September 28, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Tempeh Cheatballs in a Tomato Stew and random moments

This dish was born out of necessity.  I actually intended to try a zucchini slice with silken tofu.  I went to the supermarket for the ingredients but found the tub of silken tofu I remembered was actually the firm tofu I had already used for a batch of tofu bacon.  So I was left with tempeh and a need to rethink dinner.  (Yep.  No silken tofu counts as First World problems!)  Sylvia's friend had been at our place.  When her parents picked her up they invited Sylvia for pizza and a movie, freeing me up to focus on our dinner.

I took my inspiration from Tinned Tomatoes Vegan Sticky Red Onion and Sausage Bake with Gravy and from Milk and Honey Teriyaki Tofu Balls.  My final Tempeh Cheatballs in Tomato Stew bore little resemblance to either recipe.  I came across using Cheatballs instead of meatballs recently and it quite amused me.  I wasn't sure if I say tomato sauce or tomato stew but I felt with the addition of a few vegies, it looked more stew than sauce.

I really enjoyed this dish but could make improvements.  I think next time I might use a 700ml jar of tomato passata rather than a 400g tin of diced tomatoes for more sauce.  I don't think this is one of my favourite tempeh dishes.  I suspect I might like it better with tofu but would like experiment a bit more with doing these with tempeh.  I did love that it was pretty much a meal in a roasting dish.

We had it over a couple of night served over brown rice.  It was good in an earnestly healthy sort of way.  I also was scratching around for ideas for lunch and loved having it in a toasted sandwich with melted cheese and fresh spinach.  This was more fun.  So good that I would make this dish again just to stuff in a sandwich.  And I think vegan cheese like biocheese would work well here.  I would also like to try serving it over pasta.  They would also be excellent with tofu bacon.  I meant to try it but forgot.

And let me tell of some random moments that made me smile recently:
  • I had a dream recently of being served dinner in a restaurant.  I saw a movement on the serving plate.  With horror I realised it was crawling with witchety grubs (Aussie bush tucker).  I needed to tell them I was vegetarian.  The I realised I was at vegan restaurant Smith and Daughters.  I spent some time in my dream and when I awoke puzzling over how they could make vegan food move when they served it.
  • Sylvia is really into the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries by Robin Stevens, which I am reading to her.  We have been enjoying reading them over the school holidays.  She wakes me up first thing in the morning asking me to read to her.  We are currently reading one called Arsenic for Tea.  When E was bringing it home from the library, she said to me "I hope dad brings Arsenic home".  Perhaps this is why in the USA, it has been renamed Poison is Not Polite.
  • We sauntered along to Coburg Carnivale on the weekend.  It had less of a community feel than previous Carnivales.  The highlight was the Little Wooden Caravan.  We were kindly squeezed in though it was almost booked up.  There were a series of puzzles, each leading us to a key to open a locked box with another clue.  It was great fun and I enjoyed that it included some of the photos of historic Coburg.

I hope to return to this dish and tweak it in future but Spring brings dwindling opportunities for oven bakes so for now I share what I did.  I am sending these cheatballs to Kimmy and Mary Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays, Jac for Meat Free Mondays and Cindy for Gluten Free Fridays.

More tempeh recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chesapeake tempeh cakes (v)
Pumpkin and kale soup with tempeh crumbles (gf, v)
Tamarind Tempeh with Noodles (v)
Tempeh and corn soup (gf, v)
Tempeh and pumpkin lasagne (v)
Watercourse Foods tempeh burger (gf,v)

Tempeh Cheatballs in a Tomato Stew
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Serves about 6

Tomato Stew:
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
400g tin diced tomatoes
1 carrot, sliced into batons
1 red capsicum, sliced into batons
1/4 cup tofu bacon marinade
good pinch of salt and pepper

Tempeh Cheatballs:
300g tempeh
3 tbsp besan
2 tbsp tofu bacon marinade
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, chopped
200g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 onion, finely chopped and fried
oil spray

Start on the Tomato Stew: Heat oil in a heavy based frypan and fry onions for about 20 to 30 minutes until soft but not melting.  I had my onions fried for the Cheatballs but if I hadn't I would fry an extra onion with the sliced onion and when they were done I would chop up a third of the fried onions for the Cheatballs.

While onions fry, squeeze moisture out of tempeh and crumble into mixing bowl.  Mix in besan, marinade, nutritional yeast flakes and spinach.  Blend chickpeas and fried onion and mix into the tempeh mixture.  Set aside while completing the Tomato Stew.

Meanwhile, microwave carrot batons in a covered dish with a little water for 30 minutes.  When onions are done (set aside some for the Cheatballs if required), tip in diced tomatoes, precooked carrots, capsicum, tofu marinade and seasoning to taste.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Pour tomato stew into a large roasting tin.  Shape heaped tablespoons cheatballs mixture into balls and dot in the tomato stew.  Spray the tops of cheatballs with oil spray.  Bake for 30-60 minutes until cheatballs brown.  (I served mine after 40 minutes and liked them but I liked them more the second night when they were baked again for 30 minutes.  If I had a grill or broiler in my oven I might grill them for 5 minutes at the end.)

On the Stereo:
50 the Golden Jubilee Album: The Seekers

Posted September 28, 2016 10:33 PM by Johanna GGG


Vegan Pizzas And More At CassellBella’s in Northcote

I first heard of CassellBella’s Bakery & Cafe in the local vegan community. People were talking about the vegan pizzas and other options on the menu so I made a note to go there with the family for our next pizza day. The vegan menu is fairly recent and includes pizzas, savoury baked goods and...
Continue reading »

Posted September 28, 2016 03:24 PM

September 26, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

The Royal Melbourne Show 2016

Sylvia was keen to visit the Royal Melbourne Agricultural Show (aka The Show) during the school holidays.  I took her along last week.  We went on rides, sampled food, admired cake decorating and came home with a handful of show bags.  Lots of fun but so expensive and so tiring.  Here are some photos.

Our first stop was the Ferris Wheel.  At $9 each, it was the most expensive ride we saw.  But who can resist riding up high for a bird's eye view of the showgrounds.

Here is one of the views from the top of ferris wheel.  The giant pie on the red frame is one of the icons of the showgrounds and we saw it appear on a few decorated cakes.  It is also the easily visible place for lost children.

I am sorry to say that Sylvia takes after me with height (or lack of).  She wasn't quite tall enough for the adult dodgems so I had to drive.  Maybe that was just as well.

Then we were hungry and headed off to the Woolworth's fresh food pavillion.  I really like this area which had lots of food tasting and a long row of street food stalls.  Sylvia had the cheese toastie and a macaron.  I decided to get a vegetarian hotdog from the hotdog stall but was not overly enthused about it.  I then got a corn on the cob which was great and later returned for a chocolate covered strawberry.  Sylvia got a mango ice cream from Fritz Gelato later. 

I enjoyed tasting the 5am yoghurt with museli, Spotted Dog fudge, Vegie Chips and spice mixes.  We purchased the Vegie Chips showbag (7 bags of chips for $7) and the Super Food Ideas showbag which was really heavy but excellent value for $10. (I am quite sure it would have bee the $86 value they claimed.)  The Vegie Chips were good snacks while wandering around.

Sylvia was keen to do the trampolines with elastic harnesses but the queue was moving too slowly.  Instead she went on the The Swing (as my niece and nephew assure me this ride is called).  My brother took his kids to the Show the day before me and said it was quiet but it was busy when we went.  We queued for the animal nursery and the showbag pavillion.

Sylvia did not enjoy the animal nursery at all.  (She really needs to rethink her idea that she will be a zookeeper when she grows up.)  So we went on the cup and saucer ride afterwards to cheer her up.

I loved the crochet covered animals.  (No they are not real, nor is the crocheted cow pat!)

We checked out some of the kids artwork.  Some of them have so much talent.

Then it was off to join the throng admiring the decorated cakes. We love the Studio Ghibli movies and so this cake was lots of fun.  We spotted characters from Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbour Totoro.

This little mouse cake was my favourite.  I loved the attention to detail but I think the powerpoint switch should be off if nothing is plugged in.  (Yes I can be a pedant!)

And who doesn't love a Wizard of Oz cake!

This gorgeous cake with the vegie garden on top is from the school children's cakes.  If they can do this now, what will they be doing in years to come! 

Sylvia stopped at the kid's craft tables where they decorated a little mushroom.  She was a bit tired by then and so I indulged her sitting and drawing windows and doors for a while before joining the other parents who were trying to convince their kids to move along.

The decorated cakes are the big draw but I also love seeing all the preserves and baking.  Luckily Sylvia loves it too.  We admired rainbow cakes, caramel slice, scones, shortbread, tomato sauce, marmalade, fete goodies, chocolates and breads.  I really loved these biscuits decorated with Aboriginal motifs.  I would have spent more time looking at the craft but Sylvia was tired.

Then we queued for the showbag pavillion.  It was a huge queue that walked up and down the rows.  I joked that it was a public health service to make people burn up the calories they would consume with all the sweet food in the showbags.  The pavillion is really overwhelming and was so busy.  I get amazed at people wandering around the show with lots of showbags but we managed to buy 5 including the two we bought at the fresh food pavillion.  Sylvia chose the Oreo showbag and the Best Friends Forever showbag.  We also bought the Turkish Delight showbag for E.

We were so tired by the time we got on the train that when we met friends coming off our train I am not sure I made much sense.  I was in bed early that night.  The next morning I took photos of some of the food from our showbags.  My mum has the fisherman's friends cough lollies packs and the dishwasher sample cleaner.  E is taking the prepackaged spag bol and coffee samplers.  Sylvia and I both want the vegemite bagel chips and chocolate macadamia spread.  We will all enjoy the apple liquorice and Lindt Chocolate and I am curious to try the kewpie mayonnaise samples.

You can also see my previous post on the Royal Melbourne Show visit in 2013

The Royal Melbourne Show
Melbourne Showgrounds, Flemington
17-27 September 2016

Posted September 26, 2016 10:31 PM by Johanna GGG

September 25, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant, Northcote

Today I dropped off Sylvia at my mum's after a swim and a very ordinary lunch at the pool.  E and I had a show and dinner planned for tonight.  We saw the brilliant and hilarious Sammy J in Hero Complex.   I have long been a fan of his humour and music but seeing his clippings from his childhood convinces me he must be a hoarder (or historian) which is yet another reason to love him.

In the show, Sammy J told an amazing story of his school gardener and love of Phantom comics, with great coincidences.  So I am happy to tell you about our own little coincidence in choosing a restaurant tonight.

After the show E had suggested we eat at a nearby Vietnamese  restaurant.  It was really full and noisy.  So we wandered along and saw there were seats in the Ethiopian restaurant.  Yet E had to check out the Mexican restaurant, which was closed.  Which presented us with the excellent option of Mesob Ethiopian restaurant.  E started with an Ethiopian beer called St George's beer, which he really enjoyed. I had a Bundaberg ginger beer.

To eat, we ordered the Herbivore Combination Platter which had a taste of each vegetarian dishes, injera bread and salad.  At $23 per person for a minimum of two people, it is great value.  It looked really beautiful and was a great introduction to Ethiopian food for us.  I was surprised at the injera being more sour than I expected.  I had feared that I would find Ethiopian too spicy but it was just a pleasant heat in my mouth by the end of the meal.

The dishes were mostly vegan.  Served on a big round of injera, they were (starting in the middle and then left to right on the bottom):
  • Shiro (in the middle): a creamy sauce of roasted chickpea flour and barbere sauce with kibbeh and spices.  I can see why the menu says this is Ehtiopian comfort food.  I could have eaten a lot more of this, if only I wasn't full as a state school from all the other dishes.
  • Gomen: collard green simmered in a vegetable brother with onions, garlic and ginger.  Nice but not my favourite.
  • Kik Alicha: split yellow lentils with traditional turmeric blend.  Really lovely.
  • Duba Wot: pumpkin cooked with caramelised red onion and barbere.  This is like a fancy mash and I loved it.
  • Yatakilt Alicha: potato, carrot and cabbage sauted with onions and garlic.  I really liked this though my mind kept playing tricks and telling me it was pineapple.
  • Kayser: beetroot and potato flavoured with ginger and garlic and a hint of olive oi.  I liked this but it was mostly beetroot and a bit more potato would have balanced it up nicely.
  • Miser Wot: red lentils cooked with barbere, garlic and ginger.  Another winning dish.

As novices at Ethiopian food, we were not game to eat with our hands.  When our waiter suggested that we eat with our hands, I was taken back to being offered food by our hosts after climbing a cliff in Turkey and being greeted with no cutlery and the suspicion that they were laughing at the ignorant foreigners.  At Mesob, our waiter was very gracious and talked to us about how to scoop up the dishes with the injera.  I think I need to have a large drop sheet under me to eat this way, like in that long ago hostel in Turkey.

I really loved the restaurant.  The staff were welcoming and friendly.  The space was warm with its wooden tables, woven light fittings and bright artwork on the walls.  By the end of our meal we were very full and satisfied.  Sadly, we could not fit in the injera with nutella and strawberries that tempted us on the specials board. Maybe on another visit.  I would love to return if the fates are kind enough to deliver us back to Northcote High Street on another evening!

Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant
213 High Street, Northcote
(03) 9489 6952
Open: Tues - Sun:  5.30-10pm

Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant And Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted September 25, 2016 11:33 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


September 16-20, 2016

After my work duties were done, Michael met up with me in Perth so that we could enjoy a week off together. We spent the first half in Fremantle - here are six places we ate while there.

After setting down our gear, we walked down to the Little Creatures Brewery by the water for dinner. They've been bought out by Lion Nathan since I last visited nine years ago, and the food had a 'gastropub for the masses' feel that echoes that history. To their credit, food service was startlingly efficient - each dish was presented to our table less than 10 minutes after we'd ordered it.

We shared a large slice of grilled haloumi ($9.50), a so-so beetroot salad with spiced yoghurt, walnuts & freekeh ($12) and a wood-fired pizza topped with mushrooms, garlic & tallegio ($19). If we'd stopped there, we probably would have been satisfied. Instead we requested a couple of regrettably large desserts: for me, an enormous triplet of icecream sandwiches ($14) studded with chocolate cookies and top'n'fill-style caramel; for Michael, a too-sugary apple strudel ($14) with vanilla curd.

