Archive for Travel

Mila Plant Based

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m grateful to live in a city that is bursting with an abundance of plant-based restaurants (click to see my favourite vegan dishes in the city).

Not just restaurants in a traditional vegan way. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Naam. But increasingly over the last few years, the vegan options in Vancouver are getting more diverse. We have high-end options now, like The Acorn, as well as myriad of comfort-food type places like Meet, The Arbor and Chickpea. And pizza! We have the best vegan pizza in Virtuous Pie.

Well! Good news, my plant-loving friends, because there is a new kid in town, and it’s great.

Mila Plant Based just opened at the end of September in the old Juniper space. They’ve kept the basic design and layout of the original restaurant, including that incredible bar. And they make good use of the bar with their fantastic cocktail list.

Owned by the same folks at Virtuous Pie, and helmed by Chef Jim Vesal, Mila takes a global approach to the menu, which I think is something unique in the city. Like, we have vegan comfort food, vegan pizza, vegan Asian. But the menu at Mila is from everywhere. There’s sushi and baos and pasta and burgers and sandwiches, which at first I think I found a bit confusing, but after eating the food, I didn’t really care anymore. A chunk of the menu does focus on Asian cuisine, a nod to the neighbourhood in which we find ourselves.

For me, the greatest compliment anyone can give my food is to say “I didn’t know that was vegan,” or “that doesn’t taste vegan.” I know, it’s kind of backwards, I admit, but my goal is always just to cook really good food, first and foremost, that happens to be vegan or vegetarian.

Mila Smoky Sour

Smoky Mila Sour

Every dish at Mila was like that. Vegan, all of it, but not so’s you’d know. Just delicious, well-made food that happens to be plant-based.

Mila Clover Club

Clover Club

We started, as you should, with cocktails. They have a beautiful bar and a great cocktail program. Instead of egg whites, they use a vegan foamer, and it makes for the prettiest drinks. There’s a wide variety of options here, traditional favourites like caesars and margaritas, but with a twist. For me, I couldn’t resist the Smoky Mila Sour, a combo of bourbon (I’m a sucker for anything bourbon), a smoky oolong tea syrup and a float of Ardbeg. A lighter and brighter option is the gin-based Clover Club, a lovely shade of pink, from the raspberry syrup. It’s also notable to mention they have an impressive line of whiskeys here.

When it comes to starters, there’s everything here from soups to salads to toasts to sushi.

Vegan Baos Mila

Tempeh Bao

We tried the tempeh baos. Pillowy soft rice baos enrobe a hoisin-glazed tempeh, and are garnished with house-pickled cucumber and onion, and topped with cilantro and crispy shallots for a textural component.

Vegan Aburi Sushi Mila

Aburi “Carrot Lox” Sushi

Probably my favourite dish of the day was the aburi sushi. Rice is covered with a carrot “lox,” and then topped with a creamy vegan mayo and torched. It is the perfect bite.

Mains include English “Fish” and Chips, Mexican tacos, an Italian pasta dish and a good ol’ fashioned burger (made with local TMRW Foods patties–my favourite of all the “fake meat” burgers out there).

Mushroom Tagliatelle Mila

Mushroom and Sausage Tagliatelle

We had the Fish & Chips and the Mushroom and Sausage Tagliatelle. The pasta was bonkers good. Homemade pasta with Beyond Meat sausage crumbles and rich, meaty mushrooms in a creamy cashew sauce–again–the kind of dish you’d expect to be loaded with butter, cream, eggs and cheese, and yet has none of those ingredients. It was immensely comforting and one of the best things on the menu.

Fish and Chips Mila

“Fish” & Chips

I was super curious about the fish. Turns out it’s made with a tempura-battered celeriac root. It’s pretty amazing, texturally, when you bite into it, how much it really looks like fish. It lacks the flakiness of fish, but it’s a pretty tasty substitution. The dish came with smashed, fried potatoes, a fabulous mango slaw, and of course, a vegan tartar sauce.

Apple Tart Mila

Apple Tart

Dessert for us was the month’s feature, an apple tart (also gluten free in this case) with a vanilla pastry cream and candied walnuts.

