Burger king Made by Lukas changes the veggie burger game

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Lukas Volger wrote the book on veggie burgers.

Literally: He’s the author of Veggie Burgers Every Which Way.

So there are few people out there as qualified to know just what makes an excellent veggie burger. No wonder Volger’s line of burgers, Made by Lukas are some of the best we’ve ever tasted.

We love that Lukas doesn’t let his product be hemmed in by the “traditional” shape of a burger. Instead of coming in pre-formed frozen pucks, the fresh mixes allow you to make whatever shape you’d like, from a hulking patty to petite bites.

Lukas Volger, aka Mr. veggie burger

Made by Lukas offers three unconventional flavors, all made from easily recognizable whole foods (no mystery ingredients here): Beet, Carrot & Parsnip, and Kale ($9 to $11; see where to buy them here). Says Lukas, “They’re comprised primarily—80 percent—of fresh vegetables, which we source up in the Hudson Valley whenever possible, and are rounded off with quinoa, seeds, millet, and spices. There’s no soy, wheat, dairy, or any weird additives. The primary concept here is that it’s a veggie burger that tastes like delicious vegetables.”

Lukas loves forming little silver-dollar bites from the beet variety and serving them with hummus. In our kitchen, we found the burger mixes to be fun to play around with, easy to form and a snap to cook to a nice caramelized crust in a skillet lightly oiled with olive or coconut oil.

We love them on top of a dark greens salad with a swipe of yogurt and preserved lemon, crumbled into stir frys or flattened into a vegetable pancake topped with a fried egg.

What will you come up with?

Galen’s Almanac A new West Village spot puts seasonal vegetables at the fore

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We’re just going to come out and say it: Almanac is simply wonderful.

And if this weather continues, we’re giving notice to our landlord and putting in a request with chef Galen Zamarra to see if we can move in permanently.

There’s the bar, helmed with large blocks of stone and dotted with votive candles. Overhead circular iron chandeliers lend intimate light and the tables have honest-to-goodness linen tablecloths. The friendly service, lovely place settings and low noise level are all on point. Read: This is a place to make a reservation, commit to a tasting menu, have a real conversation and generally revel in a grown-up night out.

Chef Galen Zamarra (of Mas (farmhouse)) is not just into seasonality, he’s into micro-seasons. Zamarra believes that each part of the season (for instance, early fall, mid-fall and late fall) has its own distinctive bounty, rhythm and growing cycle nuance.

Make a reservation and enjoy a grown-up night out at Almanac.

For example, Zamarra juices his squash at the beginning of its harvest and roasts it at the end, because the squash’s moisture changes throughout the season. Nose-to-tail here doesn’t just refer to eliminating waste and using the whole animal, but also to the fish and vegetables he sources: No part gets left behind.

Experience his hyper-seasonal vision with a three-course menu for $75, five-courses for $95, or eight for $145.

Our recent visit had us raving over roasted Island Creek Oysters mingling with ribbons of buttery leeks and pears and parsnips. Zamarra is having a particular love affair right now with the wintry taste of pine. Find wild steelhead trout smoked with pine and juniper and a dish of celery root carpaccio draped with shaved matsutake mushrooms, pine aioli and a smoked pine vinegar.

Have you made your reservation yet?

Almanac
28 Seventh Ave.
212-255-1795
almanacnyc.com

Little name, big flavor Andrew Carmellini's newest spot, Little Park, wows

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Is there anything chef Andrew Carmellini doesn’t do well?

We happily hop around the city eating at his spots: Lafayette, Bar Primi, Locanda Verde and The Dutch. But now with the recent opening of Little Park, which is tucked into a corner of Tribeca’s Smyth Hotel, we’ve found a place we never want to leave.

While Carmellini has always been concerned with sourcing and seasonal cooking, Little Park is his first restaurant to focus exclusively on highlighting organic, sustainable ingredients and featuring products from local farmers, anglers, vintners and foragers.

Carmellini has made more than a few longtime partnerships with excellent producers, and it’s here that he really gives them a twirl. He says, “Over the past 20 years I’ve spent cooking in New York, I’ve forged strong relationships with local farmers and purveyors … Little Park is a tribute to that.”

Beets to the power of two: Yellow beets super brighten the beetroot risotto speckled with poppy seeds.

 

We were overjoyed to see that vegetable and grain dishes get just as much love on the menu as their more meaty counterparts here. Vegetable options even outweigh the fire-roasted meats, like a grass-fed hanger steak with charred broccoli ($20), at a 2:1 ratio.

