Vegan Restaurants Keep New York City Youthful

Vegan Restaurants Keep New York City Youthful

Vegan Restaurants Keep New York City Youthful

The crowd at New York City’s many vegan (and vegan-friendly) restaurants is an almost equal mix of young folks hoping to save the world and older folks (like me) who will gladly settle for saving themselves, hoping to live a little bit longer by staying away from the cholesterol and bad karma meat-eating brings.  While not a full-fledged vegan myself (I was for roughly ten years during the ’80s and ’90s), I always jump at the chance to go vegan for at least the odd meal, and am happy to support the city’s institutions that provide vegan fare.  Because not only do they all have their hearts in the right place, but many of them serve food that is absolutely dynamite, in some cases among the best food I have eaten anywhere.

For a dairy free character like myself, of course vegan food has the added bright side to it that I can eat everything on the menu – how often does that otherwise happen?  Not often.  Of late, I have been trying to catch up on some of the restaurants that I love, and exploring new ones, especially in Brooklyn (toward compiling my Dairy Free Brooklyn page, which is still in the works – stay tuned for that one).  So here is an overview of the vegan restaurants I love in NYC.

Manhattan

Red Bamboo.  My long-time mostly vegan friend Ed first introduced me to Red Bamboo more than a decade ago, and I have been going there off and on a lot in the intervening years.  A couple months ago, I realized that I had not been there in a while, so I have made it a point to get back to going there regularly.  Ed and I had a great time most recently chatting with one of the owners, Jade, not only about Red Bamboo but also about other vegetarian Asian restaurants around New York.  She is an encyclopedia of knowledge on the subject, and the restaurant’s blend of carefully crafted but also straightforward and pleasing food continues to thrill me.

Pure Food and Wine.  Fairly high-end and consequently one of the pricier vegan restaurants in New York City, Pure Food and Wine was a revelation for me the first time I went there, and I look forward to paying my annual visit there soon.  Before eating there, I didn’t know that raw food could taste so good.  Of course, having the sweet tooth that I do, I especially enjoy their fantastic desserts.  And – they serve wine (a raw food, I suppose).

Blossom Cafe/Blossom du Jour.  I have actually never eaten at the full-fledged Blossom restaurant, but I have been to many of their Blossom du Jour locations, including ones in Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper Westside.  They serve mostly wraps and sandwiches, of which I have tried several, and enjoyed them all.  They also have great desserts, although the Chelsea location has the largest variety of those – some locations just have a couple different brownies and cookies for sale.  In recent years, they are opening more and more locations – I can’t keep up with them!

Terri Cafe.  I have only been to Terri’s Financial District location (they also have locations in Chelsea and Midtown East).  When I lived down there, it was such a joy having Terri’s so close by.  Like Blossom, they carry a variety of sandwiches and wraps, as well as some salads, bottled teas and cleanses, and awesome desserts.  Love their “chicken” quesadilla, with lots of Daiya cheese on it.  That, plus a bottle of their mint iced tea and a chocolate cupcake was my go-to.  Wouldn’t mind having that right now!

Atlas Cafe.  I will confess that I go to Atlas many for their unbelievable variety of top-notch mouth-watering desserts, which come to them courtesy of our friends at Vegan Treats from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  They used to get their delivery from Vegan Treats on Tuesdays, and I have more than once shown up just to have my mind blown by all the cakes and cheesecakes and pies and vegan doughnuts.  As for other offerings at Atlas, they do serve vegan sandwiches (as well as having a full menu of decidedly non-vegan stuff).  I have eaten their Cuban sandwich with vegan meat and cheese, and thought it quite good.  But can we talk about the desserts some more?  Coconut cake, brownie cheesecake, chocolate-covered strawberry shortcake, etc.

Brooklyn

I am just beginning to explore the many outstanding vegan restaurants in Brooklyn.  Here are the highlights of what I have seen thus far.

