My second day in the alternative-indie mecca of Montreal began leisurely with a bowl of green juice (purchased the previous day at Cafe Juicy Lotus) augmented with a handful of millet puffs (discovered, much to my surprise, at a grocery store across the street from the aforementioned cafe) and a banana. Loaded with the veggie goodness of romaine lettuce, celery, cucumbers, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, pears, and bananas, the juice powered me through an energizing morning workout before heading off to the Atwater Market with Lisa.
Boasting fresh produce, artisanal products like oils and vinegars, and familiar “health food store” fare including an array of gluten-free goodies, the indoor market served as an incredibly European-feeling hub of folks from all walks of life—adorable children munched on croissants while their parents sipped black coffee and wrinkled oldsters with moustaches good-heartedly bartered with burly butchers. A gorgeous amalgamation of classic French culture, yet still somehow a mere two hours away from America. Lisa and I purchased a selection of organic produce in preparation for a hearty lunchtime salad, pausing along the way to gawk at a stand overflowing with pickles (because what self-respecting vegan doesn’t crave salthy preserved vegetable deliciousness?).
After lunch, Lisa and I trekked through the rain in search of my prom dress along Rue Saint-Laurent, hunting down a sophisticated, all black variation on the classic flapper-style frock. Mission prom dress: accomplished! On the way back to Lisa’s dorm, we stopped by David’s Tea, where I enjoyed the Fantasy Island flavor—a rich black tea with tropical hints of coconut and fruity raspberry accents. I’ll elaborate further on the tea shop in my Montreal: Day 3 post, but for now, I’d like to focus on the highlight of day two (and perhaps my entire trip)…
…dinner at Crudessence. Offering oodles more than a creative menu of gourmet raw cuisine (certainly a feat in and of itself!), the restaurant runs an “Academy of Living Foods” with workshops on dehydrating, sprouting, juicing, and other raw food basics; supplies top-quality house-brewed kombucha to just about every health-oriented business in Montreal; produces a line of packaged raw goodies such as cheesecakes, energy balls, granolas, and even chia pudding mixes (photo below); and reserves a spot in the McGill cafeteria deli case for pre-made versions of its popular menu items like the Om Burger and buckwheat pizza.
One glance at the menu informed me that Lisa and I would have to contemplate its mouthwatering selection for a good long while. Thankfully, our lovely waitress seemed quite understanding and patiently allowed us to painfully narrow down our choices. In the end, I opted for Crudessence’s famous Om Burger with a side of “Daily Salad”, as per the suggestions of both Lisa and our helpful waitress. I also wanted to sample a juice concoction, and ordered a small glass of Hippocrate Juice.
From the moment the waitress bestowed this plate of gorgeous raw food upon me, Crudessence had transported me to gastronomical heaven. The salad sported a crisp, fresh mix of lettuce, red cabbage, carrots, sauerkraut (my favorite!), a generous handful of house-grown sprouts (my other favorite!), and a playful beet spiral tossed in an herby green vinaigrette, accompanied by a small mound of quinoa pilaf (not raw, but delicious) with currants, cauliflower, and parsley. And then the burger. Oh, this burger. Sinking my teeth through its wonderfully contrasting layers of soft flax “chapati” bread, crunchy sprouts, juicy tomato, crisp lettuce, a hint of red onion, homemade mustard, ketchup, delectable caper aioli sauce, and the burger patty itself (a complex and deeply flavored mix of mushroom, sundried tomato, flax, and other veggies), sent me from heaven to complete culinary nirvana. Lisa can attest to this, as she witnessed me becoming closer to tears of pure joy with every bite. I must specially mention the caper aioli sauce—a salty, creamy spread of absolute impeccable flavor that I would more than happily slather on anything from crudite vegetables to a shoe. Between divine mouthfuls of my precious burger, I sipped on the Hippocrate Juice—a refreshing, pleasant blend of cucumber, celery, green pea sprouts, cilantro, and lemon—which originally intrigued me with its implementation of the sprouts, as I had never seen them used in a juice before.
Meal Checklist: Protein—various nuts, flax. Whole Grain—quinoa. Vegetables—red cabbage, carrots, sprouts, beet, cauliflower, parsley, cucumber, celery, green pea sprouts, cilantro, tomato, red onion…I could continue. Leafy Green—lettuce, cabbage in sauerkraut.
Of course, one can’t possibly expect me to dine at one of the premiere raw restaurants in North America without salivating over dessert. Lisa promised me a forkful of her favorite Blueberry Un-Cheesecake while I ordered the Banana Split from the seasonal menu, as well as a small square of Green Tea Chocolate Fondant. A plate of perfectly ripe bananas studded with utterly rich brownie bites and scoops of unidentifiably, though yummily, flavored ice cream, drizzled in “Maca-ramel” (a caramel of maca powder), and sprinkled with goji berries certainly met the high standard of raw food quality I came to develop throughout my meal at Crudessence. I snagged a bit of Lisa’s cheesecake, whose unbelievably creamy texture tasted positively sinful. My final bite of smooth, bittersweet chocolate fondant coated in matcha green tea powder left me in utter contentment.
Lisa and I returned to her dorm, bellies full of scrumptiousness, incredibly satisfied, and ready for a good night’s sleep filled with dreams of another stupendous day in Montreal.
- Atwater Market—138 Atwater, Corner of Notre-Dame and Atwater, Montreal, Quebec.
- David’s Tea—Le Centre Eaton, 705 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Montreal, Quebec. (514) 284-6060.
- Crudessence—2157 Rue Mackay, Montreal, Quebec. (514) 664-5188.
Until next time, Ali.