It can be found at http://www.atravellingcook.blogspot.com
|Great old style ice cream sign in Brunswick - makes me feel nostalgic!|
|Spell check please!|
I’ve been stuck in a bit of a breakfast rut lately. Toast everyday. So I decided I needed to do something different. It definitely needed to be warm as the weather has been so COLD.
I’ve had a hankering for an omelette for breakfast for the last couple of weeks, so I thought I’d try to make one using chick pea flour. There are a lot of omelette/pancake-like creations made from chickpeas, ranging from the French socca to various Indian pancakes. This recipe owes more to the Indian side rather than the French, though the raising agent and spicing are completely different.
Even though I added a little baking powder to the mix, these ended up more like a substantial pancake than an omelette, but the flavourings were good. I restricted my additions to the pancake to some parsley, black salt (which gives an eggy flavour) and turmeric for colour, but you could use any flavourings you like really. I stuffed the finished omelette with sprouts and vegan cheese and served it with some capsicum relish. The second day I added a little truffle oil to the mix, and filled them with some cashew cream cheese and sprouts, also delicious.
They definitely hit the spot even if they are not quite like an omelette! But I’ll keep experimenting. I think silken tofu might be featuring in the next one.
Having a kid changes your life in many ways (for example, today I am Sick, but instead of calling off work and lazing around drinking water and watching daytime soap operas, I am still fielding questions and insistent requests for playing and having to fend off the Rocket from kissing me so she doesn’t get sick too, which makes her cry) but one of the ways I didn’t expect was that sudden urge to make the most of my spare time made me – and this sounds vain – actually a little bit more interesting. As dithering late-twentysomethings, Teach and I had our jobs and each other and our insular creative pursuits, then we had a baby and, I guess, to remind ourselves that we were things other than parents and job-holders, we started to find other outlets. Teach joined a band, was shortlisted for an award for a comic he drew, and has just sent off the final file for his full-length graphic novel to the printers to publish. I have my podcast, I joined a book club full of pretty cool folks, and found myself part of ACWA, which handles the Ned Kelly Awards for Australian crime writing. After months of emails and demands and panic-flailing, this weekend saw the announcement of the shortlist the committee and the judges had worked hard to put together, two hours away at the Bendigo Writers Festival. Teach suggested I take myself off on the train to attend the shortlist announcement on the Saturday night and get a visit in with my very oldest friend, Rachael, who lives up there. I said no at first, because it’s what I do, and the idea of spending my first night away from my daughter was pretty overwhelming. Then I thought more about being there to see the finished product of the shortlist, and spending time with the first friend I’d ever made on my own, and then the Rocket spent a whole day annoying me and I was all: I’M IN, LET’S GO.
The train ride took around an hour and fifty minutes; in that time, I played with my phone, read a book, looked at scenery, ate chips, ate an apple after feeling bad about eating chips, and was just completely and utterly on my own. It was quite blissful, really – I’d brought a book of short stories along (this one), so I could feel like I’d finished something before taking in the passing tiny towns, enormous homesteads, and green landscapes dotted with trees, cows, hay bales, all the kinds of stickers you’d get in a book about the country. It was quite marvellous. Even better was the squeezy hug I got from Rachael at Kangaroo Flat, where she met me with a big beautiful smile and, like always, even when we hadn’t spoken by anything apart from SMS for months, it was like we had never been apart. Back at her place, with her partner and their youngest son at home merrily working on some banging and crashing that tradesfolk and their four-year-olds are wont to do, we hoovered down some lunch and then she spirited me away for a little tour.
She drove me past her work, past a vast and entrancing amount of lovely ye olde buildings, around the fountain that one colleague told me to say hello to, and then up to the Capital Theatre for a pre-event scope-out (because when you’ve known someone for twenty-eight years, you know when they are getting anxious about something, especially when she tells you, “I am feeling quite anxious about this”), then to the accompanying gallery for a brief and impressive look-see, then for a coffee at the Basement on View. It’s tucked underneath the theatre and I realised immediately upon entering that this was the type of place I wished was my local cafe. They were flat-out catering for festival-going literary types, but we found ourselves a cosy little nook in a building almost completely made up of cosy little nooks, and sat together with warm drinks and company and well, you know. It was really just the best.
Back at her place after a scenic way back, I faffed about in front of a mirror and then headed out to the event itself, which I’ve detailed better here; suffice it to say that it all went smoothly, the company was delectable and you should read all those books. A tableful of us headed tipsily out for dinner as well, attempting at first to go to Bunja Thai (lookit that glorious heritage interior in the link!) but they were too full to accommodate us, so we tripped a couple of shops up the road to Curry Garden, which, excitedly, had a little sign right there on the menu saying that there were vegan options available. (I was super pleased about that, as I’d been intending on flying under the radar on this particular culinary expedition, maybe having a spoonful of rice and saying I wasn’t hungry, just so I didn’t have to tell my new friends I was vegan, as I’d been frantically Googling “vegan Bendigo” for a while before and found virtually nothing vegan, so I couldn’t even make suggestions.) They had a special list of all the items that were vegan or could be made vegan, and we ordered three appetisers, two mains, rice and some roti I could have, along with a couple of non-veg mains too. The onion bhaji were almost worth losing friends over, and the chickpea masala and aloo palak perfectly serviceable. The service was friendly, but a bit slow; I’d still happily return.
The next morning, I deigned to leave my snuggly cocoon of a sleeping bag and declared that I would take my three hosts out for breakfast. Turns out nothing in Bendigo is open before ten o’clock on a Sunday morning – “We’re on country time, remember?” Rachael said at one point as I stared sadly in a closed cafe’s window at their warm-looking fire – so we ended up at the Pall Mall Cafe, a small but friendly cafe that does a trade in your standard big breakfasts. I just ordered toast and coffee, and the service was ridiculously fast (handy when you have a friendly but bored four-year-old crawling all over the place), and the coffee was HUGE – I didn’t even finish it, I was so overwhelmed. Nothing flash, but nothing to sneer at by any means. Across the road was a park, a playground, a lovely old bridge (seriously, I’m just saying, and this is very unlike me because I am Very Modern and Stuff, but Bendigo’s 82,000+ population gets to see much nicer architecture just everywhere than we do down in upstart young Melbourne), and a giant, gorgeous and historic-looking old school, and so we ran around in the cold for a while before heading over to the Showgrounds Market, a fairly large and sprawling market that seems to survive almost entirely on plants and counterfeit Peppa Pig merchandise. I bought stickers for the kids to be the Favourite Aunt, and I made the surprising discovery in one of the halls of Wings Japanese Homemade Bakery. Wings has cakes, mousse, doughnuts, egg tarts and the like – and about six different vegan options. I was full from breakfast but picked up a little sample of a savoury curry doughnut, which was super yum – afterwards I moaned about not buying some for the train ride ahead. It started raining just as we got out of the hall, Rachael’s son covered in icing from his Japanese cupcake, so we drove back home and retired to the couch for one last companionable snuggle before I went off to the train station again to get home.
The trip was, again, delicious in its solitude; Melbourne was wet and freezing; but when I plodded all damp and whimpering up the driveway after walking from the station I was given the loveliest, happiest smile from my Rocket through the front window, and everything was warm after all.
Until now I’d never been to East Elevation for breakfast or brunch. Not for want of trying, but the couple of times I’d been there it was so busy that we went elsewhere. I guess that is the price of success.
I have eaten there three times before at the wonderful vegan themed dinners that they hold periodically.
Back to the breakfast. I settled in with a coffee while I checked the menu. There were a few clearly labelled vegan options on the breakfast/brunch/lunch menu that all looked appealing. While I did particularly like the look of the coconut tapioca with rhubarb, orange syrup and pistachios, I was both hungry and in the mood for savoury, so I opted for the vegan version of the veggie full breakfast. Sourdough, avocado, spinach, beans and oven dried tomatoes with a choice of either chipotle tempeh or mushrooms. Being both indecisive and a glutton, I opted for the tempeh and the mushrooms.
The breakfast was fantastic. The mushrooms are a sensational flavourful and textural combination of king and swiss brown. And I have to say that the beans are, hands down, the best breakfast beans I’ve ever eaten. Really ever. You just have to try them. They are wonderfully flavoured with tomato, smoked paprika and pieces of roasted capsicum. I wasn’t a huge fan of the tempeh, but that’s me, I am scared of tempeh unless it is thinly sliced and fried to a crisp. This came in chunks so it had the waxy texture of tempeh that I find so creepy. The chipotle flavouring was good though. Everything was beautifully seasoned.
East Elevation manages to get things just right: a wonderful open space, friendly service, good coffee and great food. I loved my breakfast here and I will be back.
351 Lygon St,
East Brunswick, 3057
Last week I went to the Aztecs exhibition at the Museum and when I left I was hungry and craving Mexican food…
I headed off to Trippy Taco to get my fill, only to find that they were closed that day! By then I was beyond hungry, so I headed around the corner to Las Vegan. Luckily they have a couple of Tex-Mex items on the menu as I was nursing a serious Mexican food obsession by this point. I settled on the quesadilla. Black beans, salsa, cheese, sour cream and guacamole in a tortilla. All vegan. Yum. I was starving and it really hit the spot. Las Vegan does a range of other home style comfort foods as well as good range of cakes. All their food is vegan.
Later that week I decided to check out the Northcote branch of Loving Hut. I have to say I like this branch much better than the Richmond one, as there is no grand master TV beaming from the wall. Based on what I ate that day, I think the food is better too. Like all Loving Hut cafes the food is all vegan as well.
I chose some spring rolls which were beautifully crunchy, followed by a good curry laksa packed with fried eggplant, “prawns” and fried tofu. Also good.
Neither of these places is ever going to scale great heights for fine dining, but they do decent home-style comfort food at a reasonable price and I love that they exist. Not having to interrogate the waiter about what is and isn’t vegan, makes dining very relaxing.
The food equivalent of a comfy chair.
