Saturday, February 27, 2010

ciao for now!

FYI Friendly Veg readers- I'll be out of town for the next week, so I won't be updating this blog until March 7th.

On a brighter note, I'll be escaping the stormy Northeast to sunny Cali, so I'll have lots of fun veggie dining and eating info to report back! Ciao for now!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Megu Midtown

Megu in Tribeca is supposed to be quite the hot spot, so I thought I knew what to expect at the midtown Megu outpost in the Trump Tower across from the UN. But snow and sleet have a tendency to keep people shackled inside, and for a work lunch during the last days of Restaurant Week (well, more like a month than a week!), we were pleasantly surprised by the relatively empty dining room. 

Makes for more personalized service, if you ask me!

I called Megu in advance to see if they provided vegetarian alternatives on their Restaurant Week menus, and they informed me that there was indeed a separate veg menu from which to choose my lunch, a la` Spice Market (which I frequented again a few weeks ago for their prix fixe!) and I couldn't have been more pleased. Maybe it was only for the downtown restaurant, because this was not the case with the Midtown branch- however, the helpful waiter suggested removing salmon from the appetizer salad and using vegetable rolls for the sushi roll combo. Though not particularly creative options, they were solid options that filled my belly nonetheless!

The Oriental salad, sans salmon, was a combo of julienned vegetables in a sesame seed-lime dressing, served over a bed of seven different types of nuts. I don't think pignoli is necessarily an authentic Japanese ingredient, but the sesame-lime dressing kept the nuts flavorful- I'm sure the original concept was probably to pair the nuts with the salmon. I then enjoyed a generous serving of vegetarian sushi rolls- oshinko, asparagus, and cucumber-avocado. Presented in an oversized, beautifully painted serving dish, Megu definitely gets points for presentation. And score number two for me, the dessert menu in Midtown offers ladies only a choice of two desserts, half servings, for the prix fixe- our waiter explained that because Megu midtown was mostly frequented by male UN employees, they wanted to give the ladies a little something enticing. I wasn't arguing. I balanced out a light panna cotta with lemon sauce with some some "seasonal" fruit- I love my strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and pineapple, but seriously, these are not in season, and I just don't understand why restaurants insist on calling them such.

We left Megu full, satisfied, and ready to face the wet, blinding snow on our way back to office. I enjoyed my lunch as much as I enjoyed the sweet prix fixe discount at the normally overpriced resto. Despite all that, I would still tell my vegetarian and vegan friends to look elsewhere- the options are here, but considering the prices you'd pay for dishes that you can find at any good Japanese restaurant in the city, you're better off visiting a less expensive place. Even the outstanding Sakagura and Kyo Ya are more reasonably priced, and you get a far more authentic, and less trendy, experience.

Megu, Trump World Tower at 47th Street and 1st Avenue, 212-964-7777

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Vegetarian Dishes for a Greek Holiday"

Since we're going to be snowed in anyhow, why not give yourself some new vegetarian/vegan recipes to experiment with? In the Recipes for Health section of the Times, you'll find some fabulous sounding Greek dishes in "Vegetarian Dishes for a Greek Holiday."

Some strict Orthodox Greeks will give up dairy and eggs in addition to meat for Lent, but it doesn't mean that they're giving up on taste! Baked beans with honey and dill, stewed cauliflower with red onions and tomatoes, and marinated giant beans with beets? Yeah, I think I could do that for 40 days!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bombers Burritos

I won't be writing a full review, but I couldn't help but give a shout out to Bombers Burrito Bar in Albany- after a long drive upstate, we knew it would be open, we knew it would be cheap food, and we knew that, most importantly, there would be vegetarian options.

Do veggie chik'n nuggets belong in a burrito with BBQ sauce and yellow rice? Probably not. But with the generous amount of veggie nugget pieces, I'll forgive the foodie faux pas. With regular vegetarian burritos and quesadillas and veggie chili also on the menu, all under $10, this is worth a stop if you're in the college town, even if you're the only sober person there, as we were :)

Luna 61

Despite having plenty of farms with amazing fresh, local produce, a number of small town cafes in upstate New York just straight-up suck. The food is greasy, unnecessarily processed, and there's obviously not much thought put into, oh, making something that will NOT kill you. I feel lucky when I can even get a frozen veggie patty at a local greasy spoon.

