A Weekend Abroad! (sort of…)

September 15, 2009


What a whirlwind weekend North of the border! Willie and I wandered around the city, seeing what new veggie adventures we could get into at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Fest and elsewhere in the city. We saw some wonderful speakers and demos and ate a lot of great food (though I don’t have photos of all of it…) and some not so great… Either way, I ended up getting excited about food again!

Starting off with the talks/demos we attended:

TVFF Speakers

That’s right! The first talk we went to was given by the fabulous Brendan Brazier! In Brendan’s presentation, he went over the basics of his Thrive Diet and answered questions about living with a plant-based diet. I’m so glad we got to see him speak, seeing as it was Brendan’s Thrive in 30 program that really led me to reevaluate my vegetarian diet and lifestyle a few months ago. What I like so much about the principles of Thrive is that Brendan has created a plan that promotes a truly healthy lifestyle that relies on basic nutritional facts. It just seems practically intuitive that if you nourish yourself with a balanced diet of whole foods and regular exercise, your body will reward you.

We also attended two cooking demos. The first was presented by Meghan Telpner. Meghan is a certified nutritionist and holistic lifestyle consultant. She was a great presenter and the food we sampled was delicious! Meghan’s story of overcoming Crohn’s Disease by changing her lifestyle was really inspiring and I can’t wait to start reading her blog!

The second demo was with Jae Steele. Jae had some great things to say about sprouting and I hope I can incorporate some of her ideas into my regular cooking. I also can’t wait to recreate the buckwheat granola she made!

Last, but certainly not least, we went to a vegetarian/vegan nutrition lecture by Brenda Davis, nutritionist, registered dietitian, author and long-time vegan. Brenda’s talk was incredibly informative and enlightening. I left feeling like I needed to start making myself a more exemplary and healthy veg.

We walked around a bit after the fest enjoying the harbour when we came upon a pirate ship! We tried to take a picture in front of it…

sort of a pirate ship

but that didn’t work too well… So, I told Willie to put on his best pirate face!

pirate face

Much better! Willie puts Captain Hook to shame!

Soon after, we headed over to Fressen, a local veg*n-friendly eatery for some tapas (and then some).  I don’t have many pictures from Fressen since the lighting was, well, it was one small tea light candle.  The food however, was great.

mushroom pastry

I’ll try to remember as well as I can what we ordered, since it seems the menu on the website is a bit outdated. As for the tapas, we had a delicious mix of olives, an amazing fava bean dish with greens and a spicy jicama-mango salad. The above picture is our main course! This is a mushroom stuffed phyllo pastry with cashew, spinach, red pepper and tomato sauces. Fabulous. Dessert was even more ridiculously delicious. I honestly don’t know how to describe it… It was the special for the night and once the waitress had explained what was in it (cashews, cocoa, avocado, jack daniel’s, walnuts, etc., etc.) I promptly turned to Willie, in true Veruca Salt form, and said “I want it.” Although, I may have said “I want to go to there” in true Liz Lemon form… My mind is still a little cloudy from the vegan fudge deliciousness that arrived at our table and therefore I cannot be expected to keep straight my pop culture references. Let’s just say, it was heavenly.

The next day, before heading back to the Food Fest, we did a little food shopping at the local markets and scored free samples of the new Fibre/Fiber Plus bars. Once we got back to the fest and took advantage of all the samples at the booths, we dug into our bars:

fibre plus bar

Willie and I agree that this makes a great candy bar, but not much beyond that…

Dinner on Saturday was a mixed bag… We were pretty excited to try out this Ethiopian Restaurant called Nazareth. We had quite a long wait, but it was a really lovely night and the food wafting from the front door was so inviting that we didn’t really mind. Once we were seated, we ordered the vegetarian plate and some drinks:

coconut water and mango juice

This coconut water exceeded my expectations and the mango juice has convinced me that I need to give this fruit a second chance. The food came rather quickly and we promptly dug in, though not after taking a hasty picture:

ethiopian entree

Though I’m hardly a connoisseur, this bread is some of the best I’ve ever had at an Ethiopian restaurant and the salad was nice as well. Down the center are  six different mixes, each with their own unique and delicious flavor. Here is where the whole thing gets a little hairy… It’s not visible in the picture, but there was bit of meat on the greens. Not really a big deal, we just picked it off and continued eating… that is… until I found a band-aid in the food. In my book, that is possibly one of the worst things you can find in your food. Desperately trying to not regurgitate everything I had just eaten, we notified the waitress who was very apologetic and didn’t charge us for the meal. I’m not sure if I can bring myself to eat here again and this is really disappointing because the food was actually really great up until the band-aid incident…

We had better luck with the Victory Cafe where we stopped for some beer and dessert.

hoppsy beercookies and cream cake

The Victory Cafe has some really exciting microbrews on tap including the County Durham Hop Addict (mine, seen above) and the F&M Stone Hammer Pilsner (Willie’s, not pictured). Both beers were really good. I’m pretty sure Willie liked his and I definitely loved mine! It truly was one of the hoppiest beers I have ever tasted. For dessert, we chose the “Cookies and Cream” Cake. It is a testament to how good this cake was that both Willie and I enjoyed it despite the surprise elements of cheesecake (which Willie doesn’t care for) and chocolate mousse (which I REALLY don’t care for).

Back on a good food roll, on Sunday before I had to hop a bus back to NY, Willie and I stopped in at the all-vegan Vegetarian Haven. Willie had already been to this restaurant so he was able to come up with some great recommendations.

vegetarian haven

We started out with shakes! On the left, is Strawberry-Mango-Banana and, on the right, piña colada. As great as these were, I am still intrigued by their cookie, cake and pie shakes… They appear to be blended up pieces of your choice of anything on their dessert menu. Perhaps the only thing I could like more than a blended salad would be a blended piece of cake. We shall see. The pot stickers had great crust, as you can see, and the filling was the perfect texture. On the upper left is the Hawaiian Tofu and, on the bottom right is the Spicy Moroccan Chickpea with Sweet Potato Pasta (pronounced the Canadian way of course). What was lovely about both of these dishes was the inclusion of surprise ingredients. In the Tofu dish, we kept finding new vegetables and, in the Moroccan pasta, we kept finding new beans! The variety and number of ingredients was great! I would also really like to figure out the peanut sauce recipe on the Hawaiian tofu… as well as their secret for making the tofu “ham” taste like real ham… it was unreal in more than one sense… 🙂

If you have really made it through this ginormous post, I salute you. I’d like to end this post with a final dose of Canadiana. For the bus ride home, I was given one of Canada’s greatest gifts to the world. Timbits.


Did I have any qualms about indulging with these fried balls of sweetness filled with refined sugar and white flour after all of the healthy-living events of the past 48 hours? No. If there is one thing a person should never be guilty about, it is timbits. Oh, and by the way, they were delicious. Dunkin’ hasn’t a chance.

Until We Eat Again,



One comment

  1. Caitlin really covered all the bases of her Toronto visit with her post. I thought I might have something to add, but I really don’t. I agree with her assessments of all the food we eat and activities we attended, and since I let her handle all the picture-taking this weekend, I don’t even have any photos to add. Reading this post did make me very hungry, though, so I think I need to go take care of that. Later!

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