Las Vegan Cafe
22 Smith St,
Loving Hut Northcote
377-379 High St,
Forget slow cookers, I love fast cookers.
Slow cookers are all very well if you have your act together in the morning, but I’m not that organised. That’s why I love my pressure cooker.
Modern pressure cookers are not scary like the old school ones. I remember soup exploding out of the pressure valve of my Mum’s old pressure cooker and spraying the ceiling. But the new ones have all sorts of safety features that make them foolproof. They are a bit of an investment up front at $100+, but I think they are worth it.
Here is a recipe for a risotto that turns out perfectly every time, with no stirring. I made it for a family dinner recently and my sister said she’d seriously think about buying a pressure cooker just to make it.
Pressure cookers save time and energy. Dhal, soup and risotto can all be made in under ten minutes on a low heat, so they are perfect for when you get home and need something quickly.
I cook the onion, garlic and any firmer veggies like mushrooms or pumpkin in the pressure cooker with the rice, and then add quick cooking vegetables like spinach and peas at the end once I open the lid.
I’ve tried lots of different vegetables to flavour the risotto: preserved artichokes, mushrooms, peas, spinach, tomato and diced pumpkin. All of them have been great.
The recipe below is for a basic risotto with no extras. The rule of thumb is one cup of rice to 2 cups of liquid.
Anything else is up to you.
Move over Bio cheese, there’s a new cheese in town.
There has been a bit of vegan cheese action in Melbourne recently, with the arrival of the greek fasting Bio cheese, and now daiya.
Many people loved the Bio cheese, but I am not a fan. Bio was so promising and I wanted to love it. Unfortunately I am one of the few that experience a weird chemical aftertaste.
I must confess that I am not a fan of many vegan cheeses at all. Frankly I think that most are awful, with the exception of Vegusto Piquant, the Botanical Cuisine cashew range and Notzarella. What is missing from those is a melty-cheese-on-toast/macaroni-cheese/cheese-sauce/gratin type of cheese experience. I have found it at last. Daiya is here.
I bought mine at the Prahran Convenience Store on the second day it was available, and raced back across town to give it a work out. I bought all three flavours: cheddar, pepperjack and mozzarella. They all come shredded, and that’s fine because this is a melting and cooking cheese, not a cheese platter one. The 227g packs cost $10.50 each. That works out at around $46/kg which isn’t cheap, but it is so good.
Firstly I made two types of grilled cheese on turkish bread with the pepperjack and the cheddar. Swoonworthy. The texture is right, the flavour is right. I was so excited I started live blogging the daiya experience on Facebook while I was eating.
Next I made a cheese and tomato toastie in a sandwich press. The cheese oozed out, it stringed nicely, and where it sizzled on the plate, it crisped up like burnt cheese of old! Sorry, I was so excited at this stage I forgot to photograph it!
For dinner I made some macaroni cheese.
Believe me, I have made every vegan “Best Mac Cheese Ever” recipe. They run the full gamut of awful – fake cheesy flavours, too much savoury yeast, pumpkin, sweet potato, cashew, miso, tahini. I’ve tried them all and they are just wrong, wrong, wrong in both flavour and texture.
Every one a disappointment, until daiya.
Tomorrow I will take the mozzarella to my local pizza place where they will happily make me a pizza with it. I will report back.
It is currently available at Mad Cowgirls, Prahran Convenience, and at the Cruelty Free shop from Monday and probably others soon.
If you have been looking for a seriously yummy, melty vegan cheese, look no more. This is it!
This flan is a little something that I had forgotten about until not long ago. I remember my mum making it when we were little, however it was a lost memory until a couple of months ago, when all of a sudden she brought it back into my life.
As soon as I tasted a mouthful, I had instant taste recognition and memory of this delicious treat – it’s like we never parted!
This recipe actually comes to you from the Australian Women’s Weekly Vegetarian Cookbook – classic meals coming to you from 1990. When mum made it most recently, she omitted some of the non vegan ingredients.
I enjoyed it so much, I made it again the following week, but tweaked the recipe, making some substitutions and minor changes.
1 litre non-dairy milk
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup polenta
3/4 cup sultanas
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coconut cream
1 large granny smith apple, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
3 tsp coconut sugar, extra
1 tsp ground cinnamon, extra
Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease a 20cm springform tin.
Heat the milk, sugar, nuttelex, lemon zest and spices in a medium saucepan. Stir over high heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved.
Bring to boil, reduce heat and stir in polenta. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, stir in sultanas, walnuts and coconut cream. Pour into prepared tin.
Combine extra sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Arrange apple slices on the top of the flan, then pour maple syrup over the top. Sprinkle with sugar mix.
Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until apple is tender and the flan has come slightly away from the side of the tin.
Cool to room temperature. Remove from tin, serve with a drizzle of coconut cream if desired.
DAY 1: I arrived in Taipei just after lunch time, and was starving by the time I got into the city, although I did grab some steamed buns from a small supermarket in the airport to keep me going on the 1 hour long bus ride. After asking several people I eventually found someone who spoke enough English to tell me which of the buns were meat free. I got a taro one and the other was black sesame, both were some of the nicest steamed buns I have ever had.
It took me quite a long time to find the place where I was staying as most of the street signs were only written in Chinese, but after asking several more people until I found another English speaker I was finally pointed in the right direction. I dropped my bags off and then decided to get the MRT into the city centre with the idea of going to a vegetarian buffet restaurant called Evergreen that I had heard a lot about. However, when I got there I discovered that their dinner price was TWD600 (approx.$20) which was a bit expensive so I left in search of a better deal. Several hours later I was still walking around Zhongshan area trying to find another of the veg restaurants from my happycow list but as I was discovering cities in Taiwan (particularly Taipei) has a very complicated street numbering system which in addition to very few signs in English can make things quite challenging for a non-Mandarin speaker, especially if you’re trying to find a particular place.
Finally I stumbled upon a Loving Hut tucked down a very colourful and busy alley near Taipei main station. They had an English menu with pictures which was handy. I ordered the spicy dumpling noodle soup, soy nuggets and a very strange tasting mulberry milkshake.
The dumpling noodles were the standout, the other things were alright but nothing special. I wondered around for another hour or so and then headed back to the hostel.
DAY 2: I woke up very early despite still being really tired from the flight so I decided to get the MRT a few stops north to Beitou which, although is still very much in Taipei city is considered to be a village. It is famous for its hot springs. There is also a large park (sorry the name escapes me) with good hiking trails so I spent a few hours exploring around there until it was lunchtime.
44 Huaining rd, near Taipei main station
YUMMY VEGAN HOUSE
I managed to mind this cute and quirky little Japanese vegan café tucked under the MRT line opposite a big Buddhist temple. Strangely the kitchen was outside on the porch whilst the 4 small tables took up the entire inside space. I got there at 11.30am right on opening time, I was the first one there but it quickly filled up. They have a menu in English available and the staff also spoke some English. I ordered the braised rice with vegetables, the cold tofu and a blueberry milkshake.
It was all quite reasonably priced for the portion size, my meal cost around NT250.
218 section 1 Zhonggard rd south, Beitou
After lunch I got back on the MRT still trying to decide where to go next. I ended up at ivegan supermarket, Taiwan’s 1st all vegan supermarket that had only opened a few months ago. I got off at Wanlong MRT and straight away saw the ivegan sign so followed it down a series of laneways.
The supermarket was huge and divided up into 2 sections. The 1st was the fresh produce sections with a large range of reasonably priced organic fruit and vegies.
The 2nd was pre -packaged items including a small section of mock meats, various dried and canned goods and lots of vegan cheeses (including Daiya) which was sold either in the regular sized packs and also in 2.5kg packs for NT2000. Surprisingly they had almost no junk food except for small tubs of Loving Hut chocolate ice cream. They also have a small coffee shop just inside the entrance.
I left ivegan with my sweet craving intact so though a visit to Taipei’s only 100% vegan bakery was in order.
Near Wanlong MRT, exit 1 turn left and follow ivegan signs
Run by an overly friendly Indian guy (sometimes a lady just wants to eat her cake in peace and quiet). I had a slice of black forest cake which was fairly nice but I thought the icing was a tad on the sweet side and there was also a bit too much of it. Fresh bakery also makes lots of different flavoured breads so I got a few to try, including one stuffed with potato and Daiya and my favourite a spiced pumpkin and nut. They are also happy to cater to anyone with allergies with several days notice so if you want GF etc just phone ahead. I had planned to have them as snacks for my day trip to Fulong the following day but after meeting a very sweet and skinny stray dog in a park I ended up donating most of the bread to them.
466 section 6 Zhongxiao east rd
It had started to cloud over by the time I left Fresh bakery and had thankfully cooled down a bit too (it was still about 38 degrees with humidity in the high 90s). I had planned on hiking up Elephant mountain and by the time I got to the nearest MRT it had started to rain but I decided to just keep going as it was only supposed to be a short hike (or so I thought).
After 100’s of steep and slippery stairs I finally made it to the top and was definitely ready to sit down and enjoy the view for a little while. The view was very beautiful and you could see right across Taipei and of course Taipei 101 which was the world’s tallest building until a year or 2 ago.
I was about to head back down the path that I had come up on but then noticed another path that continued going up the next mountain. I was quite enjoying the cool breeze and the rain which was a welcome change from the stifling heat of the city below so I decided to follow the path up for a little while longer. Three hours and 1000’s of stairs later I was still walking; it was now starting to get dark so I was a bit concerned about trying to find my way down. I figured it was probably too late to turn back so just kept going asking the various middle aged men who passed me by on their daily run (FYI Taiwanese men apparently turn into hardcore exercise junkies once they hit 50) until I found one who could speak English and told me that it was only another 40 minutes walking.
I the path was really slippery from the rain so I went fairly slowly, I was overtaken several times by a guy of about 60+ yo literally running backwards down the stairs (he kept stopping to stretch before overtaking me again). Eventually I made it back to a road but had absolutely no clue where the hell I was. There weren’t many people around to ask except for two women but I managed to gesture to my MRT map however due to the language barrier they weren’t able to tell me directions so one of them very kindly offered to walk me to the closest station which turned out to be a 20 minute walk away which was very kind of her, especially since it was raining.
