Humble Roots Cafe and Deli - Vegan Options

So literally way out in the middle of nowhere (and I mean that in a good way), is Humble Roots Cafe and Deli. I've known about it for a long time but only as a place where there there were at least a couple of vegan sandwiches on the menu.
Finally, we made the trek to the rurals of Maple Ridge one Saturday afternoon. The first thing that we noticed was that the parking lot was full as clearly folks love this place. We managed to get a table without waiting and if the weather is nice they have more tables outside but try not to show up at noon and be surprised if you do have to wait.
Somehow we managed to get here without even knowing that they have a completely separate vegan menu and not just a couple of sandwiches. Nothing is more stressful than when 2 vegan choices on a menu become many! Hah! It's a problem we love to have. After a few minutes of perusing, we decided on the Hot Potato Bowl. I know potatoes don't sound like much but there was much more than hash browns here. In addition to their own seitan sausage, there were caramelized onions and greens in a creamy dijon vinaigrette with dill pickles and scallions!. The flavours worked together amazingly and the pickles were a tasty accent. Very nice!
We also had their Agedashi Sandwich which is a pretty interesting way to get tofu into your day. The tofu was crispy and the miso-tamari mayo was tangy. This was a very good sandwich that we ordered with sweet potato fries that were also above average.
There was at least one item in the bakery case that was vegan, so we decided to have a little dessert! I can't remember what they called this but, nuts, chocolate, maybe peanut butter and we are good to go!
They do a nice variety of coffee drinks with the plant milk option always present. This one was a Macadamia Nut thing that we very much enjoyed.
Comfortable for brunch and lunch, the staff-to-customer ratio is similar to a cruise ship. They seem to be on top of things as a result but this place is hopping. There are many more vegan offerings on the menu and we would like to be back to try some of them. Definitely worth the voyage (oh. It's not really that far!)

Food                         4 out of 5
Vegan Options          4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                    4 out of 5
Service                     4  1/2 out of 5
Value                        4 out of 5


My Second TKR in 6 months and UBC Hospital Vegan Options

I guess I am posting this because I have met people who chose to put up with the pain of osteoarthritis in the knees because that are afraid of the process that is a total joint replacement.

Almost 6 months to the day, I returned to UBC Hospital for my second total knee replacement (the left one this time not a redo of the right!). Having done this once, I entered the hospital with much less trepidation than the first time around. I knew exactly what was up! I'll start by saying that given the overwork that doctors, nurses and all medical staff face, I would not have been surprised if some were short or grumpy (I have been to emergency rooms over the years and experienced that occasionally), but everyone that I have encountered in my TKR journeys have been profoundly kind and concerned with my comfort and a good outcome. Thank you so much to Dr. Michael Neufeld and all his staff at the Orthopedic Reconstruction Surgery Team. I know there are other equally skilled surgeons working out of this hospital as well but my experience was only with Dr. Neufeld.

