A chickenless, pieless chicken pot pie… and it’s awesome

It always happens that when I’m either wolfing down a messy veal sausage and fried egg sandwich or shoveling mac and cheese into my mouth or throwing back chunks of fried pork belly like they’re gulps of fresh air, I think two things:

1.  Yup, it’s confirmed, I could ABSOLUTELY never be a vegan.

2. Ugh, why can’t I eat this every single day? (Quickly followed by, “Oh, right, cause I would be a mountain of lard.”)

The “chicken” pot pie wrap at ‘sNice… my new favorite

But then recently, something awesome happened: I discovered the “chicken” pot pie wrap from ‘sNice, where I often order lunch when I’m at work. Let me explain, not only was this wrap the best thing I’ve eaten there (and ask my coworkers, I’ve pretty much had all of their sandwiches) but because of the quotation marks around the word chicken, this bad boy was VEGAN! A vegan “chicken” pot pie wrap! You know what that means? It’s a giant green light to eat one whenever I feel like it… with no remorse! One week I had it four days in a row. In fact, I order them so often that one time the nice folks at the ‘sNice on Sullivan actually threw in free muffins. (“Because you order all the time,” said the delivery boy.)

You're looking at serious fake chicken pot pie deliciousness here.

You’re looking at serious fake chicken pot pie deliciousness here.

But really, not only are there no animal products in this bad boy (which again, takes away about a 100 percent of the guilt/fat factor) but it actually tastes good! It has the same creamy, saucy goodness of a regular pot pie, the same hearty chunks of potato, carrots and peas, and even the fake “chicken” (which I assume is tofu) is tender and flavorful. But best of all, because it’s a wrap and therefore doesn’t have the traditional pie crust, the crust is insiiiiide of the wrap, just as good and crumbly and buttery (but remember, sans the butter!) as in a regular pot pie.

Last week, because I’ve been on a new salad kick at work, the first thing I did on my day off was to have a pot pie wrap from the West Village ‘sNice near my apartment. And just like the other dozen or so I’ve had, I hoovered it.

But because the pot pie is a winter special, it’s only a matter of time before ‘sNice pulls it from their menu. And when that day comes I’m going to have a total meltdown and cry like a baby. And let me tell you, it’s probably going to take a good amount of bacon to get me out of that funk.

You’re the one that I love

It recently occurred to me that I have never, not even once, in the three years and some change that I’ve been keeping this blog, ever written about the mini Belgian brownies at Le Pain Quotidien. I eat these at least once a week, sometimes more, making the fact that I’ve never shown them a little blog love just plain ol’ ridiculous.  I mean, really now, what have I been doing?

I get butterflies in my stomach just looking at these. Or maybe I'm just hungry.

I get butterflies in my stomach just looking at these. Or maybe I’m just hungry.

So today, on this day-o-love, I dedicate this post to you, mini brownie from Le Pain Quotidien, because I love you, so very, very much. If you were a person, I’d wanna marry you and have a thousand of your babies, because that’s how serious I am, mini brownie.

My love affair with these little baked bundles of chocolatey goodness started a few years ago, when I first moved to the city and still worked in journalism. One of my coworkers at the time, a fellow overworked and underpaid editorial assistant, introduced me to the mini brownies at the LPQ conveniently (for us) located next door to the building we worked in. When deadlines started approaching and then whizzing by for all of the interviews, stories, and editing that was piled up on us, we’d sneak out of the office and meet downstairs… for mini brownies.

My darling sweet mini brownie, how I love you so.

My darling sweet mini brownie, how I love you so.

Fast forward to almost four years later, and many, many brownies eaten all over this great big city, and I’m still smitten with LPQ’s minis the most. They’re moist and soft in the most perfect, spot-on way every single time and their rich chocolateyness borders on buttery and creamy. I, meanwhile, am damn near ecstasy each time I eat one. The normal sized version, round and obviously just as delicious, is tasty too, but something about the mini size just feels exactly right to me. They’re like a concentrated shot of pure chocolatey awesomeness, right to the heart, Pulp Fiction style.

