Say no to Reese’s, and YES to Camino!

By Pamela

There is one food combo that I love probably more than anything else in the world: chocolate and peanut butter. In fact, I just finished an Auntie Loo’s chocolate and peanut butter cupcake. It was divine, and a lovely occasional treat.

And who didn’t love Reese’s Pieces and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups when they were kids? Heck, I imagine most adults probably still love them. But for vegans and anyone even remotely health conscious, they are pretty sinister; chock full of saturated fat and hydrogenated oil, not to mention cow’s milk derivatives. It’s amazing how a childhood treat can look so different through the vegan lens.

I used to make my own peanut butter cups at home, using melted fair trade organic dark chocolate, organic peanut butter, and icing sugar. And Alicia Silverstone has a good recipe for them, which you can find here. They’re great, don’t get me wrong. But they require time and effort, and sometimes I just don’t have that. And sometimes Auntie Loo’s is closed. So what’s a choco-pb fiend to do?

Camino chocolate snack bar.

Thankfully, Ottawa-based Camino has come up with a fantastic solution: chocolate and peanut butter snack bars. They also make them with almond butter. The 180 calorie bars are organic, vegan, and fair trade. But perhaps most importantly, they are absolutely delicious. You can buy them for between $1.39 and $1.79 at places like Rainbow Foods, Herb and Spice, Natural Food Pantry, and Bridgehead. Find out more information on their Web site. They are also super convenient. You can add them to your purse food repertoire.

A great purse food option.
A word of warning though: These are highly addictive. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? Well, I kind of have a problem. They are currently my favorite thing to eat. I still forcefeed myself vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, but it’s Camino snack bars I’m yearning for. What’s not to love? They are every bit as delicious as a Reese’s PB cup, without the bad stuff, and with many additional benefits. So pick one up soon, and get ready for deliciousness!

Livin’ La Dolce Vita

By Erin

La Dolce Vita means “the good life, full of pleasure and indulgence.” And now, we vegans can enjoy it too!

I’m pleased to announce that La Dolce Vita in Little Italy has agreed to participate in our Restaurant Outreach Program.

If you forget what that is, check out this earlier post.

Basically, we’re asking omni restaurants to include one or two vegan items on their menu and to identify them as such. We in turn promote them on our blog, and post their vegan offerings on our website.

The goal: lots of omni restaurants with clearly identified vegan entrée options. In other words, places where vegans and their omni friends, family, colleagues and clients can dine in harmony. In other words, no more picking at limp salads while our discomfiting but well-intentioned omni dining partners go through the entire menu trying to find us something more substantial.

As it turns out, accommodating vegans was no problem for La Dolce Vita. Their pasta is vegan, as is their pizza dough and sauce. They also do a vegan leek and potato soup, and a vegan Greek dressing for their salads.

Also, since all of their dishes are assembled on-site, many of the meat dishes can easily be veganized. A vegan dessert may also be in the works!

Readers might also like to know that La Dolce Vita also offers many gluten free options.

La Dolce Vita does not offer faux meat or cheese, but customers are invited to bring their own to add to their chosen dish. I know some of y’all might think that’s a bit weird, but keep in mind that we are dealing with small independent restaurants here that have limited space and money for untried inventory.

We’re hoping that once they see the demand, they’ll want to stock our favourite fauxs.

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for a meetup announcement for La Dolce Vita, and check out their website.

Since it’s right down the street from me (no coincidence that the Restaurant Outreach Program started in my neighbourhood ;)), I’ll visit soon and post a review. Of course, I’d be thrilled if someone beat me to it!

Stay tuned!

La Dolce Vita is located at 180 Preston Street (613-233-6239)

Ottawa’s oldest vegetarian restaurant: The Green Door

By Louise Rachlis

Let me say how much I love the Green Door – so much so that my informal women’s run group is called the Rice Pudding Runners, after the Green Door’s Rice Pudding.

Green Door rice pudding
One cold winter day a few years ago, my friend Lynn and I ended a two hour run at the Green Door, where we devoured the rice pudding, and also some cookies. We thought the rice pudding tasted so good that other women should join us, hence the name and destination of runs to follow.

