TUESDAY 20th July - New York with Denis
Denis and I started our day with late brunch at Kate's Joint, a great vegetarian place that has been open for years in the East Village. We had a very friendly server who kept us entertained and played some great 80s music, plus a security guard for Shakira or Shakira's drummer, or something... he did a bit of name dropping ;) I had the multi-grain Pancakes with bananas and walnuts, that even though a bit burnt for my liking were yum US$6.95
Denis had the Southern fried un-Chicken cutlets US$11.95:
Then we went to visit Russell Simmon's office to see his assistant, the lovely Simone who is vegan (like Russell), a passionate activist and generally a great gal! Russell was going to be attending the premier of Bold Native on Monday night. While we were there, camera crews were filming Russell's upcoming reality show, that seemed pretty scripted really...
Side Note: I have resigned myself to the fact that for the whole time I'm in New York, plus when I speak about New York or even think about New York, I will have the Alica Keys & Jay Z song Empire State of Mind (New York) in my head!! I'm sorry Frank Sinatra, I just can't help it!
That night Denis and I met up with Ethan (my roomie from AR) and Andy Stepanian (one of the SHAC7 who I'd met in Portland) at Caravan of Dreams for dinner. Caravan of Dreams is a great organic vegan place with a great atmosphere. We all shared the Non chicken Nachos US$11:
Andy had the Un-chicken Ceasar Salad US$9:
Denis had the Summer green pasta primevera US$17:
Ethan had the Burrito monoski US$16:
I had the Raw spinach quiche and a beautifully presented salad US$18 as well as a coconut shake US$6 - YUM!
(I wanted to wear the flower in my hair, but ate it instead)
Even though the four of us were quite full, a vegan must always make room for dessert, especially when in a different city, and even more importantly when in a different country! So we went to Ethan's favourite place, Lulu's Sweet Apothecary for dessert. Here's a photo of my Classic Sundae US$6.75:
FULL. We then hung out at Altas Cafe with a few of Andy and Ethan's friends and talked for quite a few hours until it was late and time to catch the train back home.
We headed to Candle 79 as this is Jackson's favourite place in New York but decided to go somewhere else due to quite expensive prices for lunch when we knew our dinner would also be expensive, so I just took a photo to send to him ;)
We soon found out that Candle Cafe was just as expensive so we could have gone to either... Denis and I shared our meals, starting with the Crystal Roll US$12:
Then the Tuscan lasagne US$16
I had a Carrot Apple Snap juice US$4 and Denis had a Flu and Cold Fighter juice US$6. Then we shared a piece of the divine Chocolate Mousse Pie US$7, YUM. I'm quite impressed with my pic below:
Denis and I then headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we wandered around for a few hours, though ended up getting kicked out as we'd left it too late to fully appreciate the museum ;( however we did see the Picasso exhibition, medieaval exhibition (Divine!!) and a few others. This is a great pic of Denis and I out the front of the museum:
Denis is such a great person who I'm glad that I not only met, but got to hang out with and most of the time it was just the two of us. I can't wait to help Denis and his business partner, Casey, bring their inspiring movie, Bold Native to Australia! So Denis and I are walking along in Central park after we'd seen some series getting filmed (can't remember what it was called, bad name) and just next to me were SQUIRRELS!! By the time I'd realised this, yelled "Squirrels" and found my camera they weren't as close as they first were, so Denis and I had to stalk a few squirrels until I got some shots. The last time I saw a squirrel was when I was in Portland and I guess they're like how in Australia we have possums in some backyards (they delight in crawling on my roof at certain times in the night, waking me up promptly, walking across the wires to my across the road neighbours... then telling their friends it's good for them to come across and repeating this process until they get bored) or maybe koalas and kangaroos or wallabies that are in some people's backyards if big enough or if close to bushland. Anyway, I got excited ;)
