Monday, March 21, 2011

Candle Cafe and Farewell to NYC

Hi guys, how was your weekend? First off, I want to say thanks for all your congratulations and kind words over the past several days regarding my move back to Texas.  You all are so sweet and supportive. Thank you! It's hard to believe that two weeks from today, I'll be arriving back in Austin. Yay!

Sometimes by the end of the week, I feel uninspired to cook. I think I make better meals at the start of the week because I want to make sure all my fresh produce gets used up before it spoils. So by the end of the week, I'm left with unexciting options like spaghetti or veggie burgers. This week I purposely saved one of my favorite meals for Friday night -- the Vietnamese French dip sandwiches from Veganomicon. I think this is my favorite cookbook recipe ever. I make it every few weeks.  Just seeing all the ingredients set out, ready to assemble, makes me practically giddy.

On Saturday, I hadn't slept well and it was super windy outside, but Tony convinced me we should go to NYC one last time before we depart. He promised we could eat lunch at a vegan restaurant of my choosing. Sold!

Since I had heard wonderful things about it, I picked Candle Cafe. I'm so glad I did, because it was awesome. There was a short wait for a table, and I spent that time spazzing out over seeing Lily vander Woodsen (uh, I mean Kelly Rutherford) paying for her food and leaving the restaurant with a friend. (Any other Gossip Girl fans?) She looked like she had been at the gym -- dressed in sweats, hair pulled back, normal-looking. Wonder if she's vegan?

We were seated and quickly offered high chairs for the kids. Total family-friendly vibe. The waitress brought us some tasty lemon-ginseng iced tea, and we started with the Mezze Plate -- hummus, tabouli, olives, and lemon-date chutney. We're always happy to see hummus listed among the appetizers because the babies love it and it keeps them happy while we wait for our entrees. The chutney was sooo good. I wanted a jar of it to take home.

Sorry for the dark pics. The restaurant was packed and I didn't want to use my flash.

I ordered the Pomegranate Grilled Tofu. The slabs of tofu had a smoky charred flavor (although I couldn't taste any pomegranate) and were served over a bed of mashed potatoes and sauteed greens. It was all covered with a delicious sage gravy. It tasted really healthy (but not in a bland way) and definitely helped my energy levels. The greens were my favorite part.

We ordered Jackson a Paratha Pizza from the kids' menu. Paratha is an Indian flatbread. He didn't eat much of it, really. He was more interested in the mezze platter. I tasted the pizza, and I think they used Daiya on it.  I guess Jackson shares my distaste for that stuff. Tony liked it, though.

Tony chose the Cajun Seitan Sandwich. We traded plates halfway through and I was dying over it. I mean, my own meal was excellent, but this sandwich -- crispy seitan, chunks of avocado, and sweet caramelized onions on chewy focaccia bread -- was mind-blowing.  I actually just made Cajun seitan sandwiches a few days ago but my homemade seitan was nowhere near as crisp and flavorful as Candle's. I thought it was deep-fried, but the menu says it is pan-seared. Definitely something to aspire to in my sandwich-making endeavors.

I meant to order a dessert to go, but the kids were getting restless and I forgot. We walked over to Central Park and let Jackson run off some steam. They were filling up the fish pond for spring, and he was entranced by the water flowing out of the hose. He also tried to chase some giant grey squirrels. He's so funny and curious.

Olivia was a little chilly and mostly wanted cuddles. She likes to people-watch from the comfort of me or Tony's lap. She's also really interested in dogs. Every time one passed us, she would crane her neck to watch it until it was out of sight.

As the wind picked up again, we said our farewell to the city and headed home. I'm sure the babies will return to New York some day, but they won't be babies anymore. So it's nice to have this memory of watching them play in Central Park when they were little.



  1. The food all looks delish! Thanks for sharing..
    Blessings, Debra
    Raw Vegan Diet

  2. What a great day -- thanks for sharing!

  3. I think I know how you feel about moving back to Austin. I can't wait to get back to Madison this spring even though it will only be for a visit. I would love to live there again. Someday I hope to eat at Candle Cafe — it looks so good!

  4. I've been meaning to make those Vietnamese sammiches ever since I bought Vcon, but haven't yet! I will add that to my to-do list this week. :)
    Candle 79 and Central Park were the highlights of my NYC trip three years ago. I'm happy you and the fam had such an awesome experience.