The brewery remains enormously popular, we suspect with tourists more than with locals.


Saturday morning was our best chance to wander the Fremantle Markets, sipping juices and picking up whatever we fancied for breakfast. We loved the vegetarian arepa ($11) from Kachapas, which was golden-fried and stacked with black beans, melting cheese, shredded veges, a fried plantain and several sauces (psst - they do a vegan version too). Again we were over-ambitious and subsequently struggled to finish a golden-layered feta borek for second-breakfast.

Sunday breakfast at Moore & Moore was, in spite of the name, more measured. This charming, artsy cafe adjoins a gallery and cobbles together comfy pre-loved furniture in little nooks, sneaks through a moody warehouse passageway and spills out into a ramshackle sunny back garden. It was here, out the back, that Michael feasted on The Avocado ($18), which in addition to its namesake featured grainy toast, grilled haloumi, poached eggs and a lovely broad bean and olive salsa.

Meanwhile I had eyes only for the Grilled Potato Cake ($19), which was crowned with asparagus spears and a citrus dressing. The staff were kind enough to exchange the standard eggs for mushrooms on my request. If we lived in the neighbourhood, we could see this cheery, relaxed venue becoming our local.


After a day dining with quokkas, we stuck our head in Run Amuk Hotdogs for a quick, early dinner. They make their own vegan, gluten-free sausages analogous to their meat-based bratwursts and they'll stick one in any of their hot dogs for an extra $1. The sausages taste great and have a firm crust, but their inside mushiness gives away that there's no meat here.

I went traditional and ordered my hotdog with just onions, tomato sauce & mustard ($10.50), while Michael tried their formula for Mischief ($14): tomato relish, guacamole, cheddar, baby spinach, tortilla chips, jalapenos & sour cream. The fries ($4) and coriander-lime aioli ($1.50) were on point, and the house-made lemonade ($5 each) was a good choice - I had no hope of tackling their Reese's Peanut Butter Choc Shake after all this!


Michael's google skills happened upon a Monday night food truck gathering Under The Bridge. Although the evening was chilly, a live band and 3 trucks drew plenty of families, students, holiday-makers, and - to Michael's delight - their dogs.

We carefully selected one sample from each stall. Flying Falafels fry their flagship food well and pair it with a nice tahini dip ($10). Comida do Sul had a hearty Prato Feito Vegetarian plate (~$14) of bean sausage and roasted yam, black beans, rice, pan-fried kale and fresh tomato salsa. The street-food star was Eat No Evil's crunchy-skinned crushed potatoes ($8) with chipotle mayo and some herby-sprouty sprinklin's.


On our last morning we hulked our luggage to The Attic and gamely left it out front while we ate breakfast upstairs. Though they have folks order and pay up front at the counter, the ambiance fits with Melbourne's exposed-brick coffee roastery scene.

Michael took on their smashed avocado with feta, cherry tomatoes and mint ($17.50) with a poached egg ($2). I slowly chewed my way through a lovely bowl of grain-free cacao & nut granola, coyo, strawberries and kiwi fruit with the help of a little almond milk ($14)... best served without a side of nutritional nonsense.


As you can see, we ate handsomely in Fremantle! Though specifically vegetarian restaurants are limited (and completely absent from this post), we noticed many places with thoughtful options and even welcoming notes to vegans. It had us feeling right at home.

Posted September 25, 2016 04:14 PM by Cindy

September 24, 2016


Vegan Eats At Choukette In Brunswick

Choukette is a French cafe in Brunswick well known for their pastries and croissants since 2008. I was a regular customer before making the switch to vegan town. I love French food and French desserts and have often lamented the lack of a French place with vegan options near me in Melbourne. So when I...
Continue reading »

Posted September 24, 2016 06:20 PM

September 21, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Staffordshire oatcakes

Quite some years ago, I bookmarked a recipe made by Jac of Tinned Tomatoes for yeasted pancakes (or flatbreads) called Staffordshire Oatcakes.  Today, while Sylvia and I were kicking around the house on school holidays, I finally made a batch for afternoon tea.  They were so filling that even Sylvia who usually has a raging appetite at tea time, was content with some chickpeas, tomatoes and cucumber for tea.

These oatcakes hail from Staffordshire in the West Midlands of England where they were very popular among the workers in the potteries.  It became common for these oatcakes to be sold from the windows of residential houses but according to Wikipedia, the last of these closed in 2012, though you can still buy them from commercial businesses.

I would have made them for lunch but these yeasted pancake that take time.  (I find it ironic that they are called "fast food" for the potteries.)  At first I had to read a few recipes to get my head around what to do, but once I had fried a few, I found they were very intuitive. 

I am not sure I got the batter thin enough.  I had to do a bit of spreading the batter around the pan, which was a challenge.  Perhaps a thinner batter would be easier.  After making these, I came across this lovely article about a similar yeasted pancake called a Derbyshire Oatcake that used more liquid (hence my notes in the recipe).  What I liked about this recipe was that the blogger left the batter overnight in the fridge so they would be easy to fry in the morning for breakfast.

Apparently it is traditional to eat them with a savoury topping.  Cheese, sausages or a fry up.  I did try half one with jam because I had made jam for the school fete and one jar was there for immediately use because it did not seal.  I also had some with a classic Aussie combination of cheese and vegemite. 

And at dinner, when like Sylvia I was not very hungry, I had a half oatcake with some dal.  I didn't need much this evening after our hearty afternoon tea.  (Just as well the ice cream we made was still firming up!)  Tomorrow Sylvia is going to a gymnastics holiday program and is keen to have an oatcake for her lunch.  I am a bit unsure about how well it will keep overnight.  I hope they keep well because they are just the sort of nutritious and filling food to eat during a day of activity.

I am sending these oatcakes to Tea Time Treats which is hosted by Lavender and Lovage, Travels for Taste and Jo’s Kitchen and this month is seeking Savoury Foods.

More stovetop breads on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Avocado soy rotis (v) 
Blinis with sour cream and beetroot chutney
Brown butter picklets
Chickpea and quinoa flatbread (gf, v)
Spelt sourdough flatbreads (v) 
Tortillas - wheaten (v)

Staffordshire Oatcakes
Adapted from Tinned Tomatoes and
Makes about 10 oatcakes

375-500ml milk*
375-500ml water*
10g dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
225g fine oatmeal
225g wholewheat flour
1 tsp salt
butter or oil, to grease frypan

Heat milk and water to lukewarm in a large mixing bowl.  (I did this in microwave but you could do it on the stovetop in a saucepan.)  Stir in yeast and sugar.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes until yeast starts to froth up.  Measure out oatmeal, flour and salt.  Add to the frothy milk and yeast mixture and stir well.  The batter mixture is creamy to stir but drops off the spoon in lumps.

Cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm dry play for an hour.  At the end of the house it should have risen a bit and have a spongy texture.  While you are heating a frypan over medium heat, give the batter a stir.

Lightly grease preheated frypan with butter or oil.  Drop about a cup of batter into the frypan and spread into a large circle of 20-25 cm diameter with the back of a spoon.  I found that the batter followed the spoon and it was easier to spread if it had a few seconds to firm up on the pan side before spreading the rest of the batter about.  Don't worry if there are lots of humps and valleys in the batter as it seems to even out once cooked. 

Fry for about 3-5 minutes until mixture has dried and when you flip it over the oatcake is a light golden brown.  Fry on the other side for about 2-3 minutes and then flip onto a plate.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Spread warm oatcakes with filling such as cheese, spreads or jam and roll up if desired.

NOTES: I blitzed my rolled oats to flour in my high speed blender.  I used 375ml each of milk and water but I think I would try more liquid next time, hence the suggestion of 500ml.  I used soy milk and margarine so my oatcakes were vegan.

On the Stereo:
You got me singing: Jack and Amanda Palmer

Posted September 21, 2016 11:22 PM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni

Kustom Burgers

OK, I’m calling it. I have a new favourite vegetarian burger. I thought nothing could beat a vegetarian patty made with minced mushroom, but Kustom Burgers have taken it up a notch or seven.

It was Sunday evening. I was exhausted after having gone on a 32km training run in preparation for the Melbourne Marathon, my legs could no longer move, and all I wanted was a burger. And so it was decided, burgers for dinner. Given how tired I was, we decided to go somewhere close, and so we decided on Kustom Burgers.

I had seen Kustom Burgers on a few ‘Melbourne’s Best Burgers’ lists, so I figured they would be worth trying. Their menu showed that they had a vegetarian option, so it was all systems go, and off we went to satisfy my burger craving.

Kustom Burgers is a smallish shop on High Street in Northcote. Quite strangely, a large section of the shop is taken up by a parked pick up truck with a race track in the tray. Whilst it’s pretty cool, I’m not sure whether it’s worth sacrificing so much seating space for it, especially when tables and chairs are already at a minimum. It’s obvious that the owner has a passion for cars, with all the décor relating to the automotive theme.

We took a seat at the counter, overlooking the kitchen, so we had a clear view of the chefs at work. The speed and efficiency at which they worked was impressive. The orders were coming in at a constant rate, and the kitchen remained calm and in order. It wasn’t long before our burgers arrived, and given how starving we were, we really couldn’t wait to dig in.

Whilst there was only one vegetarian option on the menu. It was bloody amazing. Entitled the Combi Southern Fried Mushroom Burger, it was exactly as described. Firstly let’s start with the mushroom. I love mushrooms and a deep fried mushroom only makes it better, but when it is coated and crumbed with herbs and spices it takes it to a whole new level. Think southern fried chicken, but in mushroom form. This was then topped with cheese, jalapeños, chipotle mayo and a slaw, and all together, it was without doubt the best burger I’ve had. A big call I know, but definitely deserved.

The other half had the FJ Holden Aussie Burger. Like all good things Aussie, the burger had an egg, beetroot and a generous slather of tomato sauce. Unlike the Americans who cook everything to charcoal, the burger was cooked medium, and the usual suspects of cheese, onion, tomato and lettuce completed the burger. The other half was impressed.

The only slight let down was the chips. Whilst they were inoffensive (deep fried potato is rarely offensive), they were just generic McCains fries. I knew this because I could see the bags being emptied, and it was a little disappointing. I would have definitely preferred hand cut chips, with rosemary salt.

Still, you can’t have everything, and given how good the burger was, I’m willing to forgive their downfall on the chips. Will I be back? If they serve me another spicy crumbed deep fried mushroom I definitely will be!

Kustom Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted September 21, 2016 03:58 PM by Moni

September 18, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Asparagus, strawberry and greens salad with poppy seed dressing

    It gets to the point in September where the school term is about finished, everyone is tired and Spring's fresh colourful produce is craved after Winter.  It was very exciting to find asparagus at the farmers market.  Which might make you think it has been salad weather.  Actually it rained all last week but we ate salad despite the downpours.

    How I have missed asparagus!  The supermarkets tempt me with spears flown in from the Northern Hemisphere but I wait until the local produce comes into the shops.  That does not mean asparagus that comes from Mexico or Australia, which I saw in a supermarket recently. 

    I found a salad that also featured strawberries, which have been plentiful and cheap lately.  It was on the second last day of the term when I had a bad start to the day.  I had slept in, then we could not find Sylvia's glasses, spent too long fruitlessly looking for them and getting her to school late.  I needed some salad to fix my life.  Sadly life is more complicated than that but we did find Sylvia's glasses that night.

    Not before dinner, though.  I served up up salad, quinoa, seasoned tofu and roast pumpkin.  E and I really enjoyed ours but Sylvia wanted her salad in a separate bowl, gobbled up her tofu, rubbed poppyseeds off her berries, and turned up her nose at the greens.

    Thankfully last week is behind us, the school holidays are here and the spring rains have eased, if not completely gone.  We even had a few strawberry flowers budding in the garden.  And I hope there are many more healthy salads ahead of us.

    I am sending this salad to Kimmy and Mary-Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays
    at, Cindy for Gluten Free Fridays, Jac for Meat Free Mondays and Shaheen and VegHog for Eat Your Greens.

    More asparagus recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Asparagus, artichoke and wild rice salad (gf, v)
    Asparagus, potato and quinoa soup (gf, v)
    Asparagus sauce (gf, v)
    Crustless asparagus and potato quiche
    Lentil salad with haloumi and asparagus (gf)
    Maple walnut asparagus bowl (gf, v)
    Peasant potato salad (gf) 

    Asparagus, strawberry and greens salad with poppyseed dressing
    Adapted from Keepin' It Kind
    Serves 2-4

    1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped
    olive oil spray
    handful sugar snap peas, trimmed
    handful spinach and rocket
    stalk of celery, sliced
    half avocado, diced
    125g strawberries, hulled
    handful pea shoots

    Poppyseed dressing:
    juice of 1 large lime
    1 tbsp maple
    1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon mild English mustard
    pinch of salt and shake of pepper
    1 tablespoon poppy seeds

    Heat heavy based frypan and add in asparagus.  Spray with oil and cook over medium high heat until asparagus has a few char marks and is cooked.  Cool.  (I put mine on a tray and stuck it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.

    While asparagus cools, arrange ingredients in a salad bowl and whisk together dressing ingredients.  Add cooled asparagus and drizzle with dressing.  Toss and serve.  (NB: I made mine 4 or 5 hours ahead.)

    On the Stereo:
    Where the Power is: Magazine

    Posted September 18, 2016 10:43 PM by Johanna GGG


    Vegan Eats At Preston Market: Gluten Freegan, Gringo Paella and Hot Jam Doughnuts

    A few weeks ago I visited Preston Market to do some grocery shopping, but also to go and check out the newer vegan-option stalls at PAM (Preston Artists Market) Lane. First up was Gluten Freegan. There are quite a number of vegan options such as apple custard friands, mixed berry coconut friands, little tarts with...
    Continue reading »

    Posted September 18, 2016 01:39 PM

    September 17, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


    September 11-15, 2016

    After a week in Fukuoka, I'm now reporting from Perth! It's been 9 years since I explored this city in any meaningful way, although Michael stopped in just last year. My work commitments had me located right in the city centre, eating lots of in-house catering but allowing a bit of time to wander about and seek more exciting veg options. Here are four of those.

