A Daytrip to Niagara Falls

Last Sunday I went with four international couchsurfers for my first real visit to Niagara Falls. The only other time I saw them was on a night run to NYC in passing. I was happy to go with other newcommers because I got the impression from talking with other Torontonians that one of the greatest wonders of the world had become commonplace. Now, I understand the feeling, in that going to Banff was not nearly as appealing as it seems to be to some of these eastcoasters. Nigara Falls is not particularly vegan friendly, or at least I didn’t get that impression. I might go down again just to try it again and do more exploring around the city, but I didn’t get the chance. Happy Cow has a couple of veg friendly restos listed, the friendliest place sounds like Sahara (6225 Thorold Stone Road, Niagara Falls, On) I’ll be honest, I went to one of the most unvegan places in the Clifton Hills Tourist District: Wendy’s. I was hungry, grumpy and tired. I had my standard baked potato, with some chives and some hot sauce. Yup. Most menu’s I checked out had really limited options, I’m sure they were veganizable (or not…) but my potato kept me going for a few hours. One of my fellow travellers needed to cross the rainbow bridge to enter the United States, and while she did that the rest of us walked along the edge towards the whirlpool. It was neat, but a…

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Everything and Everything – More Poutine, but not much else.

Well, the last few days haven’t been devoid of activity, I’ve just been entirely too tired to post about them. That and not much food was involved, beyond my new favourite: Poutini’s (Late night dubstep and vegan poutine! Can’t go wrong there) I made a long awaited visit to the Ontario Science Center. As with every science center it was full of children, and that seemed to be the centers target audience, but as always, I had a great time. My friend and I went up on stage experience static electricity during a demonstration. While I really enjoyed my temporary static hair style, I don’t think I could pull if off on a daily basis. We also went into the Harry Potter exhibit. I have to admit, my science center buddy had to twist my arm a little to get me in there. Not that I don’t like the Harry Potter series, I just couldn’t see any reason to go. But I’m glad we did. Unfortunately no cameras were allowed, but they replicated parts of Hogwart’s Academy and had a few props from the movies (some of which I still haven’t seen.) It was an interesting experience all around. We both wondered how it related to science, but upon exiting we noticed there was a demonstration about “potions”. And it all made sense. I visited the Green Room (296 Brunswick Avenue) in the Annex on Friday night, and while my date was certain it was vegan friendly, it wasn’t. Vegetarian…

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Hanlan’s Point and Vegetarian Haven

Well, it was another beautiful day in Toronto, and the perfect day to go to the beach. So a friend and I took the ferry over to Hanlan’s Point, which is this great little area where you can surround yourself with greenery. Unusual signs like the following appear: It was so unusual, I felt like I had to snap a picture of it. I’ve gotten so accustomed to seeing KEEP OUT, STAY OFF, BE KIND, BE COURTEOUS, DON’T, etc, that being invited to do something was nice. Hanlan’s Point is also were one of Canada’s two clothing optional beaches is. Both times I’ve been there have been fun, but it’s way more fun going with a friend. Plus as she very accurately mentioned… it’s nice not to have to carry around a wet swim suit afterwards. I had a super fun time swimming and napping on the side of the water. But I have to admit, initially it is a bit awkward for me to start removing clothing outside, eventually I have to remind myself… most people there just don’t give a damn what I look like. After the clothing optional beach fun we headed back into the city, where I met up with another friend for dinner. It was time to visit the restaurant that everyone has been telling me about. Vegetarian Haven. (17 Baldwin St, Toronto.) It’s a nice little bistro right next to the Toronto Vegetarian Association and you can pick up Vegetarian Guides for Toronto at…

