Tag Archives: lower east side

meatless monday: strange trails and morning rituals

sara little yoga blog nyc lord huron
Strange Trails,” Lord Huron’s latest offering, is a dreamy, weird album, and the accompanying Kurosawa-esque videos are equally bizarre and beautiful. A good listen for those who like their music in story form.*

sara little yoga blog nyc el rey
My Morning Routine. We’ve all got one. This site compiles them, and delivers brand new, inspiring morning rituals to your email every Wednesday, from people all around the world.

*(At 4:34 in the “Fool for Love” video, call the phone number. You’ll get drawn into a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure side-story. Cool.)


farewell, yoga high: a little valentine’s day ode and lovefest

via YH's instagram.

via YH’s instagram.

I first started teaching in 2008 and immediately threw myself into the New York yoga scene. I came out of my 200-hour certification with that same kind of overconfidence you see in anyone young enough to have energy and ambition, without the tempering wisdom that only comes from experience.

I knew anatomy and had the muscles and bones and their functions and planes of movement memorized. I knew all the poses and their Sanskrit names and how to modify them with props. I knew how to sequence a smart class and could recite the Sutras, the 8 Limbs and a handful of verses from the Gita.

And yet: I knew nothing about yoga.

I didn’t know shit about anything. And then: I found Yoga High. (Mel and Liz: sorry, maybe you didn’t realize this when you hired me. Or maybe you did? Immense gratitude, regardless.)

I walked past Yoga High daily in its old heyday on Clinton Street, barely three blocks from my apartment. Its co-owners were two women who worked in this beautifully balanced way: the strength and conviction of Mel was impressive, the quiet flexibility and gentleness of Liz was inspiring.

The space they created drew together a mishmash of New Yorkers: artists, entrepreneurs, college students, hedge funders, designers, performers, doctors and bartenders. A true cross-section of this weird, wild city, and for an hour or so we were all equals, quietly working on our breathing and our neuroses and our hamstrings.

As a student, it was a place where I could show up in any state of despair or joy, to cry or laugh, and drag myself through a practice that always seemed to give me exactly what I needed. It saw me through my best and worst moments.

As a teacher, the gift was in seeing the faces of students and friends, watching the unfolding of practices as this collective ebbed and flowed and grew and changed with each season.

It was a place where Kanye and Beck lived in miraculous harmony on my playlists, alongside Thom Yorke and Karen O. and Lana and Thurston and all the dudes from The National.

It was a place where you could show up, do the practice (“Or: don’t do it! I don’t care!”) and leave with a fullness of heart and head and maybe be just a teeny tiny bit more patience for all the weirdos awaiting us out in the world.

Because yoga is only kind of about poses and breathing. It’s mainly about community.

Yoga High held its final classes last month in the LES. But it’s taking on new life in other places where community is wanted and needed.

Here’s to the next reincarnation.

meatless monday: hot & sour cucumbers via mission chinese

the line on a typical night. well worth the wait. image via NYT.

Do you know about Mission Chinese Food yet? Their story would sound so cliché if it wasn’t all absolutely true, and kind of amazing. Chef Danny Bowien first opened Mission Chinese as a secret, no-signage restaurant in the back of another (yes, another) Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. A secret Chinese restaurant within a Chinese restaurant. Where else in the world, other than San Francisco, could one get away with such hipster preposterousness? Why, the Lower East Side, of course! So Chef Danny opened his Manhattan outpost last month on Orchard Street, although this time there were no secrets. People have been going apeshit for his food ever since.

If I were to be honest, I’d tell you that at first it was a hard sell for me. I was annoyed by the masses of hungry people pushing their way through the tiny front door and demanding a table. Wait time is usually upward of 2 to 3 hours (and yes, people will wait it out). When we didn’t want to wait, we’d grab takeout, but the limited takeout menu does not cater to vegetarians so well.

But I’m starting to come around. If you plan ahead (and you should), you can grab a reservation, enjoy free beer from a keg while you wait (and with a rez, the waiting is nil), then be swept away to the dark back dining room, where a large, dangling paper dragon winds along the ceiling above your head. The ambiance is awesome and relaxed, the people working are funny and generous with menu advice and free sparkling water made fresh in their SodaStream (finally! A restaurant making their own sparkling water!), and then comes the food. Beautiful. Delicious. Inexpensive. Vegan friendly. Sichuan pickled vegetables. Vinegary peanuts with smoked garlic. Flan-like slices of tofu poached in soy milk and garnished with sesame leaves. Tender eggplant sliced thin in a tomato sauce that’s at once salty and tangy and sweet. I’ll stop now.

I came around quick to this place (be willing to try anything twice is the mantra I try to live by these days). My favorite dish is a small bowl of smashed cucumbers, skin on, in a sesame paste and sprinkled with salted chilis. Here’s Chef Bowien’s recipe for another cucumber dish that I’m going to try this week. Cucumbers are a cooling, anti-inflammatory veg, perfect to chill the palette when you’re sampling fiery Sichuan dishes. Eat these with something with noodles and Sriracha.

hot and sour and awesome: Danny Bowien’s cucumbers.

Hot & Sour Cucumbers with Seaweed & Burnt Chili
recipe by Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien for Bon Appétit, made meatless by me

For the burnt chili soy:
2 tbsp. coarsely crumbled dried wakame
9 red Fresno chiles or red jalapeños
1 c. chopped scallions, dark-green parts only (approx. 12 scallions)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. tamari soy sauce

For the cucumbers:
3 tsp. toasted sesame oil, divided
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns
6 kirby cucumbers
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. Sherry vinegar
12 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
6 scallions, chopped
5 red jalapeños, thinly sliced
2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. hoisin sauce

Place wakame in a small bowl. Cover with 1 c. boiling water; let sit until reconstituted, 5–6 min. Drain wakame, reserving 1/2 c. soaking liquid. Tear wakame into bite-size pieces, if needed. Cover and chill.

Char chiles over a gas flame or in a broiler, turning occasionally, until blackened all over. Do not peel. Remove seeds, chop chiles (makes about 1 c.). Process chiles, scallion tops, sugar, tamari, and 1/2 c. reserved wakame soaking liquid in a food processor until a coarse purée forms. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep in refrigerator).

Heat 1 tsp. oil in a small skillet. Add peppercorns and stir until fragrant, about 2 min. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.

Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 4 wedges. Cut wedges in half crosswise. Toss cucumbers and salt in a large bowl to coat, let stand for 20 min. Drain cucumbers.

Combine cucumbers, reserved wakame, vinegar, remaining 6 ingredients, and remaining 2 tsp. sesame oil in a large bowl. Let stand to marinate, tossing occasionally, for 15 min. before serving. Spoon burnt chili soy over to taste.