The travels continue – closer to home

Wedding related activities have provided me with several opportunities to visit my hometown of London, Ontario this year.

When I visited in April I was pre celiac diagnosis but doing a detox with no wheat, no cow’s milk, no soy amongst other things. This meant I freaked out a bit when my mom asked me to find somewhere to go out for dinner. Veg Out, a former London vegan institution would have been an obvious choice but it recently closed. The only vegan option I could find was Plant Matter Kitchen, but at the time it was only open for lunch. We ended up at Under the Volcano which had quite a few options – although vegan just meant meat and cheese free with no alternatives (but I certainly wasn’t complaining!)

I was happy to have many more options when I returned a couple weeks ago.

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For lunch we went to the elusive Plant Matter Kitchen (which is happily now open for dinner too). It has a bit of an industrial fancy cafe style with a great open kitchen/bar as pictured above. There are also lots of really neat artwork which looked like movie posters but for fruits and veggies with cute quotes.

For lunch I had a quinoa Mac and cheese made with gluten free quinoa noodles and a great panko-like topping (gluten-free!). The Caesar salad was also really good.

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Art at Glassroots

For dinner the next night we visited Glassroots which has opened in the same location Veg Out occupied. It was fantastic! They have a cool repurposed vibe which totally suits the Victorian style building. Some root veggie chips came out to start (with my Forbidden cider – an emphasis on local alcohol here as well). Then I had the Hawaiian burger – yay – let’s hear it for gluten free veggie burgers!

We went all in for dessert with my moms ordering the blueberry fritter and cheesecake and I had a delicious gluten free flourless chocolate cake.

I’m so happy to see a green food revolution is taking place in my old neck of the woods! I’m not scared that I will have no options next time I take a visit home as I would love to come back to either of these establishments!

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More Reykjavik Restaurants

We visited several more restaurants during our time in Reykjavik.

Verbúð was very close to our hotel and I loved the exterior the first time when we walked by. We checked out the menu online and they had a nut-loaf so we thought we’d give it a try. The nutloaf was no longer an option (a lot of restaurants here seemed to have out of date menus online) but there was a gluten-free veggie option – the eggplant. And it was so yummy I didn’t get a picture. I did snap a shot of their fun decor and even more fun dessert – creme brulé with pop rocks. An explosion in your mouth. Yummm!

 

I read about Vinyl online before we arrived and it was definitely on our list to check out. But we stumbled right up to it after visiting the Sun Voyager.

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Vegan food and vinyl records – Brent is all over that!

We had drinks that night (no cider unfortunately) and then came back for lunch the next day. I’d asked what gluten free options they had the night before and learned they had gluten-free bread for all the sandwiches. Although after getting my sandwich I learned the filling was covered in soy sauce. Ruh-roh. I had a bit of that and a bit of Brent’s Lonestar (BBQ Pulled Oomph) because it was accidentally the on gluten-free bread. So in terms of vegan food A+ in terms of gluten-free preparedness knowledge… C.

The setting was really cool though – games and books to flip through or play while the vinyl is spinning. I was also really intrigued by oomph which is a Scandinavian soy product. Looks like a great company and I love their marketing!

Since I was still craving a cider or beer, the next place we checked out was Mikkeller and Friends where there were two different gluten-free beers! Wow! This was the only place I found in Reykjavik with even one. The Mikkeller “American Dream” was my favourite of the two, the other being the ToØl “Reparations”. Both are breweries that primarily produce regular gluteny beer with these ones as well. That’s not something you see here very often – but I would love to see it. Local Ottawa breweries I’m looking at you!

 

Sidenote: The unnamed pizza place below Mikkeller and Friends does not have gluten-free despite what I read on Trip Advisor. I couldn’t find gluten-free pizza anyway in town.

While we were in town the English language newspaper “The Reykjavik Grapevine” published an article on the best veggie burgers in the city. Perfect! Except which are gluten-free? None of the menus online seemed to offer any insight. So we picked the divisive beet burger and a new neighbourhood and headed off to Kaffihús Vesturbæjar.

It was a really adorable spot (used to be a pharmacy – a theme they have continued into the washrooms). Unfortunately though the burger was not gluten-free. Brent had it and really enjoyed it (a point to the best side of the divisive tally) and I had the avocado salad. I won’t deny that I was a bit underwhelmed when we ordered, but then this fabulous looking salad was delivered and I changed my mind. There was at least 1.5 avocados on that plate, plus blueberries, strawberries, delicious salt and dressing. I didn’t leave quite full, but I was happy… especially when I found gf veggie burgers at the supermarket on the walk back to the hotel!

