Although we had to change venues last minute and we arrived to half the number of tables we had reserved at Ahora restaurant for the pub night, it was, as expected, a huge success. Clearly, little will deter veg*ns from social drinking and Mexican food. The atmosphere was cozy. The restaurant was packed. And we dominated the booth section, to the extent that we had to ask some omnis to move to another table to accommodate our significant numbers.
Some expressed disappointment that Burrito Borracho hadn’t finished its renovations in time to host us, but hopefully the knowledge that they will be ready soon and that I plan to have an upcoming pub night there once they are should alleviate any long term symptoms of related sadness.
In any event, we made up for it easily at Ahora restaurant with plenty of conversation and good times, even if you may have had to sit on the lap of another veg*n stranger in the beginning. The initial forced intimacy of the event only helped develop the ongoing relaxed atmosphere later. Well, that and the beer.
If you sadly missed out on this pub night, stay tuned for the next one. I can’t imagine coping with missing two in a row.
Riding on the success of the inaugural pub night, we have planned to have another one in less than two weeks. A.k.a. you now have plans for Thurs. Feb. 24, 2011 after work/school. So come and be a part of this new movement of vegetarian pub-goers who are not only trend-setters, but pretty fabulous at any rate.
In support of the NCVA Restaurant Outreach program, we are duly holding the upcoming pub social at Burrito Borracho in Byward Market. This new Mexican restaurant has just been newly renovated and is bound to impress with a brand new liquor license and everything on their menu prepared to be veganised. Who wants delicious Mexican grub and beer? Todos nosotros!
So, mis amigos, below are the details to note in your social agenda:
The National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA) will be holding its third Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m. It will be held at Green Earth Vegetarian Restaurant, located at 354A Preston Street Ottawa, ON K1S 4M7. We will review the achievements we’ve made since the last AGM, and looking towards the NCVA’s future.
All people who have purchased NCVA memberships between March 11, 2010 and March 10, 2011 are entitled to attend and to vote in the AGM. If you are uncertain as to your eligibility, please email our membership coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may still become a member between now and March 10 and attend the AGM.
As per our bylaws, there will be an election of the board of directors and nominations are currently being accepted. Nominations must be received by 11:59 p.m., March 7. Only NCVA members in good standing may be nominated, or make a nomination. You may not nominate yourself. There are up to nine director positions open; five are two year terms and four are one year terms.
It is strongly preferred that only those who have experience volunteering with the NCVA be nominated for board positions.
Nominations must be submitted in writing, and signed by the nominee and the nominator and mailed to: NCVA, National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA), 440 Hardy Ave, Ottawa, ON K1K 2B1.
It would be very helpful if you RSVPed your attendance to email@example.com, as we need a certain number of attendees to make quorum.
Thank you for supporting the NCVA’s efforts to make Ottawa a more veg-friendly place.
The numbers said it all. If anyone was skeptical before about a bunch of vegetarians invading a local pub and bonding over beer, they no longer are now! We had a good crowd at the Clock Tower Brew Pub in the Glebe last Thursday evening. For those who came with an appetite, the menu options were modest, but delicious. A veggie burger (hold the cheese, please!) and a tofu green bean stir-fry were the options on the menu for our clan, and they received wide acclaim. Many a veghead enjoyed a locally brewed beer and even a seat around the table, as the space was quite cozy. It was a laid back and chatty sort of evening with lots of laughs and interesting conversations. It would be daft to not have another similar get-together in February. So don’t fret if you missed it and stay posted for info for the next event!
(What I loved most about the night was that everyone seemed to just gel immediately. Maybe it’s a veg thing.)
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! 🙂
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 😉
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!
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.
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.
Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated as the day to express love and affection to our beloved ones in honor of Saint Valentine. Although the origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat unclear, one popular legend is that Valentine was a 3rd century Roman priest who lived under the rule of Emperor Claudius II. To strengthen his army, Emperor Claudius outlawed all marriages for young men believing that single men made better soldiers than those that were married. However, Valentine, a romantic priest at heart, continued to secretly perform marriages against Emperor Claudius II’s unjust law, and when his defiance was discovered, he was thrown into jail and sentenced to death on February 14. Before his death, Valentine wrote a letter to a woman he loved, signing it “Your Valentine.” Today, the expression is widely used and the tradition continues with exchanging of love notes in the form of “Valentines.”
Although we may never know the true identity and story behind the man named St. Valentine, this much is for certain: Valentine’s Day is considered to be the most romantic time of the year where lovers express and reaffirm their love for one another. It also ranks the second largest card-sending holiday. According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion mass produced valentine cards are sent each year!
While the emphasis is placed on romantic cards, hearts and love, the majority of people show their affection with edible gifts that are not so “heart-healthy.” Sugary, high-calorie chocolates, candy, and other cholesterol-laden desserts are commonly exchanged between lovers, friends and family members as tokens of their love and appreciation.
I find it ironic that we want our Valentines to be ours “forever” yet feed them harmful foods that play a role in heart disease, blood acidity, sugar spikes, candida, diabetes, and obesity. Shouldn’t we express our love with nurturing gifts that prolong – and not shorten – their lives? After all, how can anyone be happy if we don’t possess good health?
Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate and for many people, incomplete without indulging in something sinfully-rich. If you eat chocolate, why not choose one that is of better quality? One that is raw, dairy and sugar-free? Or better yet, use carob or raw cacao to create your own special mouth-watering treats made with love and healthy ingredients!
