Vegan Brunch at D-Beatstro

D-Beatstro is a community space, art gallery, cafe, event venue, and restaurant that opened a little over a year ago in the old Bike Pirates space. It’s has a relaxed friendly atmosphere, and a nice addition to Bloordale, and right across the street from the magical Through Being Cool Vegan Bakery. They have prioritized being both physically and financially accessible, especially for people throwing events. Which speaking as someone that likes to organize the occasional event – physically accessible event venues are something that are sorely lacking in our city. I’ve watched D-Beatstro improve and grow their offerings and options over the last few months and it’s been great to see them grow into having a really solid menu, kitchen, and coffee set up. As with any business, the beginning can be tough, and when you hit the ground running like these folks did and make improvements on the fly in that DIY style (and if not, you will likely fail) it can be stressful and not without hiccups. This community space, cafe, restaurant, and more, has managed to do that, and excel at it.  I mention this especially if you visited them in the absolute beginning, and didn’t go back – simply to encourage you to visit again. That said, from the very beginning, they started out with great coffee (it’s from Dark City if you’re curious) – they knew what they were doing with that fancy espresso machine, and it was great to be able to go in there with my…

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Brunch at Cosmic Treats, Toronto

This weekend we finally checked out Brunch at Cosmic Treats. I haven’t been in there since they opened, but JC brought me a few of their baked goods shortly after they opened. and I liked ’em. But we decided to actually go and eat inside since they are so much more than a candy and ice cream shop. Kensington showed its friendly face to me in the street with a random stranger bullying me on the sidewalk. After that, I was ready to just go home and stay home for the day or week. But instead we walked into to Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and drank soy lattes while I pretended to read books for about two hours before Cosmic Treats opened for brunch. Cosmic Treats opens at 11:30 am, and we stood there like hungry cats in the rain (except there was no rain, and you should really keep your cats indoors at all times anyway) until a line up of other hungry people formed behind us. I considered scratching at the door, but resisted. They let us sit a bit sooner than they were ready, and the restaurant filled up steadily after the door opened. But frankly, I liked them a lot and I think they could be busier. We started with a couple of hot chocolates with marshmallows and the Sweet Chili Heat Doritos encrusted fried tofu. Which was delicious as you might expect. It came with a bbq sauce. I ordered the All Day Breakfast, which…

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Sudbury, Ontario – Tucos Taco Lounge

When we travel, we often travel for food. Our anniversary was a couple of weeks ago and we went and celebrated the day of with a fancy tasting menu dinner at Alo restaurant. But I think we were both feeling a little flighty, I know I was, and I wanted a change of scenery for a couple of days. Two years ago, JC and I celebrated our not-honeymoon in a cottage up in Tobermory and the Bruce Peninsula. It was easy to fall in love with the area, when we were both basking in our love for one another, but it’s hard not to when the leaves are beautiful shocks of red, gold, and orange – mixed in with evergreens, and fresh crisp air. So we answered the call of nature, but decided to spend it in the Sudbury area. If Ancient Cedars Cafe had been open – we probably would have found a way to pass through Tobermory again, but we had the good sense to check if they’d be open in advance – nope. Closed for the Season as of the week before. Someday we’ll make it out there in time. Someday. We arrived on Saturday afternoon after an easy 5 hour or so drive from Toronto. The day before there had been reports of snow flurries on the highway, so we were a little nervous, but other than being a little chilly, it wasn’t that bad out there. We’d see some snow later in the evening, but nothing before. I…

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Alo Restaurant – Anniversaries with a Vegan Tasting Menu

Last week JC and I went to Alo Restaurant to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary and the other exciting things going on in our lives: a promotion, a new and growing business, my growing belly (p.s. I’m pregnant), and so many wonderful little things that have added up over the last couple of years. It’s nice to be here in this place in life, and that seems like something worth celebrating. I like tasting menus because they tend to be indulgent, not in quantity, but in terms of showcasing a chef’s pride and work. Plus it’s fun to splurge on a fun meal and experience (Oh and The Process, The Process!), and I’m woefully indecisive so it’s perfect for me to have a variety of thoughtfully prepared dishes come out one by one (as long as they’re vegan). JC had had read a review in the Globe and Mail earlier this month that mentioned “vegan tasting menu available with 24hrs notice,” so he sprang into action, and thoughtfully made reservations for our anniversary while I was still wondering if we should do anything at all. Alo Restaurant has been open since sometime in July, and from the reviews I read before heading in, has been a wonderful and spectacular success – so we had to find out for ourselves. Would they make vegan food with the same passion as their other creations? Sadly, I wish I could show you better pictures, but as luck would have it, my favourite food camera lense (yes, I have one) broke a few days…

