Awesome Vegan Stuff We Saw At ExpoWest – Part one – Meat

I went down to California last week to check out ExpoWest and soak up some sunshine. It was a pretty spectacular show and an amazing point of convergence for distributors, promoters, exhibitors, marketers, health professionals, and bloggers. I originally went without intending to blog about it. I was focused on finding out out about new products and their distribution schemes and availability – especially in Eastern Canada (consider that some foreshadowing to some potentially exciting future event.) I might also have misinterpreted the ExpoWest guidelines that said no photos (for non-press folks). But eventually, I couldn’t help it, there were so many exciting things there, that I wanted to share and started posting a  bunch on facebook, instagram, and twitter as I stumbled upon it (check out the #VegansAtExpo hashtag for a fun time.) Every time I asked a company rep if they were okay with me taking photos they seemed really excited and friendly about it, so that encouraged me to keep doing it. I cant even begin to cover all the cool stuff I saw, at least not in a single blog post, so I’m breaking it up into a few sections. First, I’d like to start with all the meat alternatives. There were LOTS at the show. Some of them were new, or just new-to-me, but here are some of the ones I tried and liked. Fishless Fish Products Sophie’s Vegan Toona There were three different fishless fish products that launched at ExpoWest, but I only really…

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Thursday Navel Gazing & Things I Like. Things Like Sunshine

Last week I was in beautiful Southern California for the Natural Food Expo West in Anaheim California. I like that I didn’t bring boots, or a coat, or gloves. There was no need for hats or scarves. It was consistently around 20C, and sunny. I went outside in sandals. I had to get sun glasses. I got to go to Intelligentsia Coffee & Donut Friend with a friend. We also went to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center. Seeing the space shuttle was one of the most epic and awesome things I’ve seen in my life so far. This giant thing was actually in SPACE. Me and space are separated by one degree now (okay okay, I met an astronaut, so that was already the case, but still! So exciting) There was a 5-10 minute before you enter the shuttle room that just filled me with this incredible feeling of wonder and excitement. I felt pumped. The amount of work, hundreds of people did to get the Shuttle through the streets of Los Angeles to its final resting place. I got to try a lot of incredible new vegan products at ExpoWest. And brought home a bunch of samples. Tomorrow I’ll have a few highlights up from the event. I even won a big gift basket of mostly vegan Austin, TX stuff from the Bearded Brothers. While I loved being in Southern California soaking up sunshine and delicious vegan stuff that we can’t get here, I…

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Coffee Monday – The Abbott – Indie Coffee Passport

First of all – you have a little under a month to use up your Indie Coffee Passport! It’s crunch time people, let’s get caffeinated. I rarely write a post from the cafe I’m sitting in, but I’m breaking that trend with this one (I also rarely go to these spots on weekdays so I’m just changing everything around this time. I went into the Abbot today in Parkdale after running over to Liberty Village for a quick second. It’s on Spencer Avenue, which is a tiny avenue just off King street. There is a half step to get in, and it’s kind of hidden off to the side, under a staircase. I’m not sure if I would have had as easy a time of finding it, had JC and I not been there before. What’s on offer with the Indie Coffee Passport: They charge extra for non-dairy milk. So I ordered a double espresso. Service was friendly and quick. The barista seemed to follow the ICP trend I’ve noticed this year of being really positive about the Indie Coffee Passport, which wasn’t always the case during last years run (not here, just in general.) It’s a small and comfortable space, the big windows let in a lot of sunlight, and I love the little tables (there are 4 tables that seat two comfortably, and one large communal table that could probably seat 4-6 depending on personal space requirements.) My Coffee The more coffee I drink, the fussier I’m getting…

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Recipe for Change 2014 – Food and Photos

