We booked into a Hush hip-hop tour on Friday, so breakfast was a quick stop for bagels and tofu cream cheese, juice and coffee on Bedford Ave. The tour took us through Harlem and South Bronx, covering historic moments in the development of MCing, DJing, breaking and graffiti. The tour wound up at Manna's Restaurant for a soul food buffet lunch, where you pay by weight and there are surprisingly plentiful vegetarian options.
For dinner we crossed to the lower east side for pizza and pasta at Pala, one of the Moody Noodles' favourite NYC eateries. This smart-casual restaurant is actually omni, but for every mention of lamb chops or meatballs on the menu, you'll find two vegetarian pizza and pasta dishes and a further three vegan ones, not to mention numerous gluten-free substitutes. I ordered the potato gnocchi with cherry tomato sauce, basil and Daiya cheese (US$16 ~ AU$17.10), picturing summery tomato halves and whole basil leaves. Thus I was a mite underwhelmed by the homogenous sauce I was served. Michael fared much better with the fungi e salsiccia pizza (US$18 ~ AU$19.30), with a large wood-fired base and generous layers of veggie sausage, mushrooms and Daiya cheese.
We found room for dessert at Lula's Sweet Apothecary, a small vegan icecreamery a few blocks' walk from Pala. The modest queue running out the door gave us a little time to figure out our options. The sundaes, shakes, flurries and floats were too much for us to contemplate, and we couldn't imagine what an egg cream was, much less a vegan version. This still left us with one soft serve flavour and a dozen scoops, plus a range of sauces, sprinkles and candy. Michael chose blackberry and coffee icecream scoops and had them scattered with sugar cone pieces, while I paired cookies and cream with a lavender icecream and ordered Ginger-O's on top (US$5.96 ~ AU$6.40 for two scoops + US$1 ~ AU$1.10 for toppings).
I was deeply impressed by the firm creamy texture of these icecreams, which would give any dairy-based version stiff competition in a blind taste test. The flavour range is a smart spectrum of good ol' vanilla/strawberry/chocolate through to cake batter and the aforementioned lavender. I think Australia's vegan icecream options - whether at scoop stands, supermarkets or in our own kitchens - have some room to improve.