Bliss Cafe.  I had their vegan French toast, and loved it.  Will have to go back again soon – maybe I will meet my stepdaughter there for lunch (she lives in Williamsburg). Cash only, for those of you who, like me, are plastic-centric.

Vinnies Pizzeria.  Warning – Vinnies isn’t all vegan, just one section.  But oh what a section – several enticing vegan varieties of pizza slices filled with vegetable and veggie meat (and even fruit!) toppings.  Thrilling to know you don’t have to order a whole pie to get the vegan variety (although you could order a full pie too if you wanted).  Also cash only.

Sun in Bloom.  A friendly place in a neighborhood on the brink of explosion (not far from the Barclays Center).  I went there mostly to try their desserts, but they also have a full menu of breakfast/lunch/dinner food.

I realize, again, this is just a start.  In addition to exploring more restaurants in Brooklyn, I need to re-visit some favorites in Manhattan, like the iconic Caravan of Dreams.  After all, menupages lists 132(!) vegan restaurants in New York City (although I bet a lot of those are non-vegan restaurants that have the occasional vegan offering).  I any case, I have my work cut out for me!

I also want to write about vegan groceries (or if you prefer, health food stores) and vegan bakeries/dessert shops.  There are many of those in Brooklyn as well, such as the wonderful Riverdel (they call themselves dairy free, because I am guessing that they sell a couple things that have eggs in them, but they are most vegan).

Posted in Brooklyn, Dairy Free, Food, Manhattan, New York, New York City, Restaurants, United States, Vegan food | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dairy Free Three Little Birds Ice Cream Creative and Available

Dairy Free Three Little Birds Ice Cream Creative and Available

Dairy Free Three Little Birds Ice Cream Creative and Available

Back in the day, when I was a single fellow looking for ladies to date on Internet sites, I had a philosophy: it doesn’t matter how wonderful somebody looks on paper if you never get to meet them.  I have similar feelings when it comes to discovering new dairy free products – no matter how incredible they sound in writing, what does it matter if you can’t buy them in a local store? (for example, you may remember how hard it was for me to find Ben & Jerry’s new non-dairy ice cream flavors)  Well, the good news here is that Three Little Birds Ice Cream is sold, not only in Whole Foods stores in NYC, but also in Brooklyn Fare, which is just down the street from me.

A few days ago, when I looked in Brooklyn Fare’s ice cream freezers and saw the intriguing containers with their cartoonish simple depictions of birds on them, was not the first time I had heard of this brand.  Not long after Therese and I moved into this neighborhood a year ago, we went out for coffee to a shop that supposedly had Three Little Birds ice cream available by the scoop.  But when we got there, they told us they were all out of it.  Disappointment.  I put the name of Three Little Birds away in the back of my mind, until now.

Thrilled to finally be face to face with this brand, I bought the Black Chocolate Stout flavor for starters, and upon tasting it, I was mightily impressed.  When I dished the ice cream up not long after removing the container from the freezer, the consistency looked a little crumbly, so I wasn’t sure what the mouth feel would be like.  It was mighty creamy and smooth, and the coupling of the tangy rich stout swirl flavor with the chocolate ice cream is dynamite.

A few days later, I decided to try another flavor, the Peanut Butta Cups, and I enjoyed that one quite a bit as well.  The peanut butter ice cream base is the most peanut butter-y ice cream I’ve ever tasted.  Which is not to say that it sticks to the roof of your mouth – it is still creamy and light, with nice small chocolate chunks in it to complete the peanut butter cup experience.

A Bowl of Three Little Birds Chocolate Stout and Peanut Butta Cups Ice Cream

A Bowl of Three Little Birds Chocolate Stout and Peanut Butta Cups Ice Cream

Ice cream should be an occasional indulgence for me, so in that sense, I don’t mind too much that Three Little Birds is the most expensive ice cream by the pint that I have ever seen ($9.99 per container).  OK, I mind a little bit.

