Birthday Food

This year my wonderful adoring boyfriend made sure I had the best birthday ever so after spending the morning getting a relaxing and heavenly couple’s massage, our bodies were ready to eat a mountain of vegan food and make googly eyes at each other for the rest of the day.

Tbh these aren’t my best photos but I still wanted to share a few quick snapshots and remember this day forever so here we go:

Mr. Spoon brought me to Ramen Isshin for some vegan ramen for lunch! After the life-changingly good ramen we had in San Fran, we wanted to see if we could recreate that magic here in T.O.

So he told me to order whatever ramen I thought looked the most delicious, AND whatever ramen I thought looked the second most delicious and make both of them vegan and he would eat whichever one I liked less, so I could try TWO ramens and eat my favourite one! That’s real love, people!!!!

I ordered the Shoyu ramen for myself with egg-free vegan noodles and we both added corn and bean sprouts.

Vegetarian Shoyu Ramen – Isshin Shoyu nori, bamboo shoots, sauteed shiitake mushrooms, button mushrooms. wood ear mushrooms, green onions & thin wavy noodles

For Mr. Spoon I ordered the Red Miso ramen.

Vegetarian Red Miso Ramen – Isshin Red Miso blend, bamboo shoots, wok fried ground tofu, green onions, wood ear mushrooms & thick twisty noodles

His was a little spicier and had less mushrooms. We both agreed more mushrooms = better in most cases. But luckily it turned out that we each preferred our own ramen over the other’s so I was happy about that.

Also the service was FANTASTIC here, everyone was SUPER nice and polite and we felt really welcomed. I definitely want to come back!

Overall I wouldn’t say it beat the ramen we had in San Francisco’s Japantown but it was still a darn amazing lunch! I was so surprised when Mr. Spoon told me we would get the spend the WHOLE ENTIRE DAY just being together as the two of us and that we were going to share a bunch of tasty vegan food and do a bunch of fun things together that he’d planned out weeks ago I couldn’t ask for a better present!

After lunch we visited the ROM to see the wildlife photography exhibit and went home for a little break until we were hungry again for dinner. Mr. Spoon had made a reservation at Planta, chef David Lee’s new fancy vegan restaurant in Yorkville! So funny because literally just days before this I was mentioning how I wanted to go, but he ALREADY KNEW and had booked a table like a month ago!

To start we shared some kimchi-stuffed dumplings that were served with hot sesame oil. These were sooooo good. They came out super crispy and piping hot. I could’ve eaten way more of these little guys, they were super addictive and had a great savoury flavour.

Next up we (okay, I) wanted to split the veggie burger. I read a rave review about how great the burger here is, how the chef flew down to NYC to try the Impossible Burger and decided to perfect his own recipe to give it a great taste and even better texture. I know every vegetarian and vegan has probably had a lackluster, disappointing veggie burger in their life from some non-vegan restaurant where it’s their only option. This is not that. This is an amazing veggie burger that every other crappy veggie burger aspires to be like. It DID have a great texture, was loaded with the perfect toppings and there was even “mushroom bacon” on top, which okay, to me and Mr. Spoon, really tasted more like smoked mushrooms which we LIKE, but not much like bacon (which I’m fine without anyway).


The lighting was pretty low in this place and I was ready to get eating so like I said, not my greatest photos of all time but I hope you can at least get an idea of how tasty and meaty this thing looked. And that’s not even getting started on the FRIES, people….. They were fan-freaking-tastic! I originally had meant to ask to substitute the “spiced fries” that come with the burger for some truffle fries (because… birthday… treat yo self, right?) but I’m glad that I forgot to ask because the spiced fries were CRAZY good! They were gone at the speed of light, I’m telling you. Plus that means we get to come back some time soon and try the truffle fries on another occasion so, win-win.

Mr. Spoon definitely agreed the veggie burger was a hit! And of course, he liked the fries as much as I did, too. I’m so glad I ordered the burger and I will definitely be wanting to eat it again (although I wanted to try all kinds of other things on the menu too! too many tough decisions!)

I also thought we should split an order of the truffle macaroni and “cheese”. It’s hard to go wrong with truffles, right? Right.

I mean, okay, so this macaroni won’t really be going down in the memory banks for all time (it was nowhere near as good as the burger) but it wasn’t bad either. If anything I think it needed a bit more salt (I say this as a salt addict) which was nowhere to be found on the table. The cheese sauce I thought was kind of.. only okay. A little grainy in texture and maybe not as rich and fatty as I was expecting. And as far as I could tell the truffle-ness wasn’t super infused into the sauce, it was just kind of sprinkled on top so getting a bite of truffle was good but it didn’t overpower me with the truffle-y goodness which is usually what I go for.

