Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where Have I Been? Let's See...

I have been busy. Took 2 trips to New York to see my Dad who isn't doing well at all. He was incredibly productive until a few months ago and then things started to go wrong -- very wrong. I won't go into details but suffice it to say that I will repeat what my mom says, "We are often kinder to our animals at the end of life, than we are to people." So, while we are living, let's live well. That means staying healthy. And the best way to do that is to eat your vegetables -- lots of them everyday.

I'll take this post to report about some interesting eating spots while away. Next post will be about this weekend and my farmer's market trips so stay tuned for that. (I assure you that it won't take as long to appear as this one did.)

Traveling is always interesting for me because I never know what's going to happen in terms of eating. As you know,
I often bring my own food (read my earlier blog post), but sometimes life is too busy to arrange much of anything. That happened this most recent trip. And much to my surprise and delight, at the international terminal of SFO there are 17 Bay Area restaurants, that were chosen from more than 200, that offer their food at their restaurant (versus inflated airport) prices. And at least 3 of them have healthier vegan fare: Harbor Village (Chinese) and Osho (Japanese) which are before you go through security and another one whose name I have forgotten but that has Middle Eastern fare including hummus and dolmas. I'd already eaten my seaweed salad and miso soup from Osho by then so I wasn't interested in more food.

When we arrived on Long Island, after our trip from JFK, we headed straight to Bagelmaster bagels in Syosset, which has been there for longer than I can remember (which means a long time). It's changed hands over the years but still has great NY bagels.

Most of you probably know that I rarely eat white flour products but I am sure that a bagel now and then won't kill me, even if they are twice the size that they were when I was growing up. But now they have something better than a bagel -- it's called something like a Flatzl -- a whole wheat or maybe multigrain flat bagel with sunflower seeds on it or with everything on it. Yummy and delicious eaten plain. Unfortunately, I did not get to go back to take some home with me.

Luckily, while we were in Woodbury, we got to stop by Gabby's Bagelatessen and meet owner Larry Ross. Either he was bored or we were very different from his regular customers because he engaged with us right away and made me an incredible chopped salad from his salad bar. You choose your ingredients and Larry chops it and mixes it up for you with your choice of dressing. The small salad he made for me was actually too much for me to eat in one sitting -- now, that is amazing. as I can really pack away the salad. The place is a typical NY bagel deli, with good coffee, according to my husband, and Larry has quite the story -- self-made man who started out as a butcher while a teen. He now owns the shopping center in Woodbury, NY. Amazing. He seemed like a super nice guy.

From the days of my youth, is On Parade diner where we had a completely unnecessary dessert one night as something to do to get out of the house. My husband said that he had the worse ice cream sundae ever. Everything seemed pricey and not especially great. I don't recommend it. It may be nostalgic for me but not enough to make it worth going.

My husband is a pizza lover and I think that maybe he had his fill but I'm not sure. He had pizza from Umberto's in Huntington and from Frank's in Woodbury. I liked Frank's because they had a deep dish roasted vegetable pizza without cheese, in slices and ready to go. Vegans, don't you wish that your local pizza place had this? I certainly do. And to sweeten the deal, the slice cost about $2.50. Where I live, this same slice would have been $4. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a light, not too doughy, whole grain crust. But it was more than satisfactory.

The best meal of all was for my mother's BD. I'd post photos but I forgot my camera and one of my sisters didn't bother to take hers out of her purse. We should have at least photographed the food at Honu Kitchen in Huntington. It is an eclectic and nice decorated, small plate restaurant but I have to say that their small plates aren't that small. We were a party of 7 and they recommend that you order 3 plates per person. We tried but couldn't achieve that.

There were enough vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu to satisfy everyone. The ones that I liked best were the mostly the sides: artichokes with garlic and garlic edamame (the waiter described them as taking a healthy food and making it not-so-good for you, and he was correct but OMG, so tasty). the salad with candied walnuts and goat cheese, I just tasted the salad part, was wonderful. My salad with greens, asparagus and sunflower seeds left me cold. The wild mushroom gnocchi didn't thrill me nor did the creamed spinach. But sipping on my Besito Margarita made everything look rosier.

The upholstered black and white curved banquette, brick walls, crystal chandeliers and large art on the bar walls which accounts for one-third of the restaurant space made it feel upscale but comfortable. The seating allowed us all to see and speak to one another. We went early so it wasn't crowded but I imagine that it can get crowded and potentially noisy.

I would go back there anytime for a plate of edamame, a cocktail and another side or two, such as sweet potato hash or fire roasted corn, and I'd be happy as a clam, well make that a carrot.

I am thrilled to be back in California where it's spring and with it are all the spring vegetables that I so enjoy: asparagus, artichokes, peas of all types and more types of tender lettuce than I can list here. My favorite cooking is often my own.

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