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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Lazy Vegan Fish Friday – Gardein’s Fishless Filets

Gardein Fishless Filets

After last the lazy vegan Friday post about Gardein’s Breakfast Sandwiches, one of you wonderful readers were kind enough to tell me where I could find Gardein’s Fishless Filets (thanks Dan!) After my attempts to find it at Essence of Life were fauxfishless. So this weekend we took a little trip up to Fiesta Farms, a great independent grocery store at Christie & Essex Street, with lots of plant-based options, and checked out the freezer section. They had the Fishless Filets, and I filled up my basket. As a courtesy to other people – I did not take all of them, but I was tempted. After trying them at this year’s ExpoWest, I had some idea of what to expect from this product, but everything tastes a little different when you make it at home, so I was interested in seeing how it would translate when a non-gardein rep (me) was making them. Upon opening the package, there are six pieces of fishless filets, and, although they’re frozen, they look golden and brown already (but a little too hard to eat). I followed the baking instructions the three times I’ve made them so far, with positive results. I find for ultimate laziness, it’s best to only do one step, rather than the microwave + pan frying step. It only takes around a half an hour which is fast enough for me, though it’s nice to have options. So what did I think? I’ve loved this product at first bite, so…

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Vegan Pre-Passover Supper Club from Emily Zimmerman

Chag Sameach to those who are observing Passover this week. Yesterday was the first night of Passover, and we celebrated at JC’s childhood home with family and friends. There was lots of reading (though not by me), and lots and lots of delicious food. Passover retells the story of the Jewish people’s escape from slavery from the Pharaoh, and of course, for me, with my general focus on social justice ties in really well with conversations on the realities of oppression and slavery in modern times as well. So I’ll be reflecting on the world I want to be a part of this week, and actively continue to participate in activities that further those positive goals. However, the night before we had a pre-Passover style supper club with Chef Emily Zimmerman, cooking out of The Depanneur. We had a great feast of cozy hearty Jewish cuisine, and I snapped a few pictures along the way. It’s wonderful to eat traditional style food, where it’s all very similar, you have some idea of what to expect, but everyone has their own unique spin on things. If you’ve never been to a Rusholme Park Supper club, I give a basic run down of what it’s all about in my first taste of the Depanneur post from all the way back in 2012! The supper club isn’t all vegan all the time. Supper club memberships cost $40 and include the cost of the meal. Memberships are only valid for one day so the way…

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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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Ethos Vegan Restaurant – Where I try to find out What’s the Dilly Philly.

Our first day in Orlando we checked out Downtown Disney, and Babycakes NYC, and did a little bit of Shopping (at the Lego store). Unfortunately, the night we arrived in Florida my camera, which I had been a constant companion for just under a year, stopped working. We started our day with a very drove over to Tiger Direct to pick up a cheap replacement that would serve me pretty well for the rest of the roadtrip, but in the process got into a bit of an adventure on Orlando highways. We learned a valuable lesson that day… critical thinking is good to use while using the GPS. Luckily, we figured things out (with the help of Google Maps.) and got where we were going. During our time in Orlando, we went to Ethos Vegan Restaurant everyday we could (which ended up only being twice). They were closed early on Christmas Eve, & closed on Christmas Day, but open for Boxing Day, which is just a regular day in the USA and Christmas Eve Eve. They’re located in Winter Park, a suburb of orlando. On our first visit we walked in all excited, because the space is HUGE, especially taking into account the relatively tiny restaurant spaces (vegan or otherwise) we’ve got in Toronto. It’s got a big sign outside including the Vegan word, but otherwise just looks like a regular ol place, with a diverse colourful art selection on the walls, a boardgame corner, a bar, a little to-go corner,…

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Roadtrip – Vegan Brunch at Merge in Buffalo

Last weekend we drove down to the USA. Once we crossed the border it seemed like a good time to stop for brunch, as it was shortly before 11 am. When I typed “vegan” into Google maps, it directed us to Merge and we decided to go with it. What we found was a beautiful space, tasty food, and friendly servers. Sometimes rolling the dice works out nicely. And we got there just in time, because after 15-30 minutes, the place was full. Merge isn’t an exclusively vegan place, as they do serve meat, dairy, and eggs, but they have several vegan options on the menu which are clearly marked with a V. If gluten free is your scene, they also have options marked with GF, but there is not always overlap. Ordering something that requires some modification, like with non-dairy cheese (or gluten-free) does involve getting charged an extra fee. We started with veganized potato skins stuffed with fresh corn salad, tempeh, daiya, and a chipotle cream. Or rather, baked hollowed out baby potatoes, filled with a bit of daiya were sent out, with a bowl of the filling. A DIY potato skin experience – which was something we will have to try at home sometime soon because I really liked it. As another appetizer we ordered the seitan wings with hot sauce (they also coming in BBQ) along with a vegan ranch dressing and a couple of carrots/celery sticks. Ordering this, I started wondering if what I ordered…

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Bento Miso – Urban Acorn – Beatles Themed Dinner Party

Why has it taken me so long to talk about this? I don’t know, but my wedding based excuses are going to run out soon. Many many Thursday’s ago I went to Bento Miso for Urban Acorn’s Beatles themed supper club. It was a great opportunity to talk to other people interested in food and meet the people behind Urban Acorn, and learn a little more about their approach. They bill themselves as “flexitarian” which is one of my least favourite words in the dictionary, but other than that I’ve really enjoyed their approach and style towards vegan-friendly foods. (And making connections online, and social media in general, and visual presentation, etc etc) Our gracious hosts were welcoming, friendly, and kept the food and conversation going. Dinner was casual and inviting, the usually desk and laptop filled coworking space of Bento Miso on Richmond Street was transformed into a dining area with one long table, and several participants sitting around and chatting. I was late, but it didn’t matter, appetizers were being passed around, and the stage was set for a relaxed several course meal. I liked that Urban Acorn had sourced local and vegan friendly alcohol for the event (thanks Barnivore) – I helped myself to a bottle of Mill Street Organic and waited for the food to arrive. The appetizers were all interesting and perfectly sized to stuff in ones face. My favourite was easily the potato pancake topped with sweet onion chutney, but it’s hard to really…

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Through Being Cool Vegan Bakery in Toronto – New!

So the vegan internet has been a buzz about Through Being Cool Vegan Bakery opening up to the public this weekend. You might have tried Through Being Cool baked goods before at other places around the city – I know I’ve eaten some delicious examples of their skills a few times at Disgraceland. Unfortunately, I was out of the city for an organizing meeting at a cottage this weekend (okay – it’s not really that unfortunate), so I missed TBC’s opening day on Sunday, September 29th,  But JC was kind enough not only to bring home a box of donuts and whoopie pies, but took a bunch of pictures too so i didn’t feel like I missed out. What a sweetie. Of course, on Monday I was in the area (and made sure I was in the area) picking up my wedding dress (ack), so I walked over to Through Being Cool and checked it out. However stressful and cumbersome it is to travel around with a large dress bag as a non car-driver, donuts help and felt like a natural pairing at that moment. It’s quite a lovely space, but don’t take my word for it. Go there yourself. First thing I noticed when I walked in were the shelves covered in preserves. There is ketchup, BBQ Sauce, as well as varieties of pickled vegetables, mustards, and sauces. TBC uses Anchored Coffee in house, and also sells several bagged varieties. Anchored is an ethical coffee project/roaster out of Nova Scotia…

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