The first Thursday of every month is the only chance Ottawans have right now to enjoy dinner at Credible Edibles, a primarily lunchtime cafe located on Hinton Avenue north of Parkdale. That means this Thursday, Feb. 3.
As part of the 1st Thursdays Art Walk in West Wellington Village, Credible Edibles, which itself will feature a collection of fresh new art from local artist Stephanie Guimond. The Art Walk occurs every 1st Thursday, leaving the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) lobby at 7pm. For more info on the Art Walk, click here.
Credible Edibles’ Table d’hote vegan menu includes:
* Moroccan red lentil soup
* Spinach and sundried tomato salad in red wine vinaigrette
* Mexican tacos topped with fresh salsa and creamy guacamole
* Maple apple walnut cake
* Fair trade coffee, tea or hot spiced apple cider
The cost is $24.95 per person, and don’t forget–NCVA members get a 10 per cent discount at Credible Edibles!
Reservations are available between 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and can be made in person at Credible Edibles (78 Hinton Avenue North), by phone, 613-558-7569 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
For VegOttawa’s review on Credible Edibles, click here.
I moved to Ottawa more than 11 years ago from a small town. While Ottawans like to think of Ottawa as being similar to a small town, to me it was a big and impersonal city where I was just another face in the crowd. It was a difficult adjustment, and it took many years for me to feel like Ottawa was my home. The girl who worked at the little bagel shop I used to frequent back home (this was in my pre-gan days) would see my car coming down the street, and start my order. It was always ready by the time I walked into the cafe. Now that’s customer service!
Back to Ottawa, I think it has helped to be part of a subculture. There are a limited number of businesses catering specifically to vegetarians and vegans, but it also presents the opportunity to develop relationships with many of the business owners and staff of the places which I patronize. Partly as a result of my work with the NCVA I am on a first name basis with many of the owners of veg-oriented business in Ottawa, which is a great feeling. It helps me to feel good about many of my consumer choices, because I know where my money is going; it’s often supporting the very community of businesses and people who support me as a vegan.
While it’s very difficult to follow the money trail for every purchase we make, I do try to support companies and organizations that are good to their workers, make an effort to operate and source ethically, and which give back to the community. I want to give a shout out to one in particular which is supportive of the veg community, and without their support, we may not have been able to put on two Veg Fests.
For many Ottawa residents—vegetarian or otherwise—their first encounter with plant-based cuisine occurs at The Table Vegetarian Restaurant. In fact, The Table serves some 400 people each and every day! But what diners and the public may not know is that not only is The Table a great place to eat, but its owner, Simon Saab, is an outstanding corporate citizen.
“From day one, my philosophy has been to give back to the community that we operate within. Sponsoring is a way of letting the people who come in, who enjoy the restaurant and the food we serve, know that I really appreciate their support of my business,” Simon says. “I do believe that if you give, you receive so much back.”
The Table is the NCVA’s biggest corporate supporter, including as the title sponsor for both Ottawa Veg Fests. When the NCVA first considered holding a festival, Simon was the first business owner to sign on. It’s largely thanks to The Table’s sponsorship that Veg Fest has succeeded, and remains a free event.
The Table has also sponsored other local events and publications, including the SimplyRaw festival. Simon says from a business point of view, sponsoring events like Veg Fest is a good way of keeping the restaurant’s name recognition up. “And from a personal standpoint, I really enjoy what I do.”
Simon’s family has a long history in the restaurant business, and he’s been a part of the industry for some 35 years. Ten years ago he decided to combine his interest in restaurants with his interest in a healthy vegetarian lifestyle.
“Vegetarian and organic have always been personal interests of mine, for more than 30 years. Since I opened the restaurant my commitment to the veg lifestyle has been very strong,” he says. Indeed, everything served at the restaurant’s buffet-style set up is vegetarian, and most selections are vegan. Some choices are raw, and/or gluten free. In the past few years the restaurant has focused even more on purchasing produce from local farmers.
“People are so much more aware of illnesses and what to do and eat to help themselves, a lot more than they were 15 or 20 years ago,” Simon says.
He says the recent addition of several new vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the Ottawa area has been complementary to his own business, and shows the high level of demand for plant-based alternatives in Ottawa.
The Table is one of the veterans: on July 24, it celebrated 10 years in business.