And incidentally, I must plead complete ignorance to the origin of the brand’s name.  Of course I have known the Bob Marley song for decades, with its reassuring refrain of “every little thing is gonna be all right.”  In fact, I read just the other day that Brazilian pop legends Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil sang it as an encore at their recent concert here in New York.  I just never knew what that song was called!

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Why Everyone Should Eat Dairy Free

To my mind, I am not usually political in my writings in this blog.  My focus is most often on sharing the challenges of following a dairy free lifestyle, and the successes in finding that it can be done, not only at my home in New York City, but around the world.  But I recognize that beneath that is an assumption, or an assertion: by eschewing dairy products, I am placing myself in opposition to the dairy industry, one of the large forces in the food business in our country.  As people like me assert why people might not want to partake of dairy products, that means dollars that the dairy industry is losing.

So in this post, I am going to take off the gloves for a few minutes.  And I apologize beforehand that I am going to make a lot of assertions of facts that I am not going to back up with links to studies and lots of convincing numbers.  Before I finish, I will direct the reader to at least one source for hard numbers.  But my inclination is to paint with broad strokes for the time being.  We can debate over the voracity of individual points later – I think that, taken as a whole, the points I make will present a fairly convincing rationale for my title assertion.  So let’s get started.

To begin with, let’s talk about practical matters.  Creating dairy (and beef/veal) uses a huge amount of precious natural resources.  For years, the dairy/beef industry has used the middle of our country for grazing, with little to no work done to sustain the grazing lands so that they can be used for the next generations.  If you think I am wrong, you should also know that, rather than recover the lands in this country so they can be used again, decades ago already the cattle folks looked elsewhere for cheaper sources, and they have been deforesting the Amazon rain-forest little by little to provide beef for the American market (ask Hormel, for example, where they get the beef in their chili).

Other resources that are consumed by cattle for meat and dairy in a huge way are water and grain.  For many years there have been vegetarian folks writing about how many pounds of grain it takes to create a pound of meat, versus how many months to years a human could live on that same amount of grain the cow is eating.  As for water, while we can see already how critical having sources for water for the future is going to be, we have no qualms with letting the dairy/beef industry taking a huge amount of water.

If the resources argument is not convincing, let’s talk health.  I am only slightly joking when I say that in the future, people who eat a huge amount of red meats and dairy are going to be selected for extinction.  For these are the people who are going to suffer higher levels of heart disease, diabetes and cancers.  The meat and dairy industries have been very successful in convincing the American public that (a) proteins are a crucially important part of diet and (b) meat and dairy products are the best sources of proteins (and other vitamins like B12, and minerals).  Advocates for the plant-based diet have shown that (a) meat and dairy products are actually fairly poor sources for proteins and, for example, minerals (the body digests very little of what is contained in the meat), and (b) proteins are present in a host of fruits, vegetables and legumes.  I am always amused how meat-eaters are concerned about whether vegans are getting enough protein, and completely comfortable with believing that they can rest assured that they are getting enough just by eating meat.

I know I have been jumping back and forth between talking about dairy and meat-production.  Let’s conclude by focusing specifically on dairy, by talking about one particular issue that is a pet peeve of mine.  The dairy industry has convinced numerous lactose intolerant people that for their health, and also so that they don’t really have to make any uncomfortable significant changes in their lives to adjust to their condition, that they don’t really have to stop eating dairy.  People pop Lactaid pills and drink Lactaid milk (and eat Lactaid ice cream), and also steer themselves toward dairy products that are low in lactose like some cheeses.

Personally, when my body told me I shouldn’t eat dairy products, I began trying to find ways to live without them.  There is a clinical trial going on right now that may very well result in a pill being released on the market that will block food allergies (I am not very sure if it will tackle all of them, or just certain ones).  Even if it becomes easily attainable, I doubt that I would be a big user of that pill.

