Articles Tagged ‘vegetarian’

MUST-TRY VEGAN: 5 top spots from Ottawa Magazine’s 2013 Eating & Drinking Guide

 

SOTM13EDANN_1201Eating & Drinking Guide is a food lover’s bible for everything local, with 80+ pages of restaurant, wine, food shop, and kitchen store recommendations. Look for it on newsstands or order it here.

Anne DesBrisay lists her picks for the city’s best places to eat vegan and raw food — kitchens that think beyond the interminable salad bar.

 

 

Photography by Amelia Johnston

Lunchtime at La Belle Verte in Gatineau. Photography by Amelia Johnston

Café My House
The menu at this adorable South Ottawa café is predominantly vegan, Pan-Asian in focus, and best known for its brunches. Try the ample vegan bibimbap, the polenta-crusted tempeh, or the gnocchi fashioned with squash and sage. Café My House1729 Bank St., 613-733-0707.

ZenKitchen
Try exceptional international vegan cuisine at Zen, where you’ll find dishes that are adventurous and playful and attract both meat lovers (on a break) and meat shunners (who have found a high-end restaurant to call home). 634 Somerset St. W., 613-233-6404.

La Belle Verte
Cheery green and proudly bohemian, La Belle Verte’s soundtrack to lunch is the high-speed blender whirring and grinding the day’s menu. What isn’t raw is mostly vegan. Desserts are shockingly good. 166, rue Eddy, Gatineau, 819-778-6363.

The Table
The daily buffet at this Wellington West institution casts its vegetarian net widely for inspiration. Dishes are fully indexed and coded, with all ingredients clearly spelled out. The Table1230 Wellington St. W., 613-729-5973.

The Green Door
The first and the longest-running, the Green Door daily buffet caters to vegans, vegetarians, dairy-free, nut-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, and parliamentarians weary of rubber chicken. The food is fresh, well made, clearly labelled, and awfully wholesome. Communal seating. 198 Main St., 613-234-9597.

WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: Attacking The Table’s lunch buffet with gusto

"What had started out as a careful, cost-cutting approach to The Table's buffet turned into a full-steam-ahead and damn the weigh scale attack on its hot and cold offerings"

By Anne DesBrisay

Unpitted olives, as much as I craved them right then, right there, I walked right on by. I figured they’d weigh me down and spike the bill. Instead, I headed for the baby spinach salad. Light and breezy stuff.

And then I dabbled with a bit of kale and swiss chard (heavier greens, to be sure, but worth their weight in gold). The organic tofu fritters beckoned — mostly for the vegan, gluten-free onion chutney that made them seem edible — and so did the cornmeal crumble with rosemary and roasted parsnips and all that crusty-gooey cheesey goodness on top.

A bit further along The Table‘s offerings was the pan of roasted vegies — mostly onions, charred peppers, and purple skinned eggplant — and on they came. The all-veggie jambalaya promised a bit of heat (and delivered) so that was scooped, and from the cold section, an arame seaweed salad (vegan/g-f) with snow pea shoots. Finally, a healthy dollop of the g-f house hummus. No bread though.

What had started out as a careful, cost-cutting approach to The Table’s buffet turned into a full-steam-ahead and damn the weigh scale attack on its hot and cold offerings.

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WEEKENDER: Vintage dresses, a new theatre night, and five more fun events for the last weekend of April

Lady-like dresses abound at Victoire's Spring Fling Vintage Dress Sale.

SPRING FLING VINTAGE DRESS SALE
Vintage clothing enthusiasts take note! This shopping event, which takes place only twice a year, will feature pretty frocks from different eras. Channel fashions from Mad Men or your favourite iconic stars from the past, which are sure to please Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly fans. The event partners with Hamilton shop (and vintage clothing aficionado) White Elephant. Dresses start at $79. Saturday, April 28. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Victoire, 246 Dalhousie St., www.notrevictoire.com.

OTTAWA INTERNATIONAL WRITERS FESTIVAL
The bi-annual fest that celebrates the written word begins this Thursday and will continue through the weekend. The event features world-renowned, award winning writers and straddles genres that include journalism, fiction, poetry, history, science, and more, all while discussing the craft and drawing from the writers’ personal experiences. Noteworthy names for this edition include Vincent Lam, Linden MacIntyre, Joshua Foer, and Nora Young. Thursday, April 26, to Monday, April 30. Costs vary for individual events, free for members. Event times and locations vary, www.writersfestival.org.

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WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: Trying trendy seed-to-stem cuisine at The Green Door

The stir-fried tofu and broccoli is so legendary that diners have been known to ‘lurk’ at the beginning of the buffet, waiting for a fresh tray to come out from the kitchen.