On the way back to the hostel I stopped briefly to look around Shilin night market which turned out to be way too touristy, they did have lots of cheap and tasty fruit though.
DAY 3: HO HAI YAN rock festival
I was quite excited to be getting out of the city and also at having the chance to check out some Taiwanese indie rock and punk bands at this music festival which I had heard a lot about. The whole festival which is totally free (apparently it’s sponsored by the government who is trying to encourage young people to become more involved the creative and performing arts) it goes for 5 days and takes place literally right sand on Fulong beach.
There was some mix up with my train ticket and the train I had a ticket for either got cancelled or rescheduled so after a few minutes of confusion I was shoved onto one of the local all stations trains to Fulong which unfortunately meant standing up for the entire 2 hour journey, but at least it was air conditioned.
I got to Fulong ready for lunch but had no clue where or how to find anything vegan as my internet research for this town hadn’t got me anywhere. I sussed a few places out but the language barrier was becoming an issue and I was getting very over heated walking around in the hot sun so settled on a mango shaved ice (with no milk) instead. Most places it is common to pour condensed milk over the fruit on any shaved ice dessert so always be sure to ask for no milk.
Still hungry but feeling much better I headed down to the beach to see what was going on down there. The music hadn’t started yet and the food options were even less vegan friendly than in town (not to self, beach side towns in Taiwan are really into deep fried sea food). After around an hour of walking around on the sand with the burning hot wind I was ready for another dose of air conditioning so went back towards the main street and into the 7/11. The 7/11’s in Taiwan are much more hospitable to the povo vegan backpacker than the ones in other countries and before long I was stocked up with a carton of soy milk, some cold ramen noodle salad and some stuffed tofu skin rolls. I wasn’t sure if the sauce with the noodles was soy or fish sauce (it definitely didn’t smell like soy) so I just ate the noodles plain. Most 7/11’s and Family Marts also sell whole roasted sweet potatoes and yams and will have a selection of steamed buns, with some vegetarian options too which is quite useful if you can’t find anything else to eat.
Most of the bands playing were pretty decent although the majority of them just sounded like Greenday or Offspring tribute bands. The highlight for me was a girl pop/metal band (yeah you read that one right) called P!sco. The day was also quite a good learning experience in Taiwanese culture. Firstly, I learned that Taiwan is an extremely safe country. The amount of people who I saw just dumping their bags with all their valuables in them on the sand and then just wondering off to go for a swim or to get food completely out of site from their bags took me a while to get used to, but no one seemed the slightest bit concerned about their stuff being stolen. Taiwanese also prefer to swim fully clothed and apparently don’t like to go further than knee deep. Several times I went in as far as waist deep only to have some guy (I think he was a lifeguard) frantically coming up to me in a speed boat motioning at me to move back to the “safe area”. It was a really fun festival and although I ended up with some very bad sunburn as a momento it was a great day out and met some awesome people too.
DAY 4: Feeling a bit worse for wear with my sunburn/heat stroke I decided to have a lazy inside day. After catching up on some research in internet land I ventured out into the heat in search of some food. I had planned to visit Loving Vegan, one of the only entirely vegan buffets in Taipei. It was a bit of a trek as it was right on the southern edge of the city, but when I eventually got to the address I found it was closed and semi abandoned looking (still not sure if it was closed down or just closed that day). I went to back to the MRT and headed for my next restaurant of choice.
This very aptly named pay by weight vego buffet is situated right across the road from Shida university about a 10 minute walk from Taipower building MRT, making it a popular hangout place for students. There was no sign in English so just look for the street number. I was really hungry by the time I arrived so I grabbed a cardboard tray (they don’t use plates for some reason) and a pair of tongs and piled up my plate as high as I could with lots of tofu and vegies. FYI many of the mock meats in Taiwan are made using egg and dairy ingredients so if in doubt it’s best to avoid them.My tray was about 3x bigger than everyone else’s and cost NT270. Everything was very fresh and delicious, especially the pumpkin.
182 Heping E rd, MRT Taipower building
HUA KWANG VEGETARIAN
On the way back I stopped in at one of the vegetarian restaurants near to where I was staying to get some takeout for my hiking trip the following day. I just kept it simple and ordered some fried tofu, rice and stir fried greens. Some of the staff spoke good English and English menu was also available. Whilst ordering I spotted a fried tofu skin dish stuffed with taro which sounded interesting so I got that for dinner.
It was very yummy, the outside of it was several layers of crispy fried tofu skin with a thin layer of finely grated spicy veggies with steamed chunks of taro in the middle, it went perfectly with the salty crunchy pickled veggies that it came with.
357 Zhongzheng rd, MRT Shilin
DAY 5: It was an early start for the hike in Yangmingshan national park. I’d come across some hiking group on Facebook that had organised it so just joined up with them. There were about 8 of us in total, a mix of Aussies, Taiwanese, a Russian and a Singaporean. We met up at the MRT station and then got a bus to the trail head about an hour away.
The first hour of the hike was through some very scenic open grassland with lots of cows. We then walked down into a valley where it slowly turned into rainforest. The path we planned to take was “official closed due to landslides” but it was still easily accessible aside from one small section where the track was missing so we had to climb down the cliff using ropes to the next part. The forest was teaming with a huge array of insects, particularly butterflies; a couple of the others were stung by wasps along the way.
3 hours later we finally reached our destination: Bayan hot springs, a beautiful natural hot spring that flows into a river at the base of a waterfall with a succession of pools, each a different temperature cascading down the river. It reminded me quite a lot of the amazing hot springs I visited in northern Sumatra last year. After a quick cool off in the waterfall I jumped into the hot spring with the others, it was very relaxing and peaceful. There were only 3 or 4 other people aside from our group (this hot spring is “officially closed too”). We stayed for around 2 hours going back and forth between the hot spring and waterfall and then walked the half hour back to the main road to catch the bus, stopping at a few places along the river to take photos. I just got some snacks at a supermarket for dinner and for my train ride to Hualien the next day.
DAY 6: I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped off the train in Hualien to discover it was a bit cooler than Taipei (still horrendously hot though). I quickly dropped off my bags and then consulted a map to check where the closest vegan food options were located then headed out to find somewhere for lunch. My first pick was an all vegan buffet restaurant called Guo Xiang Yuan that was recommended by some random local guy I was chatting to at the train station. However after doing several laps of the street it was on with no sign of it, I gave up and headed for the next best option.
GREENLAND (also called Green Earth by locals)
It was around 3pm when I finally arrived at Greenland to discover that they had just closed and wouldn’t reopen until 4.30pm (FYI it is very common for many restaurants to close in the mid- afternoon period from around 2.30pmish- 4.30pmish). So I thought I’d just wander around the town for a couple of hours until they reopened. I only got a few hundred metres up the road when I found an ice shop which looked too irresistible given the heat so I got a matcha red bean shaved ice. Most shaved ice desserts will usually be served with condensed milk and sometimes ice cream or sorbet (some sorbets are vegan depending on which shop you go to. To ask for no milk you can either say “wo buxiang chi nai”, (“I don’t drink milk”) or if they don’t understand your pathetic attempts at Chinese pronunciation as happened to me on multiple occasions you can just point to it in a picture and say “bu” (“no”).
Right on 4.30pm I went back to Greenland more than ready for lunch/dinner. Only very minimal English was spoken by staff but they had an English menu so ordering was easy enough. I got the sesame noodle rainbow salad, crispy fried tofu and a mystery vegetable juice (I tried to ask what was in the juice to no avail so just took a gamble that there would be no tomato in it.
Everything was awesome and even nicer than I had expected, the noodle salad was deliciously fresh and the spicy tahini sauce was really yummy. The fried tofu was also really nice and cam served with lots of veggies too.
Greenland was a little pricier than the standard veg buffets but still reasonable prices; I think mine came to around NT220.
143 Jianguo rd
DAY 7: Began with an early start to stock up on snacks and get some breakfast from 7/11 before an hour long bus ride to Taroko gorge. I just got some bananas, soy milk, a taro flavoured steamed bun and a roast purple yam.
Taroko gorge is an overwhelmingly huge place, with steep marble cliffs rises up right out of the ocean to over 2000m in height, the entire park covers an area of around 1000km sq. I bought the day bus pass so I could just hop on and off the shuttle bus anywhere which made it easier to hike from one part to another. I just did a few of the trails as it was a very hot and sunny day and the crowds of people in some places made it far less enjoyable. The swallow grotto trails which went along the edge of the gorge for several km’s going through a few tunnels along the way was nice as it allowed you to see all the patterns in the marble. It was however one of the most popular and easily accessible trails so if you don’t want to have all your nice gorge photos being photo-bombed by elderly Chinese tourists trying to elbow you out of the way either go here early or go somewhere else. The Bunyan waterfall trail was probably my favourite because it was mostly in the shade and a lot less touristy. It was a very pleasant 6km walk each way following the river upstream.
By around 4pm I was a bit over walking around in the heat constantly and was also getting hungry but didn’t want any of the mediocre and outrageously priced food that was available in the park so got the bus back to Hualien.
On the bus ride back into town I discovered a date bar and some nuts at the bottom of my bag which was quite exciting so I decided to skip dinner and just go straight for dessert. It was back to the previously mentioned ice shop for a mango and red bean shaved ice.
CHANG CHUN TENG
DAY 8: After one last ditch attempt to locate Guo Xiang Yuan, I finally gave up and went to another veg buffet place near to the train station for lunch before I caught my train to Ruisui. For NT200 (approx $6) this buffet restaurant is all you can eat rather than the usual pay by weight, what’s better is that it also included drinks and dessert. You pay at the counter first and are then given a spoon and chopsticks. There didn’t appear to be any order in which way you should go around in the buffet section so be sure not to pile up your ridiculously small plate too high because all the elderly Chinese people that pack out this restaurant at lunchtime seem pretty hell bent on getting to every single dish before you at any cost.