Thursday evening was FoodShare Toronto‘s annual Recipe for Change fundraising event, and the third time we’ve gone. It’s one of the food related fundraisers I look forward to every year, and we had a lovely night. It’s great to support the food literacy work that FoodShare does, while also having the opportunity to try fantastic food from different Toronto Chefs in one place. There was a slightly different seating arrangement this time, a few more regular/lower tables versus the high top tables more suitable to standing around, which is probably a positive change, even if not more useful to me personally. It was also quite a bit brighter inside than last year, which meant for slightly better photos, and everyone was a lot more visible. For me, a couple of the standouts this year were several of the ones that were labelled vegetarian and were actually vegetarian/vegan rather than some lacto-ovo-veg thing. I really loved the Arroz Caldo from Lamesa Filipino Kitchen & Chef Rudy Boquila. The Chef said it was like congee, which make sense since Arroz Caldo could be translated as “rice soup”. So comforting and delicious. I went back for seconds. I asked about vegan options at the restaurant, and the Chef said that while their menu varies, they usually have something. We’ll have to visit! Sang Kim of Windup Bird Cafe (and Yakitori Bar & Seoul Food Co, and a whole lot of other cool stuff – Check out his TEDxYouth Talk) prepared a Tofu-Avocado Gratin and…

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Things I love Thursday – Travel for business or pleasure

Travel As much as I love where I live, or as much as I always try to love where I live, wherever that might be, it’s always nice to leave the usual for a while. I enjoy the act of planning a trip, even a brief one, (& even if I’m not even going.) Part of me is convinced that my list of places and restaurants, and transit information will not just help me, but might help someone else someday, so that’s a major reason behind why I bother. It helps me, but one of my favourite things about the internet is that there is always the potential to share information that might be useful to someone else. I probably would have done well as a travel agent. Plus I love making functional lists. And checking them off. Or Google maps. With layers. Coming soon. Recipe for Change Later this evening FoodShare’s annual fundraiser Recipe for Change is on. It will be my third year going. JC and I have such a great time wandering around, taking pictures, eating, drinking, and checking out the silent auction items. We don’t make it out to a lot of fundraisers every year, but we make this one a priority. I’m really into the work that FoodShare Toronto does in the city, especially when it comes to teaching kids how to cook and prepare food, their work on school gardening projects, and their fantastic Field to Table school programs and workshops. Check this stuff out,…

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Coffee Monday – The Roasters Pack

Every once and a while I get an email about a new product or event or whatever that really resonates with me. It’s one of those things that if I stumbled upon it myself, I’d be excited about and would start telling my friends. The Roasters Pack is one of those things. The Roasters Pack is a subscription based coffee delivery service. The goal is to introduce you to a variety of coffees from around the world, with a rotating roster of roasters (say that three times quickly) based out of Canada and the USA. This month, all were Canadian. Two were from Ontario – Diesel House Coffee Roasters out of Bracebridge and Carvalho Coffee  from Oakville, and one was from far far away: Bean North Coffee from Whitehorse, in the Yukon. Founded by Suneal Pabari and Adam Frank, this business started out of a love of coffee, and sure, so far, it’s just one box, and just the first edition of their coffee box, but you can see the love and attention they pay to talking about the coffee, the roasters, and the product. They try a whole bunch of coffee and then pick the ones that stand out and add them to the service. Suneal and Adam are calling the subscriptions “issues.” Like a magazine or a newspaper, because each participating roaster and coffee is accompanied by a story, a discount, a video, and/or some other interesting coffee/roaster discussion. Here is one of these videos from this month where we get to…

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Vegan Tasting Menu at George Restaurant

George Restaurant is a fancy upscale restaurant in the Verity/Ivy Hotel building. It features booths and tables, and an open kitchen that  you can see as you pass by on Queen. Last month, JC and I went over there to celebrate the 3-year anniversary of the first day we met. I didn’t bring a particularly good camera, and I didn’t write any notes on any of these, but I do want to share how beautiful and delicious these items all were while I still have even a fleeting memory of the dishes. Sadly, my good camera is still out of commission, and the camera we picked up as stopgap handles low light even more poorly than a cellphone camera. JC called George in advance and asked whether they could do a completely vegan tasting menu, they said they could, so he planned our evening there. George does have a lacto-ovo-vegetarian menu on the website offered regularly, and also a note that various dietary restrictions can be accommodated since everything they make is made in the kitchen (including the breads.) As soon as I walked in the space felt really relaxing, friendly hostess, it was well lit, with warm golden lights illuminating the walls, some overhead lighting, and a generally comfortable atmosphere. The music was not intrusive, but added nicely to the ambiance. The servers and staff all maintained friendly professional service, and somehow they managed to walk the line of fine dining where the environment isn’t casual, while also not…

