L’Gros Luxe 100% Végé, a new staple?

This week-end is supposed to be one of the worst rainy week-end of the summer. What did we do to make it better? Easy: Brunch! This week, my friend Thao from La Végé d’à Côté wrote an amazing review on a new vegetarian and vegan spot in Montreal: L’Gros Luxe 100% Végé. It looked like they had really fun food, and so I was really excited when I saw that they were starting to serve brunch this week-end. Out we went!

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When we entered, I was really surprised by the cool vintage decor of this restaurant. It really has a cozy and comfortable feel. I was really excited to see the brunch menu: scrambled tofu eggs, benedict eggs, breakfast burritos, poutine and waffles… and fried chicken! Now, I had to try that out! So we ordered the waffles and fried chicken and the breakfast poutine. Our waitress was super friendly and casual. She was really nice! So we ordered, and then we waited, waited and waited. It took a while for our food to arrive, and our neighbors, who were there before us, were still waiting for theirs when we started eating.

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I have to say I was expecting a little bit more food for the price, but everything was delicious. The pear-bourbon maple syrup was really flavourful, and it is something I’d like to make again at home. The gluten-free waffles were good, but really dense. However, they were not too sweet, and so I got to enjoy the wonderful syrup with them. The real star of this plate was the vegan chicken: super crispy, perfect texture and amazing taste. It really felt like the real thing, while still being an incredible mix of soy protein and shiitake mushrooms. Delicious!

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Overall, we liked the food, but it was a bummer to have to wait so long for it to arrive. Would we go back? Well, probably if we had omni friends around because they do have fun veganized staple foods. I would maybe want to try out their evening menu which looks amazing. It’s also great that they offer vegan alternatives for most of their vegetarian dishes, and that many of them are gluten-free. It’s still great to see more and more vegetarian and vegan restaurant pop up around the city. Let me know if you went there for brunch or for diner, and what you thought of it! And don’t forget to check out La Végé d’à Côté for her review!

 

An afternoon in Montreal: Les Jardins d’Ambroisie and strawberries in the park

Summer is definitively in Montreal! The sun was out this morning, the breeze was refreshing, and it was just the perfect day for a picnic. So I put my ginormous pile of need-to-be-corrected exams, and went for a stroll with my boyfriend.

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We were really excited because today the Marché Fermier was starting again! Near the Laurier metro, the marché is made out of different stands were you can find fresh vegetables and fruits, baked goods, cider and even fermented vegetables. We really like buying our produce there in the summer because we find the freshest and best vegetables and fruits for a good price directly from the producer. Win-win-win situation!

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We have two favourite stands at the market: La Ferme des Petits Cailloux for their wonderfully juicy and flavourful strawberries, and Les Jardins d’Ambroisie for the incredible quality and freshness of their organic greens and vegetables. Seriously, Francis, the owner of the farm, is an incredible farmer who always has new or unknown species to offer: at his stand we discovered lemon cucumbers, which are deliciously crunchy and fresh, and purple potatoes that are the best pan-fried and served with a chutney. He also has great recommendations as to how to prepare his produce. If you are out of ideas, I strongly recommend going to visit his stand: you will leave with loads of incredible veggies, recipes and ideas!

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If you are interested in trying out these fantastic products, you can support the Jardins d’Ambroisie as they offer market shares and CSA baskets. You can of course visit the market every Thursday and Sunday afternoons as well. For more details, visit the Marché Fermier’s page. After finding some greens and strawberries, we continued our stroll and ended-up in a park where we got to feast on our delicious finds! Summer, I’m really glad your finally here!

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Let me know if you have a farmer’s market where you like to go or what you do to take advantage of every drop of summer!

 

Pure Kitchen, a restaurant review

Sunday, after attending the Ottawa Veg Fest, we went to eat at Pure Kitchen. Apparently, this restaurant was launched by the Pure Yoga studios’ team. Their vegetarian menu includes many delicious vegan options, juices and smoothies. I really enjoyed their neutral decor: done all in black and white except for a very colorful wall, the space gives out a fresh and, well, pure impression.