    I had Sunday to recover from my travel and prep for a busy week ahead. Most of Perth seemed to be in recovery mode too - the streets were quiet, although a smattering of burger joints were well attended! I was tempted to join in when I saw haloumi burgers filing out of the Little Bird Cafe kitchen, but I satisfied myself with their more conventional brunch menu. It reminded me of Melbourne's Glass Den, where meat-based dishes sit alongside green brekky bowls, maca-spiked almond milk smoothies and raw vegan cakes.

    I took on their signature vegan buckwheat pancake ($20), which was listed to include banana, coconut and cashew cream. I was thrilled to get a lot of other fruits besides, although I preferred not to eat the greenery. The pancake was lovely, just a little crispy on the outside and cakey in the middle, primed to soak up some maple syrup. Although there was a lot going on, the plate was lacking a little depth - I would have welcomed a hint of bitterness, sourness or charring to round everything out. Nevertheless I was very happy to be eating a variety of gorgeous fruits in a friendly, bustling cafe.

    Michael recommended that I seek out Utopia in Northbridge for some mock meat and bubble tea. It's set back from the James St footpath, but once found proves to be an enormous cafe with dozens of menu items, as well as fridges stocked with mock meats and desserts that you can take home with you. The menu includes photos of every dish - noodles and soups, stir-fries, sizzling plates and, to my surprise, fish and chips.

    Overwhelmed and seeking to narrow my options, I focused on the cheap Chef's Specials which come with a serve of rice. The sweet & sour chicken rice with crispy chicken ($11.50) was pretty standard and over-sweet, although there's always some illicit pleasure in eating a main dish with pineapple (*pulls face at Michael*). My lychee tea with aloe vera ($5) was equally fun and sugary - I really brought that on myself.

    I noticed Indonesia Indah very close to my hotel, and promised myself I'd pay them a visit when I saw tempe listed on their menu out front. Unfortunately it was no longer included on their up-to-date manu inside, but there remained a dozen other veg-friendly dishes.

    I picked out the sauteed tofu with egg ($11.90) and added some steamed rice ($2.50). The fried tofu pieces were served in a thin, tangy gravy the held wisps of egg, sauteed onions and tender green vegetables; it was all scattered with golden fried shallots. I was confused to see few other customers enjoying this great food, but perhaps it's more popular at lunch time.

    On my final night in the city I walked beyond Utopia to Lotus Vegetarian, which I'd enjoyed in 2007. I unintentionally but fortuitously entered its sibling restaurant Sri Melaka, which serves Malaysia vegetarian foods. There's also a neighbouring vegetarian grocery, closed at night, to round out the business triplet.

    Here I chose a small but rich plate of roti paratha and chicken kapitan ($11). The two rotis were piping hot and fried to flaky perfection, perfect for dipping into the oily curry. The medium-spiced curry bowl had plenty of diced mock chicken and just one wedge of potato. Sour pickled vegetables were a welcome contrast, although they added another layer of chilli. Thank goodness for aloe vera juice!

    These Perth meals made for fun mini-escapes during my work week. It's been a relief to clock off entirely since then - stay tuned for holiday eats next.

    Posted September 17, 2016 10:20 PM by Cindy

    September 15, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Chocolate nutella caramel cups

    These chocolate nutella caramel cups are so good that I want to curl up in a cosy chair with the whole tub and gobble them up.  Maybe it is just as well that they are so rich that even my chocolate loving stomach could not handle such indulgence.

    In fact, it is hard to justify making such decadent delights.  But life is just begging for them when you have caramel sauce from the farmers market, gold salt to show off and our wedding anniversary in a week of birthdays. (Seems like it wasn't so bright to just let both our witnesses tell us when it would suit to get married in the registry office.)

    It is embarrassing that they have so few ingredients that if I called them more accurately Salted Chocolate Nutella Caramel Cups, the name of the recipe would have more words than the ingredient list!  So I left off salted, partly because everyone adds salt to caramel these day.  Don't they!

    I had been swooning over a recipe for these chocolates which included caramel made from scratch.  But I had to buy the jar of caramel sauce at the farmers market just because it was made by someone called Sylvia (and we don't often cross paths with people who share a name with our own Sylvia).  So it seemed crazy to go and make my own caramel.  That frees up a little time for birthday messages.

    The recipe claimed it made 12 cups in mini muffin tins.  Mine made 36.  Which was just as well.  The above photo is of the first 12 that I made before I ran out of energy.  There was too much chocolate and not enough caramel.  It took a few days to make the rest of the cups.  When I did I packed in more caramel and was much happier with the ratio.

    The combination of chocolate and nutella works brilliantly (unless you are catering to nut allergies).  The nutella makes the chocolate easier to handle.   I left the bowl of chocolate at room temperature for a couple of days and then melted it when ready to make more and it was still good.

    It also means that the chocolate is still creamy when kept in the fridge.  We tried keeping them out of the fridge which made them softer but I did like how chewy the caramel was when chilled.  It also makes them easier to take out of the cupcake papers.

    I gave them to my mum when she visited and she had to bo back for a second.  I took some in to work because we had so many.  And we still have quite a few in the fridge.  They would make great gifts.  After all, it is only 100 days until Christmas.  But you don't have to wait for the festive season to kick in to make these.  I can't think of a better way to impress your friends and make any day a celebration!

    It is six years of We Should Cocoa, one of my favourite blog events that brings together chocolate loving bloggers.  I am sending these chocolate cups along to Choclette to celebrate all those years of sharing chocolate recipes.

    Check out more of my nutella recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe.

    Chocolate nutella caramel cups
    Adapted from Broma Bakery

    3/4 cup nutella
    350g dark chocolate
    1 cup caramel sauce
    salt flakes

    Melt chocolate and nutella together.  Line 3 x 12 cup mini muffin trays with mini muffin cupccake papers.  Use a brush to coat the edges of each cupcake paper.  Place in fridge until set (10-15 minutes).  If there are any edges that are too thin, patch them up when out of the fridge and return to fridge to set.

    Drop about 1/2 tsp of caramel sauce into each cup.  If the caramel is too gooey, set in fridge.  (Mine was quite thick and didn't need setting.)

    Top with a little more chocolate to just cover the caramel. It should be runny enough to flatten out.  Sprinkle with salt flakes straight away before chocolate sets.  Return to fridge to set hard enough to rip the cupcake papers off chocolates.  Keeps at room temperature or in fridge.

    • I used about 200g of 72% dark chocolate and the rest of the chocolate in dark choc chips. 
    • I found a silicone brush good for brushing the chocolate onto the papers.  I tried dropping some chocolate into the cup and rubbing it over with my fingers but got too much chocolate in it.
    • My caramel sauce was not runny at room temperature - I had to dig it out with a spoon.  If you don't have caramel sauce, you can make your own as Broma Bakery did.
    • Make sure that the chocolate is quite runny when covering the caramel.  When I first did it, the chocolate had cooled and thickened too much so I ended up with too much chocolate on top.  The second time I reheated the chocolate so I was able to drop a little and it would spread and flatten. 
    • Salt flakes are ideal.  However I had gold salt in a grinder that I wanted to use and this was fine.
    • I think it might be possible to veganise these by using my vegan nutella with coconut condensed milk and this vegan caramel filling

    On the Stereo:
    The World is a Monster: Columbia Hillbilly 1948-1958: Various Artists

    Posted September 15, 2016 11:41 AM by Johanna GGG

    September 12, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Strawberry passionfruit muffins for a working bee

    Did I mention that life has been busy with all the activities at Sylvia's school.  Yesterday morning I discovered that the working bee started at 10am rather than 9am.  With extra time up my sleeve I made the strawberry and passionfruit muffins I had meant to make the previous night.  They were made in a rush and not as popular as the choc chip cookies I took but I really liked them.

    Last week was the school play.  I made hedgehog and sourdough pizza with tomato and cheese for the cake stall.  At the last play, the cake stall was in the foyer.  This was great while mingling and hanging about after dropping off the kids.  Whereas this year, we had to stand outside for half an hour and then find seats in the auditorium at the same time we were meant to head for the cake stall at the back.  I preferred it when it was in the foyer but nevertheless, the hedgehog disappeared and so did most of the pizza.

    The hedgehog only needed half a tin of condensed milk so on the weekend I made a favourite condensed milk choc chip cookies with the other half of the tin.  This is such a good reliable recipe.  And as the empty container proved at the end of the morning tea, everyone loves a good choc chip cookie.

    However one of my problems of late is that I want to experiment.  I am doing it less as I try to get Sylvia to eat more of our meals, and less for groups where I must cater to everyone, often children with less adventurous tastes than me.  These strawberry and passionfruit muffins were more for me than for a crowd but they weren't too strange to take along.

    Strawberries are ridiculously cheap right now (only slightly over $1 for a 250g punnet) and we had some passionfruit to use up.  It was only 1/4 cup so I added 1/4 cup blood orange juice.  (Even though I had earmarked the blood oranges for salad with a tahini dressing or topped with vegan cheese).  I had aqua faba and was in such a rush that it was easier to just add a bit more of it than melt butter.  Faye of Veganopoulous does it in her oil-free baking so I figured it was worth a try.

    Though everyone loved the choc chip cookies, one parent pointed out the muffins to her kid who has allergies.  In fact quite a few of the muffins were eaten and I really liked them.  (Unlike Sylvia and E).  They had lots of juicy strawberry chunks and were not terribly sweet. 

    It was hard work weeding and trimming bushes around paths.  My arms are actually a little sore today as I don't usually do this sort of work in our small garden.  It felt quite outside my comfort zone.  So while I had to ask for a little advice in the garden, I was pleased to be able to feel quite at home in baking for the morning tea.   And pleased it was appreciated as I left with my empty cake tins.

    I am sending these muffins to Kimmy and Mary-Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays, and to Stuart and Kat for Treat Petite, and to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for No Waste Food Challenge.

    More strawberry recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Creamy strawberry icy poles (gf)
    Rhubarb and strawberry crumble (v)
    Strawberry chia seed jam (gf, v)
    Strawberry dumplings (v)
    Strawberry and smoky chickpea salad (gf, v)
    Strawberry soup (gf, v)
    Strawberry sushi with chocolate sauce (gf, v)
    Watermelon, banana, strawberry, peach juice

    Strawberry Passionfruit Muffins
    Adapted from Baby Cakes
    Makes 35 mini muffins

    1 cup self-raising flour
    3/4 cup wholemeal flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp bicarbonate (baking) soda
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    1 cup chopped strawberries
    1/4 cup passionfruit pulp
    1/4 cup orange juice (or more passionfruit)
    1/4 cup aquafaba (chickpea brine)
    3/4 cup milk ( I used soy)

    Preheat oven to 200 C.  Line 3 x 12 cup mini muffin tins.

    Mix flours, baking powder, bicarb soda, sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Toss strawberries in the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, mix passionfruit, orange juice, aquafaba and milk.  Pour wet ingredients into strawberry mixture and mix until combined.

    Spoon into prepared muffin tins and bake for 10-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Leave in tins for 5-10 minutes and then remove and cool on a wire tray.

    NOTES: I used silicone tins and lined them with circles of baking paper on the bottom.  I didn't have time to let them cool much before I took them out and a few collapsed but most were ok though I did need to run a knife around the edges.  I used muffin papers to line some of the tins and these didn't work so well because the muffins stuck even when cold.

    On the Stereo:
    The Crane Wife: The Decembrists

    Posted September 12, 2016 10:09 PM by Johanna GGG


    Lunch At The Snug Public House In Saint Kilda

    A couple of days ago I read a post in a vegan community on Facebook about The Snug Public House, an Irish pub that opened in July in St. Kilda, serving up vegan fare. The timing was brilliant because we had stuff to do in St. Kilda and I’d been wondering where to take the...
    Continue reading »

    Posted September 12, 2016 04:33 PM

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


    September 4-10, 2016

    It's been a quiet week on the blog, but those following us on twitter and facebook will have seen some updates from Fukuoka, Japan, where I've been attending a conference. My host was kind and persistent in securing vegetarian food for me, quizzing cooks several times daily in Japanese about dashi. In turn most chefs were equally generous in making me something off-menu, checking food labels and asking questions of their own accord. 

    I enjoyed my usual inari and pickled plum onigiri from the convenience stores. We happened upon soft tofu served in a balloon, lovely braised Chinese vegetables, and tempura on udon. I drank several kinds of sake and ate sweet, pillowy omelettes. There's little I can share that any other non-Japanese speaking vegetarian in Fukuoka could take up and try for themselves - just one small restaurant called Ethnic café Bõ. It's a Vietnamese eatery where the chef knows exactly what vegetarian and vegan foods are, and is all set to prepare multiple versions of them.

    It was the rare week where my vegetarian diet felt restricting, but this was tempered with gratitude for the many people who went out of their way to accommodate me.

    Posted September 12, 2016 09:11 AM by Cindy

    September 10, 2016


    Vegan Eats At Misoya Ramen Sake Bar In Brunswick

    *Update* Some people have rightfully pointed out that the ‘V’ (for vegan) symbol appears on the menu where ingredients for some dishes include bonito and egg noodles. I’m confident that meant the dish could be made vegan, as my dish had rice noodles instead of egg (pointed out by staff). However just to confirm, I...
    Continue reading »

    Posted September 10, 2016 05:19 PM

    September 09, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Melbourne Street Art: Tinning Street, Brunswick

     I wasn't sure what to post tonight so I sorted some old photos instead.  Then I saw some old street art photos I have never shared and decided it was time.  These photos were taken off Tinning Street in Brunswick where there is an art space.

