We were very hungry when we arrived in Montreal. Since we enjoyed eating at Commensal in Quebec City, we went there in Montreal as well, this time for a quick lunch. The buffet was almost exactly the same in both locations!
With our stomachs full, we walked to our first destination: Notre Dame. Though considerably newer than the Notre Dame we saw in Paris a few months ago (construction starting in the 1800s rather than the 1100s), the facades of the two churches are actually rather similar.
The inside of this Notre Dame is far more colorful though. Check out that altar! This is a pretty opulent church. I don’t know how anyone thought this floor was a good idea though – it looks cheap and tacky to me.
Notre Dame is in Old Montreal, an area containing many well-preserved old buildings (some dating back to the 17th century).
From there, we wandered to the Old Port, a nice park-filled area along the Saint Lawrence River. Looking across the river, we could see Habitat 67, a housing complex that has always fascinated me.
Next, we headed through Chinatown (stopping for a refreshing shaved ice) and up Boulevard Saint-Laurent. This street and Rue Saint-Denis stretch seemingly forever, peppered with cool shops and restaurants.
We met up with a friend for dinner at Aux Vivres, a popular vegan restaurant with a trendy diner vibe. I had the macro bol and Jeff had a gyro. Both meals were tasty, but huge. Montreal itself is also pretty huge. We walked around a lot, but definitely could have spent a few more days exploring this city.
We really enjoyed our brief stay in Quebec City. We spent most of our time in charming Old Quebec. Between the narrow cobblestone streets, quaint old buildings, fortified city walls, and French signage and speakers, we felt like we had somehow crossed the Atlantic without the long and expensive flight. I highly recommend that folks in the US and Canada visit this North American treasure for a more accessible taste of the history and different culture that a trip to Europe provides.
We walked a few blocks from Old Quebec to get some Ellen-friendly food. We had dinner at Commensal, a vegetarian buffet restaurant that has several locations across Canada. Buffets are often difficult for people who can’t eat certain ingredients, but this restaurant does a great job of providing clear signage of what the foods are, and if they contain any common allergens.
And we couldn’t resist looking around in Le Crac Aliment Sains, a natural foods grocery store near Commensal. Check out my exciting purchases:
Oh my… Those cocoa creme filled hazelnut pillows did not last long! That box was ridiculously overpriced (around $8), but it was absolutely worth it! The cappuccino soy milk was fantastic too. Yay Quebec City!
Sadly, since gluten and I don’t get along, I wasn’t able to enjoy any crepes or macarons in Paris. But I was able to buy a pretty decent gluten-free baguette at my favorite Parisian natural foods grocery store, Naturalia. Other memorable finds at Naturalia included organic cherry soy yogurt, chocolate soy milk, hazelnut milk, and unbelievably yummy gluten-free madeleines and little chocolate chip cakes!
In addition to our usual travel staples of Indian and sushi restaurants, we ate at a couple of great vegetarian restaurants in Paris as well. Le Potager du Marais, located at 22 Rue Rambuteau, is a fantastic little vegetarian restaurant. The menu was loaded with tantalizing options, but in the end I had an amazing quinoa patty with a creamy – yet vegan – mushroom sauce and Jeff had veggie chili. I really appreciated that when the waitress brought bread for everyone before the meal, she brought me my own plate of gluten-free bread (which was surprisingly tasty!). We also enjoyed a quick lunch at Maoz, a vegetarian falafel and salad-based fast food franchise restaurant.
As an aside, I also wanted to mention that we never experienced the stereotype of French people being rude, even though we were those supposedly maligned tourists who don’t speak French beyond bonjour and merci. I found our waiters/waitresses to be pleasant and attentive. Our hotel staff were downright friendly. And the Metro ticket saleslady, who didn’t speak much English, went out of her way trying to explain the ins and outs of how to use our Metro passes, even though we assured her we would be fine. People tend to avoid eye contact on the Metro or when passing on the sidewalk, but that’s typical in most big cities. When we were in Vernon, the men at the bike rental and the waiter at the restaurant were more brusque, and less proficient in English, but I still wouldn’t call them rude. So my conclusion from our experience is that if you, the tourist, are not rude, then the French will generally not be rude to you. Just like anywhere else.
