Many people—myself once included—regard vegan desserts in much the same light as mystery meat and government cheese: something to be consumed only as a last-ditch alternative to starvation, and certainly not a worthy competitor to its more recognizable counterparts. These people have never been to Cake Shop(152 Ludlow St between Rivington and Stanton Sts, 212-253-0036), the Lower East Side bakery–record store–club that is one of several NYC homes to the Peanut Butter Bomb ($5.50 per slice) and the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie ($3), two of the most mind-blowing members of the city’s dessert pantheon, vegan or otherwise. The former, which looks like a cross section of a camel’s hump, is two parts moist, tender chocolate cake and one part fluffy peanut butter filling, adding up to a dessert that could be classified as a controlled substance. The latter comprises two cakey pumpkin cookies, each the size of a dessert plate, separated by an inch and a half or so of creamy filling thick enough to double as a pillow upon which your diet can rest its weary head. Amazingly, both desserts, which come from Pennsylvania’s Vegan Treats, owe their powers to a soy base rather than vegetable shortening, according to the company’s owner, Danielle Konya. She and her crew do all manner of things (which Konya keeps a well-guarded secret) to soy milk and tofu, resulting in baked goods that will satisfy the cravings of die-hard dairy fanatics and night-crawling sugar fiends alike. Proving, once and for all, that there is life beyond butter and eggs, and that that life is sweet indeed.
Rice ’n’ Beans
For the last 25 years, chef Carlos Roberto Inácio has been serving Brazilian dishes common in the country’s Minas Gerais state at his Hell’s Kitchen restaurant. The menu features traditional appetizers like pão de queijo, cheese puffs with gooey, melty centers ($6), and empanadas stuffed with beef, chicken or cheese ($2.50 each). As for entrees, the feijoada—a black bean casserole with bacon, beef, pork ribs and Portuguese sausage—is the chef’s specialty ($22). Other mains include prawns in a creamy yucca sauce ($17.75), pork chops in a garlic-wine sauce ($18.95) and Brazilian-style risotto with chicken and fried plantains ($14.95). Order up a side of collard greens or okra if you’re craving veggies ($5 each), or save room for dessert. You might not be able to resist the creamy coconut pudding, caramel flan, passionfruit mousse or chocolate truffles known as brigadeiros ($7 each).
Venue says: “Have a craving for some great Brazilian food? Come by, we're known for the best Feijoada in town! Mention Time Out and get 10% off.”