living underground in the real world

NYC LES dining update

First of all: this scarf with this dress: yea or nay? I can’t decide. (Yeah, I made that headband by shortening the skirt of the dress, of course!)

Second of all:

The continued girlification of me continues to bewilder me. My shoes keep getting higher and higher. Very strange. When Jacob saw me in these (which, in truth, I bought mostly because my beloved beaten-up blues kill my feet and the blisters had suddenly [coinciding with walking past a shoe store I’d long wanted to explore, strange how things happen, isn’t it?] become TOO MUCH RIGHT NOW MUST! GET! THESE! OFF! MY! FEET!), he said “Thirteen years with someone and one day you realize they’re a girlie girl. Who knew!” And I took his arm and tottled (I think I mean “tottered,” but “tottled” is cool, no?) off to dinner, like the brainwashed patriarchy-participant a part of thinks wearing heels makes me.

Oh, but dinner! That’s what I came here to talk about.

This post is a companion piece to this little list of Lower East Side veganosity, FYI. Links to all the restaurants mentioned here are on that page.

As it turns out, an old pal of mine is now the Executive Chef at Counter, so Jacob and I braved the INSANE RIDICULOUS prices to give it a whirl again, and it’s still solidly lovely. The prices aren’t too much if everything really is organic, but $12 for a martini, no matter how much I needed one after walking 10 blocks in 4″ heels, no matter what magical organic vodka you’re putting in them, was not going to happen (I save all my $12 for baths, as you might recall.). My bestie Maresa is actually currently working there making desserts too, which all seem imaginative and well-executed. (I mean, Maresa is perfect and amazing, but [for now at least?] she’s just the executor of their recipes, so even if they sucked you can’t really blame her. But they don’t suck!)

Counter’s a weird place in ways that I discussed in the post referenced above, but it certainly is nice to have a 99% vegan stylish bistro to go to.

For three times the price, however, I’d still rather go to Kajitsu and have my mind continually blown off. We went last week and I officially declared my love to them by bringing the chef chocolates and beginning an email relationship with our favorite server, Jamie (he emailed me to send some links related to making sake, which we chatted about at dinner. How sweet is that, yo?). Also! My former intern, the amazing Ann, is now interning there.

OK this is getting too gossipy. Kajitsu was great, everyone should go, will post pictures soon.

Before leaving the city, we again braved not-ludicrous-if-everything-truly-is-organic-but-I-personally-have-my-doubts prices and went to Caravan of Dreams for brunch. Why? Because literally no other place was open and we both needed food for our (separate, sob sob) journeys. It was horrible, as we both knew it would be. I have had a singular experience at CoD several times now, where I ask the waiter if I should order what I’m about to order, and they straight up say no. It’s a good reminder to trust your servers, and to let them guide you to the good stuff. I asked the waitress what she thought about the oat pancakes, and she said, “You know…they’re just like pancakes. Except…” “Except not fluffy and not good?” I said. “Yep.” She said. I got some polenta thing which wasn’t awful. Jacob got your standard tofu scrambler burrito with the requisite squeezie-tube sauce drizzled over it. (Drizzling sauce over burritos seems sort of horrible to me. My god I have a lot of peeves.)

Don’t ever go to Caravan of Dreams, OK? Promise?

Instead, go to the newly reopened Teany, just a few streets away, and get a perfectly serviceable TLT sandwich. The Bluestockings counter woman I asked if it was open said it was and mentioned that it is no longer owned by Moby, but the menu and decor seem mostly unchanged, though there are more seats.

Proving my intense hypocrisy, Teany is the one place in the world where I order the ridiculously sugary, Earth Balance-laden desserts that are not usually, to put it kindly, to my taste. (To put it unkindly: are ruining the entire world in 50 different ways.) The same thing happens every time: I eat half my strawberry shortcake (which you can get in fucking January, cottony fraises and all) then take the rest home and eat it at midnight and marvel at how that fluffy Earth Balance frosting coats your tongue so horribly.

Mon petit ami, on the other hand, is purely happy, and also does the same thing every time: orders one dessert,

then decides to that two would really be better. (While I just mush around my cake.)

Ah, NYC.

7 Responses to “NYC LES dining update”

  1. Abby

    Hi Lagusta, I’m surprised to hear what you have to say about Vegan Treats after your post about Isa Chandra. Even if the sweets are not your taste, do you not similarly respect all that VT has accomplished for the movement of veganism? I’m curious because while we don’t always agree, I enjoy reading your opinions. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a huge VT fan.