There were all the usual type dishes you’d expect at a veg restaurant, there was also a big salad bar and lots of different types of dumplings and sauces to choose from. The dessert consisted of the regular tofu puddings with tapioca balls, herb jelly and a few different kinds of mocha and flavoured sticky rice. The food wasn’t amazing by any standards and was fairly bland but it was fresh relatively healthy and cheap so it’s still worth a visit if you’re in Hualien.
22 Fu an rd
Before my train I also bought some mocha from one of the many fresh mocha stalls located next to the station.
DAY 9: I’d wanted to stop in one of the small towns between Hualien and Taitung to explore the area and little more, however the accommodation in most places was way beyond my budget. Ruisui, a small hot spring town about 1 ½ hours south of Hualien was the only viable option so I booked a room at the oldest and cheapest place in town which was actually about 5km’s out of town in a tiny little backwater village called Hongye. The hotel was a Japanese tatami style that has apparently been in the same family since it opened 90 years ago and very little has changed since. I had planned on doing some cycling around the area but after discovering that the hotel didn’t have rental bikes (despite their website clearly stating they did) I learned that it would be a 5km walk in the hot sun to get into town to rent a bike so I decided to just have a lazy day and make the most out of the hot springs instead.
The hot spring water was into pumped into some very tacky looking concrete pools with a fake natural rock finish out of a natural spring which flowed down the mountain just behind the hotel. There were 3 pools with varying temperatures, the hottest being about 48C. The water in this spring is apparently very high in iron oxide and sodium which gives the water a particularly unappealing rusty brown colour but at least it didn’t have that hideous sulphur smell like many other hot springs and it was very pleasant and relaxing once I was in the pool anyway.
I had a midday train to catch t Taitung and after a bit of internet research I discovered that there was a vegetarian restaurant in Ruisui close to the train station so set off into town with plenty of time to spare to find it and have lunch. It was pretty simple to find the address but when I got there I wasn’t too sure how accurate my info was as it just looked like someone’s lounge room with a freezer full of mock meats in it. The lady inside spotted me lingering on the door step and motioned for me to come in, after a few moments of confusion and failed attempts to speak Chinese, I managed to get the point across that I was hungry and didn’t eat egg. The lady then disappeared up stairs; there was no menu so I had absolutely no idea what to expect when she re-appeared 10 or so minutes later with a lunchbox and a bowl of soup. It turned out ok, it was just very simple, plain food with rice, some green veggies and a few different kinds of mock meat. The meal cost TWD65.
src=”http://avegandownunder.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/taiwan2-088.jpg?w=300″ alt=”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA” width=”300″ height=”225″ class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-852″ />
2 Guoguang N rd (2 blocks from station then turn left), sign only in Chinese so look for the street number.
On the train ride to Taitung I was invited out to dinner with some randoms that I’d started chatting to (they were Taiwanese but now lived in Melbourne). So I went out with them to a non-vegetarian restaurant (I have no idea what it was called but it was near the beach somewhere). I left ordering up to them since I couldn’t read the menu. The food was nice enough but nothing exciting.
I was staying right next to the night market which is also nicknamed “Fruit street” due to the huge array of fruit stalls that lined the street on both sides for several blocks. There were also about 3 or 4 vegetarian restaurants within 100m which I was completely unaware of (all the signs were only in Chinese) until the very sweet girl at my hostel kindly offered to take me on a veg tour of the neighbourhood and pointed them out. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go to any of them but they were all in the laneways off Fruit st near the Carrefour supermarket.
DAY 10: While there were quite a few vegan eating options in Taitung they all seemed to be fairly spread out and a bit challenging to find, mainly due to there being considerably less street signs in English than other cities in Taiwan. I’d managed to find Loving Hut pretty easily but for lunch I decided to go to another less generic more interesting sounding vegetarian restaurant called Denim Elephant.
On the walk there I passed a mocha shop that I’d been told was very famous amongst locals in Taitung so I dropped in and bought a few different ones for snacks on the train (I ended up eating them all on the way to Denim Elephant).
This very funky little vegetarian restaurant is attached to an art gallery in a quiet back alley, it is packed full of elephant statues, pictures and knickknacks, the seats were upholstered with used denim jeans. It had a pretty chilled vibe and an English menu, the friendly wait staff spoke a little English but when I asked what was egg free there was some confusion, but she miraculously was able to decipher my Chinese attempt at “I don’t eat egg” (“wo bu chi jidan”) and marked the things on the menu that were vegan. I ordered the fried noodles and an iced green tea.
Unfortunately the food didn’t match the vibe, or even come remotely close; it was probably the most disgusting meal of my Taiwan trip thus far. It was literally a bland plate of stodgy partially uncooked noodles with a few token bits of veg swimming in an oily pool of flavourless liquid. It cost NT170 which I thought was too expensive for such crap and simple food. It was back to 7/11 and then the fruit market to buy food to keep me going for the 2 ½ hour journey to Koahsiung.
181 Guangdong rd
By the time I arrived it was pouring with rain, thundering and starting to get dark, luckily I was staying right near an MRT station. I grabbed a map of the city to find where the closest restaurants were and found one about 3 blocks away. While I was in Hualien several day before I’d also asked someone to write out in Chinese “where is the closest vegetarian restaurant” so I also showed that to a few random people on the street who pointed on a map where there were others nearby so I knew I had about 4 to choose from with a 5 minute walk of where I was staying which was quite handy.
QIAN YE VEGETARIAN
This buffet was so awesome that I ended up eating here every day during my 3 days in Kaohsiung, they had a huge range of fresh, tasty and mostly vegan dishes to choose from and it was half the price of all the other places. I piled up my plate on all 3 visits to this restaurant and prices ranged from NT95-115 which I thought was a total bargain considering the amount of food that I got and the quality.
131 Dayi st on the corner of Sinle st
DAY 11: I rented a bike for the day and cycled around the city, up to the Lotus pond and then down along the river. Despite continuously putting on huge amounts of sunscreen throughout the day I still managed to get horribly sunburnt (and I’d only just recovered from my Hohaiyan sunburn, sigh).
LIN SHI JIE
During my bike ride I stumbled upon this street side eatery, there was a large picture menu so it was easy to order just by pointing. I’m not sure if it’s entirely vegan but when I queried (in Chinese) I was told that everything was egg free and meat free. My Chinese pronunciation of the word milk (“nai”) still need some work it seems so I couldn’t find out if anything contained dairy. I got a veggie curry for NT70, it was pretty tasty.
337-1 Huarong rd
For dinner it was back to Qian Ye (see above for picture).
DAY 12: I had planned a day trip to Meinong to cycle out to Yellow butterfly valley and take in some of the local Hakka culture of the area, I trip which I’d been looking forward to for a while, but I woke up feeling a little worse for wear from my sunburn. I had also realised that it was Monday (it took me a while to figure that one out) and the Hakka museum I wanted to go to in Meinong was closed on Mondays, so I ended up having an inside day and caught up on some washing and travel planning. I couldn’t really be bothered to venture too far in search of food so I ended up back at Qian Ye for round 3.
DAY 13: I was quite happy to be getting out of Kaohsiung, it was an alright city but didn’t really like the vibe that much and was starting to get a bit bored. It was just a half hour train trip to get to the much nicer and friendlier Tainan. After a few hours of wondering around the city centre I went to Guli’s natural vegetarian restaurant but it was closed. I then went to see the Confusionist temple where I found another veggie place across the road but decided to go to a vegetarian buffet restaurant near to where the Monday/Tuesday night market is held.
It turned out to be a pretty choice to come here instead and totally worth the 20 minute walk. This place was massive and had a huge range of dishes, with quite a lot of Japanese style stir fried vegetables and a good selection of vegan sushi rolls. My plate cost NT180 and was delicious.
201 section 1 Datong rd
DAY 14: The plan for the day was to rent a bike and explore the outer edges of Tainan and the historic old city of Anping. However, thanks to typhoon Matmo that plans got canned pretty quickly when I woke up to the sound of torrential wind and rain lashing the rooftop. Thankfully Tainan escaped the brunt of the storm which mostly hit around the Hualien area and by late morning it seemed to have cleared enough to venture outside. I decided to walk into town instead of going by bike, figuring that I could just get a bus if it started to rain again. It was very pleasant walking (for a little while at least), the rain had cooled things down considerably to a refreshing 29C. About 20 minutes into my walk it suddenly started to pour again and a rather strong wind came up. Just as I was attempting to get my raincoat, which turned out to not be anywhere near as waterproof as I’d hoped, out of my bag some random guy on a motorbike pulled up beside me and gave me his spare raincoat (Taiwanese are seriously the nicest people ever). The raincoat proved to be an invaluable item of clothing for the day as the wind and rain kept pelting down in sudden bursts throughout the day. I had hoped to go to Guli’s natural veg for lunch but when I got there I found that it was closed still (there is a slight possibility that I had the wrong address) along with just about all the other shops due to the typhoon. Wandering where to go for lunch I tossed up the idea of going to one of the places in Anping but figured that I probably wouldn’t make it there in time for lunch. By this point I was fairly close to Long Spring vegetarian buffet so ended up eating there again.
After lunch I walked all the way to Anping, it took around 2 and a bit hours because I kept having to stop and take shelter every time there was a torrential downpour or the wind came up. Eventually I made it to discover that just about everything aside from 7/11 and a few dessert places were closed and the streets were largely disserted so I just wandered around looking at all the old buildings etc for a while until I came to Yunhe st which I knew had a small street side vegan eatery on it.