By Riva Soucie

It was only a few years ago that places like Toronto’s Black Hoof and our own Murray Street Kitchen turned us onto nose-to-tail cooking in a big way. You know the kind of food I mean. One where sheep viscera are considered haute cuisine and no part of the animal is wasted.

Turns out that the trend was just the beginning of a wider movement toward eating more holistically, and lately, the fad has turned toward plant-based cuisine, elevating grains, greens and legumes to a higher level. Here in Ottawa, the options are growing quickly, with adorable veggie-focused bistros, like La Belle Vert in Gatineau and Cafe My House down in South Keys, alongside Caroline Ishii’s high-end vegan fare at ZenKitchen. But we also have faithful standbys, and chief among them is The Green Door, a vibrant pay-by-weight vegetarian restaurant on Main Street.

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WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: A mighty meatless feast at The Table

There's Plenty to love at The Table

I go to The Table every time I get into a vegetable rut. I hit the jackpot recently with the discovery that my five-year-old loves kale, but there must be more to life than kale chips, right? So on a recent visit to The Table I thought about what makes for a satisfying meatless meal. The answer includes freshness, variety, proper seasoning, and a diversity of cultural inspiration.

For those of us looking to replicate the experience at home, all you need is an impeccably well-stocked pantry, crisper, and spice rack, not to mention an in-house prep-cook who never tires of spinning greens and mincing garlic.

I have always found it interesting that The Table seems to attract a rather, shall we say, homogenous clientele. The restaurant serves fresh and delicious food by any standard, much of which happens to also be super healthy, yet I suspect it fails to win over a wider, more general, audience. You know, like the folks chowing down on Dagwood-esque cold-cut sandwiches.

Perhaps branding is to blame. It must be tough to sexy-up a buffet of heart-smart, vitamin-rich, allergy- sensitive macrobiotic eats. Or is it?

I recently picked up a copy of the new hit cookbook Plenty by celebrated UK author, fancy food shop owner and self-confessed-non-vegetarian Yotam Ottolenghi. I defy you to flip through his book and not salivate instantly. The food is gorgeous, presented simply, yet it is all just insanely appetizing — nothing about it says “thou shalt cut your own hair and wear patchouli oil.” It says, thou shalt enjoy beautiful, delicious, flavourful food.  And by the way — Look Ma, no meat! It took me until page 238 to even realize all the recipes were vegetarian.

So it was with Ottolenghi in mind and the soft scent of cumin and curry in the air, that I made my way to buffet at The Table. I filled my plate with an array of tasty treasures: fresh cornbread, tofu fritters topped with maple-kissed onion chutney (also sold by the jar, $6.75), crisp leaves of organic bok choy, creamy chunks of avocado tossed with fresh tomato and lemon juice, red quinoa and black bean salad, a Moussaka of creamy mashed lentils, crunchy toasted herb pita chips with a dollop of red pepper hummus, citrus salad with shredded spinach and fennel, and sweet and cinnamon dusted squash crescents. For dessert, my favourite chocolate cheesecake in town (it was on our 2010 list of 101 tastes to try before you die). Everything was well-balanced, tasty, fresh, and flavourful. A satisfying meal.

Looking at the utilitarian glass bowls on the buffet, the hand-scrawled ingredient labels, and ultra-earnest sign delineating 10 advantages of eating at The Table (the Veggie Commandments, if you will), I can’t help but wonder why vegetables are still so often tied to a back-to-the-land, moralistic and medicinal point of view. Why aren’t vegetables as hot and trendy as, say, pulled pork, burgers, or charcuterie?

If Ottolenghi can be a culinary celebrity in the UK, there is hope that the full foodie embrace of vegetables is on its way.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday to Sunday 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Price: Food is priced by weight

The Table, 1230 Wellington St. W., 613-729-5973.

WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: Gluten-free, vegan Mexican-style sope from Zen Kitchen

Sope, a typical Mexican dish, gets a delicious vegan makeover at Zen Kitchen

I’m prepared to make the following generalization: when omnivores eat dishes that are vegan renditions of non-vegan fare, we tend to be less forgiving of the aspects that are not convincingly replicated from the original. This hasn’t stopped Zen Kitchen chef Caroline Iishi from tackling everything from caesar salad and lasagna bolognese to Reuben sandwiches and cheesecake at her gourmet vegan restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. I will not be the first (or the last) meat-eater to be seduced by a meal here.

