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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Edmonton Visit – Vegan Night at Narayanni’s Restaurant

Whyte Ave is like Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, Toronto’s Queen Street (or maybe it’s The Danforth…), Calgary’s 17th Ave, or Saskatoon’s Broadway Avenue. Every city has that street, at least one, that you know as The Street (or Avenue) that people go for arts, foods, shopping, and assorted randomness. I can remember walking around on Whyte Ave with my mom when I was little, and then later when I was a punk in high school, and then later still when I just lived in the area. To this day, it’s still one of those places where vastly different groups can intermingle, sometimes with positive results, sometimes with not so positive results.  Narayanni’s Restaurant is tucked behind Whyte Avenue, so it’s got the benefit of being easy to get to by public transit (and still has parking) but it’s also off the busy street (parking!) We went to one of Narayanni’s special “Vegan Nights” which is going on every Tuesday during the month of May. It was a bargain at $15, and it sounds like they do a regular Vegan night every month (but they might do it more often if encouraged by attendance). Normally Narayanni’s is a vegan friendly, but not exclusively vegan, South African Indian restaurant. And run by the same folks that started Block 1912 cafe right on Whyte Ave. Narayanni’s, named after the owner’s granddaughter, has been open since 2010, and regularly offers a variety of vegan and gluten free items at their buffet. The atmosphere is a blend of casual…

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