I walked into the carnal red room hearing violent blades whirring against raw vegetables, shredding, grinding and juicing. As I advanced to the counter, I studied the neatly organized shelves of organic vegan food: chia seeds, flax seeds, goji berries and raw carob powder, and stacks of books on living and eating raw. I was met by a modern day urban hippie standing behind the counter sporting a slouchy hemp beanie, I looked closer and everyone behind the place wearing a hemp beanie. Eerie, like deja-vu. All they needed were tie-dyed shirts and burning incense to fulfill the stereotype, and I would have been completely transported back to my hippie days at Berkeley hanging out and living with hardcore vegans.
"Man, this place totally reminds me of Berkeley!" I exclaimed with unexpected enthusiasm. Surprising coming from a gal who no longer shows any residual style from her hippie days at Bezerkeley.
"Really? Thanks!" Hippie guy responds.
"Have you been to Berkeley?" I asked curiously as if Berkeley had a patent on raw vegan themed restaurants. Silly me.
"No, but I've heard a lot about it. I actually grew up in New Jersey."
"Oh really? Well, this place totally reminds me of Berkeley."
It was true. As soon as I walked through the doors off of East 19th from the urban concrete jungle of skyscrapers, I felt like I had been welcomed into one of my old college friend's homes, seeing beaded pillows and three communal tables for diners to share while they eat their raw vegan meals. Don't know the person you're sitting across from? No problem. Nobody else does either.
Since One Lucky Duck gets pretty full, I arrived early to snag two seats to make my first time meeting of food blogger Liz from VeggieGirl more comfortable. Liz is an Ohio native, young, bright and ambitious, accomplishing great things even before she's achieved her bachelor's degree in journalism. She flew into New York, her favorite city, to savor the last few days of Christmas break before she resumed the endless piles of papers, mid-terms and sleepless nights at school. I was happy to have a chance to meet Liz in person. VeggieGirl chronicles her life living with Crohn's Disease and several food allergies, an issue that I lament I have not been knowledgeable about or sensitive to until I sat down with Liz.
When she arrived, I gave Liz a light hug, almost afraid that I would have crumbled her if I gave her anymore of an enthusiastic welcome. We sat down in front of two salads to talk about her visit to the city and all of the exciting meetings she had for potential career opportunities after college. Liz had the S&M salad, a mix of baby green lettuce from Satur Farms in Long Island, dulse, lemon dressing and dense, hearty rosemary crackers ($10).
I had a dulse, shredded beet and carrot salad with a rice vinegar and sesame oil dressing, which was refreshing with vibrant doses of lemon and green onion accents ($10), accompanied by a hot pink very spicy ginger beet juice ($8). When I initially saw the pile of seaweed I seriously thought that it was going to be an afternoon snack. Half an hour later working through the last shreds, I was completely full. It was mean, good and satisfying. That's making quite a statement coming from a girl who likes her steaks medium-rare, well-marbled and hugged by a sizzling layer of fat, and who also carnivorously devours it as soon it hits the table.
Each person I meet from the blogging world offers a special friendship that makes me grateful to be part of the community. I am appreciative to have had the opportunity to meet Liz who is one of the sweetest souls I've encountered. I'm proud to be a new member of her support network, encouraging her through her journey and rooting for and sharing in her successes. Thanks VeggieGirl!