The recipe is in my well-used copy of the Green Door Cookbook, but it’s easier to just eat theirs. And that I do, with great frequency! So without further ado, here is the recipe:

Green Door Rice Pudding

1 cup sweet brown rice
3 cups water
3 cups apple juice
pinch of salt
1 litre soy milk
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried fruit, diced (apricots, peaches, apples)

Cook rice in water until very soft. Add apple juice and continue to cook for one hour. Place on a heat dispenser to avoid sticking. Keep at very low heat, stirring occasionally.

Add soy milk, raisins and dried fruit, and cook on low heat until the mixture boils. Take off heat and stir. Let sit for 1-2 hours.

Serves 12.

The other recipe I love from the Green Door Cookbook is the seed cookies:


Green Door Seed Cookies

Dry Ingredients

2 cups large-flake rolled oats
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup sesame seeds
1 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup rice syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup tahini
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup apple juice

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Drop by tablespoon onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes until light brown (25 min. worked for me).

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

———————-

I’ve made them many times at home, keeping some in the freezer for visitors, and taking them to other people’s potlucks.

The Green Door's tofu vegetable stir fry. Photo by Ron Farmer.

The latest edition of the Green Door Cookbook is now available for $21 plus GST + shipping. You can pick up a copy at the restaurant or it can be ordered by phone, fax or email. It can also be purchased using a credit card or by PayPal. Shipping and handling is by regular mail for $5.

I live in Ottawa East not far from the Green Door, and whenever I tell new people where I am, they nod with understanding and say, “Oh yes, you’re near the Green Door.”

The Green Door is Ottawa's oldest vegetarian restaurant.
I love all the food on the Green Door menu, and since it’s a self-serve pay-by-weight restaurant, I always want to overload my plate, not to mention my second plate for their wonderful desserts. There are many vegan options, and those that aren’t are appropriately labeled. On their website you’ll see the wide range of a typical daily menu with such delights as Red Lentil and Potato Soup, Tofu Vegetable Stirfry, Cauliflower and Potato Curry, Garlic Zucchini, and lots more.

The Green Door is open Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., so don’t show up Monday. It’s at 198 Main Street, across from St. Paul University, tel. 613-234-9597. See the menu on their Web site at www.thegreendoor.ca where you can download a 20 page information pamphlet.

Mark your calendars: Veg Fest is coming on May 1

Yes, that’s right, planning for Veg Fest III is well underway! In fact, we’ve nearly sold out our exhibitor space already.

Many people have commented on the amazingly positive energy at Veg Fest.

If you haven’t been to Veg Fest yet, it’s a can’t-miss event not only for vegetarians and vegans, but for anyone leaning towards a more kind and healthy lifestyle. If you’ve already been, you probably don’t need to be convinced to come again!

The NCVA has brought a number of high profile speakers to Veg Fest, providing an important educational component to the event. To listen to the lectures from Veg Fest I and Veg Fest II, you can click here.

We’ve moved Veg Fest up a month this year, from the end of May to the beginning of May, to avoid conflicting with the multitude of other major Ottawa events occurring then. It will once again be at the beautiful Glebe Community Centre, 175 Third Avenue, just one block west of Bank Street, and will feature a silent auction with proceeds supporting the NCVA. Veg Fest is Sunday, May 1, and will run from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. It is once again generously title sponsored by The Table Vegetarian Restaurant. Silver level sponsors include ZenKitchen, Rainbow Foods, Market Organics and Green Earth Vegetarian Restaurant.

For more details and a growing exhibitor list, visit our Web site.

Auntie Loo: A local cupcake legend.

NEW THIS YEAR! Stay tuned for more details about a cupcake contest, for which final judging will occur at Veg Fest, and don’t miss out on your chance to enter! Plans are in the works, and NCVA volunteers have teamed up with the legendary Auntie Loo, as well as Capital Cupcake Camp’s Ian Capstick to create an event intended to showcase the unparalleled deliciousness of vegan cupcakes.

Mmmm, cupcakes.

We’ll also need plenty of volunteers, so if you want to be a part of something great be sure to get in touch with us at ottawavegfest@gmail.com .

http://www.facebook.com/v/228439240296

Click on the link above to see NCVA president Pamela promote Veg Fest I on A Channel Morning.

Leave us a comment: What is your best Veg Fest memory?

Learn to Love Salad Again

By Erin

Once upon a time, salads were made with iceburg lettuce and provided vegans with hours of crunchy fun.

Then came the 21st century, when the so-called top chefs of the world decided that iceburg lettuce was for rednecked mouth-breathers and that refined palates crave the nutritious leafy greens that both look and taste as though they were collected from someone’s front yard immediately after said yard was treated with pesticide.