Servers are knowledgeable about the components of each dish—yes, you’ll be told, that’s a hint of yuzu in the buttery Peconic Bay Scallops ($15) joined by a Gold Rush variety apple and those tiny dots are poppy seeds sprinkled over the beetroot risotto ($15).

Look to that hearty vegetable section to be introduced to uncommon picks, like the heirloom castelfranco radicchio ($13) salad with bits of fennel and an orange-anchovy dressing.

We’re not the only ones loving Little Park right now; the place is a bona fide hot spot. So either camp out on the phone to make a reservation, commit to arriving early for a walk-in spot or enjoy full-service dining at the bar.

Little Park
85 W. Broadway
212-220-4110
littlepark.com

Clean Habits: Takashi Inoue How a beef-obsessed chef keeps it clean

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When it comes to beef, eating sustainable means more than just eating local, grass-fed steaks—it means we have to consider all the many other parts of the cow, too. One of the best places to do this in New York is at the West Village joint Takashi, where owner and executive chef Takashi Inoue serves an almost all-beef menu, everything from beef-heart bolognese to shredded beef tendon and ultra-fresh raw beef liver with sesame oil.

All of the restaurant’s meat is raised without antibiotics or hormones and sourced from the city’s best meat suppliers, including local meat from Dickson’s Farmstand, Black Angus beef from Kansas’s Creekstone Farm and Washugyu meat from Japanese Premium Beef.

We checked in with Takashi to see what he does to keep healthy. Turns out, he’s just as much of a fiend for lots of greens and raw broccoli as he is for making sure no part of an animal goes to waste.

What’s a typical day of eating like for you?

I usually eat before I go to work (usually a bagel, a banana and a yogurt), which is usually around 8 a.m., then I do prep work at the restaurant and before dinner service I go to the gym. After the gym I drink an organic raw protein shake, followed by as many greens as possible, including lots of raw broccoli. After 6 p.m. I don’t eat carbs, just protein and vegetables. I have to be careful because I love going out for dinner, which isn’t always a healthy option.

“After 6 p.m. I don’t eat carbs, just protein and vegetables.”

 

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry?

It’s difficult to maintain a balance. I have to try hard. I’ve been going to the gym for 15 years. I do three days on, then one day rest: the first day is focused on a chest workout, the second day on arms and shoulders, the third day on lower body strength. There’s always a bike or running warm-up and cool-down.

Any suggestions for someone eating at Takashi who wants to keep their meal light and local?

Protein is healthy, and at Takashi, where we specialize in all parts of the cow, the only carbs we have on the menu are the rice bombs. Most of the vegetables are from the Greenmarket, where I go every week.

How do you incorporate sustainability at the restaurant?

We use all the parts of the cow at the restaurant, which I think is the most sustainable way of being a carnivore.

Cook it now: Kabocha Make this tasty squash part of your fall

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If your squash vocabulary starts and ends with butternut, you are missing out big time.

There’s a wide world of gnarly-shaped, diversely-colored and wonderfully-named squashes out there to be had, but our new favorite is a Japanese variety called kabocha .

Ben Towill and Phil Winser of The Fat Radish on the Lower East Side are out with a cookbook just in time to capture fall’s incoming squash storm. The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries ($40) takes the restaurant’s menu of unfussy, vegetable-focused food, all with a charming British accent, and lets you take it home.

Though the restaurant is usually swarmed with the fashion set, thankfully these guys don’t take themselves too seriously. They say, “For us, there is nothing more exciting than the anticipation of the seasons and cooking within them. (What a pretentious thing to say, but we promise it’s true.)” The book is broken down simply into the four seasons and filled with enough handsome photos of vegetables to make you blush.

Phil Winser and Ben Towill of The Fat Radish

 

That lilting English-ness of the recipes means ideas like a spring sweet pea pot pie that is laden with a trio of snow, snap and English peas and plenty of fresh mint. We’ve already bookmarked their savory beet and Swiss chard crumble for this Thanksgiving.

But for right now we recommend heading out to hunt down the closest deep green-skinned kabocha you can get your hands on (easily found at any Greenmarket). Kabocha is blessed with a dense, sweet flesh that is reminiscent in flavor of chestnuts and it is even sweeter than butternut—with half of the carbs. Then turn your market prize into this creamy, rich soup that is completely vegan and brimming with beta-carotene, iron and vitamins C and A.

 Serves 6

One 3-pound kabocha squash

Coarse salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

3 cups vegetable stock

1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Small handful chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 425 degree F.

1.  Cut the kabocha in half and scoop out and discard the seeds and the stringy flesh inside. Wrap the cleaned squash in aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast until softened, about an hour. Set the squash aside.

