Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Travels: NYICFF and Vegan-Friendly Eats in NYC

The fun thing about being so close to New York and my best friend is that I get to take a day trip and do so many things with her.  The sad thing is that there are so many things we want to do together, but we don't have enough time most of the time.
Fooling around at a gazebo in Central Park

It was a fun Sunday, and I'm glad she knew of some places where I could have some delicious vegan meals.  But, let's start with my horrendous experience on the way over, shall we?

Fung Wah Ridiculousness
Well, just as I blogged about the benefits of having a cheap bus ride to New York, I happened to have an unpleasant experience.  I know I should try the Bolt or Mega Buses, but I already know what to expect for the most part on the Fung Wah. 

So, of course, I was extremely exhausted as I had some birthday celebrations the night before, and we got home way too late for me to get any real sleep.  I'm pretty good about getting to sleep on the airplane or on the bus, so I figured I could just get comfortable.

I got on the very first bus of the day, and I just wanted to make sure that I got a window seat.  I knew there would be a chance that I would have to share my aisle, but I wanted to avoid sitting next to someone strange.

Well, I wasn't so lucky.  As I got to my window seat, I noticed a man kind of watching me get settled.

These two girls who got on the bus after me but were extremely unprepared at the ticket counter were trying to find a seat together, so the strange man offered up his seats and proceeded to ask me if he could sit next to me.  I really need to learn to say no.

But I grumpily let him sit next to me as I struggled to get more comfortable with my bag.  I swear that he was watching me the entire bus ride.  I could feel him watching my every move even though I tried to focus on whatever was outside the window or just trying to sleep the whole time.

Near the end of the trip, I realized that he was basically using my thigh as an arm rest!!! And I knew that if I asked him to move his hand in my extremely sleepy and grumpy state, I would have yelled at him and been the drama bomb of the bus.  So, I just tried to elbow his arm off me as I was "sleeping."

But it got worse.  I'm pretty sure that, as Manhattan was in our sights, he basically started farting in my direction!!! DUDE!!!! REALLY?????  I just buried my face in my scarf, and kept my eyes closed.

Finally, we arrived.  Thank goodness!  But he was taking FOREVER to get up and get off the bus.  As he walked ahead of me, he turns to me and says, "Have a good day, miss."

What the fuck?  I watched him walk away while continually turning back to look at me.  I really had to restrain myself from yelling or running after him to kick his ass.  I was just glad the experience was over.

Vegan-Friendly Eats
Being that I was trying to be good about my diet and my best friend is basically vegetarian/vegan lite, I wasn't too worried about finding tons of food in New York City.

Our first stop of the morning was Babycakes, a delicious vegan bakery which we discovered early in her move to New York.  This place has made me a believer in the deliciousness of vegan pastries.  If they're done well, they're REALLY done well.

We had a jam-filled biscuit, and I had some Yogi Tea in Chai Black with soy milk.  It was delicious.

I've had their cupcakes before, but it was too early for their decadent cupcakes.  Seriously, if you get a chance to try Babycakes in New York or in Los Angeles or in the Downtown Disney Marketplace in Disney World, you really should.

For lunch, we headed over to Caravan of Dreams, an organic vegan Spanish/Mediterranean restaurant.  We had WAY too much food!  Apparently, my best friend has a bottomless stomach and the fastest metabolism.

We had the Seitan Nachos, Huitlacoche and "Chorizo" Quesadillas, Caravan Burrito, and Mango Lassi.  We split everything.  It was delicious and I was so happy I was having all these foods that I would never normally be able to eat in this diet!

We had so much food. So. Much. Food.  But we were eventually hungry again.

My best friend had been craving squid for a month, so I looked up some Vietnamese restaurants around the Columbus Circle area.  We ended up at Cha Pa's Noodles and Grill on West 52nd St.

I had a side of shrimp chips and the Crab & Shrimp Rice Noodles.  My bottomless-pit of a best friend had the Saigon Salt & Pepper Squid (which is more saucy and less crispy than the Chinese equivalent), with a side of bok choy, shitake mushrooms.  She ate all of it, while I had to pack up some left-overs.

Overall, it was all pretty delicious.  My belly was extremely happy and full all day.

New York International Children's Film Festival
The main reason this weekend was planned was because it was the final event for the New York International Children's Film Festival.  I believe this is the 4th time we've attended the event, and we've learned that going to the final awards ceremony is the best part.
Directors Guild Theater in NYC
During the awards ceremony, they award the audience favorites as well as re-screen them.  But the best part of the final event is the swag bag.  This year, the swag bag was amazing!
swag bag!
This is the biggest and most sturdy bad we've received yet!  It was filled with a neat journal and pen set, a pencil bag, a DVD of Shaun the Sheep episodes, a DVD of the television movie Temple Grandin, and Bananagrams!

No joke, I've been wanting to buy my own set of Bananagrams for ever!  I had played it with some friends, and I really quite enjoy the game.  So, I nearly flipped over at the sight of the Bananagrams bag!

But seriously, the entire Film Fest is amazing.  Because of it, I've been able to watch some amazing films, from The Secret of the Kells to Sita Sings the Blues.  We've also seen some hilarious and some poignant shorts, some of which you can see on the NYCIFF website.

Honestly, it was attending our first film fest together that had made me eager to find other film festivals in the Boston area.  It's where you can really see some amazing and creative works as opposed to some of the "blockbusters" that can easily be cookie-cutter copies of each other.

With that, I want to leave you with one of the winning shorts that was a personal fave of my best friend and me.  Enjoy!

Pinky - Don't Go
from Pinky on Vimeo.

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