Wednesday, September 7, 2011

city review: northampton, ma

if you're lucky enough to have reason to be in the pioneer valley, or if you find yourself in boston with time for a daytrip, make a visit to northampton. it's the quintessential college town with five schools in the area; amherst and south hadley are worth seeing, too, but northampton's the best destination for hungry foodies and anyone in the mood to go thrifting, antiquing, and museuming. be sure to see smith college's art collection and the mortimer rare book room.

a favorite breakfast/lunch spot, the green bean serves up wholesome, local, organic eats. they even make their own tempeh, and it's totally unlike anyone else's... which is to say, effing delicious. the vblat--vegan blt--is a divine blend of avocado, vegenaise, their special marinated tempeh, and fresh greens on perfectly toasted local artisan bread. absolutely stunning in its simplicity.

The Green Bean on Urbanspoon

a family business and northampton mainstay, they've been dishing out inspired, all natural, health-conscious food for over three decades. the sea vegetable salad is excellent and, to our experience, unique. all the salads are hearty and incredibly diverse in flavor and texture. the broccoli seitan is outstanding and made a confirmed vegetarian out of lois after her first dinner with clark (which happened to be at p&e's). the standout item, however, is the veggie burger: served on housemade foccacia and accompanied by their always-perfect sweet potato fries, it is the best veggie burger on the east coast. once you've had it, you'll truly understand what "crave-worthy" means.

Paul & Elizabeth's on Urbanspoon

this cafe is the sistine chapel of indie coffeehouses. fresh smoothies and juice cocktails concocted on the spot; an all-vegetarian breakfast/lunch menu; fair trade, house-roasted coffee beans; a selection of baked decadences that cater even to vegan and gluten-free diets--this is a holy place for anyone needing a respite. may we suggest the grilled cheese, featuring gruyere, avocado, tomato, dijon, and basil mayo. wash it down with a captain crunch cocktail (pineapple, mint, banana, apple, spirulina). is your mouth watering? it's because your tastebuds are crying with happiness.

Haymarket Juice Bar and Café on Urbanspoon

award-winning iced cream by a trailblazer in the industry. they always have vegan options available: usually there are a couple sorbets and a non-dairy iced cream choice, too. with a flavor list of over 200, it's no wonder they keep a phone list to alert customers when their favorites are back. but even if yours isn't currently on, you'll find at least three new faves each time you go. you might even run into ben and jerry here while they stop by to pay homage to the man who inspired them.

Herrell's Ice Cream Corporation on Urbanspoon

a local chain, this fast food mexican joint offers seitan and tofu as protein alternatives. obviously, it's not fast food like your parents are used to, but once you introduce them, they'll be converted. it's cooked right in front of you, and the sauces and all the fix-ins are made fresh daily. good and healthy, just as advertised, though they forgot to mention how delicioso, tambien.

Bueno Y Sano on Urbanspoon

when we crave indian, this is the first place we think of. it's an intimately run family operation, and all of them are super-friendly, warm personalities. the menu features the most sumptuous and enticing vegetarian dishes we've seen, not to mention the most numerous! written with an almost poetic flair, you'll have a tough time choosing just a couple dishes. let us help: makai palak malai is a must. check out this description: "an affectionate pairing of sweet corn and tender spinach seduced in a creamy coconut milk and a slight aroma of cardamom." swoon.

India House on Urbanspoon

without exaggeration, this local, organic artisan bread is the best ever. everything we've had before and since pales in comparison. certainly nothing in st. louis even comes close. they were just nominated by the james beard foundation, if that gives you an idea of the quality this tiny operation produces. they're just now expanding, and we can't wait to see what they do in the future. if you're lucky enough to be in the area, go here first, as they tend to run out. our favorites are the rosemary loaf and the olive fougasse. we've had more than one "bread dinner" just to savor these without distraction.

Hungry Ghost Bread on Urbanspoon

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