Sure, I can see that there would be certain circumstances where I would find it helpful. For example, if I went to a conference where the meals were provided buffet-style, and I couldn’t be sure whether the vegetables might not be cooked in butter, I would take the pill to prevent possible allergic reactions.  But I would not take it in order to enable me to eat macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Better in my view not to indulge in behavior that may tax my body’s resources to protect itself.  Products like Lactaid have not been on the market long enough, I don’t believe, to measure possible consequences of long-term usage.  I am not saying that people who take those pills are setting themselves up for bad things to happen in the future.  I am just saying that, why take the chance?  It is hard, yes I know how hard it is, to completely cut dairy products from my life.  But we are living in an age when the alternatives are better and more readily available than ever before, and I am sure this trend is going to continue.  And as more and more people take the plunge and follow a dairy free (and perhaps even a vegan) regimen, it is going to be easier and easier to do so.  And we might just save our race, and the world, in the process.

For more information, check out the Vegan Society’s rationale for going vegan.  They cover the ethical rationale, which I elected not to discuss here.

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Dairy Free Moroccan Chicken Salad Brings Spring Home

Dairy Free Moroccan Chicken Salad Brings Spring Home

Dairy Free Moroccan Chicken Salad Brings Spring Home

The weather may still not have decided to be spring-like, with alternating days, it seems, in the 60s and low 5os (and sometimes even colder).  But the calendar says it’s spring, and for this time of the year, Therese likes it when I make salads.  For me, it is a challenge to dress up the same old ingredients (chicken, seafood) in new ways.  Most recently, I turned to a favorite cuisine of ours that we don’t get enough of – Moroccan – to make a salad that we will be returning to often, I am sure, in the months to come.

Moroccan Chicken Salad
(serves 4-6)

6 chicken thighs (boneless and skinless), sliced into strips
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 large or 2 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp. La Kama Spice (see below)
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ cup raisins
½ medium red onion, diced
1 medium carrot, shaved and diced
1 celery rib, diced
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 head, Boston lettuce

For La Kama Spice, you can order a pre-mixed version on-line, or you can make your own, by mixing equal parts turmeric, white pepper, ginger and ½ part cinnamon, with a pinch of nutmeg.

Put the cumin seed, garlic and kosher salt in a mortar, and grind them down to a pulp.  Add that to a medium mixing bowl with the La Kama and sugar and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and add 1/4 cup of hot water, and mix it all together.  Add the chicken strips, stirring with a large spoon to make sure all the chicken gets well covered with the Moroccan marinade.  Set aside to marinate for about 1/2 hour.

While the chicken is marinating is a good time to chop all the vegetables.

Take a large skillet or saute pan, and set it over a medium heat, with one tablespoon of olive oil in it.  When it is nice and hot add the chicken, cooking on one side for 2-3 minutes, then flipping to the other side until they are well-cooked, another 3-5 minutes.  It is not a bad thing to get a good crust on the chicken, but you don’t want the spice and chicken drippings on the pan to get too dark – if this starts to happen, turn the heat down.

When the chicken is done, remove it to a plate and set aside.  Taken the pan off the burner – we are going to make the dressing in the pan, so leave all the color and stuck pieces in there.  While the pan is still a little bit warm, add the vinegar and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, stirring those around so they mix together and you get all the color and flavor from the bottom of the pan loosened and incorporated into the dressing.  Now add the mayonnaise, sesame oil and honey, one at a time, mixing each time so that it all gets well-incorporated into the dressing.  If you want to brighten up the dressing, you could add a bit of lemon or lime juice, but I feel like the tanginess of the mayonnaise and vinegar is plenty for me.

Now mix the chicken and raw vegetables (except the lettuce) and raisins into the dressing.  Remove several leaves of lettuce, make sure they are washed well (dirt often adheres near the stems), and lay them in a fan configuration on your plate.  Dish several large spoonfuls of chicken mixture over the lettuce, and your salad is ready to be eaten!