    These pictures were taken in 2014 and may have changed since then.  You can read more about Tinning Street at

    Posted September 09, 2016 11:09 PM by Johanna GGG


    Vegan Eats At Small Axe Kitchen In Brunswick

    Small Axe Kitchen has very recently opened up on Victoria Street in Brunswick, right near Sydney Road. I saw a couple of positive reviews from vegans and photos that looked pretty good so on my next Sydney Road grocery shopping trip, I checked it out. Inspired by the flavours of Sicily, the menu certainly has...
    Continue reading »

    Posted September 09, 2016 01:44 PM

    September 08, 2016


    Easy Vegan Carrot Walnut Cake

    My grandmother used to make a carrot cake I loved. I remember her calling my mum and telling us to go over after she’d baked a cake. When my grandmother died, we found the recipe written, in Greek, on a scrap of paper. This is that recipe though there are a few changes. The original...
    Continue reading »

    Posted September 08, 2016 02:05 PM

    Thoughts Of A Moni

    Vanilla Upstairs

    Having grown up in the Greek capital of Melbourne, Oakleigh, the cafes along Eaton mall were a fixture of my childhood. Weekends meant that the patrons of the cafés spilt out into the mall, and the tables outside were full of Greeks, eating, drinking and enjoying themselves. These days, Eaton Mall has expanded further, there are many more eateries, and patronage is skyrocketing with the outdoor area full almost every night of the week.

    Vanilla was one of the cafes from the old days, but they have recently expanded the premises to include a modern upstairs area, creatively (!) named Vanilla Upstairs. I was lucky enough to be invited to a media dinner there, where we were able to sample many of the foods and I was thoroughly impressed.

    From the outset, what impressed me most was the friendliness of the staff. Like many immigrant cultures, family values were at their core, and this was evident in the way they ran their restaurant. Father Thanasi works the floor making sure everyone is happy, whilst his three children and their partners are responsible for the running of the restaurant. They also now have Chef Oresti at the helm of their state of the art kitchen, and is responsible for the amazing food they serve.

    Our menu was designed as a sharing menu, which suited the Greek style of food perfectly, and it meant that we could taste a large range of dishes. Some of the dishes were old favourites, like the yemista, but Chef Oresti also took the opportunity to add some flair to some traditional dishes. One example was the Greek salad. Whilst typically this would involve tomatoes, cucumber, olives and fetta, our version had all of these ingredients but with a completely modern interpretation without any compromise on taste.

    We were also lucky enough to taste a selection of Greek wines to match our food. I had never realised that Greece produced fine wine, so I was extremely impressed. Sommelier, Sheridan, shared with us her vast knowledge of wines, and by the end of the night, I’m sure most of us were convinced that Greek wines were comparable to their famous wine cousins in France and Italy!

    Whilst Greek food may be assumed to be very focused on the meat, Vanilla Upstairs had no issues catering for me, the solo vegetarian on the table! I started with some beautiful pita bread and a trio dips. There was a tzatziki, a hommus and a baba ganoush. The hommus was a clear highlight, beautifully smooth and creamy and with the perfect amount of garlic flavour.

    I also enjoyed the dolmades that were wrapped in a conical fashion and filled with a creamed rice. The creative flair on these enhanced the flavours, and despite loving the traditional dolmades, I was really impressed with these.

    As a cheese lover, I had my eyes on the saganaki. In a new twist for me, the saganaki was pan fried and drizzled with honey and black sesame seeds. The honey added a lovely sweetness to compliment the heavy creaminess of the cheese, and it certainly was an unusual but very clever combination. I will be trying this one at home!

    Obviously the meat eaters were also well looked after, and most of the table was busy eating all the delights presented to us.

    The desserts we were offered were also quite impressive. We tasted a kazan dipi, which is a Greek take on the crème brulee. It was smooth and creamy, and served with kaimaki ice cream.

    We also got to taste one of the chef's dessert experiments, a tahini mousse with sesame toffee crisps. It was very interesting to have sesame as the dominant flavour in a dessert, and for those that don't like their desserts sickly sweet, this would be perfect.

    The evening was a fabulous one, mainly due to the warm hospitality, the delicious food and the lovely venue.  Vanilla Upstairs has certainly raised the bar in the Oakleigh dining precinct and there is no doubt that the patrons are flocking.

    Note: I was invited to dine at Vanilla Upstairs as part of a media dinner and did not pay for my meal. I have however returned on subsequent occasions where I have paid the full price.

    Vanilla Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Posted September 08, 2016 08:30 AM by Moni

    September 06, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Cauliflower, parsnip and camembert soup with flowers

    Last week we ate a lot of soups and stews.  It was just that sort of week when comfort and ease were needed.  And if you have one of those weeks, I highly recommend putting some pretty flowers in your soup.  The only problem was that I was reluctant to eat it because I was so proud of my floral masterpiece!

    It was the sort of week where the ring on my fob to unlock the car broke.  I tried to tape it back to the car key but when congratulating my self on getting this done at 11pm I saw I have taped my house keys on it instead of my car key!

    It was the sort of week where in searching for a small lid, I knocked over some bookends.  I decided to fix the broken bits with superglue straight away.  The tube had been used before and would not budge.  Instead the superglue leaked onto my fingers!

    It was the sort of week when I headed home with bags of groceries, all ready to put them away and start baking only to find that our handyman had arrived unannounced while I was out to work on a kitchen door.  And when I finally got back in the kitchen with washing to bring inside, groceries to put away and dinner to serve, I found that the leftover stew I had planned to serve had gone off!

    It was just that sort of week.  A dizzy spell.  Stew spilled on the kitchen cupboards.  Hand-food-and-mouth disease.  Mouldy cake. More cardboard around the house than we could fit in our recycling bin.

    Fortunately there was comfort too.  A good friend taking Sylvia overnight.  Sharing a large block of chocolate with my work colleagues.  A delicious lunch by my mum.  And lots of belly laughs while watching Jerry Lewis in Artists and Models with Sylvia and E.  Did anyone else find this on the tv often when they were a kid?  And there was soup!

    This soup was inspired by a visit to the farmers market that saw me bringing home a large head of cauliflower, a bunch of parsnips and a tub of edible flowers.  At home was a wheel of camembert I had bought on special earlier in the week.  I wanted a white canvas on which to play with edible flowers.

    The soup was really lovely.  It is an elegant pureed soup that I would serve in small bowls as an appetiser or have with bread as a meal, as we did.  The quantities can easily be altered to what you have on hand.  Just make sure to use a light coloured stock if you want a pale colour.  My homemade vegetable stock is quite dark so I used stock powder to flavour the soup.  If you want something more substantial you could add rice as E preferred.

    It was really quite easy to make between watching a midday movie with Sylvia, who was a bit under the weather,  and heading out to book club.  I put a few flowers into the soup before I raced out the door.  As I left, I was cursing that I didn't think to add herbs.  The nights are starting to grow lighter as winter draws to a close.  When I got home, I had just enough light and a few leftover flowers to try again.  This time I was so happy with my floral arrangement I didn't want to eat my soup.

    However I scooped out the flowers and herbs before eating.  Much as I love the look of flowers, I am not so interested in eating them.  But if you are out to impress, they do look lovely.

    I am sending this soup to Jac for Meat Free Mondays, to Jac together with Lisa for No Croutons Required, Deb for Souper Sundays and Cindy for Gluten Free Fridays.

    More cauliflower recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Cauliflower cheese sauce (gf, v)
    Cauliflower and onion tart
    Cauliflower, pea and parmesan polenta fingers (gf)
    Cauliflower and zucchini soup with dumplings
    Celery, watercress and cauliflower salad (gf, v)
    Cheesy cauliflower and rice soup (gf, v)
    Macaroni cheese with sauerkraut, cauliflower and blue cheese (v)
    Meaty cauliflower and walnut lasagne
    Vegan lasagne with cauliflower, hummus and tofu "ricotta" (v) 

    Cauliflower, parsnip and camembert soup
    An original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe
    serves 6-8

    1-2 tsp of olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, sliced
    3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
    2 litres stock
    1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped
    1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
    200g wheel of camembert
    flowers and herbs to decorate (optional)

    Fry onion in oil over medium heat in a stockpot for about 3-5 minutes to soften but try not to brown them.  Add garlic and parsnip and cook a few minutes more.  Add stock, caulifower and (if required) salt.  Bring to the boil and simmer about 5-10 minutes or until vegies are soft.  Remove from heat and add camembert.  Blend.  Check seasoning and adjust as required.  Decorate with flowers and herbs if desired (the herbs I used were rosemary, parsley and thyme).

    On the Stereo:
    Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Music from the Second Series: Various Artists

    Posted September 06, 2016 01:37 PM by Johanna GGG

    September 04, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Truffle gnocchi, vegan gnocchi and some random moments

    Gnocchi sits way outside my comfort zone.  I sometimes buy it ready-made but it has been a long time since I tried making.  Finally I was led to try it again by a large bag of potatoes, a large pot of leftover mash and a Google search.

    The first time I made it, I had put truffle oil in the mashed potato and really liked that it gave the gnocchi a slight but interesting aroma.  The second time I tried, I had run out of truffle oil but I had some red fleshed potatoes to play with.  Sadly they turned out to be more pink than red.  They were interesting all the same.  The second time I used aqua faba instead of egg but have since read that egg is not so necessary.  I have also read that it is best made with cold mashed potatoes.

    I don't mind making gnocchi dough but the shaping is challenging.  The first time I made it I rolled the dough into balls and made a dimple with my thumb.  Sylvia saw me making it and had fun helping out.  The second time I tried making balls and pressing them with a fork.  I think this is not quite so traditional as rolling the gnocchi over a fork or ridged board but life is too short and the gnocchi was a bit sticky.  The dimples were easier.  Sylvia said she preferred the white gnocchi.

    Yet with both the white and pink gnocchi, Sylvia was fascinated with cooking them.  She wasn't very comfortable with dropping them in.  It was a choice between keeping your hands well away from the boiling water and having it splash over you when they hit the water from afar, or holding them very close to the boiling water and having them go in with barely a splash.  She didn't like either option.  She did love scooping them out when they rose to the surface.

    The first lot of gnocchi were served with a tomato and lentil sauce and some brussels sprouts.  Sylvia enjoyed the gnocchi but not the sauce.  I quite liked it and so did E.  I don't think he was so keen on eating the second batch with pesto.  I too preferred the tomato sauce.

    My biggest challenge was how to hold over the leftover gnocchi for the next day.  I made up all the gnocchi for the first batch.  After I cooked some I put the rest in the fridge.  The next night I was all ready to cook it,   Alas I had kept it in the fridge on a baking paper lined metal tray and it had gone a worrying grey colour.  So I binned it.

    The next batch I only rolled out enough gnocchi to cook for tea and kept the dough wrapped in clingfilm in the fridge overnight.  I rolled out the rest the next day but it was rather sticky and needed a lot of flour.  I still had a few extra gnocchi leftover which were so sticky that I left them out to dry a little but never had the energy the next night to cook them.

    Finally I leave you with some random moments:
    • Sylvia and I were playing 20 Questions.  She gave me a clue that the object was used on the border of countries.  Finally I gave up.  The answer was sunglasses.  The border of countries she was referring to was beaches!!!!
    • I only do sewing if absolutely necessary.  However, I was very glad I stitched up a small hole in my bathers recently.  When I was at the pool the next day, a woman in the pool asked me to get her towel for her before she got out because her swimsuit had a rip in it.
    • A few weeks back I went to collect Sylvia from school and as I walked past the principal's window a shoe landed in front of me.  I looked up at the window to see a huge hole had appeared and for those with a detective's curiosity, the glass had fallen on my side of the window.

    I am sending this to Chris at Thinly Spread for Pasta Please, the event for bloggers to share pasta recipes.

    More gnocchi recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Baked gnocchi with radicchio, gorgonzola and walnuts
    Gnocchi with Mexican corn (v)
    Panfried gnocchi with cauliflower and peas
    Walnut and tomato pesto with gnocchi, broccoli and feta

    More gnocchi recipes elsewhere online:
    Baked gnocchi - A Wee Bit of Cooking
    Gnocchi (and useful advice) - Not Quite Nigella
    Kabocha pumpkin gnocchi with walnut pesto - weird combinations
    Pesto soup with gnocchi, beans and greens - PPK
    Purple gnocchi - Eat Almost Anything
    Skillet gnocchi with chard and white beans - Eating Well
    Tomato, aubergine and gnocchi bake - Tinned Tomatoes

    Truffle gnocchi
    Adapted from The Art of Doing Stuff
    Serves 4

    2 cups truffle mashed potato*
    1 cup flour*
    1 egg
    seasoning, if required*

    Mix mashed potato, egg and about half the flour.  Add in remaining flour until the dough is no longer too sticky to handle.  Cut dough into about 4 parts and roll into a long sausage on a well floured surface.  Cut into 1.5cm pieces.  Roll each piece in a small amount of flour to remove the sticky ends and made a dimple with your finger.  Place on a well floured surface until ready to use.  (Or at this stage gnocchi can be stored in baking paper lined tray either in the fridge if not using for for a few days or in freezer to harden up before putting in a bag.)

    Before cooking gnocchi, have on hand a slotted spoon, a colander to put cooked gnocchi in and if serving hot, a sauce to serve with it.  To cook gnocchi, bring a big saucepan of salted water to the boil and gradually drop about a quarter (or less) into the pot gradually.  If you drop them all at once it will cool the water to quickly.  When gnocchi is cooked it will rise to the surface.  Scoop out with a slotted spoon and put in a colander to drain.  Either serve hot with sauce or fry or bake with a sauce.

    *NOTES: The amount of flour needed will depend on your mashed potato - I like a lot of milk in mine so even with a cup of flour the dough was workable with a lot of flour but still slightly sticky.  I also seasoned my mashed potato and added a tablespoon or two of truffle oil so no additional seasoning was required. I served mine with a lentil bolognaise one night and a pesto another.

    Vegan gnocchi
    A variation on the above gnocchi

    2 cups red mashed potato
    1 cup flour
    2-3 tbsp aqua faba
    seasoning, if required

    See Truffle Gnocchi recipe above for method and notes.