But I love being proven wrong, and I was never more so when we visited Luna 61 in Tivoli, NY- a short drive from Bard College, this cafe not only prepared solid entrees and desserts, but it was entirely vegetarian AND organic! I assumed that many of Google Maps' "vegetarian" listings for the Hudson Valley region offered at least a veggie option or two, but never did I expect to find a gem where I had the freedom to choose from the entire menu!

A brass Buddha greeted us outside (if there's a Buddha outside a restaurant, they've got to have vegetarian options!) and the smell of brunch sizzling in the kitchen greeted our nostrils once inside the cozy cafe. We just missed the brunch rush, our friendly waitress informed us, where people waited a half hour for a table. As the only exclusively vegetarian cafe in the area, I have no doubt that was the case! My honey and I already made pancakes that morning, so we decided to skip brunch and go for a full-on meal. We started with crispy tempeh "fries," cut into perfect bite size pieces and served with a mild Thai-style chili sauce- I immediately thought this was a great introduction for anyone who's never tried tempeh before- along with a "Roasted Root" salad with juicy roasted beets and carrots, served over field greens and crumbled goat cheese. A typical pairing for beets, but always delicious, especially when the beets are roasted.

For an entree, I was tempted by the crispy jerk seitan chimichanga- and I was not disappointed. Not at all spicy by my standards (and to be fair, I slather dishes with chili paste the way a kid slathers a sandwich with peanut butter), I enjoyed the sweet and zesty sauce and the chewy yet still crisp seitan slices. The chimichanga was also filled with pan fried kale, and I was so disappointed there wasn't more of it- the kale was just as crisp, sweet, and delish. I'll be attempting to make this at home! My honey ordered the sandwich special that day- a hearty, open faced tempeh sandwich with sweet tomato sauce and melted mozzarella over multigrain toast. The tempeh was perfectly chewy without too much bite, and as with my entree, Luna was generous with the amount of mock meat in the dish.

We figured we couldn't leave without trying some dessert, and we ordered Luna's famous banana cream pie- a pie that, we were told, regularly sells out before the end of the day. The chocolate-graham type crust held the perfect filling- neither a mix of banana slices and whipped cream, nor a banana creme blend, but a thick, cake-like banana filling topped with fresh whipped cream. I love a sweet dessert with a good bite, and this, dare I say it, takes the cake! After loosening our belts and ordering a slice of vegan German chocolate cake to go, we paid a very reasonable $72 bill, including our very fresh hot apple ciders, and fought blissful food coma to drive back down to the city.

Oh, and that vegan German chocolate cake? One of the best I've had- unbelievably moist and sweet with a vegan cream filling, walnuts, and pieces of chocolate. It lasted just a day after we returned to Queens. Ah, it really pays to get out of the city sometimes- thank you Luna 61 for giving us yet another reason!

Luna 61, 55 Broadway, Tivoli, NY 845-758-0061

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

China Study Author talks to The Learning Annex

I wish I'd gotten more notice for this, because I'd love to hear what this guy has to say!

The China Study author Dr. T. Colin Campbell will be lecturing tonight at 6:45pm at the Tudor Hotel for the Learning Annex. The class, titled "Change Your Diet, Save Your Life", will connect nutrition with afflictions like diabetes and cancer, as well as common myths perpetuated by government agencies and special interest groups.

Considering the scope of his book and his extensive experience in nutrition research, I'd take seriously whatever Dr. Campbell has to say! Check out the lecture, and if you've never read The China Study, it is a worthy read!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


... Restaurant Week has been extended til the end of February. Go eat, drink, and be merry, on the cheap!

Visit for participating restaurants.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Kale with Caramelized Leeks

I love sweet and earthy flavor combos, so it only makes sense to lighten up a typical chewy and earthy kale side dish with some sweetened, caramelized leeks. Maybe this dish could be the healthy counter-balance to the indulgent dish you might be making for Valentine's Day? Nature gives us sweet things; we might as well use them!

