One of my favourite travel things is seeking out and eating new and delicious vegan foods in cities I go to. My friend Susan had been to Seattle last year and raved about the eats there, so I was pretty excited, and armed with a great list of recommendations. I didn’t get everywhere I wanted to (it’s time consuming bussing around Seattle), but what I tried I was overall very pleased with!
I’d like to get my couple of sad experiences out of the way… Flying Apron gluten free bakery. I had my suspicions, considering everything Adam & I had tried making from their cookbook was not great. But yeah. Sad gluten free goodies. When you know how light, moist & amazing GF can be, rock hard scones & sad crumbly donuts/cookies are such a disappointment. I didn’t try any of their savoury stuff, so can’t speak to that. The brew was a nice one, from a local roast. Sorry, Flying Apron 😦
My other less than enthusiastic experience was Cyber Dogs – a veggie hot dog place/internet cafe. It may have been that I was in a rush, or that I really just picked the wrong dog for me, but I wasn’t impressed with the quality or the taste. This is the Chicago-style dog. Maybe I’d try them again next time if someone can recommend something not so overwhelming.
I missed out on Violet Sweet Shoppe, which I hear is a great Seattle bakery – it was just a bit too out of my way for the time I had to get there! I did make my way to Cinnamon Works in Pike Place market the afternoon I was wandering around there. I marvelled at the GIANT vegan cookies they had, and then scoffed this wonderful cinnamon bun (which they slightly warmed for me!). They also have GF goodies.
I also grabbed a bag of these when I spotted them in Pike Place market. Tasty and spicy, but not salty enough!
By far and away the most amazing sweet treats I had while in town were Mighty-O donuts. I made a mad dash my last morning in town to make sure I didn’t miss out on trying them, and I’m so glad I did!! I had these beauties for breakfast (i’m still thinking about the incredible apple fritter…), and took a box to go for a little Seattle taste on the plane & work the next day. Such a delicious place with classic, amazing donuts.
I went to Cafe Flora for a nice team dinner with my gaming team & supporters (we took part in the Gauntlet board game fundraiser at Mox Boarding House!), and it was a great evening! A wonderful little restaurant with friendly service, and flavourful food plus a nice wine list – but also lovely local cider for folks like me! Everything from the starters to dessert was a hit, and I would go back there in a heartbeat because there’s so much more I wanted to try – it’s a vegetarian restaurant, but they have lots of vegan options and GF is well marked too.
Starters – and coconut tofu
My main – a delicious portabello mushroom french dip with side salad.
And a couple of the many desserts we tried!
Once upon a time way back in the day, I visited a Veggie Grill in Los Angeles, and was in love. The chain’s expansion into Seattle is a little less fast food-y, more a mix of burgers and proper meals and sides than I recall. I ate at two seperate locations in one day because it was so great – but I forgot to snap a pic of my 2nd meal which was an incredible Crispy Chikin’ plate – with mash and greens and gravy nom. Below is my lunch burger, a grillin’ chikin’ and also my face.
In a quite hungover state one day, and in need of some really filling comfort food, I made my way to the Wayward Vegan cafe. I wish I’d been staying closer to Wayward so I could’ve tried their breakfast and lunches too! It was amazing. Their massive ‘chicken fried’ seitan smothered in gravy, with greens and hash. Plus a bottle of nooch & a sprayer of Bragg’s on every table! Yaassss.
I really liked the decor there! Nifty painted plates, plus my table which was made of part of a bowling alley lane!
On my last full day in Seattle I was in dire need of refuelling between museum-hopping. Not far from the EMP Museum (plus the Space Needle, etc) is Bamboo Garden vegetarian restaurant. They have a huge selection on their menu, but I decided to go for a lunch combo so I could have a little of a few things. It was great value for money, tasty and filling. I had the hot & sour soup, and the plate with spring rolls, ‘chicken’ fried rice, sauteed green beans and broccoli, and sweet and sour ‘chicken’. I don’t get out much for Chinese food here in Toronto, and I think this would be the kind of place I’d want to have anyhow.
As a refreshing way to end my last full day in town, I had some bar time with friends! I met them at Capitol Cider where I had this really delicious cider flight. I would drink this again and again.
