Lifethyme Natural Market is such a reliable part of my life, such a great place to shop where I’ve shopped for food for so long, that I sometimes take it for granted, or even overlook it. Take for example, this past week. I was thinking that for the month of December, it would be fun to do a series on the great vegan bakeries in New York City. I wanted to go to each one and buy one slice of cake or cupcake (as hard as it would be to buy just one), and then of course blog about the bakery and the sweet I enjoyed.
I started compiling a list in my head. Atlas Café. Blossom Café. BabyCakes. Peacefood Café. And I thought, hmmm, I feel like I’m leaving one out. Then it came to me: I was forgetting Lifethyme! A health food store in Greenwich Village that contains an awesome vegan bakery, the one where I’ve been shopping longest, and which might be the best of any of them (or at least a close second to Atlas Café, which gets its baked goods from the awesome Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based Vegan Treats). I couldn’t believe it.
The only way I could atone for this gross oversight was to forget about all those other places (or at least put off visiting them until some other time), and focus on Lifethyme. After all, their baked goods are so good that I would love nothing better than to go there and buy a whole bunch of them, and then spend the next few days having Lifethyme cakes for desserts! Yay! That is exactly what I decided to do.
So I took the subway over to 6th Avenue and 8th Street, to discover that Lifethyme is nearly obliterated with scaffolding (scaffolding being the bane of our existence here in Manhattan).
Yes, they are looking a bit bedraggled, with scaffolding bars criss-crossing their windows and so forth, but at least they are still there. So many grocery stores and bakeries and other institutions that have been my go-tos over the years have disappeared overnight. Thank God Lifethyme is still here! I went inside and snaked my way through the narrow aisles to the back of the store, where the deli and vegan bakery are. And there it was, the vegan bakery case that is one of most amazing in NYC.
Now I apologize that in my photos, I cut off the top row of the case, where a variety of awesome oversized cookies are sold. Their bestseller is a monster-sized version of the old Nestles Tollhouse cookie that they call the “Tollbooth.” The last time I was at Lifethyme, I seem to remember it no longer being vegan (??!!!) – maybe it had butter in it? I don’t remember. Anyway, I was not so cookie-oriented this time, so it didn’t matter.
Instead, it was the lower portion of the case that caught my eye. From the right side, I got slices from two kinds of cakes: the Blackout Cake, and the Mint Chocolate Chip.
Also from the right side of the case, I took a Chocolate Peanut Butter roll (the closest thing I know to a vegan version of Drake’s Funny Bones) and from the left, I got a Chocolate Cupcake (with buttercream frosting).
As I was making my selections, I realized that everything I was buying was chocolate. One voice in my head said, “you know, you can get something that’s not chocolate!” but a second voice spoke up and said, “yeah, but I’m paying, and I want chocolate!”
And was I happy with my selections? Absolutely. I have already eaten the chocolate mint cake, and the chocolate peanut butter roll, and the cupcake is half gone. I would say that the mint in the first cake is not that prominent, but it is on the whole, a very good cake. The cupcake is excellent, especially the icing, which is just as light and fluffy as anything I ever tasted on a sheet cake growing up. And the chocolate peanut butter roll? Just fantastic. I’m saving the blackout cake, with its huge complement of rich chocolate icing, but I’m sure that it will not live through the weekend.
I have no idea how many more years Lifethyme will be in operation. I can’t say how long I’ve been going there, but it must be nearly 20 years at this point. But I will not make the mistake of overlooking it again. And yes, I will visit some of the other vegan bakeries I mentioned in the weeks to come. But they will have to be on their A game and then some to outdo what I got at Lifethyme this week!