Folks, this could quite possibly be the funniest post on Hungry Vegan Traveler to date. Maybe I'm a little bias in saying that, since this guest post is written by one of my best besties, Brandon Haskey. He and I have been friends for several years now and our time together, even while afar, is spent with tears in our eyes from laughing so hard that we get cramps. I love this guy, and I hope that you enjoy his guest post.
The story of my relationship with travel and vegan-ing (which is my official term for when I’m being vegan) begins mostly with my relationship with this blog’s actual host- the dashing and hilarious Amanda. I had known a vegetarian or two throughout my life, no one really close, but I had never known a full on vegan before. In fact, I remember that I had only heard the word once. I was watching MTV in the mid 90s, and they were doing an MTV news special about the obesity problem in America, and they interviewed a vegan. I remember being confused. I was probably 10 and didn’t know any better. I had no real knowledge of what being a vegan meant before I had befriended Amanda. I’d certainly never thought about not eating meat before, let alone cheese. So when Amanda wandered into my life, she provided me with a real life education about what being vegan meant. I tried her vegan dishes, and not only were they healthy, but they were delicious too!
Amanda had piqued my interest in vegan food enough that on a trip to New York City a few years ago, left to fend for myself for lunch after a day reading in Central Park and visiting the Museum of Natural History (what a fantastic day!), I wandered down Columbus and stumbled into 1990s television star Mayim Bialik.
Or I ran into much-hyped NYC vegan eatery Café Blossom. I was excited to try it- I’d never been to an exclusively vegan restaurant before that wasn’t Eden Alley (which, you know, is fantastic). I was wearing a t-shirt that said “Poetry is Sexy” on it with a sketch of Walt Whitman next to it, and the gentleman at the bar immediately complimented it. Off to a good start.
I ended up ordering the Southern Seitan Sandwich because of my love of caramelized onions and avocado. I ended up getting the sweet potato fries with it. That ended up being a very, very good thing.
Here it is, in all its glory. Let’s start with the very, very good. These sweet potato fries are the stuff of legend. Perfectly cooked- crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle, and also the exact right proportion of salt to counteract the sweetness of the fries themselves. The homemade ketchup was tangy and sweet while not being too overpowering of the natural goodness of the fries. These sweet potato fries are still, arguably, the best things I’ve ever eaten.
Now the sandwich. This was my first time trying seitan, but I’m an open minded eater for sure. It was actually really delicious; I imagine the texture was supposed to be somewhat chicken like considering its preparation on this sandwich, and it was pretty darn close. The flavor was spicy, which I liked a lot, and… thank God it was good. The caramelized onions were acceptable- nothing to write home about for sure, but good.
Sadly the worst part of this sandwich was the entire reason I chose to order it- the avocado. For as good as those sweet potato fries were, this avocado was equally disgusting. It was hard as a rock and completely flavorless. Avocados are delicious for that creamy, unctuous thing they do- this avocado was the exact opposite. Upon first bite of the sandwich, I didn’t know what exactly was causing that hard, almost chalk-like consistency in my mouth. I thought it might have been the seitan because I hadn’t tried it before, but soon enough I realized the culprit. I tried to tough them out, but half way through the meal I removed them from the sandwich and pushed forward. I was so disappointed! I know it’s NYC, and $14 for a sandwich isn’t bad, but I felt a little gypped considering how awful that avocado was. So, long story short about Café Blossom- try it out. Surely the avocado was just bad that particular day. Everything else was at least good, and those sweet potato fries are still giving me the vapors two years later.
I called Amanda to relay my sadness about the lack of green, creamy goodness on my sandwich (that sounds awful, doesn’t it?), and she told me about some other vegan places in the city to check out if I had a chance. The very next day I happened to walk right by Candle 79. I only had a little bit before meeting my friend after she got off work, but I wanted to at least try it out a little before I left the city. Amanda also told me lots of celebrities are seen at Candle 79, but, sadly, I didn’t really see any. So, instead, I’m going to pretend I enjoyed my food with world famous vegan Mayim Bialik.
When Mayim and I sat down, we were immediately presented with a little sushi sample. I took a photo of it, but I also don’t remember what it was at all. It was… fine. Mayim really liked it. She rated it 4/5 floppy hats with a sunflower on it.
Like I said, I only had a little bit of time because I was meeting my friend, and Mayim was doing a speech at NYU about astrophysics or whatever the hell her PhD is in, so I just got a salad. I went with the baby arugula salad, seen here:
The lighting in Candle 79 was awful, and I choose to blame that for how blurry this photo is.
It was a little over dressed, but tasty. I’m an absolute sucker for chickpeas, so I was happy they were present. It was good but not great, and I could have fairly easily made it at home for less than the $16 I actually paid for it. Mayim gave it 3.5/5 dances with Joey Russo.
So, thanks for indulging my ridiculous guest blog! If you’re interested in more of my general hilarity, please come visit me at Fat Kid Chronicle. Give me a follow! Please! Nothing would make my agent happier! I’ve adopted a vegetarian diet, and I try to be vegan when possible. The result of this, and the running regimen I’ve started, has been a 61 pound weight loss so far this year! Come join me on my journey to even greater health!
(PS- Let it be known that Amanda is the most hilarious person on the planet)
(PPS- Let it be known that Amanda does not have to include that in the actual post) :D