Tag Archives: NYC

Flip Burger @ Bloomingdales 59th Street NYC

5 Feb

It was the first snow storm of 2014… We wanted to get out of the house, but did not want to manage the snow and cold outside. I suggested: “Let’s just take the subway and it can take us right underneath the belly of one of my favorite department stores in NYC – Bloomingdale’s. Deal??“ They all agreed…


The day BEFORE the storm… but the same cast of characters.

When we arrived it was already 3PM and we were HUNGRY!!! Who can shop while hungry?? I sure can’t. So we looked at the store directory but there were many options to choose from. Let’s just go checking them out floor by floor as we encounter them and we’ll decide what works best, OK?

Flip was the first option available… right up the stairs from the level where the 4-5-6 subway leaves you. When we discovered it was a burger joint, Tere and my mom were discouraged as, more often than not, burgers means meat burgers only. But we were in NYC after all and I said to myself… “Madelyn, read thru all the burger options before dismissing this restaurant”. And there they were!!!! VARIOUS, not just one, various vegetarian options!!!!


I wish I had taken a picture of the menu for you… I was sure I was going to find it online, but unfortunately that is not the case. The menu presented a veggie burger and a Portobello Mushroom burger option, my favorite. We sat down and ordered… You could have your pic of bread, burger, and toppings. The vegetarian options come with 2 toppings included beyond the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. My burger was a Portobello mushroom burger on a whole wheat/multigrain roll with goat cheese and avocados. YUM!!!


They also have fries to accompany your burger… we went for the thin crispy fries and the sweet potato fries. They were both superb… But I should warn you, those thin fries don’t seem to ever end. The more you eat, the more they seem to be in your plate. I ate and ate and we still brought the leftovers back home with us.


Even though Flip @ Bloomingdale’s is not a vegetarian place… in true NYC fashion they have meat-free options for us vegetarian gals. Who wants to go shopping on an empty stomach?? Not me for sure… and the next time I visit Bloomie’s, I know I’ll have a craving for a burger.


Sweet Vegetarian Ham and Pineapple

27 Mar

When I wasn’t a vegetarian growing up, our traditional way to celebrate Easter was Jamón con Piña, or Sweet Ham with Pineapple. My mom would buy one of those canned Virginia Hams and bake it with cloves, pineapple slices, brown sugar and maraschino cherries. Later on, when I was a teenager, I also learned how to make myself Smoked Pork Chops… which you would fix in a pan using the exact same flavors.

Now that I am vegetarian, I can still enjoy the same sweet flavors without sacrificing any life… I purchase vegetarian ham at NYC’s Chinatown. This is the brand I like to get. It comes frozen… but after you thaw it, the flavor and texture is very, very similar to what I remember real ham to be.


I thaw it in small portions and keep it in a plastic zipper bag in the fridge. But if you don’t take my word for it on how similar these ham slices are to the real thing… check out my nieces enjoying some crepes filled with vegetarian ham and cheese. They are not vegetarian, they’re super picky and they regularly eat the real thing. Picky eaters asked me for MORE VEGETARIAN HAM!! So it’s that good…

Jamon con Piña  KFC


6 slices of vegetarian ham
1 individual serving container of cut pineapples in their juice
1 ½ tbs brown sugar
5-6 whole cloves


  1. In a glass oven-proof dish, place the vegetarian ham slices slightly overlapping each other.
  2. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and pour the pineapple juice over them, dissolving a bit the sugar. Place the pineapple pieces as evenly as possible over the ham slices. Sprinkle the cloves over.
  3. Cover the glass dish with parchment paper and a piece of aluminum foil on top. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes at 350F. If you prefer, you can take the cover off and bake for an additional 5 minutes to allow the sugar to caramelize a bit.


Serve warm with a potato salad.

Viva Pizza Sighting

23 Mar

Whenever I am in NYC, I MUST stop by Viva Pizza for 2-3 warm slices of whole-wheat or spelt crust cheese pizza and a China Cola. Bon appétit from me to me… Yum!!!

Spa Castle

30 Nov

I have been to spas before… but never to one like Spa Castle.

I am not a spa lover, but I can appreciate the health benefits that visiting a spa can provide – relaxation, detoxification, improved circulation, curative properties, among others.

Located in College Point, Queens, Spa Castle is the largest, cleanliest, most organized spa I have ever been to. I have visited several spas in the Miami area but none compare to the sheer size and amenities of Spa Castle. It has various levels, each dedicated to specific purposes. You are not allowed to use any cameras in the spa, so these pictures are courtesy of Spa Castle’s website.

The main level is divided – one area for men and a separate area for women. Here is where you’ll find hot whirpool baths, all at various temperatures and activity levels so you can ease into the relaxation mode little by little. You’ll find hot baths and cold baths… designed for you to go from one to the other to regulate your body’s temperature. There are pools with shots of water to massage every inch of your body. The big caveat… this level can only be used if you’re completely nude. No bathing suits or any other type of clothing is allowed. A bit shocking for someone who was not mentally prepared for that… but after you see a lot more than what you thought you would see ever in your lifetime, you kinda forget about it and concentrate on the spa experience.

The next level is co-ed and that’s where all the saunas are located… you are given a very colorful t-shirt and short ensemble where we all look the same, ready to take in the relaxing heat of all the saunas available. I’ve never been much of a sauna person… I come from the tropics and I do not like to feel all sweaty and suffocated. In other spas, you’re wearing a bathing suit and to cool off from the sauna heat you dump buckets of water over you. Then, like that all drenched, you go into the next sauna. I tend to feel all suffocated in the chest… Well, not here. Because you’re dry, people get to enjoy the sauna heat by laying on the saunas floor allowing the sauna heat to go up and you tend to feel much more comfortable than in those other saunas I’ve been before. And you still need to cool off after exiting these saunas, but you do it in a igloo room 32°F which feels amazingly comfortable after being in a hot sauna.