You know the stuff of which I speak. And despite the sycophantic head-bobbing and mmm-mmm-ing you feel compelled to do when presented with these bitter snarls of limp weeds, you know you hate it too.

Alas, the food snobs have the backing of the nutrition people who proselytize so violently about the health benefits of leafy greens that I’ve become convinced that I will die of malnutrition if I fail to consume them in the recommended vast quantities.

My solution: the Salad Roll.

Ingredients:
1) Rice Wrappers. These are available in any Chinatown grocery. Try to find the rectangular ones – some sadist came up with the round ones just to screw with people.
2) Weeds (i.e. leafy greens)
3) Fake meat – my favourite is Nelakee ham log. Tofurky will do in a pinch.
4) Other fruits and vegetables. Use ones that can be sliced into long skinny strips, which keeps them from falling out of the roll. I like apples, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, avocados, enoki mushrooms, etc. I’d advise against celery, unless your teeth have horselike snipping powers.
5) Salt and pepper
6) Toasted nuts. This is optional, but it does add a whole other yummy dimension to a salad roll. Slivered almonds are my favourite, but whatever you have on hand will work – I used walnuts for the ones pictured below.

Now for the wrapping part…

Set up your rolling area near the kitchen sink.

Prepare all of your fillings and have them within easy reach.

Make sure your ingredients are ready - once the wrapper is wet, your rolling window is narrow

Place a pan large enough to accommodate your wrappers in your kitchen sink and fill it with very hot water.

Submerge your first wrapper in the water (one at a time or they’ll stick together) for about 5 seconds. If you are too lazy to get a pan, holding it under the faucet works too.

Place the wrapper on a flat, clean surface. Load it up with your fillings. Pile it on – you’d be amazed how well leafy greens compress. Add salt and pepper.

Roll it as you would roll sushi or a cinnamon roll – not trying to get the wrapper around all of the filling at once, but sort of spiraling the filling in. If you’re very dexterous, you can try tucking in the ends, but it really isn’t necessary. If your veggies are in long strips and your roll is pretty tight, everything will stay in.

Finished mixed green/carrot/tomato/pepper/walnut/avocado salad rolls

And there you are.

If you had to eat this as a salad it would take you all day and, if you’re like me, you’d just wind up picking out all the tasty stuff and leaving the greens.

Some final notes:
1) Try slicing harder veggies like carrots with a veggie peeler instead of a knife. Less risk of wrapper breakage.
2) Don’t use kale. This salad-improvement strategy can handle the woody bitterness of leafy greens, but the vinyl tarpaulin that is raw kale is a whole different level of eew.
3) Individuals who have served these to new romantic partners have reported some awkwardness.

This one is spinach/tomato/avocado/celery(bad!)/pepper/walnut

On community and good corporate citizenship

I moved to Ottawa more than 11 years ago from a small town. While Ottawans like to think of Ottawa as being similar to a small town, to me it was a big and impersonal city where I was just another face in the crowd. It was a difficult adjustment, and it took many years for me to feel like Ottawa was my home. The girl who worked at the little bagel shop I used to frequent back home (this was in my pre-gan days) would see my car coming down the street, and start my order. It was always ready by the time I walked into the cafe. Now that’s customer service!

Back to Ottawa, I think it has helped to be part of a subculture. There are a limited number of businesses catering specifically to vegetarians and vegans, but it also presents the opportunity to develop relationships with many of the business owners and staff of the places which I patronize. Partly as a result of my work with the NCVA I am on a first name basis with many of the owners of veg-oriented business in Ottawa, which is a great feeling. It helps me to feel good about many of my consumer choices, because I know where my money is going; it’s often supporting the very community of businesses and people who support me as a vegan.

While it’s very difficult to follow the money trail for every purchase we make, I do try to support companies and organizations that are good to their workers, make an effort to operate and source ethically, and which give back to the community. I want to give a shout out to one in particular which is supportive of the veg community, and without their support, we may not have been able to put on two Veg Fests.

Veg Fest 2010, sponsored by The Table
Veg Fest 2010, sponsored by The Table

For many Ottawa residents—vegetarian or otherwise—their first encounter with plant-based cuisine occurs at The Table Vegetarian Restaurant. In fact, The Table serves some 400 people each and every day! But what diners and the public may not know is that not only is The Table a great place to eat, but its owner, Simon Saab, is an outstanding corporate citizen.

