The Oberoi Amarvilas

The Oberoi Amarvilas

The Oberoi Amarvilas

Our second stop on our recent trip to India was Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, where we stayed in the Oberoi Amarvilas.  Now, normally, I wouldn’t devote a separate post to a hotel, but like all the hotels we stayed in during this trip (which was, after all, an Oberoi-based tour), this one was extraordinary.  It was fabulously beautiful, and the service was beyond amazing.

Let’s start by talking about the room.  It was large, with an enormous king bed, a writing desk and a lounge chair.  The bathroom was the sort of big bathroom with a separate bath and shower that I love to see in a hotel room when we travel.  And – there was a balcony, with a set of chairs and a little table where we could sit in the morning, with our coffee or tea, and gaze at – you guessed it –

The Taj Mahal.  Every room at the Oberoi Amarvilas has a view of India’s most famous monument, and from the moment we stepped out onto our balcony and had our first glimpse of the Taj, we knew we were going to have an incredible time in Agra.

The View of the Taj Mahal from our Balcony

The View of the Taj Mahal from our Balcony

Though we only stayed in Agra for two nights, we managed to sample a lot of the food they had to offer, simply because everything we ate in Agra was from the hotel.  We had breakfast a couple of times at the Bellevue Restaurant, their Western food restaurant.  And on our first evening, we were rather tired, so we had room service.

For our second night, we made a reservation at Esphahan, the hotel’s restaurant which specializes in Indian food. They also have live music during dinner. So we got dressed up and went down to the lower restaurant level. We were a few minutes early, so I took the opportunity to step out onto the deck near the pool and take some photos of the hotl’s glorious exterior.

Our dinner at Esphahan was lovely, and served as a nice conclusion to our stay in Agra.  The hammered dulcimer player, sitting on a small stage right next to our table, entertained us with a series of ragas.

As for the food, it was very good, and notable for the fact that the chef created dishes on the spot to accommodate my allergy. You see, Esphahan is very sensitive about people’s dietary restrictions. In the menu, there are symbols indicating which dishes are vegetarian, which are spicy, and which are gluten-free. There is even a symbol indicated in the key for lactose-free dishes, but that symbol does not appear next to any of the dishes on the menu!  I pointed this glitch out to the waiter, who was very apologetic, and after conferring with the chef, he asked what food I would like to eat, saying the chef would make something dairy free for me.

Thus it was that I enjoyed an incredible spicy porcini mushroom appetizer and a succulent goat curry.  I appreciated the chef giving me this individual attention;but that is typical of the high level of service given at Oberoi hotels!

Next time, I will begin to tell you about our visits to the Taj Mahal and the other things we saw inAgra.

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Qutub Minar and Humayun’s Tomb

Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar

Our first full day in India we got to see two of Delhi’s World Heritage Sites.  Our guide Prem, in consultation with us and the Oberoi concierge, designed the perfect day for us. Since we would be back for two days in Delhi, and since the Red Fort was closed that day (Monday), he decided to avoid Old Delhi on this day, and instead focus on some sights around Delhi. He started out by telling us about the history of Delhi, how it is not one city, but a combination of several cities.  The area surrounding the Qutub Minar, our first stop, was one of the earliest settled cities of Delhi.

The name itself refers to the large tower at the center of the complex, but the entire complex is commonly referred to by the same name.  Built as a minaret, it is too tall to be used that way.  Instead, it was most certainly a testament to the power of the rulers who had it built.  Until the early 1980s, it was possible to climb to the top, but a tragic stampede inside that killed dozens (including many school children) forced the tower to be closed.

It is still great to look at – the ornate Arabic carvings covering the exterior of the tower are quite exquisite.  I also loved the columns of the ancient mosque.  And of course the legendary Iron Pillar which stands in the complex is extraordinary – considering its age, its condition and lack of rust is amazing.

With our visit to the Qutub Minar under our belt, it was time to head to the next site, Humayun’s Tomb.

Humayun's Tomb Entrance Sign

Humayun’s Tomb Entrance Sign

It is common to refer to Humayun’s Tomb as an inspiration for the design of the Taj Mahal.  And sure, in northern part of India, everything revolves around the Taj, India’s most famous sight, and one of the most famous buildings in the world.  However, personally, I think Humayun’s Tomb stands on its own as an extraordinarily beautiful building.