It takes a special kind of person to work in medical care and I tip my hat to anyone who is willing to be so focused on the health and well being of others. BTW, who thought of this? Note in the photo above the vacuum cleaner pipe opening in my hospital gown. It is where a connection can be made and warm air blown in to warm the person who is chilly while awaiting surgery and admittedly scantily clad in the process. Wow!
Multiple persons worked on me and checked on me pre surgery including my surgeon and anesthesiologist if only for the purpose of reassuring their patient. Even just as surgery began, they performed an epidural (I keep calling it a spinal tap but I'm not sure what the proper term is) which may strike fear into the hearts of braver men than I but between the gentleness of the team and the thinness of the actual needle this was a simple and painless procedure. A couple of hours (I don't even know) later, I woke up in recovery. They manage your pain obviously and I would say that the most difficult part of the whole process for me, was spending about 18 hours in one position, laying on my back.
Eventually, they got me up to a room for an overnight stay and fed me. I was surprised that I was hungry but really, I hadn't eaten in over 20 hours so, you know. I asked for a vegan meal and on both of my visits, they had no problem with that. Since this is mostly a food blog, please see above. A sort of baked bean, roasted root veggies and a wild rice concoction. Very nice! Less impressive was tepid tea and a pudding (almost certainly not vegan) which was served as someone had run out of applesauce, I guess. No problem. Just keep your eyes open as the kitchen staff are overworked like everyone on else in this field.
The next morning, the physiotherapist came in and made sure I could get out of bed and move around with a walker, gave me a few first week exercises, and kicked my ass out! At home, I spent 4 weeks recovering before getting back to work. This time around, I enjoyed my morning coffee in the company of the spring greenery rather than the Autumn colours like last time.
Like last time, I was pretty useless getting around and looking after myself for the first week. If you do this, count on needing someone to look after you. Its a little hard to find any comfortable position and you will count on some pain assistance. I was off the Hydromorphone by day 4 and I think that is a good goal. After that, Extra Strength Tylenol and Advil took over but less and less frequently. I started physio after a week and the staples came out after 2.
I was up and fooling around in the kitchen again by the second week. Above is seiten sliced thin and cooked in a mushroom gravy with peas. Served on Ciabatta with vegan parmesan. Sorry! Still really a food blog!
By the end of week 3, I was driving and looking after myself and fully functional but maybe just in slow motion. 
I'm back to work after 4 weeks ( I can sit down at my job) but this will vary depending on what you do. I expect it will be at least 6 months before I am capable of leaping around (some say it takes a full year) but already I am virtually pain-free compared to a decade of discomfort.
It seems daunting going in but while it is a pretty big surgery, consider that you are out and home the next day. Sure, you might consider it optional but myself, I am going to need to get around for the next few decades and I don't want to limp. While I live in Aldergrove, I specifically asked for a referral to the VGH/UBC crew. I know there are competent surgeons in other places, but I knew these folks by reputation and had confidence. Most of the pre and post follow-ups and x-rays etc., have been done in my neighborhood.
While I hear a lot of whining about Canada's health care, I have never had issues. According to Copilot, the average cost of a knee replacement in the United States is $32,000 but what you pay there depends on the coverage you have and deductibles and all sorts of bullshit. I never gave that a second thought here.
So get a referral from your GP and find out if you are a candidate and what a TKR can do for you.


Aldergrove Indian Bistro - Vegan Options

In keeping with my new found insistence on vegan menus or clearly marked vegan options, we revisited Aldergrove Indian Bistro. Even though AIB is only 5 years old, it seems to have become the OG of Indian joints in this little hamlet. Also, they are one of the few places, Indian or otherwise, that have specific vegan options marked clearly on their menu.

So we went for a late lunch on Saturday and had the place to ourselves. Not that parking is a problem here but there is street parking and a few spots at the back of the restaurant as well.
As is our custom, we ordered way too much but brought our own take out containers for leftovers. Each of the dishes came with Basmati rice so that added to the abundance. We started with one of our favourite lentil dishes, Daal Tadka. Warming and complex with spices and crispy onions etc., I could live on this (wait! I almost do live on lentils!).
Next up was Jeera Aloo, a favourite potato dish cooked with cumin and other spices. Comforting and rich. Loved it.
Another vegetable dish that we tried was the Eggplant Bhartha. This is a dish of roasted and mashed eggplant with lots of ginger, garlic, peas and tomatoes. It is sort of a step up from mashed potatoes for us.
Finally, we had Channa Masala, a chickpea dish with tomato and onion in a masala sauce. We ordered all the dishes with medium heat which provided some nice warming without any pain! We startled our server by ordering 4 dishes but we took literally half of it home for later. 
This is a comfortable, homey kind of place with seating for maybe 50 (?) but I'm really just guessing and didn't count. We were amused by the service button located at the table but it makes sense too. There are a few more vegan dishes but nothing outside of the main dish section. So there are no vegan appetizers or breads. We feel like they could try a little harder with that. Still, delicious vegan Indian food without having to ask a lot of questions! Very nice folks too. BTW, we paid $70 including tax and  tips and took half of it home so very good value!

Food                           4 out of 5
Vegan Options           3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                      4 out of 5
Service                       4 1/2 out of 5
Value                          4 1/2 out of 5

The Barley Merchant - Vegan Options

We will always choose the restaurant with the clearly marked vegan options or vegan menu instead of the eatery where we have to guess or negotiate or discuss menu items with someone who doesn't understand or care about vegans. The Barley Merchant has a specific vegan menu on its website dropdown menu. So off we went!