The NCVA is grateful to all of the businesses that have supported us, from sponsoring Veg Fest, to offering our members discounts, to buying advertising in Capital Veg News, to making product donations, and more. Without their support it would be an uphill battle!
The Table Vegetarian Restaurant
230 Wellington Street West, Ottawa
ZenKitchen is one of the few restaurants that I like to save for special occasions. A very special occasion took place last weekend, my 29th birthday. Accordingly, Kyle took me to Zen Kitchen to celebrate.
I consider myself to be somewhat of a ‘foodie’. I like to sit down to a nice meal and discuss it. I like to talk about what makes it special. Caroline Ishii, the chef at ZenKitchen, really impressed me with this meal. Dave Loan impressed me with his drink creations.
When you go to ZenKitchen, the first thing I recommend is making a reservation, especially if you want to eat on a weekend. It’s a fairly small space and apparently it is very popular. After reading my review you will probably see why it is so popular. Also the reason why it’s saved for only special occasions for me is because it is pretty expensive. Keep that in mind when you decide to dine out, maybe trade two Green Earths and a Table for one night out at Zen?
Upon entering the restaurant we were asked by the hostess if she could take our coats. I think that is a bonus point right off the start. I really dislike bringing my coat to the table in the winter. It’s just too bulky. It’s also a good idea for the restaurant owners too, in order to preserve their furniture from the evil salt and dampness that may be lingering on the people of Ottawa’s outerwear.
When we sat down we were told of the special and given some time to think. This restaurant is not cheap, which is another reason why we save it for only a special occasion. While I was looking through the drink menu, I noticed a very cool breeze around my butt and legs. It felt like –75 degrees outside and being in an old building I figured it was just something to do with the construction. It was pretty uncomfortable though. I ended up finding the culprit after some searching: the electrical outlet. However, I forgot to mention it to the staff later on because I was so wrapped up in my meal and drinks. So, Dave and Caroline: If you are reading this, please insulate your electrical outlets! 🙂
Kyle and I both ordered the Four Course Chef’s Tasting Menu for $48 per person. All that we were told was that it was Mediterranean themed. I almost didn’t go for it because when I think of Mediterranean food I think of olives, which I really can’t stand the taste or smell of. But I decided to take a chance and it turned out to be a really good chance to take! For drinks, we both ordered the Kimchee Caesars for $8 each. Not overpriced byOttawa standards. It was perfectly spicy and tasted like summertime. For those who know me well, I had an obsession with Bloody Mary’s this past summer. The Kimchee Caesar consisted of tomato juice, vodka, kimchee and a salt rim. Kimchee is something I would have never thought to put in a drink. Very creative and delicious. Thanks Dave!
The first course that came out was a butternut squash risotto ball with a panko crust and a chipotle sauce. It was fabulous. The butternut squash was so creamy and melted in my mouth. It almost had a sort of cheese-like flavour to it. I forgot to take a picture until I was halfway through it, so it doesn’t look as fancy in the picture as it did when Chef Caroline brought it out to us. The only thing about this meal that would improve it is a second or third risotto ball!
Second course was surprising. It was a quinoa tabouli salad with beets and a horseradish aioli. I think this very special salad was created with Lebanese elements. Very creative and presented beautifully. It tasted even better than I would have thought. The quinoa had a very nice sweetness and some citrus notes to it. Throughout the quinoa part were little mustard seeds that popped in your mouth. I would try to duplicate it at home but I wouldn’t know where to start! Kyle is someone who really does not like beets, so this was worrying me while he ate it. I think since the beets were cut so small and each bite incorporated the other elements of the meal, he really enjoyed it. Also the beets lacked the earthiness that they usually have. They were juicy and sweet. Bonus.
Third course was the main meal. It was hand wrapped ravioli with caramelized onions, exotic wild mushrooms, and tempeh. I love fresh pasta, and it’s one of the things I miss most, being vegan. The pasta element was served very al dente, just how I like it. I love onions and I love mushrooms and I love pasta so I am a hard critic to please when it comes to these things. They have to be cooked to perfection, and they were. The onions were not mushy and were nice and sweet. Within the mushroom and onion medley were some other vegetables, cooked to perfection as well. I believe I tasted some sweet potato. The only element of the dish I couldn’t find was the tempeh. I think it was stuffed in the ravioli but there was so little of the stuffing that you couldn’t tell what it really was. However, I overlooked that aspect and consumed every drop of food on my plate. Yums.