Love is definitely in the air during the month of February and if you’re like most people, you’ll be celebrating at a fabulous restaurant over an extravagant meal, rich in atmosphere – and for non-vegans, cholesterol. This year, why not skip the crowded restaurant and surprise your sweetheart with your own romantic, full-course dinner at home? Nothing says love like a delicious, home-prepared meal, especially when followed with a dazzling raw dessert. All it takes is a little creativity and plenty of candlelight. As an added bonus, you won’t be compromising your health – or waistline!
Greeting cards, edible treats and flowers aren’t the only gifts you can give. How about the gift of togetherness? It is, after all, the deep emotional connection between lovers and families that matter most on this day. Personally, I like to sneak off to the Gatineau Park to spend the afternoon snowshoeing with my husband Mark. For me, nothing comes close to warming up in the log cabin, and sharing a simple raw lunch after a good workout in the crisp, clean air.
No matter how we celebrate, Valentine’s Day is an occasion to express our affection to the special people in our lives. And, giving healthy gifts show them just how much we care about them. After all, don’t we want our sweethearts to be around for a very long time?
Natasha Kyssa is the author of “The SimplyRaw Living Foods Detox Manual,” and owner of SimplyRaw. She facilitates a life-changing detox program, and teaches delicious “Life In the Kitchen” food classes. See http://www.simplyraw.ca or call /(613)234-0806 for dates.
First off, I must apologize to Pamela for what is going to be a very un-funny blog entry. My sense of humour is fueled by my bitterness and cynicism, both of which my fabulous lunch at Credible Edibles have temporarily suppressed.
I had to drop off their NCVA window decal (in honour of our new 10 per cent discount – see previous post), so Neil and I decided on an impromptu lunch date. As is our adorable and not-as-unhygienic-as-it-appears way, we got a single meal and shared everything.
“The Quattro” was a four course lunch consisting of soup, salad, sandwich and dessert.
First, the salad. I have the impression that it consisted of a nice variety of fresh vegetables, and probably dressing of some kind. I can’t be too sure, though, as my attention was wholly absorbed by what were probably the most delicious carmelized pecans the world has ever known. Sweet, with hints of what may have been balsamic vinegar and chili pepper, they tasted like Sahale Snacks, only made by god.
The generous portion of Senegalese peanut soup was also fantastic. The flavour seemed a fusion of African and Indian, while the texture was rich and velvety smooth, reminiscent of an Ethiopian stew.
The sandwich was Credible Edibles’ answer to the BLT: smoked dulse, lettuce, tomato and vegan mayo on whole grain bread (with lots of gomashio added from the little bowl on the table).
Neil and I had reservations about the dulse at first, having recently been traumatized by a fish-flavoured smoothie (courtesy of Vega’s ill-conceived dulse-rich “Smoothie Infusion”). The staff of Credible Edibles, however, apparently accustomed to such dubiousness, let us sample the smoked dulse before ordering. Though a bit twiggy, the taste was quite nice (more like a smoked salmon than a bacon analogue), and the assembled sandwich did not disappoint.
Finally, dessert. We opted for a blueberry green tea cookie. I chose it over the cupcake mostly for novelty’s sake. Frankly, it was a bit homely, with that dark and broody look that many vegan baked goods have right before they leave you with a mouthful of sand. But it turned out to be one of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. With a soft, cake-y texture, it was substantial without being heavy, rich without being greasy, and sweet without being cloying. Seriously, this was Edelweiss’ shortbread calibre good.
Oh, I almost forgot the apple cider, which, like everything else at Credible Edibles, was markedly above average.
I’m running a bit long here, but I should also mention that the staff was friendly and very fast, and that the space itself has a great atmosphere.
My only complaint about Credible Edibles, I suppose, is that there are not more vegan options. On the bright side, though, owner Judi is moving towards veganism herself so she may expand the vegan offerings. And there’s no better way to encourage her to do so than to head over there for an awesome vegan lunch!
Credible Edibles, a local, eco-friendly business, has approached us to offer NCVA members a 10 per cent discount on their purchases.
“Credible Edibles is Ottawa’s first explicitly environmentally-friendly and healthy café and caterer. We aim to offer convenience without compromise. Busy people can get a healthy, earth-friendly lunch quickly and not too expensively,” explains its proprietor, Judi. “We opened on Earth Day 2009. We focus on unique, globally-inspired, locally-sourced seasonal menus which are 80 per cent vegetarian and 40 per cent vegan, as these are the most earth-friendly.”
Judi is a committed vegetarian and aspiring vegan, who wants to recognize and encourage others who are on the same journey. “I think the NCVA does great work and this is a way to support the organization,” she says.
In addition to the lunch time café Credible Edibles specializes in green catering for breakfasts and lunches. It uses no disposable items in our catering service. It also offers cooking classes, workshops and private consultations, and sells environmentally-friendly lunch time accessories.
Its menu features a mostly plant-based selection. For the winter months Credible Edibles is offering vegan choices including Senegalese peanut soup with ginger and fresh cilantro, red and napa cabbage salad with spiced pecans, local cranberries and apple, toasted dulse, lettuce and tomato sandwich, grilled veggie wrap, New Orleans-style Muffuletta, and many of its dessert options are vegan and/or gluten-free.