PU YUAN SU SHI GUO WO
I found it pretty easily as there is a large green vegan sign out the front as well as lots of vegan stickers. It was however, all closed up but stopped briefly to look at the menu display board (it was all in Chinese), just then someone opened the roller door and came out. After asking the very lovely women (named Jessica) if they were going to be open for dinner she told me that they were closed for the day because of the typhoon but if I told her what time I wanted to eat she’d happily cook me something. I arranged to come back in a few hours and then set off on a bit more exploring. Everything I wanted to do/see in the area was closed including the Anping tree house and the Aboriginal cultural park but I did find a nice park with some quality play equipment during one of the brief dry periods of the day so that was good.
I went back to the vegan street stall at the specified time to find that Jessica had a 5 course meal ready and waiting for me (I really would have been happy with just one dish since I was still pretty full from lunch). I had some delicious dumplings, easily the nicest I’ve had in Taiwan thus far, she had also made some very tasty mushroom rice with veggies, soup, a fruit bowl with some chips and a cup of freshly made soymilk. If that wasn’t enough already she then brought out a bowl a freshly made herb jelly in a sauce made of sweetened black soy milk.
Everything tasted amazing and was so lovingly made. Jessica was really sweet and spoke excellent English so we chatted a bit. She told me a story about how she went backpacking in Europe about 20 years ago (long before it became the vegan wonderland it is now), and she nearly starved to because it was so hard to find food so now every time a vegan traveller shows up at her stall she always wants to make sure they’re well fed.
After enjoying my awesome vegan dinner and refusing Jessica’s repeated attempts to laden me with yet more food I got up to pay and was shocked when she said it only came to NT50 (less to AU$2) for everything. I tried to convince her to charge me a more reasonable amount but she wouldn’t have a bar of it and said she just wanted to spread some good vegan traveller karma. If you’re visiting Tainan this place is definitely worth a visit, the food was so delicious and fresh and made with such love, not to mention the nice atmosphere and the pleasant view overlooking the water, and please say hello to Jessica for me.
24 Yunhe st, Anping
DAY 15: My original plan was to travel from Tainan to Chiayi and then onto to Alishan by bus for 1 day before going on to the small mountain village of Fenqihu where there were some hiking trails that sounded interesting before returning to Chiayi via the Alsihan forest train for a music festival. However, typhoon Matmo put these plans into jeopardy as much of the transport in the area had been suspended until further notice due to the weather and the national park around Alishan had also been closed off to visitors. In the morning I was due to leave Tainan, however I heard that the park was likely to reopen the next day so I decided to get a train to Chiayi anyway and figure out where to go from there. When I arrived I found out that the trains were still not operating but there were buses, the only hostel (and only affordable place to stay in Alishan) would not reopen until the following day. Since I was running out of time in Taiwan I couldn’t really spare a day waiting it out in Chiayi so I decided to head to Fenqihu first and then onto to Alishan from there, even though that meant having to get the much more nauseating and far less scenic bus in both directions and missing out on the famous Alishan forest mountain train (the train line currently only goes as far Fenqihu due to typhoon damage from several years ago, repairs on the Alsihan leg are still underway).
The visitor information desk at the train station were able to call ahead and book the hostel in Fenqihu for me so with 3 ½ hours to kill before my bus I wandered off in the directions of the closest vegetarian buffet restaurant which was only a few hundred metres from the train station.
GONGDING SU SHI
Tucked away under a large sign, I walked right passed it the first time. Probably one of the less impressive veg buffets of my Taiwan trip, it was more of a local budget joint. Despite it being bang on 12 midday they didn’t seem to have much food left, it also didn’t look particularly appetising but figuring it was possibly my last chance for a few days to have a decent meal I thought I should get something so I picked out some of the scraps that looked the least likely to give me food poisoning.
There were quite a few tofu dishes and hardly any mock meat which made a nice change, the dumplings were actually quite good, everything else was edible but that’s about it. It cost NT83
257 Ren’ai st (directly opposite train station)
After my meal I walked along the street for a little while and then headed back to the train station. I stopped and got a very delicious mango smoothie bubble tea (with no milk or sugar) from a small shop across the road from the restaurant. It was bloody huge and super tasty with lots of chunks of fresh mango and coconut, and it only cost NT65.
The bus ride to Fenqihu was certainly not boring, although the steep, narrow and nauseatingly winding road did make me regret eating beforehand, not to mention the erratic driving of the bus driver who didn’t quite seem to understand the concept of braking/slowing down before going around a sharp bend. He instead seemed to take great delight n going as fast as possible around every corner and seeing how many passengers would get thrown from one side of the bus to another. Within 30 minutes of driving we were already almost 1000m higher in altitude.
2 hours later I arrived in Fenqihu in one piece, and followed some random strangers from the bus who were also staying at the same place down the hill to the Catholic church which had the only affordable accommodation in town. I’m not usually one to go within sight of any kind of religious establishment but given the distinct lack of any other affordable options in town there wasn’t really much choice. The hostel is run by a very sweet, albeit rather nosy little old nun from Switzerland, they offer very basic and somewhat musty and weird loft dorm rooms to povo travellers like myself, and at NT300 a night it’s about a tenth of the price of any of the nice little b & b’s in the village.
After checking in to my 15 bed dorm room that I had entirely to myself (thankyou typhoon Matmo), I ventured out for a short stroll before it got dark. I found myself on the giant cypress boardwalk trail just a few minutes later. The path was extremely slippery due the large amount of moss covering the wooden planks and it was littered with lots of branches and fallen trees that came down during the typhoon the day before so it was quite slow going but very beautiful and peaceful. About an hour later I exited the trail and walked back up the steep hill to the Old st where there were a few shops. Market stalls and a 7/11. Most places were closed already so my only dinner option was 7/11. I bought a few packets of nuts to have as snacks for my hike the next morning and some cookies. I walked up the hill to a bench to eat some of them and was followed by a very sweet, sad and hungry stray dog so I ended up sharing a pack of Oreo cookies with him before returning to 7/11 to buy him some noodles for dinner because I felt so sorry for him.
DAY 16: The next morning I was up at 4:45am to hike the Fenqihu- Ruili historic trail which I had seen pictures of on the internet and thought looked rather spectacular. The trail is 7km’s each way and goes through some stunning giant bamboo forests to the peak of a mountain before going back down into a valley to the small town of Ruili. The track is only one way and there is no public transport between Ruili and Fenqihu so if you go there you then have to turn around and hike the 3 ½ hours back along the same path.
The plan was to hopefully make the return journey and then be back in Fenqihu by 12 midday to catch the last bus to Alishan, otherwise I would have to spend another night in Fenqihu. It was a beautiful clear morning, with lovely fresh cool mountain air and almost no humidity thanks to Fenqihu’s 1500m elevation so walking up the hill to the start of the trailhead was very pleasant. I found the track easily which was clearly marked (in English), the first hour was up some very steep and slippery moss covered stone steps. I had to go very slowly as the track had not yet been cleared after the typhoon and there were a lot of fallen trees that I had to duck under/climb over. After a while it finally levelled out a little to a dirt track as the scenery gradually changed from rainforest to bamboo forest. At one point there was an eerie mist flowing up the side of the mountain that got caught in the sunlight making the forest look like it was straight out of a fairy tale.
The trail was easy to follow as it was well signed the entire way telling you how far you’d gone and how much further there was to go. Eventually I made it to Ruili and sat down in a clearing on the side of the road to have a rest and some snacks. About 30 minutes later I was contemplating heading back when it started to rain fairly heavily. I wasn’t that keen on hiking all the way back to Fenqihu in the rain given how slippery the path was and it was also getting quite late and knew that if I hiked back I definitely wouldn’t make it back in time for the bus so I decided to hitchhike back instead. Although the trail is only 7km’s from Fenqihu to Ruili the road is 22km’s and there was very little traffic so I was really hoping I didn’t have to walk all the way back along the road in the increasingly heavy rain. Thankfully though after just a few hundred metres of walking a nice old man in a fruit and vegetable truck stopped to offer me a ride. I had no idea where he was going and vice a versa due to the language barrier but I eventually managed to find a map of the area written in Chinese in my bag and pointed to where I was going. He wasn’t going anywhere near there but kindly gave me a ride all the way back anyway, he even stopped a few times to let me take photos which was super nice of him. I made it back to Fenqihu by 11.30am so I had plenty of time to pick up my bags and also grab some take-away food for the bus ride to Alishan.
I didn’t know of any vegetarian places in Fenqihu since it was so small but I thought I would go and see if Fenqihu hotel had anything vegan as they are famous for their lunchbox meals which come served in a cute little take-away box made out of bamboo. No English was spoken so I attempted to tell them in my horrendous Chinese that I was vegetarian and didn’t eat egg, which the women thankfully understood and disappeared off into the kitchen. She came back a few minutes later with some food for me so I paid the NT100 and headed up the hill to the train station to wait for the bus.
My lunch was surprisingly delicious, it had a base of rice with various stir fried vegetables (I have no idea what the bright red stuff was but it was really tasty) and some kind of fake dead thing.
Fancy lake hotel is on the Old st directly below 7/11
I didn’t have any accommodation booked yet in Alishan as the Catholic hostel there was closed the previous day so hadn’t been able to call ahead (the only cheap accommodation in Alishan is also the same deal as in Fenqihu). When I eventually arrived I went to the visitor centre to get directions and was told that the hostel ws already fully booked but they knew of another place nearby that had cheap dorm rooms so they took me over there.
It was a crappy, musty and very run down looking hotel just off the main parking lots where all the shops are. It was a bit more expensive than the Catholic hostel (NT700) a night for the dorm room and was definitely way more disgusting but there wasn’t any other choice and by this time it was pouring with rain so I settled for a bed in a damp and musty dorm room which I ended up having all to myself. As soon as the rain let up a little I went out for a walk, the park is horrendously touristy during the day with busload after busload of elderly Chinese tourists but from 4pm onwards it is almost completely disserted and had a much nicer vibe. I finally found my way to the giant tree trail which was one of the main reasons I’d wanted to go to Alishan to see. It was still raining fairly steadily so the rain coat that the kind random guy on a motorbike in Tainan had given me came in handy once again. I walked past the 3rd generation tree which was pretty amazing and also the huge “sacred tree” to the board walked giant tree trail 1 that goes through a beautiful forest of giant red Cyrpress trees, many of which are around 2000 years old.
