The first Thursday of every month is the only chance Ottawans have right now to enjoy dinner at Credible Edibles, a primarily lunchtime cafe located on Hinton Avenue north of Parkdale. That means this Thursday, Feb. 3.
As part of the 1st Thursdays Art Walk in West Wellington Village, Credible Edibles, which itself will feature a collection of fresh new art from local artist Stephanie Guimond. The Art Walk occurs every 1st Thursday, leaving the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) lobby at 7pm. For more info on the Art Walk, click here.
Credible Edibles’ Table d’hote vegan menu includes:
* Moroccan red lentil soup
* Spinach and sundried tomato salad in red wine vinaigrette
* Mexican tacos topped with fresh salsa and creamy guacamole
* Maple apple walnut cake
* Fair trade coffee, tea or hot spiced apple cider
The cost is $24.95 per person, and don’t forget–NCVA members get a 10 per cent discount at Credible Edibles!
Reservations are available between 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and can be made in person at Credible Edibles (78 Hinton Avenue North), by phone, 613-558-7569 or by emailing email@example.com
For VegOttawa’s review on Credible Edibles, click here.
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.
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
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.
There is some culinary controversy leading up to this year’s Winterlude. Celebrity chef Martin Picard was set to cook for the Taste of Winterlude event on February 4. Picard is well known for his use of foie gras, an ingredient produced by force feeding a duck or goose. Due to the exceptional level of cruelty involved in the production of foie gras, the selection of Martin Picard as chef has been controversial.
After a number of people raised concerns, the National Capital Commision (NCC) asked Picard to take foie gras off the menu. Instead of preparing a meal sans foie gras, Picard decided to back out of the event entirely. Apparently, Mr. Picard is unable to prepare a meal without using his favourite ingredient. The NCC announced that another celebrity chef, Michael Smith, has taken on the tremendously challenging task of creating a meal that doesn’t contain the fattened liver of a force fed bird.
On the heels of this decision, there have been complaints about self righteous “animal rights nuts” who are unfairly pushing their choices and opinions on everyone else. It is a common tactic to portray vegans and others concerned about animal rights as strident, unreasonable, and downright oppressive. I find it fascinating how the most privileged and powerful have an uncanny ability to paint themselves as a persecuted minority.
The myth of the confrontational vegan is not only overblown, it turns reality on its head. I’ve eaten meat in front of vegans and I’ve declined to eat meat in front of omnivores. Vegans have sometimes given me flak for eating meat, but it’s nothing compared to the harassment I’ve received while choosing vegan options in front of omnivores.
When I turn down meat, I am often bombarded with questions. Usually these questions have a hostile tone and are asked by people who aren’t really interested in the answer. There are also the fun rants about how eating meat is natural, how it’s healthier, how humans are on top of some mythical food chain etc. These are all presented, unsolicited, as if they were clever and novel arguments. If I refuse meat in certain crowds, my masculinity is challenged. But easily my favourite tactic is when someone, who wouldn’t otherwise have done so, orders copious amounts of meat because they think they are making some sort of point.
In that fine tradition, Steve Mitton of the Murray Street Bistro has decided to put foie gras on the restaurant’s menu as a protest. Foie gras is not usually served at the restaurant, but in a breathtakingly obnoxious move, he has gone out of his way to add it. This is a good example of the way privileged people often react when they are asked to make the tiniest concession.
I think there are two reasons for these excessively negative reactions. One reason is that omnivores make up the vast majority of the population and as such are accustomed to being catered to and getting things their way. This is undeniably a privilege. When privileged people are asked to accommodate others, something they aren’t used to doing, they often view it as a deep injustice.
The other factor at play, I believe, is that deep down many people know that using animal products is problematic. When they are confronted with this reality, they often get defensive as a way to cope with the cognitive dissonance.
Clearly, not every omnivore behaves this way. Most are perfectly pleasant people. However, it is long past time we do away with the myth that those who are concerned with animal rights are the ones who push their views on everybody else. More often than not it’s the other way around. We live in an omnivore’s world and nobody is being oppressed when people are asked to make a small concession and refrain from eating foie gras at a large public event.
The author, Kyle, is neither a vegan nor a vegetarian.
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.
Ottawa used to have a wonderful vegetarian Thai restaurant called Sacred Garden. Sacred Garden also happened to be about a 20 minute walk from my house, which made it both equal parts wonderful and dangerous. At Sacred Garden most dishes could be made vegan, and none contained the dreaded fish sauce that permeates Thai cuisine. They even stated right on the menu that they didn’t use it. Every trip to Sacred Garden guaranteed a fabulous mouth party. I usually stuck to the same entrees though: pad thai, panang curry, and pad ki mow. Their spring rolls brought me to tears, and induced fierce and uncontrollable cravings.