The Whats:

* 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
* 2 large leeks, trimmed, split, and thinly sliced
* 1/2 lb. kale, chopped (about 8 cups)
* 4 tbsp. low sodium vegetable stock
* juice of 1/2 lemon
* salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

The Hows:

1) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes. Add leeks and cook for around 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until leeks start to turn golden.

2) Stir in kale. Add veggie stock and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes, until kale is tender, stirring occasionally. Season with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Serve hot.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Easy Chinese Stir Fry

Valentine's Day? Pfft. Let's celebrate the Year of the Tiger instead!

This Sunday is Chinese New Year, and like any holiday, it's best to celebrate with food. Isn't that what celebrations are all about anyway? A stir fry is wonderful because you can lock in the flavors of the vegetables, as well as the marinade you create- I've made a simple one with lots of ginger, my fave! Serve this up with some dumplings, which are believed to bring good fortune to their eaters- and pop some champagne.

Who cares if champagne isn't traditional... this is a celebration!

The Whats:

* 1 14 oz. pkg. extra firm tofu, drained & squeezed, and cubed
* 1/2 cup rice flour
* 1/4 unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp. garlic powder
* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* 2 bunches bok choy, chopped
* 2 large carrots, chopped
* 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
For the sauce:
* 4 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
* 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
* 2 tsp. sesame oil
* 2 tsp. fresh ginger
* 2 tsp. chili paste
* 1 tsp. cornstarch

The Hows:

1) In a large mixing bowl, add the rice flour, unbleached flour, garlic powder, and tofu. Toss to coat tofu with a light layer of flour.

2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu to the pan and stir-fry until golden brown and crisp, about 7 to 10 minutes, turning tofu as it cooks. Remove from skillet. Add carrots, bok choy and mushrooms to the skillet, and stir fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) While vegetables are cooking, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, chili paste, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.

4) Return tofu to the skillet. Add soy sauce mixture and toss to coat tofu and veggies. Cook for an additional minute. Serve stir fry over rice or noodles.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Alice Waters interview in WSJ ,and other reading materials

Since you might be snowed in anyhow, I thought I'd link you to this interview with slow food activist Alice Waters in The Wall Street Journal, where she discusses the Bay Area food scene, selling out, and how the Chez Panisse experience is something that can't be replicated outside of Berkeley.

Also, coinciding with the theme of my last post, be sure to read up on the Obama administration's recent initiative to get junk food out of schools.

On to cooking and eating! Interested in expanding the grains portion of your palate? Use bulghur, the wheat berry used in tabbouleh salad, and get cooking! And forget slaving over an extravagant Valentine's Day meal this week- make your own dumplings instead for Chinese New Year. And if you really don't feel like cooking anything, be sure to check out the newest vegan underground dinner party in Brooklyn, Nasturtium- next dinner party is on February 20th.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"FDA Weighs Update to Starndard Serving Sizes"

Have you ever purchased a small snack pack or an instant lunch and thought, "okay, this doesn't look too deadly..." only to realize that just half of that tiny package is a serving size? If that's not deception, I don't know what is!

So is anybody else with me when I say it's about damn time that the FDA revisits the concept of serving sizes versus how Americans actually eat? To get the full scoop, read the article published in the Times today.

Nutritionists and FDA officials are conflicted over how helpful publishing nutrition facts on the front of packages and listing more accurate serving sizes will actually be: will the labels dissuade people or confuse them? Is it sending a subliminal message that the FDA expects us to eat more? And when analyzing Americans' eating habits, is there a better way than surveying people, as most of us tend to underestimate how much we eat?

It's tough to say, especially since food habits die hard, and by and large, Americans have a reputation of making bad food choices. In this instance, surveys certainly aren't the most reliable source of gathering information. Maybe grocery stores should post pamphlets about what a serving size is (i.e. a serving of meat should be the size of your palm)? I see that as a less viable option in the crappy grocery stores you find in poorer neighborhoods.