I finally arrived at the end of the track which opened up into a viewing area on the edge of the mountain and was greeted with an absolutely stunning sunset, so I hang around to watch that and then made my way back to the village to find somewhere to have dinner.
ALISHAN RESTAURANT OF FINE FOOD
Located around the corner from the main tourist drag near the train station, they had an English menu available and the staff happily pointed out which things were vegan once I explained what I wanted (or didn’t want).
I ordered the sizzling tofu with some rice, nothing fancy or amazing but it was fairly tasty and filling.
Around the corner from 7/11 going towards the train station
DAY 17: I woke up at 3.30am and stumbled out of the hotel and towards the already packed train station to purchase my ticket for the sunrise train which, as I kept getting told was a “must do” in Taiwan. The train took 20 minutes to reach the top of the mountain at an altitude of around 2600m. While 99% of people went straight for the horribly over crowded viewing platform directly in front of the station I decided to walk a few hundred metres further up the path to an area that had far superior views and very few other people.
The sunrise was quite stunning; as the light increased a sea of cloud completely enveloped the mountains below making it appear as if the top of the mountain where I was standing was floating above to clouds.
To get back down the mountain there are 2 options, the train which involved a long wait in line and then a chaotic fight with a whole bunch of elderly Chinese tourists who seemingly want nothing more than to elbow everyone out of their way and even knock others to the ground just so they can get a seat on a mere 20 minute train ride, or a nice leisurely 1 ½ hour stroll downhill on an almost disserted trail through some beautiful forests with stunning views across the countryside. I personally would recommend the latter.
I got back to my hotel at about 7.30am and noticed a lot of people going in and out of the basement carrying plates which I had assumed was just storage or something else equally as boring. I’d already had my usual banana and soy milk breakfast from 7/11 so wasn’t really hungry but curiosity got the better of me so I went downstairs to see if there was any worthwhile. As it turned out the was a considerable upside to staying in a hotel as opposed to a hostel, FREE BREAKFAST. There weren’t any labels on the food so I just asked someone if anything was vegetarian, to my surprise I discovered that everything was actually vegan by default. The breakfast buffet consisted of rice porridge, steamed bread, freshly made hot soy milk and a selection of stir-fried tofu and vegetable dishes. I grabbed a few different things for my 2 ½ hour bus ride back to Chiayi and then went back to my room to pack my bag.
While waiting for the bus I did a quick lap past all the tourist shops to have a look and couldn’t go past the mocha stall without getting some. I got a few different flavours of mini mocha on a stick; each mochi cost NT8 each and were all delicious.
CHIAYI- WAKE UP FESTIVAL
I’d heard about a 3 day metal/punk music festival happening in Chiayi and luckily it happened to coincide with when I was passing through Chiayi. I’d originally planned to go to Taichung as well but I was running out of time so decided to give it a miss in favour of going to one day of Wake up fest. The hostels were all booked out and I couldn’t find anyone to couchsurf with at such short notice but at the last minute I found a place on airbnb. The owner only sent me the address and directions in Chinese and when I cut and paste them into google translate they made absolutely no sense whatsoever. So I arrived in Chiayi with only a faint idea of where I was actually going. I managed to find the right area easily enough but there were no street signs so I had trouble finding the correct street but some random guy on a motorbike stopped and asked if I needed help and then gave me a ride to the street I was looking for. Unfortunately though, I had the wrong street number for the place (FYI Google translate is shite), so I ended up walking all the way back to the station in the hope of finding internet so I could ask a person to translate my Chinese directions. I was almost all the way back at the station when some random guy wanting to practice his English asked if I needed help. He kindly let me check my emails on his phone so I could get the address and then he called up the place where I was staying to get directions (apparently they didn’t make any sense in Chinese either). The guy who owned the place where I was staying offered to come to the station to pick me up since it was so hot, which was awesome so I sat down and chatted to the random guy for a while until my lift arrived.
It was getting late and the festival had already started so I dumped my bags in my room and quickly headed back out again. The festival took place in the creative industries and cultural park just next to the train station so it was just a short walk. Wake up fest is quite a small more DIY type festival but it had a really cool chilled out vibe, quite unusual for a metal festival. There were 3 outdoor stages and one inside an air conditioned warehouse, there was also an alternative clothing market with lots of handmade fashion by local designers and the usual type of festival food stalls. Most of the bands were local Taiwan bands but there were also a few from other countries including South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Australia and UK.
src=”http://avegandownunder.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/taiwan4-106.jpg?w=300″ alt=”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA” width=”300″ height=”225″ class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-881″ />
I was really surprised at the diversity of the crowd, although it was mostly 15-25yos, there were also quite a lot of families with young children and even a few 70+ yos who were rocking out including a sweet little old lady who was pushing her husband around in a wheelchair. I discovered a tonne of new favourite bands throughout the day, but my top picks were Solemn, an epic 7 piece metal band with one of the best female metal drummers that I have ever seen and 88balaz, a fun punky 3 piece. There was also a Korean black metal band called SEED who were pretty rad too. The festival was quite an interesting insight into Taiwanese culture, despite the majority of bands being on the heavier side which is usually a very male dominated scene in most countries, over half of the bands at Wake up fest however had at least one female band member and quite a few were all girl bands. The crowd also had a much higher percentage of women than you’d expect to find at most metal festivals in other places, and were almost even numbers. I was also quite surprised to see so many girls diving into the circle pits which was pretty awesome to see, girls in Taiwan are obviously way more into their metal and music in general than in other places.<a
I was really impressed with all of the bands although Solemn were still my definite favourites, once again there were a high percentage of women there rocking out. The crowds in Taiwan are also considerably better than in Australia (no drunk bogan dickheads) which meant that I could quite easily get up the front and enjoy myself without having to worry about get pushed and shoved about by some egotistical wanker.
None of the food stalls at the festival were vegan friendly from what I could tell so I went back to that cheap veg buffet place (Gongbing) near the station to grab some food to go, as well as another mango bubble tea from the shop across the road before heading back to the fest to eat it.
Wake up fest was probably my favourite music festival of the 2 that I went to as it had a much cooler vibe and was more alternative and DIY than Ho Hai Yan, I was way more into the line-up too. Of all the bands I saw only one was kind of crap (the UK one) all the local bands were awesome and I was really impressed with the quality and ingenuity of the alternative music scene in Taiwan which seems to be very much alive and well.
TONG DE SU SHI
DAY 18: I had a ticket already for the 12:20pm train back to Taipei which took 3 ½ hours. After checking out I walked about 15 minutes up the road to a small, more local budget vegetarian buffet to get some food for the train ride. This buffet was pretty much indistinguishable from most other buffets in that price range, with all the usual types of dishes on offer. I piled up my cardboard take-out container and paid the NT83 then made my way back to the station stopping at one of the many breakfast places to buy a vegetarian steamed bun and some soy milk for breakfast. Sorry forgot to take photo.
419 section 1 Bo’ai rd
The train ride back to Taipei was quite pleasant (trains in Taiwan are considerably nicer than Australia’s), the journey seemed to go quite quickly and before I knew it I was back in Taipei main station. Although I was excited to be back in Taipei it also meant that I was near the end of my Taiwanese trip which was a shame.
Earlier that morning whilst trying to find out the names of all my new favourite bands in English (the info on set times at the festival was all in Chinese) I’d found out that one of my new favourite bands from Wak up fest (Solemn) was playing a show in Taipei that night at one of the most well-known live indie music venues in town called the Wall so I was keen to go and check them out again. Solemn were part of a 4 band line-up that consisted entirely of female fronted metal bands, 3 were from Taipei and the headliners Head phones president were from Japan.
DAY 19: After a bit of a sleep in I walked around the corner to a fruit shop to grab some fruit for breakfast when of course I came across a vegetarian buffet restaurant so a few hours later I headed back there for lunch. It was the standard mid-range buffet similar to Long Spring in Tainan, but they had a few less common dishes including steamed taro. My plate cost about NT170
286 Dalong st (sing only in Chinese)
After lunch I got the MRT to Da’an park as it was one area of the city that I hadn’t spent much time yet. I ended up having a bit of a knap in the shade before making full use of the awesome play equipment and monkey bars in the park’s play area which seemed to have an unusually high number of adults playing there (or maybe that’s just normal in Taiwan).
By chance, on one of my first days in Taipei several weeks earlier I’d heard about a tattoo studio in Taipei called Queen Tattoo Ink that only tattoos women. I really liked their work that I’d seen on their Facebook page which had lots of beautiful colour and shading. I’d been thinking about getting one of my tattoos turned into something else for a while but hadn’t really given it much in depth thought until I heard about this studio but thought they sounded like the perfect place to get my dodgy spur of the moment Thailand job fixed up. So that evening I went to their studios to discuss the design etc and made an appointment the following day to get it done. I didn’t really have any definite ideas about what I wanted so I just left it up to the artist to design something.
OOH CHA CHA VEGAN HEALTH BAR
DAY 20: Since I only had a couple of days left in Taiwan and realising just how many awesome veggie/vegan restaurants there were left on my list, I decided to skip the buffets for the day. Although I really liked most of the buffet restaurants I’d been to I was keen to try a few different cuisines so I went to Ooh Cha Cha an all vegan health food bar located right next to Guting MRT. I’d checked out their menu online a few days prior and it looked interesting, lots of quinoa and tempeh dishes and a variety of sandwiches and raw desserts. There were also lots of gluten free options, which were well labelled.
I ordered the tofu bahn mi sandwich, a cacao, goji and banana smoothie and a slice of the banana swirl cheesecake for dessert. The sandwich was fairly tasty but nothing too exceptional, smoothie was really nice but I thought it was quite tiny for the price and the cheesecake was really tasty and not too sweet.