Overall it didn’t blow me away but don’t worry, none of it went to waste. Down the hatch and onto dessert!

Since we had a bottle of prosecco with our dinner the server asked us what we were celebrating. When she found out it was my birthday they brought this cute little candle in my dessert. How sweet.

This was the “Chocolate Terrarium” with all kinds of good stuff in there. I can’t even remember what it was, I think like bits of sponge toffee, pomegranate, raspberry and maybe two kinds of chocolate. Like a fancy mousse with lots of toppings on it.

It was good, slightly bitter because of the dark chocolate in it. I used to tend to go for sweeter, milk-chocolate so this would not usually for me but I liked it.

The other dessert I wanted to try was the lime cheesecake with pistachio and raspberry sorbet. Yum! I had a huge mega-sized piece of vegan chocolate chip cheesecake with Mr. Spoon at Whole Foods a few weeks ago and it made me realize I actually like vegan cheesecake a LOT better than the real thing. I just don’t like the taste of real cream cheese mixed with sugar and never really have – not on carrot cake, or as any kind of icing or in a cheesecake. Which is maybe kind of weird because I always liked real cream cheese on my bagels (now I like vegan cashew-based cream cheese the best, yum ). But now I’ve discovered vegan cheese cake and I think I’m hooked. They’re just so light and fluffy and you don’t feel so disgusting after like I used to feel after eating dairy. I think even non-vegans should try vegan cheesecake and see how delicious it is!

Of course as far as I know there’s no vegan Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake (YET!), that’s another story, but this will definitely help your cravings if you’re a fan of desserts or cheese.

We ended the night with shots of Limoncello. Cheers!

Ramen Isshin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Planta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Doug’s Public Kitchen

So last weekend a couple of friends from university and I went to Doug’s Public Kitchen for Sunday brunch, a vegan restaurant in North York close to Glencairn subway station.

I’d seen some photos of his vegan eggs benedict online a few weeks ago and immediately knew this place had to be next on my hit list.

Public Kitchen Popcorn | thelittleredspoon.com

Right away when we sat down we were given menus, a water jug with a piece of charcoal in it, and this delicious popcorn topped with cheesy nutritional yeast.

Tastes just like the popcorn I make at home. I could eat popcorn at every single meal, no joke. Just ask Mr. Spoon and he’ll tell you what a corn addict I am. Me eating an enourmous 10-cup mixing bowl full of popcorn topped with butter-flavoured olive oil, pink himalayan salt and nooch (and not sharing) is like a nightly occurrence at our place. In fact it’s kind of a weird night if I DON’T eat a giant bowl of popcorn to myself. So you can safely say I approve of any place that’s going to bring me popcorn to my table as an amuse-bouche.

Public Kitchen Mimosas | thelittleredspoon.com

The Public Kitchen Mimosa $9 (2oz)
freshly squeezed orange juice, lemongrass kombucha, sparkling prosecco wine, fresh raspberries
 We ordered a round of mimosas to celebrate getting together and a couple of upcoming birthdays. We all agreed the kombucha was an interesting touch.

Public Kitchen Mimosa | thelittleredspoon.com

Tbh I didn’t think there was enough booze for $9 a glass (hard to get day-drunk 2 oz of prosecco at a time…) but it was definitely delicious and refreshing.

Public Kitchen French Toast | thelittleredspoon.com

Coconut Crusted French Toast $16 – doug’s signature gluten-free french toast, warm maple syrup, vanilla maple yoso coconut yogurt drizzle, ground ceylon cinnamon, tempeh bacon

Our gluten-free friend went for the french toast with GF bread. Oh man it was SO tasty and GBD – golden, brown, delicious! The coconut crust was a really nice touch and it had a great flavour and texture. Didn’t even miss the gluten.

The tempeh was pretty good too, not the star of the show (I’m pretty sure every vegan has their own tempeh bacon recipe they’ve “perfected”) but pretty solid.

Public Kitchen Triple Decker Sandwich | thelittleredspoon.com

Triple Decker Brunch Club $17 – choice of sprouted grain or thornbury gluten-free bread, creamy garlic mayo, cornmeal and fennel seed crusted tomato, crisp smoky sprouted tofu, tempeh bacon, avocado and lettuce, choice of house salad or herbed home fries

The Triple Decker club sandwich looked pretty tasty too. We all tried to share a bite of this one and ended up making a huge mess since our jaws don’t unhinge enough to fit this huge sammy. But even with the mess it’s basically a vegan’s dream sandwich – a jacked up avo BLTT (bacon, lettuce, tomato, tofu). Yum! You know I’ll always eat a crispy fried tomato and anything slathered in vegan mayo.

