Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vex in the City: Part 4 One Love

>< >< >< >< >< Taste of the food These dishes always come out on top. The BBQ Tofu is outstanding. The spicy sauce that marinades the tofu pieces is slightly sweet and just perfect. Reminiscent of a Caribbean marinade. On the second visit, I had a very typical Jamaican dish of boiled green bananas, yam, and sweet potato with pumpkin and spicy callaloo. Very much like mom used to make. My third visit which is profiled here I had the whole wheat dhal puri roti with spicy Jamaican pumpkin filling. It's very mild but I turned up the heat with the complimentary spicy red sauce. Of course the corn soup is always amazing.
>< >< >< >< Look of the food Great presentation. I wish I had more photographs of the food.
>< >< >< Environmentally-Responsibility One Love uses reusable plates, utensils, and cups.
>< >< >< >< >< Health Savvy Ikeila, one of the owners, is very knowledgable about health and food. When I caught up with her on a slower afternoon, she was able to speak. I told Ikeila about my diagnosis and she highly recommended Chinese herbs and finding out from Jah what I am to learn from my cancer. I took her advice.
>< >< >< >< >< Hospitality/Warmth Very good. I think this is One Love's strong suit. They are pleasant, hospitable, and welcome you with a smile. When you are finished, they come to your table to clear your plates. They make you feel at home.
>< >< >< >< Décor/Vibe The music ranges from Lauryn Hill to roots reggae to soul. The first time they went they were even willing to take a special request from my friend. The decor inside is pretty simple but they have a beautiful wall mural outside.
>< >< >< >< Added Perks The health advice on my second visit was very useful. Also, I was allowed to take pictures.
>< >< >< >< Ethical and Community-Minded One Love has local newspapers, business cards, and flyers for upcoming events accessible to clients. During the summer months, they have a One Love corn and corn soup stand permanently set-up at the Harbourfront during its festivals.

$10-$19 This covered the price of my large whole wheat dhal puri roti and Kiss Me juice.
Same when I bought my BBQ TOfu, juice, and cupcake. (Yes, they have cupcakes.)

None of my summers are complete without spending time enjoying the wonderful festivals at the Harbourfront Centre. For the last eleven years, I have attended several free concerts and events. It has been such a blessing to see some of the best live roots reggae acts perform as well like Ernest Ranglin, The Melodians, Queen Ifrika, Frankie Paul, and Lee Scratch Perry, all for free. I have also had a chance to see and sample the arts and foods from cultures around the world. One permanent fixture of this beautiful gathering of people is the infamous One Love Corn Soup and Corn-on-the-Cob. Enrobed in a perfect blend of spices and butter, this corn is nothing like you have ever had before. The soup is hot, spicy, and thick with chunks of carrot and corn-on-the-cob. So after many summers with long line-ups of famished patrons who were willing to wait up to an hour under the blazing sun to sample some these well-loved items, One Love Vegetarian Cafe has opened up a much-anticipated location on Bathurst street, north of Bloor. Formerly Joyce's, a Jamaican owned store which sold island produce and products for almost forty years, One Love now dominates the corner across from Bathurst subway station. I remember my mom telling me that when she first arrived to Canada in the seventies, this neighbourhood was where new Jamaican (and other island immigrants) could get a flavour of home. Today, you still see evidence of this with beauty salons, barber shops, and the occasional elder walking around. One Love is well-loved by its patrons. Everyone who comes in there seems to know exactly what they want. The environment is casual and I get that it is very much a takeout restaurant. However, I can never bare to leave once I purchase the food, so I am one of the patrons who sits and eats the food. The first dish I had was BBQ tofu with rice which was outstanding in flavour. Since I usually like to try something new, I sampled the Jamaican typical dish on my second visit and on my third, the spicy pumpkin roti. By far, my favourite is the BBQ Tofu and a friend of mine has eaten it pretty much any time she visits One Love (which is often). The word of One Love is getting around so it is no surprise that on my second visit, I saw Hollywood-celebrity Woody Harrelson there. I did go star crazy a bit. (You can read about that encounter at my post Living La Vega(n) Loca). It is also so nice to eat vegan food with an ethnic twist (familiar flavours of my Jamaican background). Although they do not make the corn at the restaurant, you can order their famous corn soup. The nice thing is you can try to make this dish at home since One Love has shared their recipe with the Food Network. I have made this recipe a few times and it has always gone over well. My kindergarten students and their parents, my friends, my fiance... they all love it. (See my corn soup here.) Come to One Love and try island cooking at its best!

Kiss Me! juice (combination of mango, strawberry, and lemonade)

Home-Brewed Ginger Beer

Whole Wheat Dhal Puri with Seasoned Jamaican Pumpkin filling

Ikeila Wright (One Love owner), Woody Harrelson (Hollywood actor/environmental activist), and I skinnin' teet' (smiling) at One Love in March.

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