One of the things that sets Humayun’s Tomb apart from other funerary sights is that there are many tombs built here.  Yes, the main building stands apart from the rest, with the garden surrounding it and its impressive size.  But I enjoyed seeing the other tombs there as well, especially Neela Gumbad with its brilliant blue roof and Isa Khan’s Tomb – the latter is in the process of having its exterior restored, and when the whole thing is brought to the level of the small portion that is now complete, it will really be wonderful to look at.

Having seen two incredible sights, well deserving of the status which UNESCO has bestowed upon them, it was time to eat some lunch.  Prem had a great restaurant in mind for us, a place that is a favorite for Delhi locals.  With the welcoming name of Have More, we were intrigued to try it.

To be brief, we loved our lunch at Have More.  Therese and Prem had the Butter Chicken, which apparently is a special of the restaurant.  I of course opted for something butter-less, and Prem, after consulting with the waiter, suggested I order the Chicken Tikka Masala (I later learned that Tikka Masala is often made by marinating the meat in yogurt, but I guess in this case that was not the method of preparation).  The sightseeing had made us very hungry, and we all had a nice big lunch.

Therese and Prem ordered a half portion of their Butter Chicken, while I was foolish enough to order a full portion of the Chicken Tikka Masala.  At this lunch, I became a huge fan of garlic nan – they prepared some without butter for me, and oh man, I loved it.  Spreading the chicken and spices and vegetables on the bread was excellent.

When we left the restaurant, in the parking lot in front there was a snake charmer.  Therese had the guts to sit there and have a photo op with the cobra (yes, it’s a real snake, and no, I did not have the guts to do it).

Therese and the Snake Charmer

Therese and the Snake Charmer

We concluded our day in Delhi by visiting a little of New Delhi, the part of the city which was built by the British after they occupied India in the 19th century.  We saw the India Gate, a monument to the Indians who died fighting in World War One, and the nearby Canopy which once held a statue of King George V.

Surrounding the gate, there were numerous snack trucks, and Prem explained to us how the snacks are made.

Street Snacks Near India Gate

Street Snacks Near India Gate

We found the explanation fascinating, but remembered the warnings we had heard not to eat Indian street food.

Just a week before we arrived had been India’s Republic Day, celebrating the establishment of their constitution, and U.S. President Barack Obama had attended the festivities.  Prem told us how it takes them six months to put up the chairs for all the people for the Republic Day celebrations, and another six months to take them all down, thus ensuring that the people assigned to the work are employed all year-round.  As we walking around the area, we saw several cars and trucks full of workers who were very friendly toward us.

 

Posted in Countries, Dairy Free, Food, India, Indian Food, Lunch, Monuments, New Delhi, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Van Leeuwen Survived the Blast

Van Leeuwen Survived the Blast

Van Leeuwen Survived the Blast

If you have been connected to New York City news over the last week or so, I’m sure you heard about the terrible gas explosion which resulted in the collapse and destruction of 3 buildings in the East Village.  Wow!  My heart was in my throat, seeing the utter devastation, and the fire department’s efforts to get the people out and search for survivors.  This area is full of great restaurants, and as a result of the explosion, a number of them were shut down, including Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream parlor, which is catty-cornered to the sight of the blast, namely, just off the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street.

I know that for small businesses, any loss of revenue, weighed against the crazy rents they have to pay, can be devastating.  So, after thinking about all the loss of homes and potential casualties to the explosion, my second thought was, “hey, we’ve got to keep Van Leeuwen and these other great food purveyors going!”  But of course, the news was that, for a couple days at least, the area would be closed off, and the businesses shuttered – and besides, even if there had been businesses open, the foot traffic would’ve interfered with the rescue efforts, and I wouldn’t have wanted to contribute to that.

In Van Leeuwen’s case, at least, there was an alternative: to buy some of their great vegan ice cream pints, which are available at Whole Foods.  So quicker than you can say, “gas explosion,” I stopped in at the Columbus Circle store after work, and picked up pints of Salted Caramel and Mint Chocolate Chip.

Van Leeuwen Salted Caramel and Mint Chocolate Chip Vegan Ice Creams

Van Leeuwen Salted Caramel and Mint Chocolate Chip Vegan Ice Creams

Previously, my favorite Van Leeuwen vegan flavor has been their chocolate, with its base of Michel Cluizel chocolate, so rich and so so chocolate-y.  But these two flavors are also quite excellent.  I was surprised to see that they would offer a vegan salted caramel, since I always associate butter with caramel.  But this vegan caramel, though butter-less, manages to be quite buttery in flavor and scrumptious.  My only complaint is that I think it needs some nuts – some chopped walnuts or pecans would take it to the next level.