First off, I have to say, it’s incredibly wonderful to be able to walk into a restaurant and not have to ask any questions about how the food is cooked. I was safe to order anything off the menu with zero trepidation. That is such a good feeling.

Secondly, this is the place to bring your omni friends. They won’t feel weird about any of the food. It’s all incredibly recognizable, beautifully presented, and delicious. There is no lack here. There is no “doing without” or “going without.” There’s no sacrifice in eating here. Just really good food that happens to be plant-based.

I highly recommend you check out Mila Plant Based.

Mila Plant Based

185 Keefer St (in Chinatown)

Open every day for dine-in (with safety protocols), take out or delivery from 11:30 am to 2 pm and from 5 pm to 10 pm daily.

 

Backyard Adventures: Langley

Well, here we are, nine months into this pandemic, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to travel anywhere soon. Any adventures you may have will be limited to your back yard.

Langley is just under an hour’s drive from my house, and it has a surprising amount of fun things to do, see and eat, so let me outline a few of my adventures I’ve had in the past few months in the valley.

Fort Langley

Fort Langley Historical Site: Built in the late 1800s, Fort Langley was a trading outpost. Here trappers and indigenous people would trade for goods provided by the Hudson’s Bay Company. It’s a fun trip back in time to visit the Fort and see how things were a century ago. The last time I was there, none of the actual buildings were open, so there wasn’t much you could do that was interactive, other than walk around and look at things. I think they are open in a more normal capacity now.

Fort Langley: When you leave the Fort, don’t leave the town, there’s loads of great stuff there. Wander around the charming streets and up the block to take a gander at the town hall, and try to remember all the movies and TV shows you’ve seen that have used it as a location. They are shooting there pretty much all the time.

blacksmith bakery

What to eat: I love Blacksmith Bakery for coffee or light snack/lunch. The food is beautiful, homemade, and so, so good. If you’re a bit more hungry, hit up Little Donkey for a big ol’ burrito. They have loads of vegan/vegetarian options. Fort Langley is also home to Veggie Bob’s kitchen, where the serve up plant-based comfort foods. And because I am a girl who cannot resist a good book store, I love to drop by Wendel’s Books. They have a great cafe as well.

Farms and Pies, Oh My!

It’s always so amazing to me that just a short drive from the big city takes you to the most wonderful farmland. There are loads of farms in the Fraser Valley, obviously, but Langley is home to a couple great ones.

Driediger’s Farm: in season, you can U-pick berries here; if you’re lazy, like me, you can just buy them from the farmstand. They also have a little farm market here, with locally-grown and produced goods.

Krause Berry Farm: a much bigger operation than Driedger’s, Krause includes not just a farm stand, but a winery and a drive-in waffle stand. Yeah, that’s right, I said waffles. By the way, they sell the most epic, legendary pies here. The winery is one of the most original I’ve been to; the tasting bar seats are made of saddles.

Aldor Acres

Aldor Acres: a fun spot to come with the kiddos, they have a petting zoo, pumpkins during pumpkin season, and Christmas trees later in the year. They also have a “Farmacy” where the sell local goods.

Wine Down Time

You don’t have to go to the Okanagan to visit a winery! There are quite a few in Langley. My favourite is Backyard Wines. They have an indoor tasting room, but also an outdoor picnic area where you can buy a glass or a bottle of wine, and a little charcuterie and hang out.

backyard wines

There’s also Township 7, Chamberton Estate Winery, and Vista D’Oro, where they make and sell the most delicious port, as well as preserves.

Vegan Tastiness

Vegan Poutine

I just recently discovered Down 2 Earth Plant Parlour. This entirely plant-based cafe  (which is super cute by the way) focuses on vegan comfort food. Try the poutine. Seriously.

Live your Top Chef Dream

You wanna be a gourmet? You gotta hit up Well Seasoned before you leave town. They not only have everything you need to make the perfect risotto, but they have loads of frozen gourmet treats you could bring home, defrost, cook and then proceed to take credit for. They also offer cooking classes in the back. The owner, Angie Quaale, literally wrote the book on where to eat in the Fraser Valley.

backyard winery

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