Monday, July 26, 2010

VGT On the Road: Weekend in Montreal (Part One)

I am back from a very lovely and relaxing long weekend in Montreal, a city that any Francophile, including this one, would love. It was my husband's first time there, and I had only been once before for a work trip, a visit all too brief that had left me yearning to return and see more. With the metro, bikes everywhere, cafe culture, and of course the French language, it felt like we had escaped to Europe. It was almost a bonus that we got to discover some incredible vegan restaurants while we were there.

Montreal seems to be quite a veg-friendly city, although the majority of veg places seem to be concentrated around and along rue Saint-Denis, a bustling street with lots of shops, places to eat, clubs, bars, and theaters. Saint-Denis stretches into a neighborhood called the Plateau Mont-Royal, which reminded me of the Oberkampf/Bastille area in Paris, and perhaps the Williamsburg area in Brooklyn, which is to say that it is a working class neighborhood that has been inhabited by many students and artists, with a bohemian vibe and lots of trendy but casual places to go out.

There were two all-vegan restaurants in Montreal that we loved so much, we went back twice. One of them was Aux Vivres (for the other restaurant, stay tuned for Part Deux), a casual vegan restaurant and juice bar. We were amazed at the quality of food there.

They had only a few options for the weekend brunch, but what they had was really, really good. We got a tofu scramble with tempeh bacon, sweet potatoes, and cornbread. I thought you had to be Southern to know how to make good cornbread, but damn if those Canadians didn't prove me wrong.

 We also shared this dish of fried polenta with refried black beans, served with guacamole and salsa. It might not look like anything out of the ordinary, but it was very nicely spiced and so good!

On our next visit we started out with some veggie pâté. I'm not sure what they made this out of, but it was rich, smooth, and seemed to have plenty of herbs like sage, thyme, and possibly rosemary. In fact, it actually tasted a lot like Thanksgiving stuffing, which for me is a compliment of the highest order, as I love Thanksgiving food more than just about anything. In fact, I could just change this blog to Vegan Thanksgiving Things, and happily write about Thanksgiving food year round. But I digress. The veggie pâté here was incredibly delicious, even if it was served with dill pickle slices instead of cornichons, which I'll let slide, but just this once.

We also got the vegan waffles, because hooray, they're vegan waffles! These were topped with some cashew cream, fruit, and maple syrup. They went kind of heavy on the vanilla in the batter, but that's ok with me. Definitely one of the best waffles I've ever had.

But this, this is what I've been dying to share with you. Behold - the MOST AWESOME, MIND-BLOWING, INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS, I'M STILL DREAMING ABOUT IT BLT IN THE WORLD!

What's it made out of, you ask? Well the "B" in the BLT is made out of SMOKED COCONUT! Whaaat??? I know, smoked coconut! It's crazy! It was crispy, like extra crispy bacon, smoky, savory, and more bacon-flavored than any other faux bacon I've ever tasted. Up until now I've been a Lightlife Fakin' Bacon kind of gal, but now I'm team smoked coconut all the way. In your face, smoked tempeh!

I desperately tried to get a recipe out of server for the coconut bacon, but all she would divulge was that they took unsweetened coconut flakes, added tamari and "maybe some maple syrup" among other spices, and baked it for a really long time at very low heat. I will make it my mission to recreate this smoked coconut. I will! I will figure out how to make this myself! This was truly the holy grail of vegan BLT's. We even picked up another one to go for our drive home.

Stay tuned for Part Deux: Vegan Thai Food in Montreal!

Aux Vivres
4631 boulevard Saint-Laurent
Montréal, Québec, Canada
(514) 842-3479


  1. All the food looks very delicious! I think I need to travel to Montréal!

  2. love Montreal! Those spots look great and smoked coconut who would have thought. Hope to head back to that wonderful city soon. Looking forward to your part 2!

  3. What a great post! I haven't been to Montreal in a few years, but when I go back I'm definitely checking this place out!

  4. Sounds like you had a great time! Delicious eats for sure! I read about coconut bacon and I believe there arerecipes floating out there. Hope you get to recreate it!

  5. What a great post. Thanks for the info about veg options in Montreal. I've never heard of smoked coconut, but it's gonna go on my list of things to try. Some yummy looking food!

  6. Wow, the Waffle looks Umazingggg! Never heard of Coconut Bacon, but if you get hold of a recipe I would love to give it a try...x

  7. I went to school in montreal and LOVE aux vivres.Did you taste the veggie lox? I found a recipe for them if you are interested!
    Chuchai is incredible as well-their wonton soup is to die for.
    I'm hoping they come out with a recipe book sometime soon

  8. Next time you go (and I assume there will be a next time), definitely get the BLT wrapped in the homemade chapati. I tried ordering it once on bread and the waiter insisted I get it wrapped in chapati. That waiter is a genius.

  9. I love Chuchai and Aux Vivres! La Faim du Monde is also pretty great! As for coconut bacon, run a couple Google searches... there's lots of info out there on it (I have yet to try/make it, but it's on my list!)