Yes, yes, yes! Vancouver finally has an upscale vegetarian restaurant, with excellent food and great service – The Acorn. And it’s
conveniently dangerously located on Main Street and King Edward, the epicentre of several great restaurants including Grub and The Reef.
A few months ago, I was excited when the Yew added a vegan menu – it was good but I wasn’t blown away by the food. I’m happy to report that The Acorn sets the bar for vegetarian fine dining in Vancouver. The quality of the food reminded me of Candle 79 in New York.
We tried the Strawberry and Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, the Braised Oyster Mushrooms, the Zucchini Tagliatelle, and the Ginger Cacao Cake. All of the dishes were great. The gazpacho was light and flavourful. The mushrooms were perfectly seared and served with grilled asparagus. The zucchini tagliatelle is a raw pasta dish with a fabulous tomato sauce. I’ve had raw pasta dishes at several restaurants, and it’s often boring, but this was really tasty with a great texture. The only thing we weren’t wowed by was the sangria.
Most of the dishes at Acorn are vegan or have vegan options. Impressively there isn’t a single tofu dish on the menu, but there are a few gluten-free and raw options. The portions sizes were perfect – small enough that I could comfortably enjoy an entree and split an appetizer and dessert. The food is expensive compared to most vegetarian restaurants ($16-19 for entrees), but it was good value for the quality of the food. Our bill for 2 people, with 1 appetizer, 2 mains, 1 dessert, and 4 drinks was $80 plus tip. Not bad for some of the best vegan food I’ve eaten in Vancouver.
My only suggestion to The Acorn is get more bike racks. The two bike racks in front of the restaurant were rammed.
More pictures (including pictures of the menu) from Scout Magazine, and a review:
Here’s my recipe for Mexican lasagna (or lazy enchiladas) that I cooked for a community potluck I went to last night. It’s completely vegan, soy-free, and gluten-free (and still quite tasty). I made up the recipe as I went along, so the measurements are not exact but I’ve tried to guess how much I used – feel free to add more/less of each ingredient or to add/remove ingredients entirely. It’s a forgiving recipe.
- onion, 1 diced
- zucchinis, 3 small diced
- red pepper, 1 diced
- green pepper, 1 diced
- garlic, 2 cloves minced
- corn, 1 cup frozen or canned
- pineapple, 1 cup cut into chunks
- cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup sliced in half
- black olives, 1/2 cup sliced
- black beans, 1 can
- greens (kale, spinach, chard, or even beet greens), roughly chopped
- cilantro, 2 tbsp chopped
- chili powder, 2 tsp
- paprika, 2 tsp
- cumin, 2 tsp
- cayenne, 1/2 tsp
- salt and pepper
Vegan Cashew Cheeze Ingredients
- cashews, 1 1/4 cup, soaked for a few hours in water and then drained
- nutritional yeast, 1/3 cup
- lemon juice, 2 tbsp
- olive oil, 1 tbsp
- apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp
- sauce, 2 cups of enchilada sauce or salsa
- corn tortillas, 12 small ones
- Daiya vegan cheese, preferably pepperjack
- avocado, sliced thinly
- Fry onions in oil. When browned, mix in spices. Add zucchini and cook for a few minutes. Add peppers and garlic. Fry until all your veggies are mostly cooked. Add pineapple, corn, tomatoes, black olives, and black beans. Add more spices if necessary. When cooked, remove from heat and fold in cilantro and greens (they don’t need to be fried).
- In a food processor, mix all the cashew cheeze ingredients together until they have a mostly smooth consistency.
- Cover the bottom of a large casserole dish with a thin coating of sauce. Add a layer of tortilla shells. Cover with 1/2 of the filling. Sprinkle with half of the cashew cheeze (it’s ok if it’s in little blobs). Cover with a some sauce. Add another layer of tortilla shells and repeat with the remaining filling and cashew cheeze. Cover with tortillas and a layer of sauce on top. *I didn’t put sauce on the top of mine, and the top layer of tortillas got a bit too crunchy.
- Sprinkle Daiya cheese on top and bake at 375 C for 30 minutes – covered for the first 20 minutes and then uncovered for the last 10 so the cheese melts.
