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Beyond The Brunz: New York City offers endless vegan options

<p>Topped with frosting made from organic cane juice and agave, even with its cake-like texture, the vegan chocolate cupcake tastes more like an indulgence than a healthy snack.</p>

Topped with frosting made from organic cane juice and agave, even with its cake-like texture, the vegan chocolate cupcake tastes more like an indulgence than a healthy snack.

Sabrina Szteinbaum
Staff Writer
Beyond The Brunz: New York City offers endless vegan options

New York City is “the place to be” for any food craving imaginable. Walking down one block will offer the urban foodie everything from international cuisine, to organic “farm-to-table” freshness to that famous New York pizza that only the Big Apple seems to know how to make.

Being that Rutgers is a train ride away from the city, it’s important to know where to eat when venturing away from the comforts of Skinny Vinnie’s and Cookie Rush.

For this week, I wanted to focus on how New York caters to their vegan populace. With veganism on trend and very “in” these days, it’s fun to spot the creative ways in which NYC kitchens substitute staples like eggs and dairy to come up with dishes both satisfying and satiating.

My first stop on Friday morning was “Blossom du Jour” on Amsterdam, between 67th and 68th. Everything on Blossom’s menu is 100% vegan — their mission being that “eating should be fun, healthy and hold no negative consequence to the animals we share our world with,” according to their website.

Although I am the No. 1 fan of their “Un-Chicken Griller Wrap,” I decided to widen my horizons. Being that it was 8 a.m., I went with the “Breakfast Scramble,” a savory mix of tofu, peppers and onions on a whole-wheat wrap. My wait was longer than usual, but the cashier gave me a free cup of coffee while I waited, so bonus points for that.

As for the wrap, don’t be put-off by its odd shade of yellow. Not only was it a delicious breakfast, but it kept me full for most of the day. If you didn’t know otherwise, you'd probably think you were eating eggs because of the way they cooked the tofu and gave it the taste (and appearance) of scrambled eggs. The tofu-to-vegetable ratio was also on-point, with more delicious tofu than vegetables. With herbs and spices mixed in, this wrap was bursting with flavor.

What I was really excited to experience for the first time was a vegan dessert. I love to bake, but have never experimented with ingredients like almond flour or agave. I decided to try my luck at Tatz Gourmet Sweetz, a vegan bakery located at 844 Amsterdam Avenue. The bakery, which gets its name from the nickname of chef and owner Tatiana Budyuk, has a variety of vegan, dairy free and grain free desserts for any food restriction (or fad).

Budyuk attended the French Culinary Institute and was in pastry school when she began noticing rashes on her skin and face that tipped her off that she was allergic to gluten. She began changing recipes and continues to do a ton of testing, tasting and retesting. Her goal? “It’s all about making people happy,” she told me.

I went with a vegan chocolate cupcake, two vegan donuts (cinnamon and chocolate) and a vegan brownie. The gem of the bunch was the cinnamon donut (and coming from a chocolate-lover, that’s high praise). All of the desserts were more cakey than fudgy, and what I can say with absolute confidence is that nothing about these desserts tasted “off” because of the ingredient substitutions. The vegan chocolate cupcake was a close second to the cinnamon donut. The frosting is made with organic cane juice and sweetened with agave. A fresh strawberry garnish meets anyone who is brave enough to bite into this vegan creation.

Budyuk said the bakery’s menu changes on a daily basis, with specials during the holiday season. The bakery sold eggnog cupcakes for the holidays, and in summer focuses on fresh fruit tarts.

I can't say for certain that I'll be giving up “normal” pastries in favor of those made with rice flour and sweetened with agave, but I would definitely not hesitate to try another vegan confection. I am impressed by Tatz’s commitment to catering to a community of people who may not be able to enjoy their sweets in just any bakery.

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