    On the Stereo:
    The Sound of White: Missy Higgins

    Posted September 04, 2016 11:01 PM by Johanna GGG


    In My Kitchen September 2016

    In My Kitchen is a monthly blog link up hosted by Maureen at The Orgasmic Chef. Maureen is taking a break for a bit and the official In My Kitchen linkup will be back soon, though a bunch of bloggers are still doing their monthly writeups (because this is a fun linkup!) First a little news announcement:...
    Continue reading »

    Posted September 04, 2016 10:24 PM

    September 02, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Mega-mallow Vovo

    August 28, 2016

    Our favourite Vegan About Town is headed to Singapore for several months, and as a send-off she requested Aussie foods for a potluck in her home. Michael made sausage rolls, naturally, and I put my mind to dessert. I took a gamble on recreating Iced Vovos which Steph has related some nostalgia for.

    Vegan-wise, the internet turns up a couple of neat recipes on Like A Vegan. By the time I came on board, one of Steph's housemates had already tried this formulation, and they weren't a fan of the agar texture in the pink fondant layer. I gave myself a couple of options - shopping around for vegan marshmallows, and/or making my own pink marshmallow fluff using aquafaba.

    From the Cruelty-Free Shop, I was able to pick up these strawberry vegan marshmallows. They're lightly pink and have a pleasant, natural strawberry flavour that I hoped would carry through. (I still held over some aquafaba from Saturday night's dinner just in case it all went horribly, horribly wrong.) 

    Everything was a bit experimental, really. I made an oversized biscuit that ended up a bit cakey after I topped up my plain flour with self-raising. The dough was too sticky to shape, but I cautiously cut some Vovo crinkles into the edges after it baked.

    I started getting properly nervous when I tried to melt the marshmallows - they stretched and globbed and stayed stubbornly lumpy, while the edges began turning gold. Using oiled baking paper, I was able to fashion the goo into a couple of sausage shapes and lay them onto my big biscuit. (The marshmallow saucepan looked disastrous, and I filled it up with cold water that I prayed would dissolve the sugar.) I reckoned those marshmallow logs were hiding lumpy-crunchy-sugary bits on the inside. The coconut and jam were my saviours, the final well-behaved touches that lent the perfect Vovo look.

    For no reason I can fathom, the marshmallows proved to be just fine and my mega-mallow Vovo was a roaring, sugary success. I still hesitate to recommend my sticky-gooey-will-it-or-won't-it approach, though! Embark on this recipe at your own risk.

    Mega-mallow Vovo
    (a recipe inspired by the Iced Nono Tart and Vovo biscuits on Like a Vegan)

    1/2 cup margarine
    1 cup caster sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    1 cup plain flour
    1 cup self-raising flour
    pinch of salt
    1/4 cup soy milk
    3 x 75g packets vegan strawberry marshmallows
    spray oil
    1/4 cup dessicated coconut
    1/3 cup berry jam

    Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a small walled baking tray with paper.

    Place the margarine, sugar and vanilla into a large bowl and beat them together until fluffy. Sift in the flours and salt and slowly beat them in, gradually adding the soy milk as you go. It could all come together into a sticky dough. Press the dough into the baking tray and flatten it out as best you can. Bake it for 10 minutes, then retrieve the biscuit to flatten it out more with the back of a spoon. Bake the biscuit for a further 10-15 minutes, until it's golden and cooked through but not too thickly crusted. Allow the biscuit to cool completely. 

    If you'd like to replicate the crinkled edge of a Vovo biscuit, use the baking paper to lift the biscuit out of the tray. Use a round biscuit cutter to remove small arcs of biscuit at regular intervals along the edge (see top photo).

    Set a medium saucepan over low-medium heat and pour in the marshmallows. Stir them regularly as they melt into a big lump - it'll be gooey and ugly and you want to avoid the sugar browning. I did this for about 10 minutes before turning off the heat. Spray a little oil onto a sheet of baking paper and plonk half of the marshmallow goo onto the paper. Roll the marshmallow up and fashion it into a long sausage shape. When it's the same length as your biscuit, transfer it onto the biscuit and flatten it with your fingers to cover a third of the surface (see top photo). Press half of the coconut into the marshmallow. Repeat with the other half of the marshmallow goo, lining the other side of the biscuit.

    Gently spoon the jam onto the middle third of the biscuit. Store it all in the fridge if you're not planning to serve it right away; it can sit at room temperature for a couple of hours if needed.

    Posted September 02, 2016 07:42 AM by Cindy

    September 01, 2016

    Green Gourmet Giraffe

    In My Kitchen: September 2016, with a vegan reuben sandwich

    Today spring arrives at last.  I spoke to someone this week about how mild the weather has been the last few days.  With typical Melbourne gloom, he replied, the bad weather is holding off until the school holidays later this month!  The house still feels a little odd without our Zinckie cat but it is nice to have sunshine.  September will be busy with a school play, the holidays, fathers day and lots of birthdays.  So let's have a peek into my kitchen.

    Above is a new bag I bought recently.  I was first attracted to the bright designs and then I was fascinated to find that Lily Bloom's bags are made from recycled plastics (and are vegan).  It also has lots of pockets.  When I take this bag out in the morning, the fun design never fails to cheer me up.

    Sylvia has been less keen on cheese lately.  We are not big on dairy in our house.  Without cheese I am concerned about her calcium intake and trying to encourage her to eat other sources such as yoghurt, almonds, leafy greens and oats.  When she eats cheese I am happy like in this snack that she prepared for herself with savoy dry biscuits, cheese and strawberries.

    August saw some Olympic fever in our house.  (If that is name for trying to watch some gymnastics but often getting our timing wrong, so watching horse jumping and recoiling in horror at a horse doing a somersault and then trying to ignore the media berating Australia for lack of medals.)  One morning we made pancakes and Sylvia asked for a gold medal pancake!

    Another recent Saturday morning brunch was pizza french toast which I made by topping some vegan french toast with pizza sauce and cheese at the end of frying.  It was hot enough that the cheese melted quickly.

    As a cheese lover I also love vegan cheese and trying to incorporate it into my diet as well as dairy.  I was fascinated to see Swiss style Daiya cheese slices at Smith and Deli.  And I knew just want to do with it.

    As soon as I found the swiss style Daiya, I looked around for some sauerkraut.  I like the idea of including more sauerkraut into my diet.  And I am fascinated by reuben sandwiches.  But they are not vegetarian.  A recipe from the Women's Weekly that I saw while browsing in a newsagent had inspired a vegan version.

    The Vegan Beetroot and Apple Reuben Sandwich recipe started with rye bread so I bought a loaf.  Then I made a dressing of 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used Veganaise), some dried onion flakes, a tablespoon of tomato sauce (ketchup), a tablespoon of finely chopped pickle cucumbers and a small amount of sriracha.  I spread this either side of the bread and layered cheese, cooked beetroot slices, raw apple slices, saurkraut and another slice of cheese.  Then I put it under the grill (broiler) to cook.

    The main aim was to toast the bread and melt the cheese.  Before serving I buttered the top of the sandwich.  It was a messy sandwich but really good.  I loved how the cheese melted and merged with all the textures and flavours.  Sadly, it is a bit fiddly to make this sandwich so since then I have had more with just dressing, sauerkraut and cheese.

    Last weekend we got back to the Coburg Farmers Market.  Nothing like a bit of sunshine after some wet wintery weekends to encourage getting out and enjoying a market.  The apples are at the end of the season and I am looking forward to summer fruits.  I loved the Criollo Coconut from Cocoa Rhapsody (milk chocolate criollo with strawberry and coconut) that is like a really good coconut rough.  The bagels were lovely but needed to be toasted the second day.  And I will be back soon to tell you what I did with the edible flowers and some of the vegies.

    Just outside my kitchen is this new(ish) planter that my mum has been populating.  So far I have managed to kill some lettuce but the flowers, strawberries and other lettuces are surviving.  I just need to remember to give my garden some attention.

    And this weekend it is Fathers Day so at Sylvia's school they hold a stall for the kids to buy presents.  I helped out with making some small cards.  My favourite was the burger.

    Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial started the In My Kitchen event for bloggers to share what is in their kitchens.  It has been hosted recently by Maureen of The Orgasmic Chef but she has not been well.  I hope Maureen is doing better and able to host the even this month as she had planned.

    Posted September 01, 2016 12:13 PM by Johanna GGG

    August 31, 2016


    Simple Vegan Tzatziki

    Another family recipe, courtesy of my Mum and Dad! Their tzatziki ‘recipe’ (it’s in their hearts and hands, not on paper) uses Greek dairy yoghurt and for a long time I held off making a vegan version because when I veganise family recipes, I prefer to use ingredients that result in an almost identical tasting match...
    Continue reading »

    Posted August 31, 2016 05:02 PM

    Thoughts Of A Moni

    August Favourites

    It has been a while since I did my last monthly favourites posts, so it is about time that I caught up.

    First up is a new store of which I have become a huge fan. Perhaps I am late to the party, because it seems many people are already onto it, but Terra Madre is a brilliant shop. Located on High St, in Northcote, they stock organic fruit and vegetables, healthy grocery staples, environmentally friendly cleaning products and cosmetics, bulk spices, nuts and grains, and all sorts of other grocery items.

    It has recently expanded, and I’m guessing there will be the addition of a cafe or a deli to the store (the glass counters give that away), but even without it’s an excellent place to shop. I can get most of my supermarket shopping done there, and it isn’t even that much more expensive.

    (Photos courtesy of Yelp and True Local)

    Those following my Instagram feed will have seen that I’ve started baking my own sourdough. I got my starter from Claire, and decided that I was going to try and be a little more self sufficient. I’ve got myself into a great routine, where I get the starter ready on Thursday night, make the dough on Friday night or Saturday morning, and then I am ready to bake on the weekend. I generally make two loaves which last the week (I don’t need that much bread), and often I gift loaves to family or friends. I started with just plain sourdough, but now that I have become more confident, I have started adding flavours. One of my favourites is an olive and rosemary loaf, which is excellent with dip. Nothing beats eating warm bread, straight out of the oven.

    I’m also well into marathon training now, with the Melbourne Marathon less than seven weeks away. I’m now running distances that are longer than I’ve ever run before, and as a result, I end up so hungry half way through my run! I’ve bought myself this great belt, called Fitube, that allows me to store energy gels, keys and a phone all without the hassle of them jiggling around in a pocket. The belt is made of lycra, and slips onto the body, meaning that there are no clips, or no risk of it become loose or getting caught in anything. I’m a big fan. Note that this is not a sponsored post, nor did I receive this as a gift, it's just a great product that I found and love!

     (Photo courtesy of Ratathletic)

    Have you had any great finds this month? Let me know below, I'd love to hear about them!

    Posted August 31, 2016 04:34 PM by Moni

    August 29, 2016


    Vegan Oil Free Raspberry Coconut Muffins

    Frozen raspberries were on sale last week so I picked up a big bag, got home and found another big bag in the freezer I’d forgotten about. Whoops. But when the freezer gives you frozen raspberries, you make raspberry baked goods. I’m all for muffins because my kids are (so they claim) in a state...
    Continue reading »

    Posted August 29, 2016 07:23 PM

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Banana & strawberry cupcakes

    August 21-22, 2016

    My job is now split over two campuses - I've got some lovely new officemates and we've all moved into a newly refurbished workroom together. Our supervisor invited the rest of the department around for an office-warming morning tea, and our team all agreed to bring along snacks to share.

    I first baked a tray of gluten-free, vegan caramel slice to ensure that most special-diet bases were covered. Then I moved onto using up some bananas in a cupcake recipe that I've had bookmarked for 8 years. With eggs and vegetable oil and fresh strawberries folded through perhaps it's more of a muffin recipe, except that the 'muffins' are spread with cream cheese frosting. I slathered the frosting on generously with a knife (no piping for me), and added some sprinkles on top for decoration. I had almost a cup of leftover frosting, which I enjoyed eating with fresh strawberries over the following week.

    I like the flavour combination of sweet bananas and strawberries offset with a little tanginess from lemon zest and cream cheese. It was very popular with my colleagues too!

    Banana & strawberry cupcakes
    (slightly adapted from a recipe on Vanilla Garlic)

    3 cups plain flour
    1 cup caster sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    generous pinch salt
    3 small bananas, peeled
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    3 eggs
    3/4 cup sunflower oil
    grated zest of 1 lemon
    1 cup strawberries, chopped

    1/2 cup butter, softened
    250g cream cheese, softened
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 cups icing sugar
    2 tablespoons milk

    Preheat an oven to 180°C. Place cupcake papers in a cupcake tray.

    In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate large bowl, mash the bananas and the vanilla together. Crack the eggs in one at a time and whisk them through. Whisk in the oil and lemon zest until well combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, and then fold in the strawberries.

    Spoon the cake batter into the cupcake papers to three-quarters full. (I made 16 cupcakes, and so used up the mixture over two separate baking batches.) Bake the cupcakes until a skewer comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

    Allow the cupcakes to cool before frosting them. This is a good time to take the butter and cream cheese out of the fridge to soften.

    With an electric beater, whip together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla until fluffy. Sift and beat in the icing sugar, half a cup at a time until well mixed and fluffy. Beat in a little milk if the frosting looks too stiff to spread. Use a knife to spread the cooled cupcakes generously with frosting. Store cupcakes in the fridge, but allow them half an hour on the bench before eating.

    Posted August 29, 2016 07:16 AM by Cindy

    August 27, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Thai barbecue seitan sandwiches

    August 20, 2016

    We had a pretty quiet weekend lined up, so I decided it was time to get stuck into one of the many intriguing but complicated recipes in Street Vegan, my birthday present from Cindy. The sandwiches section of the book is filled with amazing combos, all of which require a fair amount of effort. After much debate, we settled on these rolls filled with Thai barbecue seitan ribs, pickled onions and smoky, roasted peanuts.

    There are a lot of elements to these but they're all relatively simple and standalone, which means you can make them whenever you've got time - you could easily prepare the nuts, onions and sauce well ahead of eating, which would make the actual assembly trivially easy. 

    We doubled the ribs component of these to make sure we had leftovers, but even then we wound up with a disproportionate amount of the barbecue sauce - don't be afraid to tweak the quantities a bit to balance things out. 

