#avaeats Kinda Tries Vegan

I hung out with my friend Nathalie from Doose NYC over the weekend. She joined me and my mom at the Parkinson’s Unity Walk again to walk in honor of my dad, followed by a brunch I wasn’t pleased with so I won’t mention. We talk nonstop whenever we’re together, and she ended up telling me about the vegan shop up Market Hotel in Bushwick. She was already going so I decided to tag along. 

I’m an equal opportunity eater, so why not try some vegan food?

I was hungry- like, a double shack burger from Shake Shack, hungry. To keep it funky: I would’ve been pissed if I bought something from one of the vegan vendors and wasn’t satisfied, so I figured I’d try some desserts. 


Baby steps. 

As we walked around and checked out everyone’s tables, a brightly colored bag caught my eye. We made our way to the Luminous Organics table just to look, and I was pleasantly surprised to find popcorn! My eyes were drawn to the pink Himalayan salt flavored bag. I tried one of the samples on the table and was pleasantly pleased. This flavor is tossed in coconut oil: a pleasant change since I like a little extra butter and salt in my popcorn. For $4, I couldn’t not leave with a bag!

Back to finding desserts.

I walked past a toasted marshmallow during my first lap around the market. I love toasted marshmallows, I’ll tell the makeshift camp fire story in another post. Luckily, it was atop of a (Not So) Rocky Road Brownie at Gone Pie Bakery’s table. A fudge brownie filled with marshmallows, dipped in chocolate, and topped with a toasted marshmallow: it was so rich and decadent and fudgy! 

Nathalie bought one of their coconut cream pies with fresh blueberries to bring home- it smelled so good!

A successful afternoon at the market, but I ate a pepperoni slice after we left. Sorry, not sorry!

It’s STILL My Birthday: The Cupka’ak Bar

Pardon the colorful phallic imagery, but my dearest Brandy surprised me with unicorn cupcakes! Baked by our friend Chef Youngblood at The Cupka’ak Bar, I was too excited to eat for this surprise!

Vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and garnished with, what tasted like, an Airhead unicorn horn, the Cupka’ak Bar never ever disappoints.

THE CUPKA’AK BAR

29 and Fine!

Happy birthday to me!

I had lunch today at Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta with my good friend, Simone. As first time diners, we were offered pot likker with cracklin’ bread. Talk about southern hospitality! 

Pot liquor (or potlikker/pot likka’) is the liquid that is left behind after boiling collard greens. I don’t eat collard greens so I’m oblivious, but Simone said she could definitely taste the greens. 

Dip and bite. 

The pot likker added the moisture cracklin’ bread needed with a hint of smoked turkey flavor. 

I can’t wait to write the full post about this Atlanta gem!

¡Vámonos a Cuba!

It’s something special when people share a love and interest of experiencing new foods. Since I’m all for meeting new people and creating experiences, I rounded up nine of my friends to assist in finding a new restaurant for dinner. When my table for ten turned into a table for two, Margaret and I decided on Cuba.

We walked through the front door and were greeted by a lively dining room and a big smile. We were seated at our table and I couldn’t help but to look around at what everyone else was eating: the plates looked good and the food smelled great!

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We started with cocktails and appetizers. I ordered a Margarita Cubana, made up Baron Platinum Tequila, blood orange purée, pineapple juice, like, sugarcane syrup and tajin salt, and Margaret had an Old Cuban, made with Bacardi 8y Rum, muddled lime, Cointreau, mint leaves and Cava float, garnished with a peeled sugar cane- a pleasant surprise. I was tempted to ask for my own stalk of sugarcane.


For appetizers, we split the chicharon prensado and calamares con tamarindo. The chicharon was a huge chunk of braised pork belly, served over congri, Spanish chorizo, and green peas with a balsamic glaze. Very crispy on the outside, yet so tender on the inside. The calamari was fried and tossed in a tamarind vinaigrette with sweet plantains and cherry tomatoes. The calamari was cooked to perfection and it didn’t get soggy from the vinaigrette, which is always a plus. I’d never thought to put the flavors of the sweet plantain with the slight acidity of the tamarind, it made for an interesting bite.


Margaret and I couldn’t make up our minds on entrees: she was torn between the salmon and the pato con tamarindo (duck) while I was torn between the churrasco and the paella marinera. Margaret went with the salmon, served with coconut rice and shrimp in a lobster sauce, and I made sure to have a taste. The salmon and shrimp were cooked to perfection, and the coconut rice tasted like everything from my super caribbean childhood. I, being the creature of habit that I am, had the churrasco- grilled skirt steak with chimichurri and garlic mashed potatoes. I’ll always find my steak and potatoes. The steak was everything a medium-well steak should be. It was juicy and tender with that charred taste I love so much, and the addition of the chimichurri was like a flavor kick in the mouth.

Since every meal should come with a side of fries, the closest we could get at Cuba was n order of yuquita fritas: crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and served with a cilantro dipping sauce. So good!

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As we were finishing our mouth-watering entrees, I got the strangest craving for chocolate. The molten chocolate cake jumped out at us. Served with homemade vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit, the chocolate cake was perfectly gooey and I wasn’t overwhelmed by chocolate.
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Not only does Cuba have amazing food, but the atmosphere definitely adds to the experience: you really can’t beat live music and a cigar roller on the premises. I came home raving about it– so much the Chéo suggested we go the next time he comes to NYC. Just like other restaurants in Greenwich Village, it’s a tight space with limited seating, so reservations are definitely recommended. I can’t wait to go back–anyone down for brunch?


Cuba
222 Thopmson Street
New York, NY

#avaeats Holiday Gift Guide 2016

As I’m eating yet another plate of leftovers, it dawned on me: it’s almost December and the Christmas countdown will start any day now. Crowded streets and busy malls come to mind when I think of Christmas shopping—instant panic attack! I’d rather do my online shopping from the comfort of my couch, please and thank you.

 

Starting December 1st until Christmas Day, whether you’re shopping for the home cook in your life or that foodie friend that just loves to eat, a statement piece for your favorite hostess or a little stocking-stuffer tchotchke, you can find 25 of my favorite foodie gifts for every budget right here


Disclaimer: I’m not receiving any type of compensation for posting these gifts. If any of these companies would like to send me a little something out of appreciation, we can talk!