J’aime Montréal

When I travel, one of the main things I like to do is check out the local market.  I think it’s a great way to get a really distilled sense of a place and its community and culture.  In the times we have previously been to Montreal, it’s been such quick fly-by-night trips that we haven’t had a chance to do that.  This time we finally ventured to the Marché Jean-Talon and it was everything I hoped it would be and more!

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It was amazing!  Rows upon rows upon rows of fresh Quebec produce, samples of everything, tons of maple syrup and fresh mushrooms…ahh, it was heaven.  We slurped on a couple of Banana Republica (banana, fresh soy milk, wheat germ) smoothies from Mangue et Melon while we shopped around.

After that, we carried on to the Vieux-Port / Old Montreal.  We grabbed a couple takeout boxes from La Panthère Verte on the way there, stuffed full grains, greens, roasted sweet potato, pepitas, sesame seeds and some sort of green goddess dressing, which we ate out front of the gorgeous Basilique Notre-Dame


It was insanely hot that day and we were all just basically melted puddles.  After putzing around the basilica which didn’t have air conditioning, we were happy to come across a place that served vegan sorbet, so we got a 3 scoops — lemon, strawberry-basil and raspberry:


By this time, I think we were all ready to call it a day and just go die in our hotel room.  On our way back to the car, we were walking along the water and there were a bunch of food trucks.  And this happened!

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Vegan poutine!  The curds were glorious bits of silken tofu in a sort of brine to make them salty.  Oh, happy day.  Thanks to Roux Food Truck for having such an offering!

It’s insanely easy to be vegan in Montreal.  It’s easy pretty much anywhere in the modern world, but some places make it really easy.  I love Montreal and can’t wait to go back!


More Ottawa and Montreal

We’re finally home from our little trip! It’s true that it’s nice to get away but it’s even better to come home. Fortunately for us, we ate like kings while we were away…

The brunch at Café My House was calling our names and I’m so glad we decided to give it a try.

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THOSE SMOOTHIES!  The green one was mine and it was mango-cilantro.  It tasted a bit like a fresh roll in the best way possible.  I’m growing cilantro on the balcony this year and I’ll definitely be throwing some into smoothies.  Jenn’s was a typical cocoa-banana concoction which was super tasty as well, though not as interesting or refreshing as mine.

Jenn and Trevor both had the waffle BLTs with coconut bacon.  I had the tempeh benedict, which was fresh baguette, kale, eggplant, smoky tempeh and a really amazing hollandaise sauce.

And my favourite restaurant ever, Aux Vivres in Montreal.  I don’t know what it is about that place, but the food is just incredible and fresh, and I just love Montreal, so it all comes together to create such a lovely experience for me every time.

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Jenn got the Bouddha Bol, I got the coconut bacon BLT (they were one of the first places around doing coconut bacon!), Trevor got the tempeh burger.  I also got le creamsicle smoothie, which is coconut milk, orange juice, carrot juice, dates and vanilla and tastes exactly like its namesake.  Also, the chana paratha appetizer is INCREDIBLE.  I have to master paratha at home.

Another day, Trevor and I went back and we got more of the paratha, this time with their house veggie butter.  SO GOOD.
I also got their famed Dragon Bol which has an incredible Dragon sauce, and the Coconut Cashew Pie was my birthday cake, since this meal took place on my 30th birthday.

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Soooo much amazing food to be eaten.  More to come!



Lox and Cream Cheese

Végélox, bottom left

When we were in Montreal in June, we ate at Aux Vivres as it had been recommended to me several times.  Even though I was advised that I HAD to get something with the smoked coconut bacon, when I saw they had something called végélox on the menu, I had to have it; I really liked smoked salmon in my pregan days.

It was amazing.  I made “mmmmpfffhh!” sounds and with my mouth full, said, “ommhhhhyygoood” several times.  When we made the trek home a few days later, I felt bad that I may not have that sandwich for another another long while until we get back there.

When I got home, one of the first things I did was google: “vegelox recipe” and this popped up!  It seemed like a weird recipe but I thought I’d give it a go.  Turns out, it is the real thing, just like the one in the restaurant.