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One night we were planning to grab a quick (cheap!) bowl of ramen from Ramen Momo – right near our hotel and with a big “Gluten Free Rice” sign outside. We go in… no gluten free. Argh! So we had to deviate from the plan and find somewhere else. Enter Tapas Barinn and the best meal we had all trip.

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The restaurant is actually just to the left of this photo – I’m not sure if the small building is really used, but how cute is it!

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When we said gluten-free vegetarian they showed us exactly what we could and couldn’t have and were able to alternate a few things and serve us the vegetarian combo with quick and friendly service. It was dim with lots of candles and Spanish decor and felt really authentic (not that I would really be one to know!)

I have one more post about Reykjavik to write where I’ll sum things up, but as you can see while it may have been a bit of a struggle to find food what I did have was pretty good.

 

 

Calgary #VeggieTravels

I have returned to the beautiful fall colours in Ottawa after a whirlwind, exciting, delicious, and exhausting vacation.

Our first stop was Calgary, Alberta where a new creative idea dawned on me… as a traveller in the past I have occasionally researched a vegetarian restaurant to check out, but since both of us travellers are eating meat-free I invested a bit more time pre-trip to planning a few stops and figured I should share this knowledge with all of you. So my new #VeggieTravels section is born!

This realization happened about half-way through an incredibly yummy lunch at the Calgary restaurant The Coup. This one was recommended by local friends and is a self-described modern, ethical  vegetarian restaurant.

The Coup is located on 17th Avenue which I’m told is the “cool” part of Calgary (I was not there long enough this time to confirm!). The decor has that ethical modern vibe as well – lots of older repurposed furniture and fixtures, lots of wood and metal, and my favourite detail were the long boxes of herbs right along one end of the bar.

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chow mein unplugged

 

 

I mentioned that my realization came halfway through my meal which is why I have to apologize that these food pictures were taken midway through (okay, this might not be the only time this happens… sometimes a traveller is hungry, yo!).

I  thoroughly enjoyed my lunch – the chow mein unplugged. Loads of veggies, very tasty sauce, great portion size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

falafel quesadillas

falafel quesadillas

 

 

My partner in crime/life gobbled down his falafel quesadillas. What a fun and unique idea. They had plenty of that at The Coup – we also started with the eggplant sleeping bags (hilarious name, great food) and the mushroom baklava which was right up my alley.

We also brought two meat-eaters along who also enjoyed the food and experience (including a tofu sandwich!) which is always a good sign for a veggie restaurant. There were lots of different options for every type of eater.

 

 

 

 

latte and oatmeal ice cream sandwich

latte and oatmeal ice cream sandwich

My lunch was finished up with a latte and oatmeal ice cream sandwich (my first experience with tofulatti) as well as a bite of the lemon cashew coconut “square”. These were both fantastic! Light and decadent and a perfect conclusion.

#VeggieTravels Report Card

Décor and Atmosphere: A

Variety of Options: A+

Quality of Food: A

FINAL REVIEW: A

Easter Dinner

This week in recipes started strong with Easter celebrations and deliciousness but that took a lot of my cooking energies so the rest of the week was pretty heavily left-over and simple stuff focused. We also had to prep for a visit from my parents to talk wedding plans and budget so that took a lot of the focus this week (and my plans for another mid-week blog post on another creative avenue – stay tuned for that this week)!

We had a small Easter dinner for just the two of us last Saturday night – knowing we had plans on Sunday and I had to work Monday. First we stopped at another local brewery, Dominion City Brewing Co., to get something to go along side. Their Lost Train Oatmeal Stout was the perfect combination with our hearty meal. Main dish was a Lentil Walnut Loaf from the Oh She Glows Cookbook. Angela makes the most amazing, delicious, creative vegan dishes and this was no exception. Without a doubt the best veg holiday meal I’ve made and will probably be made many times from now on! Our side was Lightened-Up Sweet Potato Casserole from How Sweet It Is. I don’t think I’ve ever had a sweet potato casserole and I’ve always been intrigued (marshmallows – hello!), but this wasn’t really a huge hit for me.

Easter Sunday kicked off with some adorable pancakes courtesy of Brent and featuring some more of that salted maple butter (mmm mmm good!)

Only two other recipes made it in this week:

  • Coconut Cottontails: Cute, easy and perfect for a visit to a celiac friend’s on Easter! I also love when I see a recipe and have all of the ingredients on hand, meant to be!
  • BBQ Chickpea Chopped Salad with Avocado Ranch: The avocado ranch dressing was different and really tasty. The BBQ chickpeas were a bit blah. I didn’t find that part worked so well, but I liked the idea.