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Vegebitez – Oakville – A first visit

We went and visited Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary this weekend, home to the famous Esther the Wonder Pig herself, and on the way back home to Toronto, we stopped over in Oakville to visit Vegebitez, a new vegan and gluten free restaurant. They’ve been open for a few weeks, and I found out about them though an Oakville local’s instagram account, and it just worked out perfectly that we were planning on being in the neighbourhood anyway. First we had 2 mockshakes, I had the Praline, and JC had the Toffee Nut, mine was the best, but he would disagree. Let’s just say, we both got what we wanted. It’s 20 oz of deliciousness, and you might not want to start your meal with it (save it for later maybe?) But I’m not going to tell you what to do. Then we shared a Fritta Pisa – which were sweet corn fritters layered with tempeh ba’cun, topped with red and orange cherry tomatoes, there was some mashed avocado, melty smoked gouda, a slice of lettuce, surrounded with a balsamic drizzle. I ordered the Piñata bowl which had a bunch of great stuff in it: Black Beans, sauteed red and yellow bellpeppers, purple onions, mushrooms, corn, shredded lettuce, a side of salsa, some guacamole, a dollup of sour cream, a crispy cheddar cheeze cracker thing with a few ba’cun bits around. On top of a bed of quinoa. Seemed like a winning bowl, but next time I want to try the Gravy Train.…

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Recreate a meal from your childhood – #VeganMoFo – Leniwe Pieroshki

Another day, another Vegan MoFo Prompt – recreate a meal from your childhood. Well. When I was a little girl, one of my favourite things to eat were Leniwe Peiroshki (pronounced [by me]: Leh-niv-eh Pyeh-rosh-ki, translated = Lazy Perogies). The name is misleading as it wasn’t really that easy to prepare (though still probably easier than making perogies.) But it’s a great way to use potatoes, if for some reason you had some left over (which I don’t understand, but whatever.) I remember sitting around the kitchen table watching my mom make these for me and me being pretty excited. A lot of my happy childhood memories involve being in the kitchen – watching my mom cook, helping prepare something, “helping” to make real perogies with my late-grandmother in the middle of the night a few days before christmas, lots of happy memories center around the kitchen. So this prompt is a fun little trip down memory lane too. Normally Leniwe Peiroshki involves quark (a type of dairy based cheese that’s sort of like a paste & usually a bit sour) which is of course not on my menu anymore. But I’ve noticed that there is a vegan cream cheese made in Toronto from Yoso, that has a very similar texture (at least to what I remember quark being like.) Ever since I made that connection, I was curious about making my favourite childhood dish myself and sharing the recipe. This prompt seems like the perfect opportunity to do just…

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Edmonton – Loma House – Road Trip 2014

I’m now a year behind on these posts about our 2014 road trip across North America, but I’m going to keep chugging along. They’re stories I want to tell, there are pictures I want to share, and they are memories I want to remember later. You can see some of the past & present posts on this lovely map on Pinterest. On one of our last few days we went over to Loma House – primarily because they were open on a Monday, unlike nearly everyone else, and I’ve heard good things from local vegos online. We were hoping to check out Padmanadi on this visit, but sadly it just didn’t happen. I didn’t particularly enjoy the experience, and so I have been avoiding writing about it – but that morning we were woken up with the sounds of jackhammers outside of our downtown hotel at 7am. So the mood surrounding the visit wasn’t high, and there are some negative factors with my experience and my day. I also don’t do particularly well with heat, and it was around 30. So, take my thoughts with a grain of salt. @CityofEdmonton I’m amazed that construction & jackhammers are permitted to begin at 7 am. Can you tell me what the noise rules are in #YEG? — MeShell (@mdgee) July 28, 2014 That said, service was friendly, JC’s meal looked pretty good. I ordered a big bowl of Hot and Sour soup, which was okay, but not what I was looking for. On a normal…

