Monday, July 26, 2010

Calling out to all Ottawa Vegetarians!

CC commented on my last post that I should change the name of my blog to be the Montreal and Ottawa Vegetarian experience. I will do it, but I need your help! Please post in the comments your favorite vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Ottawa and I'll create a directory page for them above. The more one place comes up, the closer to the top it will be.

I know, I could look at Happy Cow's listing, but I don't want to just copy and paste their work. I have my own favorites for the few days a week I spend there, but you probably have yours that you want to share too.

P.S. I added a snazzy little "Like" button on the right... Would ya like this blog please? :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

La Belle Verte - Raw & Vegan in Gatineau, Quebec

Every once in a while, I like to walk off the beaten path. I was tired of going to Perfection - Satisfaction - Promise; The Green Door and my other usual vegetarian haunts, and turned to Urbanspoon to give me a new vegetarian option. After a few shakes of my iPhone, a suggestion came up - La Belle Verte, in Gatineau, just a few kilometers away from where I normally stay. My darling friend, Maureen, was game to try it too, and off we went to dine.

It's a little restaurant, located on Eddy, just a few blocks down from Gatineau's main drag. As you can see in the picture, it's got the "vegetarian" vibe to it, with the eclectic decor, open kitchen and refrigerated counter. It was funny to see the wait staff to be the typical, super healthy and fit looking vegans. Not sure if they were vegan themselves but they had the air of it, which is always inspiring for us "softies" (pudge pudge around my belly). The menu is short but varied. They do offer cooked plates but the majority of the menu is raw, and everything vegan.

We started by sharing an Artistic Platter - great to share, with an assortment of cashew cheeses (dairy free), sprouts, savory salads and their own signature raw sesame, dulce and nut crackers. Let me start with the cashew cheese. Oh. my.goodness. Fricken delicious! We had a plain and a roasted pepper variation. Both were creamy, rich and so good. Their crackers are out of this world - I'm not usually a fan of raw crackers, I find them hard, and unpalatable - but these, I had to buy some to take home.

I then had the spinach, avocado cold soup. Creamy, strong undertones of onion, garlic and basil. It was a nice twist on a gaspatcho. In my infinite gourmandise, I then had the raw pizza and salad. It was too much food and has some as left overs for lunch. The pizza was perfect. The crust was made of their own flax seed, hemp, etc, crackers, which held up very well to the spinach, cashew cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms and fresh pesto. The Zorba salad, was a raw vegan spin on a greek salad with cashew feta, sprouts and mushrooms.

Overall, the food was fantastic, the ambiance good, the service decent and the prices ranging in the $10 to $15 range per entree. If you are in the Gatineau or Ottawa region, it's worth a visit.

166, rue Eddy,
Gatineau/Hull, Quebec, J8X 2W9

Monday and Tuesday: 11am to 6pm
Wednesday to Saturday: 11am to 9pm
Sunday: Closed

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Summer BBQ - Vegetarian Style

I love summer. I write this as I am sitting outside by my barbecue. When I made the dietary switch, I had a brief moment of panic when I thought about my grill. Would I have to stop using it? That was a short lived feeling. I fire up my grill at least twice a week, and this is not my first blog post about BBQ'ing vegetables, veggie burgers and ribz. In honor of my addiction to grilling, here's a few of my tried and true tips:

  1. Invest in a good cast iron plaque. I know they sell these flimsy pans with little holes in them for grilling, but a thick cast iron plaque does an amazing job on mushrooms and onions. These two vegetables directly on the grill tend to fall through as soon as they start to char and cook through. The plaque prevents that and seals in the flavors. 
  2. Vegetables deserve marinating and rubbing too. I've watched many BBQ cooking shows where the chef slathers meat with dry rubs and marinades. Although vegetables don't require hours to soak in the flavors, they do take on whatever flavors you want to impart. My current marinade of choice is a mix of powdered cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle chiles, no salt seasoning, salt and pepper mixed with red wine vinegar and olive oil. Dare to try different spice mixes.
  3. Precook potatoes and corn if you don't want to spend an hour on the BBQ to wait for them to cook through.  I microwave corn in its husk for 2 minutes, and cook potatoes for 3 minutes on high. Then brush on olive oil for extra flavor when placing them on the grill then cook until you get nice char marks.
Happy grilling!