The fourth and final course was an orange and cardamom pyramid cake covered in chocolate ganash with raspberry coulis and candied orange peel. At first I was not very impressed. I really don’t like fruity flavours messing around with my chocolate. However, after the other three amazing courses, I trusted Caroline enough to giv ‘er a try. I am glad I did. Absolutely divine! The cake wasn’t overpoweringly orangey or cardamommy; it was nice and moist. The chocolate ganash was a compliment to the cake. I loved it.
After dessert we wanted one more drink since it was such a special night. Kyle ordered some Laphroaig Quarter Cask Single Malt Scotch $7.5 and I ordered a Caipirinha $8. The Caipirinha consisted of Cachaça, lime, organic cane sugar. Cachaça is a Brazilian type of rum. I really enjoyed this one. It was refreshing and a good way to end the meal.
Except…the meal was not over. With the bill came two chocolate mint truffles. Melt in your mouth goodness.
Overall the meal was excellent. I am not one for surprises so it was very unlike me to order something and not know what it was going to be, but I am starting a new year so maybe this year I will just let go a little and try new things. I love how creative Chef Caroline and Dave are. Not once in my entire meal did I taste the typical Greek or Italian flavours one would normally assume of Mediterranean cuisine. Instead it was surprising, sweet, rustic, and citrusy. I loved every bite. I liked the ambiance of the restaurant, dimmed lighting, cute artwork (I think by a local artist? It has changed every time I have been there…a whole three times now!), and I didn’t even notice the music (good, because if I notice it it’s probably because it’s annoying me).
The most special part of the meal was when Chef Caroline brought us out our meals. It shows she takes special care with each and every one of her dishes. That’s wonderful, because I take special care eating everyone one of her dishes 😉
The NCVA has sent a Letter to the Editor to the Ottawa Citizen regarding the Ottawa Humane Society’s meat-laden menu for its annual Fur Ball.
From what we understand, there is not even a vegan meal offered for those attendees who do not wish to consume animal-sourced foods, which is a shame since vegans are often the most vocal advocates of adopting animals from shelters and rescues, spaying and neutering, etc.
We do not approach this issue with any combativeness; Many NCVA volunteers and members support the OHS, either financially or through adoptions. It is the NCVA’s goal to normalize and encourage the choice to not eat animals and animal products, and we simply feel that an animal product-free Fur Ball would be a positive contribution to that goal. It’s a win for everyone!
The National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA) is disappointed to learn that the Ottawa Humane Society is unwilling to consider a vegan menu, for its annual Fur Ball event.
Having a plant-based menu for the Fur Ball would be a hugely progressive move for the well-being of animals and for human and environmental health, and one that would no doubt be welcomed and praised by animal lovers. The resounding success of award-winning Ottawa businesses like ZenKitchen and Auntie Loo’s bakery demonstrate that there is a strong demand for vegan cuisine in our region, and that it can be every bit as delicious and satisfying as animal-derived alternatives.
While we understand that keeping animals off the menu is not required by the OHS’ mandate, with its refusal the OHS misses an opportunity to send a consistent and overwhelmingly positive message. A plant-based menu unequivocally demonstrates that the well-being of all animals is a top priority for the OHS.
This isn’t about “caving in,” as the article puts it. There’s simply no compelling reason why OHS supporters would not thoroughly enjoy a gourmet meal that leaves animals off the menu, and many reasons why it would be a viable, progressive, and positive course of action.
This latest in my series of stupid blog titles is a nod to the fact that I have to drag my sorry arse up the painfully steep Booth Street hill to get from my house on Primrose to Chinatown on Somerset.
But it is very much worth the climb. You see, in addition to the fantastic mock meats about which Neil has recently blogged, China town is home to many other vegan delights.
Today I’d like to highlight the wonton. A wise man (Neil) once said that all things are better when they are wrapped in dough. Unfortunately, when we vegans try to live this truth we are thwarted by the numerous stupider men who decided put eggs in all the wonton wrappers stocked by mainstream supermarkets.
Happily, pretty much every one of the 80,000 or so grocery stores in Chinatown stocks vegan versions (an ironic exception is Phuoc Loi, faux meat destination).
