The Unlikely Vegan Gets His NY Fix by Phil Shainmark

So, my brother-in-law Dan and I went to NY, and it was an awesome trip from start to finish. My father picked us up at the airport and took us to Royal Palace in White Plains, NY. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth talking about again. Dan and I were famished, so their buffet was definitely the way to go. We loaded up our plates and went to town. The staff there is so great, asking us what we liked and didn’t like, and talking to us about India and where the foods come from when we expressed an interest. I will go there any time I’m in the area. The next day we went to Long Island to see my grandparents, and go to Town Bagel (I needed my NY bagel fix). I realize this sounds exactly like my last trip to NY, and you’re right. I was in town for a similar amount of time and with similar time constraints, so we duplicated the trip almost exactly.

I was hoping to show Dan a little of where I grew up and feed him some of the food I grew up with and loved. I think after the Indian food and the bagels he was starting to realize a little why I am the way I am about certain foods. That evening, we went to dinner with my dad and his girlfriend at Trattoria Vivolo in Harrison NY. I got spaghetti with red sauce, and Dan got another pasta dish with meat. I asked him how it was, and he looked at me and said “this is the best Italian food I’ve ever had in my life.” Now Vivolo is a really good restaurant, but it’s by no means a national, Michelin starred place. He was finally starting to understand that almost any random place in NY was gonna give him Italian this good. After dinner we headed north to my Mom’s house to spend the night because we had an event to attend in Wappingers Falls, NY the next day.

We were in Wappingers by 11 am. It was the day of their St. Patrick’s day parade, and our friend’s parent’s house was right on the parade route, so we got invited there to watch it go by. The food was mostly meat stuff, and since we were a late addition to the festivities I didn’t expect anything. However, the homemade whisky apple cider was vegan, and there was plenty of that. Once the parade was done, we walked to a local pizza place to get Dan his first slices of real NY pizza. They looked delicious, and he seemed to really like them. We had some time to kill before going to a party in the Bronx, so we hung around Wappingers at AJ Cafe & Bar which was in FULL St. Paddy’s swing. Drinking all day, and not eating anything after breakfast was a terrible idea. On the ride down to the Bronx it all caught up with me and I ended up getting quite sick. Fortunately, when we arrived there was a ton of delicious food at the party, so I bounced back ok.

We spent the next day hanging out with some of my friends and went to the Bull and Barrel Brewery in Brewster NY. It’s a “western” style place with a mechanical bull. Dan is a craft beer guy, as is one of my friends who was with us. It’s mostly a burger place, but I had them make me waffle fries with mushrooms and onions. Our waitress and our server thought it was a great idea, and that they should add it to the menu. Unfortunately, they had a bunch of huge parties so they were out of some of the more popular beers, but the company was excellent so it wasn’t a total loss. A little later that afternoon we found out our 7am flight back to Vegas the next day was canceled, and moved to 7pm. So we got to sleep in AND go to Panino’s, a little local deli, and have lunch. The sandwiches were amazing, and I’ve been craving the zucchini, tomato and onions the lady made that I got on my sandwich (with olives and roasted red peppers) ever since.

Boca “Chicken” Burger

Since I’ve been home, there hasn’t been much new or exciting food-wise. Though I tried Boca Burgers “spicy Chik’n burger” and it’s awesome. The only other thing going on is that a friend of ours is a film maker, and he has expressed some interest in making a little documentary (3-5 mins) about me being Vegan as kind of a visual aid to this blog. I’m gonna talk to him this week and see what he has in mind.

The Unlikely Vegan Explores Making Moral Choices by Phil Shainmark

| by Phil Shainmark

Is your pleasure more important than your morals? It’s an interesting question, and one that I’ve never been able to answer, or even fully articulate, till now. The 16-25 year old me says “absolutely.” I drank, did drugs, committed crimes. Hurt whoever, whenever, and treated people that loved me like crap. I did horrible things to people I should have cared about just so I could chase that NEW thing. Pleasure, not in a sexual sense, but the pleasure of just doing whatever the hell I wanted, whenever I wanted, was the GOAL. Now I thank the gods every day that I still have friends from back then that put up with me.

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The Unlikely Vegan – Part Two, by Phil Shainmark

| by Phil Shainmark

So after another month I can say that this is no longer even an “adjustment,” it’s now just the way I eat. And the benefits just keep coming – my energy levels are higher than they were pre-cancer. Hell, I barely drink coffee in the morning anymore. If I have a cup it’s because I like the taste, not because I need it. I found out this week that there’s a 100% Vegan doughnut place near the only other shop I ever worked at. Gonna have to head over there at some point. It’s not near anything I normally go to, but I LOVE doughnuts, so it’ll be worth the trip.

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