Bloggers Meet at Blossom on Carmine

by Gena on May 27, 2012

I woke up this morning with a big smile on my face. Why? Because I got to share a meal last night with two of the most inspiring, uplifting, intelligent, and ambitious vegan bloggers, culinary masterminds, and activists I know. Before I get to them, let me tell you a bit about our dining spot: Blossom on Carmine.

Café Blossom, on the Upper West Side, is by now one of my regular dining spots. The food is organic, fresh, healthy, and delicious. Beyond that, the entire chain of Blossom restaurants is dedicated to sharing information about animal issues (they do so on their website), and to partnering with Farm Sanctuary and other organizations that help animals and the environment. The restaurant is frequently represented at NY vegetarian or vegan events, and the staff is always receptive to questions about the lifestyle, and passionate about sharing love for tasty, plant-based cuisine.

Blossom now has five NYC locations. Five! Talk about signs of the times. I love that vegan restaurants are not only flourishing, but multiplying more quickly than I can possibly keep up with. Each time I come home, I find a new outpost or flagship restaurant to try! Since Blossom Café on the UWS kept me company often during the years I lived in the West 80s, I was very excited to try their new location in the West Village. My dining companions? My friend, fellow raw foods lover, and activist extraordinaire Lisa Pitman:

And the incredible culinary creative, blogging marvel, and cookbook author Allyson Kramer:

Lisa and I have known each other through blogging for a long time, but we met for the first time last summer, at Vida Vegan Con. Here’s a photo of us (I’m just left of center, Lisa’s just right) with JL and Megan:

And on our own:

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Lisa is one of those rare human beings who manages to be extraordinarily good without being even slightly saccharine sweet. I’ve never heard her utter an unkind word—seriously, I haven’t, not one—but no Pollyanna is she. Lisa is whip smart, a savvy self-starter, uproariously funny, and I think she’s destined to do wonderful things for people, animals, and raw foods. Not necessarily in that order. Her food alone is an epic accomplishment—especially her raw dessert recipes! As an interesting piece of trivia, Lisa was born without the enzymes necessary to digest animal protein, and so she’s been vegan since she was six years old, an ethical vegan since her teens, and an activist for pretty much the entire time, helping family and friends to explore plant-based dining with her delicious creations.

I don’t have a photo of Allyson and I because 1) yesterday was mad humid in NYC, and none of us felt like having our hair photographed, and 2) this was our first time meeting! But it’s been a long time coming. Blogging is a funny thing: you sometimes forget that what you send out into the blogosphere actually has an impact on other peoples’ lives. When I first discovered Manifest Vegan, Allyson’s site, I thought it had been around forever—it was so masterful and beautiful and accomplished. It was only recently, over email, that Allyson told me that our blogs had started at around the same time, and that Choosing Raw had actually been instrumental in her gluten free food journey (which followed a rather harrowing diagnosis with Celiac disease). I was so touched! All this time she’d been a blog hero of mine, and I had no idea that CR had had any impact on her.

Both Allyson and Lisa fall into the category of true friends made via blogging. When we all started tweeting about a dinner months ago, it seemed as though the stars would never align for us to make it happen with our crazy lives (Allyson is a mother of two, she has a cookbook launching as we speak, and she’s an artist; Lisa is a social worker, a raw foods chef, and a vegan advocate; and I’m…well, we know about the whole post-bacc thing). I am so glad that we made it happen, and I had a wonderful time.

To celebrate our meeting, we started with drinks. Allyson chose a glass of vegan wine, while Lisa and I got ginger lemon mocktails (yum):

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It was tough deciding what to eat from the restaurant’s extensive menu, of course, but the “baby greens and flowers” salad with shaved radish and persian cucumber, sprouts, sunflower seeds, kiwi and avocado paradise dressing was calling all of our names. And so we all ordered it!

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Gorgeous, no? Love the edible flowers. I also loved the sweet avocado dressing, which was filled with the taste of herbs, and highly delicious. My only complaint was that the portion, which was the larger of two sizes listed, was pretty small for a vegan restaurant. We know how I feel about small salads!

Fortunately, both Allyson and I ordered an entrée, too: the zucchini rollatini. I actually thought that this would be a raw dish, simply because of the cashew cheese involved, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the cooked version. It was delicious: the cashew cheese was light and fluffy, the zucchini delicately wrapped around the filling, and the warm, savory tomato sauce was stellar. I also loved how it came served in a little mini skillet with marinated arugula!

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I polished most of it off, and took one rollatini home (which made a nice mid-morning snack today!). In all, this was a great meal.

Blossom is nestled into a townhouse space on Carmine street.

The restaurant actually comprises two floors, which I like. Somehow, I’m always a sucker for restaurants that are tucked into townhouse spaces. There’s something homey about it, and it’s always kind of delightfully intriguing to find downstairs rooms.

Allyson and Lisa and I chatted away into the wee hours about, well, everything: blogging, writing, activism, hopes and dreams, school, work, motherhood, and life. There was laughter aplenty, and we also discovered that Allyson and I may actually be long lost twins. At the least, we have a mutual loathing of organized group activity and team sports, which is ripe ground for sisterly bonding.

I am so lucky and grateful to have friends like this scattered near and far. Thank you, Lisa, for getting on that plane to NYC from Toronto—you made my weekend. And Allyson, this will be continued soon, in NYC, DC, or Philly.

In the meantime, stay tuned for a full CR review of Allyson’s gorgeous book. And check out Lisa’s wonderful recipes and her raw, vegan Treat of the Month Club on her blog.