When I saw sope (pronounced “SOH-peh”) on the lunch menu at Zen Kitchen I was delighted to be able to avoid the comparison trap. The scarcity of authentic Mexican cuisine outside of Mexico made this my first encounter with the traditional snack featuring a fat corn tortilla topped with beef or chicken as well as cheese and cream. In Zen’s kitchen, most of those ingredients are verboten. Instead, the topping is made up of soft spiced “scrambled” tofu with sliced zucchini and just a drizzle of a savoury stand-in for cheese. On the plate, alongside some spiced rice, there’s a trio of adornments: a creamy white “Mornay sauce” made perhaps with cashews, a dollop of fresh guacamole, and a simple tomato-onion salsa.

The base of the dish, however, hits the sweet spot for eaters of all stripes. I mean who doesn’t love a little something fried? It is described on the menu as a “leavened house corn tortilla,” but I would characterize it as a cross between sweet fluffy corn bread and an Italian arancini, those irresistible crispy fried rice balls. Like the rice, it was flecked with whole sweet corn kernels adding a layer of fresh flavour to the crunchy corn patty.

I’d take those contrasting textures and delicate Mexican flavours over typical salads or sandwiches any day. Not just on days when I’m taking a break from meat.

Cost: $14

Zen Kitchen, 634 Somerset St. W., 613-233-6404, www.zenkitchen.ca

Lunch served on Thursdays and Fridays 11:30 a.m.-2pm; Brunch Sundays 10 a.m – 2 p.m.

WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: The noodle bowl at La belle verte

By Cindy Deachman

So heartening to remember that not only are vegetables good for you (enough already!), but, with the right balance, can taste superb. Here’s a Thai-Japanese fusion dish that includes our well-beloved Western vegetables (along with the relatively unknown kale).

Haven’t we been through the mill with vegetarianism? In the 1920s, American kids like M.F.K. Fisher were being fed carrots in white sauce by grandmothers with “Nervous Stomachs.” The ’70s found the knock-off curries — generally a mish-mash of dying vegetables found in the crisper bunged in a pot with stale curry powder. Forty years on, the vegetarian cause rose up with a fury, this time including raw and gluten-free foods. Fortunately, cooks now realize that dishes can concurrently strengthen health and fire up your imagination. At least I hope they do.

Nowadays, Gatineau’s La belle verte is experimenting with new ways of cooking (and non-cooking). Here’s their take on a simple bowl of noodles.

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WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: The menu at Café My House is vegan-friendly…not that there’s anything wrong with that

Classic Korean bibim-bop from Café My House

The Place: Driving past the shawarma shacks and fast food joints on Bank Street near Billings Bridge, a gaudy red neon ticker tape sign grabbed my eye with unexpected words whizzing past: “vegetarian and vegan-friendly!” The place looked like nothing from the outside (literally, it’s impossible to see inside from the street) and I confess this almost deterred me from turning into the tiny strip-mall parking lot for a peek. What a delightful surprise to discover a real hidden gem. An adorable, family-run restaurant with one of the most unique, creative and inspiring menus I’ve seen in ages — meatless or otherwise.

The Deal: I am a meat eater but was drawn to the prospects of a hearty soup or even a salad bar for lunch (isn’t that we’ve come to expect from most veggie cafés in town?) and was curious about this odd location for such a health-conscious spot. No buffet here — rather a sparsely decorated room with plain tables, wood floors, and a fresh, calm ambiance. A young man and self-described athlete, tends to the tables while his Mom does the cooking (he reveals that it is his sister who is vegan). The elaborate Pan-Asian-fusion menu offers something for everyone — even meat eaters — and includes all-day brunch, lunch, and dinner items. For the most part, dishes are vegan (many are gluten-free) and include the likes of mini macrobiotic burgers; an organic omelette with shrimp, veggies, and lemon zest; and mango zucchini rolls with avocado, dill, cucumber, and pine nut pesto. A list of raw vegan shakes includes the “daily detox” and “key lime pie.”

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INTRODUCING: BoWich “best organic sandwich”

Bowich poster from its viral marketing campaign

Move over Subway, there’s a new sandwich artist in town. And this one’s got 100 percent organic chicken, homemade mayo, and pine nut-currant relish.

BoWich (which stands for Best Organic SandWICH) is a soon-to-open gourmet sandwich shop that will wade into the same delicious territory carved out by its neighbours Lunch (121 Bank St.) and Bread & Sons Bakery (195 Bank St.) as alternatives to the artery-clogging, soul-less fast-food chains that rule the downtown roost.

If all goes well, co-owners and brother-sister team Gavin and Samantha Hall will open their doors on September 7. I stopped by the near-empty shop on Wednesday for a sneak peek to find out what we can expect.

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