The Globe and Mail:  the real gem of the trip was morningside

The Globe and Mail: the real gem of the trip was morningside

Salt Spring Island perfect for travellers on a restricted diet

If there’s one thing you can count on in life, it’s karma. Time and time again, I’ve found that whenever I pass judgment about something, chances are good I’ll eventually do it.

For example, I spent a good decade rolling my eyes at the Gwyneth Paltrows of the world, who inconvenienced restaurants and dinner hosts everywhere with their elaborate diets.

Salt Spring Island, seen in the fall, offers a healthier lifestyle, natural beauty, countercultural residents and barefoot concerts – a welcome escape from city life. (iStock)

So, naturally, I found myself in Salt Spring Island recently, regaling a fresh-faced waitress at the Treehouse Café with an endless list of foods that must not pass my lips. I was on an elimination diet recommended by my naturopath – no gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, refined sugar, every fat except cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, most meats and fish, chocolate, coffee, citrus, nuts and most seeds, plus nightshade vegetables.

Reciting this list, I suddenly cringed. What the hell was I doing?

I had to blame the Sixties. Raised a reluctant hippie child in Vancouver, I rebelled in the only way possible: moving to Toronto, donning stilettos and getting a job at a celebrity magazine.

I logged marathon hours at the office, went out every night to cocktail parties, and ate a steady diet of Starbucks, Purdy’s chocolates and sushi. That kind of lifestyle takes its toll.

The view from the Mount Maxwell. (iStock)

This summer, karma kicked in. I found myself back on the West Coast, desperately seeking a healthier lifestyle and spending time on Salt Spring, an island famous for its natural beauty, countercultural residents, thriving wellness centres and decades-long tradition of local, organic food.

A picky eater’s guide

Gluten-free, dairy-free or just anxious about finding the right food on the road? Salt Spring Island has got you covered.

The hippie health-food hub is a food-sensitive traveller’s dream vacation spot, with delicious dining options that cater to every dietary restriction.

morningside organic bakery cafe & bookstore: Don’t let grumpy online reviews scare you off of this exquisite organic and plant-based kitchen.

Peruse its stellar collection of books as you sample wood-fired heritage sourdough bread, soups, smoothies and shakes – and, of course, a cup of world-class chai tea. 107 Morningside Rd.,morningsideorganic.com

Here’s the thing: If you are nutty enough to travel while on an elimination diet, Salt Spring is the ideal place to go.

But the real gem of the trip was Morningside Organic Bakery Café and Bookstore in Fulford Village, the charming south-end harbour near the cabin we’d rented in the woods.

Morningside, you should know, is an acquired taste. Its owner, an eco-chic woman, is a bit of a tough nut to crack. Online reviews of her customer service lean toward moral outrage; one poster refers to her as “the angry vegan.”

A blog post on the café’s website breaks down the ethos: “If you are bringing your snooty consumer ‘me first’ attitude, I suggest you move along. If you want to stay in your monocultured, supersized, Starbuckified box, then you will be sorely disappointed.”

Salt Spring is a health-food hub with dining options that cater to dietary restrictions.

Not having read any of this, the proprietor and I didn’t exactly get off on the right foot. The café keeps random hours, and my blood sugar was dangerously low when its doors finally swung open. As a result, I sent back the noodle bowl I ordered as it did not contain a single ingredient listed on the menu. (The bearded male server shrugged and explained that sometimes they cook with whatever is in the fridge.) I was less than thrilled.

And then I took a sip of the owner’s famous chai tea.

Gorgeously spiced with a hint of heat, made with coconut milk and served at the perfect temperature – it was so ridiculously good I was determined to give the café another chance. Anyone who could make chai with this much heart and soul was clearly worth knowing.

And so I returned the next morning. The owner and I eventually bonded over our shared aversion to canola oil, and I told her that the chai was the most magnificent I’d ever tasted. In the end, I enjoyed her gruff, no-nonsense manner.