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We started out with their Lavish, their loaded avocado. The avocado half is grilled and filled with pico de gallo (salsa), sprouts and coconut bacon bits. It was very cute and super tasty! It was also very fresh and spicy. The mix of texture was also quite fun: crunchy coconut bacon, creamy avocado and soft tomatoes. And because we wanted to keep things light, we ordered the starter poutine. Yeah, that’s an oxymoron.

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Fries, cashew cheese, bell mushrooms and gravy. Yup, that’s intense! Even though this was good, I didn’t feel like it was particularly exceptional: the fries were soft and the gravy quite salty. However, their cashew cheese was really good. It had little to do with the traditional squeaky poutine cheese, but it added a nice flavour to the mix. Even though we split this up in three parts, I must admit I was full at this point. But it didn’t end here…

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Now this was spectacular! Walnut burger, guacamole, cauliflower wings, coleslaw and greens! this was really great: tasty, textured, and slightly spicy. The fact that there was no bun was great too because this is clearly enough on it’s own. It’s also a lot more fun! This was served with a kale salad and some fries. I really liked the cauliflower wings: what a great idea! My boyfriend took the Awesome burger. The same walnut burger was served with mushrooms, coleslaw and bbq sauce.

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My friend had the Fantastic bowl which was really good! Compared to our burgers, her plate was smaller, but so full of flavours. The tofu was really well seasoned and so tender. Unlike any other bowls I had seen before, this one was served with rice noodles.

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Needless to say, after eating all this we crawled out of the restaurant, hating the idea of food. Except for my friend who was excited about ice cream..! I really like this restaurant: the food was incredible. I have to say that for a Sunday afternoon, it was really packed and noisy however. We also had a very crabby waitress, but considering the jam-packed restaurant, it was understandable. It was actually a little bit funny. Anyways, we all paid around 20$ which is pretty good. I’d probably recommend this place if you are in Ottawa. Plus, it’s right in front of MEC, so you can go browse all the fancy outdoor equipment after eating, and it might make you feel better or make you feel like you are the laziest person who has every walked the earth. On that note, let me know if you tried Pure Kitchen or what’s your favorite vegan restaurant!

Product Review: Mycryo Powder

A few months ago, my mom brought back a bottle of Mycryo powder from a chocolate fair. I had seen this product at the Montreal Vegan Fest, as well as the Salon des Métiers d’Arts, but always thought it was some fancy product that only fancy chefs used. Well, it’s not.

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At first, I was a little bit concerned because on the bottle it says that it’s perfect for meat and fish. Hum. Oh well! It’s also great for pan frying mushrooms: it gives them a nice golden color. It works really well for stir-fries: it keeps everything from sticking, while not being overly greasy. It’s also perfect to work with ingredients that have a subtle flavour: it has no noticeable flavour and will really let the freshness and original flavours of your produce shine.

I also love that only a small quantity of this will help cooking: this means that this bottle will last forever! I usually shake this a few times on a heated pan and then cook my vegetables as usual. This is a great alternative to olive or coconut oil. Made with powdered cocoa butter, it’s supposed to have less fat and calories. Well, no mater if this is true, I love that you can easily use it both for savoury and sweet recipes. The taste is so mellow that it really takes no place in the flavour palette of your recipes. It will work equally well for cooked apples or potatoes.

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Will I buy this for myself? Well at 19$ for 550g, it is comparable to olive oil. It is not organic, nor fair trade. Even though I think it is a fun product to try out, it really is not a staple for me. I’ll probably finish this bottle and go back to using other oils. Anyways, let me know if you have tried this and what you think of it!

 

Blanc de Gris, or how to have a mushroom farm in the city

Last summer I had the chance to visit the urban farm Blanc de Gris which specializes in growing mushrooms. After being a little bit confused by the very urban setting (the farm is in fact situated in an old warehouse), Dominique, one of the co-founder took us around a tour of the “farm”. One word: wow! I was really impressed by the installations, the ingenuity of their project (they up-cycle coffee grinds and beer grains) , their technique, and their fresh enthusiasm for a really original and awesome project.

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Lysiane, the other co-founder in one of their growing chambers. Look at those mushrooms!

Today however, I was even more excited because their farm was open to the public (hey, that’s me!) since their oyster mushroom production just exploded! We got to buy some fresh mushrooms. Will you just look at them? They are so perfect!