There are seven sauna rooms for you to enjoy:

An LED Sauna room that uses color therapy to enhance your mood and spirit.

A Gold Sauna designed to comfort sore limbs, perfect after you get a foot/leg massage. I was totally sore afterwards… and it looks divine on the inside, doesn’t it???

The Salt Sauna is lined with pink-colored rock salts directly brought from the Himalayas. It’s supposed to regulate blood pressure and water in your body. It also promotes regular blood sugar levels…

There’s a Far Infrared Sauna and a Far Infrared Chaise Lounge area where you can lay underneath these infrared lamps to strengthen your immune system.

The Jade Sauna contains calcium and magnesium and super gorgeous to be inside.


The Loess Soil Sauna is the hottest of them all.

And lastly is the Iceland igloo room, designed to cool you off in between the hot saunas and maintain proper body temperature. Also, going from hot to cold strengthens your skin pores and improves circulation.

There is a mezzanine level with massage rooms, treatment rooms and even rooms to sleep. The top level is an outside pool court with whirpools, Jacuzzis and more. You need to bring your bathing suit for this level and if you don’t have one, they rent one for you. I did not get a chance to visit this area but I would have loved to been inside those pools when it was 50°F outside. Nice!!!

Spa Castle also has a great juice bar and a lunch buffet. I only had juices there because I do not get hungry while I am in the saunas and pools. But afterwards… that’s a completely different thing!!!! 

And if my experience is not enough for you, Spa Castle has been featured in The New York Times, The Village Voice and on ABC too.

If you’re in the NYC area or will be visiting the NYC area I highly recommend you visit Spa Castle. It was a wonderful experience that I would definitely like to replicate in the near future…

Vegetarian Grocery Shopping in NYC

28 Nov

When I travel, I love to shop for stuff I can’t find in Puerto Rico. Even if things are really, really cheap, I will not purchase it during a trip if I can find it back home. Suitcase space is too precious to invest in things I do not have to carry back home in a suitcase and risk spoilage or spillage.

But during my recent trip to NYC, 90% of what I bought was food items!!!! When I took everything out of my suitcase, I felt as if what I had done in NYC was grocery shopping. Here is a sampler of what I purchased:

Le Pain Quotidien – Brunette Praline Butter and 4 Red Fruits Preserves

I love eating these when I visit Le Pain Quotidien restaurants. And they’re organic too!!!

Union Square Street Market – Raw Milk Goat Cheese

We bought this cheese from Ardith Mae. She sells all things GOAT MILK – goat’s milk, goat’s milk yogurt, raw milk cheeses and pasteurized milk cheeses too. She has a great website and I totally love the pictures of her happy goats. They’re super duper cute…

Sorry, no pictures available for this raw milk cheese… we were so hungry that my mom opened up the wrapper one night and we snacked and snacked away. My bad that I forgot about all of YOU during our hunger attack. We bought a Colby style cheese that was truly delicious. We enjoyed it with spelt bread, organic butter and slices of avocado in an open-faced sandwich. Divine!!!!

Union Square Street Market – Raw Whipped Honey

I learned on this trip that honey is generally cooked before bottling… never imagined that. I always thought bottled honey came straight from the bee hive. According to Andrew, the raw honey guy over at Union Square Market, raw honey has more nutrients and beneficial qualities because it has not been tampered with. He has been featured in a variety of media, including the Martha Stewart Show. I bought the whipped version because it seemed like it would last me longer than the regular liquid kind… we’ll see about that!!!

Union Square Street Market – Beth’s Farm Kitchen Jellies

I have looooved their Garlic and Rosemary Jelly for years now. And this time around I also bought their Sour Cherry Preserves. I wanted to try one of their sugar-free spreads, but they have an expiration date and I can’t be rushed into eating anything…

Yummy Earth – Pomegranate Pucker Candy

This is my favorite flavor of lollipops from Yummy Earth… and to know I do not have to “weed” out all the other flavors I don’t enjoy as much is a real treat…

Whole Foods – Maple Almond Butter and Honey Almond Butter

I still have not tried these, but I loved the sampling packaging. They are also available in jars, but I wanted to try them first before committing to a whole jar. Besides, I knew I was going to purchase the Le Pain Quotidien Praline Butter already… so I was careful not to overload on the same type of product.

Whole Foods – Fig and Almond Cake

This was something my friend Rudy requested… or more that he mentioned he likes and I tried to please him with a little treat from NYC. We are now waiting for the right piece of manchego cheese to enjoy this with… YUM!!!

Grand Central Market – Sun-dried tomatoes

I have bought sulfite-free sun-dried tomatoes elsewhere, but as you can see from the label, these sun-dried tomatoes do not contain any sulfites either and stay softer than any of the other sulfite-free tomatoes I have bought in the past. They do offer other goods there and they list sulfites in the ingredient list, such as dried apricots or dried pineapples. So I trust them when they only list tomatoes and salt as their ingredients.

May Wah Vegetarian Market – Chicken Nuggets and Spare Ribs

I do not make these much at all… but they are great when you want a quick snack. And I will try to share Tania’s recipe for rice with vegetarian spare ribs. It’s a tad greasy, but that’s what makes it so similar to traditional cooking. I had it the other day and it was “finger-licking good”.

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