I’ll be back tomorrow, of course! Happy Memorial Day weekend.

xo

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Ela May 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Happy weekend to you too! I’m excited to get to know Allyson, but Lisa is a favorite, and it warms my heart to see that the two of you got together again on your home turf.

Maybe the last post of yours I see for a while, depending on how things go the next day or so, so please know you have my admiration, love and full support.
love
Ela

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Averie @ Averie Cooks May 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

So happy for you that you have been able to make these connections via blogging and meet up with these ladies in person. Looks like a fabulous time of it!

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Allyson May 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm

What a perfect recap! I had such a fabulous time with you both. Thank you for being terrific people; It’s hard to stop thinking about all the poignant topics we covered last night. Amazing.

Gena, I cannot wait to meet again… sooooooon. <3

ps: I really wish I would have taken my last rollatini home like you did. That dish was incredibly delish!

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Lauren May 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

What fun! Lisa is the sweetest! :) seems like everyone I know is hitting up Blossom lately. My MIL went for her bday last week and a friend went last night. Always raving reviews! :) must.get.to.the.city!!!!

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Hannah May 27, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I am neither a vegan nor a raw foodist, but your writing blows me away every single time.

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Gena May 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm

You are so kind!

And no need to disclaim that you’re not vegan or raw–I’m grateful that you’re reading, and everyone is welcome here :)

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Dreena Burton May 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Lucky ladies all around! This post is quite a tribute to blog-born friendships, and shows how so many of us have common experiences and connections, even with these geographic distances.

And, I didn’t know that fact about Lisa being born without the enzymes to digest animal protein. We’ve connected through the years and she is such a sweet soul. I’d love to talk with her more about that, when her parents knew, how they coped with it at the time, etc. Pretty fascinating.

I’m just getting to know Allyson as well. She seems so dynamic and bursting at the seams with creativity!!

I hope to meet both these ladies some day – and you as well, Gena! I think you are magnificent for sharing this post, it is heartwarming to see women celebrating one another.
:)
Dreena

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Heather May 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm

What a fun meet up! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Lisa in Toronto a few years ago. You know all the best veggie restaurants Gena. Wish I had that in my area!

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Stefania of Revitalize with Stefania May 27, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Looks like a fun time and delicious food! I hope over time blogging creates such friendships for me with people with whom I share my interests for vegan/raw/healthy food too.

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daphna May 28, 2012 at 12:07 am

I’m so jealous, that dinner looks amazing! Did your friend say which enzyme she was lacking? I’m thinking back to GI and metabolism and don’t remember any disorders like this, makes me curious.

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Gena May 29, 2012 at 6:34 am

I didn’t know such a thing was possible, either! I’ll ask her — I’m also curious :)

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Hannah May 28, 2012 at 7:04 am

Oh oh! I’m so utterly overjoyed to readreadread the happiness of your time together in this post! I know every word of your paragraph about Lisa to be true, for she is a light in my heart and this post make me miss her dearly, and feel utterly suffused with longing at the same time. How I hope, one day…!

Also, five Blossoms? Please, Canberra, please won’t you give me at least one vegan restaurant other than the cheap mock-meat Asian cafe out in a dimly-lit grimy suburb…

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ashley May 28, 2012 at 7:57 am

this post makes me so happy. Lisa is one of my favourite people in the world, so thankful to know her. And all 3 of you are such great bloggers, it’s great to see a glimpse of your time together. It also makes me very excited to be in New York in less than 2 days!

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Sarah May 28, 2012 at 8:04 am

Gena, you are so radiantly beautiful! Love the pics.

You have inspired me to leap back into nutrient dense salads and for that I am so thankful. I had forgotten what a wonderful feeling it is to eat something so full of goodness!

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Gena May 29, 2012 at 6:33 am

Thank you, Sarah!

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Christine (The Raw Project) May 28, 2012 at 10:37 am

What a wonderful meetup, it sounds so enlightening and fun! And a gorgeous group of ladies. :-)

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Ricki May 28, 2012 at 11:55 am

You are so lucky to have met BOTH Lisa AND Allyson!! (and how lucky are they to have met YOU?!). What a tremendous trio you would have made. So glad you had a great time–and the food sounds spectacular, too. :D

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veganlisa May 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Gena, I had such a wonderful evening with you and Allyson. It felt like the hours passed in seconds. If there had not been a server to move things along I may have stayed forever. For all the time I’ve put into blogging over the years, meeting you and Allyson has made ever second worth it.

I love this post but all the comments are making blush. :)

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Gena May 29, 2012 at 6:33 am

They shouldn’t! You’re absolutely worthy of each and every one :)

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles May 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Sounds like such an inspirational meeting with wonderful people and delicious food!

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Amber Shea @Almost Vegan May 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Sounds like a lovely dinner! Wish I could’ve joined you three. :)

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BYOL May 29, 2012 at 6:27 am

I have only been to the new Blossom on Carmine once, and really enjoyed my food, but I found the food to lean more towards heavy comfort food than healthy. I also remember only seeing a few gluten free dishes. I went during their grand opening. Perhaps they changed their menu up a bit?

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Gena May 29, 2012 at 6:32 am

Well, gluten free isn’t synonymous with healthy! I recall a smattering, too, though the rollatini we got was GF without being marked as such. I’d say the dishes weren’t quite ultra health fare a la Angelica Kitchen, but they weren’t all “heavy comfort food,” either.

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Karen May 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Blossom is my absolute favorite restaurant in NY and I too miss the UWS (my old stomping ground!). I have never been to this location though so I will have to try it.

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