t he?) The stroll back to the hotel (30 blocks) was lovely, however.
[Nori rolls from Candle 79.]
5:30 PM: Meet up with JL of JL Goes Vegan and her hubby for an amazing dinner at Candle 79, a place I’ve been dying to visit for years. Enjoy stellar eats and conversation. Hit it off famously while gabbing about veganism, blogs, MTV, travel, conferences (I’m so envious that she’s going to both BlogHer and Vida Vegan!), changing one’s lifestyle over 40, stereo equipment, cool iPhone applications, marriage, Las Vegas, and more.
[The HH's Raw Lasagna entrée. Sadly, my tempeh and veggies were unphotogenic.]
Drool over the food as we eat. Many glasses of wine (or, in my case, mineral water) and guffaws later, suddenly realize we’ll miss our play if we don’t end the dinner far earlier than we’d like to. Vow to meet up again some time (hopefully in Toronto next time!).
8:00 PM: See Tyne Daly as Maria Callas in Master Class. Marvel at a brilliant performance that is totally mesmerizing. Listen to the HH opine about how Broadway is the only place in the world where they actually know how to do theater “right.” (Sorta agree).
11:30 PM: Stop at the hotel bar for a nightcap. The HH enjoys a Heineken while I sip on another mineral water (and dream of G&Ts).
Sunday: Artsy Neighborhood, Fine Art and an Artful Vegan Dinner
[Looks pretty good, doesn't it? But looks can be deceiving. . . . ]
11:30 AM: Trek to Quantum Leap for well-reviewed brunch. After many questions and an assurance from the wait staff, order tofu scramble and gluten free cornmeal pancakes. Express intense excitement at being able to find a breakfast that is at once gluten free, vegan, and sugar free! Sample the meal and express intense disappointment that, while the flavor is fine, the texture is incredibly heavy and everything seems drenched in oil. Leave half the meal on the plate.
1:00 PM: Stop in at Barnes and Noble and have a lovely (if far too short) chat with Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. Feel very grateful for the world of food blogging.
2:00 PM: Cab it to the Guggenheim to see the Kandinsky exhibit. Hyperventilate at finally making it to a landmark museum that I’ve dreamed about seeing in person for decades. Enjoy Kandinsky, but then giggle uncontrollably at the main museum exhibit, a collection of rocks placed strategically on the floor of the museum. Put up with glaring stare of museum docents as they repeatedly ask patrons to “Please avoid stepping on the exhibits.”
[Be sure to walk slowly and you won't get dizzy. But watch out for rocks at your feet.]
4:00 PM: Walk back to the hotel alongside Central Park (44 blocks!), awestruck at the architecture and topiary fronting the many multi-million dollar apartment buildings. When nearing the vicinity of the hotel, stop at Juice Generation to order a “Detox Delight” (cucumber, carrot, apple, lemon and ginger) to help offset the awful brunch. Feel pretty darned virtuous (and smile knowing that my belly is satisfied).
6:45 PM: Dinner at Blossom. Another hit. Dig in to the raw Sweet Potato Rolls and subsequently the Hickory Smoked Tempeh atop a mound o’ collard greens (the primary reason for ordering that dish). Savor the meal while reveling in the quaint atmosphere of the restaurant. Finish dinner before realizing, I’m a very bad blogger, indeed–I totally forgot to snap a pic of my meal!
9:00 PM: Walk the 22 blocks back to the hotel after dinner. Notice that Times Square at 10:00 PM is brighter than our street at 10:00 AM. Fall into bed so tired that we fall asleep by 10:30.
Monday: Hello Again–and Adieu
8:00 AM: Meet up with my old pal from highschool, “Frank.” Frank was the third member of a threesome including Sterlin and me (no no no no, not that kind of threesome! We were entirely innocent, nerdy teens, silly!) and was the friend who first introduced me to the movie Young Frankenstein. Spend a lovely hour and a half catching up and gabbing before Frank realizes he’ll be late for work if he doesn’t leave. Stride along Lexington (still gabbing) before parting ways. Return to the hotel energized and a little sad that the visit is at an end. Pack bags, check the bathroom for stray underwear, check out and head back to the airport.
2:00 PM Land at Toronto’s Island Airport. While driving home, begin plotting the next visit to the Big Apple.
One of my concerns before leaving was how I’d remain true to my sugar detox while away. Of course, if someone must follow a detox while on vacation, New York City is definitely the place to be. To ensure “clean” eating, I toted along some almond butter, some Coconut Brittle and fruit for the road, and chose my meals carefully (the only dud was brunch on Sunday).
I mentioned the brittle a while back on Facebook and promised to post the recipe. Here it is! It’s one of the recipes I developed for the Sweet Victory program I’m co-hosting with Andrea Nakayama. There are more than 50 people taking the program, and we’ve seen some great results so far. For me, the detox represents a return to a more pure diet that I established when I first started the ACD. And I’m delighted that I was able to navigate the challenges of a trip away so much more easily this time round without straying from the detox protocol.
As one of the participants in the program remarked, the brittle is almost like a dense cookie bar. . . I think of its texture as cracker-like. It’s not overly sweet (you can add more stevia to taste), but its dry, crispy texture, and the fact that I break it into ragged pieces, is what prompted the name ”brittle” for me.
Coconut Brittle (suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
This is a great take-along snack or dessert. The healthy fats and fiber from the coconut help to make the brittle really satisfying and filling, while the fruit helps to boost the sweetness.
2 tablespoons (30 ml) raw cacao nibs
2 tablespoons (30 ml) whole chia seeds
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) natural smooth almond butter
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
2 tablespoons (30 ml) yacon syrup or agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) plain or vanilla stevia liquid, or more, to taste
2 teaspoons (10 ml) whole vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
Pinch fine sea salt
2 cups (480 ml) unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons (30 ml) sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 250F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (the parchment is necessary for this recipe).
In a coffee grinder, pulse the cacao nibs to chop them up. Remove to a small bowl and set aside. Without cleaning the grinder, add the chia seeds and grind until they form a powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the applesauce, almond butter, water, yacon, stevia, vanilla powder and sea salt; process to blend. Add the coconut, sesame seeds, chopped cacao nibs and powdered chia and process until it comes together in a sticky “dough” (you should still see some shreds of coconut and spots of cacao nibs; it doesn’t have to be totally smooth).
Using a silicone spatula, spread the “dough” more or less into a rectangle that is about 12 x 10 inches (about 1/4 inch thick). Don’t worry if the edges are a bit ragged.
Bake in preheated oven for one hour. At this point, if the top is dry, cut the rectangle into quarters and flip each piece over and cut each piece into 4-8 smaller pieces, as desired. Separate the pieces so there is space between them.
Bake the pieces for another hour, then check for doneness. The brittle is done when it is dry all the way through and deep golden brown. (If some pieces are ready before the others, remove those and continue to bake the rest until done).
Allow to cool completely, then break into smaller pieces, if desired. Makes 10-12 servings. Store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Prepare the “dough” as above, but spread it onto a teflex sheet and dehydrate until dry on top. Flip and cut into pieces as above, then continue to dehydrate on a screen until all the pieces are dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.
Last Year at this Time: Blissed Out: Review of Christy Morgan’s Cooking with the Seasons Summer Ebook & Red Lentil Pâté Recipe (Gluten Free; ACD, All stages)
Two Years Ago: Lucky Comestible 5 (5): “Ground” Tempeh in a Cilantro-Curry Sauce (Gluten Free; ACD All Stages)
Three Years Ago: Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Black Bean Bites (can be gluten-free; for ACD, use apple cider vinegar instead of balsamic).