They are in the refrigerator section, and look like this:
To ensure that you don’t get eggy ones, just harken back to your days of eating snow. Remember what your mother told you: White, “Ok,” Yellow, “No Way!” Or just read the ingredients.
There are lots of great wonton recipes on vegweb.com, but you hardly need one. Just finely mince (slapchop!) about a cup each of onion, carrot, celery, plus whatever other veggies you fancy; add some salt, pepper and spices (Chinese 5-spice powder is good) and cook over medium heat until soft. I strongly advise also adding some minced faux meat – preferably mushroom chicken, beef, or mutton. I used Nelakee’s “pork steaks” tonight and they were great, too.
Once the filling is done, put about a tablespoon into each wonton and seal the edges (just squish ‘em together – no water or anything needed).
Next, fry them in a bit of oil until each side is golden brown.
Finally, stir up a sauce made of equal parts water, soy sauce and fruit juice and toss in a few slices of garlic and ginger. You should have enough sauce that it will fill your frying pan about one inch from the bottom.
Pour the sauce into your pan, put the lid on, steam for 5 minutes, and serve. They finished wontons are best dipped in soy sauce or in a 1:1 mixture of soy sauce and vegetarian oyster or stir fry sauce. These items also available in most Chinatown shops.
There is some culinary controversy leading up to this year’s Winterlude. Celebrity chef Martin Picard was set to cook for the Taste of Winterlude event on February 4. Picard is well known for his use of foie gras, an ingredient produced by force feeding a duck or goose. Due to the exceptional level of cruelty involved in the production of foie gras, the selection of Martin Picard as chef has been controversial.
After a number of people raised concerns, the National Capital Commision (NCC) asked Picard to take foie gras off the menu. Instead of preparing a meal sans foie gras, Picard decided to back out of the event entirely. Apparently, Mr. Picard is unable to prepare a meal without using his favourite ingredient. The NCC announced that another celebrity chef, Michael Smith, has taken on the tremendously challenging task of creating a meal that doesn’t contain the fattened liver of a force fed bird.
On the heels of this decision, there have been complaints about self righteous “animal rights nuts” who are unfairly pushing their choices and opinions on everyone else. It is a common tactic to portray vegans and others concerned about animal rights as strident, unreasonable, and downright oppressive. I find it fascinating how the most privileged and powerful have an uncanny ability to paint themselves as a persecuted minority.
The myth of the confrontational vegan is not only overblown, it turns reality on its head. I’ve eaten meat in front of vegans and I’ve declined to eat meat in front of omnivores. Vegans have sometimes given me flak for eating meat, but it’s nothing compared to the harassment I’ve received while choosing vegan options in front of omnivores.
When I turn down meat, I am often bombarded with questions. Usually these questions have a hostile tone and are asked by people who aren’t really interested in the answer. There are also the fun rants about how eating meat is natural, how it’s healthier, how humans are on top of some mythical food chain etc. These are all presented, unsolicited, as if they were clever and novel arguments. If I refuse meat in certain crowds, my masculinity is challenged. But easily my favourite tactic is when someone, who wouldn’t otherwise have done so, orders copious amounts of meat because they think they are making some sort of point.
In that fine tradition, Steve Mitton of the Murray Street Bistro has decided to put foie gras on the restaurant’s menu as a protest. Foie gras is not usually served at the restaurant, but in a breathtakingly obnoxious move, he has gone out of his way to add it. This is a good example of the way privileged people often react when they are asked to make the tiniest concession.
I think there are two reasons for these excessively negative reactions. One reason is that omnivores make up the vast majority of the population and as such are accustomed to being catered to and getting things their way. This is undeniably a privilege. When privileged people are asked to accommodate others, something they aren’t used to doing, they often view it as a deep injustice.
The other factor at play, I believe, is that deep down many people know that using animal products is problematic. When they are confronted with this reality, they often get defensive as a way to cope with the cognitive dissonance.
Clearly, not every omnivore behaves this way. Most are perfectly pleasant people. However, it is long past time we do away with the myth that those who are concerned with animal rights are the ones who push their views on everybody else. More often than not it’s the other way around. We live in an omnivore’s world and nobody is being oppressed when people are asked to make a small concession and refrain from eating foie gras at a large public event.
The author, Kyle, is neither a vegan nor a vegetarian.