When it comes to something like eating habits- and as the Times exposed in the past, people will still always go to places like McDonald's because it's cheap- community involvement might be needed. Community centers should also focus on educating the public on dietary choices and helping parents choose healthy meals for their children. School lunches should also reflect appropriate serving sizes of healthy foods.

As we all already know, there's A LOT that needs reforming when it comes to national dietary standards. I'll still be curious as to what criteria the FDA will use to revise serving sizes. More to come on that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Basis Foods

Check out new food delivery company Basis, which I was just tipped off to via email the other day!

The gist? A very simple concept of distributing the goodies of small to mid-size farms to chefs and wholesale buyers. Traceable food to good food distributors and to your home or office- like a CSA, only with more control over how much or how little you want per week, or even biweekly.

Sounds good to me! Email to get more information, or to sign up!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tofu Scramble

I'm going back to brunch for this post! This is not only an easy dish to make, but an easy one to get non-tofu eaters to enjoy. Fried tofu usually has a scrambled egg-like consistency, so why not save the egg and scramble up some healthy tofu instead? A combo of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast are wonderful for giving tofu a boost of flavor, and just like any other egg dish, you can always add your choice of extras- for this scramble, I used a little bit of tomato and parsley, but you can add whatever veggies you like. Serve this scramble with some multigrain toast with chutney or with some salad greens for an eggs-tra healthy breakfast. Forgive the pun, but when I see a cornball line in the making, I have to go for it!

The Whats:

* 1 pkg. extra firm tofu, drained and excess water squeezed out
* 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
* 1 tsp. garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp. each salt & freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 Roma tomato, diced
* handful of parsley, chopped

The Hows:

1) Crumble tofu with your hands into a large mixing bowl. Add nutritional year, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and mix into tofu until incorporated.

2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu to the pan and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until golden and slightly crispy, stirring frequently to make sure tofu doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Mix in tomato and parsley; cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and serve hot.


Who thinks selling pierced "gothic cats" is a good idea?? Read more about this idiot here.

Un-freakin-believable. My favorite line? "She didn't think there was a difference between piercing a cat or a human."

Really? Stop smoking weed, freakazoid, and go back to piercing your own extremities in your parents' basement. I know that cats don't judge you as harshly as the rest of the cruel world around you, but that doesn't mean you should torture them and bring 'em down with you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Oscar Noms!

So why does The Friendly Veg care about the Oscars enough to blog about them? Because two films in the Best Documentary Feature category are two that every ethical eater and animal activist should see!

Food, Inc., unsurprisingly, garnered one of the coveted nominations. One of the most discussed and eye-opening docs of 2009, Food, Inc. makes a definite political statement about American agribusiness. You might not want to eat for a week after watching this movie, but Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation") and Michael Pollan ("The Omnivore's Dilemma") provide great commentary during the film. Hopefully, it will inspire people to take action!

The Cove, which I recently saw at Tribeca Cinemas, is a sad expose about dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan- I got misty-eyed watching some of the brutal hidden camera scenes. You'll be horrified by the many cover-ups going on in Japan, and at the same time, you'll be inspired by activist Richard O'Barry- the trainer of the original Flipper- and his mission to protect dolphins around the world. During the post-film Q&A, director Louis Psihoyos recalled trying to get this film distributed in Japan, and how one Tokyo audience that did see The Cove reacted with horror; I truly hope this wins an Oscar and gets the word out about these cruel practices.

And though not nominated for an award, I just thought I'd mention another film in this movie-themed post that will be screening this Friday in Brooklyn. America's Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie is a documentary feature about the drastic transformation of Middle America's wild prairie into farmland and the environmental havoc that the change has caused. It will screen February 5th at 7:30pm at Union Docs, 322 Union Avenue in Williamsburg, and will be followed by a Q&A.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Park Avenue Winter

Would I normally pay $15 for a butternut squash soup appetizer on any other weeknight? Probably not. But outside of Restaurant Week, I'd certainly visit Park Avenue Winter again for the outstanding service I received during dinner last night.