“From day one, my philosophy has been to give back to the community that we operate within. Sponsoring is a way of letting the people who come in, who enjoy the restaurant and the food we serve, know that I really appreciate their support of my business,” Simon says. “I do believe that if you give, you receive so much back.”

The Table is the NCVA’s biggest corporate supporter, including as the title sponsor for both Ottawa Veg Fests. When the NCVA first considered holding a festival, Simon was the first business owner to sign on. It’s largely thanks to The Table’s sponsorship that Veg Fest has succeeded, and remains a free event.

The Table has also sponsored other local events and publications, including the SimplyRaw festival. Simon says from a business point of view, sponsoring events like Veg Fest is a good way of keeping the restaurant’s name recognition up. “And from a personal standpoint, I really enjoy what I do.”

Simon’s family has a long history in the restaurant business, and he’s been a part of the industry for some 35 years. Ten years ago he decided to combine his interest in restaurants with his interest in a healthy vegetarian lifestyle.

“Vegetarian and organic have always been personal interests of mine, for more than 30 years. Since I opened the restaurant my commitment to the veg lifestyle has been very strong,” he says. Indeed, everything served at the restaurant’s buffet-style set up is vegetarian, and most selections are vegan. Some choices are raw, and/or gluten free. In the past few years the restaurant has focused even more on purchasing produce from local farmers.

“People are so much more aware of illnesses and what to do and eat to help themselves, a lot more than they were 15 or 20 years ago,” Simon says.

He says the recent addition of several new vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the Ottawa area has been complementary to his own business, and shows the high level of demand for plant-based alternatives in Ottawa.

The Table is one of the veterans: on July 24, it celebrated 10 years in business.

The NCVA is grateful to all of the businesses that have supported us, from sponsoring Veg Fest, to offering our members discounts, to buying advertising in Capital Veg News, to making product donations, and more. Without their support it would be an uphill battle!


The Table Vegetarian Restaurant
230 Wellington Street West, Ottawa
(613) 729-5973
thetablerestaurant.com

Kim celebrates the big 2-9 (for real!) at ZenKitchen

By Kim

ZenKitchen is one of the few restaurants that I like to save for special occasions. A very special occasion took place last weekend, my 29th birthday. Accordingly, Kyle took me to Zen Kitchen to celebrate.

I consider myself to be somewhat of a ‘foodie’. I like to sit down to a nice meal and discuss it. I like to talk about what makes it special. Caroline Ishii, the chef at ZenKitchen, really impressed me with this meal. Dave Loan impressed me with his drink creations.

When you go to ZenKitchen, the first thing I recommend is making a reservation, especially if you want to eat on a weekend. It’s a fairly small space and apparently it is very popular. After reading my review you will probably see why it is so popular. Also the reason why it’s saved for only special occasions for me is because it is pretty expensive. Keep that in mind when you decide to dine out, maybe trade two Green Earths and a Table for one night out at Zen?

Upon entering the restaurant we were asked by the hostess if she could take our coats. I think that is a bonus point right off the start. I really dislike bringing my coat to the table in the winter. It’s just too bulky. It’s also a good idea for the restaurant owners too, in order to preserve their furniture from the evil salt and dampness that may be lingering on the people of Ottawa’s outerwear.

When we sat down we were told of the special and given some time to think. This restaurant is not cheap, which is another reason why we save it for only a special occasion. While I was looking through the drink menu, I noticed a very cool breeze around my butt and legs. It felt like –75 degrees outside and being in an old building I figured it was just something to do with the construction. It was pretty uncomfortable though. I ended up finding the culprit after some searching: the electrical outlet. However, I forgot to mention it to the staff later on because I was so wrapped up in my meal and drinks. So, Dave and Caroline: If you are reading this, please insulate your electrical outlets! 🙂

Kim chee caesar
Kyle and I both ordered the Four Course Chef’s Tasting Menu for $48 per person. All that we were told was that it was Mediterranean themed. I almost didn’t go for it because when I think of Mediterranean food I think of olives, which I really can’t stand the taste or smell of. But I decided to take a chance and it turned out to be a really good chance to take! For drinks, we both ordered the Kimchee Caesars for $8 each. Not overpriced byOttawa standards. It was perfectly spicy and tasted like summertime. For those who know me well, I had an obsession with Bloody Mary’s this past summer. The Kimchee Caesar consisted of tomato juice, vodka, kimchee and a salt rim. Kimchee is something I would have never thought to put in a drink. Very creative and delicious. Thanks Dave!