Then we walked up to the Highline, a vegan bar in Capitol Hill. They had a really nice canned cider I hadn’t tried so far in my trip, plus bingo! Plus AMAZING tacos. Seriously, incredible. We got the ‘fish’ tacos. Oh my god. A crumbed and fried soy protein with some nori for flavour, plus a cool slaw and fresh cilantro. They have a great range on their vegan menu (almost everything had a drink pairing suggestion, too!), and I’d go back for the not-so-divey dive bar food any day.
I’m bummed to have missed out on Violet Sweet Shoppe, like I said. I also didn’t make it to Plum Bistro which I’d heard both good & bad things about. Next time. There’s also the pie truck (High 5) and the vegan food truck (No Bones About It) that I missed. Plus loads of coffee shops, and a couple of other bars that I wanted to visit.. so yeah, Seattle will be seeing me and my appetite again sometime!!
Yesterday was the 6th Annual Fabulous Vegan Bake-off, as run by Toronto vegan superstars Lisa Pitman & Luke Albert (along with a huge crew of super friendly TVA Green Shirts!). I’ve been going since the 2nd annual vegan bake-off, I think it’s a fun event that encourages creativity and deliciousness in the Toronto vegan community. This year the event was held at the pretty shiny Daniels Spectrum building in the East End. Plenty of space for how big the event has gotten, which was great – only, not a lot of space for people lining up to get in. That’s a tough one. There were 500 tickets sold, so the main hall got pretty packed with all the folks nibbling and the tables of samples.
In years past I have gone a little wild, getting a bunch of plates to share out with friends; this year I stuck with two categories – Professionally Crafted GF goodies, and Professionally Crafted Vegan Classics Plate #2. It was hard to pick from the 12 categories (!!) – and going with the pro categories meant I got a variety of goodies. I’m such a cheat. Here’s the plates:
It was a tough choice to pick a #1 from both these amazing plates! My pick on the GF plate was the Chockfull of Goodness Pumpkin Pie – delicious cocoa crust with an intense pumpkin goo, topped with a fluffy frosting & a mini gingerbread heart! Yessss. I wouldn’t have said no to anything else on that place had I been offered again, honestly (with the exception of the fudge, which just wasn’t up my alley). I would like a chance to try a not-room-temperature punkass peppermint nanaimo too (tasty, but so goopy!). On the Vegan Classics plate, I was thrilled about the savoury options – it’s what made me pick that plate, really. While the sweets were nice (butter tart especially), the savoury were out of this world in taste and quality. While I loved the Kale & Daiya provolone scone (I hope Tori’s put this into rotation!), the pizza bun is incredibly flavourful so it got my vote – a tough choice. (And had me considering heading to TBC to pick up a whole one..) – I have seen a couple of winners/best in show posted, but I look forward to seeing all of the results.
After snacking, I strolled over to check out the presentation plates from each of the Bakeoff participants. I love how creative these folks get – after churning out all those samples, too! Dang.
After this look around, and saying hello to a few folks I know, and putting in my ballots, it was time to head out. I know that it’s fun to sit around and watch the judging, but I felt so crowded in that space – there were few chairs, and I ended up perched at the edge of the room behind a table – I felt pretty disconnected from the event, and even as I was heading out I found it tough to navigate through the blobs of people. I think some spaces designated for seating away from thoroughfares would make me feel more comfortable in sticking around in the future. My problems with crowds are always spoiling my fun 🙂
I look forward to the 7th Annual Fabulous Bakeoff! I hope as the years go on, people attending will become more aware of the event they’re attending and leave the fur trim coats & Uggs at home, though.. I know it’s cold out there, but that is one thing I would love to see the TVA address as an issue of respect going forward. It’s not much fun snacking on cruelty-free treats and having fur traipsed about, after all. It would be a great venue to distribute information about cruelty-free outerwear, and present the bigger picture of a vegan lifestyle to all attending.