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We were really happy to meet with Lysiane, who is the other co-founder of Blanc de Gris. She was very friendly and gave us amazing mushrooms to bring back home. Her passion for her job was palpable and so refreshing. She told us that they were really happy with their production and that things were really starting to grow. While they are still working with high-end restaurants of the city, they are now looking into creating their own line of transformed mushrooms products.

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This is a really fun new venture for this young farm as it would make their production shine outside of its current clientele, while also making the entire production of mushrooms valuable. I am very curious to see what products they will be working on, but I’m quite sure that it will be done with the same care, integrity and excellence that you can witness when visiting Blanc de Gris. Their business is truly an asset for the city of Montreal, as well as for the foodies and urban farmers alike.

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I really can’t wait to cook these amazing mushrooms; there’s also a little bit of pressure on my shoulders! I really encourage you to like their Facebook page as they announce when they organize flash sales or visits. You wouldn’t want to miss that, right? Also stay tuned for a mushroom-filled recipe!

 

Perfect Brunch, an “Aux Vivres” review

Aux Vivres is kind of a no-brainer for Montreal based vegans. It holds a special place in my heart as I remember going in there a few months after they had opened and being amazed by their Dragon Bowl. Then, I remember my fun lunches with friends. I also remember multiple birthday celebrations, meetings and fun dates with my boyfriend.

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Romantic roses for Valentine’s Day!

This restaurant has changed so much since its opening. The first time I went to Aux Vivres, it was a little more that a hole in the wall. Now, they have three big sections, a terrace in the back and a separate store. You can also find their products all around the city (and even outside of the city) in different stores and cafes. Quite the success story!

So, on this very cold day (-35C… winter is definitively here!), we stepped out with my amazing (and sadly just visiting) sister-in-law for a nice vegan brunch.

Brunch at this restaurant is quite the event for me: special dishes, chai tea, but still access to all their regular meals. Amazing!

My sister-in-law went for the Huevos Rancheros plate which looked amazingly good with the great sweet potato wedges and black bean puree. She particularly liked the guacamole, but the silence coming from her corner is proof that this was particularly scrumptious.

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The amazing Huevos Rancheros plate

I also went for a brunch plate: The Polenta. I love this plate, and I have to admit that I always take this when we come for brunch. The polenta triangles have a great crunchy texture on the outside but are still creamy in the inside. I also am completely in love with their black bean puree and guacamole. I really enjoy this plate: the flavour combinations and freshness of the tastes are just amazing!

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The Polenta plate

The brunch plates also come with the choice of coffee or chai latte which is really spicy and comforting. Perfect for this cold day!

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Chai Latte

Finally, if you’re not really in for brunch, you must try their Dragon Bowl. This is the go-to option for my boyfriend. He really loves the sauce which has a great salty and slightly sour flavour. Filled with fresh veggies, sprouts, rice and topped with tempeh or tofu, it is very filling and also very satisfying.

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Dragon Bowl

If you are still hungry after this, I recommend trying the uncheesecake. A complete dupe for non-vegan cheese cake, this has a great creaminess and flavour. The berry topic is also quite nice and the crust is very satisfying. Beware that it is not gluten-free, but my sister-in-law still enjoyed it entirely.

If you are in Montreal, you have to try this restaurant out. It is a little bit pricey, but the food is amazing, the service is very friendly and the number of options just great!

 

Poutineville, a restaurant review

If you are outside of Quebec, Poutine might not rhyme with delicious, yet caloric, potatoes and gravy. And cheese. Yes. As a vegan, I was very disappointed to say goodbye to poutine.

That is until I heard about Poutineville during Montreal’s poutine week. You see, unlike most poutine places, this restaurant gives you a pre-made menu, but also the option of making your own mix, and they even have vegan cheese (of the Daiya family, I suspect) and gravy. Yes!

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I was very intrigued by the crushed potatoes as poutine is usually made with fries. Well, crushed potatoes are amazing! They were deliciously seasoned and oh-so-crispy! As for the vegetable add-ons, they are a way of making me feel better about eating this very, very, very comforting dish, but they also bring a nice variety to the mix.

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I tried this with the pepper gravy, which is vegan and gluten-free. This sauce was rich, had a great taste and was at the perfect temperature to melt the cheese. This last component of the poutine was really the weakest: the cheese has a very artificial taste, which I expected as vegan cheese often have a slight after-taste.

