Ottawa – Day one – Cafe My House

Last weekend we drove into Ottawa for the weekend so JC could play in a Magic the Gathering competition, and so I could wander around the nation’s capital and hopefully find a stamp museum. I haven’t been back to Ottawa for nearly a decade, but it’s still one of my favourite places. At least it has been one of my favourite places in theory for years, but despite living a mere 5 hours away in Toronto these days, it’s still the first time I’ve visited. First of all, I have to first mention the lovely time we had at the Marriott in downtown Ottawa on Kent Street. I feel as though my negative hotel experiences, even in places that should be nice, outweigh my positive ones, that it’s worth mentioning. Their web ordering was straightforward, I asked for a feather-free room and got it without any issue, extra foam pillows were brought up, service was friendly and courteous, and the room was lovely. Not super huge or opulent, but just enough to keep us cozy and comfortable. Any suggestions for fun stuff to do and eat in Ottawa? Especially related to #vegan stuff, #zine stuff, & history nerd stuff? I lived in Ottawa briefly about a decade ago. But haven’t been back since. Tell me things. #vegansofig #veganottawa A photo posted by MeShell (@veganinyourcity) on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:31pm PST As we were driving in, I asked folks on Instagram what they’d recommend for us to do or eat…

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Recipe for Change 2013 – An Evening in Pictures

There were so many lovely vegan options at last Thursday’s Recipe for Change, we left happy and satisfied. My favourite part is when things end up vegan at the event, that I was unsure about. As much as I like having a prepared list with me, it’s really nice to have the opportunity to talk about food with chefs around the city. It feels like there is this kinship with people passionate about food, even if our choices aren’t the same. Maybe it’s just because they’re all being extra nice at the event, but it’s just such a pleasure to meet and talk with people that share or exceed your love of presentation, ingredients, and flavour. It was already quite busy when I arrived at St. Lawrence Market, my attempt to be fashionably early was foiled  by the usual Toronto excuse – streetcars. Everyone was mingling and chatting, the room was full of the smell of food. Nothing in particular stood out right away, it was just that delicious sign that let’s you know: there are tasty things happening here. I made a b-line to the first station – Chef Bashir Munye’s – My Little Dumplings. Beautiful little dumplings with curried butternut squash, roasted apple ginger sauce with spiced pumpkin seed brittle. He doesn’t exclusively make vegan foods, but this one was a delight. It’s reason enough to check out his cart at the Evergreen Brick Works Farmers Market on some Saturday in the future just to see what other vegan treats…

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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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Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco Birthday Dinner – 5-course tasting menu, wine pairing, custom cakes, oh my.

On December 26th we flew over to San Francisco to celebrate my birthday in the most absurd and delightful surprise way I’ve ever had. After a remarkably straightforward, and easy trip through US Customs, a quick and painless security screening, and a window seat on the air plane on a direct flight, we left behind the storm warnings and cloudy days in Toronto and were basking in the sunshine in SFO. It seems we left right in time, because while I was looking forward to having a bit of snow, the storm front that was hitting Toronto wasn’t my idea of a good time. After checking in to our hotel (a mere block away from Millennium) we relaxed, enjoyed the complimentary wine hour at our hotel, and got ready for dinner. Entering the restaurant is always a bit weird because walking through the Tenderloin area of San Francisco with it’s display of overt poverty, addiction, and illness, in an area full of hotels, tourism, and theaters is quite the contrast. It’s also hard for me not to think about the last time I  ate at Millennium and saw a shooting after dinner. It’s an area permanently blended with weird reality of have and have not, and it’s not something easy to overlook (at least it’s not something I can ignore.)

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Windsor Arms Vegan Food – In Pictures

We’ve gone to the Windsor Arms (18 Saint Thomas Street – Toronto, Ontario) twice so far, once for brunch a month or so ago, and once for dinner. Brunch was much easier to photograph, unfortunately dinner had a bit too much mood lighting to be conducive to pretty pictures. I think it’s worth going to the Windsor Arms at least once (or twice), if not for the food, then the general dining experience, especially since vegan fine dining experiences can be few and far between depending on where you live. The vegan options at the Windsor arms were developed by Doug McNish, (www.dougmcnish.com) Toronto’s vegan chef extraordinaire. He will soon be releasing a vegan, raw food cookbook called Eat Raw, Eat Well at EcoExistance (766 St. Clair Avenue West at Arlington, Toronto) on Saturday March 31st, go here for more info. I’m looking forward to it, since the title makes me reminisce about the first meal I had from Chef Doug, when he was still at Raw Aura (in Mississauga). Raw lasagna. Yes.

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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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