My parents are downstairs, in their sweet and sung way, packing away our christmas tree, while I, in my nervous nature, am avoiding packing away the final bits and pieces that belong to me. They all stand the chance of being left behind tomorrow morning when I step into the first of many modes of transportation that will eventually (fingers crossed) deposit me safely in our apartment in Brussels.
Being at home, with all of its vegan options, lululemon retail shopping experiences (which, thanks to the lulu love of a certain nerd boy, I took full advantage of), sushi restaurants, National Art Galleries and really great Tofu Wellingtons (thanks mom!), has left a funny feeling in the heart of this vegan cowgirl.
When I flew off to the wilds of Belgium one balmy August morning I wasn't sure. I was saying I was sure, and I was hoping I was sure....but I still cried myself silly at US customs. However, that trepidation, uncertainty and wobbly-leg feeling has been replaced by a concrete and positive solidity where my new not-so-vegan friendly home of Brussels is concerned. And I like that.
Self realizations aside: Some good food was had by all: Fresh, Sushi , The Table (in Ottawa), The Old Mill (Ancaster) The Cornerstone (in Guelph) and of course - the old standby - La Luna. With family, shopping, an adventurous and slippery holiday just outside of Sharbot Lake, loads of 'and this is where I skinned my knee when I was five', 'and this is where Amber and I used to go to buy Butter Tarts when we were done our paper route' I barley had time to catch up with friends. That was the only downside to this visit. But maybe I needed it? I know that I left Brussels with the intent to seek solace...and Sharbot Lake and my parent's house definitely allowed for some quiet moments.....moments so different from my life in Brussels.
I am really looking forward to finding some time over the next few weeks to write about some of the amazingly nice people I met this last two weeks...and sharing the slippery stories about George and his goats. But for now, I want to take a quick second to record the actions of one really cool girl who works at the Cornerstone Cafe in Guelph, Ontario:
Have you ever been? If not? Go! Even if it is a drive from some urbanista utopia like Toronto. Hiring a car (not from Discount if you know what is good for you) and driving to 'the ever encroaching on Halton Hills and other more quiet spots' Guelph is totally worth it if you are able to grab lunch, dinner or dessert (or even my Brits' favourite standby: A black coffee) at The Cornerstone. Brenda introduced this spot to me the day before I was heading across Canada in 2006. I admit that despite the expanding speedometer record on my Focus that often found me dinning in the vegan friendly world of Guelph during this time in my life, I had NEVER stepped foot in the Cornerstone. It looked more like one of those run down 'hotels' that don't serve anything that isn't in one of those half size hospital glasses that I remember Michele P drinking out of at The TownHouse in first year.
Low and Behold: not only does Guelph house the world famous Salsateria and Carden Street cafe, it also has a much more laid back and funky little eatery...The Cornerstone. The decor is totally functional - well done chalk boards, used furniture, a cute little wood bar that wraps around the front of the house....comfy and cozy and oh so cute. I remember enjoying a great lunch in 06', a wrap from their extensive and fun vegan and veggie menu. And I was totally impressed this holiday season. Christmas Eve...a nice drive through southern ontario after a lunch of Indian (stay away from the Cabbage in ANY buffet situation) and I was hankering for a hot chocolate. Not only was I satisfied with my hot chocolate, but the
waitress (with a super cute t-shirt and the prettiest eyes) offered me a vegan chocolate cheese cake. Sold! and down it went.....quickly to be sure, but hey! I wasn't eating it alone. I traversed the 20 year ago polished wood floor to pay for my great winter treat...and guess what? In front of me was plopped half of the cheese cake I had just enjoyed (ok...inhaled). I was stunned, and oh so thankful. She quipped a quick response to my sheltered-in-vegan-desert-free Brussels gushing that "we are closed for two days and you liked it so much...makes sense". Did it ever! I loved it...and I was so pleased with that woman's kindness. Excellent way to showcase Canada - thanks!
Well. That's about it. Can't wait to get home. This snow horsie is exhausted.