At the restaurant, they stuff a chapati bread full of tofu cream, végélox, capers, mayo and lettuce.  I think the tofu cream is pretty necessary to the taste and texture of the sandwich, so I made my own dupe, trying to remember what it tasted like.  I’d say it was a complete success.

Aux Vivre’s Végélox (vegan smoked salmon)

1 cup organic carrot pulp
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp dulse flakes (You can find dulse, a seaweed, at your health food store. In order to make dulse flakes, dry it in a warm oven and grind into a powder.) [Crystal’s note:  I used crumbled nori and it worked great]
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 dashes of liquid smoke
Mix everything together and adjust seasoning to taste.
Tofu Cream
1 block extra firm tofu, crumbled into food processor
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp agave nectar
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
black pepper
In a food processor, add tofu with liquid ingredients first and blend, scraping down the sides periodically, until it is a smooth texture.  Add nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and pulse to incorporate.  Taste for salt and adjust seasonings accordingly.
Sandwich/wrap assembly:
Spread a generous amount of tofu cream, a good amount of lox spread, top with vegan mayo, capers and lettuce.  For a real Aux Vivres experience, get a nice, soft chapati.  Really great in a sprouted-grain wrap, cut into cute pinwheels, or on a sandwich.  Or just as a canapé – a smear of tofu cream, topped with lox and a couple capers.  
So, while it doesn’t recreate the experience of being in Montreal at this lovely place, it at least will tide me over until I can return.  Now I just need to recreate one of the drinks I had there, le creamsicle.  Coconut milk, orange juice, carrot juice, vanilla…mmm.

Furthermore, it’s almost time for the Toronto Veg Fair again!  Each year, we have have a great time and I look forward to it a whole bunch.  This year, Isa freakin’ Moskowitz is going to be demoing, as well as the lovely Terry Hope Romero from NYC, and Taymer Mason is coming all the way from Barbados.  We’ve made a lot of stuff by those 3 ladies and I’m honestly so excited to see them all and meet the ones I haven’t before.  Also, there’s going to be a meetup of some people I know from the PPK, so that should be really fun.

All in all, it makes me feel warm and squishy to be surrounded by so many people who are so passionate about veganism, animal welfare, activism, environmental issues, etc.  It serves as a real reminder of why I am vegan and how it’s impacted my life in a profound and wonderful way.

– Crystal

We’re Still Alive

Oh, hi!  Long time, no talk.  We’re still eating delicious food, but various life factors have been preventing us from being good bloggers lately.  Which is dumb.

Want a little recap?  Some proof that it’s still good to be vegan in our world:

Balcony season!  We’ve got some terrible construction happening out front, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying the amazing Bajan “Beef” Stew from Caribbean Vegan.

This sandwich from the cookbook Vegan Diner happened.  Thinly sliced seitan in caramelized BBQ sauce, with creamy slaw on a bun.  WOAHMYGOD.

Local vegan & gluten free bakery, Sweet Lemon Bakery, does whoopie pies.

Starbucks changes their Strawberries and Cream frappuccino mix to be vegan; so now ordering one with soy and no whipped cream will get you a milkshaky tasting drink.  Not super healthy, but a nice summer treat.

I have not been able to satiate my love of avocados lately.  Sprouted grain toast, smooshed avocado, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

We went to Montreal and visited the Viva Vegan Shop.  They had cupcakes, sandwiches, ice cream cones and a whole retail shop.  So cute.  We sat and had some sandwiches (végépaté) and drank kombucha.  They have an online shop as well, and we’ve been getting orders from them for years.  Lovely folks!

In Montreal we also went to Aux Vivres.  Pictured here is the chana paratha appetizer, the “lox” wrap and the creamsicle smoothie.  We both agreed that Aux Vivres is one of the best all-vegan restaurants we’ve been to yet.  Look at this menu!  It’s not fine dining or anything, but the food is so fresh and hearty.

And again for brunch.  My waffles were really only so-so, but Trevor’s “Le Complet” plate was amazing.

I’m going to try to stop being such a slacker with taking photos (having an iPhone/Instagram has sort of ruined me for using my camera…).

I don’t make a lot of recipes up and mostly cook from cookbooks, but I still like to share because I hope it provides a realistic view of what a couple of vegans eat.

– Crystal