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Vegan Bar in Edmonton – Arcadia

On my most recent visit to Edmonton (earlier this year), I had the opportunity to visit Arcadia, which is this great vegan bar just on the new fun street of 124. Over the past few years, 124th has really expanded in terms of vegan offerings, starting up with Clever Rabbit, and one of the first homes of Sailin’ On Vegan Food Truck (at the 124 Grand St Market.) So Arcadia has since expanded their menu from the night I was there, but luckily, they still have the incredible sandwich I had. The Green Onion Cake Donair. I’ve had a hard time conveying to non-Edmontonians what a “green onion cake” is, and why it’s so special. Most of the time in my travels and everywhere else, I’ve encountered a thin pastry like scallion/green onion cake similar to a paratha. In Edmonton it’s more of a salty doughy cake with diced green onions in it. It’s not flaky. It has a good density. There is such an obsession with these delicious cakes, there is even someone living in Edmonton with the GreenOnionCakes.com domain, that started a petition trying to make it the official dish of Edmonton. So, take a couple of large green onion cake, and add thinly sliced seasoned seitan donair, pour in some garlic sweet sauce, lettuce and tomatoes, and turn it into a sandwich. Brilliant. I don’t know how I feel about baked green onion cakes vs fried ones, but this sandwich totally worked out perfectly. Some of my Edmonton…

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Memories of Sadie’s Diner in Toronto

We ate our last meal at Sadie’s Diner last weekend. Sadies is was a vegan-friendly meatless restaurant that had been open since 2006, but now it’s closed. I’ve always seen it as an institution in Toronto and was a little surprised it wasn’t open even longer, but it probably helps that I have never known a Toronto without Sadie’s. Sadie’s Diner was one of the first vegan-friendly restaurants I went to in Toronto on my first 48hr visit to Toronto back in 2008, and was one of the first spots I visited when I arrived in 2010 (on the post-university “visit” that has extended to the present.) Known for their all-day-breakfasts, bright teal diner tables, and a huge wall of Pez (the owner Al is a serious collector), this spot did more than serve food – it was home to fundraisers, and art shows and community meetings, and more, and I hope that there will be other local vegan businesses that pick up the torch on the Vegan-Food-For-Charity front, because that level of thoughtfulness and community involvement will be missed. I remember the very first Chili-For-Charity fundraiser I attended (which was also the first time JC and I went to Sadie’s together) back in April 2011 – for ARK II, an organization I’ve since joined as a director. It was my first time meeting the folks involved with ARKII and learning more about what they do. I even won a wallet and a t-shirt from the raffle. Anyway, farewell to Sadie’s, and best wishes…

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Rochester, NY – Vive Bistro and Bakery

We spent a weekend in north-west New York State, around Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Hamburg and Rochester. We were in Rochester last summer at the end of our massive Summer Road Trip, but of course, I still haven’t posted about that part, since it was on our way home – so, I have nothing to link to yet! Oops. This time around we went to a few spots around Rochester – Lori’s Natural Foods Market, Vive Bistro, & Pour Coffee Parlour. Lori’s Natural Foods (Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, 900 Jefferson Rd,) is a very vegan-friendly market, and the largest independent grocery store in Rochester, NY. They have a fantastic selection of various veg products that you might not see at your local  NY Whole Foods or Wegmans – for example we picked up one of the new NY style Daiya Cheezecakes (which I’ve had before during ExpoWest, and I’ve been told will be launching in Canada in the Fall), large packages of Primal Strips vegan jerky, assorted Miyoko’s Creamery Cheeses, Earth Balance potato chips, and so much more. They also have a great selection of fresh produce. They also carry local vegan items like stuff from Pudgy Girl Bakery, and they carry products from Eat Me Ice Cream (which make a dairy based and coconut milk variety of ice creams), they also have vegan friendly grab-and-go items in their cooler. If you’re in the neighbourhood, I totally recommend visiting the market. Lots of fantastic stuff to see and try, with the added bonus…

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