Another pic of Central Park:
Dinner at probably one of the most recommended vegan restaurant in New York, Blossom tonight, a great organic, vegan place with Ethan, Nik Tyler (who I had met and interviewed in LA), his activist friend from LA, Libra Max, as well as Denis and myself. We all shared Cape Cod Cakes for an entree US$11:
We decided that we'd all order an item from the menu and share the meals. I chose the Pistachio and Pepper dusted tofu US$20:
Ethan chose the Lasagne US$18:
Libra chose the Phyllo Roulade US$18:
Nik chose the Rigatoni in Porcini cream US$18:
Denis chose the Hickory basted Tempeh over Horseradish creme Fraiche US$18
Hal, a friend of Andy's and Daniel's who I' met at AR, joined us just in time for dessert. Ethan had the Chocolate Ganache which was simply DIVINE US$10:
Hal and I both chose the Blossom Cheesecake which was good but just didn't compare to the ganache US$9:
Then Nik, Denis and myself went to see Inception at one of the local New York cinemas with a friend of Nik's, Aaron, who was the cinematographer and producer of another film Nik is in, Kilo. Now, as for Inception... I am not a fan of these types of movies at all: too much special effects does not (in my mind) equate to a great movie due to this (normally) meaning lack of quality acting, script and/or character development. BUT Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my favourite actors (see Mysterious Skin and (500) Days of Summer for proof), as is Leonardo di Caprio, plus I liked Christopher Nolan's Memento (but couldn't stand the Dark Knight), so due to the positives mostly outweighing the bad I thought I would give it a go.
Joseph was great, Leo and his character were boring, WAY too much special effects that to me seems like such a waste of money... I even closed my eyes a few times. The movie had no character development or growth and you didn't really care too much about what happened to any of the characters as you didn't really associate much with them. I like the IDEA of this movie, with the unreal vs real, dream vs reality aspect as well as the psychological scope, but it was really all over the place and WAY too long. But look, at least I gave it a go. Nik didn't mind it, it was Aaron's second time in two nights to see it and Denis hated it. Plus I think because we were SO excited about seeing the movie it was just a bit too much of a disappointment...
THURSDAY: last day in New York
For my last day in New York, due to me not really having been to any vegan Mexican places, Denis and I had lunch at Buritoville in Chelsea. Denis and I shared a Quesidilla:
I had the Spinach Tortilla with (soy) Chicken Fahita US$7.99:
Denis had the Mega Soy US$8.49:
Denis and I walked to Washington Square Park where we did an interview where Denis speaks about his film Bold Native, being a vegan and his upcoming projects. Then Denis went to meet a friend of his back at the apartment and I lay on the grass in the sun listening to the jazz band and waited for a friend David from Australia to come and meet me. David and I had both been in a film clip years ago for some mutual friends of ours, Nathan & Daniel whose band at the time was Amphibious (the film clip was for You will never be my girl) They are now called Oh Tragic Vinyl Night and I have also been in another one of their film clips: Fast Times at BS High where I also sang and some friends and my film production company (at the time) Corrugated Dolphin Productions filmed, produced, edited etc this. This was a great film clip and you can see some photos from the day as well as the finished film clip, and buy the song or CD on iTunes.
I was meant to stay with David when I was in New York, but due to him being in London the day I was arriving I decided to stay with Denis instead. David met me at the park, then we walked into Soho and stopped at Snice for a cupcake and a smoothie. They were both amazing but I was way too full and had a dinner date with Ethan in about an hour, not a good idea so close to dinner. I hadn't hung out with an Australian for weeks and David's accent is VERY strong, was a bit bizarre actually but great to see him and hang out for a few hours. This was also the first time I'd hung out with a non-vegan since arriving on US soil...
