Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Tale of Tails and Zen

When I think of Ottawa and winter, one thing comes to mind: the Rideau Canal. It is the worlds largest skating rink at 7.8km in length. It is home to Winterlude, which kicks off this weekend. And what's the first thing most people think of when you say the words "canal" and "winterlude"? BeaverTails. Not the actual tails of beavers, but a delicious pastry that is deep fried and covered in cinnamon sugar. It is as Canadian as maple syrup, and a must for any visitor to the canal. The first BeaverTail stand opened in the Byward Market in 1980 and has since become a fixture on the Rideau Canal skateway and at festivals throughout the region. Even President Obama had one on his visit to our nation's capital.
I figured that there was no way the delectable BeaverTail was vegan, but I was curious to find out just how much cheating I was about to do on my first skate of the season. I e-mailed the company and promptly received the following enthusiastic reply:

"Dear Ashley,

Thank you for submitting your questions regarding our addictive product! For your information, you will find no animal-based products in the whole-wheat dough portion of the BeaverTails, however, we do smear butter on them in order to hold the toppings (which are all vegetarian) like our famous cinnamon and sugar blend. Also, our product is deep fried in Canola or Soya oil (depending on the store you visit). "

So there you have it, vegan except for the butter they "smear" on. We can't be perfect all the time, and BeaverTails are well worth the indulgence. They have a maple butter version of the BeaverTail, and if it is actually pure maple butter, would be vegan. I intend to ask about it next time I go.

Our next stop after the canal was to Zen Kitchen, an upscale all vegan restaurant in Ottawa's chinatown area. My friend Brett and I were feeling adventurous and sprung for the chef's tasting menu, which consisted of 4 courses of vegan amazingness, the final course being a devastatingly delicious dessert. Seriously people, if you're in the Ottawa area and looking for an amazing place to eat, this is it. As good (or better) as any high end restaurant I've ever eaten in, it was all at once surprising, fresh, and decadent. They even make note right on the menu which dishes can be prepared gluten-free. I will definitely be going back.

I really wish I had brought my camera in so I could take photos of the amazing food, but having just come from the canal I only had my backpack which I opted to leave in the car, which of course had my camera in it. So sad. I'll be sure to take pics next time!


  1. Yum! I miss all of the vegetarian options in Ottawa. Here in Calgary, I get the death stare when I reveal that I don't eat cows or pigs....

  2. I miss the beavertail we used to have here in Winnipeg. It's been about five years since I've had one, and that sucks.