2. Meanwhile, place the olive oil in a large, heavy pot set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, turmeric, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring now and then, until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer while you prepare the squash.

3. Peel off and discard the skin from half of the roasted squash and add the flesh to the soup. Use an immersion blender to puree. Season to taste with salt.

4. Cut the remaining half of roasted squash into wedges and place them in the soup. Serve the soup hot, garnishing each serving with toasted pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of chives.

Buy the book

Merci Maman We discover the cutest new cafe south of Houston

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If you weren’t raised with all the benefits of a French childhood (us too), you can now make up for lost time at Soho’s new Maman.

There, Armand Arnal, a Michelin-starred chef from La Chassagnette in the South of France, has opened a café and bakery inspired by the brightest spots of his Gallic upbringing.

If you want to pin down what food will be offered by Arnal—and his two partners, Benjamin Sormonte and Elisa Marshall—on any given day, you’ll have to check the daily menu posted to Facebook ($6 to $13.50 for salads, $6 to $8 for sandwiches, $6 for soup). Or take our lead and be confident that whatever simple comforts coming out of this open kitchen are sure to be healthful, radiant in color and made with a dose of classic French technique.

BENJAMIN SORMONTE, ELISA MARSHALL AND CHEF ARMAND ARNAL,THE TALENTED TRIO BEHIND MAMAN

This ever-changing stance is good for keeping both customers and the kitchen from falling into a rut. Elisa says, “We feel it is important for those who live and work around here to have a daily menu. In addition, and more importantly, we believe in working with fresh and seasonal ingredients, if we go to the market and the lettuce doesn’t look that good that day we will offer something else, also if it is out of season, you won’t see it on our menu.”

From the fields and orchards of farmer friends like Lani’s Farm, Phillip’s Farm and Cherry Lane, Arnal conjures dishes like red rice salad with a sweet and sour eggplant ratatouille, pear and parsnip soup, and chickpea salad with roasted pumpkin, beets and a orange-honey vinaigrette.

Maman is open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and with all menu items available for dine-in, grab-and-go, delivery or catering, meaning you can live your French fantasy any time.

Maman Bakery & Café
239 Centre Street
212-226-0770
mamannyc.com

Sea the difference Urban Sproule makes salt in the city

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Take a peek at our salt collection and you’ll find a sodium rainbow of the good stuff: pristine white Fleur de Sel finishing flakes, rough red Himalayan crystals mixed with iron-rich clay and distinctively black Hawaiian granules made with detoxifying activated charcoal.

We reach for these salts (in moderation) over processed salts because they contain naturally occurring trace minerals and elements, including calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc.

But until Sarah Sproule and her business, Urban Sproule, came along, we never thought we’d have the opportunity to stock our pantry with sea salt from our very own city.

While NYC goes about its business, Sproule’s sea salt is dried on a rooftop on West 30th Street. Sproule pumps water from an aquifer on the South Shore of Long Island, where 250 feet below the surface the salt water is slowly filtered through layers of sand, silt and clay.

Sarah Sproule, the one woman (powerhouse) behind Urban Sproule.

This journey to hyper-local salt greatness was a trial-and-error process. Sproule tried waters gathered from Long Island to the Bronx and experimented with different methods of production until she settled on solar evaporation. She told us, “I fell in love with this production method because of the story each salt crystal tells. When you cook your salt you strip it of trace minerals—the very things that sets natural sea salts apart from processed table salt. When producing solar salt you are allowing Mother Nature to control the shape, size, color and even the flavor of your salt.”

Sproule now offers a virgin raw salt along with a variety of flavored versions infused with ingredients such as zippy celery leaves and Montauk squid ink (all salts are $8 for 1.5 ounces).

Sproule’s salt revolution is just getting started: In October, look for a revamp of packaging and surprising new flavors including Cave-Aged Cheddar Salt.

 

 
Where to find Urban Sproule in stores

Like Mad ACME now offers an all-vegetarian tasting menu

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ACME knows how to party. This Noho restaurant spent the first 25 years of its life as Acme Bar & Grill, a solid staple of New Orleans-style cooking.

In January 2012, a makeover, new management and a shooting star of a chef transformed the spot into the glitteringly hip ACME.

This summer, there’s even more to get excited about at this downtown spot: Chef Mads Refslund, who comes to Manhattan by way of Copenhagen’s Noma (frequently called the best restaurant in the world), has just launched an all-vegetarian tasting menu ($65), backed by his creative Nordic approach.