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The Brockton Haunt – Indie Coffee Passport 2013

JC and I have been spending at least one day on the weekend checking out a couple of coffee spots around the city. A few weekends ago we were exploring the Brockton area, and finally landed in The Brockton Haunt. It’s a nice warm & bright spot in the Brockton neighbourhood, service is nice, quick, and friendly. It immediately felt like that comfortable coffee shop you’ve been going to for years. The baristas were both welcoming, and happily took our Indie Coffee Passports. Once we went in, it was full of people, there was one table at the very back & up a few steps that would fit around 6 people or 8 friends. There is bar seating at the very front, about 5 stools, and a couple of tables near the doors. They brew the now familiar Pilot’s “Big Brother” beans on a Nuova Simonelli machine, and have a variety of baked goods – none of which were vegan at the time we went in. They also have cold drinks, and variety of flavour syrups available. What’s on offer with the Indie Coffee Passport 1. Americano 2. Espresso 3. Macchiato 4. Misto Americano 5. Cappuccino 6. Tea We both ordered the cappuccino, which had a nice soft foam, made with So Nice Barista Blend soymilk on the day we went in, and the usual delicious flavour of a Pilot coffee roast. We drank it happily, and also took advantage of their free wi-fi for about an hour. It was…

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Grasshopper Restaurant – Trial Opening

We checked out Grasshopper Restaurant’s trial menu/opening this weekend while visiting some of the Indie Coffee Passport stops in Kensington Market. It’s a new meatless restaurant that seems to have couple of dishes that contain dairy, but is otherwise vegan. They might also use non-vegan mayo in some dishes, but the menu has a guide where V means vegan (and SF means soy free, and GF means gluten free.) You can check out the trial menu online So happy to be a part of this neighbourhood #kensington #toronto #vegetarian #vegan #fusion pic.twitter.com/ncLZa6M5hY — Grasshopper (@GrasshopperRest) February 4, 2014 They opened earlier this month and are located very close to Kensington Market. Grasshopper has taken over the spot that used to be the Mexi-CAN market on College and has been completely renovated and looks bright, and clean with large windows letting in a lot of natural light, as well as really interesting light fixtures. It’s small, but it’s comfortable and tables seemed well arranged, where they maximize the use of their space, while still balancing comfort of patrons. Here is what we ordered: The Sauteed “beef” & cremini mushroom satay with a chimichurri sauce. The chimichurri sauce was great, and the smoky seitan not-beef had a a lot of flavour and a very meaty texture. One thing that I wish we had ordered were the Chick-un Fingers. I heard later that the not-chicken itself is vegan, but the peanut dipping sauce is not. Quinoa Mac N’ Cheese. Again, chimichurri sauce on…

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Recipe For Change 2014 – Vegan Stuff

Back when I first started to go to FoodShare’s fantastic food celebration and annual fundraiser, I spent a lot of time looking at the options, and finding out whether they were vegan or not before buying tickets the first time, as it was kind of expensive, and while I wanted to support the work of FoodShare, I didn’t want to go and have nothing to eat (or drink). One of the greatest discoveries was that there was even at least one vegan on staff at FoodShare at the time. She very thoughtfully replied to my email with an inside scoop on what was and wasn’t vegan. Click here to see what last  year looked like from my perspective. Unfortunately, I don’t think she is with them anymore and the list of vegan options has gotten a bit shorter from previous years. On the bright side they’ve just started listing them and labeling them on the site. Because it helps set some expectations for me, I like making my own list, so I can just distill out all the vendors that are using things I’m not interested in, and focus instead on the ones I care about, like the chefs that are doing innovative vegan cuisine. So this list is mostly for me, but hopefully someone else can make use of it. I remember being really impressed and surprised with the offerings of many different groups in the past, and I’m hoping the same thing will happen this year as well. Either way,…

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