I didn’t try the home fries because I was getting too full from eating the heck out of my own food and sharing bites of everything else on the table but they look tasty don’t they?

Public Kitchen Eggs Benedict | thelittleredspoon.com

Vegan Benedict $19 – choice of gluten-free or sprouted grain english muffin, crisp cornmeal and fennel crusted tomato, herbed white wine and garlic spinach, seared smoky sprouted tofu, runny soft poached vegan egg yolk, hollandaise sauce
 Now THIS……. this was the life-changer right here. My eyes practically bugged out of my head when this arrived at my table. It’s been a looong time since I’ve indulged in a decent brunch out at a restaurant. If you would’ve asked me a few weeks ago I might’ve said “well, what’s the point? I can make tofu scramble and tempeh bacon and flaxseed-blueberry pancakes and green smoothies at home. Sure it’s nice to go out but I used to go get brunch for the egggggggz, man”
But now that I know I can still get “eggs” benny as a vegan… that brunch drought is over. Holy smokes.

Public Kitchen Yolk Porn | thelittleredspoon.com

#veganyolkporn Dear lord…… let that vegan yolk wash over me….. yaaaaaassssssssss

It was SO REALISTIC guys. I think you have to go experience this for yourself to believe it.

Okay so the “egg white” is basically a piece of fried tofu with a dip in it so the yolk can rest gently on top. The yolk I have no idea what the heck it’s made of other than vegan wizard magic, dream particles and good vibes. It had a little skin and everything. I poked that yolk with my fork and it resisted the slightest bit and then oozed out that yellow sunshiney goodness just like the real deal.

And that vegan hollandaise? I don’t even need to know. Just smother me in it. I’ll take a bath in it. I’ll wash my hair in it. If you’re also a vegan who was once an eggs benny addict you need to try this for yourself. Heck, if you’re an omnivorous CURRENT eggs benny addict I still think this stands up. AND you get to think about how you saved adorable little chicks from being ground alive by not supporting the egg industry. It’s a win-win, people.

Public Kitchen Vegan Benedict | thelittleredspoon.com

Look at those layers! And omg the textures…………. You can taste the love for vegan food and the care and attention that went into making this dish with every bite. Seriously.

Underneath the “egg” (in order): the crusted tomato (sooo crunchy and juice and good), garlic spinach, and sprouted-grain english muffin. You could also go for a gluten-free muffin and I’m sure you would hardly notice because everything is smothered in amazing golden hollandaise sauce anyway. The muffin is just a hollandaise-delivery system at this point.

Public Kitchen Coffee Sugar | thelittleredspoon.com

Almond milk and coconut sugar that was served with our after-brunch organic, fair-trade coffees.

Public Kitchen Dessert Platter | thelittleredspoon.com

We (okay, really just I) couldn’t help ourselves and also went for the Dessert Platter $11 – made weekly by Chef McNish. This one featured some sesame balls, goji-stuffed cookies, peanut butter fudge and pumpkin spice cheesecake.

Everything was really tasty even though we were basically all too stuffed full of brunch to be able to finish. I thought the cheesecake was the best, and I think everyone agreed the goji cookies and peanut butter desserts were pretty darn good too. Personally the sesame ones weren’t my favourite but they were a nice balance since they weren’t too sweet and went well with the coffees.

Overall my impression of Doug’s Public Kitchen was outstanding. I genuinely loved everything that came to our table. The service was warm and welcoming, the food was incredible and I can’t wait to come back to this place and bring even more people to try a next-level vegan brunch.

It was definitely a little bit pricier than say, going to a greasy diner and getting chicken eggs and wonderbread toast. That is true. But this is REAL food – it’s crafted with heart and soul, it’s sourced locally and organically whenever possible and it’s completely ethical and cruelty-free. You don’t have to support the cold, cruel and environmentally catastrophic meat industry to get your breakfast fix. You can support chefs like McNish who spread a positive message about real, healthy, compassionate food and watch local vegan businesses like his thrive. To me that’s worth a couple of extra bucks.

Doug's Public Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vegan Herb & Garlic Almond Cheese

Almond Cheese with Chevre Knife | thelittleredspoon.com

I found an AMAZING recipe for vegan Herb & Garlic Almond Cheese on the CookingWithPlants YouTube channel. I’ve keeping this one in my back pocket for a few weeks now and finally tracked down some blanched almonds so I could give this recipe a try.

