A few weeks ago while on my way home from Manhattan, I texted Jim and asked him if he wanted me to pick him up anything before I came home.
His response: "Swing by Anthony and Son's and get me a Manhattan Special".
I had no clue what the hell is a Manhattan Special was. I thought it was a sandwich.
Ends up being it's this really amazing espresso soda carried at the Italian grocers in our neighborhood. It's actually made and bottled in a small factory in our very neighborhood, only a few short blocks away from our apartment.
Jim explained this all to me and I stopped quick to pick some up for him. Then I proceeded to drink half the bottle when I got home, it was so tasty! It also was so caffeinated, it's made with real espresso after all.
"Oh my god, you know what this needs?!" my caffeinated self told him while buzzing around the apartment, finishing off the bottle. "It totally needs ice cream! This would make the best float ever!"
So the next time I picked up some Manhattan Special I also picked up a tub of my favorite vegan vanilla ice cream and made myself a float. Easiest recipe ever.
First, buy yo'self some Manhattan Special.
Then in a large glass, scoop two to three scoops of your favorite vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Vegan or non-vegan ice creams all work here folks. Then top off with the Manhattan Special.
Just like a traditional float, you'll have to add the soda little by little to avoid it from spilling over.
Once the glass if full and the ice cream has floated to the top, insert your straw, grab a spoon and enjoy!
Have you ever had a Manhattan Special?
I think I'm pretty well set for spring of 2014, though several of the items I got are basics so I may or may not replace it with another item if I come across something I absolutely love.
Here's my five so far for spring/summer:
- A pair of birkenstock like sandals. Mine are from Zara and I love that they are a more minimal take on the trend. I had said earlier I wanted a sandal that followed a trend and these were perfect.
- Two new bikini's (I'm counting these as one purchase). My old ones were busted and I really needed new ones for this spring and summer. I went with leopard and black so I can mix and mach them.
- A pair of leopard track pants. I bought these while in South America this past February. They were in the window and I just HAD to have them. I haven't gotten to wear them just yet, but once it gets warmer out I'll be living in these.
- A new trench coat. I've been wanting a classic style one for a long time, so I finally found this Zara one on eBay and bit the bullet. This is a basic though so I won't limit myself and may replace it with something else.
- Plain, mid-heeled boots. These were more of a winter purchase though I knew they'd get me into spring. I've worn these almost daily since I got them in February. They literally go with everything! I may purchase a second pair just so I have them for one the current ones wear out. These are also a basic, so I may not include these as part of my current 5 come summer.
I also followed through on my quest for a minimalist wardrobe, and succeeded to whittling down my closet to only 60 pieces. I'm not joking. My goal was 50 pieces but 60 is where I got to and I'm happy with that. This number doesn't include PJ's, unmentionables or work out clothing but does include everything else. To be honest I absolutely love my new closet. It's way easier to get dressed in the morning having less choices believe it or not. It's also made me be more creative with how I layer and pair what I have.
After living with the new 60 piece wardrobe for the past few months I think I may have a need for more loose, breezy summer dresses. Most of what I have are bodycon which is the last thing I want to wear when it's hot out. So I may replace my trench or boots in this round-up with two new dresses. I have time to decide on them though. I also think I may start looking for some delicate, minimalist jewelry pieces. Luckily jewelry and accessories doesn't count on this method so that should tide me over on my shopping fixes.
All in all so far this method has really made me reconsider how I shop. I'm much more mindful of my purchases. Since I only get 5 every 6 months, I need to be sure what I get will go with everything in my closet. So it's eliminated impulse purchases. Because of this I've also been able to splurge on more expensive, higher quality items because I'm not impulsively shopping all the time. I love it!
Stay tuned for my French 5 Piece Wardrobe summer update in the next few months. I'll keep you posted on where I'm at.
Shop the Post
We couldn't have had a better day weather wise to try it. The temperature actually hit 80 that day and sidewalk seating was available, making it my first sidewalk cafe meal of the spring and summer season. Spring is finally officially here! The menu had so many items I could actually have! It was like heaven for me. To drink I settled on their Strawberry Blond juice spritzer. It had strawberry and blood orange juices paired with basil and topped off with soda. It was so refreshing and I'm probably going to try to concoct a copycat version at home. As my entrée, I had no choice but to try their Spicy Kale Caesar Salad. A friend of mine on Instagram posted a photo of it the day prior and it looked so delicious it was all I could think about until I arrived at the restaurant that day. The kale was dressed with a creamy vegan caesar dressing and topped with croutons, avocado, almond parmesan, and the most amazing crispy shallots ever. I'm kind of obsessed with crispy shallots now, I want to put them on everything! Not shown but equally yummy was a side of their gluten-free toast and cashew cheddar cheese. I'm counting the days until I can head back and try some additional items on the menu. Have you ever been to the Butcher's Daughter? If so what was your favorite dish? I need some ideas to try for next time I go!
The Butcher’s Daughter is a new juice bar, cafe and “vegetable slaughter house”.As a human race, it is becoming more and more obvious that our diet – and the way we eat – is changing: Meat is moving off center-stage and the spotlight is turning to fresh fruits and vegetables. At The Butcher’s Daughter, we treat fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat: We chop, fillet and carve fresh produce into heathy vegetarian dishes and press them into pretty juices. ...We take pride in our daily-changing menu, which is 100% vegetarian and non-dairy. Most of our menu items are vegan and gluten-free, and we can always prepare substitutions for most dietary restrictions.