    Also, for the record, I think it’s a stretch to call Counter 99% vegan anymore.

    Reply
  2. lagusta

    ahhhhhhh you’re so right. I’ll take out the name Vegan Treats, because it’s so not fair. Though it will still be in the comments…oh well.

    I truly think that though on one hand VT has done a lot for veganism, she’s also created a nation of zombies addicted to insanely junky ingredients and wildly sugary sweets (not you, I’m sure!). I’m not blaming Danielle for this—I think she’s done an amazing thing, for real.

    It just worries me that her sweets are the face of veganism (on the East Coast, at least). The…how can I say this politely? The supermarket quality of many of her desserts, the incredible whiteness of them (on all levels) seems somehow symbolic of an overly white movement.

    (there’s more on this here: https://blog.lagusta.com/2008/07/02/of-earth-balance-and-the-state-of-veganism-in-2008/)

    I know, I worry too much. Danielle is great and I wish her continued success. But I’d love to see other companies (yeah, I know, I should be one of them, but I’m too lazy and my stuff is too pricey to wholesale) representing a different aspect of vegan treats.

    You’re also right about Counter! I seemed to remember only 1 not vegan thing, but I just checked and there are like 5. Bleg.

    Thanks for keeping me honest.

    Reply
    • Abby

      Once again, I totally respect your opinion and actually agree with many of your points. On the other hand, I whole-heartedly admit that I am, in fact, addicted to wildly sugary sweets (although I am trying to pay better attention to omitting insanely junky ingredients!).

      I’ll say this about DK: besides personally being a fan of her treats, I also completely respect that she never fails to make the connection between vegan food and respect for animals. Additionally, her “type” of authentic-tasting, sweet, American treats go a long way with non-vegans.

      In truth, I am glad that we live in a world where so many varied, vegan options exist! Rock on; I love your blog & hope to try your chocolates soon.

      Reply
      • lagusta

        Yep, I feel ya. I personally adore Danielle, and feel really bad being so grumpy about her amazing biz. Alas. What’s awesome is that we have options, absolutely.

  3. britt

    yeah, i think tottered worked, but you’ll be happy to know toddled (which is almost the same is tottled) is a legit word and basically means the same thing! yay!

    Reply
  4. Reno

    I think about wearing high heels a lot because I also really love them, and I really love dresses and skirts and the whole deal, but my years of indoctrination in feminist culture have made me feel so ashamed about my love for stereotypically “feminine” behaviors. Like, somehow, if I were a “real” woman, I wouldn’t want to wear lip gloss or fully impractical footwear.

    I finally decided that it was up to me, and only me, to decide how I wanted to enjoy/dress up/adorn my body, and that other people judging my wardrobe for its perceived participation in patriarchal values, was basically an extension of the idea that my body belonged to other people and not me. Even though it’s in the interest of dismantling gender stereotypes and oppression, it still plays into the idea that our bodies belong to everyone except ourselves. Now we’re not just co-opted by men, we’re co-opted by history, by a political society, by a movement. Same shit different day, you know?

    Also, despite the overwhelmingly positive voices coming out to say “what you wear does not make sexual assault ok” I, and many other women, are still receiving self-defense training that says “wear what you want, but know that you are a target and that these clothes make you more vulnerable”. It’s a valuable statement, but still reinforces the guilt I already feel for wearing “girlie” clothes.

    When did wearing a dress and some mascara get so fucking complicated?!

    Reply
  5. lagusta

    Reno, I totally agree. I also think sometimes about this: in a perfectly feminist world, people will still want to play dress-up. And that’s all it is to me: dress-up!

    And then I think about this Katherine MacKinnon quote: “the notion of consent presumes that the equality we are working to achieve has actually been achieved.” Of course, she’s talking about rape, but sometimes I think: WHY do I like heels? Because deep down I think they make me a “real woman”? Because I can win at the prettiness crap game more easily? Hmm. Something to think about.

    (That quote can be–and often is–used to accuse feminists of all sort of false consciousnesses, so I’m careful with it…)

    I am just waiting for the day, which in my part of the country at least, sometimes seems right around the corner (and sometimes seems very far away indeed), when men feel just as safe and comfortable and have just as much fun in heels and skirts as women.

    And, re: your last paragraph. I never seem to want to wear heels when I’m going out by myself. I like the safely of having a pal at my side—I want to say that it’s the safety like when you’re wearing something weird and want to have someone around to soften the blow of it and cushion people’s stares (and I the only person who tends to wear weirder outfits when with others?), but yep, I do think a part of it is the actual physical safety. Sigh.

    Reply

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