Slice of Almond Cheese | theittleredspoon.com

You could also make this cheese with cashews but I wanted to try an almond cheese since I haven’t experimented with those yet. The results were really great! The cheese was nice and firm enough to slice without being too mushy, but it was also creamy and easy to spread. You could also melt this cheese, but if you ask me that defeats the point of adding the agar-agar powder and pouring it into molds. There are plenty of melty/saucey vegan cheese recipes out there. I was excited to try this one because it was sliceable and on the firmer side. And it turned out exactly how I imagined!

Almond Cheese Slice on Baguette | thelittleredspoon.com

I was having an intense cheese-craving and I knew I needed to make a nice fresh vegan cheese with some crispy toasted baguette slices to go with it. So that’s what I decided to spend my Saturday afternoon doing.

As any fellow vegan or lactose-intolerant person knows, sometimes you just can’t resist that craving for a GOOD cheese… A realistic, edible-on-its-own, “fancy” kind of cheese. You know what I’m talking about. Daiya has its purpose, but it does NOT fill that void in my life where delicious, tangy, creamy, fresh cheese used to be. Nut cheese does.

Almond Cheese Spread on Baguette | thelittleredspoon.com

Check out the recipe for this herb & garlic almond cheese on CookingWithPlants website or YouTube channel. Anja has some amazing cheese recipes for you to browse through and try for yourself. Her videos are really relaxing for some reason too, she really seems like a genuinely calm and friendly person that would be chill to hang out with.

The gist of the recipe is this:

  • Put all your ingredients in a blender and process. There aren’t too many ingredients but you will need agar-agar powder and tapioca starch. (These are basic ingredients for most other vegan cheese recipes too so you might as well stock up. If you can’t find either of these locally, just buy them from the internet.)
  • Boil in a pot or pan 5-10 minutes to activate the agar and thicken the cheese.
  • Pour into molds and set in the fridge ~30-60 minutes.
  • Remove from molds and roll edges into a mixture of spices or almond meal if desired. (Original recipe calls for herbs mixed with paprika, I used herbs mixed with almond meal instead. I think hemp seeds would make a good crust as well!)

Easy-peasy! Trust me, anyone could make this and you would NOT regret having a couple little wheels of this stuff in your fridge for when a snack craving hits. For me the recipe made enough to fill 3 small ramekins.

Almond Cheese Board Zoom | thelittleredspoon.com copy

Daiya cheese and other store-bought processed vegan cheeses are wonderful for pizza, tacos, scrambled tofu and other stuff, but when it comes to making an actual nice cheese board for lunch (you know, like when you’re heckin craving a Nuts For Cheese cheese board and charcuterie plate from Glassroots vegan restaurant in London, Ontario but you’re living 200km away in downtown Toronto), you’re better off making your own cheese. (Or buying Nuts for Cheese wedges. That works too. Definitely do that.)

Huge Cheese Plate | thelittleredspoon.com

(And if you thought that other picture was enough of a cheese board for me, you clearly don’t know how much I love a good cheese board… I ate this entire plate and half the cheese wheel myself and only shared one little baguette crisp with Mr. Spoon who, by the way, gave a solid thumbs-up for this recipe!)

Try this almond-based vegan cheese recipe and let me know what you think! I love the herb and garlic twist to this cheese and it really has a great texture. Leave a comment if you try this one, or another of Anja from CookingWithPlants recipes.

So Delicious Holiday Nog

so-delicious-holiday-nog-thelittleredspoon-com

Check out this tasty beverage I found at Whole Foods! So Delicious Holiday Nog made with coconut milk.

It’s actually really rich, thick and creamy-tasting. Just like the real thing – except I always found “real” eggnog vaguely nauesating. Probably because of the dairy and raw eggs which always gave me a stomach ache even before I went vegan.

But since this stuff is completely dairy-free I don’t get that gross heavy feeling in my stomach after drinking it. I really enjoy the taste, it’s spiced with real bits of nutmeg which you can see throughout the drink.

so-delicious-holiday-nog-and-cookies-thelittleredspoon-com

This vegan nog would be perfect for steaming up into a frothy latte with a hit of espresso or strong coffee. Or try spiking with a little brandy, rum or bourbon

It’s also perfect for drinking as-is and dipping cookies into. Lately I’ve been digging animal crackers, vanilla oreos and plain digestive biscuits. (I’m like a little kid who packs cookies with my lunch every day)

Check out this guilt-free holiday nog at your local Whole Foods or regular grocery store if you can find it. I was not paid or in any way compensated for this review – I just genuinely like this stuff and wanted to let you guys know. Have you tried it? So Delicious also makes a nice chocolate-mint flavoured seasonal coconut milk drink that’s really nice. Let me know in the comments what festive drinks you like to sip on during the holidays.

Cheers!