Great Eats on the Road: It’s a Wonderful Town!

[“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.

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This recipe is entered in Diane’s Real Food Weekly and Wellness Weekend this week.

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).


[Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links. If you buy using these links, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission from the sale.]



  1. Ricki, this is such a great recap! You packed in a so much — and isn’t all of that walking awesome? Great way to see the city.

    Okay, now that I’ve met you, and totally trust you, I will finally try Blossom!

    And speaking of meeting you — we had so much fun with you and HH at Candle 79! Felt like old friends getting together. I’ve been wanting to visit Toronto and now I simply must, because I want to hang out with you again (and longer)

    Oh, I’m glad you made it to the play on time! (I had no doubt!) 😉


    • JL, we felt the same about you guys–you HAVE to come visit! Toronto in summer is spectacular. It’s like a more spread-out, less crowded NYC. Not as much buzz, but definitely as much to do. And I will vouch for those rolls at Blossom–fabulous! 🙂

  2. Sounds like a jam-packed trip! I love how NYC is so walkable and filled with so many great vegan options! You missed Kalustyan’s which my favourite find of my last trip…. although, you may not be into heirloom beans as much as me. 😉

  3. great post Ricki, and brutally honest. I am making that brittle as soon as it gets cool enough in Pgh to turn on the oven! 🙂

    • Thanks, Rick (must admit, I didn’t feel there was anything particularly brutal in this post!) Hope you like the brittle! And you might be able to make it sooner than you think. . . the oven is set at only 250F. 🙂

  4. Ricki! What a whirlwind. I’m so happy that you got to see New York City! I love the energy of the Big Apple, I find myself wandering for hours and hours just moving with the excitement of the city. I am very glad you were able to meet up with JL. I can’t wait to see her at VVC.

    Thank you for sharing the Coconut Brittle recipe with the world, it is amazing. I ate my sample far too fast and plan to make a batch when I’m back home this weekend. xo

    • Lisa, yes, it was quite the whirlwind! But we had a great time. And so glad you like the brittle! (PS When you see JL, give her a hug for me). 🙂

  5. what a busy two days you had in nyc! i’ve been to blossom, but not candle 79 and i want go SO BADLY! it’s a shame your brunch was so heavy, there’s nothing worse than gluten-free food done wrong :/ luckily, it seems that the rest of your delish meals made up for it!

    • Candle 79 was worth it (a bit more pricey than Blossom). And I agree, somehow the GF pancakes seemed more heavy than glutenous ones I’ve had!

  6. It looks like you had SO much fun! I never did see the Guggenheim when I was in New York, unfortunately. I’m drooling over the menu at Blossom..

    Good food and brittle on top of it! Love the post!

    • Lauren, yes, it was a blast! And the food at Blossom was terrific (though I’ve heard they had mixed reviews; our dinner was great, though). Hope you like the brittle!

  7. I was in NYC this past weekend too! Unfortunately, we did not get to spend much time; fortunately, we were visiting my brother who just moved there, so we’ll get to make a lot more trips in the future.

    • Oh, too bad we didn’t know you were there at the same time! But it sounds like you wouldn’t have had time for a meetup anyway. Next time! 🙂

  8. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Glad you got a chance to enjoy yourself in NYC. There is so much wonderful food there. Too bad about your brunch. The juice sounded like it made up for it though. 🙂

    • Alicia, I couldn’t believe how many places served food I could actually eat–it was like heaven! And the juice really did make up for the brunch. 🙂

  9. I can’t believe you decide to visit New York right after I move out of there!!! The nerve! Also, the nerve of posting food pics from Candle 79 when I never made it there during my time in NYC. How could you???

    Ok, in all seriousness, looks like a great time!! The coconut brittle looks amazing, too.

    • Argh!! Sorry I missed you! Last time I visited I found out about other bloggers there as well. NYC is filled with amazing blogging women and men! And sorry about the Candle temptation. But it is worth a trip! 🙂

  10. How wonderful and what a great trip! Love the recipe as usual, but its just neat to see you in a current picture too!

  11. Sounds like a great weekend! I’m jealous of your meals at Candle 79 and Blossom.

  12. what a way to make something fun come out of something not so fun! Glad you had a fantastic trip. as soon as I make some apple sauce, this is so happening.

    • Thanks, Cheryl! By the time the Airmiles statement arrived, any trauma related to the accident was long gone. We were both ready to have some fun! Hope you enjoy the brittle. 🙂

  13. As soon as I have an oven again (after the kitchen is done…) and the temps cool down a bit, I am TOTALLY making this! I love that it’s sweetened so naturally, and with just a little agave or yacon. I’ve been trying to do only fruit or stevia sweetened things lately…this looks like a keeper! 🙂

  14. This coconut brittle looks like good take-along food . . .

  15. That coconut brittle looks exactly what I should have been snacking on at work today – had a bad bad work snacks because just couldn’t get myself organised – your holiday sounds great and how wonderful that you could keep up the sugar detox! I now want to buy a car on my credit card and find myself with a free holiday to new york

    • Sorry about the bad work snacks! Work tends to be that way. 😉 Glad you like the look of the brittle, though! Since I posted that blog entry, I realized it makes me sound like a very financially irresponsible gal indeed! I should have noted that I’d been saving for this car for over a year, so I actually had all the funds on hand to pay–but decided to put it on the credit card so I could defer by a month, knowing I’d be able to pay the balance when it came through. The points were a bonus! 🙂

  16. Sounds like an amazing trip to New York! I would love to try Candle 79. And this coconut brittle sounds fantastic, especially for a coconut lover like me.


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  2. […] meeting but I felt like I’ve known her and her human honey (HH) forever! (You can read her NY weekend recap here.)  Instant […]

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