David and I were going to train it to Soy & Sake where I was meeting Ethan for dinner, but decided to walk instead. This is a photo of some great artwork in one of the subway stations, a mosaic piece:
Ethan and I had dinner at Soy and Sake a great Japanese place for my last night in New York. I had Tofu Teriyaki US$4:
as well as Avocado roll US$4 and Mixed Vegetable Tempura US$6:
Ethan had Avocado Roll US$4, California Roll US$5, Boston Roll US$5 and Sweet Potato Tempura US$5:
This was a great meal and it was a pity I couldn't eat anymore due to my afternoon tea before dinner. Ethan and I headed to Lulu's Sweet Apothecary to meet Denis and his friend, Goody-Bee, then we headed back to the apartment where I packed everything up, ready for the long day ahead of me tomorrow. I had an amazing time hanging out with Denis plus loved seeing Ethan again! Need to get Skype when I get home so I can stay in touch with these guys and my other favourite people from the US!
FRIDAY: thus begins the long journey back home...
I woke up at 5am and left Denis around 6am to catch at cab to take me to the Penn Station. The Amtrak train I was meant to catch had been cancelled due to the heat - these people don't know true heat!! - so I was scheduled to catch another bus, fortunately the guy behind the counter was helpful and I got an even earlier train than my original booking - luckily I got there early!
One of my favourite things about my US adventures was travelling by train from Portland to Seattle and back, this was another great train ride to Washington from New York. So I took the Amtrak train from New York and we went through Newark, Elizabeth, Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Aberdeen, Baltimore, then arrived at Washington. If you'd like to see more about my New York to Washington train trip see Cresent route guide. I have always wanted to go on the Ghan train trip in Australia which travels from Adelaide to Alice Springs then to Darwin, so I'm definitely doing this VERY soon!
I arrived at Union Station where my Super Shuttle was early (!) to take me to Dulles airport. Super Shuttle is another of my favourite ways of travel in the US. I was meant to catch a flight to LA at 3:15pm but the plane was delayed and then cancelled (!!) what is happening?! I blame it on the Jupiter retrograde... So all of the people who were meant to catch the Dulles -> LAX flight had to get their tickets changed to another flight. When I went up to the counter to change my flight I was told I would have to stay overnight. I said this was not an option as I had a flight to catch home at 11:55pm - all got sorted. I ended up changing from United Airlines to American Airlines but had to wait until 6:30pm until departing.
I really like airports, but I hadn't really slept that well and was pretty exhausted right about now as I had planned on sleeping on the flight to LA, just had to hold off for a few hours. I rang a few friends and had great chats with people I would probably not speak to for awhile, let alone see ;( There was an Asian wok place so I ordered a fried rice and as they cooked everything on site they made a great vegan fried rice! Had some of this and would eat the rest when I arrived in LA before the long flight home. I also ate my vanilla with vanilla cupcake I'd bought at Snice yesterday in New York, so I was set for awhile. Ended up paying US$7.99 to have WiFi connection for an hour or so.
My plane finally left Washington, I know we didn't have much of a chance Washington, but I'm not that impressed by you at all... Arrived in LA a bit before 10pm, finished my fried rice and talked to Peter for awhile. The flight finally left LA and I managed to sleep pretty much the whole 13 hour flight except for when I was woken up for my breakfast and dinner.
SUNDAY: Home (Sweet?) Home
I arrived home on Sunday at 6:30am (Australian time) to be greeted by my parents and Cam, don't know who was the most excited to see me... think it was Cam ;) We went to Atomica in West End for a Vege Breakfast (for Mum and Dad) and the Scrambled Tofu for Cam and I. Back to reality now... I unpacked my bags and a couple of boxes I'd posted home a few weeks ago. You should see my ankles and feet - they are swollen almost twice their normal size! On the plane my feet were hurting each time I put my Vegan Wares boots back on, but you should see them!
I hadn't watched a single AFL game since leaving about 5 weeks ago, and (sort of) looked forward to the Brisbane Lions (my team) vs Geelong Cats (my second fave team) game that was played the night before that Mum had taped for me due to Brisbane having a HORRIBLE losing streak. It was truly painful (for not just my ankles) and I didn't make it past half-time, when I decided it was time for bed at around 4pm and crashed totally for the next 15 hours! My ankles and feet were much better when I awoke, but I was still exhausted.
My heart hurts from missing my new friends I've made though ;(
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