ecoRDN first heard about Sweetgrass Grill‘s plant-based brunch offerings after a cool post by We Bike NYC‘s riders who planned a bike & foodie trip from Manhattan to Chappaqua along the S County Trail (with a rest stop in Tarrytown for brunch). With plans already made that weekend ecoRDN was unable to attend and decided to map out an alternative trip on a nearby trail system, The Old Croton Aqueduct, and go on foot instead of bike.

An aqueduct is a water distribution system, such as a pipe, ditch, canal or tunnel used to convey water. Aqueducts were used in ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, and ancient Rome. In modern times, the largest aqueducts of all have been built in the United States to supply the country’s biggest cities. Aqueducts moved water through gravity alone, being constructed along a slight downward gradient within conduits of stone, brick or concrete. Most were buried beneath the ground, and followed its contours; obstructing peaks were circumvented or, less often, tunneled through.

The Old Croton Aqueduct was built to bring fresh water to New York City, specifically Manhattan from the Croton River in Westchester County, NY. The need for fresh water was driven by overpopulation of an island surrounded by brackish waters, unsanitary conditions leading to epidemics of yellow fever and cholera and The Great Fire of New York in 1835. Construction began in 1837 and the aqueduct was opened to the public in 1842. It took 22 hours for the water to travel the 41 miles via gravity alone. Despite its size, the capacity of the Old Croton Aqueduct could not keep up with the growth of New York City, and a New Croton Aqueduct was built. The old aqueduct remained in service until 1965. In 1968, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation purchased 26.2 miles of the original 41mile aqueduct and the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park was born. Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park is a linear park, which runs from Van Cortlandt Park at the Bronx/ Yonkers border to the Croton Dam in Cortlandt. The trail runs atop the aqueduct and mostly parallels the Metro North Hudson line.

(Dig this amazing video, the music is off the chart!)

The walk from Woodlawn Heights in the Bronx to Tarrytown is only 14 miles, but the walk back to ecoRDN‘s studio from the Yonkers Metro North station is another 4 miles, so 18 in total for our epic jaunt to a plant-based brunch. We set off for an adventure, adventure not so much in the vein of dragon wrasslin but instead an epic walkabout covering distances most wouldn’t dare on foot. The kind of epic walkabout ecoRDN nerds dream about (and then we get to eat!)

The trails snake through picturesque Hudson River towns rife with breathtaking calm beauty (and old-money). Transplanted far enough away from the terrible constant clamor of highways and major roads in-and-out of Bronx and Yonkers, the walk was mostly a relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable experience. And it really, really helps personal motivation knowing there is a heap of food to shove in famished faces at the end of the long, long trail. A strong desire for cocoa crept in as we traversed the cold trails and finally entered the scenic town. Dare we say ‘quaint’?

Sweetgrass Grill supports sustainability by serving local, seasonal food from their rotating menu. Catering to multiple mouths Sweetgrass extends much love to those who opt out of consuming animal products. Items are clearly marked for plant-based people by signifying V for Vegan and VP for Vegan Possible (Yay!). It’s always cool when servers are hip to ‘alternative’ dietary choices, ours was very much so and that helped make our first experience at Sweetgrass a great experience, indeed.

The Buffalo Tempeh on a Bun (with fries) and Vegetable Tofu Scramble were exactly what was needed after 4 hours on the trail. Starting with the scramble, a smoky melange of warmth made perfect with tofu, spinach, mushroom, red pepper, shallot and vegetable hash. If the tofu in a tofu dish isn’t right, the whole dish is wrong and thankfully this wasn’t the story, the texture and flavor were flawlessly executed. Same kudos goes out to the buffalo tempeh, O-M-G lids were flipped over the vegan bleu cheese dressing, creamy and super rich, which married perfectly with the sharp tang of the traditional Buffalo sauce marinade along with the crisp crunch of lettuce on a house-made multigrain roll. Yes. Please! This is a filling sandwich but if a lighter side than fries is desired Sweetgrass offers a vegetable hash or grain salad option.

The most important meal of the day (dessert) had ecoRDN share a chocolate cashew cream  mousse  that was as airy and rich as any dairy mousse we’ve ever eaten (i.e. stuffed in our sugar-holes at breakneck speeds). It was superb. One of the greatest vegan sweet treat innovations we’ve been fortunate to experience. ecoRDN extends mad props to the big brains at Sweetgrass Grill for a meal that was well worth an 18 mile walk! We appreciate the Plant-Based Love!!!

How far would you walk for a plant-based feast? How far have you ever walked? Let us know in the comments below and thanks for reading!

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©2015 ecoRDN

Eat Well and May the Force Be With You!



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