Without fail, every time I eat one I wish I had a hundred more that I could eat right then and there, one right after the other. Yea, that’s crazy, I know, but hey, that’s love.

Happy Valentine’s Day, folks.

On the farm

Stone Barns

Stone Barns

Anyone who lives in the city knows that every once in a while, for the sake of your own sanity, you have to leave. You have to get out and get away for a bit, preferably somewhere quiet, clean and where you can bask in the glory of doing nothing at all.

My good friend Hilary lives in Connecticut, a conveniently short train ride away, and has always  invited me to visit when I need a break from the city, so last weekend I took her up on the offer. There was lots of lounging around in our PJs, quality time spent on the couch, Girls reruns (cause they’re freakin’ hiiiiiiilarious), and because she doesn’t live above a bar like I do, there was sweet, delicious silence. I was basically a new person when I got back to the city.

But we weren’t bums the whole weekend. One day we actually jumped in her car and drove to Pocantico Hills, back on the New York state side of things, and visited Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture where we toured their sprawling farm, learned about crop rotation, composting, and greenhouses and saw my favorite, farm animals like pigs and sheep.

Stone Barns is also home to the beautiful and renowned Blue Hill restaurant, where I definitely want to eat some day, but because we were working with a smaller budget, Hil and I stopped by the Blue Hill Cafe instead.  It was there that I came across and unexpectedly crazy good sandwich.

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If the food in the cafe is this good I can’t even imagine what must go on at the restaurant

Actually, I don’t even know if it was a sandwich, but more like a few awesome ingredients  with the most wonderful, perfect bread wrapped around them, almost like a loaf that had been sliced really wide and the doughy inside replaced with speck, wheatberries and pickled cabbage. Aside from speck, a cured pork meat, I wouldn’t have thought that cabbage and wheatberries (which I had to Google to find out are the entire wheat kernel except for the dry outer cover) could make for such great eating. Smushed together and hugged by the soft, coarse salt-flecked bread, they made for a tasty surprise. It seemed exactly like the simple yet healthy, comforting, delicious food you’d eat on a farm.

There’s already talk of us going back out to Stone Barns in the spring (Sheep Shearing Festival what what!) next time I visit Hil and when that happens, we’ll have to drop by the Blue Hill cafe again for more great food to enjoy in the clean, quiet peace afforded by farm life just far enough away from the city.

Snowed in

Snow is coming down sideways right now, swirling around in the air and making the view from my window look like I’m living in a life-sized snow globe. The sidewalks are white and the streets have turned into a gross mess of brown slush. The governor, the news tells me, has declared a state of emergency for New York.

And you know what I’m doing at this very moment, while I write this? Eating ice cream. Not slurping a bowl of chicken noodle soup or drinking hot cocoa. Nope, not this girl. When I went to the supermarket earlier today in a last-ditch effort to prepare for the storm, I picked up a cucumber, an avocado, a box of 100-calorie Oreo crisps, and a pint of Haagen-Dazs coconut macaroon ice cream.

Baby it’s cold outside

Because my Polly Pocket kitchen only has a mini fridge with no freezer, I don’t usually buy ice cream to keep at home, but today something about this dreary winter storm (stupidly named Nemo) inspired me to get some.

So while the tri-state area gets blanketed in snow and the newscasters work themselves into a tizzy of hysterics over what is really just completely normal winter weather, I’m wrapped in a throw blanket on the couch, feet propped up, computer on my lap and a pint of ice cream by my side. And you know what? It’s soooo good. Screw the snow!  This ice cream is where it’s at right now! Rich creamy coconut ice cream with chunks of chewy coconut macaroons. Nemo who?

Best of all, because the weather is so icy, once I’m ready to take a break from stuffing my face full of ice cream, I have every intention of wrapping my pint in a plastic bag and leaving it outside on the fire escape, until I feel like digging into it again. Til then, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.