Green Earth Vegetarian Cuisine
My guy and I walk into Green Earth Vegetarian Cuisine on a sunny spring day, looking for a reward. After a two hour hike through the Don Valley trail system, I have mud on my mary-janes, birdsong in my ears and a rumbling hunger in my belly. Green Earth Vegetarian is our pot of gold at the end of the Don Valley rainbow.
We start with water and recommendations. Lemon water is served quickly, but our sweetheart server lapses at recommendations, dreamily telling us she loves everything on the extensive menu. Are we vegetarians, or vegans? Neither? Oh, in that case ... she lead us to the menu's fake meat dishes. These good intentions strike my funny bone. I do eat creatures, but I don't feel they're necessary for a good meal (hence coming to Green Earth Vegetarian for lunch). I crave a slogan that snappily expresses my solidarity with my meat-eschewing friends, a "straight, not narrow" for the omnivore crowd. Part time meat eater, full time veggie lover? Omnivore, not veg hater? Never mind. These protestations are just for show, because in the end we both order "meat" treats. Me: the Star Delight (veggie chicken stuffed with spinach--$8.95) while my sweetheart gets the Patriotic Royale (veggie steak with Chef's sauce--$7.50).
First, spring rolls. I love Vietnamese food, and with the abundance available in Toronto, I eat them a lot. So when I stay that Green Earth Vegetarian's spring rolls are the best I've had in this city, it mean it boldly, deliciously! I caps lock-underscore-multiple-hyphen love these spring rolls. With perfectly crisp shells, a savoury daikon and radish filling and a piquant dipping sauce, I believe the spring rolls at Green Earth Vegetarian are the best spring rolls in Toronto!
Next my "chicken", a chewy piece of gluteny soy goodness, pressed into chicken-ish shape. Only an herbivore could possibly mistake this dish for real bird. Although the texture is close, the flavour is not quite meat. Not quite meat, but still quite tasty. Smothered in a light, creamy sauce, stuffed with spinach and served with a side of perfectly steamed vegetables, my meal is a treat, and I devour it.
My lover's "steak" is not as great. Honestly, we don't care if it tastes like steak or not, we just want it to taste good, but there's something strange about this dish. Sweet and leathery, it hovers in a nether land between fruit and flesh. I should note here that I'm pretty sure I taste tones of banana, and the only thing I dislike more than banana is roasted silkworm pupa. That said, my guy likes banana, but he doesn't like his "steak" much either, so I gladly give him half my huge portion of "chicken". While we happily chew our faux fowl and crunch our veggies, a rich slice of chocolate cake is delivered two tables down.
When a double layered chocolate cake with ice cream and cherry on top parades through a small room, you'd better believe people notice.
If ever a cult were to be started by cake, this cake would do it. First, the couple in the corner receives their chocolate mountain, while we watch, eyes glued to thick fluffy icing. Next, the table in the middle gets one too, and we are overcome by their vociferous appreciation. Please, please, do you have any more? We need one, too!
Now, I've known some crazy fads in my day, several of them regrettable (massive jawbreakers that wore the skin off my palate, slap bracelets with wires that sliced, Hypercolor .) And then there are the trends I miss, the ones I'll gladly endorse if they come around again: Pogo Balls , Slip N' Slides , corduroy. This cake ranks among the latter, but happily, it's available now! Just one bite of soft chocolate and smooth icing and I'm ready to take back every nasty thing I ever said about vegan baking. There is a point! It is worth it!
Green Earth Vegetarian has taught me a valuable lesson: that creative use of quality ingredients will make anything delicious, and that there is a place in Toronto that can fulfill my dream of a spring roll+chocolate cake lunch. I may be an omnivore elsewhere, but Green Earth Vegetarian, I'm vegan for you!