As for the mint chocolate chip, this may be the best of that variety I have ever tasted.  First of all, it is so so minty and refreshing.  And the chips offer a nice crunchy alternative to the creaminess of the coconut and almond milk base, without making the experience gritty or grainy.  I mixed scoops of the two together in a bowl for my dessert, and bless me if I wasn’t a happy camper.

I called Van Leeuwen’s East 7th Street location, and I am happy to report that they have re-opened.  The fellow I talked to was happy about that, but being in the middle of helping some customers, he couldn’t say much more.  Therese and I will have to make a special trip soon to have some sundaes.

As for other businesses devastated by the explosion, Pommes Frites, an old favorite of mine, was at the street level of one of the buildings lost.  I haven’t been there, surprisingly since the summer of 2013.

Their website reports that they have received lots of support and look forward to hopefully opening again in a new location.  I can only imagine what a monumental effort that will be!  Jimmy’s 43, a small tavern whose building was immediately adjacent to the explosion, miraculously escaped damage – I’m not sure if they have re-opened yet, though.  If you’re going to be in the area and looking for a good Belgian beer, give them a call.

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Silk Dairy Free Yogurt Alternative

Silk Dairy Free Yogurt Alternative

Silk Dairy Free Yogurt Alternative

My favorite dairy free yogurt alternative (hereafter I will just say “yogurt) brand is currently Silk.  Why?  Because it gives me the closest experience to what I remember eating the “real thing” (more on that in a moment) was like.  It is both tangy and sweet.

Like many Americans, I first ate yogurt after that entertaining series of commercials Dannon put out in the late 1970s depicting centenarians in then-Soviet Georgia eating yogurt.  I enjoyed the process of stirring the yogurt, incorporating the sweet fruit on the bottom into the tangy-to-the-point-of-being-sour yogurt on the top.

For the experience of stirring the fruit into the yogurt, I would say that Stonyfield O’Soy Yogurt takes the prize.  The yogurt on the top is blandly white, the fruit is red or purple, and mixing them together is fun.  However, Stonyfield is a little too much on the sweet side, to the point where, while I’m eating it, I can help but think: “is this really good for me?”

Silk has the flavor aspect copied well.  The fruit provides some sweetness, but overall, there is plenty of tanginess.  It is easy to believe that I am getting my cultures, which will make my intestinal flora happy.

Silk Blueberry Yogurt Alternative

Silk Blueberry Yogurt Alternative

However, when it comes to the fruit and mixing it into the yogurt, Silk has it all wrong.  First of all, their yogurts are the color of whatever the fruit flavor is.  Second, there isn’t that much fruit to speak of.  It’s as if, in the processing of the product, they pureed the fruit and mixed it into the yogurt, thus denying the consumer the fun of doing it for themselves.  There must be a killjoy somewhere on the Silk staff.  I can just imagine him, knitting his brow and saying, “people are having too much fun stirring their fruit into their yogurt! Don’t they know that this stuff is good for you, and that health is very serious?!”

My imagination aside, I do like Silk, I also like the Stonyfield.  If someone comes along with a product that combines the fun of the stirring (and chewing of actual pieces of fruit) along with the yogurt taste profile, I may jump ship and make that my favorite.  If anyone knows of a dairy free yogurt alternative that combines those two elements, please let me know!

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Daiya, Tofutti and So Delicious

When I talk about Daiya, Tofutti and So Delicious, I am apt to smile.  These are three companies that, probably more than any other creating dairy alternatives, bring the most enjoyment to my life.  So it is only natural that I can bring a lot of passion to the subject of comparing their products, and I am happy to share which of their products I use on weekly, if not daily, basis.

Linguine Carbonara with Daiya Mozzarella Shreds

Linguine Carbonara with Daiya Mozzarella Shreds

Daiya.  For cheese substitutes, I almost exclusively use Diaya’s shreds and blocks these days.  At one time, there were some local supermarkets that sold soy cheeses that were pretty good and seemed to be reliably dairy free; however, over time, they changed their recipes to include casein, so I have stopped using them.  As for Daiya’s cheese, the shreds are fantastic for adding to pasta dishes, soups, etc. – basically, any time I want to add some creamy cheesy flavor to a dish, sprinkling some Daiya shreds on top takes a good dish and elevates it to something special!

