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Mystic, Connecticut: Pizza… and So Much More
Jul29

Mystic, Connecticut: Pizza… and So Much More

Mystic, about the midpoint between NYC and Boston, is a fantastic getaway. In less than a two-hour drive, our family left the sweltering heat of the city for some quiet time in this quaint riverside community. Long before Julia Roberts and Co. made Mystic famous with a little film about a local pizza place (more about that in just a bit), Mystic was a shipbuilding town — there’s a rich history here to enjoy along with a sunset sail and walks along the river. Where To Eat The Engine Room This rustic, romantic spot was the perfect place to celebrate my wedding anniversary. I’m not usually especially jazzed about tofu, but my Smoked Tofu Salad (quinoa, spinach, mint, roasted carrots, toasted peanuts & ginger apricot dressing) was one of the best salads I’ve had in a long time. My husband Seth opted for the Crispy Tofu Burger, and there’s also a Portobello Burger on the menu. Definitely start with the Black-Eyed Pea Hummus, served with crispy sesame flatbread. The Oyster Club Sister restaurant of The Engine Room, a little more upscale and intimate. When we made our reservation, we gave them a heads up the vegans were coming, though there is a salad and entree that are already do-able. When we arrived, however, the chef wanted to surprise us a bit. So, in lieu of the salad on the menu as a starter, we were served fresh blueberries and basil drizzled with olive oil, and then an equally simple but bursting-with-flavor tomato salad. The entree — available on the regular menu — was a delicious mild tofu curry. If you’re up for a cocktail, I recommend a classic martini made with a local Connecticut vodka. The Treehouse (at The Oyster Club) Reservation for 8pm at the Oyster Club? Head over early to allow yourself time for a drink at The Treehouse beforehand. You’ll climb the wooden stairs to an expansive deck area situated in the treetops — a little playful, a little magical — for a beer, a glass of vine or perhaps even a fruity cocktail. If you’re visiting Mystic, this one-of-a-kind place is not to be missed. The Boathouse A casual atmosphere, with a delicious black bean burger on the menu. We topped ours with sauteed mushrooms and carmelized onions. A nice (and inexpensive) meal, and also very family-friendly: a great choice if you’re traveling with kids or a group. Noca In the heart of downtown, just a stroll away from the drawbridge across the Mystic River. We had a wonderful lunch here, lured in by the Strawberry Basil Bruschetta on the menu, which did not disappoint. We then split a Veggie Panini that was absolutely de-lish: the grilled zucchini, squash, and roasted peppers...

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Vegan in Boston
Jun12

Vegan in Boston

On a recent long weekend to Beantown, I had a chance to check out some local spots. So, whether you’re walking the Freedom Trail, heading to the ball park, or just looking for a romantic getaway, here are a few of my favorites. Veggie Galaxy Even if you don’t have a family member named after a famous astronomer as we do, this vegetarian diner/vegan bakery in Cambridge is a great place for brunch or lunch. Inside, the retro diner — complete with booths and tall glass pie case — was bustling with activity; with Galileo, we were able to enjoy patio dining and some people-watching on Massachusetts Ave. Not all the menu items are vegan, but VG is happy to substitute eggs with tofu and cheese with Daiya or its own homemade vegan cheese. Though the Benedict and Stuffed French Toast were tempting, my husband Seth and I went with lunch options. The Reuben came with copious slices of shaved corned “beef” seitan, homemade kraut, and vegan Thousand Island (we ordered it on rye, naturally!) and The Club was a delicious veganized version of what anyone from New Jersey knows is a “#2” on any diner menu in the state — the turkey club.  Here, you’ll get the triple decker with homemade tempeh bacon and smoked tofu, with balsamic tomatoes and red onion providing the perfect finishing touches. When in Rome… save room for a slice of Boston Cream Pie. Or at least, take it to go. Galileo savored his sample (the non-chocolate part of cake and custard) of this veganized version of the local dessert fave. True Bistro For an upscale dining experience, you’ll want to head to this intimate candle-lit bistro in the Somerville neighborhood — one of the best vegan dining experiences I’ve had, with ambience and  food on par with New York’s Candle 79, Philadelphia’s Vedge, and San Francisco’s Millennium. Begin with a glass of bubbly or perhaps a cocktail made with FAIR vodka, which is vegan-friendly and made from quinoa. I confess, I broke my rule of ordering a spinach salad whenever it’s offered: instead, Seth and I split the Cornmeal-Crusted Oyster Mushrooms as an appetizer. Served with horseradish-dill aioli and guajillo chili sauce, the mushrooms were the perfect crispy, and the combination of the aioli and chili sauce had just the right “bite” to it. For the main course we tried the Seitan Skewer — a ripple of large thin slices of seitan complemented by asparagus, polenta, red pepper-pine nut sauce, and Italian salsa verde — and the Phyllo Purse of brandy braised tempeh, summer squash, green mole, and sour cream. Both insanely delicious. For all my sweet-tooth readers, I’ll say True Bistro will not disappoint....

