The Jivamukti yoga school near Union Square has a vegan cafe that opened last week, called JivamukTea (get it?). They got who I believe is America's only vegan celebrity chef, Matthew Kenney, to run it, but I still couldn't convince my friend Clark Mitchell to leave his cozy Brooklyn confines on a Saturday night for a meal that wouldn't have animal protein ("Don't go getting all vegetarian and downward dog on me!" he later text-messaged me). I had a bunch of scholarship applications to read, so I brought them with me for company as I took the Q train to 14th St.
JivamukTea reminded me of my granola past, when in the early 1970s my lefty mother introduced us to wheat germ and carob. I kind of like wheat germ. It's crunchy. But whoever thought carob was a suitable substitute for chocolate — I suppose because it's brown — should have his or here tastebuds revoked.
Jivamukti had an open house or something for its students that night, and the place was packed. In one room people were all sitting in what I think were lotus and half-lotus positions on the floor, swaying in a sort of chant-a-long, I suppose in Sanskrit. The line to eat Matthew Kenney's food was long and moving remarkably slowly, but that meant I did have time to talk to James Cury from Time Out NY and his wife Dorothy, who I think is still at US Weekly, who were on their way out. James is smart and good-natured, and one of my favorite people to see on the restaurant circuit. I asked if JivamukTea also reminded him of his lefty upbringing, but he didn't really answer.
The woman in front of me in line expressed grave distress ("then we have a problem," I think is how she phrased it), that the dressing in the salad had lemon juice. "I can't eat that," she said. I'm not sure what she thought would be in a salad dressing, since as her conversation with various staff members unfolded it emerged that she was unwilling to eat anything high in acid — vinegar, or even tomatoes.
I wondered what she meant by "can't." Did she not know how to eat it?
If it were peanuts or shellfish or some other item that causes some people to swell up and die, I'd understand, but I don't think acid does that.
I think "won't" is the word she was looking for.
I'm now going to break my self-proclaimed prime directive of this blog and comment on what I thought of the food, because the raw lasagna with sun dried tomato puree, mint-basil pesto and macadamia "ricotta," was absolutely out of this world. Tasty, invigorating, filling. I was embarrassed by my surprise at that.
I also drank a Lotus Pond ("All Greens with Lemon and Ginger puts you at peace") and for dessert I had a raw strawberry cheesecake.
To give a little bit of yang to Saturday's yin, I took up Clark, who is an editor at Travel + Leisure, on his invitation to join him on Monday at Frankie & Johnnie's Steakhouse to celebrate their 80th anniversary. So we had steak and a veal chop and creamed spinach and two kinds of potatoes, bringing equilibrium back to my inner omnivore.