April 5, 2009

Epic Proportions

I enjoyed a busy weekend filled with social engagements and frolicking outdoors, but now this blogger is paying the price. I have a big-arse backlog of photos that want commentary, so I'm gonna do my best to recap with minimal verbage. This is challenging for me, so I hope you can feel the herculean effort coming through your computer screen.

I tried a new oat topping Friday morning, which was the Jay Robb Yammit bar. It's a mix of almond butter, dried fruit and sweet potato bits.

It was nice and sweet, stuck in my teeth a lot, but complimented my sweet potato-peanut butter oats right nice.

And I did another huge salad for lunch, topped with a different flavor of Rachel's cottage cheese this time, Roasted Red Pepper.

I do really love this salad combination (spring mix, broccoli slaw, carrots, cottage cheese, walnuts and hummus) - I added some jarred roasted red peppers to be matchy-matchy with my cottage cheese - but the one I did last week with the Sundried Tomato flavor tasted better to me.

I dug into my Turtle Mountain goodies after dinner Friday night and managed to house most of this pint:

I wasn't kidding when I said that my ice cream addiction was going to get a workout now that all this ice cream arrived. Lucky for me, this non-dairy version is a lot healthier than the cow-based variety. In reading some of the literature that Turtle Mountain sent me, I learned that the type of fat in coconuts (MCFAs) is actually more likely to be converted to energy, as opposed to setting up shop on my midsection. I really, REALLY like the coconut milk ice cream (I also tried the Mocha Almond Fudge flavor Saturday night - heavenly), but it's quite rich, and while I can handily finish pints of froyo by myself, I had to admit defeat before getting to the bottom of either of the two flavors I tried this weekend. Not a bad thing!

I rose and shone bright and early Saturday morning in hopes of enjoying another run outside like last weekend (and of burning off some of my non-stored MCFAs), but "enjoyed" would be the wrong word to use. It was gloomy and windy to the point of knocking the breath out of me, and I felt like I was running through water. 25 minutes was plenty, a'thank you.

Having firmly established the fact that I am a far more accomplished eater than athlete, the roomie and I walked down the street for an early lunch at Cafe Buon Gusto, which was participating in Dine In Brooklyn. It's basically Brooklyn's "Restaurant Week," where restaurants can offer a prixe-fixe menu of three courses for $23 per person. The good news is that good old Marty (Brooklyn's borough president) has extended Dine In Brooklyn through the end of this month! New Yorkers, jump ON it! If you've never been to Brooklyn, this is the excuse you've been waiting for, and it's a good one, trust me.

Ok, so Cafe Buon Gusto was nothing to write home about, but it kind of hit the spot anyway for tasty Italian. (There are many better choices for taking advantage of restaurant week! Just not this one! Don't judge, it's on our street!) Our first course was prosciutto and melon with parmesan shavings.

Followed by my choice of entree, which was cavatelli with some veggies and a tomato sauce. Meh. The way to my stomach is with good eggplant. This eggplant was not good. I am not Hannibal Lecter - do not serve me fleshy food.

The desserts were really quite good, and probably the best part of our meal. I chose the chocolate-almond cake, and the roomie had a really good tiramisu. I had a bite of hers as well, and it passed my exacting tiramisu standards (contains actual coffee).

Later Saturday afternoon, it was my turn to host book club, so breaking from our usual pattern of meeting at a restaurant in Brooklyn, I decided to put all my blog samples to good use and make a grand spread. Not only was I able to offload some gratuitous excess, but I got to hear other people's opinions of the products I've accumulated. We managed to talk about the book a bit between bites, but we definitely took the snacking quite seriously as well.

Much of this will look familiar by now...
  • Sabra hummus
  • Newman's Organics mint chocolate champion chip cookies
  • Newman's Organics Hermits
  • some pre-recall pistachios
  • and some no-name random rice crackers

However, one cannot get drunk on snacks alone, which is why I mixed up some POM Bellinis as well.

Commence lively discussion/slurring.

Eventually the Cava ran dry, and we broke into my popsicles from Turtle Mountain. We tried the Minis in Strawberry and Coconut Almond.

The ladies who had the chocolate-covered ones looked pretty delirious with happiness, and I really liked this little strawberry pop. I'm not much of a popsicle person, but these non-dairy pops are delicious. More like a smoothie on a stick than a juice pop. For 70 calories a "pop," I'm not complaining! Also, they are sweetened with agave, which gives them less of a glycemic impact, and that's always a plus where dessert is concerned.

By the time book club concluded, we were all cracked out on booze and sugar, and unfortunately for the boyf, I was still in that state when he arrived early in the evening. The bellinis made me too sleepy to take pictures of what was later more Italian food for dinner (I like La Traviata far better than Cafe Buon Gusto - it is decided), more coconut milk ice cream for dessert, and Milk in the DVD player (also non-dairy, as this was a movie, not another edible).

We didn't exactly watch the whole movie with our eyes open, per se, but few and far between are the days when I have two bellinis and a glass of red in one 24-hour period - give me a break, I am old! I fall asleep during movies! We made up for it Sunday, though, and yes, Milk is an excellent film.

As an early-morning pre-brunch snack, I nibbled half of a Jay Robb Cashew Coconut bar. I would describe it as the Jay-Bob's answer to the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Clif/Luna bars, though grain/crispies-free.

It's mostly made of just whey protein, cashews, coconut and some sweetener. So different from the Yammit that I don't know that I like one or the other better - they are both good in their own right. Different from any other bars I've had, and I appreciate their being crap-free, though they are very caloric by most ladies' standards and I can't quite bring myself to eat an entire bar at a time. I think they make great toppings for oats or yogurt for a little bit of chew with healthy fat and protein included.