Sometimes when I want a more fulfilling salad than just something heavy on green leafies, I’ll go for beans (or potato.. but this is more veg heavy thankfully!). But I like variety and texture rather than just all beans, so here’s a kinda thrown together recipe for a well-rounded bean salad that’s pretty easy to customize and tinker with (strongly encouraged!). Dress it however you like! Creamy tahini-based, a vinagrette, something garlicky and packed with umami.. anything really works here.
Nicole’s Dead-easy Bean Salad (vegan and gluten-free) – Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a side.
- 1 15oz can of cooked beans (I used navy beans this time, but I like chick peas or a 5 bean mix, too!) – or whatever the equivalent of home-cooked beans would be
- Around a dozen grape tomatoes, sliced into thirds (to make small discs)
- 1 bell pepper (or capsicum, if you’re Australian) diced
- About a cup of diced green beans
- One large head of broccoli, cut up into the smallest florets you can
- A half a bunch of kale, torn into small pieces and massaged (the instructions for massaging kale, here, are great)
- Freshly cracked salt and pepper, to taste
Note: You could also add diced cucumber, finely sliced red onion or scallions, corn kernels, edamame etc.. Any veg that is or can be prepped to be bean-sized and that’s delicious in a salad! I’ve even thrown in lightly steamed diced sweet potato before.
How to get to the part where you end up eating delicious bean salad
Massage your kale, if you haven’t already! Set aside. Next, blanch the broccoli & green beans until just tender. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
Take a large bowl (or a large container you’ll be storing/transporting this salad in). Rinse your beans and throw them in. Next, add the diced veggies – here, tomatoes & bell pepper. After that, add the cooled broccoli & green beans, then the kale. Toss everything together with freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste.
Dress with your choice of dressing and serve! I often like to just add a little more lemon juice and olive oil, to keep it light complement the kale.
I love the time of year when it’s Toronto Veg Fair time! Not only does it mean that it’s September, therefore almost my birthday, but also it’s a chance to get together with a bunch of likeminded (or “interested in the whole thing”-minded) folks to celebrate compassion and tasty things. I’ve been going since before I even moved to Toronto, and I hope to keep it up if I ever move away.
This year I didn’t have a chance to go on Friday, the rain was a bit of a hiccup for Saturday, and I missed a bit of later afternoon/evening stuff due to other plans, so it was all a bit poorly planned on my behalf. On top of that, I unfortunately found the program/events listing really terrible to navigate and it actually put me off from getting to more talks/demos.
When Adam showed up after work on Saturday, I’d just run into some of my lovely vegan knitting friends, and we all piled in to hear Erin Red speak about “That Kind of Vegan: Finding Balance in Activism” – which, to quote the listing, examined “many of the common roadblocks that prevent vegans from becoming effective and joyful activist” and helped those attending to learn “how to better cope with living in a non-vegan world and become a force of nature for the animals and the earth.” It was a very engaging talk, and a good reminder that I didn’t ever go vegan for anyone else except the animals whose welfare I care about, and I should never have to justify that to people who think I went vegan to be antagonistic, to be a thorn in their side, or to make them feel guilty for even just existing. There was some great discussion after her talk in the Q&A section, and after hearing about how to be positive and remain happy & not angry or intimidated as a vegan in a non-vegan world, Adam made a great comment. It was about he had a couple of great role models who never pressured him in his pre-vegan days but just made good examples of themselves so when it came time for him to make the leap, they had already shown him how easy it was and were a great support. I always aim to live this way as a good example of what veganism can do for yourself and the world around you and I’ve had friends expressly say to me that it’s been a great thing to have in their lives. So, I only got to see one talk but it was a great one, and affirming to boot! (Will have to check out Red Radio, her podcast, now.)
Much of the rest of my visiting to the fair was wandering about the marketplace, inside and out. I had a fairly limited budget, so I was able to splurge on food stalls and some special treats for Jake but didn’t get any booty like books/t-shirts/totes/accessories etc like in previous years. I had plenty of nibbles on samples and grabbed some coupons as I went, and hit up a great deal of delicious stalls for wonderful food (although not as many as I’d have liked after all!). Here’s some of the wonderful array of vegan food I was able to sample on Saturday & Sunday – click the thumbnails to see bigger versions on Flickr, or browse the whole set with even more pics.