Posted in Chicken, Dairy Free, Dinner, Food, Moroccan food, Recipes, Salad | Tagged , | Leave a comment

New Paris France Dairy Free and Vegan Food Options

New Paris France Dairy Free and Vegan Food Options

New Paris France Dairy Free and Vegan Food Options

This will be the third time I am writing a preview to the dairy free restaurants and food stores in Paris, France.  I keep writing anew because (a) I find new places each time I plan our upcoming trips (some of which honestly already existed the last time we were there), and (b) the number of options has grown exponentially each time.  That is certainly the case now, with so many promising restaurants and dessert places that I won’t be able to name them all.  But I will give you the ones that sound most promising to me (at this point, for some I don’t know much more than the title, but I will share with you what I know).  These are the ones that we will most likely visit when we are Paris in June/July (we will be making Rouen our base for the weeks we are in France, but we will be back and fourth to Paris 2 or 3 times at least).

Restaurants

If you can speak a little French, or visit a restaurant in the touristy neighborhoods (where your server is likely to speak some English), you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding food that is dairy free on a menu.  I find the brasseries are the easiest, with their focus on grilled meats and so forth.  Paris is also full of Asian restaurants, whose cuisine is usually largely dairy free.  And then of course to be safest of all, vegan restaurants are the place to go, and Paris has some good ones, and more are opening up all the time.  The ones below are mostly vegan or vegan-friendly (thanks to Yelp’s page of Paris vegan restaurants and the parisrental.com blog’s page on eating out vegan in Paris – I have mined those two sources for much of what follows, although as I continued to search, I found that many of the restaurants they mentioned showed up in other sources as well).

1st arrondissement

If you are a first-time visitor to Paris, you are likely to visit Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre Museum on your first day.  Conveniently located on a side street just a couple blocks from Paris’s most famous museum is Spring, a restaurant that is vegan/dairy free-friendly.  They are only open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, so you will want to make a reservation.  They don’t really have a menu – they prepare a 4 course meal based on what ingredients are available – if you tell them about your dietary requirements, they are known to be very good at accommodating them.

2nd arrondissement

Just north of the 1st, and therefore not far from the center of everything in Paris, the second is home to attractions like the Paris Opera (with its quite lovely restaurant), tea house Fee Nature and promising gluten-free “epicerie” (bakery/delicatessen) Noglu.

3rd and 4th arrondissements

The Marais neighborhood which encompasses these two districts is where we spent most of our time during our last visit to Paris, and we found it very friendly, walkable and fun.  Down on the Rue des Rosiers are several falafel shops (which are always great for getting some easy, cheap and filling vegan fare).  A number of the new establishments I have found are in the 3rd arrondissement, like Cuissons, Bob’s Kitchen, Cafe Pinson and Le Potager du Marais.  We will probably spend some time in this neighborhood when we are in Paris, soaking up its old Paris vibe, and I would bet we will try at least one of these restaurants when we are there.

5th arrondissement

With this district we move for the first time south of the Seine River that dissects Paris in half from east to west.  Here there is a very well-regarded vegan bakery named, appropriately enough, Vegan Folies.  The word out, though, is that you will not find vegan croissants there (rats, I am still looking for those!), but rather American-style baked goods like brownies and cupcakes.

6th arrondissement

Home to the Sorbonne and the iconic Cafe Deux Magots, this district also is where you will find some intriguing dairy free desserts, in establishments that are otherwise full of dairy. So beware if you travel to Grom, an ice cream shop that sells an awesome dark chocolate sorbet, or Pierre Herme, a bakery where you can get your French macaron dairy free if you ask them for the one with the sorbet in the middle.  Maybe not worth a special trip, but then again, I guess it depends on how much you love chocolate sorbet!

7th arrondissement

Restaurant Mariette in the 7th serves conventional French cuisine, but they seem to be very sensitive to food allergies, including serving us dairy free folks.  A cursory examination of their menu reveals several dishes that might work very well dairy free, although dessert as usual could be difficult – the chocolate sorbet profiteroles probably won’t work, but the figs in red wine syrup might be just the thing.