As for the blocks (or wedges), they are useful in a variety of ways.  I will slice them to add to a sandwich, and they make awesome grilled cheese sandwiches.  I often use the cheddar to make stove top macaroni and cheese (using Alton Brown’s fantastic recipe, of course!).  I will say that Daiya’s cheeses are not firm enough to effectively grate – I have tried hand-grating them several times, but it is a messy and somewhat less than effective process.  When I need my Daiya grated, I am happy to buy their shreds, since they do a much better job than I ever could!

Of course, Daiya does make other products.  I have tried Daiya’s pizzas a few times.  I find their allergy free crust to be just palatable – when I want a pizza with Daiya cheese on it, I opt for Amy’s Vegan Margherita.  I have also tried Daiya’s cream cheeses.  They are not bad, but I find the texture a bit grainy, and the flavor a bit too tangy for me (I have a preference for another brand’s cream cheese, which I will discuss below).  I have yet to try Daiya’s cheezecakes yet, simply because I have never seen them in a store – but now I will keep my eye out for them, and report back to you!

French Toast with Tofutti Cream Cheese

French Toast with Tofutti Cream Cheese

Tofutti.  Well, you didn’t have to wait long to hear about my favorite dairy free cream cheese, did you?  That’s right: as you can see from the photo above, Tofutti is the one!  I have been eating Tofutti’s “Better Than Cream Cheese” for more than 20 years, and it is still the one I turn to when I want a bagel with salmon and a shmear for breakfast.  Their cream cheese has an incredible smooth texture, and its flavor is a perfect combination of tangy and sweet.  I usually will buy their plain variety for its versatility – in addition to making a nice simple sandwich, it can also come in handy for sweet preparations (for instance, in making icing for cupcakes).  But I also love (love!) the French Onion and Herbs & Chives varieties (they work great on a cinnamon raisin bagel, for a bit of a savory/sweet combination).

Another Tofutti product that I use often is their Better Than Sour Cream.  For thickening up sauces and adding a little tang, it is great!  And of course, I frequently add it to soups (split pea soup with Tofutti sour cream – oh yes!).  The 12 ounce package gives enough that whenever I feel the urge to add a spoonful of it to a dish, more than likely, I will have some left in my fridge (and it keeps for weeks, which is great too).

There are many other Tofutti products that I have tried over the years, and most of them I have enjoyed a great deal.  One I tried earliest is still one of my favorite frozen desserts of all time – Tofutti Vanilla Fudge Swirl (ultimate awesomeness!!!)  One product I tried recently that didn’t work for me was the Better Than Ricotta Cheese.  I used it in a baked dish – I think it was eggplant parmesan – and it became watery and didn’t have much flavor.  At some point I will try that one again, but next time I am going to make lasagna, probably combining the Tofutti ricotta with some Daiya mozzarella.  I will let you know how that comes out!

So Delicious Coconut Creamer

So Delicious Coconut Creamer

So Delicious.  Like Tofutti, So Delicious is for ever adding new products, and pretty much everything I have tried, I have liked.  For a while, I was drinking their Cococcino coffee drinks like they were going out of style.  But not being much of a coffee drinker, I have moved on to other products.  The one I tried most recently is pictured above: the Coconut Milk Creamer.  I bought this mainly as a milk drink, to use in the same cases where I might otherwise use almond milk, let’s say.  Well, yesterday I used half coconut creamer and half almond milk in my french toast dredge, and wow, that was probably the best french toast I’ve ever made.

I still associate So Delicious mainly with frozen desserts, and goodness knows, I go through a pint of their Chocolate Obsession or Peanut Butter Zigzag in no time (hey, whatever happened to my other favorite, Rocky Road?).  I almost have to NOT buy So Delicious pints just in the interest of keeping my belt size under control!  But I do buy their yogurts (cultured coconut milk, whatever they want to call it) occasionally as well.  And I look forward to seeing what they are going to come out with next!

In the final analysis, if I had to choose one of these three brands as a favorite, I would probably go with Tofutti.  For variety of products and uses, and sheer track record (I have been eating their products more than 20, possibly even 30, years), the other two can’t compete with Tofutti.  I would love to see So Delicious try their hand at making cheeses, or at least a cream cheese, using coconut milk as the base.  My doctor would love that one too (she was singing coconut’s praises during my last visit), and that would be a great alternative to Tofutti (which of course is always soy-based).

