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Abby and Natalie’s Amazing Adventure

June 30, 2014 2 Comments Print this page

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Friends, this is proof that the internet is amazing. A year ago, I would have never thought I would meet my best friend online of all places. I also would have never thought that my best friend could live 1,500 miles away and that she’d get on an airplane to come and visit the East Coast for the first time. I think this is proof enough that technology is just wow.

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This is my best friend Natalie, who runs the blog The Clean Eating Teen. She lives in Texas, I live in Connecticut. One year ago, we were introduced via the Just Eat Real Food page on Facebook, and as we began communicating, we discovered that we had more in common than we thought. Eventually, we became really good friends and convinced our parents to let Natalie come to the Northeast and visit New York City for a few days.

We had a BLAST, although both of us are still exhausted from all of the sight-seeing and excitement. I wish she didn’t have to leave, but unfortunately, all trips do.

Here are our highlights!

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After picking up Natalie from the airport, we went back to my house and I showed her around my (very small) town. For dinner, I made a southern-inspired meal: pasture-raised babyback ribs with homemade barbecue sauce, red cabbage coleslaw with apples, and gluten-free/dairy-free cornbread. It was DELICIOUS. Natalie doesn’t have access to good-quality red meat where she lives, so she was very happy about the ribs. (They were so tender most of the meat actually fell off the bones!)

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For dessert, we had vegan carrot cake ice cream (recipe coming soon!) with homemade candied pecans and raisins. Rich, creamy, and wonderfully pigmented, everyone loved this cool, tasty treat! I love making ice cream.

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The next morning, we did a workout together and went over to the Westport Farmers’ Market to pick up some goodies. It’s still early in the growing season in Connecticut, but there was still plenty of fresh produce to be had!

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Check out these Easter Egg radishes. Aren’t they beautiful?!

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We picked up some fresh strawberries, scallions, kale, salad greens, shiitake mushrooms, organic corn tortilla chips, local honey, and fresh goat cheese. Lots of nibbling was to be had!

After the farmers’ market, we went over to Craft Butchery to pick up some pasture-raised, grass-fed meat. We decided to go with kalbi steaks (very thin steaks cut from where the short ribs are) and duck breasts for dinner.

We then ventured over to Rainbow Thai for some yummy food for lunch. Natalie had never had Thai food before, so it was really cool to take her to such a good restaurant for her first try!

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We started with Tom Kha Gai–coconut soup with chicken, tomatoes, and mushrooms–then shared pad thai and Massaman curry with extra vegetables.

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YUM! So flavorful, colorful, and delicious. I hope Natalie enjoyed her first taste of Thai food.

Once we finished lunch, we took a long walk and did a little shopping. On our way, we stopped for some tea at David’s Tea, a tea store that makes over a hundred (I think) different blends of tea. Cool!

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Natalie got Forever Nuts (the one on the left)–an herbal tea steeped with almonds, apple, and cinnamon–and I got Guava Cadabra–another herbal tea steeped with mango, apple, guava, and hibiscus blossoms. We enjoyed our teas very much, but not as much as we liked sniffing the loose teas of all of the different varieties!

We then went home to cook up dinner: Asian-marinated kalbi steaks with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a kale salad with strawberries and hazelnuts. My dad also made some fresh sourdough bread with raisins and local honey. Not gluten-free, but a tasty treat for Natalie’s special visit.

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After a good (well, good enough) night’s sleep, we headed into New York City the following morning for an action-packed day of fun. Natalie has never been to NYC before, so it was really fun to be a tour guide! We started off with the High Line…

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…and had fresh, yummy popsicles from People’s Pops along the way! People’s Pops is a popsicle company that makes its frozen treats from in-season fruit and organic sugar, which I love. I got the Blueberry Rhubarb, and Natalie got the Tart Plum and Mint. Both were excellent and super-refreshing.

By the way, the High Line is great to walk down, especially on a beautiful day. So if you live in New York City or nearby, I highly suggest you go for a visit this summer.

From there, we took the subway up to Chelsea Market after Google Maps steered us in the completely wrong direction. (We wound up at a dry cleaner’s, not Chelsea Market!) Anyway, once we arrived, we wandered around for a bit before having lunch at The Green Table, a casual sit-down restaurant with plenty of local, organic options.