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Visiting Newport, Rhode Island
Aug25

Visiting Newport, Rhode Island

For our August family getaway, this year we headed to Newport, a place equally rich in history and brilliant sunsets. In Newport — like many other New England vacation destinations — it can be challenging to find vegan-friendly spots in the midst of a sea(food)-focused culture, but I found some terrific options to share with you. Where to Eat Lucia Ristorante Italian restaurants are usually pretty easy on vegans  — even if there’s not a whole lot on the menu that is vegan, the kitchen can usually tweak some pasta dishes. We chose this local Italian place because it has a separate vegetarian menu, which made things even easier. I’m particularly discerning about Italian food, having grown up surrounded by some of the best; I was very happy about the food here, as were our non-vegan companions.  And as tempting as the Pasta Arrabbiata on the vegetarian menu sounded, Seth and I each ordered one of the two seitan dishes on the menu. Both delicioso! A lively restaurant, Lucia is also is a good choice for larger parties or families with children.  Perro Salado What a fantastic Mexican-inspired restaurant, and surprisingly inexpensive. For just $10, a couple of Vegetable Tacos that taste like everything was just picked from the garden; I topped mine with some green salsa. For starters, skip the usual chips and order the Avocado Fries (avocado wedges, breaded and fried), which we had with the homemade red salsa in place of the chipotle mayo usually served with it. On vacation, we can allow for some guilt-free indulgences, right? The Lawn at Castle Hill Inn For a relaxed Sunday afternoon, we settled into a couple of The Lawn’s Adirondack chairs — me with a glass of white wine, Seth with a specialty cocktail — and enjoyed soaking up the scene as much as the sunshine. Couples, families, and even a wedding party, all mingled around us, while in the near distance sailboats glided along the water. Just behind us, the din of the open-air restaurant crowd, hearty food and cheerful conversations. Although the menu at The Lawn is not especially vegan-friendly, Black Bean Falafel sandwiches are on the regular weekday menu; the kitchen was happy to make them for us as a late lunch even though we’d come on a Sunday, not realizing there is a different menu on the weekends. In place of the Tzakiki sauce that the Falafel usually comes with, I drizzled some of the shallot vinaigrette that accompanied the fresh side salad of heirloom tomatoes and garden-fresh cucumbers. Quite possibly the best falafel I’ve ever had… and that’s saying something. Tallulah on the...

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Back to NY, by way of Baltimore
Jul17

Back to NY, by way of Baltimore

These past two weeks, I’ve been sharing about our family’s recent trip to North Carolina’s Outerbanks. In the last piece, I wrote about our road trip getting there, specifically a delightful overnight in Delaware. In today’s installment, we’re heading back to the city… Where To Stay Hotel Monaco – This boutique hotel is located right in the heart of Baltimore’s historic district, and it could not be a more pet-friendly place! Harkening back to the old grandeur of the city, the hotel features practically cavernous common spaces combined with a retro interior (thick tapestries and carpets of intricate geometric patterns and designs). Our room was equally grand with a beautiful modern bath, and it also had its share of welcoming materials for the pups. Bowls of food and water were waiting for Galileo and Otis when we arrived, along with a goody bag of a few biscuits, a poop bag, and information for pup parents about nearby locations for dog walks. Right around the corner, there is a large grassy area in a park center, and only a couple of blocks down the road is a gated dog park (though dogs are required to remain on leash). The best walk, however, is just minutes away: a five-minute walk takes you to the city’s waterfront and Harborplace. Plenty of grassy areas, and the pier along the water is the perfect setting for a family walk. On a mild summer Saturday evening, Harborplace  was a hub of activity — people of all ages strolling along, others enjoying some outdoor dining, and a few street performers entertaining the crowd — but it was still easy enough to navigate the pups along this charming center of restaurants and shops. One more thing to say about what’s so great about Hotel Monaco, part of the Kimpton hotel group: from 2004 to 2014, Klimpton has received a score of 100% on the Corporate Equality Index by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The Corporate Equality Index is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. Kudos! Where To Eat Land of Kush – Vegan soul food! This unassuming, tiny place is AWESOME. I took the plunge and went with the Lush BBQ Ribs (soy protein). Honestly, I’ve never been one for the sticky sweetness of barbecue sauce, but I couldn’t resist trying these and, on the same plate with sides of Baked Mac ‘n Cheese and Smoked Collard Greens… wow… it was so different from the kinds of things I usually eat and SO tasty! Seth, meanwhile, had vegan “Drummies” that are seasoned breaded soy served on...

