Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cooking and working make for a difficult combination... especially when travelling is added

Hello, stranger!

Or perhaps I'd consider myself the stranger, having been absent for more than two months. When we last left off, I was in the midst of embarking upon a whole new phase of life, that of a nine-to-fiver: a full-timer, a real-world worker, a career lady. Holy smokes, did I ever have not even the most remote idea of what I was getting into (that's a clunky sentence for someone who makes a living as a proofreader. Sheesh).

I'm not even saying that I was ill-prepared, nor am I saying that I regret taking on this new life of mine; on the contrary, I adore my job: I adore the people, the work, the mental stimulation, the central location of the offices, the trek there that allows me to devour novels, the novelty of adult life (yeah, I know, the novelty won't last). Deadlines are frightening and some projects are daunting, but I'd like to say that university prepared me pretty well, and for my Concordia professors and general experience, I am grateful--I might be lost without that.

So on March 29th I started a new job, and few days later, my (ex-)boyfriend and I ended our three-year relationship, so I really did embark on an extremely new phase of my life. I'm not sad, I'm not angry, and I'm not filled with regret; I'm going to exhaust all of the clichés, I know, but it's a new chapter in my life, and I am happily enjoying every second of what this life is giving me. I have my family, my friends, my health, and a zeal that I'm pretty sure I must have inherited from my jovial father. I am not fazed.

Am I getting too personal? Well, I am grateful to whomever reads this blog, too, and I figured I might as well update you on my prolonged absence, which had everything to do with getting home at 7 pm every night after work and too much to do over the weekend to sit down and write blogs. Oh, and I picked up and ran (err, flew) off to Europe with my cousin and his beautiful girlfriend for two weeks.

Despite my failed attempts at documenting cooking or eating expeditions, I have indeed been cooking, eating, and relishing all the meals cooked for me while exploring and rediscovering Paris, Milan, Rome, and Florence. Because of work during the week and an overwhelming sleepiness at the end of the day for the first few weeks of my new job, I'd go on cooking rampages on Saturdays, brunch-making sessions on Sundays, and gather all of the leftovers into individual, meal-sized containers for the coming week. It's a technique I've heard successful professionals use, and it really is a time-saver. My only complaint is that at times I have been known to grow tired of having the same lunch or dinner every day, so welcoming the usual, fresh sandwich into the mix is always a superb option.

But I'm surely boring you. Here are select pictures (not posting for two months results in a barrage of photos) of meals cooked and enjoyed in the Montreal area (EDIT: well, aren't I a bright soul! I somehow managed to have lost all of those pictures when I emptied my camera's memory card of photos in order to make room for Europe), followed by photos of tasty eats in Europe accompanied by quick captions.

Enjoy, and thank you again for reading and stopping by :-)

Vegan in Suburbia--and Abroad

This was my first meal in Paris: a ginormous salade niçoise minus any animal products, plus all of the flavour of one of the most delicious salads I've ever consumed. I mean, look at it--there are potatoes on it!
This salad was so big that it looked like I didn't even touch it. I couldn't finish it, try as I did.
It's not food but it's the freaking Eiffel Tower at twilight. <3
First espresso in Paris
Delicious pizza in Paris, but way overpriced and at the price of good service--we weren't treated well at the restaurant on the Champs Elysées. Oh well. At least we were in good company.
And it happened even in Europe that the only vegan item on the menu at this resto in Paris was fries.
First espresso of the day at the pâtisserie near our hotel

This needs no explanation.

Always delightful illy coffee at an illy store on the Champs Elysées
Naturally delighted to have illy coffee. It cost 3 euros, I think, which is expensive for coffee in Europe, but it was worth it.
Picnic goods for our afternoon in front of the Eiffel Tower
Pilgrimage to Saveurs Veget'Halles on rue Bourbonnais (I'll never forget because it was impossible to find). Finally a restaurant in Paris at which I didn't have to ask a million questions regarding the contents of each menu item.
Fried, battered veggies. It came with a chutney that resembled applesauce in taste. 
My meal: spinach quiche with black rice and white beans. I managed to finish it all and even have dessert--it was scrumptious.
My cousin's girlfriend's meal of the day: skewered seitan with vegan meat loaf, couscous, and wonderful veggies. I regretted my order when I saw hers, but mine was delicious as well.
Dessert: Apple crumble
Olive bread made, which I unfortunately didn't get to eat because it was put away before I could cut a piece. It was made by my Zia Angela in Milan.
Delicous cold pasta
Vegan calzone filled with grilled veggies, made by the famous Zia Angela
Something we don't ever see here in Montreal: oranges with leaves on them
Frittelle!!! These are fried balls of dough that you then dip or roll in sugar, as if they weren't bad enough for you already. Oh, melt-in-your-mouth heavenliness.
 See? Frittelle are causes for much smiling.
And then there was Zia Angela's pizza. She is an absolute goddess in the kitchen, and a kind, beautiful soul.
Cicoria! This is one of my most favourite side dishes: they're dandelion roots, essentially, bitter like rapini but somehow more delicious. I'm no good at explaining but... trust me. And if you can get your hands on them, stir-fry them in garlic and olive oil and you will not be disappointed; however, I'd stay away from them if you're not a fan of rapini.
Penne all'arrabbiata
Another photo needing no explanation (oooooh vegan ice cream in Italy, I love thee)
Breakfast at the hotel in Rome. All was provided free of charge, but I preferred to grab some boiled water and add it to the packets of oatmeal I brought from Montreal and add dates to it, with a side of hotel-provided pineapple.
Grilled veggies at a small restaurant in a student-dense area in Rome. They didn't have much taste but they gained new life with a bit of salt and vinegar added to them.
I ordered cicoria whenever I could, and here I had some with fried eggplant, my other love.
Climbing 551 steps helps in keeping extra calories from piling up unpleasantly. This was at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. And no, we didn't take the elevator.
The best ice cream in all of Italy, as far as I am concerned. At a gelateria called Gelarte, I had vegan soy chocolate ice cream and soy cappuccino ice cream on a "cono dietetico," topped with a dollop of soy panna. Oooooh how blessed I was.
Check out that vegan symbol! I was in awe at this product that I found in Florence, but I didn't buy them since they were freakishly high in calories. I bought vegan Nutella instead, the logical choice, right? :-)
Sadly, I was unlucky when it came to food in Florence: this pasta was served to me swimming in olive oil. I love olive oil, but not as the base for pasta soup.
This side of beans were delicious, though.
This pizza also was tasteless, served at a restaurant by a handsome, friendly waiter. I'm not a fiend for salty food but I feel there was a disturbing absence of it--of any flavour at all--in this pizza.
This is for the Twilight fans out there: read the city name at the bottom. Oh yes. I was near there, in Florence.
I visited a villa in the region of Chianti while on a full-day bike tour.
Barrels and barrels of wine at the Corti villa
Barrels and barrels of olive oil--without a doubt the best I've ever tasted in my life.
The meal we were provided on a break from our bike tour of Chianti. We were offered two wines made on the premises, the family's olive oil, pasta, bread with beans, mushroom pâté (thankfully vegan), and chopped tomatoes. It was all delicious, fresh, and refreshing.
Of course, if you're interested, check out for info on Chianti tours. They cater to vegans, as you can see.

Buon appetito, my friends, and I hope I've inspired you either to get cooking or to get travelling! Creativity is required at times when visiting other countries, but I promise that you must never fear when you go to Italy. If you ever need tips on eating in Italy or survival phrases, don't be shy.

Until next time, be well!

Vegan in Suburbia