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I was feeling boring so I got a pastured chicken breast with kale and emmer berries, all tied together with a tasty au jus. The chicken was moist and flavorful and the sides were perfectly cooked. We also split some wild mushrooms with sesame seeds to start, which were also very good.

We were in the mood for a little something sweet, so we went over to the One Lucky Duck raw vegan cafe for a smoothie.

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Natalie and I split the Strawberry Blonde, which had strawberries, pineapple, banana, coconut water, and vanilla. DELICIOUS! I’m usually not a big fan of smoothies–I’d rather eat all of that fruit–but this one was particularly nice.

We then took the subway up to Times Square…

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…and over to Rockefeller Plaza to go to the Top of the Rock for some incredible views.

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It was such a beautiful day–perfect for taking photos!

After our ears popped and we went down the elevator, we took a bus back uptown to my grandmother’s apartment, stopping for macarons from Ladurée en route.

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Natalie had never had one before, so of course we had to get a bunch of flavors! We sampled the dark chocolate, strawberry and poppy, chocolate with coconut, coffee, raspberry, pistachio, and rose–all little bites of French patisserie perfection.

Later, we ventured out again for dinner at Persepolis, a cool little Persian restaurant about five minutes from my grandmother’s apartment. I think Natalie and I can agree that this was probably our favorite meal out.

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We started with the eggplant trio: the baba (roasted eggplant, Persian goat cheese, walnuts, and onions), the eggplant mirza (roasted eggplant, tomato, garlic, and yogurt), and the eggplant halim (roasted eggplant and lentils with yogurt). I would marry all three of these tasty eggplant spreads–they were SO good. My favorite was the one in the middle, which I believe was the baba…yum!

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For my entree, I had the Fesenjan–a chicken stew with pomegranate, walnuts, and spices–over a bed of sour cherry rice. Oh. My. Gosh. So flavorful. So perfectly balanced. So wonderful. I was in heaven.

Natalie ordered a chicken/lamb kabob combo with some orange and almond rice, which was also very tasty.

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For dessert, we shared some baklava–layers of honey, nuts, and flaky phyllo dough–and pomegranate, orange and raisin, and rose ice cream. The baklava was incredible–I wish I could find a way to make it gluten-free at home! While the flavors of the ice cream were interesting, I still thought my ice cream (which is vegan, by the way) was better.

After a movie and a good night’s sleep, we ventured out again the following morning to the Union Square Farmers’ Market for some fresh goodies.

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If you’ve never been, the Union Square Farmers’ Market is incredible. There are so many vendors, all selling the best fresh, local produce. We stocked up quite a bit!

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I first got some beautiful purple carrots…

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…then an enormous bag of cherries…

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…and a little box of sweet, juicy little tomatoes, along with some blueberries, fresh dill, red popcorn, and apples. We also had glasses of sweet apple cider, which was surprisingly good for the summer months.

From there, we took the subway down to Chinatown for a quick stroll…

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…saw (and probably smelled) a bunch of durians…

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…and went into a mushroom store where some of the mushrooms cost over $2,000 per pound. You’d probably have to pay $50 to get a pinch of mushroom dust! Ridiculous.

We then took the subway back uptown to Candle 79, a delicious organic vegan and vegetarian restaurant. I got the market plate with chipotle black beans (read: I AM OBSESSED WITH BLACK BEANS), polenta fries, sweet plantains, and garlic-sauteed broccoli, all served with homemade ketchup, chipotle sauce, and avocado-tahini dressing. Delish, man.

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To walk off a bit of our lunch, we took a promenade in Central Park…

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…and saw some REALLY cool giant bubbles! Check this out:

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I’m super proud of this picture. Just wanted to show off.

We then headed back to Connecticut for a dinner of duck with rhubarb sauce, sauteed red cabbage, and roasted sweet potatoes…with more ice cream for dessert.

The following morning was Natalie’s last day, so we took a long walk and made some cookies to bring home for her family. What a sweet way to say farewell!

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I really didn’t want to see this girl go. How can you send your best friend 1,500 miles away after you finally had the chance to meet her in person? I don’t know.

I hope Natalie can come and visit again soon, so we can see each other…and eat more good food!

What’s the best food you’ve had in New York City? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!

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