- Remove from oven and let it cool for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with sliced avocado on top.
I was cooking up a storm today. I made a vegan, soy-free, gluten-free lasagna and apple strudel. I made the lasagna with gluten-free noodles, loads of veggies (eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, carrots, and tomatoes), fake vegan ricotta I made with cashews and nutritional yeast, and Daiya cheese on top. I’m testing the lasagna out on non-vegan friends tomorrow night.
For dessert, I made a sugar-free, vegan apple and quince strudel that turned out really nice. The only downside to all the cooking is I had a few mishaps with knives and sliced up my fingers pretty good. Occupational hazard I guess.
And in other exciting food news, I found I found vegan sausages at Whole Foods that are soy-free! They use wheat gluten, aka seitan. Most seitan products also have soy, so I was excited to find these. The sausages are made by Field Roast Grain Meat Co. based in Seattle. We fried some up for dinner, and they’re really good.
Emily and I are 9 days into our Elimination Diet, and things are going well. We have 5 more days on a strict diet, and then we can start adding foods back. We just have to survive Thanksgiving first.
I’m surprised I haven’t had any food cravings thus far. I’m getting sick of the limited foods we can eat, and how hard it is to add flavour, but we’ve been eating pretty good. For the most part, our diet has consisted of fresh fruit and vegetables, rice and quinoa, and beans and nuts. I’ll include a few sample meals at the end of the post.
Continue reading Elimination Diet – Day 9
Emily and I are going on an elimination diet. Starting tomorrow, for two weeks we’re restricting our diet to the most basic of foods – basically rice and vegetables. Then, we’ll spend several weeks slowly adding foods back into our diet, like a carefully controlled science experiment.
The goal is to identify any food sensitivities we have. I’m pretty sure dairy gives me gas, but it’s difficult to be sure and I’m not sure what other foods might be causing problems. Emily is pretty sure bread bothers her, but she’s not sure if it’s the yeast or the gluten.
We’re doing this on our own, without the help of a dietitian or naturopath. We’ve come up with a list of foods we can still eat by looking at a bunch of websites (1, 2,3, and 4). They each have a different list of what foods should be excluded during the cleanse phase of the diet, but we have come up with a list that works for us.
Continue reading Prepping for an Elimination Diet
I didn’t go home to Manitoba for Christmas this year, which meant I missed the traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner and the time spent playing board games in Baba’s basement. In an attempt to reproduce that in Vancouver, Emily and I hosted her family for a Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner. Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner is traditionally a 12-course “vegetarian” meal (which includes fish), but we had the additional complication of making it vegan and gluten-free.
Our menu for the evening included:
- Holubtsi (cabbage rolls)
- Mushroom Gravy
- Pickled Garlic Scapes
- Maple Glazed Salmon
- White Beans
- Baked Apples
Continue reading Gluten-Free, Vegan Ukrainian Christmas Eve Dinner
Radha is one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants in Vancouver. The chefs at Radha push the boundaries of vegan baking, offer raw food options, and get the most out of seasonally available local foods.
On Sunday mornings, Radha offers cooking classes on a wide variety of topics – upcoming classes include “Seasonal Soups”, “Lentils and Beans”, and “Hors d’Oeuvres & Canapés”. A few weeks ago Emily and I attended a course on “Alternative Baking” instructed by Andrea Potter, which focused on baking without using the normal ingredients – sugar, white flour, eggs, and milk.
It is probably worth noting that the cooking classes offered at Radha are more instructional then hands-on. Most of time was spent discussion ingredients and watching Adrea bake. The only interactive parts were eating (they feed you lunch plus we got to try all of the deserts that were made during the course), and decorating cupcakes.
At the beginning of our class, Andrea asked us each to talk about why were there and what we were hoping to learn. Most of the attendees were interested in gluten-free baking because they either had wheat sensitivities, were celiac, or often baked for someone who couldn’t eat gluten. It really seems that gluten-free baking has taken off in the last few years (people are even raising their kids wheat-free), but people are still trying to figure out how to do it successfully.
Continue reading Radha’s Cooking Classes – Alternative Baking