We spent our first full New York day exploring the Brooklyn neighbourhood that we were staying in. Our breakfast venue, Champs Family Bakery, became one of our favourite eateries in the city. They've got a sweet diner set-up in a residential street and a menu that runs to dozens and dozens of American-style vegan meals: burgers, sandwiches, wraps and burritos; all-day breakfasts of scrambled tofu, biscuits, home fries, pancakes and waffles; bowls and salads; sundaes, cakes and cookies.
Michael tucked into the Tofu Rancheros (US$12 ~ AU$12.80), a large plate piled high with rice and beans, tortilla chips in a cheese sauce, tofu scramble, ranchero sauce, salsa fresca and sour cream, and ordered an utterly unnecessary side of tempeh bacon (US$2 ~ AU$2.10). I dug their hefty biscuits smothered in soysages and country gravy (US$10 ~AU$10.70), grateful for the fresh greens to break up the richness. Even then I couldn't polish off this dense breakfast. We stumbled out groaning, feeling equal parts pleasure and pain.
We walked deeper into Brooklyn for the monthly Vegan Shop-Up (thanks to Anne B for pointing this one out) at Pine Box Rock Shop, a vegan bar. We spent a couple of hours just hanging out, with Michael watching the soccer and eventually working up an appetite to try something from the Cinnamon Snail food truck (which came recommended both by Anne B and Justin M). He happily ploughed through a tortilla-lined box of spicy Korean barbeque seitan (US$9 ~ AU$9.60), and I found room for an Alchemy Creamery gleegan icecream sandwich (it was nice, but better vegan icecream was to follow).
Otherwise I checked out the stalls of clothing, preserves, baked goods and tea, and was delighted to discover a Lagusta's Luscious stall - I've been a reader of Lagusta's blog for years and hadn't imagined that I'd be able to access her chocolates in the city. I bought a corn on the cob bar and a four grain bourbon caramel chile bar, and we rationed them out over later days. They were both absolutely brilliant and based on ethically-sourced, smooth, dark, just-sweet-enough chocolate. The corn bar included bold corn kernel chunks, hints of paprika and sage, plus a good dash of salt; the other had the darkest, most adult caramel I've ever chanced upon. I'd trade all the Caramello Koalas in the world for another.
We spent the evening back closer to our Williamsburg accommodation, where the Northside Festival was being held in the streets and local arts venues (see slideshow below). We ate dinner at Wild Ginger, a vegan pan-Asian restaurant. Service was reserved by American standards and the food was variable: Michael's Thai iced coffee and my iced green tea (US$3 ~ AU$3.20) hit the right notes and the miso-dressed salad was nice; I loved the freshness of the avocado, mountain yam and mango tartar (US$8.50 ~ AU$9.10) though it was overwhelmed by its wasabi-soy sauce; the salt and pepper king oyster mushrooms (US$8.50 ~ AU$9.10) were greasy and underseasoned; and our General Tso's soy protein (US$15 ~ AU$16) was a great mock meat in a sauce too sweet for Michael.
We were more in sync with our evening's entertainment, a live show led by Courtney Barnett (from Melbourne's northside to Brooklyn's) and Benjamin Booker at the Williamsburg Music Hall.