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Still, the potatoes were really amazing! I just can’t get over how crispy and flavourful they were.

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I will definitively go back to Poutineville as I loved making my own unique poutine. If you are in the Montreal area, give it a try!

Teashop, a cafe review

This week has been incredibly busy with work. You see, I have to give in my grades for next Friday, but I am so tired with just the regular teaching stuff that correcting my 197 writing productions (ranging from 200 to 500 words… I seriously need to make these kids work less) is just killing everything happy inside of me.

So when my colleague suggested that we meet in a tea shop to motivate each other (she is a French teacher, so she knows the struggle is real), I jumped on the occasion. When she mentioned a special place where they boiled fresh chai tea, I was very excited.

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I was even happier when the very nice tea-barista (is there a word for a professional tea maker? please let me know!) told me that he could make it with almond milk.

The result: a light, spicy, foamy, perfectly comforting hot drink. Not that anything would make correcting 197 copies on a nice ans snowy Saturday afternoon better, but almost.

So if you are in Montreal, I really suggest you try the Teashop, on Jean-Talon street as it is very friendly, perfect to work and has a very relaxed atmosphere. Give it a try!

Copper Branch, a Restaurant Review

As we were downtown, we decided to go try out Copper Branch. We didn’t know anything about it and so, we came in with an open mind. The first thing that surprised us was that it is actually an ordering counter that could fit in any food court, and not a “restaurant”.

We were however awed by the number of choices that the menu proposed. I was also happy to see that any bread could be replaced with a gluten-free option.

My boyfriend went for the Mushroom Galaxy burger on the kamut bun. It was indeed packed with a lot of sauteed button mushrooms as well as one portobello steak.

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I decided to go with the Shiitake Teriyaki sandwich on a gluten-free bun. Wrong choice: I was really disappointed to see that it was not in fact shiitake mushrooms but seitan. It was a little counter productive to take seitan in a gluten-free bun, and I was not happy that the menu did not announce this. Beside the seitan, there was alfalfa sprouts, tomato and lettuce. The bun was very tender and had a great texture. (After contacting Copper Branch to see if it was really seitan, it turns out that it was soy protein mixed with shiitake mushrooms. Better than seitan, but I wish the menu would indicate this.)

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Overall, I was happy to try Copper Branch out, but I don’t think I’ll go back any time soon. Besides the burgers and sandwiches, they also have bowls with various vegetables and proteins. Another point that was a down for us was the prices. Our sandwiches were almost 10$ each, but I don’t feel it was worth it. So, if I were to go to a mall and stumble upon a Copper Branch, I would probably eat there, but I wouldn’t make the trip especially for it.

Sushi Momo: a restaurant review

 

Today, I went to school, had fun with my first class, and then… everything kind of dropped down from there. So, what do you do when life gives you lemons?

You go eat sushi, of course.

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We had tried to go to Sushi Momo (which is an all vegan sushi restaurant) once before, but we were unlucky enough to choose a day when they had an event booked. Sadness overload.

Tonight though we were really happy to be seated at one of their tiny table in their tiny, but cute restaurant.

We were greeted warmly and quickly served complementary edamame beans. Yum! We then ordered their “For 2 Formula” (44$).

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Soon a white miso soup came: not too salty, the broth was rich and soothing.

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After that, we had some gyoza to share. The dough was very crispy and not chewy, and the stuffing light and savory. Served with a spicy soy sauce, this was perfection!

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Then, to our great excitement, the sushi came! 25 pieces, all unique and with a special look to them. We were thoroughly impressed. The best was yet to come: full of flavours, texture and freshness, these are probably the most delicious sushi I have ever had. They really have nothing to envy to traditional fish sushi.

After all this, we each received a scoop of coconut chocolate ice-cream with a peanut butter center. Yummy!

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Over all, the sushi combinations are well-thought, creative and really well executed. The presentation is clean and simple, with a touch of sophistication. The service is quick and friendly. And really, these are the best sushi in town!

 

Sorry for the slightly yellow pictures. As this was a “let’s get out of here” outing, I had to rely on my phone. But I went back there and took better pictures you can see here