By: Sabrina Cipriani – Montreal Times
Cook books, ingredients, ready made food and cooking classes, what more could you ask for? All in one Café, located in the middle of all the action of Monkland Village.
Since 2008, Café Juicy Lotus has been situated at 5568 Monkland Ave., in Montreal. Run out of ideas for daily suppers, whether you are vegan, vegetarian or just in the mood for something different and No Meat, this is the place to visit. The team at Café Juicy Lotus is headed by owner, chef extraordinaire GiGi Cohen!
Besides being the owner and chef of this fine establishment, she gives regular cooking classes during the week. Gigi is the co-author of Nourishing friends Recipes for a Healthy Life, nourishingfriends.com . You can find this book in her store, on-line and in several stores in and around Montreal, in both French and English. All proceeds for the book are donated to the Montreal Cedars Hospital.
The cookbook provides you with stunning recipes, Casablanca Poireau Salad, just the name itself; sounds fabulous, and Ancient Egyptian Salad, what can that be; you’re wondering…. Buy the book; it’s for a good cause, your health and the health of others. Feathered in the cookbook, are inspiring stories from Celine Dion and Alexia & Anthony Calvillo. On every page, Gigi said you will find tips on the ingredients, for example, if you want to make roasted eggplant, you will find a tip saying, “It is important to soak the eggplant so that it releases its acidity and softens up. It will cook easier and eliminates bitterness.” She even has a recipe called Anti-Stress Salad; I think we could all use some of that. Gigi is adamant when referring to her recipes as easy and have one or two steps to them.
The night I paid Gigi and her lovely team a visit, I brought my friend Pina, she has changed her eating lifestyle for over two years now. She says, she never felt better. Over two years ago she became gluten and sugar free, the past 6 months dairy free and the past two months she has been a vegan. Pina says, she loves her new lifestyle and hopes to encourage others to follow in her footsteps. Pina and I were greeted with a red juice and a green juice; they are named after their colors. Pina loved her green juice; it had ingredients such as green apple, kale, celery, cucumber and ginger. My red juice was made of red apple, celery, wheat and cucumber. They are an acquired taste, very popular in Gigi’s store!
Staff member Margo was very helpful, explaining the utterly breath taking view behind the glass counter. She has been working here for over a month, meat had a sour impact on her body. Eating the food at Café Juicy Lotus has been an ongoing tradition in her family.
Every morning Gigi is at the store making new fresh food for the day. Gigi doesn’t cook with dairy or meat. She experiments daily with in house ingredients, her customers are important to her. She wants them to enter the Café and see the beautiful display of colorful food. Gigi says, “First your eyes see it, then taste it, getting you in once is not the answer, having you come back is.”
Margo served us up some Shitake Mushroom cutlets; I wouldn’t have known they were mushrooms. You can buy the Shitake mushrooms frozen, unmade and already made. Gigi orders them from Japan; the spices complimented each other and had a little tang to it. I had porgies stuffed with potatoes and draped with spinach, delicious. We ate gluten free mushrooms stuffed with rice and veggies.
Some other goodies we had the pleasure of sampling were, stuffed peppers. They were stuffed with 3 kinds of lentils and brown rice. It was hard to tell that they weren’t stuffed with meat. They looked like my own stuffed peppers that I prepare with minced pork and veal. Lastly we ate vine leaves with a twist of spice and red cabbage salad with Kale.
Everyone is talking about Kale; it is the hot new vegetable on the market.
The night I visited Gigi, she was giving a class on soups, I ran into a familiar face, Miriam, someone I know from another location in NDG. She was attending her first class and she was excited. She mentioned that she was also registered for an upcoming class that was Mediterranean Inspired. Miriam mentioned, “You can eat all kinds of vegan food, walk away not feeling full and an hour later go for a run.”
As we exited the Café, Gigi was beginning her cooking class, she had just asked everyone to wash their hands and get ready to have fun. She made everyone feel at home and relaxed, she was about to have the gang start chopping cabbages, squash, leeks and much more. They were about to embark on the journey of soup making, black bean soup, tomatoe soup and butter nut squash to name a few.
Other upcoming classes include Indian Inspired and Gigi’s favorites, check for more on www.cafejuicylotus.com.
Gigi has been teaching for more than 30 years. Vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, or even meat lovers willing to try
something different, what ever your preference is, you’ll find it at Café Juicy Lotus!
For daily menus, visit their blog, it is updated daily, Living la Vida Lotus!
You don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to enjoy great fresh food!
For more info, contact GiGi at 514-507-6268
Store hours Mon. to Fri. 11 to 9, Sat. 11 to 8,Sun. 12 to 6.
Catering Available, take out counter or find a spot on their beautiful hand crafted table in the café to sit and enjoy a
green or red juice!
Like her on Facebook!