a nightshade-free weekend in NYC

Like I said in my last post, the reason I didn't post about vegan pizza this weekend was because I was in New York City. A friend of mine has a dance company and was putting on her first big show, so the boyfriend and I went to see it. We were only in NYC for 24 hours, from Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, and I forgot to take ANY pictures the whole time I was there. But it was a great time, and we ate a lot of good food! NYC is full of great vegan eats, but many have small menus, and finding nightshade-free things to eat can be rough. I had fantastic meals at all three restaurants at which we ate this weekend!

One thing I recommend to everyone with unusual food allergies or intolerances is to carry a well-written, clear list of what you can't eat. Servers often have so much to remember and to write down that they may miss something; it's easier to hand them a piece of paper and ask them to check what you've ordered. I started doing this about a year ago, and it has drastically improved 1.) the quality of my meals at restaurants and 2.) my stress levels; I get so stressed out at restaurants because I'm afraid I/the server forgot to ask about some sub ingredient).

Here is my list:
I took this with my phone; sorry it's fuzzy. But it gives you an idea of what I work with. I usually give it to the server as I make my order; I tell him/her what I would like to have, then hand them the list and ask if they'd check to make sure I can have that. Sometimes servers will just look over the list and tell me themselves, but more often (and more comforting for me), they take it back to the kitchen and give it to the chef. Sometimes they return the list, sometimes they don't, but it's easy to write out another list. I usually have 2 or 3 tucked into my wallet at all times, just in case.

So! A quick rundown of our weekend of nightshade-free vegan food in New York City!

Caravan of Dreams features organic vegan quisine. We had lunch when we first arrived in the city on Saturday afternoon. The boyfriend and I split the live almond hummus as our appetizer, and we both had applewood smoked tofu sandwiches. Our waitress was pretty sure both things were nightshade free anyway, but she checked with the chef to be sure. The desserts looked delicious, but we were too full.

The boyfriend and I miss Grezzo, an organic, vegan raw food place that was in Boston's North End for a while before it closed, so naturally a visit to Pure Food and Wine was in order. Pure Food and Wine is really pricy, but their food is super gourmet in its tastes and its presentation. ALSO, they are the ultimate allergy-friendly restaurant: when I started to show my list to our waiter, he said "Oh, we have a nightshade free menu, let me go get it for you." Guys! A nightshade-free menu! When I raved to the waiter about how he made my day, he said "We have a bunch of different menus behind the counter, for all sorts of food intolerances, allergies, and avoidances." It was so great not only to know what I could have, but to have a whole menu of my own to look at! The boyfriend and I split the hazelnut crostini appetizer, and my entree was the porcini ravioli. The salted caramel tart for dessert was the highlight of my weekend, food-wise, and considering how much I ate, those are some high praises. My only complaint with Pure Food and Wine is that the portions are small for those prices, and I'm a big eater. I left feeling satisfied, but not full.

Counter does local, sustainable, organic vegetarian and vegan food. We went there with friends for brunch on Sunday, and our waiter was really helpful with finding nightshade free brunch options! Four of us split the pastry basket; the mini muffins contain egg replacer (= potato starch = nightshade), but I could have the delicious blueberry bread, the awesome chocolate pastries, and the homemade vegan nutella and soy berry butter on top. The waiter also told me I could have any of the sweet brunch things (pancakes, french toast), but after those pastries I was in the mood for savory. I ended up with the tofu scramble, which was delicious. There's a rumor on the PPK that Counter is closing at the end of February, so if you have the opportunity to go there before it closes, do it!

Eating big meals out in NYC left my wallet considerably lighter (and me heavier, I bet!), but it was worth it to have so many good worry- and nightshade-free meals.