8th arrondissement

If you are like me, your mind is never far from thinking, “where is the chocolate???”  Well, Jadis et Gourmande, a chocolate shop in the 8th, sells some dairy free dark chocolate, and also offers jars of a Nutella-like spread that is dairy free (I have heard – don’t know exactly what it is called, though).  Also in this district is a coffee/tea cafe called Trendblack that is a great place for lunch – they label their dishes according to food allergies, including gluten and dairy free options.

11th arrondissement

I will round off my restaurant discussion by mentioning gluten-free bakery Chambelland.

Organic Groceries/Health Food Stores

Paris has a wealth of health food store chains that have locations all over the city, like Naturalia, Biocoop and Bio C Bon.  I’m sure if I run into one of those, I will stop in and see what they might have in the way of whatever I can’t find in Rouen (vegan cheeses and dairy free milks are always high on my list).  The place I will be making at least one special trip to is Un Monde Vegan.  They are known for their packaged vegan goods, like vegan meats and cheeses.  I can imagine making a plan where I stock up at Un Monde Vegan, and then head to the train station with a couple of full grocery bags to head back to Rouen.

As you can see, there are just a wealth of options for us dairy free folks in Paris this days.  Pretty much any district you find yourself in is going to have either a vegan restaurant or a bakery or chocolate shop that has some dairy free offerings.  Or they might have all three, and more!

Posted in Bakeries, Breakfast, Brunch, Countries, Dairy Free, Dessert, Dinner, Food, France, Lunch, Markets, Paris, Restaurants, Supermarkets, Vegan food | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Previewing Dairy Free Options in Rouen France

Previewing Dairy Free Options in Rouen France

Previewing Dairy Free Options in Rouen France

This summer, at the center of our vacation is a lengthy stay in Rouen, France.  We visited there previously, in early May of 2014, and loved the Cathedral, the Gros-Horloge and lots of other things.  We also loved the food we had there – we really feel like the culinary scene is very alive there, with every restaurant presenting flavorful interesting food made from incredibly fresh local ingredients.  And yes, I had lots of luck finding dairy free options, and have lots of confidence that I will encounter little difficulty in eating well and really enjoying the food along with everything else there.

Nevertheless, I feel it’s a good idea to do some research and know what my options are.  First, because there are some things that are hard to find dairy free in France (like the famous French croissants, and cheese).  Second, because we have rented an apartment for our stay, and I am looking forward to making many typical Norman dishes, some of which include cream and cheese and butter, and I will need to find margarine and dairy free milks and so forth for my cooking.  So my focus here is twofold, on restaurants that will have dairy free options, but also on grocery stores (health food stores perhaps) and markets where I might be able to get my dairy free substitutes.  Sure, I will pack some vegan cheese and other things in my luggage to bring along (some Earth Balance margarine, maybe), but since Rouen is not the first stop on our trip (we are spending a week in Bulgaria first), there is no telling what I will have to add to our larder in France.

So here is a brief listing of the places I have found out about thus far, that may add to our experience in Rouen.  Thanks as always to Happy Cow, with its helpful page on vegetarian options in Rouen.  And thanks also to the Rouen Vegan blog – so sad that it only was active through 2014 (and I don’t know how I missed it before!), but it is still very helpful.

Faites-Le Vous Meme.  Right on the street where we are staying is this interesting cafe, which seems to offer some vegetarian options on their menu (hmmm, will they be dairy free as well?  I will have to investigate this).  They also offer baking classes in the mornings – or do they simply welcome people to come in the mornings and help them chop vegetables for the day’s meals?  A little hard to sort that out.  But we will definitely visit them, I am sure.

Payiz.  We have already experienced some of Rouen’s variety of international food restaurants, having eaten sushi and Moroccan tagines the first time we visited Rouen.  Of course, that is always a way to avoid dairy, even if it does feel like cheating in a way (part of experiencing a place is eating the food that is typical to the region, right?).  Payiz is a Lebanese restaurant not far from Rouen’s historical center, and I am sure we will check out their falafel sandwiches and hummus spreads at some point.

