At Soul Vegetarian, gravy cascades over the burgers and country-fried steaks and creamy cucumber sauce nestles into a gyro pocket. This picture of decadence aside, even as the chefs eschew animal products, they also avoid heavy fats or preservatives. The result is a surprisingly healthy take on classic Southern cuisine, including macaroni and cheese and cornbread. Savory protein comes in the form of tofu, lentils, and a flexible vegetable-protein roast they've dubbed "kalebone."
Even dessert has a healthy side at Soul Vegetarian. Blenders whir with fruit smoothies and soy shakes, many of which incorporate nutrient-dense foods such as coconut milk and almond butter, and even energy or protein supplements. To make perfectly creamy shakes, the restaurant's food inventors created the soy-based Dream Kream—also available by the scoop.
Socially conscious crafters can take home a hand-stitched measuring-tape cat (Vietnam, $8) from Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts, while frugal fashionistas can sport dancing-girl earrings made from recycled soda cans by KICK Trading Ltd. (Kenya, $12) or a marbled bead choker from TARA Projects (India, $16). Decorate the great outdoors with Manos Amigas' ceramic bird wind-chime (Peru, $44), or beautify the indoors with the world children wall hanging (Haiti, $84) from Comité Artisanal Haitien. Fair-trade staples, such as Equal Exchange coffee, tea, and chocolates, make tasty gifts for Father's Day, Secretary's Day, or Father's Secretary's Day.
BINDERS Art Supplies and Frames has been helping starving artists since 1488, when it was known as BINDERS Pizza and Art Supplies. It's where a young Michelangelo pointed at a paintbrush, and with a mouthful of gorgeous mozzarella and a thick Italian accent asked, "What'sa that?" It's where Rembrandt learned to create without frustration and enjoy stewed tomatoes. It's where Monet bought a field easel and a chili dog.
All Fired Up! creates a casual, crockery haven where budding artists of any age can fashion their own earthenware masterpieces. Amateur Picassos first select from an array of paintable options ranging from picture frames and dinnerware, to mugs, platters, and bisque sculptures of the real Picasso’s ear. Guests can then select from a plentiful palette of ceramic-safe colors to customize a design, or call upon artistic aid in the form of stamps, stencils, and computer printouts. Dress up a dining table by decorating a plain oval tray with brightly colored flowers, or gift your mailman with a “world’s best milkman” tile before apologizing for your mistake.
FastFrame first germinated in Europe before spreading to Japan, Brazil, Australia, and the United States. A trained local helms each of the 300 locations, and guarantees every design for 30 days and the craftsmanship for a lifetime. Artisans crown original works of art and prints with ornate mouldings. They also store historical artifacts and three-dimensional memorabilia in shadow boxes. FastFrame’s team has even been known to frame sports equipment, plasma-screen televisions, and childhood homes.
The monogramming mavens at Melrose on Ponce personalize property with embroidered initials, customizable with an array of colors and fonts. Mark your towel territory, or delineate his-and-hers jean overalls, with a single-color, machine-stitched monogram ($12), or emblazon less stitchable material, such as floor mats or pet lap giraffes with a vinyl monogram ($12). Embroidered paraphernalia makes a great gift for baby showers, housewarming parties, or attempts at bribing unscrupulous judges.