Butternut squash risotto balls
The first course that came out was a butternut squash risotto ball with a panko crust and a chipotle sauce. It was fabulous. The butternut squash was so creamy and melted in my mouth. It almost had a sort of cheese-like flavour to it. I forgot to take a picture until I was halfway through it, so it doesn’t look as fancy in the picture as it did when Chef Caroline brought it out to us. The only thing about this meal that would improve it is a second or third risotto ball!

Quinoa beet salad.
Second course was surprising. It was a quinoa tabouli salad with beets and a horseradish aioli. I think this very special salad was created with Lebanese elements. Very creative and presented beautifully. It tasted even better than I would have thought. The quinoa had a very nice sweetness and some citrus notes to it. Throughout the quinoa part were little mustard seeds that popped in your mouth. I would try to duplicate it at home but I wouldn’t know where to start! Kyle is someone who really does not like beets, so this was worrying me while he ate it. I think since the beets were cut so small and each bite incorporated the other elements of the meal, he really enjoyed it. Also the beets lacked the earthiness that they usually have. They were juicy and sweet. Bonus.

Mushroom onion tempeh ravioli

Third course was the main meal. It was hand wrapped ravioli with caramelized onions, exotic wild mushrooms, and tempeh. I love fresh pasta, and it’s one of the things I miss most, being vegan. The pasta element was served very al dente, just how I like it. I love onions and I love mushrooms and I love pasta so I am a hard critic to please when it comes to these things. They have to be cooked to perfection, and they were. The onions were not mushy and were nice and sweet. Within the mushroom and onion medley were some other vegetables, cooked to perfection as well. I believe I tasted some sweet potato. The only element of the dish I couldn’t find was the tempeh. I think it was stuffed in the ravioli but there was so little of the stuffing that you couldn’t tell what it really was. However, I overlooked that aspect and consumed every drop of food on my plate. Yums.

Pyramid cake.
The fourth and final course was an orange and cardamom pyramid cake covered in chocolate ganash with raspberry coulis and candied orange peel. At first I was not very impressed. I really don’t like fruity flavours messing around with my chocolate. However, after the other three amazing courses, I trusted Caroline enough to giv ‘er a try. I am glad I did. Absolutely divine! The cake wasn’t overpoweringly orangey or cardamommy; it was nice and moist. The chocolate ganash was a compliment to the cake. I loved it.

Caipirinha night cap.

After dessert we wanted one more drink since it was such a special night. Kyle ordered some Laphroaig Quarter Cask Single Malt Scotch $7.5 and I ordered a Caipirinha $8. The Caipirinha consisted of Cachaça, lime, organic cane sugar. Cachaça is a Brazilian type of rum. I really enjoyed this one. It was refreshing and a good way to end the meal.

Except…the meal was not over. With the bill came two chocolate mint truffles. Melt in your mouth goodness.

Overall the meal was excellent. I am not one for surprises so it was very unlike me to order something and not know what it was going to be, but I am starting a new year so maybe this year I will just let go a little and try new things. I love how creative Chef Caroline and Dave are. Not once in my entire meal did I taste the typical Greek or Italian flavours one would normally assume of Mediterranean cuisine. Instead it was surprising, sweet, rustic, and citrusy. I loved every bite. I liked the ambiance of the restaurant, dimmed lighting, cute artwork (I think by a local artist? It has changed every time I have been there…a whole three times now!), and I didn’t even notice the music (good, because if I notice it it’s probably because it’s annoying me).

The most special part of the meal was when Chef Caroline brought us out our meals. It shows she takes special care with each and every one of her dishes. That’s wonderful, because I take special care eating everyone one of her dishes 😉

It makes perfect sense not to serve animals at a fundraiser intended to help animals

The NCVA has sent a Letter to the Editor to the Ottawa Citizen regarding the Ottawa Humane Society’s meat-laden menu for its annual Fur Ball.

From what we understand, there is not even a vegan meal offered for those attendees who do not wish to consume animal-sourced foods, which is a shame since vegans are often the most vocal advocates of adopting animals from shelters and rescues, spaying and neutering, etc.