    The end results were spectacular: the ribs themselves were probably a little bit on the soft side (don't be afraid to add even more gluten flour than specified in the recipe below), but that meant they soaked up the sauce very effectively, making for a tangy, smoky sandwich filling. The pickled onions and nuts added more zingy flavour and a bit of crunch - these are some impressive goddamn sandwiches. We had the leftover ribs with the barbecue sauce and some roast veggies, which worked superbly as well.

    Thai barbecue seitan sandwiches
    (slightly adapted from a recipe in Adam Sobel's Street Vegan)

    pickled basil & onions
    1/2 cup rice vinegar
    1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
    1 tablespoon sugar
    3/4 bunch of Thai basil leaves
    1 large red onion, sliced

    In a small saucepan, combine the vinegars, salt, mustard seeds and sugar and bring the mix to a boil. Stir in the basil and onion. Once the mixture has come back to the boil, cover the saucepan and kill the heat. After 20 minutes or so, transfer the cooled mixture to a sealable container and set aside.

    smoked chile-roasted peanuts
    1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
    1.5 tablespoons agave nectar (or maple syrup)
    1.5 tablespoons rice vinegar
    1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oiled baking tray. In a bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients. Spread the seasoned nuts onto the baking tray and roast for 8-10 minutes, until the liquid has dried up.

    Thai barbecue sauce
    1 cup lime juice
    1 cup olive oil
    1 stalk lemongrass, stripped and chopped into large chunks
    1 tablespoon minced galangal
    1/4 bunch of Thai basil leaves
    1/2 cup coriander leaves
    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and stemmed
    3 tablespoons tamari
    2 teaspoons ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    1/2 cup tomato paste

    Put the lime juice into a medium saucepan and add in the lemongrass, galangal, Thai basil, jalapeno, cayenne pepper, tamari and the ground and fresh coriander. Bring the mix to the boil and then kill the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor, along with the tomato paste and olive oil and blend until smooth.

    seitan ribs
    500g firm tofu
    6 tablespoons tamari
    1 onion, chopped
    1 celery stalk, chopped
    1 carrot, chopped
    4 garlic cloves, chopped
    1.5 cups gluten flour (our seitan was still very soft, consider adding more)
    2 tablespoons smoked paprika
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
    2 tablespoons ground coriander
    oil for frying

    In a food processor, puree the tofu, onion, garlic, carrot and celery together until smooth - this took at least five minutes of blending for me, but it will depend on your equipment I guess.

    In a medium bowl, combine the gluten flour with the paprika, cumin, coriander and curry paste. Mix if the blended tofu mix and knead for a minute or two until you get a reasonably dry and firm dough. Add more gluten flour as needed here - my guess is we added about another 1/4 cup.

    On a cutting board, roll the dough out into a flat square - about 20cm X 20cm. Slice the square into ~15 thin strips and then cut them in half.

    Heat a generous layer of oil in a frying pan until it's hot and then fry the 'ribs' in batches, turning to brown the outsides, for 5-8 minutes per batch. Top up the oil between batches if required. Pop the fried ribs onto some paper towel as you go to soak up the excess oil.

    When you're ready to eat, heat the pre-fried ribs in a pan (we just used half of our batch) and, once they've warmed up nicely, pour in about a cup of the barbecue sauce. Stir everything together gently, so that the ribs get coated in the sauce and cook for a few minutes, until it fries off a bit and things aren't too liquidy.

    4 long rolls
    1 cup vegan mayonnaise
    1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
    2 cups mixed green leaves

    Build the sandwiches!

    Start by combining the mayo and Sriracha to make a slightly spicy spread; smear it on the rolls.

    Pop some greens on the rolls and then 5-6 seitan ribs. Sprinkle the pickled onion and some peanuts on top and then serve.

    Posted August 27, 2016 08:06 AM by Michael

    August 25, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Mankoushe IX

    August 14, 2016

    Though it's still pretty chilly, there are signs that winter is receding - the neighbourhood magnolias are flowering, the magpies look ready to swoop any day now and we've seen 20 degrees again, just the once. It's enough to inspire Michael to get up early for bird-watching, and for me to grab a picnic blanket and meet him for lunch.

    Rather than preparing our own spread, we picked up lunchboxes from Mankoushe ($13 each). They'll cater to all manner of special dietary requirements, and the packages were vegan by default on the Sunday that we dropped in. We enjoyed dense little packs of a half-dozen dishes - grainy salads, garlicky sauteed greens, fresh tomatoes and pickley cabbage, nuts folded into a starchy mash, and slightly saucy lentils. Michael ably shovelled up his share with a wooden fork while the sun was still shining; I was slower. The wind picked up, the sun ducked behind a cloud, and I tucked up the last third of my food for later. We escaped the rain, at least. It's still a bit early for picnicking, but perhaps you can find a more sheltered spot to enjoy this splendid takeaway meal. 

    You can read about one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight of our previous visits to Mankoushe.

    323 Lygon St, Brunswick East
    9078 9223
    lunchboxes $13

    Accessibility: There's a small step up through a narrow-ish entry but everything's more generously spaced once you're in. We ordered and paid for our takeaway at the counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

    Posted August 25, 2016 07:30 AM by Cindy

    August 23, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    where's the beef? turns 10

    August 23, 2016

    Today we celebrate the 10th birthday of this here blog. We started where's the beef? in our first month of living in Melbourne and it's grown into an incredible document of our time in this city - it's threaded with the broadening acceptance and availability of vegetarian foods, the ebbs and flows of food trends, and our own evolving kitchen habits. We've collated some year-by-year highlights below.

    Year 1 Being our first year living in Melbourne, we spent our weekends exploring various restaurants, markets and festivals all over the city. Michael started working in Fitzroy and launched the Gertrude St Grub series; Cindy's workplace showed off their home cooking skills.
       Best recipe: spiced chickpeas
       Best restaurants: Three, One, Two, Moroccan Soup Bar

    Year 2 Cindy had a slow culinary start because she had her wisdom teeth removed. After that week we got much more sociable, participating in our first food blogger meet-ups. We travelled around Victoria and the world, ticking off Halls Gap, Wilsons Prom & the Mornington Peninsula, then touring the UK. Michael visited Japan for the first time, before Cindy climbed aboard the Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
       Best recipe: we discovered Isa that year, making many soy bombs and chickpea cutlets
       Best restaurants: A Minor Place, Attica

    Year 3 Veg*n blogging hit critical mass in Melbourne and we all made friends IRL - there were dinner parties, birthdays, potlucks, festivals, yum cha, pizza nights and even a big group weekend away. I developed my almost-famous vegan sausage roll recipe.
       Best recipe: vegan sausage rolls
       Best restaurants: Hellenic Republic, Monsieur Truffe

    Year 4 We explored fancy regional restaurants in Beechworth and Port Fairy before venturing further to Asia, where we ate the freshest tofu of our lives in Kyoto and learned to fry eggs into noodles in Kuala Lumpur. At home we published our 1000th post, joined twitter and tried our hand at a Christmas tofurkey.
       Best recipe: vegan omelettes and hash browns
       Best restaurants: Court Jester (sadly departed), Yong Green Food, Sonido

    Year 5  Our travel-eating highlight was an all-blogging all-vegan long weekend in Sydney. In Melbourne, The Fox (one, two, three, four) and The Gasometer (one, two, three, four, five) vied for our veg*n pub-meal affections. Cindy turned 30 and held an ice-cream potluck that is still talked about to this day; less than a month later we discovered Ottolenghi.
       Best recipe: char koay teow
       Best restaurants: Mankoushe

    Year 6  We partied through our first MONA FOMA in Hobart, Michael ate vegan poutine in Toronto and together we took in a northern summer in Berlin, Iceland & Norway. Back home we focused on fungi, foraging for our own around Victoria and experimenting with corn smut in the kitchen.
       Best recipe: black pepper tofu
       Best restaurant: New Day Rising

    Year 7  In the summer we talked books and foods on the radio, which was a lot of fun. For Melbourne veg*ns more broadly, it was the Summer of South.
       Best recipe: BBQ bao
       Best restaurants: Wide Open Road, Dainty Sichuan

    Year 8  Cindy snuck vegan eats around an Auckland conference, Michael found more than pizza and pasta in Turin, and Cindy ate Florida icecream, Denver diner waffles, Baltimore's high-end wholefoods and Native American cuisines in a DC museum. We reunited to tour veg hotspots New York and Portland, then headed home via Tokyo for a special family meal at a forty-plus-year-old Buddhist restaurant. We expanded our online presence by starting a facebook page.
       Best recipe: can't-stop choc-chip cookies (with added rosemary)
       Best restaurants: Smith & Daughters, Shandong Mama

    Photo graciously provided by Green Gourmet Giraffe

    Year 9  We published our 2000th post and celebrated with a picnic that we remember fondly. Cindy joined a fine dining panel at the Melbourne Writers Festival and attended a range of other food-centred events. We circled around to Tokyo for a third time, Kuala Lumpur for a second, and learned the wonder of cơm chay in Vietnam as a first.
       Best recipe: curried peanut sauce bowl with tofu & kale
       Best restaurant: Trang

    Year 10  We both spent decent chunks of this year out of Australia - Michael embraced the working lunch in Stockholm for two months while Cindy learned the secrets of stinky bread-baking in smalltown Pennsylvania. Around our travel we've embarked on a 2006 Cheap Eats Guide project, enjoying a vegan resurgence at Ray. Cindy's rediscovered the joy of jaffles.
       Best recipe: peanut butter & blueberry pie
       Best restaurants: Moroccan Deli-Cacy, Brae


    These highlights have reminded us how lucky we are to travel regularly for work and for pleasure, to eat delicious and nutritious foods out and about with friends and every night at home, for the time and money to treat food as a hobby as well as a necessity. We hope never to take that for granted.

    Posted August 23, 2016 07:30 AM by Cindy

    August 21, 2016


    In My Kitchen July and August 2016

    I’ve just realised I haven’t posted an In My Kitchen for July. I could have sworn I did but a search reveals that’s not the case and there it is in my Drafts folder. Argh! So here’s an In My Kitchen for July and August 2016. In My Kitchen is a monthly blog link up...
    Continue reading »

    Posted August 21, 2016 09:00 PM

    August 20, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Friends of the Earth

    Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

    August 13, 2016

    Part of the reason we decided to do our Cheap Eats 2006 project was to catch up on some glaring omissions in our near-decade of blogging. Cindy covered off Fo Guang Yuan in April, and this weekend we made our first ever visit to Collingwood vego stalwart Friends of the Earth.

    We haven't actively been avoiding it, but the fact that it's taken us so long to visit is probably at least partly due to a suspicion that FOE would serve up worthy but bland vego food. Luckily, that impression was completely wrong - the cafe has a lot more to offer than just lentil stews: there are doughnuts and other sweets, lunch rolls, pizzas and more, along with a seasonal mixed plate. Everything is vegan by default (although there's dairy milk and butter on hand), and they're good at gluten-free options as well. There's a handy selection of veg-friendly groceries, including organic fruit and veggies.

    I really wanted to try the baked tofu roll with cashew cheese, slaw, spinach and sesame mayo ($9), but I was hungry enough to tackle the large seasonal plate ($12.50). This is a classic vego buffet plate: rice, salad, a delicious tofu curry - hearty, tasty and healthy. It's a good option.

    Cindy wasn't hungry enough to tackle a real lunch, so she ordered a lemon currant scone ($4) and a cup of dandelion tea ($4.50 + $1 for almond milk). The scone was a departure from the classic Australian version, with its triangular shape and dusting of sugar, but Cindy was impressed by it nonetheless. 

    There are plenty of lovely-looking vegan sweets to choose from - at least partly provided by Crumbs.

    Steph convinced me that I had to try FOE's newest special - a vegan croissant filled with smoked tofu and cashew cheese ($6). I took one home and had a wonderful breakfast the next morning - it's worth a visit to FOE on its own.

    We can now personally recommend Friends of the Earth - it's doing much more than the daggy 1980s vego food we were half-expecting, and we really shouldn't have taken a decade to visit. It'll be much less time before we go back.


    Friends of the Earth has received pretty limited blog coverage over the years - there are positive write-ups at The Wholefood Mama, Vegan About Town, Veganopoulous, New International Students and MEL: HOT OR NOT.

    Friends of the Earth
    312 Smith St, Collingwood
    9417 4382

    Accessibility: FOE has put some thought in - there's a shallow ramp on entry, non-gendered individual but standard-width toilet cubicles on the same level (the wooden floor is a teensy bit uneven) and a low counter for service.

    Posted August 20, 2016 11:47 AM by Michael

    August 19, 2016


    Lunch At Kao Thai In Brunswick

    Last month, I noticed a ‘vegan options available’ sign in the window of Kao Thai on Sydney Road in Brunswick. I went in to check out what was being offered and grabbed a regular menu. I asked the staff there if they could point out the vegan options and I was presented with a separate vegan...
    Continue reading »

    Posted August 19, 2016 04:25 PM

    August 16, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Trailwalker macaroni

    August 10, 2016

    I've been making this vegan cheesy macaroni recipe for years and am well overdue to blog it. It's stayed unblogged so long because I never take a photo of it! It's the lazy Friday night-on-the-couch recipe that uses pantry ingredients, for when I haven't soaked cashews for Isa's mac'n'cheese.

    Over the years, the pressure to write it up myself has steadily increased. Source blog VeganYumYum hasn't been updated since 2012 and her archives have been disturbed by hackers. After all that time of making this macaroni for the two of us, the recipe has achieved legendary status with a small cluster of friends just this year. Back in April Michael and three mates embarked on the 100 km Oxfam Trailwalker, and I joined the support crew. I cooked this macaroni for dinner: making a double batch of sauce at home two days in advance, then the pasta and some roasted broccoli and carrot in a cabin as the team walked. I insulated the enormous pot with teatowels and we drove it to the walkers' 60 km rest stop at about 10:30pm. Steam rose from the pot as I lifted the lid and scooped carby comfort into bowls for the tired walkers. One of them has told me several times since that it was the best meal of his life.

