Restaurant Review: Gusto Organics

Last night after the NYU mentoring session, Kate and I headed over to Gusto Organics, NY’s first USDA certified organic restaurant, for an event hosted by NYU’s new Green Alumni Network. NYU has really been pushing the school spirit lately with all these food-containing events! While I didn’t actually have to pay for anything at this restaurant, my experience last night definitely made me want to return.

The latest craze in restauranting seems to be food with a philosophy. Gusto has jumped right onto that bus with the motto, “changing the world one meal at a tiime.” The decor was warm and peaceful with a candlelit feel and natural accents:

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Kate and I had some of everything. We split four delicious empanadas, the flavor complexity of which no photo can possibly capture:

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1/2 bruchetta-filled empanada; 1/2 ground meat-filled

1/2 cheese-filled

1/2 cheese-filled

'nother 1/2 meat-filled

'nother 1/2 meat-filled

pretty exterior

pretty exterior

And a square of verrrrrrrry thin crust cheese pizza:

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And two squares of grilled veggie pizza with zucchini and eggplant, mmmm:

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I had two more squares after this. And then I was on a roll, so I peeled the veggies off of probably 5 more slices and ate them :-). Gusto also had free sangria for the event!!

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I drank about half of this before I remembered I don’t like wine. So I poured out the liquid and ate the fruit. And did the same for another glass:

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So anyway, with such prompt service and quality taste for a free event, I can’t imagine the possibilities for an actual paid meal! My NYU undergrad degree may be the reason I’m poor, but that school is certainly doing its part to keep me from starving now :-).

On the way out, I found a box full of pins for all different ny neighborhoods … including mine! Now I can rock my slope pride in style:

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The meal plan today is wayyyy up in the air since my schedule involves a lot of commuting (slope to upper east side to bay ridge to village and back to slope) until 9ish again with food appearing at various junctures along the way. I’ll come back eventually to let you know how it all pans out!

Happy lunch thwarted

… by an even happier lunch!!

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*** But first, remember to get cracking on your date recipes for those BSI submissions. The contest is open to everyone, even if you don’t have a blog. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check here for more information along with a running list of submissions.***

Now back to lunch. Upon her arrival at work this morning, my coworker Vianni made a beeline for me and immediately started unloading tupperwares onto my desk, before she even took off her coat: “Sarah, I have food for you!” Do I not have the most amazing coworkers ever? I left my tofu and veggies in the fridge to eat on Friday (no internship tomorrow because I have class) and replaced them with Vianni’s home cooked meal. She made gandules guisados:

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And this amazing spicy (as in very seasoned — not spicy hot) chicken:

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It was delicious. Thank you, Vianni!

Danger, Danger, Danger

Then, my very sweet yet evil coworker Jessica broke out this canister of candy cane caramel corn that she had gotten as a Christmas gift.

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I started out conservatively by crumbling a few pieces on top of my yogurt. From there, things started to deterioriate very rapidly. Here’s a quick photo recap of some damage:

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Next up was the candies: lots of pillow mints from the candy jar, a random iced tea flavored candy (that tasted exactly like iced tea!), and a mini candy cane:

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After work and a whole lot of subway drama, I made it downtown to the NYU career center to be an informal mentor for an hour to give advice about grad school and working in the non-profit arena. But I think the students were giving me more advice than I was giving them, haha! While there, I snacked on two more mints and a chai tea (made with skim milk and 1/2 pack of sugar in the raw) and swiped four bags of mini honey grams for another time:

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From there, Kate (of running club fame) and I hopped over to a nearby organic restaurant for the first event of NYU’s Green Alumni Network. We had a delicious and free dinner that will be showing up in restaurant review form shortly!

After dinner, I got home and made a little desserty snack of two broken pieces of the new honey graham sticks and a tablespoon of my healthy cream cheese icing:

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And now I’m finally done for the night. Sleep tight!

Happy lunch

** PSA: Remember that the Blogger Secret Ingredient contest is back in full swing. Submit your date recipes by Sunday to talesofexpansion@gmail.com! **

No gym this morning, so I slept until 7am, whaaaaaat. While I raced around getting ready, a cup of Zucchini-Lime Cheesecake Oatmeal was heating in the oven. Here it is getting steamy with 1/3 cup healthy cream cheese icing and two chopped strawberies:

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As you can see, lunch was super-pumped to get eaten today:

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Key

Hair = enormous navel orange (I ate all its babies last night while packing)

Left eye = 1/2 cup yogurt with banana, apple, strawberries, almond extract, 1 tbsp part-skim ricotta, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger

Right eye = GC-style baked tofu and roasted veggies

Nose = 1/3 cup Wholly Guacamole (it was 1/2 cup until I ate some while packing) for carrot-dipping

Mouth = carrot sticks

Tonight is going to be another late night full of surprise foods. I’m going to be a mentor at an NYU career services event (because I know all the answers, obviously) and then maybe an NYU alumni happy hourish thing. I’ll be back later to report!

Piece(s) of cake

But first, a BSI update:

The Blogger Secret Ingredient contest is now up and running, and the ingredient of the week is dates! I love dates. Especially first ones because I generally don’t have to pay for dinner when I’m on them :-). JOKE (sort of). Anyway, Tri to Cook has gotten the ball rolling with a re-submission from a former BSI: Date & Butternut Squash Puree. What are your date tricks?

Now, onto the cake …

That’s right, more cake arrived on the conference room table right next to my desk today! When it rains it pours. I still had last night’s post-sugar reaction in the front of my mind, so I decided to take a moment and decide how to proceed instead of losing my head and going into my free-food survival mode.