Chef Mads Refslund from Copenhagen’s Noma brings a nordic spin to Acme’s menu

Refslund’s thoughtful nine-course menu (see it here) is rife with unusual bits like foraged and pickled ingredients, and his way with vegetables is unlike any you are likely to see anywhere else around town. Take his summer cabbage, for instance: “It is one of the things on the vegetarian menu I like most,” he says. “We grill it for hours with hickory bark, thyme, lots of herbs, which gives it a smoky flavor, and then we serve the cabbage heart with fermented pear juice and coriander.”

Refslund is also a strong proponent of seasonality and local sourcing. “It’s very, very important to make people think about eating more vegetables and care for Mother Earth; it’s ultimately going to make the world a better place for people to eat more vegetables—and not just any vegetables, good vegetables, that are well raised, without pesticides, by small farmers.”

We think that sentiment is the hippest of all.

What is Nordic cuisine?

Clean Habits: Nick Anderer How Maialino's chef keeps it clean

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It’s hard out there for a chef. (To stay fit and healthy, that is).As the executive chef of MaialinoNick Anderer is surrounded by swaths of food every day—everything from the restaurant’s morning oatmeal to dinner’s braised local suckling pig. However, Anderer is also one of the fittest guys we know.

With that in mind, we asked him to spill his tried-and-true secrets to staying healthy with us. His Clean Habits will come in handy come August, when Anderer will add more to his already-full plate when he opens Marta, a thin-crust pizzeria that emphases local ingredients.

What’s a typical day of eating like for you?
I eat a lot of small meals and bites throughout the day, either via recipe testing, quality control or just straight snacking. Rarely do I sit down to a full plate of food on a workday. I don’t follow any strict diet, but as a meat-lover, I try to balance my meat consumption with a healthy dose of raw fruits and veggies. And I also try not to eat anything after 10 pm and to limit my carb intake during the second half of the day.

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He even cycles for charity! (photo Credit: Jordan A. Mermell)

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry? 
You need a lot of restraint from the temptations of constant pecking. And you need to find time to stay active outside of work. With a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, I’ve been focusing more and more on keeping my core as strong as possible so that my lower back is supported—in the chef world, that’s usually the first part of your body that gives out. 

Has your healthy lifestyle rubbed off on the menu at Maialino or the upcoming Marta?
Definitely. We are always talking about more healthy ways to serve Italian food. We stopped toasting our almonds in butter or oil, and are instead leaving them raw and unseasoned. With really good Sicilian almonds, not only are they healthier raw, but they actually taste better. We’ve added extra fish options to the menu and are sure to keep them predominantly carb-free, utilizing as much raw vegetables as possible and dressing with light vinaigrettes as opposed to heavier sauces or purees. At breakfast, we’ve focused on serving more healthy grains, even adding a house-made, whole-grain cereal to the menu.

How do you stay fit?
I try to do something active with my body at least five times a week, going heavy on cardio and peppering in light doses of strength training and stretching/ lengthening. I probably SoulCycle at least twice a week, and when it’s nice out, I opt for long runs along the East River. And every so often I do one-on-one Pilates sessions, which focus much more on balance and muscle lengthening than on traditional ab work.

 

Move! With free outdoor fitness classes

A non-dairy yogurt that doesn’t suck! We're going loco for Anita's coconut yogurt

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Two long years.

That’s how long it took Anita Shepherd to perfect Anita’s Creamline Coconut Yogurt ($10 for 16 ounces).

It involved two years of testing various cultures, trying out different kinds of coconut milk and tweaking the recipe. And reach pure coconut-y goodness she did—all without the thickeners, sweeteners and preservatives that make other non-dairy yogurts inferior.

Shepherd, a self-taught vegan chef and baker, hits a tasty trifecta with her product: It tastes good, it has a thick consistency and the tangy anita-personalacidity of a true yogurt. That’s because Anita’s is pure organic coconut milk and organic coconut water, along with a healthy dose of the probiotic bacterias, L. acidophilus and S. thermophiles.

“Vegans are only a small percentage of those who love [my yogurt],” says Shepherd. There are people with food allergies, followers of the Paleo diet, people who are adventurous cooks and people who are fans of fermented foods…”

Personally, we like to eat it plain out of the pretty brown-and-blue container, stirred into pasta sauces for richness and as a topping for nachos or baked potatoes. We’ve already earmarked our next container to use in mac ‘n’ cheese, like Shepherd does.

Over the next couple months, Shepherd will launch individual-sized containers of yogurt spiked with raw fruits. We’re predicting they will be this year’s hottest (and most delicious) summer accessory.