Top 4 List of Winterlicious Vegan Options in Toronto

Winterlicious is an annual event in Toronto and it’s kicking of on January 30 – and goes on until Feb. 12. It’s a great way to encourage people to go out and enjoy the various spots in the city during the colder months. This year will see more than 200 top restaurants throughout the city offer a three-course menu at three price categories (lunch $18, $23, $28 and dinner $25, $35, $45). Of the 200 plus restaurants throughout the city participating five restaurants are offering vegan Winterlicious special prix fixe menus. Of those 5, some of them look pretty exciting, but I’ve put all of them on this list for the sake of information. While I think it’s great that people and places are trying to incorporate vegan menu items into their offerings, I’m not longer excited simply to be acknowledged, there are some incredible vegan options in this city, even at non-vegan restaurants, so I was surprised they didn’t showcase their talents in plant-based cuisine. (Perhaps next time veggielicious rolls around?) I’m feeling a bit sarcastic, but sorbet and berries or a bowl of fruit as the vegan dessert option is so last decade, I can get that at Cora’s for breakfast, but some of these talented chefs and restaurants? What are you up to? I sincerely hope that some of these offerings are more exciting than their menu description is conveying, and I still look forward to seeing what these individual restaurants come up with, especially if I found the menu listing…

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Beechwood Doughnuts Grand Opening in St. Catharines

This weekend we drove down to spend the day in St. Catharines. Why? Mostly because Beechwood Doughnuts was having their grand opening, but it just worked out that we could do a whole bunch of things in St. Catharines (besides eating donuts.) Beechwood Doughnuts is run by several of the folks that made the donuts at Rise Above, but if you had them before, as I found out this weekend,  they’re even more awesome now. JC got to play Magic at Phoenix Rising, a game store conveniently located just a few blocks away from Beechwood Doughnuts, and I got to hang out with a few mugs of coffee at Mahtay Cafe  &  the internet. (& checked out the photo exhibit in the community room.) Plus, this visit allowed us the opportunity to visit with a friend that lives in the city, where I was reminded I don’t dislike all dogs, just some of them (Gilda being one of the exceptions.) Starting at around 10:20, JC and I stood outside Beechwood Doughnuts, along with the brave soul that started the line. Until she showed up, I had been sitting in the care waiting for more people to show up. And more people showed up. By around around 15 minutes to opening there was a line up down the street and around the corner. So 1. I was really glad to be ahead of the game. 2. I was really happy for Beechwood Doughnuts. To get to his game thing on time, around 5 minutes before 11,…

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Things I Love Thursday – Cookbooks & Friends

What about January? I could complain about the cold, a standard Canadian past time, except I find it familiar, and almost pleasant assuming the wind is to a minimum. I like the familiar crunch of my boots on the snow and the cement when the temperature gets to a certain low level. And I like knowing that in this hustle and bustle of a big city, there are other fellow prairie ex-pats living here that feel the same way. On with the Thursday list: Jadłonomia Over the past two months I’ve been attempting to get a vegan cookbook for my mother and her birthday earlier this month, sure this would be easy, if not for the fact that it required more effort than just ordering it from amazon and being done with it. Jadłonomia – a Polish vegan cookbook, was not on amazon at all. It’s not in a local bookstore (at least not local to me), and I had to dust off some cabinets in my brain to read a few Polish websites to successfully place the order. And when there are technical difficulties in another language, things become extra fun. Emails are exchanged, as I provide both English and Polish text, in hopes of being understood in one language or another – occasionally hearing nothing back, occasionally not being sure if people just don’t understand what I’m writing (in either language) but eventually, everything comes together. A fortuitous and almost serendipitous post and tip by a fellow fan on…

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Lazy Vegan Friday – So Delicious CocoWhip