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Toronto: Fressen

I finally did what I came to Toronto for a couple of days ago and that evening a friend and I went to Fressen (478 Queen Street West,) a fine dining kind of vegan restaurant. It was rated one of the hippest vegetarian eateries in North America by VegNews and I can see why, it was very hip, and looked like a great place to go on a date. We parked in the back, and I loved the little mural on the back of the restaurant (probably because it features a cat,) in addition to the other graffiti and wall art in the alleyway. When we walked in the restaurant was mostly empty, but we lucked out because shortly after we sat down it filled up. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed with options at entirely vegan restaurants, the limitations imposed when there are things I just will not eat on other menus make it so much easier to choose something. This menu was no different. There are three sections, appetizers, tapas, and entries, so we just ordered something from each category. The assorted olive plate was delicious, though I don’t think I’ve met an olive plate I didn’t like. One of the green ones tasted as though it were soaked in vermooth, but that could have just been me. There were pimento stuffed ones, and my favourite as usual were the kalamata’s. Plum and vodka cold soup. I forgot to ask what kind of plum it was, but it…

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Failing the 21$/day Vegan Challenge.

To find out more about the 21$/day vegan challenge, and why, please visit Vegan Hope. Especially this post. Let’s just straight out say it, it can be expensive to eat healthy. It can be even more expensive to eat locally or organically. One walk through the grocery store, and you can see, cheap simple carbohydrates vs expensive fruits and veggies. A visit to the farmer’s market can be mindboggling when you look at some of the prices of fresh vegetables or prepared items. I’m not knocking them, I do see the value of supporting local organic farmers over supporting large multinational corporations, and I love my weekly walk through at the farmers market because I love the atmosphere and  I love talking to other people that are passionate about food. But it can get pricey very quickly. My last few days have been interesting. Monday morning I went over to Superstore, and picked up a few things with the budget in mind. My thoughts primarily focused on getting adequate protein and carbohydrates. I thought that was interesting because I looked at fruits and vegetables as an indulgence rather then a necessity. What did I buy: – organic cornmeal muffin mix (1 package makes 12) – $2.50 – organic couscous (it was the same price as the regular kind) – $2.50 – a large package of extra firm tofu – 1.89 – Pasta – 1.97 – can of spaghetti sauce – .99 – zucchini – 1.29 Taxes were about 7 cents, the plus…

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A visit to Cinnaholic and Gracias Madre.

Two recommendations were brought up during my dinner at Millennium. Cinnaholic, a vegan cinnamon bun place in Berkeley, CA that had only recently opened up, and Gracias Madre, an organic, vegan Mexican restaurant in the Mission area of San Francisco. I went over to Cinnaholic that morning and tried the Old Fashioned cinnamon bun. I’m pretty traditional with my sweet foods (well… I guess as traditional as vegan cinnamon buns can be) and I loved it. The bun was firm on the outside, and soft on the inside, rolled up with an adequate amount of cinnamon sugar. But the icing really sealed the deal, it was magic. Two people were working there, and one of them was great and friendly, the other one not so much. Maybe my questions were irritating, but I was curious and excited to be there. I noted that they didn’t really openly say “vegan” anywhere, and thought that was kind of a good idea. It doesn’t “taste vegan” at all, so why not? They’ve only been open about a month, and as a really nice touch they have a student discount! Which is great considering they are located right outside of the UC Berkeley Campus. I like the idea of custom designing cinnamon bun toppings, but I wasn’t feeling very creative, so I picked up the special of the day, a Butterscotch chocolate chip oreo cookie. It was good, but the old fashioned one was totally my favourite. I jumped on the BART and headed…

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A day trip to San Jose and Berkeley California

Sometime Friday morning I decided to take the train over to see The Tech museum in San Jose. I’m blown away about how easy it is to get around here in the Bay area, so many options and interconnected transit systems. I can only hope that Edmonton gets somewhere near this someday. It took about two hours in total to get into San Jose, the BART and an express bus into the city. First stop was the San Jose Museum of Art. Couldn’t miss it. They had a Retro Tech exhibit and a lot of mixed media/mixed technology pieces there. My favourite part of the space was that it encouraged participation and creativity, and provided “Art Packs” that had art supplies, paper and a game in it, so people could write/draw/play while they were in the Gallery. I think one of the most moving and horrifying things I saw was the Midway: Message from the Gyre (pictures are graphic) photo exhibit from Chris Jordan. I’ve seen them before, but just wow. They are photos of dead albatross chicks who had been fed plastic debris from the ocean by parents mistaking it for food. It was hard to look at. The Tech Museum was great, and had a lot of interactive fun stuff to do (even as an adult) and they have an extra bit of fun to take home with you (via website.) My favourite exhibit was the one on alternative energy, and that tied in well to going up…

