Paris, Paris, Paris... Probably the best city in the world when it comes to fine dining. Greener options are not quite as available on the other hand. It's happening though, slowly but surely. And I was lucky to be introduced to Cafe Pinson, a lovely cafe with a trendy natural scandinavian look, that serves juices, smoothies and vegan food. How refreshing! So if you are vacationing in Paris, please do indulge in the traditional croissants, patisseries, or whatever else floats the boat of your taste-buds, food is such a big part of being on holidays and discovering a culture. And stop by Cafe Pinson everytime your system needs a green reboot!
While working on my new venture, I came across an oh-so-inspiring organization: Hot Bread Kitchen.
Hot Bread Kitchen has mastered the skilled of running a business while giving back to the community. They run a multi-ethnic bakery in Spanish Harlem, where you will find anything from fresh baguettes, corn tortillas, challah breads, nans, granolas.... all inspired by foreign-born and low-income women and made with local and organic ingredients. Hot Bread Kitchen also rents kitchen space for small entrepreneurs starting out in the food industry. 100% of the proceeds from the bakery and the kitchen incubator are reinvested in the baking training program to help these women from Mali, Mexico, Ethiopia, Morocco... learn English, computer skills and baking techniques to prepare them for a career in the culinary world or start their own business.
"Hot Bread Kitchen is way more than a bakery, it's the United Nation of Bread" says Jessamyn W. Rodriguez, founder and CEO "with a secret goal to change the face of this mostly-men dominated industry".
As you'll read the writings on the wall when you walk in, you'll know you stepped into the right place: "Real Food, Big Flavors, No Dieting" ~ my kind of mantra. Being on the look out for healthy eateries in NYC for the last few months, I had heard about Mulberry & Vine but somehow had not managed to make my way down to Tribeca and give it a try. I finally did last weekend and was happily surprised to find not-your-typical brunch spot but a cute kid-friendly cafeteria. Genevieve, one of the owner, confirmed my first impression when she explained that she had been living in this neighborhood for years and was tired not to have any options around to take her children for yummy-yet-healthy food. You guess it, she eventually decided to fulfill one of her childhood dream and opened it herself. What you will find there are mostly plant-based dishes, all local, seasonal, organic, pesticide/hormone and antibiotic-free, seasoned to perfection. The chef there mastered the art of pairing fresh herbs for exploding savors and flavors without relying on anything you couldn't pronounce. So go pay them a visit, for a casual date, or even better, a play date with your kiddos!
Nothing makes me happier than good food and yoga. Wait, tasty juices & yoga for a great cause do make me even happier! I was lucky to attend a very special practice at the Lyons Den Power Yoga studio last night, led by teachers from Kenya to the sound of African drums. These women, trained by the Africa Yoga Project, made us hold downward-facing-dogs like never before, reminding us to lead our life with our heart and that strength comes from going beyond the stories within our head. They made us shake what-our-momma-gave-us like nobody's business. And they shared how yoga transformed their life. Wanji grew up in the slums of Nairobi as a feisty kid who thought yoga was for fat people. After she eventually took her first yoga class, she felt a huge weight lifting off of her back. She had found the path that would lead her to taking a 200 hour yoga teacher training with the AYP. "I used to go to bed worrying about the people who hated me because of what I did to them. Now I sleep like a baby thinking about the people who love me for bringing yoga into their life". Class ended with Savasana to the sound Redemption Song by one of the student and well-deserved refreshing juices from Luli Tonix. "In Kenya, we love hugs and handstands". In New York too, thank you for being such an inspiration ladies.
Time to give a shout out to my talented friends on this blog and why not start with the Frenchest of all Americans, j'ai nommé: Rebecca Leffler! Rebecca and I met, where else but on a yoga mat @ Elena Brower's studio in NYC. She had just moved back from 8 years in Paris enjoying ze French way of life and I had just read her MindBodyGreen article about it ~ being a gypsy myself, we bonded and the rest is history! Hard to find two people with more hobbies and idols in common: Downward Facing Dog, Tara Stiles, Sun in Bloom, Green Smoothie, Coconut Butter, Tata Harper, Pure Food and Wine, Deepak Chopra and Chia Pudding to name a few... This lovely lady just published an amazingly colorful book about all of the above, a guide to her very own Green Chic Lifestyle. And what better place to celebrate it but Suite Three Oh Six, Chef Daphne Cheng's loft turned cooking venue for parties, classes and photo shoot but most importantly to share good food and test new ideas. Last night's five course dinner was simply mind-blowing. From appetizer ~ apple potage + harissa + coconut yogurt + red watercress ~ to dessert ~ golden beet and carrot mousse + cardamom granola + pansies ~ un vrai delice!
Pssst, the book is in French, but I hear Rebecca is working on the English translation among other exciting new projects!