Located adjacent to the Cineplex Cinemas in Langley north of the freeway (on 200th), I know this used to be something else but I just don't recall. We arrived Sunday just after noon and had no problem getting a table.
We started with the Santa Fe Fritters. These were crispy and not at all falafel like (they kind of look the part) being made mainly from corn, cauliflower, rice and white beans. They were nicely presented and came with a nice ranch type sauce. Very tasty!
We also tried the Nightshade Bisque. This was a rich soup of tomato and red piquillo peppers with a nice note of fresh herbs. Some of the items on the vegan menu indicate minor adjustments such as no  butter or cheese on the toast on this one. I think they could have accompanied this with the unbuttered toast but for some reason, did not do so. 
I'm always drawn to a Veggie Burger that is not jus an Impossible or Beyond thing (although we like both these products) as it seems like a little more effort was made. The patty on this was made from rice and black beans etc. but we're pretty sure that it is not a house product. It was tasty enough. The vegan option here requires French bread instead of the hamburger bun but we had no problem with that. It came with Filthy Fries on the side (that was an upgrade) which were pretty great. Spicy with impressive toppings and a nice dip. One odd thing was a peculiar taste from the cast iron pan they came in (almost soapy) so my advice is don't lick it!
Finally we loved the Coriander Citrus Curry. I don't think we've had a curry with emphasis on the citrus but it worked very well! There was an nice selection of interesting mushrooms and veggies on rice in a wonderful sauce. We were very impressed with this!
Admittedly most people probably come for the beverages and not just the food. We saw many people enjoying flights of local beers but you may have noticed that we are more like water people. Still, we loved the atmosphere and surroundings. Our servers were very pleasant and were tuned in to our vegan preferences. Great place for before or after a movie or anytime! There are quite a few more vegan options to be tried.

Food                          4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options          4 out of 5
Comfort                     4 out of 5
Service                      4 1/2 out of 5
Value                         4 out of 5


Vege Garden Pizza and Coffee Shop - Vegan Options

So I saw a couple of posts on Instagram about Vege Garden Pizza and Coffee Shop. The posts sorted some cheese confusion and served to reassure us that they do indeed serve some vegan pizza options here. So we set off to 128th Street and 84th to check them out.

Located in one of the many tilt-up concrete strip malls in Surrey, there is at least decent parking to be had. Unlike the strip malls in Richmond, the many businesses here don't seem to be squabbling over individual parking spaces. 
VGP uses some kind of vegan cheese and sauce and they are specific about it on their menu. Their on-line menu is somewhat confusing as they have a vegan pizza section but there are paneer pizzas within that menu section. I didn't even ask if they were using vegan paneer as I'm pretty sure that is just not a thing. So you still have to steer carefully.
We ordered 2 medium pizzas and I will say this, they make damn good pizza! The first is their Cashew Pizza and I was sort of assuming cashew cheese but this is a cheese and vegetable pizza with cashews! They are generous with the cashews also and they are not crunchy and roasted but nicely cooked so that the texture is pleasant. The crust is pretty good also with a nice chew and just a hint of yeast!
The other was their Sweet and Spicy which we ordered medium spicy and it came with a nice kick. My wife likes her Hawaiian pizza and this one came with pineapple which was as close as we could get. An assortment of chilis gave it the spicy so there was no surprise there. Again, decent crust and they are generous with the toppings. The vegan cheese was OK. It was not the best we have ever had but it was fairly melty, and again, they were not cheap with it.
There is nothing else on the menu that is vegan even though they have a nice selection of South Asian dishes. Ghee everywhere, I guess. There is a small dining section with some booths and a table. The only gripe I have is that the web site is obviously behind the reality. If you have a web site, you need to keep it current. We paid $5 more at the cash register than I expected based on web site pricing for 2 pizzas. Not a big deal but it turns out that all vegan pizzas are $19.05 regardless of size. I ordered 2 mediums on the phone and someone could have said, "Hey. It costs the same if you order 2 larges!" I don't feel ripped off because we got very good vegan pizza but they are clearly not customer service forward and I am still feeling a little annoyed a few days later.

Food                          4 out of 5
Vegan Options          3 out of 5
Comfort                     3 out of 5
Service                      2 1/2 out of 5
Value                         3 out of 5

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Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...