There’s a crispness in the air. There might even be a few snowflakes floating down from the sky, appearing just briefly and melting as they touch the ground. It’s November in Toronto. And from the middle to the end of the month, it’s Veggielicious time.
What is Veggielicious?
Veggielicious is a celebration of delicious vegan food throughout the city of Toronto (and surrounding area!) Restaurants are invited to offer compassionate, plant-based meals during this two week span. Many establishments offer special prix-fixe meals with several courses, or they might offer a special deal on their current offerings. Bakeries in the city might have a sale, or create something special for the occasion. And it’s not just vegan or vegetarian restaurants that participate – several restaurants that regularly serve meat dishes might have a special vegan meal prepared for Veggielicious. It’s a great way to try a new cafe or restaurant, eat something that the chef has specially created, or introduce your friends to yummy vegan food.
My Veggielicious Experience
This year, I was fortunate enough to try two different restaurants during Veggielicious. One place was an old favorite – Grasslands, and one was a new discovery – Grasshopper. It was purely coincidental that both places I dined at “grass” in the title!
I’d never eaten at Grasshopper before, and their prix-fixe menu definitely caught my eye. For $25, you get to try a three-course meal that includes a smoothie or glass of wine.
Appetizer: Veggie Flight (rice popper, sesame tofu, mini mushroom bowl, mashed potato with lotus root chips)
Dessert:Chocolate banana explosion with soy pudding
Drink: White/Red wine or any smoothie.
For my beverage, I choose a fruit smoothie with peach, mango, blackberry, blueberry and strawberry.
The veggie flight offered four tasty morsels, each being its own unique bite. I think my favorite was the rice popper – the flavors really did pop, between the crispy deep fried rice and the slightly spicy sauce drizzled on top. I really loved the presentation of this starter, but going beyond how it looked, it also tasted great.
The main course was the pumpkin gratin, which was quinoa macaroni with spinach, onion, eggplant, mushroom, and pumpkin. It was served up in a bowl made from a hollowed out squash. Grasshopper gets more points for delightful presentation. The pasta dish was really good, despite the fact that I’m not hugely crazy on pumpkin. But, that’s just my own personal taste.
And for dessert, I was served the “chocolate banana explosion”, a small pudding topped with fresh fruit. It was layered with chocolate pudding on the top, and a banana custard underneath. The banana and the chocolate melded together perfectly. It was a fabulous ending to a delightful meal.
Grasshopper is a small, yet cozy establishment right near Kensington Market on College Street. The server was very helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. Overall, I had a great dining experience there and wouldn’t hesitate to return.
The other restaurant that I visited was one of the places that we attended last year for Veggielicious – Grasslands. Not only did Justin enjoy a delicious meal with me, but we were also joined by the travel blogger, Katie of World Wide Vegetarian! It was actually our first experience meeting up with a fellow travel blogger. Katie was visiting from Washington. I don’t think there’s a better way for two vegetarian travel bloggers to meet than over delicious vegetarian food, at a city-wide vegan event no less.
For $25, the prix-fixe meal consisted of:
Appetizer: Sweet Potato Fritters with Dipping Sauce
Main: Pasta with pesto and cashew cream sauce, with tempeh bacon
Drink:Glass of white or red wine
The fritters were elegantly arranged on the plate over a bed of kale. Everything is better with kale! They didn’t exactly taste like sweet potato, but they were incredibly tasty, especially when paired with the creamy dipping sauce that was spiked with bits of red onion. There was also a sweeter fruit sauce on the plate that added a whole other dimension of flavor.
When the pasta arrived, we all commented on just how huge the portions were! While Justin somehow managed to eat all of his meal, I ended up bringing more than half of mine home for lunch the following day. No matter how much of this pasta I seemed to eat, it always looked as though an even larger portion remained in the bowl! If I had to have an endless bowl of pasta, I would be happy if it were this one in particular. Between the cashew cream sauce, the pesto, and the little chewy bits of tempeh bacon, I would have had no idea that this pasta were vegan. It was great being able to order a creamy pesto pasta without it having loads of dairy in it.
We got to enjoy lots of yummy food at this year’s Veggielicious. So, what are you waiting for? This event goes on until November 30th, 2014. Check out the Veggielicious website, and try some tasty vegan meals or snacks!
478 Queen St. W, Toronto
Hours: Tue-Sun 5:30pm-10:00pm, Brunch on weekends 10am-3pm