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The Oberoi New Delhi

The Oberoi New Delhi

The Oberoi New Delhi

Well, it took us two days, but just before 3am on Monday, February 2nd, we finally arrived at our destination, the Oberoi New Delhi.  Our trip to India was built around a tour designed by the Oberoi Group, and we had customized it to include 4 cities: New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur.  In each of the four cities, we would stay in luxurious Oberoi hotels, and use a driver and guides to help us explore all the cultural riches to be seen in those cities.

After an overnight trip involving two flights to get from New York City to New Delhi, it was so great to find a driver with a sign waiting for us in New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Airport.  You can imagine that we were very tired, and having a driver along with an airport official to walk us to the car (of course they immediately took charge of our luggage, so all we had to do was walk) was sensational.

The driver was quite gregarious, offering us water and asking what sort of music we wanted to listen to on the radio.  He pointed out a couple of details along the way.  My first impression was one of surprise that the city was so spread out, with so many wide avenues. We would later learn that this is the southern, “New” part of the city, which was built by the British when they took control of India in the nineteenth century.

When we entered the hotel, we received the wonderful welcome that everyone writes about: rose petals underfoot, a dot of saffron applied to the middle of the forehead (which is meant to restore balance to the mind) and a warm towel to refresh us.  We entered the spacious and beautiful lobby with its many artistic details and comfortable couches.

Our luggage was spirited away – we never had to touch our luggage pretty much the whole time we were in India – and we were shown to our Executive Suite (a complementary upgrade that was one of the perks of doing the full Oberoi tour).  A minute later someone appeared with our luggage on a cart and deposited it in the bedroom.

As for every day, there was a plate of fruit and a second plate of sweet snacks, and on the dining table there was also a complementary bottle of wine.  We sliced up some fruit and had a little snack, and then got to bed.  We wanted to get the ball rolling quickly the next day, which meant we would only get about 6 hours sleep before our wake up call, shower, late breakfast in the dining room and meeting our guide and driver the “next” day.

Breakfast in the Oberoi New Delhi’s Threesixty restaurant was splendid.  Our initial impression that it was the best breakfast that we might have for the whole trip was borne out by our experience during the trip.  The other three hotels might outshine New Delhi in other ways, but this Oberoi has the best breakfast of all.

The large buffet was split into three sections: cereal and yogurt, fruit and omelets, and English and Indian breakfast.  Seeing that among the jugs of milk was one of soy milk was thrilling to me – so so nice to be able to have the choice to eat a bowl of cereal if that’s what I wanted!  And along with 4 or 5 varieties of cereal were dried fruits and nuts.  In spite of it being India’s winter, the middle section had several tasty varieties of fruit to offer.  I never would’ve guessed that they would have watermelon in India, for example, but there it was.

The Indian breakfast section was the most intriguing for Therese.  When a cook at the buffet saw her interest, she had the chef make Therese an entire Indian breakfast plate, and the chef himself came to our table to explain the various items to us and to hear our reactions.  Beyond discussing the food, we proceeded to have a very nice chat with him about our plans in India.  This was just the first example of what we would witness again and again at the Oberoi hotels – people were very happy to stop whatever they were doing and chat with us and take care of any request we might have.  I suppose you could say that we got special treatment because we were special guests, since we had signed on for the Oberoi tour.  But I don’t think this was so: I am fully confident that Oberoi treats every guest at their hotels with this same level of truly remarkable hospitality and service.

After having that amazing breakfast, we were sorry to be leaving New Delhi so soon – we would only have one day there before leaving for Agra on Tuesday morning.  But we were consoled by the thought that we would return at the end of our trip, for two more days.  In my next India post, I will tell you about our first guided sightseeing in India, as we visited the Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and India Gate (and ate our first authentic Indian meal).

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Foraycation to Williamsburg

Foraycation to Williamsburg

Foraycation to Williamsburg

It’s been a long time since Therese and I have gone on a foraycation, that sort of trip which is somewhere between a vacation and a staycation.  Recently, my stepdaughter and her husband relocated to a new apartment in a stylish building not far from McCarren Park.  So two weekends ago, we got a chance to trek out to Williamsburg to visit them and my son-in-law’s mom, who had driven down from Vermont to see the new place and spend the weekend with them.

If you are not from New York City, let me give you a few words on Williamsburg.  It is directly east of Manhattan’s East Village, but rather remote when it comes to public transportation (there is only one subway line that goes there from Manhattan, and one that connects it to other parts of Brooklyn).  In the 1980s and 1990s, when the East Village (which had been one of the cheapest neighborhoods to live in in Manhattan, and thus was full of artists and musicians living in rundown buildings) started to get gentrified, the artists and musicians left and many of them moved to Williamsburg.  At the time, Williamsburg was full of immigrant tenements and warehouses; but over time, the new residents of Williamsburg fixed it up, and in time, funky restaurants and bars full of character opened up.