When making reservations via, I always indicate that I'm a vegetarian. Some restaurants pay no mind to it, others usually have at least one entree that is vegetarian-friendly, so it's a non-issue. But soon after checking in with the maitre d` at Park Avenue Winter, an upscale, modern looking resto on the corner of Park Avenue and 63rd Street with no veg-friendly main menu items, she immediately called someone from the kitchen to talk with me about how they could best accommodate me. I was asked if I ate cheese or eggs, if I would like the chef to see what was fresh and what they could create, if I would rather upgrade an appetizer to an entree portion. Wow! It's VERY rare that I receive such personal attention from the kitchen... and honestly, why not? If you're a fine restaurant that prides yourself on service, it's really your job to see what you can do to accommodate me, sans attitude. Park Avenue Winter, you automatically get five stars in my book for your flexibility and for making a great first impression!

And luckily, we were not disappointed by the food either. Our server, who was also a vegetarian, recommended the Cured Lemon Caesar Salad (a cured lemon dressing instead of an anchovy spiked dressing) and the Porcini Ravioli on the Restaurant Week Menu, and said that the ravioli, an appetizer, could easily be upgraded to an entree if I liked. Yes, I like!

The Caesar salad was served Napolean-style- layers of romaine hearts, thin crouton crackers, a generous layer (perhaps too much so) of shredded parmesan, and drizzles of cured lemon. Though a sweet lemon dressing is nothing new, I definitely enjoyed the pairing with a caesar salad. Cutting through the layers of salad actually made for a more satisfying salad-eating experience! My overstuffed porcini ravioli, (which, happily, were overstuffed with plenty of mushroom rather than ricotta filling) were drenched in a mild gorgonzola cream sauce that only had a very slight tang indicative of gorgonzola- a relief for me personally, as I'm not a fan of really strong gorgonzola. Served atop a bed of wilted, creamy Swiss chard, I struggled to finish my very generous entree. For dessert, I chose a winter spice cake, served as three finger-sized cake logs, with apple puree and a wonderfully sweetened, whipped goat cheese. The hearty, spiced cake was a perfect end to my meal and the sweetened goat cheese really rounded out the cinnamon and nutmeg flavors in the cake.

Maybe it was Restaurant Week, but I saw more of the Gossip Girl-esque Park Avenue youth as well as an after-work crowd dining in the resto than I did ladies with fur coats; with the crisp, minimalist environment, it's hard to believe that you're still dining in the heart of the Upper East Side. A quick glance at the regular priced menu will tell you otherwise. Vegetarian options are limited, and except for a salad and sides, vegan dishes are nonexistent. But considering how wonderfully accommodating the staff was and how satisfied I felt, I'd certainly visit Park Avenue Winter again for a special occasion. First impressions truly are everything.

Park Avenue Winter, 100 E. 63rd Street at Park Avenue, 212-644-1900

Monday, February 1, 2010

February 2010 Events

There's a ton of cool things going on in February! Be sure to check out some of these awesome events!

Monday, February 1st's Global Volunteering Fair- 6pm to 9pm at Barnard College, 3009 Broadway, free. If you've ever thought about volunteering abroad, this informational fair is for you! Check out 27 volunteer sending organizations- groups that seek teachers, finance professionals, medical professionals, even surfers- and listen to panel discussions on affordable options for international volunteering.

Tuesday, February 2nd

Aphrodisiac Desserts- 6:30pm at The Brooklyn Kitchen Labs, 100 Frost St, BK, $50. This vegan-friendly dessert making class, led by Anita Sharp of Electric Blue Baking, is a great way to learn how to make desserts guaranteed to spice up your Valentine's Day evening.

Wednesday, February 3rd

Pancakes with Clinton Street Baking Company- 6pm to 9pm at Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center, 95 E. Houston St, $55. Did you know February is National Pancake Month? This demo and hands-on class will give you some new pancake recipes as well as some tips and tricks to achieve the perfect pancake.