Tex-Mex L’Equateur.  TexMex food in Rouen?  I am fascinated by the idea of the French trying to imitate American regional food.  So while I don’t feel like I will be jonesing for a taco or burrito while there, I may stop in just to see what it’s like.

Gourmand Grain/Natural.  Formerly known as Gourmand Grain, this cafe/health food store is just around the corner from the cathedral, and as Gourmand Grain, was known to sell vegan cheeses and croissants.  I have yet to try a dairy free croissant in France, so that is pretty exciting for me.  However, sometime in 2014, the store changed hands and was renamed “Natural.”  I will be interested to see if it still sells the same products (I hope so!).

La Vie Claire.  This health food store has two locations, one of which is downtown, with the other near the Saint Mark Market (more on that later).  A place to buy vegan products, such as meat substitutes.

Marche Saint-Mark.  This is an open air market that takes over one of Rouen’s squares on four days of the week.  I am sure I will be able to buy lots of great fruits and vegetables there, as well as meat.  Hopefully they will have other accessories, such as herbs and spices and olive oil.  But if not, I can certainly go downtown and shop at the:

Monopris.  France’s most ubiquitous supermarket chain has a location right downtown in Rouen, on the well-traveled Rue du Gros-Horloge.  This branch is said to have fresh, fairly-priced produce.  I wonder if they will have things like margarine and – do I dare to dream? – vegan cream cheese and that sort of thing.  We’ll see!

Desserts will, I would imagine, continue to be the greatest challenge.  If I can polish up my French enough, perhaps I will have the guts to ask for dairy free options in the boulangeries (I recall there are some nice ones in Rouen).  I do know that there are options in Rouen’s most famous dessert destination, Dame Cakes.

Dame Cakes

Dame Cakes

The cakes that give the cafe its name are pretty much off-limits for us dairy free folk.  But they do have a counter with some packaged house-made chocolates that we can have.  And oh my dears, these are exceptional.  Chocolate bars mixed with dried fruit and nuts, and chocolate-covered nuts.  You are not going to want to miss out on a visit to Dame Cakes.  I bet we will be stopping there at least once a week, probably more.

Counter with Dairy Free Chocolates in Dame Cakes

Counter with Dairy Free Chocolates in Dame Cakes

As you can see, there are options in Rouen.  I haven’t begun to tell you about the restaurants we’ve been to before (some handled dairy free requests better than others, but I ate very well at all of them).  To say that we are looking forward to our time in Rouen in June and July is the understatement of the week.  And believe me, you haven’t heard the last from me on what we are going to see, do (and eat!) there.

Posted in Cafes, Countries, Dairy Free, Food, France, Markets, Restaurants, Rouen, Supermarkets, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Ben and Jerrys Nondairy Ice Cream in New York City

Finding Ben and Jerrys Nondairy Ice Cream in New York City

Finding Ben and Jerrys Nondairy Ice Cream in New York City

Since Go Dairy Free announced back in February that Ben & Jerry’s was releasing dairy free ice cream flavors, I have been itching to get my hands on some of it.  Checking the Ben & Jerry’s website, I determined that the closest supermarket to my Midtown Manhattan home are Target and Stop & Shop, right across the street from each other in the Atlantic Terminal shopping mall in Brooklyn (and across the street from the Barlcays Center). A half-hour subway ride just the other day found me waiting for the light to change, with Stop & Shop in view.

Stop and Shop in the Atlantic Center

Stop and Shop in the Atlantic Center

Stop & Shop is the kind of full-sized supermarket we don’t have in Manhattan (yes, there are some that have a good amount of real estate, but they cram their space full of aisles that would make a claustrophobe quiver).  And sure enough, they have, in their ice cream section, a whole case full of Ben & Jerry’s.

The Ben and Jerrys Case in Stop and Shop

The Ben and Jerrys Case in Stop and Shop

However, while the website says this particular Stop & Shop carries all four of Ben & Jerry’s nondairy flavors, the reality here was that none of them were on the shelf in this store.  Disappointment!  So it was on to the Target next door.