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NYC to OBX: Delaware Delights
Jul14

NYC to OBX: Delaware Delights

Last week, I wrote about our recent vacation to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. As promised, today I’m sharing with you some delightful discoveries on our road trip south from New York City, during our overnight stay in Rehoboth, Delaware. We chose Rehoboth simply because it was a good half-way stopping point on our route. What a pleasant surprise this little seaside town turned out to be be for us — the pups  included! Not only would I recommend Rehoboth as a a terrific stop for those on the road, but I also would recommend this as a nice weekend getaway. It’s just over three hours from Manhattan, including a scenic ferry ride from New Jersey’s Cape May crossing over into Delaware; and for those of you in the DC/Virginia area, it’s also not too far of a drive. Take note, there’s a lively LGBT community here as well; so while there’s definitely a laid-back seaside vibe, there’s also a lively night life happening around here. Where To Stay The Homestead Inn is one of the most charming pet-friendly Bed & Breakfasts I’ve stayed in — my thanks to BringFido.com for the recommendation. Innkeepers David and Joe are the perfect hosts — Joe came out to greet us right away as we first let Otis and Galileo run around the enclosed grassy backyard area before checking in. The common area is a cozy space of a few tables and, in the midst of all materials for travelers about local businesses and events, there’s an array of stuff for the pups, from treats to beach towels. When we made the reservation, we let our hosts know we were vegans (a rule of thumb when doing the B & B thing), and they could not have been more accommodating: for breakfast the following morning, we were treated to tofu scrambles that were chock full of vegetables straight out of the backyard garden and roasted potatoes. They even gave us bread that was vegan so we could sample the homemade preserves. Delicious! Meanwhile, Otis and Galileo enjoyed some oatmeal before we all piled back into the car and continued on our way. Where To Eat Upon Joe’s recommendation, we went into the center of town for dinner at Hobo’s. Though not specifically a vegan restaurant, Hobo’s has plenty of vegan options. While we enjoyed the patio dining (dogs are welcome — if only we’d known!) and “music poaching” (a woman’s singing Broadway tunes and standards at the place across the street), Seth had a Buddha Bowl. According to our server, the Buddha Bowl is perhaps Hobo’s best-known menu item: a healthy serving of rice topped with seasonal vegetables...

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Visiting the Outer Banks, North Carolina
Jul08

Visiting the Outer Banks, North Carolina

I just got back a few weeks ago from a family vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I’m happy to hear reports that the area made it safely through the holiday weekend’s storm, and that both locals and tourists are once again enjoying the beauty of their surroundings. The main goal of our trip to the Outer Banks was to witness the wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs that wander the beaches in Corolla, but it also was about spending some quality time together — lots of long walks with the pups on the beach in the cool summer evenings. And I couldn’t resist the opportunity to strike an “Airplane” pose at the Wright Brothers National Monument. As always when visiting a place new to me, part of the fun is exploring local offerings for vegans and, when traveling with Otis and Galileo, a few spots that make family vacation extra fun for our canine kids. Here’s what I discovered in the lovely First in Flight state: Thai Room (Kill Devil Hills) This little unassuming place is a great inexpensive option for dinner. My husband Seth is pretty committed to trying a Pad Thai wherever it’s on the menu (just make sure to let the server know you’re vegan so that the kitchen makes it without egg and if used, fish sauce). I wanted something lighter than a curry (they offer red and green options), so I went with Vegetables with Basil, a nice assortment of seasonal vegetables with a very subtle sauce. Thai Room lets you choose just how spicy you want your sauce, whichever sauce you select. As an appetizer, Seth and I split the Summer Rolls, my favorite part of the meal here. Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar (Kitty Hawk) I loved the vibe of this place and the Martini Menu can be a lot of fun for adventurous spirits (pun intended). When it comes to martinis, it’s a rare indulgence for me and I like to stick with the simplicity of a vodka martini with one olive. Seth chose the Hot & Dirty, a mix of Absolut Pepper, Absolut Citron, and Chipotle Tabasco. This cocktail usually comes with a bleu cheese-stufed pepperocini, so Seth asked them for three plain olives instead. A great thing about this place is that they have a full separate Vegetarian Menu, though you have to know to ask for it. The menu here is seasonal, so it will change. Unfortunately, on the night we visited (when we made our reservation, we gave them a heads up that vegans were coming), there wasn’t anything vegan on the vegetarian menu, and the selection consisted of...

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