I have many fond memories of Sacred Garden. I probably took just about every friend I have there at one time or another- omnivore or not. The little Thai lady who ran it knew me by name, and when I called in a take out order she always remembered, “no egg, no mushrooms” before I even had to say it. But I was out for a run in December of 2009, and when I ran past Sacred Garden I saw the sign that nobody wants to see on their favorite restaurant: CLOSED FOR BUSINESS.
I was pretty depressed for at least a week. But the repercussions have lasted long beyond that. I try not to think about Sacred Garden too often, because when I do I become despondent. We had such a good thing here… to have lost it seems beyond comprehension. Sacred Garden’s closing left a huge void in the Ottawa vegan food scene that has yet to be filled, although thank goodness for some of the fantastic eateries that we do have. I love each and every veg restaurant in this city, but none of them do Thai like Sacred Garden. Consequently, I’ve set about trying to emulate the delicious flavours that once left my mouth roaring with delight. Unfortunately, this effort has been a dismal failure.
However, there have been some good things. For one, I discovered Taste of Thai prepared pad thai sauce, and lo and behold… it’s vegan! Now, normally I prefer to make things from scratch, but I have tried, over and over, to make an adequate from-scratch pad thai and I have yet to make one that is as good as this one. It’s not perfect, it’s certainly not Sacred Garden calibre, but it gets the job done. I even made it for a co-worker and her husband, and she reported back that it was very similar to the “real” thing. Taste of Thai also makes a range of curry pastes and a spicy peanut sauce that I will blog about at a later date. They’re also not difficult to find: I’ve purchased them at Loblaws, Food Basics, and Metro.
So when I want pad thai here’s what I do (serves 3):
– Soak half a package of rice stick noodles in hot water
– In a frying pan, saute (just a bit) your choice of vegetables (lots of those). My stand-bys are red pepper, zucchini, and broccoli. I used julienned carrots and onions as well this time.
– If you’re feeling protein deficient (ha!) toss in some tofu cubes, or some sort of mock meat. I personally love it with Nelakee faux shrimp and President’s Choice meatless chicken breast.
– Add the noodles and the sauce packet. Toss to mix/warm. Serve.
From Yves Veggie Cuisine to Tofurky to Gardein to Sol to the offerings in the President’s Choice Blue Menu line, the variety of mock meats in supermarkets has exploded in recent years. Ottawa’s Chinatown is a fantastic resource for lovers of mock meats. This is the second in a series of posts to introduce readers to the treasures they can find in Chinatown and meals that can be made with them.
These are two styles of packaging you might encounter. They have identical stuff inside.
[Update and a caution to vegans: Yesterday I noticed a sticker I had never seen before on a package of mushroom chicken: “ovo-vegetarian”. I phoned the distributor, Chialee, and they told me that there are two kinds of mushroom chicken, one containing egg and one not. The eggless ones should be stickered “vegan”.]
What can you do with it?
You can take it out of the package, shake some salt onto it if you want, and eat it. Warning: it’s addictive! (Don’t thaw it in the microwave though. For some reason, that turns it gross.)
It’s great in stir-fries, of course. And it makes a good chicken salad, chopped up and mixed with celery and red onion and Vegenaise (although I prefer the President’s Choice mock chicken in chicken salad sandwiches).
A favourite cold-winter-day meal in our house is chicken soup made by following this soup recipe from VegWeb, minus the dumplings, plus mushroom chicken. Cut up the mock chicken, lightly brown it in a frying pan, and add to the soup just before serving.
The recipe I am going to highlight today, however, is one you can serve when you have friends over to watch sports. Yes, get ready for vegan chicken wings.
1 bag of mushroom chicken
Your favourite barbecue sauce
Toss the mushroom chicken with barbecue sauce to coat it. Spread out the pieces on a baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 12-15 minutes, or until the wings begin to blacken at the edges.
On a sad note, since my last post the sign on New 168 Market has changed from “Store Renovations” to “For Lease”. Phuoc Loi and New 168 Market have been my main sources of mock meats since I moved to Ottawa, so it’s a pity to see New 168 go. However, there are other nearby sources of these products. If you visit Montréal, drop by Paradis Végétarien Chi-Ming at 4381 Saint-Denis Street. They carry all these products, and some of them in bulk, so you can bring home extra for your friends. You can also order some of these products online from Viva Vegan. (They ship in insulated cold packs so that the mock meat stays good in the mail.)