This week, we're celebrating the release of a new local cookbook, The Social Herbivore: Perfect pairings for plant-based cuisine. Its focus is on pairing the perfect vegan wine with delicious plant-based dishes. We're always on the hunt for fun ways to be a bit more plant-forward, and what a better time to start than the holiday season!
We chatted with co-authors Jennifer Huether and Priya Rao, two Toronto-based women who are no strangers to great entertaining, good food (and the perfect wine pairing), to find out more about vegan wine and how they easily incorporate plant-based recipes into their day-to-day.
Supporting (and drinking!) local is always a priority for us at HH, what is your current favourite vegan Ontario red? White?
RED: Karlo Estates Malbec
WHITE: Two Sisters Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
How does the process of creating a vegan wine differ from a regular one?
Vegan wines do not have animal products used in the processing of grapes into wine. Some animal products that can be used for the fining of wine are things like fish bladders, ox blood and egg whites. Other products like sugar that can be derived from animals can be used also. There are many products now such as pea protein that can be used instead of animal products.
Top three tips for people trying to incorporate more plant-based meals into their daily routine.
Try easy swaps like non-dairy milks, plant-based butters and cheeses in your favourite recipes. Don’t be afraid of tofu! Tofu comes in a variety of textures and can be used in a plethora of ways, from smoothies to cream sauces to plant-based ricotta to stir frys and Asian curries. And while it’s not something we suggest on a daily basis, there’s nothing wrong with a faux meat product here and there. Plant-based burgers, sausages, ground ‘beef’ etc have come a long way!
Favourite plant-based appetizer to serve at a party? Wine pairing?
For an easy finger food try a leek and onion tart (which is in our book) and pairs perfectly with dry rose from Provence. Everything from the herbs to the caramelized onions and crispy crust balance in a lovely way with these exceptional wines!
Go-to shop/market to grab ingredients for a gathering?
Fresh City Farms is a great spot because not only can you pick up your produce and plant-based cheeses, they also have vegan baked goods and prepared foods as well as a bottle shop on site where you can select from the best Canadian wines handpicked by Jen!
Favourite local restaurant?
Gia. It’s a relatively new plant-based Italian restaurant that has exceptional food as well as a great wine list. And if you need a recommendation, just ask for their house sommelier!
You’re going to a dinner party, what are you bringing with you?
A bottle of wine, always! Usually two bottles, one that can be enjoyed that night and one for the host(ess) to enjoy on their own.
Now that travel is re-opening, where are you dreaming of visiting next to eat and drink?
Tuscany! There is a fabulous, ultra-vegan and world-renowned winery called Querciabella that we are dreaming of visiting. Italy also has seen a growth spurt in the world of plant-based dining, what more could we ask for?!