Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gluten Free NYC (Part 1)

New York City.  The place where dreams come true; the city that never sleeps; and now, a gluten free playground.  I'm thinking most people come back from visiting New York with pictures of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and probably the Brooklyn Bridge.  But when I looked through my pictures after my recent NYC trip...

                                                     ...all I found was food.

Lauren Marie’s Gluten Free
NYC Trip
I couldn't help it! It was too easy. There was amazing gluten free food everywhere.  And I mean, everywhere.  The main reason for my NYC trip was to visit my sister, Erica, who lives up there and is about to graduate from Law School!  But even though she's going to be a lawyer in the Big Apple, she's a true performer at heart.  She joined a group of students at her school who write, direct, choreograph, and perform a hilarious musical spoof on everything and anything Law School.  It's amazing!  And they do this every year in addition to the ridiculous amount of homework, essays, readings, and class that they normally have going on! 

So, when we heard she was going to be back on stage for her last performance, my mom and I just had to be there!

I packed as light as I could, but the cold "spring" weather didn't make it easy on this Florida girl.  But my mom and I made it to NYC!  When our flight landed, Erica was in a meeting and wasn't going to be able to meet up with us until later.  So naturally, after we dropped off our luggage at her apartment, my mom and I went to find food and coffee.  

I walked into the first place that caught my eye, Sustainable NYC.  This is the first place, right?  I'm thinking, OK maybe if I'm lucky they'll have a simple gluten free fruit-nut bar or a fruit cup that I can have with my coffee.  Finding gluten free snacks on-the-go can be kind of tough.  Um, yea, so we're in NYC.  TOTALLY DIFFERENT.  This is what I see when I walk in (look at the bottom):

Whoa...Hold the phone...Stop the train.  Are you serious?  I think I re-read the menu about 4 times before I made some sort of embarrassing, excited, giddy sound and then immediately went to the counter and ordered a gluten free peanut butter sandwich and hot coffee.  Oh, and the peanut butter was grounded fresh that morning and they grilled the sandwich... just to make it even more ridiculous.

  Clearly, I didn't like it at all...
(Don't worry, I totally ate that last bite)

I left Sustainable NYC perfectly happy, full of hope, and hungry for more.  Since going gluten free four years ago, just walking into a place and being able to easily pick something off the menu is something that I've really come to appreciate.  And as I walked away I couldn't help but wonder, "Could it really be this easy to eat gluten free in NYC?"  I just had to find out.

My mom and I continued on the path to Erica's school, taking in all the sights and sounds. And then, I suddenly realized that we were going to be close enough to one of my must-visit stops on my gluten free NYC itinerary, the iconic gluten free bakery Babycakes.

Babycakes is gluten free bakery heaven.  Not only are most of the freshly baked goods (donuts, cookies, bread, etc.) gluten free, but they are also sweetened with agave nectar instead of refined sugar.  And everything is egg-free, soy-free, and vegan.  Basically, it's a dream come true.

My mom and I ordered two banana bread slices and two chocolate banana bread slices...all gluten free.  It would be a perfect breakfast for the next morning.  OK OK, so maybe I ate one right after this picture was taken.  What do you expect? I walked into a bakery and actually could order something gluten free!  That was cause for celebration!
(But this wouldn't be my last visit to Babycakes.  And the second time, I got to meet Miss Babycakes herself, Erin McKenna.  Stay tuned to Part 2 for that amazing experience!)

Well, we finally made it to Erica!  Of course, we immediately told her of our gluten free food adventure, which she completely approved of as she reached her hand into our Babycakes brown bag and pulled out a slice of gluten free banana bread... a great pre-performance snack for anyone.

We walked Erica to the backstage area and told her to "break a leg."  But while she walked away, my mom and I looked at each other.  A whole hour before showtime and nothing to do.  What kind of gluten free trouble could we get into?  Hmmm.... we weren't incredibly hungry because of our recent stops, but we could use a little pick me up.  Then, we found (with Erica's recommendation), Miss Lily's Bakeshop and Melvin's Juicebox.  

Miss Lily's is a Jamaican style cafe with reggae music and a hippie feel.  The decor literally makes you want to start singing "Don't worry be happy."  They specialize in everything from Jamaican Jerk Chicken to freshly pressed juices.   But you better be ready, their juices are jammed pack with flavor!

My mom and I ordered the "Catch a Fire" (the red one) and the "Body Good" (the green one). The "Body Good" leaves you feeling very refreshed.  With kale, collard greens, green chard, celery, apples, lemons, and ginger, you know you've gotten a good dose of nutrition.  And "Catch a fire" is the perfect name because that juice is made from apples, beets, lemons, ginger, and cayenne pepper!  It definitely warms you up and it's so, so good!

We walked into the performance refreshed and ready to laugh.

It was amazing! Erica was fantastic!  And while we only actually got half the jokes because we don't know the law school lingo, we couldn't stop laughing!  They made fun of themselves, their teachers, and their jobs, all while singing and dancing.  If you get a chance, check out one of their music videos, "Last Thursday Night."

It was a perfect end to our first day in NYC but only the beginning of my gluten free food adventure.  Stay tuned for Gluten Free NYC Part 2 where I meet Erin McKenna, find AMAZING gluten free coconut-caramel macaroons, and visit an all gluten free restaurant.
Yup, I just said that.  

No comments:

Post a Comment