Weekend Roadtrips are Fun. part one: London. (Chil Frozen Yogurt)

I’ve been wanting to visit Michigan again for a while. It’s been about two years since our last visit to Detroit, and this weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity since we were planning on being in London, Ontario for the Anarchist Bookfair this past weekend.

This of course makes sense if you’re not an agent in either of the involved boarder crossing agencies. Neither Canadian nor USA agents appreciate the amazing bounty of vegan goods that we can find a mere hour or two away from Canada, or why we’d bother going over just to visit three whole foods locations and any hippie market we could find. Or maybe they would – but we haven’t yet found the need for cross border declarations of veganism, but maybe if they put it on my passport it would explain why we drove 4 hours away from home to buy food.

The original plan was to drive down to London to check out the anarchist bookfair and hopefully add to my zine library (which is ample) and go back home. But eventually that evolved to stopping in Detroit for a few hours. Which eventually turned into spending the night in Ferndale.

After a quick walk through of the bookfair, I realized I had most of the zines on offer, but one thing that was super cool and interesting and beautiful was comic/art book called Red: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. There is a video about the book here:

If I ever see it again at a book fair or in a store I will buy it. Beautiful isn’t it?

After wandering through the book fair, we decided to walk over to Veg Out. It’s been a favourite spot to eat at whenever I’ve been in London, Ontario. Alas – it wasn’t meant to be, as they were closed for the holiday weekend.

But, on the bright side, while we were walking along Richmond to Veg Out, we saw this sign for Chil Frozen Dessert Bar, and it drew us in. Just look at this bright pink sign (and the welcoming outdoor patio seating area in the background.)

Chil Frozen Dessert Bar

It spoke to me, really it did, because it said “Many Dairy Free and Vegan Options,” and that’s a major interest area.

One of the owners was nice enough to show us around the place, but being a froyo at an expert level now, I knew what I was doing. But there were too many choices. They rotate two options between non-dairy milk types (almond, soy, hemp, quinoa) this time they had a vanilla soy and a quinoa based one.

Chil Frozen Dessert Bar

They also had two sorbettos to choose from, a mango one, and a “Super Food Fusion” which was a blend of fruit and vegetables which sounded interesting.

In addition to the four flavours that I mentioned, they also said they could make 60 other flavour combo’s with any of their non-dairy based frozen desserts in the back if we wanted (for a small extra charge)

They let us sample everything, but ultimately the quinoa based frozen soft serve won out (and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was).

Chil Frozen Dessert Bar vegan quinoa softserve

This was my lunch so of course I added peanut butter sauce for extra protein, some almond slivers for texture, and some dark chocolate sauce – just because.

Next stop, after walking back to our car was Detroit! I have more to share on that later!

Other vegan friendly spots in London, Ontario/resources

  • Vegup London is a social group for anyone who is vegetarian, vegan, or curious about going veg and eating healthy. VegUp events are held monthly.
  • VegFest London is coming up on October 25, 2014
  • Jambalaya – 119 Dundas (also downtown) – Cajun/Creole cuisine, with vegan options on menu. Closed
  • London Zen Gardens – 344 Dundas (Downtown London) – lacto-ovo-vegetarian restaurant. Vegan friendly.
  • Organic Works – bakery

Do you have any other places to suggest?

On the road to Detroit – First stop – Veg Out in London, ON

After a very long drive into Detroit, we made it in at around 5pm yesterday. Of course, we stopped in London to eat and buy a GPS to avoid getting lost.

Before yesterday I hadn’t ever been to London (Ontario that is), but since we were going to need a lunch stop, and there are a bunch of nice looking restaurants there, we planned to stop there. Veg Out was not the first on my list to visit, but last minute I changed my mind and said, hey let’s go to Veg Out. I’m so glad we did, though at the time I also kind of wish we never left the car, it was windy and freezing out there. Brr.

Veg Out in London Ontario

So Veg Out (646 Richmond St.) is a great little place in London, Ontario. It’s got a casual atmosphere and the service is friendly and welcoming. It was full of people, which is always nice to see.

Cocobanana Smoothie from Veg Out

I started with a Cocobanana smoothie, which with coconut milk, bananas and dates, was a clear winner. Super thick and lightly sweet, it beat JC’s Blue Sky pop choice out of the park.

IMG_0253

Next we ordered a dal soup and a home made garlic bread plate with tapenade. The bread was fluffy and sweet and reminded me a lot of the challah I made back when Rosh Hashana was on, so of course, I’m going to try to duplicate this dish. the tapenade was perfectly salty sour and paired well with the… I’m going to say cilantro coulis(???) so tasty.

Dal Special of the day Soup

The dal soup was more lemongrass than dal, but still a nice appetizer, though next time I’d probably just order the bread. We had more food than needed to start with.

Vegan Fish and Chips with Sweet Potato Cornbread

JC ordered the Fish and Chips basket, which was either celebrated or reviled on the internet reviews I read of the place. I liked them. It was a little weird, but in a good way. Texturally they aren’t exactly like I remember battered fish to be, but they seem to be a reasonable facsimile. The tarter sauce was fabulous. I kept stealing it from his plate the entire time.

Spankinopita

I ordered the Spanakopita, mostly out of curiosity. Prior to this one, I had not eaten spanakopita in any form be it traditional Greek pastry with spinach, feta/ricotta cheese, onions, egg, etc wrapped in phyllo pastry and drizzled with butter, or the vegan version of tofu, spinach, onions and phyllo pastry. Interesting flavour, spiced tofu, well baked phyllo and a little dish of what appeared to be vegan tzatziki. Combining everything, and pouring the tzatziki all over the spanakopita proved to be the best technique, and I loved crunching all the flaky layers.

Strawberry Creme Torte

Then came the dish of magic. Just magic. The Strawberry Creme Torte. Where have you been all my life Strawberry Creme Torte? Thick whipped cream on top of a layer of strawberries, on top of thick dark chocolate ganache. Amazing. It paired well with the coffee from Las Chicas Del Cafe, a directly traded coffee produced by local Londoners.

We wandered over to Canada Computers, to pick up the GPS/TomTom that would be our constant nagging/helpful companion for the next few hours and got us into the United States safely. Instead of taking the Ambassador Bridge (which has a fascinating history – check it out on wikipedia) we took the underwater tunnel, which was quite cool.

Unfortunately, as usual, the border agent on the US side was unsurprisingly rude, asked a dozen questions and requested to see multiple pieces of ID (which I don’t have), apparently my passport wasn’t enough to satisfy this dude that I was who I said I was. I hate the unnecessary abuse of power so many agents seem to play into, and I’m debating signing up for the Nexus Pass in hopes of avoiding interacting with as many agents in the future.

View from our hotel in Detroit

Luckily, our hotel (the Marriott at Renascence Center)  was literally right across the tunnel, so I shook off my annoyance and relaxed at the hotel for a while, delighting that we were still connecting with a 3G signal from the Canadian side (Yey, no roaming) and found a nice vegan friendly restaurant, open reasonably late – the newly opened Detroit location of Seva (66 E. Forest, Detroit, MI). But more on that soon!