And as with most neighborhoods that get a reputation for being cutting-edge and hip, little by little people who were not artists and who had a lot more money than them decided Williamsburg would be a cool place for them to live too.  But of course they wouldn’t tolerate the edgy living conditions that the artists would.  In time, developers tapped the Williamsburg market and started tearing down the tenements and putting in brand new shiny apartment buildings with funky details and state-of-the-art details.  This brings us to the present day, where most of the artists and musicians have now moved on to places like Bushwick because they can no longer afford to live in Williamsburg.  A lot of the hipness of the neighborhood is still there in the restaurants and bars, and since it is still rather remote from Manhattan, it has retained some of its edgy character.

Therese and I took a cab to Williamsburg from the Financial District (getting there by public transportation would’ve meant taking two subways and then walking a good distance), and got there faster than we expected to.  As we walked in early, we saw our daughter slipping out to pick up coffee for herself and her husband.  We went upstairs and got a look at their apartment – the building and their apartment are both very very nice.  And after chatting for a while and letting the two youngsters get fully caffeinated, it was time to head off to our brunch spot.  Our daughter had gone ahead after getting her coffee to put our name in at the restaurant, so that hopefully when we got there, they would have a table ready.

Five Leaves Cafe

Five Leaves Cafe

The day was warmish, but there was lots of snow on the ground, especially as we walked past McCarren Park.  Within about 10 minutes, we arrived at Five Leaves.  There were tables set out on the sidewalk, and those were pretty full, but we decided we would be more comfortable inside.  The inside was cozy, but the five of us squeezed around a table, and set about exploring the menu.

Five Leaves’ menu, as you would expect of a small restaurant, is rather limited.  However, all their offerings sound really good.  The add-ons for many of the dishes make them very appealing.  For example, their house “Five Leaves” burger comes with pickled beets and harissa mayo.  I chose the BLAT – bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich with cumin lime mayo – on a roll, with the optional fried egg on top, and a complementary side of the house special truffle fries.

Brunch at the Five Leaves

Brunch at the Five Leaves

For my drink, I ordered a ginger beer – the more forceful cousin to ginger ale – but it turned out that they were out of ginger beer, so I got a fountain ginger ale instead.  My daughter ordered a bloody mary and a house burger, and pronounced them all very good.  And her mother-in-law had the lamb pho dip sandwich, and said she enjoyed the sandwich, but didn’t much like the dip – it was too sweet for her taste.  As for my sandwich, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  The egg and avocado were hard to keep on the roll, but the overall flavor was great (although I didn’t notice the cumin-lime mayo that much).  As for the truffle fries, the truffle oil made them taste so good that I was content to enjoy them without ketchup.

After lunch, we went back to the apartment and hung out for a while.  Our daughter had some large empty boxes to give to us, so we had ordered a car service to take us home so we would be sure to have storage space to transport the boxes.   After a while, we put the boxes on a cart, and left them with the front desk of the building while we went off and played a game of pool in the building’s recreation room.

Playing Pool in the Recreation Room

Playing Pool in the Recreation Room

We played a game of 8 ball – my son-in-law and daughter against me, and I’m glad to say that I was able to make it very competitive, but they sank the 8-ball for the win.  Our car service was going to be late, so we still had more time, so we went across the street to check out their favorite local market, the Brooklyn Kitchen.

The Brooklyn Kitchen

The Brooklyn Kitchen

As a market, Brooklyn Kitchen is small.  I would call it more of gourmet deli.  It is certainly stocked with lots of premium, high-end goods, and the prices are a bit high.  Nevertheless, if I lived near there, there are some things I would go there to buy.  For example, they have a freezer full of ice creams that includes some brands with dairy free varieties.  Specifically, I found Van Leeuwen vegan chocolate ice cream there, which I have never see packaged (previously, the only time I have eaten it is at Van Leeuwen’s East Village storefront).  So I was thrilled to find that, and gladly bought a pint.  I didn’t look at the bill, so I can’t say how much it cost, but I’m sure it was higher than what I usually pay for a pint of frozen dessert.

With our deli goods bagged up, we finally were able to get a large car service to take us home (thanks to our son-in-law).  We rode home full of good feelings from our wonderful day visiting family and seeing Williamsburg.

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