A Brief Stop in Guangzhou

We had a short layover in Guangzhou, with enough time to sit down for a nice meal at Jardin De Jade. We each ordered a combo of vegetable salad, boiled veggie and buns stuffed with black mushrooms and vegetables. The descriptions and even menu photos didn’t do justice to the quality and quantity that arrived. The meal was delicious and filling. The Longjing (dragon well) tea was also excellent.

Greg & Sally Tree Garden Cafe

For our last day in the Philippines Tonet and I went with her family to Greg & Sally Tree Garden Cafe, a beautiful restaurant near her sister’s home.

The ambiance was great, with trees providing shade, a couple Buddhas around, a jack-o’-lantern in January, a swing by the table and lots of nice little touches.

The food was very good. Mushroom sisig, garlic tumeric rice, gumamela iced tea, kangkong chips, basil oyster mushrooms and vegetable gising gising were all delicious!


The Wholesome Table

Today we met up with some of Tonet’s friends in Makati and went for lunch at The Wholesome Table. The atmosphere was excellent, and I was thrilled to see some exciting vegan items on the menu. I started with vegan cheese, a ricotta made with tofu and topped with jam, served with sourdough bread and with roasted garlic spread alongside. It was a real treat. My main course was a filling, hearty mushroom paella. Tonet didn’t like the strong smell of her immunity boost potion but I liked it a lot and ended up with the whole bottle. Finally it was time for coco-nut ice cream, which was good too. I’d give the restaurant an unreserved recommendation.

Cabbage Steak and 'Tatoes

Cabbage steak might seem boring, but it’s actually holds rich flavour and a great texture. I knew as soon as I read the Cabbage Steak and ‘Tatoes recipe from The Vegan Stoner that it was exactly what I like in a recipe. A few ingredients and simple prep always make for a better experience preparing a meal, and usually in actually eating it. The results were just what I hoped for. I made some minor changes, including topping with garlic chili sauce, but I highly recommend looking at the original if only for the great design.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red cabbage, cut into large wedges
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into pieces
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • olive oil

Steps:

  1. Preheat an oven to 420° F.
  2. Oil casserole dishes or cooking sheets.
  3. Place potatoes and cabbage on the sheets.
  4. Sprinkle olive oil, garlic powder and pepper to taste.
  5.  Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Flip cabbage and potatoes.
  7. Add the minced garlic on top of the cabbage.
  8. Bake for another 20 minutes.

Mid-Run Blackberries

Along the running path I use most often there are blackberry bushes.  I’ve noticed them ripening and yesterday I picked a handful as I dashed past.  Today I paused in the middle of my 10km run and gathered a small bag of berries to share with Tonet.

Halifax Seaport Market Adventures

This weekend I went to the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market for the first time in over a month. It’s not just a great spot for a vegan because of the fresh fruits and vegetables, but also has some explicitly vegan vendors, such as FruitionRawthentic Chocolate and Crowbar Real Foods (try the avocado fudge!).

Another vegan in the area, +Ashley Leslie, has shared “Vegan Halifax– A Guide“. In the piece Ashley detailed a lot of great options for vegans in this city and wrote the following about the market:

“The market offers of course fresh local produce but there are also a few vegan companies that are set up there too. Rawthetic chocolates offers raw dairy and gluten-free chocolates and almost all are vegan, The Main Squeeze is a juice bar offering healthy juices, and they also carry Crowbar Real Foods, which also has its own stand. Crowbar is a local all vegan energy bar company. You can also find them at places like Planet Organic and Pete’s. Osha Mae Soaps is an artisan soaperie who’s product line is almost entirely vegan, The Kind Cookie is an all vegan baking company that makes cookies, bars, donuts, muffins and more. Fruition is always on site, they are an all vegan and raw restaurant that makes snacks, almond milk, dips, desserts and more. Jitterbug Sodas makes real vegan sodas with fruit juice and nothing artificial.Gali’s Healthy Kitchen makes raw chocolates. She marks all vegan but most have honey so read ingredients. She is a very sweet lady and I discussed the honey issue with her. Little Red Kitsch’n offers a different menu each time, always has a vegan option.”

Check out the full article if you live in the area or plan to visit Halifax because it covers a lot of the best this city has to offer.

My meal at the market was a departure from my usual market experience. I got a veggie combo from a Caribbean food stand that was delicious.

Watermelon Tomato Gazpacho

Last weekend a friend had a birthday gathering in our house and I decided to make gazpacho for the first time for the celebration. I found it to be very refreshing and delicious. It was well received and I’m sure it will become a summer staple for me because it was so easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups (about 1 kg or 2 lbs) watermelon, cut into chunks (chilled)
  • 5 medium tomatoes (about 0.7 kg or 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 cup chopped red onion (1/2 separated for garnish)
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber (1/2 of one medium cucumber) for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, puree about half of the watermelon and transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining watermelon and other ingredients (except for the cucumber and second half cup of onion) to the blender or food processor and blend.
  3. Stir with the reserved watermelon puree and serve cold, topped with the diced cucumber and onion.

The recipe I used, modified only slightly, can be found at “Watermelon Tomato Gazpacho” on the Vegan Cuts Blog. There, it was suggested that leftovers can be used in exciting ways.

Although it’s best eaten just a few hours after preparation, it can be kept for several days if you insist. You can even use the leftover soup to make ice cubes, and later use the soup cubes as the foundation of a frozen Bloody Mary. Sounds like summer, right?

I recommend Vegan Cuts highly for great vegan food and other items. I subscribe to their monthly snack box and have been impressed.

French Milk (and Stop Paying Attention)

I started reading Lucy Knisley‘s Stop Paying Attention webcomic several years ago. It could be insightful and the art was always very well done. A favourite strip of mine is “Being Awkward vs Awkward Situations“.

I hadn’t read any of Lucy’s collected work until last week when I picked up French Milk. It’s an autobiographical account of a visit to Paris, relationships with parents and eating food. Travel and food comics are two of my favourite genres, so I was excited to dive in.

The art didn’t disappoint me. Lucy’s drawings are clear, charming and are superb vehicles for revealing both Paris and the emotional world Lucy inhabited. There was a lot to admire in visual aspects of the work and it was a joy to look at the art throughout the book.

The book is a travel and food memoir, but it is also very clearly concerned with anxieties of growing up and familial relationships. There are many poignant moments and the account seems very honest. As a snapshot of a 22-year-old artist, I think it’s excellent.

A problem I did notice was Lucy’s apparent ignorance of privilege. This may be a reflection of a young artist’s self-absorption, but it was jarring at points to read complaints, celebrations and self-pity over things that would be trivial or extravagant for many, if not most, of us. Reviewers also picked up on this flaw, and I think it’s a valid reason to be hesitant in wholeheartedly recommending the book. I see evidence of growth beyond this in Stop Paying Attention, so I believe Lucy’s incredible talent won’t be dulled by that distraction in the same way again, and I can look past the contracted character to see excellent storytelling.

Lucy’s latest book, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen was released in April to a lot of praise. Lucy’s website and Tumblr are both full of excellent content.