207 Nanchang rd (30 second walk from Guting MRT exit 2)
After lunch I went to the tattoo studio for my 2pm tattoo appointment. I’d left the design pretty up up to the artists as I wasn’t really sure of exactly what I wanted. When I arrived they showed me what they had drawn up which was a mostly turquoise and blue Chinese style phoenix with lots of tiny detail and shading on the feathers.
It turned out to be quite a marathon job, taking just over 5 hours to complete due to all the fine details so it was almost 8.30pm by the time I finally left in search of some dinner.
SOUL R CAFÉ
Another of Taipei’s 100% vegan restaurants, it was only about a 15 minute walk away from the tattoo studio so I thought I might just make it before closing time at 9pm. They have a mostly western menu dominated by various kinds of burgers and pasta with a heavy use of mock meats. Personally pasta is the last thing I would ever consider eating when it’s 40 degrees with high humidity outside, especially in a place like Taiwan where there is an abundance of amazingly fresh and delicious fruit and vegetables on offer, but I guess it must be fairly popular since half of the menu at Soul R Café are pasta dishes. They do however have an excellent and very extensive dessert menu offering a variety of homemade vegan desserts including ice cream, waffles, brownies and crème brule.
It was just before 9pm when I finally arrived here to find that they had literally just closed, but the staff kindly offered to make something for me to takeaway. They only had a few things left so my choice was very limited. I eventually settled on the apple burger and the chocolate walnut waffles.
The burger was quite literally just a bun with some lettuce, a slice of apple and some vegan mayo on it so not entirely sure why it took them over 30 minutes to make, the waffles however, were much better and some of the nicest waffles I’ve had. Soul R café is definitely a good place to go for desserts but I don’t think I’d bother going back for mains.
6 Alley 1, lane 217, section 3 Zhongxiao rd E
DAY 21: My last full day in Taipei had sadly arrived. I was up fairly early as I planned to go to Wulai which was the top of my long list of places that I still wanted to go. It was about a 30 minute train ride and then another 30 minutes on the bus. Wulai is a tranquil Aboriginal community with some of the most stunning hiking and scenery in the country. It is also really interesting from a cultural perspective as the traditional culture and the Atayal (the original inhabitants of the area) is still very much alive and well in the village despite it being a very popular tourist destination.
After a quick stroll through the old st I walk up the road to look at the waterfall. It was a very hot day and my leg was a little bit sore still from the previous days tattoo session so I wasn’t really up to do any of the more lengthy hikes in the area or visit the hot springs so I walked back to town and went to the Atayal Aboriginal culture museum. Despite it being quite small the museum was really interesting with lots of photos and miniature replicas of traditional houses and info on traditional foods etc. Unfortunately a large group of very unruly school children arrived there at about the same time and seemed to find me a much more interesting subject to stare at which made it slightly less enjoyable.
TAIYO POPO RESTAURANT
I was quite interested to sample some of the Aboriginal cuisine that Wulai is famous for, I had done a little research to see if there were any vegan friendly restaurants around town and I’d come across Taiyo Popo which was almost right next to the museum. They had an English menu so after checking what was “su”, I ordered the tossed betul nut flower salad with sesame oil dressing, a taro rice dumpling and some millet rice.
Everything was really good, the salad was very fresh and tasty and the dumpling had a delicious smoky flavour.
14 Wulai old st
There were many little street stalls scattered along the main st selling a variety of traditional snacks, many of which were vegan so I got a grilled rice cake stick with soy sauce and seaweed topping which was delicious and a box of one of my new favourite foods: candied wild yam which was also really yummy.
I ended up going back to buy two more rice sticks, this time I got one with brown sugar and black sesame topping and the other with matcha red beans. The former being the much nicer of the two as the red beans made the rice cake all soggy.
After another hour of ambling around I was feeling quite tired and sunburnt so jumped on the bus back to Taipei.
DAY 22: I had been putting of packing for the last few days as I was in denial that I was leaving, but I really couldn’t put it off any longer since my flight was now just a few hours away. So I quickly rammed everything into my pack and then set out to get some takeout lunch to eat on the way to the airport. I had planned to go to Minder a vegetarian buffet restaurant chain as they had a branch in Taipei main station but then I discovered that the airport bus stopped just a few blocks away from where I was staying so it seemed more practical to just go to the veg buffet around the corner to get food instead.
There is also a vegetarian /vegan restaurant in the airport serving mostly Korean and Taiwanese food. It’s located in Terminal 1 B1 foodcourt.
This recipe for one pot pasta is originally from Martha Stewart and is reproduced all over the internet in various versions.
I have to say I was skeptical, but I am really surprised at the outcome. It is good. I don’t know that I’d always cook pasta like this, but if you are in a hurry and want a ‘brain in neutral’ dish to cook, it really can’t be beaten. It takes about 15 minutes, with no complicated preparations and no draining.
Throw everything in a pot, stir, cook, stir again, throw some vegan parmesan on the top, eat.
I’ve cooked this a few times, and have tinkered with the recipe by throwing in some extra ingredients at the end, sometimes spinach leaves to wilt, sometimes a few artichoke pieces in oil, and sometimes a dollop of cashew cheese.
With virtually no work, you end up with al dente pasta coated with an unctuous flavourful sauce. And only one pot to clean. Perfect for when you come home and just cannot be bothered. It is as easy as making two minute noodles, but yummier, and with your dignity left intact.
I’ve done the recipe for one, but it scales up well, just double, triple or quadruple the ingredients.
These two photos feature one I made with some spinach added at the end, and another with fewer tomatoes and some cashew cheese stirred through, creating a creamy tomato sauce.
I had never been to Proud Mary before. I know, I should have handed in my hipster card as a result long ago. I’m not sure if Proud Mary is even a part of the hipster zeitgeist anymore, so out of the loop am I. Bennett, who was responsible for orchestrating this long overdue visit, is adamant that the hipsters have given over Proud Mary to the growing contingent of Collingwood yuppies, but although I spotted plenty of sartorially coordinated families complete with strollers picking up coffees, there were still far too many ugly sweaters and ironic moustaches in attendance for me to believe that the hipsters had abandoned it entirely.
I was a little concerned that perhaps the full brunt of Proud Mary would be completely lost on me given their specialty is coffee, and I’ve only got to the point where I have a flat white maybe one every couple of weeks, and I certainly don’t go in for cold drips or anything fancy like that. I managed to risk severe caffeine overstimulation by having two flat whites bookend my brunch, and they were quite lovely as anticipated, strong but not fierce, smooth with a good head of crema. And I found the bright blue duck egg cups they were served in to be darling.
Since I couldn’t experience the height of coffee orientated decadence offered by Proud Mary, I decided that I clearly had to go for the most excessive vegetarian friendly brunch item available. There are few things less fancy when it comes to vegetables than the words ‘foraged mushrooms’ so I was very easily swayed into the idea of pine mushrooms on sourdough with housemade cheese curd and a poached egg.
I understand that high levels of pine mushroom use is probably out of the reach of most cafes, but that is a shame because they are such a treat. Two giant disks of lightly sauteed mushroom sat atop a giant slice of sourdough, liberally dotted with light, enormously rich dollops of bright white curd, and once the perfectly poached egg was popped and the yellow yolk oozed all over everything I was in some class of heaven.
Bennett went with the avocado dish of charred corn, green onion tabbouleh, harissa, roasted baby tomatoes and avocado on seedy bread, minus the ricotta because he has a vendetta against cheese. This was an equally piled plate that looked very filling, and quite virtuously so too.
Proud Mary isn’t cheap, you’ll have to battle through the weekend crowds regardless of how early you arrive, and there is the aforementioned hipster factor that is off-putting for some. But even though I was braced to be disappointed in the face of years of overwhelming praise, I was inevitably won over by the food. I’d like to go back in order to have a go at the sweets end of the menu, which apart from such exciting sounding brunch items like the ricotta hot cakes with mandarin caramel, honeycomb and ice cream (!!! how does that even qualify as BREAKFAST) is also augmented by a giant cabinet that was inundated with sweet baked treats – I gave such a saucy eye to a collection of jam doughnuts that they are probably pregnant now.
172 Oxford Street, Collingwood
Ph: 9417 5930
Another day, another breakfast.
I’ve been a bit sick of my breakfast rut recently and so I decided I’d go out. It also had to be somewhere new. What’s the point of getting out of an “at home” rut and falling into an “eating the same thing at the same café” rut?
So this time I headed to True North in Coburg. I’d heard some good things about it from my finger-on-the-pulse Coburg friends, and Coburg is so hip these days it could not go wrong. :)
The café is a smallish cosy place and it has booths, which makes it a winner in my book. There are a good number of well-marked vegan options on the menu.
I chose the Breakfast Roll even though I wanted several other things, none of which I can now remember, except a BLT.
The roll itself was a beautiful crunchy sourdough that came from Rustica Bakery in Fitzroy. I loved it so much that I went home afterwards via the bakery and bought some of their bread.
But back to the cafe…the roll came with bubble and squeak, facon, avocado, rocket and tomato relish. Good, good, good. I’m not sure if the bubble and squeak varies according to what is left over, but mine had nice bits of sauerkraut in it. This was delicious and contrasted so well with the smoky flavour of the facon and the smoothness of the avocado. The coffee was also excellent.
I need to go back, so I guess I’ll have to get stuck in a new breakfast rut at True North and eat my way through the rest of the menu.
2a Munro St
These eats go back a while. The first was way back in April on ANZAC day – the bear and I met up with my mum and dad for lunch and a movie due to it being a public holiday. We met in between our places on Chapel St, and headed towards the Sweetwater Inn for a bite to eat. Unfortunately, they weren’t yet open when we got there, though that may be a good thing – this post may have had far too much deep-fried-ness otherwise. Yowzers!
I’ve never really spent a lot of time on the South Yarra end of Chapel st – it’s a bit more fashion-oriented than I can bear for very long. They do have a couple of cinemas though, and plenty of cafes and restaurants to drink cawfee and fill tummies.
