In June, Jason and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. We had been thinking about and planning trips to celebrate this occasion pretty much since we got married. There is sort of an expectation for what you do to celebrate the “big” anniversaries, but we really just wanted to do something fun and memorable. First we thought we would return to Bermuda, where Jason proposed to me. Next we had the idea to travel to Hawaii for a few weeks. We came up with literally dozens of ideas, but none of them seemed to stick. Either they were too expensive or just did not have an overwhelming appeal to us.
After lots of discussion, and tossing around of ideas, we decide to head 3.5 hours north to NYC for a long weekend. We could take the bus up, we got a great rate on a hotel near Time Square and there are a ton of vegan places to eat in NYC! What more could we ask for! We have been to NYC many times before, but never by ourselves and never on a vegan food tour. This was the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together and have fun doing what we love the most, eating delicious vegan food!
Day 1: Friday June 10, 2011
Arrive in NYC 1:00 pm on the Mega Bus
Like I mentioned, we decided to take the bus to NYC, and we were pretty glad we did. It cost us $72 round trip and all we had to do was ride. No worries about driving, no worries about parking, and there is was bathroom on the bus! We arrived in central Manhattan just after lunch time and had to hoof it a few blocks to our hotel (and by a few blocks I mean about 30!) It was over 90 degrees outside and we were starving! We stayed at a brand new hotel (that had opened three days prior) called the Yotel, a European chain of airport, rent by the hour cabins, making an attempt at a full blown hotel.
We decided to grab lunch at the hotel’s Dohyo Resturant & Bar, and we are so glad we did. The food was amazing and there were quite a number of vegan options on the menu. The lunch/dinner menu consisted of tons of small plate options, and there was an entire “vegetables” section on the menu.
Jason and I order the Edamame (which was served grilled), the Fried Tofu, the Wok Seared Cauliflower, and the Chinese Eggplant. All the dishes were delicious, but if I had to pick, our favorite was by far the Fried Tofu. It was a dish of lightly fried tofu squares covered in a sweet chili sauce and served with sauteed garlic spinach. It was so delicious, we order a second round to enjoy before we left.
The restaurant has just opened that day, and besides the fact that we were one of two couple in the place, you would have never known. The service was impeccable and the quality of the food was top notch. World famous Chef Richard Sandoval is the master mind behind the menu and its Latin-Asian fusion, and he was actually sitting at the table right next to us while we ate. If you are in NYC (Hell’s Kitchen area) you should definitely make it a point to stop by the Doyho and give the amazing food a try!
Friday Night Dinner at the Natural Gourmet Institute
On Friday nights, the Natural Gourmet Institute offers a very unique experience to the public; they open their kitchen doors and put together an amazing three course vegan meal. The Friday Night Dinners consist of menus designed, cooked and served by the students of the Natural Gourmet Institute and are a great way for the public to see, and taste, all the hard work these chefs in training are putting in. Oh and my personal favorite part of the experience is that you are sat at ten top tables which gives you the opportunity to meet and mingle with like minded people from all over the place!
Our Friday Night Dinner experience was amazing and something we will not soon forget. The theme of the evening was “The Deep South at Dusk.‘ The meal began with an appetizer of boiled peanuts and sweet tea. The tea was really lovely, and not your typical southern sweet tea. It had a nice floral accent and was sweetened with Agave, not refined sugar. The next course was a small sugar snap pea salad with lemon vinaigrette served along side fresh warm hush puppies and a cucumber ranch dipping sauce. All I can say is that they were both amazing! The main course consisted of a black-eyed pea and okra stew, grilled grits with homemade BBQ sauce, roasted green tomatoes and braised collard greens. Simply delicious! Dessert (my favorite part of any meal) was fresh made coconut based vanilla basil ice cream served with strawberry compote and candied walnuts, YUM!!
Each and every item was prepared with such care and presented beautifully, and it all tasted amazing. I wish that I could say I had some great pictures to share with you, but we got a little carried away and lost in the moment forgetting to take pictures of the food. I was really bummed when I realized this, but there is always next time! This a truly unique experience and I would totally recommend attending one of the Institutes Friday Night Dinners, should you ever be in the area. It is a great deal too, $40 per person and you can bring your own alcohol!
Stay tuned for Day Two in NYC…