When most of us think about eating in Vienna, foods like schnitzel and sachertorte come to mind. I had also heard that ice cream is very popular in Austria. Unfortunately, none of these foods fit within my dietary constraints, so I was a little concerned about finding things that I could eat during my week in Vienna. As it turned out, there were lots of yummy things for me to eat in Vienna!
Naschmarkt is a huge outdoor market with lots of fresh produce…
…as well as many small restaurants and specialty food shops. One of the bakeries had a small selection of gluten-free rolls that were really tasty!
We also stumbled upon a tiny ice cream shop on Rotenturmstrasse (between Stephansplatz and Schwedenplatz), called Eis Greissler, that had several vegan ice cream flavors! Even their cones are vegan (although not gluten-free), and all of their ice cream is organic. So yummy!
We also had a great dinner at Akakiko, a Japanese restaurant.
And the grocery stores also had plenty of food to keep me going. I enjoyed the “fruits of the forest” flavored soy yogurt for breakfast, chocolate soy milk and bananas for snacks, and these gluten-free cookies were a very tasty dessert.
The rolls were disappointingly dry and bland-tasting, but it was a good effort. Almost every grocery store we went to had an orange juice squeezing station, which I thought was pretty cool. We were happy to find peanut butter as well – never a sure thing in other countries!
And I also discovered my new favorite snack in the grocery stores of Vienna. I’ll post about that once I’ve successfully replicated it at home!
So far, cornbread (including pumpkin cornbread) is the only vegan and gluten-free bread that I’ve successfully made. I made this yummy loaf of cornbread using a recipe from the first BabyCakes cookbook. For those of you who don’t own this fantastic cookbook, the recipe is also available online here. The only small deviation I made from the recipe is that I substituted corn flour with corn starch, but the bread still turned out so well that the two of us scarfed down most of the loaf with some leftover miser wat (recipe for that, and other delicious vegetarian Ethiopian dishes, is here).
Ganley recently spent a few days in Boston. He enjoyed a wander through the Fens on a sunny morning.
He also took advantage of the fantastic restaurants in Boston, starting out with a delicious take-out dinner from El Pelon, which recently re-opened its Peterborough Street location. He highly recommends the veggie plato (a great pile of mexican rice, black beans, and veggies, with corn tortillas on the side). Lunch at Pho and I was also excellent. The Pho Chay was such a large bowl of soup that Ganley could have swam laps in it, if it hadn’t been so delicious. The soup had a variety of vegetables and lots of yummy tofu. And most impressive of all was dinner at the Red Lentil in Watertown. The Red Lentil is all vegetarian, and has many gluten-free vegan options, as well as gluten-free cake! The food was really tasty, and beautifully presented.
As I mentioned before, Ganley loves good public transit, so of course he liked riding the T. Here he is admiring the T map while waiting for a train at the Symphony T stop.
After spending a wonderful wedding weekend in Holly, Michigan, we stopped in Ann Arbor for a late lunch to sustain us on our flight back to Halifax. We went to Seva Restaurant, a great vegetarian restaurant with an extensive menu specializing in American and Mexican favorites, and all-day breakfast!
Seva has many gluten-free selections and adaptations on their menu, so I had a lot of choices. After some deliberation, I chose the tofu rancheros (a corn tortilla topped with black beans, Mexican rice, tofu, ranchero sauce, and melted Daiya). I opted for a side of guacamole as well. There was so much food, but this meal was so delicious that I ate every last bit of it. In fact, I think I finished eating around 1:45 pm and wasn’t hungry again until the next day!
The best thing that can happen to me in an airport is stumbling upon a Cibo Express Gourmet Market. This place is heaven for a hungry vegan traveler, or anyone looking for healthy or high-end snacks. These little markets sell great prepared vegan meals like Asian bento boxes, buffalo tofu, seitan wraps and sandwiches, and sushi (veggie and fishy). They also have a lot of my favorite snacks: hummus and veggie packs, vegan yogurt, Food Should Taste Good chips, Veggie Booty, and my favorite chocolate (all of which are vegan and gluten-free!).
So far I’ve only seen these fantastic little markets at JFK and O’Hare airports, but a Google search suggests that they are also at Philadelphia, LaGuardia, and Tucson airports. Hooray for good airport food!