We decided to stop at a Mexican place called Amigos, as it wasn’t too far from where we needed to be. Amigos has three location – South Yarra, St Kilda and the CBD, and according to the website they have been serving Mexican food and drink since 1981.
Upon viewing the menu, I noticed two items labelled vegan. Not a huge choice, but good to have the options labelled nevertheless.
The bear went for the Ensalada Verde – a green salad with avo, tomato, red onion, and a citrus and herb dressing, topped with tortilla strips. He enjoyed this, and even let me taste a little. Decent tasting though someone overpriced at $16.50 for some leaves and bread, in my humble opinion.
Afterwards, we went on the Jam Factory to see The Grand Budapest Hotel at the cinema. It was the first time I had been to the movies in quite some time, and I enjoyed watching a film in the dark on the big screen. Gotta love Wes Anderson, I enjoyed the unusual darkness of this film, as well as the usual quirky patterns of conversation. Since then, I’ve been to the cinemas two more times (Good Vibrations and All This Mayem) and am looking forward to more visits – hopefully I’ll catch a few films at the Melbourne International Film Festival starting tomorrow….look out!
Next up, a trip to Lord of the Fries. Why oh why do I continue to go here and not enjoy myself?
Perhaps that is a little harsh – it’s just that I have such high expectations! Vegans and omnivores alike, everybody tells me how great Lord of the Fries are..it makes me feel like I am missing something. Can somebody please explain to me why they are so good? Perhaps I make continually bad choices, I don’t know. Perhaps I need to visit at 3am after a night out – I bet I would enjoy it then.
The bear and I got a few bowls of fried stuff. Here is some chips and chili poppers with vegan cheese and hot napoli sauce. Yet another sauce that really didn’t do much for me, although it was better than the satay and the special vegan mayo that I’ve tried before. The sauce wasn’t spicy at all, and the chili poppers were pretty tasteless – just friedness, with bland cream cheese style filling.
Sorry for offending your eyes with this picture, I know it ain’t the prettiest. This is a bowl of chips and onion rings with vegan cheese and gravy. Admittedly, this was the best sauce of all the ones I’ve tried, despite its translucent gelatinous appearance. Not saying it was amazing, but definitely preferable to the others.
Maybe I need to try the sweet potato fries. Or the burgers or hot dogs. I had a burger once and it was okay, but nothing mind blowing. No doubt I will be back some time, as I feel the need to crack this mystery.
Oh my goodness – to think I almost let you get away without laying your eyes on this monstrosity! Okay, that was mean, I actually enjoyed this until I felt sick. The Chapel st store also does a few milkshakes, this one being Oreo flavoured. I know it looks a bit like sewerage, but it was not too bad – a bit sickly sweet, but hey, why else would you get a milkshake?
7/478 Chapel St, South Yarra
Sun – Thurs – 11.30am – 12am
Fri – Sat – 11.30am – 1am
Lord of the Fries
170 Chapel St, Windsor
(see website for other locations)
Mon – Wed – 11am – 8pm
Thurs – 11am – 9pm
Fri – Sat – 11am – 5am
Sun – 11am – 9pm
Smith & Daughters: Tarta de Chocolate Azteca w/ fresh avocado icecream ($14)
Smith & Daughters: Layered Queso Dip ($14)
Sat: 10am-3pm (brunch menu)
Sun: 10am-3pm (brunch menu)
You only need to walk past Smith & Daughters on a weeknight to see that they’re not only leading the way in all vegan dining, but dining in general. Vegans and omnivores alike are flocking here for awesome food, super friendly service and a damn good vibe.
The Spanish and Mexican inspired all vegan dinner menu is an ever-evolving pursuit of perfection. Say goodbye to main meals, and hello to a vast selection of mouth-watering small plates to make your own smorgasbord. Choose from such delicacies as 'White truffle, forest mushroom pâté w/ caper berries, cornichons & toasted bread' ($15 GFO), 'Tuna & green pea croquettas w/ caper aioli' ($5 each) and the amazing 'Tortilla w/ garlic aioli' ($7 per slice).
If you’re more in the mood for salad, the 'Tacos con enslada' (GFO NFO $16)—a crisp tortilla basket filled w/ black beans, vegan chorizo, grilled corn, pickled jalapenos, shredded lettuce, pickled red cabbage and coriander cashew cream is a popular choice.
Life’s too short for regrets, so don’t skimp on a Smith & Daughter’s dessert—do try the 'Tarta de Chocolate Azteca' ($14), served with the most incredible fresh avocado ice cream or share some ‘Warm Spanish Donuts’ ($12) with quince and spiced sugar.
Spanish or Mexican Baked Omelettes ($16 GFO), ‘Spanish French Toast' ($16) and a 'Breakfast Burrito' ($15) w/ scrambled tofu, crispy vegan chorizo, black beans, garlic kale and guacamole are on offer for brunch on weekends only.
Coffee with your choice of soy, oat, coconut or almond+coconut milk is $4 or $3.50 (black).
P.S Thursday nights from 10pm-1pm are dedicated to Morrissey/Smith's tunes, 'moza-ritas' and late night vegan eats. 'So, please, please, please, let me, let me, let me eat all the vegan treats this time...'
Another amazing breakfast at Little Rose has drawn me back to my blog. I should have come back months ago, but feeling compelled to complement the deliciously yummy food and amazing customer service was the impetus I needed.
This was my second visit to this gorgeously quaint back street cafe in Port Melbourne. Both visits have provided equally delicious meals, but this one was extra special because of the fantastic customer service. After checking the meal was vegetarian I ordered the sauteed button mushrooms with bubble and squeak, fried eggs, parmesan, sourdough and mustard cress. Of course I know that bubble and squeak can be made either with or without bacon, hence my checking with the waitress up front. As a seasoned vegetarian I know to always check when ordering an ambiguous menu item.
Disappointingly the first cut into said bubble and squeak revealed bacon and a call from me to the waitress. But this was the point when Little Rose really exceeded expectations. Not only did they offer to swap the bubble for home made hash browns, but when the meal was returned to me the whole dish had been exchanged for a fresh version, my cutlery was replaced and I was told that it would be free of charge. The waitress also apologised. This in itself was quite amazing as I’ve found shops and restaurants rarely offer a “sorry” when something is faulty or delivered incorrectly.
To top it off the food was amazing. The chef at Little Rose is brilliant and everything I have eaten there is delicious. My hubby would agree with this as well.
Food 5 stars, customer service 5 stars! Thank you Little Rose.
Little Rose is located around the back of Rose Diner at 309 Bay St, Port Melbourne.
On one of the coldest days last week, I spent the day cooking. I made a loaf of bread, some bread rolls, butter and cheese. I know it is relatively easy to buy all these things in Melbourne, but I find a lot of pleasure in making the most basic foods like these. I make bread the most often, because the no knead recipe is so simple, and the results are so rewarding.
I’ve only made vegan butter once, before the arrival of Half Pint Vegan Dairy butter. But with no butter available at the moment from Half Pint, I decided I’d make some. The recipe I used is the one at veganbaking.net. I make cheese probably once a month, and live in hope that I will finally make the perfect vegan cheese. I’m still trying. In the meantime I’ve settled on this one. At the end I had a very nice cheese and tomato crunchy roll with some sprouts for lunch. Sometimes simple pleasures are the best.
Fritters are secretly one of my favourite staple recipes to have hanging around, as I tend to collect vegetables and often the only way to get rid of them is to grate them up and fry the beejesus out them (what, you don’t just think to fry everything?).
These beetroot fritters are particularly good because 1). They are bright pink; 2). You don’t have to wait forever to roast the beets, it’s a grate, fry and eat prospect; and 3). The inclusion of Danish feta makes them quite a bit richer than the standard vegie fritter, so once you team them with a nice side salad they make a proper filling dinner. Bingo bango.
1. Combine the grated vegetables in a bowl with the sliced spring onions and the egg. Mix to combine, then once the egg is fully incorporated, add the flour, and mix further until the mixture is sticking together nicely. If your mixture is still too wet, just keep adding flour until it reaches an agreeable consistency.
2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Using a tablespoon, take spoonfuls of the mixture, plop into the pan and flatten down into discs with the back of the spoon. Each side should take around 2-4 minutes to brown sufficiently, and obviously remember to turn them over so both sides cook. Let cooked fritters drain on a plate covered with paper towel, and repeat until you run out of mixture.
I love bean sprouts, but I have to admit I suck at making them. I don’t like buying them because of the packaging.
I’ve tried lots of methods of making sprouts, from the good old-fashioned jar with some net, to a hessian sprout bag. They almost always end up manky. This is absolutely my fault – I always forget to rinse them enough.
I BRIEFLY considered (for about one nanosecond) a top end auto rinsing model, designed for the completely sprout challenged. I dismissed it as ridiculous at a couple of hundred dollars. Really, it shouldn’t require a technological marvel to make sprouts. It should be fairly simple. Shouldn’t it?
But with failure after failure I’d pretty much abandoned hope until…
Enter my new kitchen toy, perfect for the lazy or forgetful person - an Easy Sprout sprout maker that promises no need for rinsing. I have to say I thought it was too good to be true, but it really isn’t.
Let me be clear – I think it is outrageously priced (around $40 for a few bits of plastic). But for what it does, it is a bargain. The theory is that the double walled construction holds the heat and moisture needed to sprout successfully. The heat is generated by the sprouts themselves and the moisture is retained, but in the outer container. And it does work!
All you need to do is to soak the seeds for a few hours or overnight, rinse once and leave them alone. You can rinse them again if you like. I did this twice during the 5 days when I noticed the sprouter on the bench, but it is very forgiving. The only reason I can see why you might want to rinse, is to redistribute the seeds from the bottom of the container, to give them a better chance at sprouting more evenly. Even I can remember to do that.
So far I’ve made alfalfa, mung bean and lentil sprouts. All successfully.
I cannot speak highly enough of this sprouter. I got mine from Sprout.