We do not approach this issue with any combativeness; Many NCVA volunteers and members support the OHS, either financially or through adoptions. It is the NCVA’s goal to normalize and encourage the choice to not eat animals and animal products, and we simply feel that an animal product-free Fur Ball would be a positive contribution to that goal. It’s a win for everyone!

This is the article that our letter responds to:


Ottawa Citizen story

This is our letter:

Re: Fur Ball ignores call to have meatless meal

The National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA) is disappointed to learn that the Ottawa Humane Society is unwilling to consider a vegan menu, for its annual Fur Ball event.

Having a plant-based menu for the Fur Ball would be a hugely progressive move for the well-being of animals and for human and environmental health, and one that would no doubt be welcomed and praised by animal lovers. The resounding success of award-winning Ottawa businesses like ZenKitchen and Auntie Loo’s bakery demonstrate that there is a strong demand for vegan cuisine in our region, and that it can be every bit as delicious and satisfying as animal-derived alternatives.

While we understand that keeping animals off the menu is not required by the OHS’ mandate, with its refusal the OHS misses an opportunity to send a consistent and overwhelmingly positive message. A plant-based menu unequivocally demonstrates that the well-being of all animals is a top priority for the OHS.

This isn’t about “caving in,” as the article puts it. There’s simply no compelling reason why OHS supporters would not thoroughly enjoy a gourmet meal that leaves animals off the menu, and many reasons why it would be a viable, progressive, and positive course of action.

Shaun Desjardins
National Capital Vegetarian Association
http://www.ncva.ca

Vegan eats across the pond. (Part 1 London)

By Amanda

My husband Shaun and I were in London and Paris over the holidays. This was our first time visiting these fine cities. We did our research and had a huge list of vegan friendly eateries that we were eager to try.

Part 1 First stop…London!

With Christmas, Boxing Day and the two bank holidays, many places decided to close from Saturday until Tuesday! This forced us to wander the streets of London trying to find something on our list that was actually open. We had no idea that such a huge city like London would completely shut down over the holidays…even The Tube was closed for part of our trip! The good thing was that while we were on the search for food, we got tons of exercising walking and building up our appetites.

The first place we found was an all you can eat vegan buffet called Jai. It was your typical Asian spread with noodles, rice, stir-fried veggies and mock meats. It was also very cheap at 5 pounds 50 for as much as your belly can hold. This restaurant chain is all over London with names such as Tao, Jao, Veg, Tai and various other three-letter words. For the price and the number of restaurants, it is a safe bet.

Jai Buffet

Next on the list was Vx. This is the cafe in the basement of SSOV. (If you do not know about SSOV, then I cannot tell you what it really is as it is top secret. OH NO, I have probably already said too much!! My cover is blown….) Here we found yummy foods provided by the companies Accidentally Vegan and Ms. Cupcake. We shared a bean burrito and a Seitan Cornish Pasty. Both were delicious but I highly recommend the Cornish Pasty because it screams London comfort food! Now, for dessert! If you know me, you would know that I love my cupcakes! (I have done cupcake hops of every city I visit, always on the search for the best vegan cupcake!) We tried 3 different flavours of Ms. Cupcake’s amazing cupcakes. We had a Pomegranate, Chocolate and Ferrero Rocher. They were some of the prettiest cupcakes I have every seen but the Ferrero Rocher was out of this world! Drool…

Bean Burrito and Cornish Pasty at Vx

Ferrero Rocher Cupcake at Vx

We found another vegan safety zone-Maoz. This is a chain of falafel joints in Europe but it has spread to New York City and that is where we first experienced its greatness! Maoz is like Subway for falafels but you get to add your own topping from the endless salad bar. They provide you with a pita filled with falafels and you go nuts adding toppings such as grilled cauliflower and broccoli, tomatoes, pickles, peppers, olives and many more toppings as well as various sauces. Shaun got the pita and falafels where I chose the pita-less option where you get falafels in a box and you can still fill up on salads. It’s great because with either option, you can eat up all your veggies and then go back for a refill. It is very good and definitely worth a visit for healthy fast food.