Ganges Harbor Government dock on Salt Spring Island. (iStock)

I bought another steaming cup of the tea, and several cookies made from rice flour, pumpkin seeds and anise, and met my friends down by the wharf. On the dock, a barefoot concert pianist was playing an ancient piano. We sat, rapt, as the music washed over us. I gave silent thanks for the island’s strange magic.

“Is the tea any good?” my friend Sheina asked, hugging a cup of strong coffee. “The best,” I replied.

My friends, it must be noted, had been very good-natured about my food restrictions. Which is lucky, because we’re planning another trip – and now I’m on the Spleen Qi Deficiency Diet.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/travel/activities-and-interests/salt-spring-island-perfect-for-travellers-on-a-restricted-diet/article32314573/

Exquisite

Exquisite

 I thought I might be able to eat half the vegan chocolate fudge cake, and bring the rest with me back from Salt Spring Island to Vancouver to share with my wife. I was wrong.

It truly was exquisite. The velvet texture of the cake. The chocolate cream deliciousness that covered the cake. The deep rich chocolate flavour. The cacao, sprouts and basil garnish. The maple syrup drizzle. After that first bite…I had no control. I ate the whole thing.

And then there is the service. Truly lovely people. Helpful, kind, intuitive.

I’ll be back. Next time I will buy a second piece for my wife.
xo
Mark

Amazing bread, fresh food, informative posters!

Amazing bread, fresh food, informative posters!

My boyfriend and I stopped in here for the first time and loved it – was the best meal we had on the island and we had some good ones!
Love the open and cozy space, had a big salad filled with loads of fresh, healthy, and delicious stuff, and an amazing pizza.
The German Rye bread that we took home was the best, however! Very dense, thin slices were absolutely perfect, especially toasted.
Thanks Morningside! Hope to be back.
x
Visited March 2016
Phenomenal Little Eatery

Phenomenal Little Eatery

I’ve eaten here twice, after receiving a high recommendation by friends. Being a foodie, and appreciating good coffee, healthy food and quality ingredients – I love everything I have tried thus far!

Have had the coffee (exceptional coffee..), the carrot cake (really amazing carrot cake..) and the vegan burger (best burger – vegan or otherwise – I’ve ever remember having.. Period.). Fyi, thats good.

First off, its not just the food that is organic,, rather the entire environment seems inspired by natures design and weaves mindfulness throughout the boutique, emphasized by the sincerity of the individuals and desplayed in the amazing selection of books available for sale. I had been seeking some quality reading material, and so thus was nice for me.

I’ll speak mostly to the vegan burger, because after eating it once the memory had remained with me during the several months I had been off Island travelling Asia before returning today and sampling the cuisine a second time.

The burger was hearty, offers a whole spectrum of rich and subtle flavors, and is a very good sized portion. For me, thats great because its too often I end up ordering a second main course at many restaurants that ‘apparently’ have good portions. Thus, for the price; When considering the quality of ingredients, the care of preparation, the originality of the recipe, and the overall deliciousness of the dish,,, it’s now one of my favourite meal options in North America.

That’s all I have to say. Try for yourselves.
Brandon

  • Visited April 2016
“Your taste buds will love the food. Vegan too…”

“Your taste buds will love the food. Vegan too…”

“What a wonderful discovery, food that’s feeds your body, mind, and spirit. Food I can eat. Vegan cheeses, soup with sprouts what a surprise. 

My tastes buds love there experience. Thank you Manon. Made with love… And I did buy a book. The ambience is wonderful and meet some great people that were Manon’s regular client they were so nice.”  — Tastebuds 11

“Delicious!”

“Delicious!”

“The sandwich I love is the vegan burger — big enough to share and super delicious! The books are all revolutionary and so are the owners: not your ordinary purveyors of fine coffee, there’s a touch of the mystical about this place. Try the Chai!”

— Sho W.