A Vegan Week: Trying the Mark Bittman & MealKu VB6 program PART 2

MealKu Brown BagAs promised, I wanted to report back on the remainder of the MealKu #VB6 week.

The Beet Veggie Burger – frankly, I’ve never been much of a fan of veggie burgers. I’m a meat and potato girl. But I do like pure, fresh food, and this was part of the MealKu-Mark Bittman #VB6 week, so I accepted it with open arms.

I was surprised that the burger had a lot more of other veggies mixed in than I anticipated. Once again, because the meal had just been cooked (the MealKu advantage) it was fresh, and I could really taste the fresh ingredients. The salad that accompanies the burger was fantastic. It had a great dressing on it, and that makes all the difference.

Thursday was pasta with lentils and veggies. I’m not a huge pasta person, but it was good. Again, because it was fresh. The ratatouille though from Monday (and mentioned in Park 1 of the #VB6 post) was my favorite. Second to that though was this:

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Lentil Salad. I was nervous about a whole lentil salad for lunch. What I did enjoy about it specifically was the other ingredients. Loved the chopped celery (a great crunch), the chopped red onions and red peppers, and especially the dill. The dill took me by surprise, and I noticed that my tastebuds are changing. I thought it added a ton of extra flavor to the salad. In all, I liked it. The MealKu portion the cook sent over was huge. I used the remainder of the lentil salad that night as a side to my entree (which did happen to be a steak — what? it was after 6pm! This was Vegan BEFORE 6 week ya know. ;)

What I did learn from last week’s experience is that Vegan before 6 is a smart strategy, and actually in line with what I’ve been doing for lunch most of the time anyways. I just never called it vegan. I had heard of MealKu before, but never used it. I would hands down recommend it to anyone who’s too busy to cook or not in the mood to cook. It’s the easiest thing, and you get a home cooked meal. And it’s not just for vegan food, it’s all types of food. Someone in my office even ordered Oxtail. Now how about that!?

Mark Bittman & MealKu VB6

A Vegan Week: Trying the Mark Bittman & MealKu VB6 program

This week I’m trying out MealKu. They’re the company that connects people who prepare home-cooked meals, with people who want to eat a home-cooked meal, like me.  Here’s how it works:

You go on their site > select a dish by a featured cook (like eggplant parmesan for example), > it’s prepared by a top notch home cook > and it’s delivered straight to you.

I hadn’t tried it before and this seemed like the perfect time to give it a shot. I can see how MealKu is perfect for busy professionals who don’t feel like cooking when they get home at the end of the day. Or for people who want something delivered to them at work for lunch. And, all the Meals are delivered in a specially design pack, and it’s pretty cute in that it mirrors a brown paper sack, the kind you used for school lunches when you were a kid.
There’s even a message from mom– I mean the cook, written on the outside!

This week MealKu partnered up with Mark Bittman, the food writer for the New York Times. He’s also just wrote a book called Vegan Before 6. #VB6. So I figured this would be the perfect week to try out MealKu and test the recipes in Mark’s book. And, that means that the recipes this week and the the food I’ll get delivered is vegan. Yep. Vegan. Believe it or not,  I don’t eat at brunch restaurants for every meal. Just a lot of them. I do tend to eat a lot of veggies Mon – Fri though.  Vegan is a word and diet that I used to think was weird frankly. It’s probably because my father was bit uptight, of an older generation, and called environmentalists, yoga, and vegans, hippies. I can confidently say though, I’m becoming at least one of the three. Anywhoo, I digress.

Monday delivered to my office was chickpea ratatouille.  I have to say– It. Was. Delicious. It reminded me of the Greek style green beans with zucchini, olive oil, salt, pepper, tomatoes onions, garlic and other goodness my grandmother used to make. And it was hearty. I didn’t go hungry that’s for sure.

Tuesday was the Eggplant Un-parmesan. Equally as good. A little tad bit salty, but still I was quite impressed.

And today, is the Beet Vegan Burger with pear and walnut salad. I’ll let you know how it is in the next post when, hopefully if it’s good, I’ll have polished it off!

Happy Vegan lunching ;)

- Andrea

 

 

 

Brunch of the Week (2 of 2) (9/14/13)

Our popular newsletter, One & One, is distributed once weekly, and highlights two of the best brunch spots we recommend for that weekend. Here’s a recap of this week’s One & One.

One French – Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro

 Murray Hill – 2 Park Avenue (Between Park & Madison Avenues, entrance on 32nd Street)

Brunch Hours: 10:30am to 4:45pm Sat. & Sun.