Thursday, Feburary 4th

The Honey Conservancy Fundraiser for "Vanishing of the Bees" doc- 7pm to 10pm at Ramscale West Village Lofts, 463 West St, #13, $20. An event to help raise funds for "Vanishing of the Bees", a documentary that explores Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)- features previews of the film, a Q&A with the filmmakers, as well as a silent auction, food, and drinks.

Soup and Bread Cookbook Party- 6pm to 9pm at The Bell House, 147 7th Street, Brooklyn, free. The weekly Chicago dinners for charity come to BK! Enjoy a free bowl of soup (there should be lots of varieties available) with loaves of homemade bread, and donate some cash at the bar, which is distributed to local food pantries.

Tuesday, February 9th

Green Drinks NYC- 6pm to 10pm at 230 Fifth, $10 advance/$20 at the door. The well-known monthly eco-meetup features eco-friendly cookbook author Louisa Shafia, a possible kissing booth, and pitches from people in green living, film, work, lifestyle, and more.

Saturday, February 13th

Greenpoint Food Market- noon to 5pm at Church of the Messiah, 129 Russell Street, BK. Visit this monthly market for not just delicious, locally produced goods by BK foodies, but some Valentine's themed fun like a kissing photo booth and a "foodmirer" bulletin board.

Tuesday, February 16th

Eat What You Grow, Grow What You Eat- 6:30pm at The Brooklyn Kitchen Labs, 100 Frost Street, BK, $90. The first of a four part course, learn more about city farming and growing your own veggies- lessons for true locavores!

Thursday, February 18th

The Art of Eating Book Party and Bruschetta Takedown- 7pm at The Bell House, 147 7th St, BK, $10. Self explanatory- a launch party for blogger Cathy Erway's "The Art of Eating", followed by a Bruschetta Takedown (gotta love food contests!) along with appetizers and music. Portions of the proceeds will be donated to benefit Just Food and Oxfam relief efforts in Haiti.

Wednesday, February 24th

The Gastronomica Forum: FoodFashion- 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Astor Center, 399 Lafayette St., $25. A food fashion show and a panel on the use of food in photography and fashion through the years? Sounds like something I've got to see!

Thursday, February 25th

Vegan Drinks- 7pm at Angels & Kings, 500 E. 11th Street, free. The monthly meetup where you can connect with- and drink with- fellow vegans and promote vegan activism.

The Green Salon- 6pm at Klavierhaus, 211 W. 58th Street, $20. This month's salon features pianist Tamara Orlovsky and guest speaker Scot Kelly on how to make solar energy work, followed by a discussion with salon attendees- a great interactive way to learn more on developments in solar energy!

Friday February 26th- Saturday, February 27th

New York Wine Expo- Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, $75 before 2/19. A grand tasting of wines from across the globe, along with wine seminars... okay, so this isn't specifically a food event, but the possibilities of this event are endless!

Sunday, February 28th

Just Food's Community Supported Agriculture in New York Conference- 8:30am to 6pm at Teacher's College of Columbia University, 120th St. btwn Broadway & Amsterdam, $25. The opportunity to connect with other CSA members and farmers during a day of panels and discussions.

Ongoing Saturdays in February

4 Course Vegan- location available to those who RSVP, $40. The concept is simple- bringing together both vegans and non-vegans for dinner and discussion at an underground dinner party in Williamsburg. Chef Matteo Silverman elevates the notion of vegan fine dining (check out the lush sounding menus!) and it sounds like a great way to meet other compassionate diners.

Ongoing in February

My Meal World for Charity- this isn't a veggie event in particular, but it involves an organization that's important to me, and to many New Yorkers- The Food Bank of New York. For every online order placed through throughout the month of February, a portion of the proceeds will go to the Food Bank, which works to end food poverty in New York City.

18th Annual Hot Chocolate Festival- at City Bakery, 3 W. 18th St. Banana Peel Hot Chocolate? Tropical hot chocolate? Bourbon hot chocolate? Sign me up. Check out the Hot Chocolate Festival calendar on the City Bakery website for the flavor du jour, and warm up with your choice hot cocoa.