Montréal Day 3: La Panthère Verte, Homemade Poutine and Salad with Friends and a post-game return to Aux Vivres!
La Panthère Verte – 100% vegan
66, rue St-Viateur West
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Today we get to meet Élise for the first time in person. The whole crew gathered at the vegan sandwich shop, La Panthère Verte [The Green Panther]. This place is renowned for the Golden Balls Sandwich, which is essentially a Yemen style falafel ball in a pocket; top with veggies of your choice and you are good to go! Many of us opted to have the soup of the day alongside our sandwiches.
Seating here is limited to around 15 or so people. When we were there, the place was hopping and being a group of 5, we definitely relied on our special table scoping skills. We made it happen because we are pros and we had a nice chat about what Élise has been going through to promote her new book, “Je mange avec ma tete.” She spent the last few days at a local book convention sharing her new project with the reading masses. It is such a joy to be able to sit down with a crew who share a certain view and yet still have interesting and unique points of that same view. When Daniela is at the table, you know you are in for a challenge; that’s a good thing, Daniela!
So for those of you who closely follow the blog you may know that I am, amongst other things, a huge hockey fan. My personal excitement for visiting Montréal is hard to contain. I was born and raised in the northeast; my last name is from my father’s French Canadian lineage; I grew up tending goal. Need I say more? The link between Boston and Montréal is strong and although positive in many ways the relationship is tested when it is time for the Canadiens and the Bruins to face off.
When we learned that the B’s were scheduled to visit the Habs (short for Les Habitants; the colloquial name for Montréal’s beloved Canadiens), I gave Kristin a glance and without speaking, there was an understanding. I didn’t sell nearly all of my possessions to miss this opportunity. We got nosebleed seats, which is no joke at the Bell Centre; those seats are high. Although the game was far from historic, the Habs are having a rough season and the B’s are eyeing a repeat of last year’s Stanley Cup victory, it was a special moment for a Bostonian in Montréal. Witnessing the two teams who comprise the greatest hockey rivalry outside of international play, on Canadian ice, although not a once in a lifetime experience, will be a nice highlight to remember.
Alex, recognizing our enthusiasm for tradition suggested meeting up beforehand to eat a Canadian comfort food called poutine. Poutine is essentially fries covered in cheese curd topped with gravy. Making this vegan is simple and delicious. Here is Alex with the details:
For those who don’t know about poutine it’s a Québecois dish that traditionnaly consists of french fries, bbq gravy and cheese curd. Most of the time, the gravy will contain animal stock and well, the cheese is always animal based if I may say. It’s a favorite late night snack among the young and wasted.
It’s usually serverd in 24/24 greasy spoon joints and legend has it that it was invented in a truck stop. I used to be an omnivore until my early 20s. Poutine was hard to quit. But you can make your own vegan version that kinda makes you feel like you have a ton of slow release high calory food in your stomach.
I wanted to use/try the frozen tofurky gravy for my poutine party with my American friends, but the only store I knew had some was closed on Mondays :(
Luckily, I have very good friends and Valery Giroux sent me her recipe for vegan poutine gravy taken from a Sarah Kramer book. I didn’t have all the ingredients so this is what we did. In the following, I will multiply quantities as we kinda ran out of gravy pretty quickly. We had Daiya (mozzarella style) and grated tofu to replace cheese curd.
I’m not a professionnal chef or anything. This is my best attempt at making proportions optimal for poutine. Results may vary…
VEGAN POUTINE (serves 6)
6 finely chopped large sized portobello Mushrooms
3 finely chopped medium sized oninons
1 1/2 cup Kamut Flour
6 cups water
3 tablespoons Vegan Worcestershire sauce (you can use braggs or soya instead)
1 1/2 pound grated firm tofu (use the biggest holes on your grater)
1 1/2 pound Dayia chesse (Mozarella)
Cape herbs & spice BBQ grinder mix ( Cape herbs & spice is a brand I like to use – it’s my favorite )
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground salt
12 potatoes finely cut and oil baked in the oven
1 wholesome friend to help you cook is always a good idea.
1-Chop the potatoes into your favorite shape. The finer the better. You won’t get the classic poutine feel if you cut them into wedges.
2-Place in a wide yet deep tray, grind salt over the potatoes and pour a thin film of canola oil on the potatoes in S motions. Do not soak in oil…
3-Put in a preheated oven set at 350
4-Prepare a pan with salty water to boil the grated tofu a little later.
5-Shake the potato tray every 5 minutes.
6-Put the finely chopped portobello mushrooms and onions in a frying pan.
7-Add 3 tablespoons canola oil.
8-Cook on high for a few minutes while stirring the vegetables.
9-Add 3 generous tablespoons of vegan Worcestershire sauce
10-Add some BBQ spices to taste
11-Add some freshly ground black pepper in a lesser proportion on the veggies
12-Add some freshly ground salt to taste
13-Put the grated firm tofu in boiling salty water.
14-The onions will turn golden brown and the portobello mushroom will have shrunk significantly.
16-By this time you should have shook the potatoes in their tray at least once or twice.
15-Now is the time you lower the heat [under the mushrooms and onions] to medium and add the flour.
17-Mix the flour with the veggies to get a thick paste.
18-Remove Grated Tofu from water and set aside. Use remaining water for the next step.
19-Slowly add all of the water. Be careful not to add it all of a sudden. You want the pan to stay hot. You still want a thick sauce, but not too thick. Lower heat to low.
20-Shake the potatoes one more time so they cook evenly.
21-Put half a serving of fries in a bowl, put some grated tofu, with or without Daiya shreds, over them and pour a first 1/2 cup of sauce over it, repeat twice and you have a delicious single serving of Québécois vegan poutine.
Instead of BBQ spices you can use three peppercorn (white,pink,green) or even curry if you’d like an Indian style vegan poutine. I tried both and they’re amazing.
Although in France, hockey is not nearly as popular as it is in North America, Scandinavia and Russia, French transplant, Ph. D. student, and friend to Alex, Renan has become wrapped up in a dirty habit of rooting for the evil Montréal Canadiens. We were able to put aside our hockey differences and celebrate our common interest of veg living. It was easier for me to smile for this picture. Notice the word champion on my shirt. Oh yeah… (Kristin is eye rolling right now… silly boys!)
Return to Aux Vivres!
To cap off the day we decided to see what else Aux Vivres had to offer. I went for Le Creamsicle and the Gyro sandwich and Kristin had the Popeye juice and the Burger Au Tempeh. The picture of the drinks below does little justice to express the sheer enormousness of Le Creamsicle.
Popeye Juice, spinach, celery, lemon, cucumber & apple, and Le Creamsicle Smoothie, coconut milk, orange juice, carrot juice, vanilla
Burger Au Tempeh
Gyro Sandwhich, souvlaki-style seitan, tzatziki, tomato, lettuce & red onion
On the way back to Gerty we witnessed some moral support:
Truth: We Are All In This Together