blossom du jour, locations vary

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-1-42-25-pm

photo via Instagram

Blossom du Jour is a vegan restaurant that’s not obnoxious about being vegan (rare!). When I need a detox from mac and cheese (also rare!), I love picking up their salad bowls filled with marinated kale, sweet potatoes, and avocado.

The last time I popped in, however, I noticed that they too carry a macaroni and cheese. Obviously, it being a vegan spot, the cheese is made out of cashew and the “bacon” is mushroom-based. If you’ve never had it, it sounds terrible, I know. But, having had previous good luck with vegan mac at By Chloe, I was willing to give it a shot.

Does it taste like regular mac? No. But it’s really tasty, I promise! Mushroom has so much natural umami flavor that when it’s smoked and crisped, it’s delightful. And much in the same way homemade almond milk is truly creamy, a well-executed nut-based cheese is very satisfying. At Blossom, they make theirs in house, which is evident in its quality and freshness. I also appreciate the use of elbow pasta, which is a perennial favorite shape of mine. The dish is finished off with a dusting of breadcrumbs, which doesn’t add much, but it is nice for adding crunch to a stovetop mac.

If you’re interested in exploring cheese alternatives or you have vegan friends, Blossom is definitely worth a stop.

Locations vary, website here

by chloe, greenwich village

Sweet Potato Mac n Cheese by CHLOE. 0506152271v2

I am not a vegan (what?!). BUT, I am not against vegan food. That is, as long as it’s made from actual ingredients and not mashed up vegetable bits meant to resemble chicken fingers or American cheese slices.

I was lucky enough to meet Chef Chloe Coscarelli a few months ago at my office. She brought me one of her signature vegan raspberry tiramisu cupcakes, so we were friends for life. What’s wonderful about Chloe’s food and recipes is that while everything is vegan, you cook with it in its intended state. So the natural vibrancy of the fruit and vegetables really shines through. You’re not eating over-salted lentils shaped to look like fish sticks.

In an event bigger stroke of luck, Chloe’s first restaurant, by CHLOE., just opened a short walk away from my apartment. There are delicious kale salads, hearty veggie burgers, vegan ice creams that you would never know didn’t have dairy, AND, macaroni and cheese.

Wait, vegan mac and cheese?

But, I mean, look at that picture! Chloe’s mac and cheese is made with whole wheat pasta, sweet potato sauce and shiitake “bacon.” Does it taste like Velveeta? No, but that’s not the point. This is a wholly satisfying dish, albeit not cheesy in the traditional sense. The creamy sweet potato sauce brings a comforting salty-sweet flavor, while the shiitake bacon is crispy, full of umami and absolutely addictive.

So, the next time you’re looking for your mac fix, but need something a little less gut-bursting than a bacon-blue cheese number, please do check out Chloe’s fabulous cooking.

And don’t leave without trying the kale ice cream. Trust.

by CHLOE., 185 Bleecker St., 212.290.8000