The best way to contemplate this type of decision is with a healthy and hearty snack. I carefully sliced my apple into many pieces, spread peanut butter on each individual slice, and stuck the raisins one-by-one on top of the peanut butter as I glared at the cakes out of the corner of my eye and sent them this message via brain waves: Cake, you don’t bother me and I’m in no rush to see you because I am savoring a beautiful snack without your help right now:

ants on apples

ants on apples

I’m sorry, cake. You can’t hold a candle to this crunchy peanut butter bliss:

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I thought a little bit harder while working on this mini chocolate ball from Belkis:

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And then I stopped pretending that I don’t love cake. Because I do love cake, and I wouldn’t be me if I let this opportunity slip by. I got one plate of cake. And then another. And then another. In the end, I collected three plates of cake (one piece of peach cake and two pieces of real authentic carrot cake):

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But score one million for me because these beauties went right into my emptied lunch tupperwares rather than into my belly! Right now, they’re resting comfortably in my freezer so that they are ready for their next assignment when I am.

Lest you think that I’m a saint, immune to refined sugar in all its forms (though how you could think that if you read this blog, I don’t know), this end of a piece did go into my belly:

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It is carrot cake, after all. And nothing beats carrot cake with real cream cheese icing … except maybe my oatmeal-turned-carrot-cake.

I followed the carrot cake with a palate-cleansing mini candy cane because I hadn’t already eaten five pillow mints or anything:

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Next up was running club, and ohhhh man, did my legs feel like lead tonight! I was lagging wayyyy behind the rest of the group, and this super classy dude to my left kept spitting every 10 seconds. I almost told him to swallow it, but instead, I let myself lag even more to get some distance. Do you know how unnerving it is to have a constant spitting sound three inches away from your left ear? Ick, I’m getting chills thinking about it. At least I finished the run! Stats for four miles plus an additional seven-minute warm-up/jog: 51 minutes, 415 calories, average heart rate 150, highest heart rate 173.

On the subway ride home, I dove into the giant orange I had packed plus my first Quaker True Delights bar sample: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond. Before I say anything else, this bar was DELICIOUS. It did not have the vague berry-ness of other granola bars but rather a very specific and natural raspberry flavor enhanced by the visible raspberry (and dark chocolate, of course) chunks:

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However, I couldn’t help but notice that this Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond bar was lacking the critical almond component — I couldn’t even detect any essence of almond flavor. And I was looking! In fact, not until the very last bite did I discover any evidence at all:

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Again, the bar was delicious, but it needs either renaming or more almonds (obviously, my preference is the latter!).

After the subway, I raced home, packed (and nibbled on) tomorrow’s lunch, showered, and now it is finally bedtime. This week has been going non-stop, and it’s only Tuesday, ahh!

Good night!


Shhhh … top secret BSI info here

This is just a quick quick post — I’ll be back for real much later tonight — to express how excited I am to be the host of this week’s Blogger Secret Ingredient contest!! HUGE thanks to Biz at Biggest Diabetic Loser for bestowing this honor upon me :-).

In case you’re not familiar with the BSI contest, I am going to announce a (not so) secret ingredient, and you get to create an original recipe starring that ingredient. You can enter the contest by (1) posting the recipe and photos on your blog and emailing the link to me at talesofexpansion@gmail.com OR (2) if you don’t have a blog, by emailing the recipe and photos to me to post for you. The deadline for this contest is this Sunday, February 1, 2009. I will announce the winner of the contest (and of a marvelous to-be-determined prize) on Monday, February 2.

I’m still trying to come up with a good prize, but in the meantime, I wanted to give you all a heads up on the ingredient. So, enough rambling. The ingredient is …

DATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We all love dates (especially Medjool, mmmm) as snacks just as they are, but I’m looking for creative and innovative ways to work them into more substantial meals and side dishes. (And if you don’t know what a date is, allow Wikipedia to help you.) So put your cooking caps on, and let’s see what you can come up with!

Entries:

I’ll be keeping a running list of submissions here as the contest goes on so we can all keep track.

  1. Submitted 1/27 by ttfn300 at Tri to Cook: Butternut Squash & Date Puree
  2. Submitted 1/28 by Meghann at The Inner Workings of a College Graduate: Perfectly Portioned for One Roasted Eggplant, Date, & Kale Curry
  3. Submitted 1/29 by Denise at Denise’s Kitchen: Pork Candy (aka Stuffed Dates with Goat Cheese & Prosciutto
  4. Submitted 1/31 by Brandi at Bran Appétit: Barley Date Pudding
  5. Submitted 2/1 by Kate: Mystery Date Muffins
  6. Submitted 2/1 by Emily at Sheila Moon/Big Swingin’ Cycles Team: Powdered Sugar Coated Date, Walnut, & Butter Balls
  7. Submitted 2/1 by Vani at Fit for Free: Whole-Wheat Coffee Cake Muffins with Date-Nut Streusel
  8. Submitted 2/1 by Victoria at The Idle Loaf: Banana Date Coffee Cake
  9. Submitted 2/1 by Kath at Kath Eats Real Food: Blue Cheese, Date, & Pecan Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
  10. Submitted 2/1 by Tina at Carrots ‘N’ Cake: Oatmeal Date Cookies
  11. Submitted 2/1 by Biz at Biggest Diabetic Loser: Date Wontons
  12. Submitted 2/1 by Andrea at Bella Eats: Peanut Butter Date Blondies
  13. Submitted 2/1 by my mom: Date, Feta, & Toasted Nut Stuffed Butternut Squash