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Prairie Vegan in San Francisco

I have one more stop before I get back to Edmonton. I’m on my way to San Francisco, and as usual, I’m trying to plan out the visit in advance. But unlike usual, I’ve failed the planning process, and am doing it on the plane, on the way (yes, that’s right, I’m up in the air on a plane right this second). This trip will be more for sightseeing than for eating, probably similar to my trip to New York in 2008 (two restaurants, twelve “places of interest”) but I’ll have more time. Some food places I really want to check out are: Millennium Restaurant (580 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA, 415-345-3900) One of the things I’m really excited to try is Millennium’s Frugal Foodie Menu (with the optional wine pairing.) They offer a three course prix fixe meal for $39/person ($12 for wine) Sunday thru Wednesday. Another one that sounds wonderful is Souley Vegan in Oakland, California. It’s a vegan soul food place, with generous portion sizes and comes highly recommended, so how can I pass up the opportunity. (Souley Vegan, 301 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607-3804, (510) 922-1615) There is a special event on Wednesdays and Thursdays at La Victoria Bakery (2937 24th street, San Francisco) called Soul Cucina, where they have a variety of fresh new vegan items to choose from. When there are lots of options it’s hard to decide where to go, so I’ve been modifying and cutting down on places to visit as time has…

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Ronald’s Donuts – Vegan Donuts in Las Vegas

Well, yesterday was the day I finally went over to Ronald’s Donuts after being in Las Vegas for nearly a week. There is one main thing I love about the place; it’s totally normal. It’s just a random coffee shop, that just happens to have vegan donuts. Vegans and non-vegans alike happily munch on them. It shows how good vegan baking can be, and how unnecessary certain ingredients are. It’s been voted the best donut shop in Vegas, with no qualifiers. And in case you are wondering are these donuts too good to be true, like I was, check out the Quarrygirl blog post about the lab tests commissioned by Ray Ortega from Sun Flower Baking California. (in short… they really don’t have eggs in them.) Shortly after I got there (on the 203 bus from the Strip, by the way. Those instructions actually worked!) a couple from Germany walked in and asked “Are all these donuts vegan?” then two tattooed girls from the Rollercon walked in and said, “Which are your vegan donuts?” While sitting across from me were three seniors, drinking coffee and chatting. Such a interesting mix of people in one place. In case you’re wondering, it’s usually the top two rows that are vegan.

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Las Vegas Recap

So the last few days in Vegas have been action packed. The conference is over and it went well. I’m excited to go again next year (maybe… probably.) The last two days have felt like a week. Most of my days were spent at speeches, and evenings were spent going out. I’m wondering when I’ll catch up on my sleep. Not this week! Friday evening we visited Mesekrem, which is an Ethiopian restaurant just off the Strip. The main thing about them is convenience. The food was good, and I really enjoyed their injera bread. I couldn’t really get a straight answer whether some of the things had dairy products in them, so I skipped them in favour of avoiding any potential stomach upsets. The server was really nice, and it seemed popular with some of the other conference goers. On Saturday we went to Wazuzu in the Encore Hotel right on the Strip. I was excited to find out that they really did have a separate vegan/vegetarian menu (but you do have to ask for it.) Great selection (about 20 items), and not horribly expensive (at least not by Vegas standards.) My friend ordered the Vegan Chow Fun, and I had the Vegan Szechuan Bowl. They were both pretty good, though I have to say, my dish was more flavourful, but I loved the noodles in the Chow Fun (so of course I mixed the two together.) Beautiful location, and perfect for visits with dedicated omnivores. Saturday night we…

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