The Place:
Artisanal feels like a cross between old New York and a Paris Bistro. This large space has high ceilings, white tablecloths, and hints of French flare… and lots of cheese. Brunchers bustle in each weekend, dining on beignets and massive meat and cheese plates.

What to Eat:
Artisanal’s take on Crepes Suzette, filled with bananas and chocolate sauce. The dish is rich, decadent, and irresistible. And since they are a fromagerie, you really can’t go wrong with the fondue served with freshly baked country bread. The prices are a bit above average and we miss their $25 prix fixe. But Artisanal is still an experience to be had.

What to Drink: 
The sparkling wine pairs best with your crepes. Or, go all out with the “Sparkling Brunch for Two,” at $110 which includes a bottle of Methode Champenoise sparkling wine, one entree, and one dessert.  

Reservation Policy:
Reservations are accepted for parties of two or more.

Tip: There are some large round tables for groups of 8 that are perfect for a nice birthday celebration.

Happy Brunching :)

Andrea

 

Brunch of the Week (1 of 2) (9/14/13)

Our popular newsletter, One & One, is distributed once weekly, and highlights two of the best brunch spots we recommend for that weekend. Here’s a recap of this week’s One & One.

One American – 44 & X 

Hells Kitchen –  622 10th Avenue (corner of 44th Street)
Brunch Hours: 11:30am – 3pm Sat. & Sun.

 The Place: 44 & X has always been a gem. It’s one of the reasons we started BrunchCritic. People had to know about it. This must-go spot in Hell’s Kitchen is consistently delicious. It’s very bright and clean, while maintaining an unpretentious and laid-back atmosphere. The staff is always on their game, and it’s fun to read the quirky sayings on their t-shirts.

What to eat:
The pancakes, obviously. We love that the plate comes with breakfast sausage and fresh fruit too. It’s sometimes so annoying to have to order those things as sides at other places. Really though, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, like the crab cake or classic bendicts. While these standard brunch items can be found elsewhere and often average, 44 & X prepares their food with quality and care. They know what they are doing.

What to Drink:
Get the bloody Mary. We love that it is garnished properly, and served with celery and a skewer of three olives.

Reservation Policy:
Reservations are accepted for parties of two or more.

Happy Brunching! :)
-Andrea

Brunch of the Week – (2 of 2) (9/7/13)

Five Leaves

Greenpoint – 18 Bedford Avenue (Between Lorimer Street & Manhattan Avenue)
Brunch Hours: 8am – 3:30pm Mon. through Sun.

The Place:
A fan favorite, Five Leave packs the people in. They’re serving hearty brunch fare that will leave you thinking about it weeks later. Five Leaves as a whole is a place that is just really cool. Despite it’s casual vibes though, you’ll almost always have a long wait.

What to Eat:
The Mushroom Toast makes us swoon. The dish has sautéed mushrooms and broccoli rabe served over 7-grain toast with verbena cream and a poached egg. Also, don’t miss the Ricotta Pancakes served with honeycomb butter, berries, and maple syrup. (Yes, that’s honeycomb butter and it’s an incredible topping.)

What to Drink: 
I had one of the best cups of coffee here, and um hello, cocktail menu. We love the “Marv-a-rita,” a mix of blanco tequila, Campari, lime, Combier Elixer, agave and bitters.

Reservation Policy:
First come, first served. No reservations accepted.

Happy Brunching, :)
Andrea

Brunch of the Week (1 of 2) (9/7/13)

Foragers City Table

 Chelsea - 300 West 22nd Street (corner of 8th Avenue),

Brunch Hours: 10:30am – 2:30pm Sat. & Sun.

The Place:
Foragers represents quality. They are all about local, sustainable, fresh, good food. Their small grocery is on the street corner, and the restaurant is attached next door.
We love this bright, medium sized restaurant with minimalist decor. The exposed steel beams and huge floor to ceiling window are symbolic of their transparency about their ingredients– many of which are grown on their farm upstate. Some of those items include their eggs, sausages, bacon, and fruit. We think Foragers is one of the best brunches this quarter!

 What to Eat:
Get the Housemade Crepinette with pastured pork, sunnyside up Foragers Farm egg, sweet and sour apple, and herbed potatoes. The Salmon Tartine is very good too, and the homemade bacon slabs are thick, juicy, and easily devoured.

What to drink: 
The orange juice is freshly squeezed, the coffee is their own blend of beans, and the cocktails are just right.

Reservation Policy:
Reservations are accepted for parties of two or more.

Happy Brunching! :)
-Andrea