Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Special Report: VegNews in NYC (Day 1)

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly + VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland
What: Day one of a five-day business trip
Where: New York City
When: May 14, 2008
Why: Farm Sanctuary Gala + Veggie Pride Parade + meetings galore with colleagues, friends, and magazine partners

The Scoop: For vegetarians, there’s no place like New York for an astonishing range of what may be the best meat-free fare on the planet. While New Yorkers feel their city is the epicenter of the world, many argue that it is the center of the veggie universe. Although we have it very good in San Francisco, can any city really compete with NYC? Think Korean Buddhist food, Indian dosa carts, vegetarian dim sum, high-end hotspots, vegan bakeries, falafel stands, organic juice bars, farmers’ markets, cheese-free pizza, veggie fast food, raw eateries, Asian fusion, and the list goes on. Too bad this is the city of $3,000 studios.

At least once a year, we find ourselves in this veggie mecca. With the swanky Farm Sanctuary Gala on Saturday, we decided to build our annual NY trip around the event. We arrived Tuesday night (SFO to JFK via JetBlue—love it) and began our journey with lunch on Wednesday with VN Publisher Joseph Connelly’s parents, Ed and Josephine. Always up for a good South Indian meal, we hit House of Dosas on Long Island for delicious masala dosas (the star dish of South India, it’s an oversized crisp lentil crepe filled with spiced potatoes, onions, and cilantro—see photo below), pakoras (deep-fried eggplant, cauliflower, and potato fritters in a chickpea batter), and uthappam (a savory Indian pancake served with coconut chutney and sambar). A favorite spot of the local Indian community (the place is always packed), you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to the subcontinent for a truly authentic dining experience, complete with stainless steel dishware, highly efficient service, and the tunes of Bollywood streaming in the background.

We head into Manhattan to officially begin the trip. With a few hours to go before our dinner engagement, we wander the streets of Midtown to take it all in. We visit two Whole Foods (VegNews was displayed front and center at both stores. Yeah!), the Union Square Greenmarket, and a handful of newsstands to check on distribution. We notice that Jamba Juice has now taken over the city, which was not the case five years ago when smoothies were impossible to find. In true NY form, they’re six bucks a pop!

For dinner, we’re meeting friends Teresa and Jack at one of New York’s most acclaimed vegetarian restaurants, HanGawi, for Korean cuisine. As we walk through the door, the chaos of the city quickly subsides and we enter this calm and peaceful refuge. We slip off our shoes, slip into the sunken table, and begin our multi-course “HanGawi Emperor’s Meal” while sipping ginger tea and wine. We start with small clay bowls of pumpkin and sweet corn porridge—each were smooth, subtle, and warming. Our server then delivers parchment-paper-wrapped vermicelli that was absolutely divine (we would have been satisfied with just a large plate of these sautéed noodles) before bringing out a trio of appetizers for each person. We dove into stuffed shiitake mushrooms, vegetable-filled fried tofu triangles, and a bowl of mountain roots and greens. After a brief period to digest, and enjoy the zen-like ambiance, the entrées were served: Bi Bim Bap (sizzling rice and vegetables in a stone pot) and sautéed eggplant and mushrooms with multi-grain rice. To finish off the meal, we sipped a sweet broth laced with cinnamon. The food, company, and atmosphere were incredible—no visit to New York would be complete without a meal at HanGawi!


Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Ooh, I love Dosa! I haven't been to HanGawi, but their other restaurant Franchia is delicious!

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