A taste of Canada with Smashing Tarts 

It’s early Saturday evening and I’ve found myself in a wee cafe in Glasgow’s southside with about 7 other diners at a pop-up. I’ve never been to a pop-up dinner before! This event has been put on by Smashing Tarts, a family business run by a Lisa, a Canadian expat in Glasgow, her two teen vegan foodies, and her husband the Cake Sherpa.

I heard about this event through a Facebook group for Edinburgh & Glasgow vegans. If I’m honest, I joined the group for the recipes and the foodie recommendations rather than the debates! I’m more a fan of the savouries over the sweet; I don’t have that patented Scottish sweet tooth and since I went vegan almost a year ago, I’ve been craving some good old fashioned Canadian comfort food. Poutine. Donairs. Steamies. The kind of food that makes you salivate just thinking about it. 

Of course I still manage to eat these things when I’m back in Toronto, and I take advantage of my trips “home” to their foodie fullest. I’ve pretty much tried vegan poutine at every poutinerie in eastern Canada. The chips are perfection at Fresh (also the extra option of a kale topping) and the cheese is on point  at Hogtown Vegan. I am a proper connoisseur of the stuff!

I love Glasgow for their vegan options; maybe it’s just my imagination or a grass-greener mentality, but the west side seems to have so many more vegan eateries.

Just check out this menu! Pretty epic, right?

I had such a hard time deciding, but knew some serious eating was going to happen. I’d made a conscious decision to go hungry today in preparation. Breakfast? Lunch? Pah, that’s for rookies!

I went for *deep breath* the poutine with their own “cheese” curds and bbq gravy,  seitan donair, sesame quinoa seitan burger, and blueberry grunt.

First up, the donair. Now I’ve never eaten seitan before except in stews, so I honestly had no idea what to expect. Seitan scares me. I don’t know how to prepare it, and I definitely had no idea what it tastes like. The verdict? It’s lighter and less dense than I expected! I had a fear it would be like a super dense, memory foam version of tofu. It’s not. It’s almost bready in texture, which I guess makes sense as it’s essentially “wheat meat”. Chopped fresh tomatoes and a tangy-sweet donair sauce.

Next I dug into the poutine. This was basically everything poutine should be, rich and savoury gravy (and the faintest touch of…ginger?) and homemade vegan cheese curds over hand cut, perfectly formed chips. Vegan cheese isn’t quite as squeaky as the traditional stuff, but it tasted the part.

Now knowing I had a dessert coming, I could have stopped there. But I didn’t. Of course I didn’t. I had no idea when I would next get a taste of culinary Canadiana and I panic ate. I ordered a sesame quinoa burger because I honestly just couldn’t walk away from it.

This was the meatiest vegan burger to ever pass my lips, and probably one of the tastiest. The texture was spot on. It was pretty much the holy grail of meat-substitute hamburgers. As I’m not a fan of lentils or bean burgers, this was just perfect.

For dessert I had blueberry grunt, a kind of fruity cobbler from Nova Scotia with a sweet dumpling topping. I’d already half eaten it before I remembered to take a photo!

I bought some “tumbits” to take home, maple glazed mouthfuls of deliciousness. I won’t lie and claim these even made it home. I munched through all six on the train back to Edinburgh!

I’ve been really homesick recently for various reasons, and this meal was like a good ol’ pick-me-up.

It was a big Canadian hug. With doughnuts. 😉


  1. I have no idea what half of this stuff is and some of it looks gross to me, lol but this seems as good a time as any to say I REALLY want to try poutine. I’ve wanted to basically since I heard of it, oh, ten years ago? It sounds right up my alley tbh. The blueberry cobbler looks delicious too!

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