Maoz Messy Falafel

Maoz Salad Box with Falafel

While walking all over the city, we stumbled across a vegan buffet called Vantra. We opted for the take out option where you pay for the size of the take out box and stuff it as full to your little heart’s content….BUT you have to be able to close the lid! That’s their rule and they have a sign that says so! There were hot and cold dishes consisting of stews, curries, veggies, rice, noodles and salads. Many of the dishes were quite filling with potatoes and other root vegetables. Once, we got back to the hotel with our hot mixed meal, the food was a mix of mush but tasty tasty mush! If you do not like your food to touch, then this place is not for you!

Vantra Take Out Box

One day we were walking around again desperately trying find ANYTHING vegan that was open. Just our luck, a sign yelled to us….Sagar-Vegetarian and Vegan Indian Cuisine. It was cold out and a warm curry sounded like a great idea. We asked about vegan options and the waitress brought us a special edited version of the main menu that contained all the vegan options. What a great idea…a separate vegan menu! Shaun ordered a curry on rice and I chose a Potato Curry Dosa. Very typical South Indian food but I was quite happy with our random find!

Sagar-Red Curry

Sagar-Dosa

For the Grande finale…Mildred’s. We heard many things about this great vegetarian restaurant in London. It has been around since the late 1980’s and is often a crowd favourite. The menu has mostly organic items and the vegan items are clearly labeled. I went with the Mixed Mushroom and Porcini Ale Pie served with fries and mushy peas. Shaun had the Burger of the Day with fries and a basil “mayo” that was spectacular. Both dishes were amazing and now we see why this place is always so busy. For dessert, I went with the Cherry Chocolate Truffle with Fig Coulis and Shaun had the Tofu Coconut and Banana Cheesecake with Maple Syrup. The truffle was a rich pure chocolate pudding served in a dark chocolate rectangular box. I still dream of its chocolaty goodness. The cheesecake was probably the best that either of us has ever had and Shaun knows his cheesecakes! Overall, this was the best meal we had had in London.

Mildred's Burger

Mildred's Ale Pie
Mildred's Cherry Chocolate Truffle
Mildred's Cheesecake

Overall, London was extremely veg friendly but most places knew how to make their dishes vegan when asked. All you can eat buffets and pay by box size are quite common at the restaurants. This makes it very easy to load up for a big meal and the prices are very cheap too! I know there are many other vegan places in London but we were limited as quite a few were closed over the holidays. We could easily go back to London and not eat at the same restaurants but some of these are definitely worth going again and again!

Next stop…. Paris and Part 2 of our adventure.

High Road to China

By Erin

This latest in my series of stupid blog titles is a nod to the fact that I have to drag my sorry arse up the painfully steep Booth Street hill to get from my house on Primrose to Chinatown on Somerset. 

But it is very much worth the climb. You see, in addition to the fantastic mock meats about which Neil has recently blogged, China town is home to many other vegan delights.

Today I’d like to highlight the wonton. A wise man (Neil) once said that all things are better when they are wrapped in dough. Unfortunately, when we vegans try to live this truth we are thwarted by the numerous stupider men who decided put eggs in all the wonton wrappers stocked by mainstream supermarkets.

Happily, pretty much every one of the 80,000 or so grocery stores in Chinatown stocks vegan versions (an ironic exception is Phuoc Loi, faux meat destination).

They are in the refrigerator section, and look like this:

To ensure that you don’t get eggy ones, just harken back to your days of eating snow. Remember what your mother told you: White, “Ok,” Yellow, “No Way!” Or just read the ingredients.

There are lots of great wonton recipes on vegweb.com, but you hardly need one. Just finely mince (slapchop!) about a cup each of onion, carrot, celery, plus whatever other veggies you fancy; add some salt, pepper and spices (Chinese 5-spice powder is good) and cook over medium heat until soft. I strongly advise also adding some minced faux meat – preferably mushroom chicken, beef, or mutton. I used Nelakee’s “pork steaks” tonight and they were great, too.

Once the filling is done, put about a tablespoon into each wonton and seal the edges (just squish ‘em together – no water or anything needed).

Next, fry them in a bit of oil until each side is golden brown.

Finally, stir up a sauce made of equal parts water, soy sauce and fruit juice and toss in a few slices of garlic and ginger. You should have enough sauce that it will fill your frying pan about one inch from the bottom.

Pour the sauce into your pan, put the lid on, steam for 5 minutes, and serve. They finished wontons are best dipped in soy sauce or in a 1:1 mixture of soy sauce and vegetarian oyster or stir fry sauce. These items also available in most Chinatown shops.

Finished Wontons

Spike wants wontons

Happy dipping all!