I’m in New York City right now, and one of the things I love doing whenever I’m in the USA is finding products we don’t have in Toronto. A few months ago I started seeing So Delicious‘ CocoWhip appearing on friends’ and bloggers Instagram feeds and knew… I must try some. So my opportunity came this week when I saw one of the varieties (the regular variety with the blue label, as opposed to “light” in the pink label) at a Whole Foods (the one at Columbus Circle) in New York City. It has always been strange to me that “non-dairy” whipped toppings would have dairy ingredients like casein, a milk protein, (usually in the form of sodium caseinate) or other things, but it’s nice to have a similar product from So Delicious that is actually 100% dairy free. I’ve had some disappointing experiences with non-dairy dairy-filled whipped toppings, so here is hoping So Delicious brings this product to Canada sometime soon. Especially since MimicCreme has disappeared from our shelves (Since the company closed in November 2013 due to no longer having access to an appropriate production facility), and sometimes I just want an easy to use tub of whipped topping vs having to whip something for 10 minutes. (it’s called lazy vegan friday for a reason.) What’s in it? Cocowhip is gluten-free, vegan, kosher, and made with organic ingredients. At the time of this post information about Cocowhip is not available from the So Delicious website. I like to post the…

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Piebird Vegan Farmstay & Cottage

We spent a technology free(ish) weekend at the PieBird Birdhouse Cottage last weekend. Piebird is a vegan Bed & Breakfast, farmstay, and farm sanctuary in Nipissing, Ontario – now the furthest North in Ontario I’ve been so far. They share their land with cats, chickens, goats, and a couple of turkeys. We had a lovely time. I say technology free(ish) because we still used our phones in airplane mode as cameras, and we were still using things like stoves and fridges. This might not seem like a big deal, but JC and I are attached to our phones, for work and daily life, so around 48 hrs without any internet wasn’t difficult, but it felt noticeable and quite relaxing. On our way north to PieBird, we stopped in Barrie and grabbed a couple of Boon Burgers to go. The cool thing was that I was able to order our meal in the car on the way, without calling, with the boon burger mobile app (available for both iOS and Android). Once we got into Innisfil, I placed our order, the app gave me an estimate of how long it would take, and we drove over, picked up, and were back on our way in a few minutes. Piebird is only around 4 hours away from Toronto, but it’s like entering another world, We got to take in a beautiful drive through beautiful colourful wooded areas, but half of our drive was in the cover of darkness (the bad part about leaving in the…

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A Final TILT for Vegan MoFo – Things I Loved – Soup, Salads, and Pumpkins.

I’ve enjoyed looking through all the posts and thoughts and recipes throughout Vegan MoFo, having all the blogs collected together on Feedly has been pretty great, and while I’m still (STILL) lamenting the loss of Google Reader, feedly does a decent job of aggregating RSS feeds, and I like that it’s integrated with a bunch of other services I like to use. I woke up feeling terrible this morning, I had to scrape myself out of the bed cocoon I had created with pillows, and try to get in motion, because I tend to follow one of Newton’s law’s of motion, this one especially: An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it. Even sitting up makes a huge difference in how I’m feeling, and I feel better when I’m moving around, than when I’m laying in one place being miserable. But it was tough. JC was kind enough to pick up some ginger, and then chopped it up, and boiled it in a pot of water, with some slippery elm bark blended beefree honee, and a splash of cayenne in an attempt at shortening the duration of these crummy feelings. Also, I realize it’s not Thursday right now, but it was when I started! 🙂 Any other hot tips? What do you do to feel better? (other than make samosa soup?) On with the Vegan MoFo TILT I’ve done three other VeganMoFo TILTS, and you can see them here: first week, second week,…

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A revolving restaurant in Winnipeg? – Prairie 360

On our last evening in Winnipeg, we had to check out Prairie 360, a revolving restaurant in downtown Winnipeg. Yes, a revolving restaurant in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. We went to Prairie 360 as a part of July 2014’s Ciao Winnipeg organized Eat Winnipeg prix fixe special. Prairie 360 does have other vegan food on their regular menu, but the special dishes narrowed it down, and it was a pretty great deal too. First of all, you have to get up there, in a elevator that doesn’t quit, we were seated near the window, with lots of room and comfortable seating, and probably one of the best views of Winnipeg – facing the new (and increasingly controversial) Canadian Human Rights Museum. It’s a beautiful and weird looking building, and we had a great view of it, and all of Winnipeg from up on high. I’ve had some negative experiences with revolving restaurants before, so I was a bit nervous about seating  – but we were arranged thoughtfully, and it wasn’t packed, so we got to enjoy the view and our own little private zone. They start with bread and butter (but brought us a dish of olive oil when we asked.) The appetizers on special were both vegan by default and there was one I was especially excited about – Yellow Tomato Gazpacho, with grilled scallion vinagrette. Because folks, I love gazpacho and this one was delicious. The plating was a bit messed up after our server zoomed to our table…