Target in Brooklyn's Atlantic Center

Target in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Center

I know this Target – from 2002 to 2011, I lived just four blocks away from this store, and went there on occasion to buy a medicine cabinet, polo shirts and other things.  But I never bought food from there, even though I knew that they carried a lot of it.  I prowled the food aisles, looking for the frozen food section.  Finding that, I narrowed my search for the ice creams, and in among those shelves, I found it – Eureka! Nondairy Chunky Monkey!

Ben and Jerrys Nondairy Chunky Monkey

Ben and Jerrys Nondairy Chunky Monkey

An aside: this term “nondairy.”  You may realize I am spelling it without the hyphen, which is how B&J use it (“non-dairy”).  Either way, it is not my preferred term.  Of course, I prefer “dairy free” (again, no hyphen, in this case two words).  I avoid the nondairy moniker for two reasons.  One, it reminds me of the nondairy creamer that was a ubiquitous presence in coffee spots when I was a kid – a powdered gloppy thing that was kind of nasty, mainly used because it was cheap and, not having any actual dairy in it.  Yuck.  Second, my position is not to think of my diet/lifestyle as lacking in anything, or being the opposite of anything.  I would rather not focus on my difference, recognizing that, if we care to notice, most foods are (at least in their simplest form) “nondairy” – meats, breads, fruits, vegetables, spices, vegetable oils, etc., etc.  Plus, I love the word “free” being in my moniker, since it evokes being released from restrictions to live life to the fullest, which is definitely my attitude.  End of semantic dance.

I was thrilled to find the Chunky Monkey, so much so that I bought two cartons.  Tasting it later that day, I have to say, it has all the qualities that I remember from the last time I ate Ben & Jerry’s (20 odd years ago) – incredibly smooth creamy texture, lots of crunchy chocolate chunks, big chunks of walnuts.  And it is very sweet – I think of Ben & Jerry’s, perhaps unfairly, as being one of the sweetest ice creams on the market.  And, at least compared to my most recent dairy free ice cream experiences, this one is definitely the sweetest.

I was happy to have found the Chunky Monkey, but I wondered how I could get to try some of the other flavors.  Then I remembered that B&J have shops where you can get scoops of ice cream, cones, all that kind of thing (I once visited such a shop in Newark Airport, I believe).  I checked, and what do you know – there is a Ben & Jerry’s in Times Square (just a few blocks from my home)!  So I motored right over to see what I might find there.

Ben and Jerrys Times Square Store

Ben and Jerrys Times Square Store

Apparently, nationwide, these shops are just carrying one dairy free flavor, P.B. and Cookies.

Ice Cream Sign in Ben and Jerrys Times Square Store

Ice Cream Sign in Ben and Jerrys Times Square Store

So, that’s what I ordered!  A six-dollar (ouch!) small cup of peanut butter swirl with cookies in vanilla dairy free ice cream.

Ben and Jerrys Nondairy PB and Cookies

Ben and Jerrys Nondairy PB and Cookies

It was very cold out that day (we are in the midst of our typically chilly early spring time in New York City), so I carried this cup of ice cream home (luckily, there is no law against carrying open containers of ice cream), and put it in the freezer until later that day.  It is also quite good, but I have to say, I liked the Chunky Monkey a little better.

Perhaps when the weather is warmer, I will get some more Ben & Jerry’s nondairy (cringe) ice cream and do a tasting throwdown with my other dairy free frozen dessert favorites, like Van Leeuwen, Steve’s and Gourmet Sorbet (aka Sorbabes), and see how it measures up.  Until then, I will be doing my best to let my blood sugar levels return to normal, and feeling thankful (I suppose) that that Times Square store doesn’t carry all four flavors.

Posted in Brooklyn, Dairy Free, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Manhattan, Markets, New York City, Products, Supermarkets | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment