Valentine’s Day 2013 – Taste Valentine – Vegan Style at Canoe

Taste Valentine Canoe

As I mentioned in my TILT last Thursday, I really love Valentine’s Day, and like last year JC set up a nice big thoughtful surprise. He didn’t tell me what he was up to until about 20 minutes before we arrived at the restaurant, just that we’d need to be ready by 5pm, and it was going to be a bit fancy. Surprise – we were off the Bay and Wellington – Canoe, one of the places I had been in contact to potentially host our wedding (but never eaten at.) JC had arranged a vegan tasting menu, because as usual, the standard Valentine’s Day menu was anything but. So there began Taste Valentine’s vegan Style.    

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The Vegg – Vegan Egg Yolk Replacer

The Vegg Package

Once upon a time I saw The Vegg online and I thought it was some sort of April Fools Prank that wasn’t possible. The pictures looked… too much like eggs. It looked too good to be true. And the website… looked fake too. However, the website has since improved, and I can verify that The Vegg really does exist and also happens to tastes quite a bit like eggs. Unlike many vegans, I don’t miss cheese, I miss over-easy (easy-over?) eggs. It’s a textural thing that isn’t easy to duplicate through conventional tofu magic. It’s something you can do with a bit of molecular gastronomy (spherification) and black salt to some degree, but it’s not something that’s as easy as crushing up some tofu and throwing it in a pan. Until now.

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Vegan at L.A.B – Whatchya going to eat?

Last night we had the opportunity to visit L.A.B Restaurant (651 College St. Toronto) for one of JC’s sibling’s birthdays. It’s been on the To Eat list for a while (ever since Howard Dubrovsky won Vegan Iron Chef at the Vegetarian Food Fair in 2010, but I never got around to it). Looking at the menu at LAB, I have to say I had to wonder… why was this guy even at Vegan Iron Chef. There was lobster and lamb and octopus. And that’s probably why I “never got around to it”. (Though word on the street is he is a vegetarian.) There are a couple of vegetarian things on the menu, and at least one vegan thing. I sent a tweet the day before to @foodcult (the LAB account) asking if there was anything vegan, the response was that the terrine of harvest vegetables, and that the risotto could be veganized. Since I find it nearly impossible to get excited about risotto, the terrine was a predetermined inevitability as soon as I heard about it. I seriously appreciated the quick twitter response, especially since I sent it on a Saturday. The LAB website is also great in that it’s not annoying – no flash, no music starting up, no pdf files of the menus. Some other resto’s could learn a thing or too. Both groups of us ordered warm spiced olives and were informed that they just came with the meal – but they never showed up, and we forgot about them…

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Gastronomic Adventures – Fressen and BarChef

It’s been non-stop exciting eating lately. A combination of long workdays, family visiting from out of town, curiosity about new places, and over all, just general laziness has contributed to our recent culinary adventures. I’m aiming to try and work in some home cooking soon. I miss making meals, but once I get home, I’m just… tired. Excuses excuses. I’m lazy, the end. Anyway, we went to Fressen and BarChef last Friday, and collectively it was just wonderful. amazing. and a string of other various positive adjectives. Yesterday we wandered into Fressen (478 Queen Steet W, Toronto) at 6:30 and from what I could tell, were the last non-reservation to sit down. We sat near the door and watched them turn several people away. Lucky us. Like many people, I’ve sort of been meh-fressen lately (where lately = almost a year), but this visit turned that around (at least a little bit.) Our server was friendly. This isn’t exactly a common experience dining in Toronto, so it’s important. Yes. Friendly. We started with very awesome drinks (this may have aided the rest of the meal), vegan Ceasar. Absolutely delicious. Spicy, salty, with a good rim. JC, having had real ceasars before (unlike me) said that it “was a good ceasar, but it wasn’t great”. I have no point of comparison, so to me it was just a great drink. We ordered the Eggplant Manacotti and Spinach Blini as our appetizers. The eggplant manacotti was an easy favourite. Thinly sliced seared eggplant turned into…

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