The boyf and I are somewhat creatures of habit (or just lovers of good food, depending how you look at it), so this Sunday's meal choices were somewhat deja vu-ful of a Sunday several weeks ago, but no one who has been to Angelica can blame us for wanting to go back. At least we didn't eat the same thing!

We shared an appetizer of their pick-three option, which lets you select from their basics. We had hummus, garlic-lemon kale and walnut-lentil pate.

Everything was so fresh and top-quality, as usual. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of their refrigerator...though I reckon their fridge is pretty fly-free, as per aforementioned fresh and top-quality standards.

For entrees, we both selected from the menu of specials (which is a wonder to behold each and every time). The specials always have clever names as well, but they desert me at the moment. Both plates were amazing, so it doesn't really matter - we'll know them by the menu description, should they pop up again.

My dish was tempeh in a citrus glaze, alongside some veggies, a brown-black rice blend and a seaweed salad, all served atop the most amazing peanut sauce I've ever had. I think peanut gravy would describe it better, actually.

And the boyf had the lasagna in the background, which had layers of whole wheat pasta, seitan, roasted veggies and a tofu-(vegan) cheese blend on top. Also amazing when paired with the fresh tomato sauce. I'm hungry all over again, just looking at these photos.

But the eats don't stop there, because you can't be in the East Village without feeling the gravitational pull of Atlas and their vegan cakes.

We both had the hazelnut cake this time, remembering how mind-blowing the boyf's slice was the last time we ate at Atlas, and I just wasn't willing to risk liking his cake better than my own again. This is definitely my favorite Vegan Treat thus far.

If you're noticing the copious sunshine in the photos by now, you would be right in assuming that it was pretty much the most incredible day of the year in New York City, so we were able to enjoy our tea and cake al fresco and in the middle of the sidewalk, quite literally.

I guess when you serve cake as good as this, you can afford to put your tables wherever the heck you feel like it. Probably a good marketing tool anyway - everyone who walked by got a close-up view of our table and there were more than a few envious murmurs. A couple people commented on the cake too. Wink. ;)

The glorious sunshine made the cake's ganache all warm and melty and we enjoyed our slices in full leisure - it doesn't get much better than cake and boyf on a spring day! However, by the end of my slice, I was sporting a food baby, so we got on our feet and walked all the way up to Lincoln Center (which is pretty far, for those of you who don't have much of a concept of Manhattan geography - take my word for it and be impressed). By the time we got there, we were dead tired and stopped into a movie theater to see Sunshine Cleaning, which was bittersweet, but great.

Aaaaand...maybe we went to Rosa Mexicano for dinner again as well! As with the East Village and Atlas, it is hard for me to be around Lincoln Center without thinking of Rosa Mexicano. At this point, I decided to forego more photography not only because the light at our table was less than optimal, but because I correctly assumed that by this point in the still-to-come weekend blog post, both you and I would be bored and maybe repulsed by how very much I managed to get in my bellay in three days, so kudos to you if you are still reading this! I will have to take a break, now that my work and eating routine has resumed for the week, but I will be back tomorrow with yet more thoughts, as is wont to happen to most bloggers, I suppose...

Oh wait, one more thing: we went to Pinkberry for dessert.


ChickPea said...

So jealous of your roasted red pepper rachel's--I can't find it anywhere!

I've tried those smoothie on a stick popsicles in dairy versions (I think Tropicana makes it?), but I'll have to give Turtle Mountain's a try too!

Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said...

Once again, entirely jealous of your NYC options. I want peanut gravy, vegan cake and Pinkberry. Ahhh, I'm green with envy...or maybe just full of spinach and broccoli. Who knows? :)

OK, so I think your salad creation with the roasted red pepper cottage cheese looked much better than any of the food at Cafe Buon Gusto. I'd much rather eat at Cafe Diana...especially if there is coconut milk ice-cream involved. Gosh, I love that stuff. My husband and I went through our supply so fast! Wasn't a big fan of the yogurt...but the ice-cream? I could practically live on the stuff. Oh wait, I did.

Love the Jay Robb Cashew Coconut bars - those little crispy bites of shredded coconut make me happy. I befriended Mr. Robb on Facebook, but no tshirt in my life yet.

Have a good week Diana.

Dori said...

I LOVE Pinkberry. I LOVE Rosa Mexicano. I am obsessed with your hazelnut cake and your friend's Tiramisu. WOW. I am hungry!

Anonymous said...

Look at that spread! Speaking of fab. Just bummed I didn't score the invite....I wanted to do dine in bklyn but got too busy, looks amazingggg

Anonymous said...

ahh, this is my kind of food weekend!! everything looks amazing, and you put together a saaalammming book club spread with all your samples. and the atlas and angelica and rosa mexico, etc etc on top of it -- mind-blowing!! you know what you're doing :-)

and i'm so excited about the dine in bklyn extension!

Anonymous said...

Looks like you had a great weekend. I love all your book club eats.

Those Rachel Cottage cheese combos looks really good. I have yet to see those anywhere.

Missy said...

I need that hazelnut cake now! Yeah that coconut ice cream disappears quite fast in my apartment too! So good!

Anonymous said...

Yum! Everything looks great. What did you get at Pinkberry's? I've only had it once in LA, but I have been craving it ever since!

healthy ashley said...

I loved the photos and commentary. I want all of your food. YUM!

Diana said...

Jane, I got a small original flavor with blackberries and chocolate shavings - my fave! Blackberries + yogurt = destiny.

Elina said...

Haha, AWESOME eats... I miss NY! I managed to eat my share of food this weekend too, but it was beautiful out... what's a girl to do? ;) I bought those almond chocolate ice cream bars... I have VERY high hopes for them!
Love love love your blog. Btw, I read every single post, but for some reason I can't comment at work - thus the sporadic commenting.