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Minnesota – Hard Times Cafe

So continues our VeganMoFo cross country road trip adventure! Ever feel so incredibly out of place, and yet feel a pull from some nostalgic core about a place? Well, that’s how I felt about Hard Times Cafe the moment I walked in. I’ve never been much of a punk. I lived in a punk house, and we had punk shows in our living room, but I never really fit in. At least aesthetically. Still don’t. Luckily, it didn’t really matter. As we walked a little further into the lounge at the Hard Times Cafe there were a whole bunch of different people in there. From entire families, to college kids, to a mad scientist looking type reading a big book, and then there was us. Canadian tourists fresh out of visiting the Mall of America. Don’t worry about fitting in, come in for the food. I ordered a Jolt Cola when I walked in and took a menu for JC and I to look at. What happens is you look at the menu, write down your order (except for drinks) on a piece of paper (per person – write your name on it), tell the cashier your drink order, and pay for it at the cash register (p.s. they are cash only). Then someone calls your name, and you pick up your food from the back at the kitchen. Service was friendly, and straightforward, and generally better than some of the spots we’ve visited in Toronto that I wont mention. It also didn’t take our orders very…

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Weekend In Detroit – Detroit Vegan Soul

After a few hours in London, JC and I kept driving south to Detroit. A brief boarder crossing experience later and we were in the city again. I like Detroit, and I think it’s because it feels like it’s building itself up again, a movement of people trying to grow where they’ve been planted. With all of the community and collective projects that are going on, it’s one of those places where anything can happen, and it is happening, and that’s often a good thing for budding entrepreneurs or organizations trying to make things happen. Detroit has been on my radar especially for local group organized food policy and urban agriculture work. There are organizations that are doing exciting and inspiring work – as an example, check out Food Lab Detroit. They’re an organization that acts as a hub for existing organizations and business, and provides a space for Good Food entrepreneurs to collaborate and share information, knowledge, resources, and financial/emotional/other support. In partnership with others, they have a kitchen space for local entrepreneurs called Detroit Kitchen Connect. At least from talking with food makers here in Toronto, I know how tough it can be to find available and adequate commercial kitchen space, so I wonder how well the program goes in real life, but regardless, I’m glad it exists. There are so many awesome groups in Detroit doing inspiring work that we can learn from, and I can’t possibly list them all, and I’m sure many of them don’t even…

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Where ever you go, there you are. Last month in Edmonton.

The wonderful thing about revisiting places, especially places you used to call home is being able to see how a place, community, city, town, has evolved over time. I try to keep conscious of the things that keep Toronto special, but I know living here I might not acknowledge the gradual positive changes that have occurred (but I’m pretty sure I do –  since I still vacillate between thinking “I’m from Toronto” when people ask, to thinking “I’m not from around these parts”.) I was in Edmonton last month, not for the most ideal of reasons, but I made the best of it, balancing urban exploration, vegan food, and spending time with family – pretty successfully if I do say so myself. I got the opportunity to visit the Edmonton River Valley, one of my favourite parts of Edmonton now that I don’t live there anymore. We used to walk through the River Valley at least once a month when I was a kid, if not more, but I didn’t appreciate how special the area was until now. In some ways it’s like High Park – a beautiful green oasis within the city – that I also don’t visit nearly enough despite living a very short walk away. There were visits to food truck festivals – like What the Truck. Stops at some of my very well loved Markets  – like the Old Strathcona Market, Earth’s General Store, and the outdoor City Market on 104th street in Downtown Edmonton. New-to-me…

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