This roasted tomato and eggplant spaghetti is the perfect meal for a cool or rainy summer night when you’re not trying to beat the heat with a cold supper. Toronto’s disgusting heat kicked in for a few days two weeks ago and I was glad to have some rain. It’s good for the garden and cools down my sweltering house. I served this for dinner on a drizzly evening while a friend was visiting from out of town. It can be a simple one-pot meal that you cook ahead and eat throughout the week or you can dress it up with some garlic bread and salad — which is what I did.
I adapted the recipe from The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright. The original recipe is entitled “Eggplant Bolognese Pasta”. In my recipe, I added some red wine and opted for roasted tomatoes rather than canned. I love taking advantage of the beautiful, cheap vegetables at the markets near my home in Toronto. Both tomatoes and eggplants are in season from approximately July-October. Rather than doing dried chili to spice things up I used chili oil because I had some on hand. It makes the dish that much more decadent. Finally, I added a pinch of rosemary out of habit.
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Last month, some friends and I took a trip to Guelph for Kazoo Fest. I had never been to this unassuming riverside town. It definitely wasn’t on my radar and I must admit that my expectations were low. Turns out Guelph possesses its fair share of small town charm. Highlights included lazing by the water, The Cornerstone, live music, a print-makers market and The Common.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Kensington Market lately. It’s one of my favourite spots in Toronto. This might have something to do with the high concentration of vegan food options. My last stop was Blackbird Baking Co. More recently, I conquered Bunner’s Bakeshop. I always frequent an establishment at least three times before I feel qualified to write about it. On my last visit, I had a cinnamon bun. I don’t think I’ve had one of these since going on a vegan diet. It was pretty amazing.
But not all bread is made equal. There are still bakers out there carrying out the long-held tradition of making the simple yet practically divine food that compliments so many meals. Blackbird Baking Co. does this better than most.
The first thing I did upon Will’s return was hop in an uber with him and take him straight to Kettleman’s Bagels in the Glebe, Ottawa. I had a sesame bagel with vegan cream cheese. He had the vegetarian. I used to get it all the time in high school. That spicy eggplant rocks my world.
A cozy restaurant with a tiny open kitchen awaited us on the other side of the door. I would guess Luna seats no more than 30-40 people. All the staff we’re kind of whimsical-edgy-hippie-ladies except for one dude carrying a large slab of meat. It was definitely my vibe.
Pressed café is located downtown Ottawa on Gladstone. They serve sandwiches, coffee, cheap beer and pub fare. Given that I haven’t really been anywhere in Ottawa for the past seven years I wasn’t expecting much from this café. My knowledge of the city is limited and last I checked there wasn’t a whole lot of vegan food on offer. It was a pleasant surprise to discover Pressed has quite a few vegan options on their menu.
I met small-scale grower Kaycee Simuong when she was on exchange at my university several years before she got into farming. We went to a Canucks game with some friends and saw one another at the occasional party. Needless to say, I did not think she would pursue farming as a career. I didn’t think anyone I knew would pursue farming as a career. Years later, I have come to know this strong, intelligent woman much better and farming seems like a good fit.
The night I discovered Newtown Pies it was New Years. We had been drinking and Will was desperate for a snack. I was disappointed because I would have to settle for hot chips and I wasn’t in the mood. Then, the menu came into focus and it was love at first sight. More than one vegan option. All my dreams had come true.
I love going to the farmers market. Something about the fresh flowers, the aroma of coffee and pastries, the milling and the chatter, the dogs sitting at their owners’ feet while they wait expectantly for a treat, it makes me feel hopeful. My imagination runs wild when lost among the vegetable stands and mess of people. I begin to filter through memories of Thanksgivings past and long forgotten rainy days resolved with warming bowls of soup. In my mind’s eye, I conceive of meals for my future children. I envision cast iron skillets, dried herbs hanging from the rafters, friends coming round to drop-off fresh bread or stop-in for a cup of tea. The market transports me to a time which, for the most part, no longer exists.