- They work best for traditional Japanese foods. Rice, a protein (meat or fish usually) and some cooked or pickled vegetables usually round out traditional bentos. Only issue with this is I'm American and don't make Japanese style food all the time. It was difficult to fit sandwiches and other types of cuisine into these boxes.
- I don't always like to eat room temperature food, And not all Japanese bentos are microwave safe.
- No room for snacks. I'm gone all day, and needed a bit more space for at least two sets of snacks.
- No place to keep utensils. On Japanese boxes, if there is a space built in it's almost always for chopsticks. That then takes me back to bullet point #1.
- They aren't leak proof. A traditional Japanese bento has sauces packed separately. While the containers they use for them are super adorable, they're a pain to clean. Plus I'm lazy. I needed something I could pour a sauce on and not have the box leak.
- It's a larger size, which is more appropriate for American portions but still small enough you can toss it in your purse or tote bag.
- It's microwave safe.
- Top box has space for two snacks.
- Standard utensils are included and built into the leak-proof packaging.
- Leftover pasta
- Leftover curry, stir fry or other ethnic foods and a grain, like rice or quinoa
- Leftover stews (soups or anything too liquidy doesn't work in this container)
- A sandwich
- A salad (pasta and grain salads work great in bentos!)
- Clean-out the fridge leftovers (like shown below, pesto shells, lemon tofu and green beans)
- Fresh fruit and nuts
- Hummus and cut veggies or crackers
- Rice cakes with toppings like almond butter and jam, or guac and radishes
- Baked goods like banana bread or muffins
We Went to BaltimoreIn March Jim and I spent a weekend in the city where we first met. We got to visit with friends and celebrate their wedding, as well as roam around retracing our steps from early in our relationship. We visited our alma mater, drove by all our old apartments, and even got this very special photo at the exact spot we first saw each other 14 years ago.
I've Been Cooking ... a LotThis year we set an intention to try to order out less and cook more of our own food at home, which I've been loving. To try to keep things interesting, I've been stocking up on new cookbooks and trying to plan a new recipe for each day of the week. I've found a few good ones as well as have been sent some to review, so I'll be posting more about that soon.
We've Been Improving Our ApartmentBeing holed up in our apartment all winter amplified all the little things that annoyed the crap out of us. So we've been working with what we've got and re-styling our place to make it more homey. My favorite so far is my new gallery wall, which de-emphasizes our massive TV. Also frustrated we were never eating in our kitchen due to our tiny dining table, we replaced it with a new larger one and some awesome mid-century chairs scored on craigslist for a song.
Two Words: Spring CleaningBeing holed up in our apartment all winter also made it apparent how disgusting certain corners of it was. Once it got warm enough, all the windows were opened and we got down and dirty getting rid of the grime.
Trying New ThingsI had sunchokes and fiddlehead ferns for the first time ever. Kind of addicted now. What have you been up to the past two months? Catch me up, I'd love to hear!
Pure Food and WineSay you don't like raw food? Pure Food & Wine will impress die-hard carnivores as well as vegans like me who usually like their food cooked. With their stellar cuisine, extensive wine list and candle-lit ambiance, it's the perfect location to bring your valentine for a romantic dinner out.
Candle 79Photo: Mimi Giboin A vegan fine dining establishment in the Upper East Side, Candle 79's creative dishes and numerous wine choices make this spot a must visit for a date night, valentine's day or any day.
One of my favorite restaurants in NYC, you can't go wrong with Blossom. With four locations ranging from the West Village all the way up to the Upper East Side, not only is the food to die for, the ambiance is quiet and candle lit. The Chelsea location is in the most romantic turn-of the century building, and if you reserve your table in advance you may have a chance to get one of their private, blocked off tables for two in their window. I can't think of a more romantic way to spend the evening than watching over the wintry NYC street scene while enjoying a romantic meal with your valentine.
Gift and Treat Ideas
Sweet & SaraMarshmallows are not very vegan friendly, which makes me sad. Luckily Sweet & Sara, based in Long Island City, figured out how to veganize them and they make a variety of marshmallow based treats, from s'mores to rice crispy treats! You can find them in various stores throughout the city, or can order them direct from their website.
Dunwell Donuts has some of the best donuts in the city, nevermind vegan donuts. With fancy pants flavors like Chai Tea and Creme Brule, these sweet treats will bring a smile to your valentine's face, especially if you get him or her a dozen.
Photo by Rachel HellerDoes your vegan valentine have any food allergies? If so, thanks to Babycakes that's no excuse why they shouldn't be allowed to have a sweet valentine's day treat! Babycakes Bakery on the Lower East Side offers gluten, dairy, egg and refined sugar-free cupcakes, cookies, donuts and even a Valentine's Day Candy Gram. Oh, and their icing is to die for!
Vaute Couture Apparel and Accessories
Thinking of getting your vegan valentine some jewelry? Vaute Couture in Williamsburg offers necklaces, sunglasses, and tees fit for the animal activist in your life. This V Necklace is currently at the top of my valentine's day wish list. Whatever you decide to do for your vegan valentine this year, don't forget... kisses are free! On another note, congratulations to Terry for winning the Anjolee Gemstone Pendant Giveaway!