It’s been record-breaking temperatures here in the city for the past couple of weeks and as time goes by, I’m cooking less and less. It just heats up the kitchen and by the time I sit down to eat I’ve lost my appetite, it’s so hot. So over the past several weeks I’ve frequented some of my favourite vegetarian/vegan restaurants and organic shops to avoid the heat and to avoid cooking.
Wholefoods is my temple. It’s one of the best places for a great choice of fruit (that’s already cut up!), whole grain salads like quinoa and wheat berry and a huge selection of vegetables and hot table all day long. It’s fresh, tasty but I have to admit I think they’ve scaled back some of the choices since they first opened. Still, there’s enough to satisfy any time of the day. Not to mention the extensive choice of pizza that they can either make for take out or to enjoy right there.
Best grocery store pizza in all of Toronto. The weekend brunch is busy with great items featured. The hot table includes wonderful things like brioche bread pudding/french toast, eggs, turkey sausage, potatoes, quiche and still the same great fruit and vegetable choices.
As a consummate foodie I have a tendency to have food rituals. Once a month I go to Fresh and enjoy gourmet vegetarian dining. Many of the dishes have become my new comfort foods. There are three locations downtown that are always busy with twenty-somethings, academics, gym rats and the odd old hippie like myself – a sign of how fresh and healthy the menu is. My personal favourites are the fried sweet potatoes with miso gravy, an appetizer that you can see is everyone’s favourite as busy waiters and waitresses move platters of large orders with a choice of any of six dipping sauces. Last week, I had my summer comfort dish, the Tangled Thai salad with extra crispy tofu. Fresh cool shredded carrots atop a bed Napa, jicama, yellow beets, cilantro, cucumber with peanut lime dressing. Cool, refreshing and light and not too filling. I topped this off with one of their smoothies, made with fresh fruit, not the frozen portioned stuff, but real fruit. What a great desert.
Hot days, cool foods I say. Another one of my cool favourites are Thai and Vietnamese fresh rolls. I could eat a dozen of these, in fact I think I did last week. The biggest challenge with these sometimes are finding places that don’t have them sitting around pre-made for hours and filled with mostly lettuce. The best in the city are from Green Mango, where you can have chicken or shrimp filled with sweet chile sauce. Green Basil in the Beach was good, no shrimp or chicken choice but filled with fresh vegetables and tofu. I love the burst of fresh cool vegetables in the rice paper wrapper, like a cool wind in the summer heat. So what do you when it’s too hot in the kitchen and you want to get out of the heat?