Something for Everyone: “Clean” Food Becomes Comfort Food at Eda’s Garden

chefs

When Adil Mustafaraj opened Eda’s Garden, a new café-style restaurant in Yorktown, he refused to limit himself to a certain type of menu. He and his wife had found inspiration from many restaurants they’d visited over the years—vegan, farm-to-table, kid-friendly, organic, diet-specific—and he wanted to borrow from all of them to deliver comfort food in a casual setting.

He knew he’d found the person to bring his vision to life when Jonathan Gonzales answered his ad for executive chef. It was a Sunday afternoon, and Gonzales came in and quickly mixed up five salad dressings and then a full three-course meal for Mustafaraj and some friends.

Mustafaraj was impressed with Gonzales’s skills in the kitchen, and Gonzales was excited by Mustafaraj’s vision. The menu ideas started flowing.

They decided to make most items plant-based, so that customers who are vegan or can’t eat animal proteins can enjoy them. Any animal products used would be of the highest quality possible, such as free-range organic chicken, wild sockeye salmon, local eggs and organic whole milk.

“We want to make everyone feels welcome and taken care of,” Gonzales says.

Hence a broad variety of food and drinks, from homemade soups made fresh daily (veggie chili, “cream” of potato made with coconut milk, broccoli “cheddar” made with cashew, several bean soups); to organic smoothies (the Green Monster is made of kale, mango, dates, spirulina and almond milk); to fresh organic juices (like the Road Runner, which is pineapple, spinach, kale, pear and cayenne pepper); to hot teas (chamomile, earl grey, green, chai, hibiscus) and cold tea blends (chai master, berry burst, lean green).

Then there’s Eda’s Garden’s very own footlong: the XL Falafel Wrap. “That’s a big seller,” Mustafaraj says. “It’s homemade, gluten-free, baked chickpea falafel pieces in a 100 percent lentil wrap, with hummus.”

In keeping with its inclusive mission, the restaurant is also developing a kids’ menu. So far it has four items: Mac ’N’ Cheese, Little Dippers, Kids’ Parfait and Mediterranean Snack Pack. It even has Taco Tuesday (three tacos for $12).

While Gonzales is constantly introducing new menu items, he’s also paying particular attention to diet-specific needs, keeping everything gluten-free and keeping oil to a minimum.

“You can love what you eat and still have it be healthy,” he says. Mustafaraj nods. “Our food is delicious because we love what we do—and cook with love and care.” Food is available for eat-in or takeout, and catering and delivery are available with a minimum $30 order.

Eda’s Garden, located at 1871 Commerce St., Yorktown Heights, NY, is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more info, call the restaurant at 914.352.6280 or visit EdasGarden.com or Facebook.com/EdasGarden.

 

Perk Up With Great Local Coffee in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess NY

Coffee-cupby Rinku Bhattacharya

This time of year, nothing satisfies like a well-brewed cup of coffee. With its warm, nutty aroma, it’s both soothing and re-energizing, the perfect pick-me-up on a chilly winter day.

Coffee shops have mushroomed all around the area, so it’s easy to find a place to grab a fresh cup. But the best local spots are the ones that take pride in their product and opt for fair-trade beans. Chances are if coffee is grown and sourced right, it will taste right, too. After all, you want to warm your soul along with your body.

 

Big Bang Coffee Roasters: If you’re looking to start your morning with a unique selection of fresh coffee beans delivered right to your door, this company is for you. A family-owned business, Big Bang offers a custom selection of fair-trade and organic coffee beans to choose from, and they will deliver your order to your house—or you can purchase their coffee at John Boy’s Outpost in Bedford, NY, Skinny Buddha Organic Kitchen in Mt. Kisco, NY, or Plum Plums Cheese in Pound Ridge, NY. Owner Elina Dart says, “I like to find the sweet spot in every roast, where all the nuances of a coffee are highlighted. All of my coffees are intensely flavorful due to this diligence.”

Big Bang Coffee Roasters

914.433.7278

BBCRoasters.co

 

Coffee-Labs-signCoffee Labs, Tarrytown: Coffee Labs is owned and managed by Mike and Alicia Love. Mike is a retired chef who now focuses his culinary passion on bringing together a select collection of sustainable and exclusive coffees. Alicia is a humanitarian who is very committed to the green component of the business. Together this duo developed a business model that offers exclusive coffee with a conscience. Their Tarrytown shop sells a wide assortment of beans, and it’s also a great place to grab a cup of coffee or tea—just what you might want on a weekend morning. Don’t miss the blog on CoffeeLabs.com; it will give you further insight into their mission and their featured coffees. Coffee Labs’ products can be ordered from the website and found at Mrs. Greens and Whole Foods markets.

Coffee Labs

7 Main St., Tarrytown, NY

914.332.1479

CoffeeLabs.com

 

Crafted--KupThe Crafted Kup, Poughkeepsie: A true coffee house located near Vassar College in Poughkeepsie’s Arlington walking district, the Crafted Kup serves hand-crafted espresso beverages; locally roasted, certified fair-trade organic coffees and teas; and locally made baked goods and bagels. “I guarantee you won’t find a better cup of coffee around,” says co-owner Tanner Townsend. “We pride ourselves on making sure every guest’s experience is an unforgettable one.” Sounds like the perfect way to start (or finish) the day.

The Crafted Kup

44 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY

845.483.7070

TheCraftedKup.com

 

The Freight House Café, Mahopac: Located in the heart of downtown Mahopac, the Freight House Café uses Bear Mountain Roasters certified organic coffee beans exclusively for their entire coffee menu, including espressos, lattes and cappuccinos. Almost everything on the food menu is also natural, local or organic, says owner Donna Massaro. The breakfast menu includes organic egg omelets and a yummy Veggie Breakfast Wrap made with homemade pico di gallo, melted provolone, avocado, red onion, egg and sour cream. A gluten-free menu is also available. On Friday nights, the café is open until 10 p.m., serving beer, wine and cocktails with noshing foods. Check their website for the local live music calendar and other fun events, including a Single Dads Night on Feb. 12, and Stitch and Bitch (bring your own yarn) on Feb. 19. Look for light dinners to be added on Friday and Saturday nights soon.

The Freight House Café

609 Rte. 6, Mahopac, NY

845.628.1872

TheFreightHouseCafe.com

 

Rinku Bhattacharya is the voice behind the blog “Spice Chronicles” and the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles and Spices and Seasons, Simple, Sustainable Indian Cooking. She also teaches Indian cooking classes out of her home and at other locations. Her interests include Indian cooking, spices and herbs, and sustainable living. She can be reached on Twitter @wchestermasala.