    Now I'm not promising that this recipe will make the best meal of your life - it's all in the context. But that context means, even after years of history in our home already, it's now known as Trailwalker macaroni here, even if its most frequent showing is on our couch on Friday nights.

    Trailwalker macaroni
    (a recipe from VeganYumYum, archived here)

    500g macaroni
    1/3 cup margarine
    1/4 cup plain flour
    2 1/2 tablespoons tamari
    juice of 1/2 lemon
    1 tablespoon white miso
    1 tablespoon tahini
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    1 1/4 cups soy milk
    1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes

    Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the macaroni until al dente.

    While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce, making sure that you have all the ingredients ready on hand. Start by melting the margarine in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it's completely liquid, whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste. One at a time, stir in the tamari, lemon juice, miso, tahini and tomato paste - the mixture will be thick. Gradually whisk in the soy milk, just a half cup at a time, trying to maintain a smooth sauce. Stir in the yeast flakes until well combined. Keep the sauce on low heat, stirring regularly, until the pasta is ready.

    When the macaroni is cooked, drain it and transfer it back to the large saucepan. Pour in the sauce and stir well. Serve immediately. We usually eat this with roasted broccoli and carrots - it's pictured above with parsley, roasted broccoli, cauliflower and kale.

    Posted August 16, 2016 09:27 PM by Cindy


    Return Visits To True North In Coburg

    True North in Coburg is a place I return to often– good food, friendly staff and right near where I do most of my shopping. I’ve blogged about True North before, but as I’ve gone back so many more times, I thought it was time for an update. Annoyingly there were a few times I...
    Continue reading »

    Posted August 16, 2016 02:18 PM

    August 15, 2016

    Thoughts Of A Moni

    Potato Curry in Mongolia

    I should start with an apology. Yes, I have been MIA on the blog, but in my defence, I have been away! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have gathered that I was in Mongolia. Yes, you read correctly, Mongolia! Completely random, I know, but so amazing.

    When Mongolia was decided as the holiday destination for this year, I had no idea what to expect. I’d like to think of myself as reasonably well travelled through Asia. I’ve been to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Nepal and India. I can deal (sort of) with heat, I can deal with dust and pollution, I can deal with crowds, and I can definitely deal with Asian food. I had assumed that Mongolia would draw on my past experiences, and fit into my ideas of Asia but I couldn’t be more wrong.

    Given the timeframe we were working with (I had three weeks of leave from work), and my lack of Mongolian language skills, we opted to go on a Dragoman tour. Going on tours can often be risky, you might not be able to see the things to you, you might get stuck with annoying people, and basically you don’t have full control of your holiday. But on the flip side, you have someone that organises everything for you, you don’t have to stress about anything, and if you get lucky, you can meet some pretty cool people. I have travelled with Intrepid in China and Peru with no issues, so I was comfortable going with Dragoman. I had actually booked my trip with Intrepid, but later found out that their Mongolian Overland trip was outsourced to Dragoman, but this was no issue.

    Dragoman specialise in overland tours. What this means is that you get to travel the country in a huge truck, which is kitted out with all the necessities -  a fridge, some tables, charging points, speakers for music and lots of storage room.  You get to drive around, stopping where you want, and when night falls, you find a good camping spot, set up your tents and stay there for the night. It’s a great way to travel, to really experience the country, and venture off the beaten track.

    Every night when we stopped, there was an allocated team that was responsible for cooking dinner. There was a lot of cooking equipment on board, including 4 gas burners, lots of pots and pans, and a well stocked spice box. The truck had previously been travelling through Kyrgyzstan, and there was an Indian on board, who had made sure that a decent selection of spices were purchased. So when a request was made for a curry night, I happily volunteered, knowing that I had ingredients aplenty at my disposal.

    Mongolian cuisine is very meat heavy, and when I was travelling through the country I realised that despite the vast grassy plains, growing crops is not something that is common. Perhaps this is because of the harsh climate where it snows for a significant part of the year, but it means that most of the time vegetables are not even available, especially in the rural areas. On the night I was going to cook, the only vegetables I had access to were potatoes, onions, garlic, and some canned peas and canned tomatoes.

    Based on what I had to work with, I decided to make a potato curry, or as the Bengalis would call it, alu’r dom. This is a curry I have grown up with as a child. My Sunday lunches were filled with alu’r dom, served with luchi or puri, and I would always try and outdo myself and eat more than my body could handle. The curry was always delicious, and as a result, I was apprehensive of whether my curry would even get close to the standards that came out of my mum’s kitchen. On top of that, I was to cook in a makeshift kitchen in the middle of Mongolia, for 23 people, with a significant amount of improvising. Still, I was really missing being in a kitchen and cooking, so I was eager to give it a go!

    Much to my delight, the curry was a bit hit! I served it with rice, and yogurt sauce (raita) and by the end of the meal, the pot was scraped clean! Perhaps it was the fact that we were starving, but it was nice to know that my curry tasted good. Perhaps a little bit of my mum’s talent and ability to improvise in the kitchen has rubbed off onto me!

    Below is the recipe of the alu’r dom that I made. I’ve included variations, which can be adapted depending on what ingredients you have on hand.

    Potato and pea curry (Serves 4 - 5)


    1kg potatoes, scrubbed clean, and cut into 1 - 2 inch cubes (skin on)
    2 tbs oil
    1/4 stick cinnamon
    2 cloves
    2 cardomom pods
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    1 dried chilli
    2 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped, or the equivalent in canned tomatoes
    1 handful of fresh or frozen peas
    1 large onion, either sliced thinly, or grated (or put through a food processor)
    2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    1 tsp sugar
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1/4 tsp chilli powder (or more if you like it hot!)
    1 tsp cumin powder
    1/2 cup yogurt, coconut milk or cream
    Salt to taste


    1. Boil all the potatoes in water until they are cooked. Drain and allow to cool. Once cool, peel them and set aside. It is important to boil them with their skins, so that they don't fall apart.

    2. Heat oil in a large pan. Once the oil is hot add the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods, cumin seeds and dried chilli.

    3. When the seeds start spluttering (should take less than a minute), add the onion and garlic. Fry this mixture off until the raw onion is cooked off. If you have grated the onion, this will be difficult to tell, but estimate about 5 mins. (Grating the onion will mean that the gravy will be nicer).

    4. Add the tomatoes and mix well.

    5. Add the boiled potato and continue to mix gently, being careful not to break the potatoes up.

    6. Add the ground spices, turmeric, chilli powder and cumin and make sure they are combined through the curry.

    7. Add the yogurt, salt and sugar. At this point it would be wise to taste, and make sure that the flavours are balanced. Adjust if something seems out of whack - add more tomato and cumin if it is too sweet, more sugar if the tomato taste is too predominant, etc.

    8. Allow to simmer for 10 - 15 mins. If there is too much gravy remove the lid to the liquid can evaporate. If it seems to dry, add water and cover.

    9. Serve with rice, roti, puri or naan bread 

    And as a final note, put Mongolia on your travel wishlist. The food there isn’t very good, but the country and the landscape is seriously awesome.

    Posted August 15, 2016 08:30 AM by Moni

    August 13, 2016


    Brunch At Sister Of Soul In St Kilda

    I’ve been to Sister Of Soul a few times now and I’ve previously blogged about a lunch visit. This time, I was in the area around brunch time so my son and I decided to go in to check out the morning menu. The vegetarian/vegan menu for the morning hours looked just as good as...
    Continue reading »

    Posted August 13, 2016 05:05 PM

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Reese's poptarts

    August 6-7, 2016

    While I was in the US, missing Michael and cooking stuff together, we agreed that we'd try making the Street Vegan poptarts when I got home. While I would have happily embarked on them any old weekend, we had a nice opportunity to bake them for a 2-year-old's birthday party and share them around.

    Michael picked out the peanut butter-chocolate filled version and I set to work a day in advance. The filling is a simple, reliable mix of chocolate ganache swirled with peanut butter. The pastry is made with electric beaters and includes egg replacers, which isn't my usual pace. It seemed too mushy and I upped the flour to make a more sturdy, rollable dough (I've adjusted the quantities accordingly below).

    On the morning of the party I set to work assembling and baking the poptarts. The recipe's designed to make 10 hefty tarts but instead I cut at least twice as many two-bite treats. I barely used half of the filling since my mini-tarts had a higher edge-to-middle ratio (again, I've altered the recipe below for a better fit). The edges sealed easily with a fork just so long as I didn't dust too much flour around.

    It was difficult to work out when the poptarts were fully baked since they're not supposed to brown. I gave 'em a few extra minutes on a hunch and they were still a little underdone - I'd suggest eating a tester before you progress to the icing stage. Once you spill the glaze over them there's no going back! The original recipe suggests using chocolate glaze all over and white vanilla glaze in decorative stripes, but I thought some coloured sprinkles would be less fiddly and for an audience of under-5s.

    Indeed, I overheard one youngster declare these poptarts his favourite food at the party. A couple of adults got a real kick out of them too. I'm not quite convinced that they're better than a more conventional pie or tart, but they were a fun little party project to share with friends.

    Reese's poptarts
    (slightly adapted from a recipe in Adam Sobel's Street Vegan)

    1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
    2 teaspoons egg replacer powder
    1/2 cup water
    3 cups plain flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup margarine

    1/2 cup soy milk
    1 cup dark chocolate chips
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup peanut butter

    1/2 cup icing sugar
    1 tablespoon cocoa
    1 tablespoon soy milk
    coloured sprinkles

    Place the vinegar, egg replacer and water in a medium-large bowl and beat them together with an electric mixer until foamy. On low speed, mix in the flour, salt and margarine until the mixture comes together as a dough. Allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes - I covered my bowl with a lid and refrigerated it overnight.

    In a medium bowl, bring the soy milk to the boil. Take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips and salt. Keep stirring them together until they form a thick, smooth ganache. Chill the ganache for at least 2 hours, I refrigerated it overnight. When it's time to assemble the poptarts, swirl the peanut butter through the ganache.

    Line 1-2 baking trays with paper and lightly spray them with oil. Preheat an oven to 180°C.

    Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the pastry to 2-5mm thick (I did this in about 4 small batches). Slice the dough into rectangles of the same size - mine were about 4cm x 6cm, but the recipe was designed for larger ones. Spoon filling into the centre of half of the rectangles, place the other rectangles on top of each once, and use a fork to crimp the edges together (see photo above).

    Place the pastries on the trays and bake them for 15-20 minutes, until they're a little firm. Allow them to cool to room temperature.

    Sift together the icing sugar and cocoa in a small-medium bowl. Stir in the soy milk to make a smooth glaze. Spoon the glaze over the centre of the poptarts and decorate them with coloured sprinkles. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.

    Posted August 13, 2016 11:34 AM by Cindy

    August 10, 2016

    quinces and kale

    I’m taking a break

    I’m sick and I will be taking a break from my blogging for a bit to have surgery, treatment and then to recover. I hope to be back in about 8 months.



    Posted August 10, 2016 09:39 AM

    August 09, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Gopal's Vegetarian Restaurant

    Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

    August 2, 2016

    Between Michael's and my travels, we've let our Cheap Eats 2006 project lapse for a few months. We're reviving it with this visit to Gopal's in the city. When we first moved to Melbourne I was just barely done being a student and Brisbane's Hare Krishna restaurants, with their cheap and filling vegetarian meals, were a favourite hang-out. Gopal's had the same relaxed atmosphere and we notched up two short reviews in our first months here. We later checked in for a marathon cooking class, and we've failed to mention this dependable eatery on our blog for a good five years since.

    While we were originally a bit put out by the cost of the chef's special, it has aged well! $12 in 2006, the equivalent feast plate is still just $12.95. This entitles you to a tray heaped with food - soup, rice and your two chosen curries, two chosen salads, a drink and a dessert. It's hearty, bulk cooking based on affordable vegetables and dried spices. I've always liked the kofta, and on this visit particularly enjoyed the tanginess of the lassi. Michael's chocolate ball reminded me of oat cookie dough, and my apple crumble was similarly oaty and comforting.


    Gopal's has received low-key blog coverage: praise from vegan bloggers Veganopoulous, Almost Skinny Vegan Food and Green Gourmet Giraffe, as well as omni bloggers The Melbourne Glutton, Food Food Food and Sweet and Sour Fork; only Eat & Be Merry have been notably disappointed.

    Gopal's Vegetarian Restaurant
    139 Swanston St, Melbourne
    9650 1578

    Accessibility: We entered via a narrow staircase with a handrail and did not notice an alternative access point. We ordered and paid at the counter. Tables were quite well spaced. We didn't visit the toilets but noticed gendered doors for them on the same level as the restaurant.

    Posted August 09, 2016 02:32 PM by Cindy

    August 07, 2016


    What I Ate

    Here’s a look back at stuff I’ve eaten over the past couple of weeks. Mostly pretty simple as I’m low on cooking mojo lately! Above is a simple Japanese bowl, with plain pan fried tofu (with a little sesame oil), sushi rice, vegies and a crumble made with kale pulp from the juicer, plus some...
    Continue reading »

    Posted August 07, 2016 10:08 PM

    vegan about town

    [canberra] a bite to eat

    I was skeptical about the menu at A Bite To Eat, until I got to the little bit about almost all dishes being able to be made vegan on request, and I decided to take them up on that offer.

    I ordered the Raja, a mild coconut curry, eggplant, broccoli, sticky rice, with chilli, coriander and crispy onion. It comes with poached eggs but I don't remember what they replaced it with, in part because I was so distracted by the rice - it's a crispy sticky rice. It's sticky rice that I think has been compressed and lightly fried, and it is the greatest rice side I have ever experienced, please let me eat it again immediately.

    The hash brown on the side is house made and vegan, which is so unusual and also delightful and delicious.

    The coffee (2 x soy flatties) was smooth and delicious and perfectly warmed (not burnt), and the service was lovely, and my friends enjoyed their meals (meaty, both), and we sat in the winter sun for three hours and didn't get kicked out, and everything was delightful.

