We started our fourth day in New York with a Wholefoods breakfast in Union Square and set off to walk the High Line (see slideshow above). This green strip sits a couple of storeys above Manhattan's roads and sidewalks, on a former West Side freight rail line that's been converted and maintained by the community. It was pretty, with abundant flowers at this time of year, and also very hot.
By the time we were done I was craving some shade and a drink, I was lucky to secure both of these at the popular Taim falafel house. These guys are vegetarian by virtue of skipping the kebabs and concentrating on falafel in three flavours: traditional balls of brilliant green with parsley, coriander and mint; spicier harissa fritters; and sweet roasted red pepper morsels. We sampled them all in a mixed platter (US$12 ~ AU$12.70) on a bed of hummus, with thick za'atar-sprinkled pita, tabouli and and Israeli tomato-cucumber salad on the side, trialling different combinations of their spicy S'rug sauce, Amba mango chutney and tahini yoghurt. The sandwiches and salads we saw others ordering looked just as good, and we noticed clearly-marked vegan and gluten-free options.
In my dehydrated state, I was smitten by their pineapple and coconut smoothie (US$5.50 ~ AU$5.80). I daydreamed about its creamy-icy tropical flavour on several later hot days in the city.
We took it easy in the afternoon and visited vegan institution Blossom for dinner. Here we shared:
- crab-like Cape Cod cakes (US$11 ~ AU$11.70) with an excellent tartar sauce,
- sophisticated seitan scallopini (US$22 ~ AU$23.40) on a bed of mashed potatoes and sauteed kale in a white wine, lemon and caper sauce,
- pistachio-crumbed tofu (US$21 ~ AU$22.30) perched between a sweet potato-stuffed crepe parcel and a tangle of frisee lettuce, and
- a very sweet coconut-based cup of tiramisu (US$11 ~ AU$11.70).
We really liked their way with sauces, and I mused that I'd like to develop a better intuition for them in my own cooking. Otherwise the food and environment was comfortable but a touch dated - we imagined how exciting and innovative it might have been ten or fifteen years ago.
With dinner done, we set off for an unforgettable theatre experience - Sleep No More. Punchdrunk theatre company have claimed four floors of a former hotel as their stage, decking them out with cobwebbed crucifixes, bedrooms, shop fronts and very little lighting. Actors stalk the rooms, performing an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, and the audience are masked voyeurs who wander the hotel at their whim, free to rifle through papers, touch trinkets and chase the action. There's blood and dance, sex, nudity and death. It's utterly immersive, and something we talked about for hours afterwards.
As we approached our apartment, we finished with a midnight snack from Van Leeuwen's icecream truck. Their vegan flavours are a clever splice of coconut and cashew milks, their chocolate and pistachio flavours (totalling US$5.75 ~ AU$6.10) rating amongst my best ever vegan icecream experiences.