    A Bite To Eat
    Shop 8, Eggleston Crescent, Chifley
    Our Nation's Fair Capital

    I was driven there by a friend
    Ramp to enter
    Eftpos available
    I didn't check the toilets

    Posted August 07, 2016 10:00 PM by steph

    August 06, 2016

    vegan about town

    [Maylands] Little Shop of Plenty

    This is my first ever entry in Maylands! That's because there's never been really great vego options in the area, though, so I'm super excited that I can make this post!

    This afternoon I met my cousin near his house and we ventured in the rain to the Little Shop of Plenty, this lovely-sized cafe on Railway Parade directly opposite from Maylands station.

    The Little Shop of Plenty is vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free. The menu is very paleo and raw heavy, which is fine but it was raining and the weather made me want something more hearty and warm. So I was excited to discover Huevos Mk II ($18.50) on the menu. This defaults to egg, but the staff told me that the specials are almost always veganisable. So my huevos rancheros featured tempeh (to replace the eggs), spiced corn meal hash, black beans, corn, tomato salsa, avocado cashew cream sauce, fresh chilli, fresh coriander, and it was so delicious I ate all the coriander despite hating coriander. It was so good. SO GOOD. I only wish there was more avocado cream, but I suppose I can't have everything I ever want.

    I also drank a beautiful almond matcha latte ($6.50, I'm in Perth, that's totally reasonable). I don't think they were using a whisk, but it still had a beautiful smooth flavour.

    The staff was really lovely and friendly and delightful; the cafe sells metal and glass straws about which I am chuffed; and I will definitely meander back through on my visits to Perth.

    The Little Shop of Plenty
    217 Railway Parade, Maylands

    Get there on the Midland Line to Maylands Station
    Ramp is default entry
    Eftpos available
    Didn't check the toilets
    Well lit (day visit only)

    Posted August 06, 2016 11:02 PM by steph

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Jerk-seasoned sweet potatoes & black beans

    July 27, 2016

    I picked up a few small gifts for Michael on my travels through the US: a snowy owl pin from West Virginia, astronaut magnet and freeze-dried ice-cream sandwich from the Air & Space Museum, and of course some duty-free snacks at the airport. 

    Actually, the first gift I bought was a jar of Jamaican jerk seasoning from DC's Union Market. Though the seasoning itself is vegan, it's traditionally used to flavour meat. Still, I had some vague memory of seeing a few vegan recipes on USian blogs and I was pretty sure Michael would enjoy its spiciness. The person running the spice stall boosted my optimism, telling me about the vegetable-based stew she'd made recently with this condiment. Just go easy, a teaspoon at a time, she warned me. This stuff is hot!

    I had a hell of a time getting this jar safely home. I packed it in my carry-on bag, only to have it rejected as a liquid over 100mL. So I chased my checked-in luggage back through the front counter, downstairs to baggage claim to nestle it amongst my dirty laundry and back upstairs to recheck. I tried not to imagine the glass crushing on the journey, staining my clothes with pungent oil.

    The jar survived, and I was keen to make quick use of it. Internet browsing turned up this stew/curry recipe as an appealing winter weeknight option - it's a big pot of sweet potatoes and black beans, simmered in a tomato-based broth infused with the jerk seasoning, ginger and fresh coriander. Though the original recipe contains three tablespoons of seasoning, I heeded the market salesperson and started with just a teaspoon. It gave just the right amount of heat on that first night, as we spooned the stew over steamed rice. Michael added a bit more to the mellowed leftovers.

    That still leaves 95% of a jar of jerk seasoning in the fridge! Please tell us what else we should do with it.

    Jerk-seasoned sweet potatoes & black beans
    (slightly adapted from on a recipe from BBC goodfood)

    2 onions
    50g fresh ginger
    small bunch coriander
    1-3 teaspoons jerk seasoning
    2 tablespoons sunflower oil
    400g can chopped tomatoes
    4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    3 tablespoons brown sugar
    2 vegetable stock cubes
    600mL water
    1 kg sweet potato
    2 x 400g cans black beans
    300g jar roasted capsicum
    salt & pepper

    Roughly chop one of the onions and place it in a small food processor or spice grinder. Peel and roughly chop the ginger and add it to the processor; get the coriander stalks and jerk seasoning in there too. Blend everything up into a paste.

    Finely dice the second onion. Heat the oil in a large pot and saute this onion until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the blended spice paste. Stir in the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, stock cubes and water. Simmer everything for 10 minutes.

    During the simmering, peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Drain the black beans. Drain and slice the capsicum. Add the sweet potatoes to the pot and simmer them for 15 minutes. Stir in the black beans and capsicum slices and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 more minutes and serve garnished with the reserved coriander leaves.

    Posted August 06, 2016 08:43 AM by Cindy

    August 03, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Nigella's winter plum cake

    July 24, 2016

    Cindy returned from her travels early on a Monday morning, and I wanted to have something worthy to greet her with. I turned to Nigella for help, settling on this recipe for a winter plum cake. It seemed well within my limitations technically (no separating of eggs, no layers), but still seemed fancy enough to serve as a welcome-home treat.

    I still managed to cock things up initially, and had to restart from scratch after combining the wrong ingredients. Once I actually read the recipe things came together pretty easily. The end result was superb: the almond essence shone through, and the canned plums added bursts of sweet fruitiness. It doesn't need much icing - I used the simple lemon glaze from this recipe. We polished the whole thing off in a matter of days - I'll definitely make it again.

    Winter plum cake
    (slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess)

    1 600g can of plums (I could only find a 800g can, so I just snacked on the rest), drained
    1 cup self-raising flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 cup ground almonds
    125g butter, softened
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon almond essence

    Grease and line a 20 cm springform cake tin

    Preheat the oven to 170°C.

    Chop the plums and pop them into a sieve to drain.

    Mix together the flour, ground almonds and baking powder in a large bowl.

    Cream the butter and sugar together and then beat in the eggs, adding a tablespoon of the flour mixture after each one and then beat through the almond essence.

    Fold in the rest of the flour mixture and the chopped plums.

    Pour and scrape the mixture into the baking tin and bake for about an hour, checking after 45 minutes. 

    When the cake's ready, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool for 10 minutes or so before popping it out of the cake tin. 

    Ice with your icing of choice (I used the lemon glaze from this recipe).

    Posted August 03, 2016 08:00 AM by Michael

    August 01, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Spinach & black bean burrito bowl

    July 16, 2016

    I spent much of this week eating badly - pizza, toasties and other kinds of yellow food lacking any real vegetables. Desperate to get something a bit fresher into my body, I turned to Isa Does It - a book loaded with wonderful fresh recipes. Isa's bowl recipes are particularly sure-fire, and this had just the combo of simplicity and pizazz that I was looking for. It's super easy - even easier if you don't make your own guacamole (although I can recommend making the version in Isa Does It - it's worth the small amount of effort). Otherwise you just cook the quinoa and speedily heat up the rest, with the wine and garlic being absorbed into the spinach as it wilts. Adding some hot sauce brings some boldness to an otherwise pretty mild dish, but even without it this is a winning dish.

    Spinach and black bean burrito bowl
    (slightly adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Isa Does It)

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    200g baby spinach leaves
    2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 small brown onion, diced
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    2 small tomatoes, chopped up small
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1/2 cup white wine
    1 teaspoon salt

    For serving
    4 cups cooked quinoa (you could get away with 3)
    Guacamole (I made some using the recipe in Isa Does It, but just go with your favourite version)
    Hot sauce

    Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and saute the onion for 5 minutes or so, until it softens. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so.

    Throw in the tomato, cumin and salt and keep frying for a minute more. 

    Add in the white wine and bring it to the boil for a couple of minutes. Drop the heat to low and add the spinach in (in batches), cooking it down to make space for it all. 

    Add the black beans, cook for another couple of minutes and then serve on the quinoa, topped with guacamole, coriander and plenty of hot sauce.

    Posted August 01, 2016 07:13 AM by Michael

    July 28, 2016


    Lunch At Power Plant Cafe In Templestowe

    Power Plant in Templestowe has been open since about October 2015. Templestowe is a suburb located about half an hours drive from the central part of Melbourne and the more vegan friendly suburbs like Fitzroy. This posed a bit of a problem for me initially because I’m nowhere near there and I don’t drive but, mercy...
    Continue reading »

    Posted July 28, 2016 10:30 PM

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Salt Rising Bread

    July 11-17, 2016

    From Washington DC, I took a bus to Morgantown, West Virginia. I'd spend the week working in a quiet office, and the nights lodging in a cottage just across the border in Pennsylvania. I did not expect that I'd gather any material for this food blog.

    How wrong I was! In Mount Morris PA I met Jenny. Jenny runs Rising Creek Bakery, a business that's preserving a little-known traditional of salt rising bread. Rather than yeast, salt rising bread uses some combination of potatoes, cornmeal, flour, salt and/or sugar in hot water or milk. These ingredients form a starter, fermented at around 40°C to form the bread leavening. By all accounts it gets very stinky! But a stinky starter leads to a distinctly appetising, aromatic loaf that smells like toasted cheese.

    I picked up one of these loaves and also borrowed a copy of Jenny (aka Genevieve Bardwell) and Susan Ray Brown's brand new book, called Salt Rising Bread. The book is an affectionate and well-researched history of salt rising bread, which originated with the earliest European settlers in Appalachia; the earliest recipe they were able to find dates back to 1778. As well as consulting libraries and food historians, they've called on oral history, interviewing and profiling numerous rising bread bakers. Many of these stories are in the bakers' own words, interweaving family anecdotes with their breads' successes and failures.

    Salt rising bread evokes nostalgia in many of the folks who know it, and Jenny posts loaves all over the US through her bakery's online system. The bread is golden with a thin crust and a dense crumb; several contributors to the book say a good loaf looks like pound cake. And of course there's that unique, cheesy aroma that settles in the air and on your hands after eating it. Most fans prefer to eat it simply toasted, with a little butter or jam. Another tradition is to place a slice in a bowl and then pour over coffee, sprinkle on brown sugar and then add cream or milk - a lazy cook's tiramisu, perhaps? At the bakery, you can order two slices of salt rising bread smothered in tomato gravy for breakfast (pictured above). The gravy is thick and hearty, based on milk and flour and then tangy and sweet from the tomatoes.

    Rising Creek Bakery also sells some goods that aren't based on a salt rising starter. In Jenny's home, I ate a slice of mushroom quiche with a crumbly, buttery crust. One of their bestsellers is a cookie sandwich inspired by the Nutter Butter. These peanut butter cookies have my favourite, favourite cookie texture, smooth and a little chewy - it's hard to tell where the cookie ends and the creamy honey-and-peanut butter filling begins. The pecan squares are biscuit-crusted, a little gooey, and have just the right little dose of salt mixed in.

    It has been such an unexpected pleasure to learn about this local tradition, in a part of the world I could easily never have visited. Having spent just a week with salt rising bread, its unique and comforting scent has marked my memory - in a few more weeks, the nostalgia it spreads will probably take hold.

    Posted July 28, 2016 05:26 PM by Cindy

    July 27, 2016


    Vegan Options At Wings Of Glory In South Melbourne

    Wings of Glory is one of those places folks would assume have no vegan, or even vegetarian options– the business is built around chicken wings after all. I heard about Wings of Glory in a local vegan group, where people mentioned previously having walked on by until they discovered there was in fact a vegan...
    Continue reading »

    Posted July 27, 2016 02:39 PM

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Washington, DC III

    July 7-9, 2016

    As my week in Washington went on, I ventured a little further on foot and via the Metro. This allowed me to track down some of the more hip veg-focused eateries hidden around the city.

    The first was the aptly-named HipCityVeg, an all-vegan burger joint near Chinatown. It's light and bright, with an emphasis on nutrition, sustainable practices and keeping it cruelty-free. The burgers are based around mock meats, mushrooms or tofu, fries are made from sweet potatoes, and their kale lemonade is promoted over the modest range of sodas.

    I got myself acquainted with a Disco Chick'n burger (US$9.55 ~ AU$12.75). I loved the sturdy multigrain bun, bit o' spice on the mock chicken, smoked tempeh strips, pickles, soy mayo, lettuce and tomatoes (and picked out what little raw onion was included). It was the fun kind of messy, not turning soggy or disintegrating completely.

    My soy-based vanilla milkshake (US$5.65 ~ AU$7.55) was sweet and slushy. I could barely believe that its packaging was compostable, but everything served at this eatery is!

    My one wish-list eat for the trip was Fare Well, a vegan bakery, diner & bar that had only been open a couple of weeks (lucky for me a DC mate mentioned it on facebook!). It turned out to be a pleasant 20 minute walk from my hotel so I visited two nights in a row, first with a couple of friends and then again on my own.

    First, the bar. Fare Well has an experienced bartender who's put together a nice cocktail menu (US$11 ~AU$14.70 each) including some housemade specialties with local names. The Tiber Creek (above left) was citrussy and brutally boozy, but not quite as complex as the passionfruit/ginger/lemongrass/grapefruit ingredients going into it. The Queen of H Street (above right) was raspberry-wrapped vodka, shaken with an egg white substitute (I asked the bartender if it was aquafaba, but he said they had better results with soy lecithin! Huh).

    Onto the diner options, which include breakfasts, small plates, mains and desserts without time restrictions. The Buffalo cauliflower dip (US$8 ~ AU$10.70) had a nice cashew creaminess and tender cauliflower florets that squished nicely on the (too few) toasts. On my own, I treated the mushroom scampi appetiser (US$8 ~ AU$10.70) as a leaving-room-for-dessert dinner. It echoes the same cashew cheese on toast theme, but was made more complex with sauteed mushrooms, capsicum, a smear of garlic and a smattering of fresh greens.

    My friend Matt tried the mushroom-chickpea burger (US$14 ~AU$18.70) and was positive but not effusive in his feedback. The seitan platter's (US$14 ~AU$18.70) presentation suffered for how pale and gluey American gravy always looks - it smothered some nice Southern-fried seitan cutlets and a no-longer-crispy potato cake, balancing it all out with sauteed kale.

    Finally, the bakery. Fare Well has a gorgeous range of baked goods available to take away or eat in - the layered cakes (US$8 ~ AU$10.70) are especially striking, with a dense crumb and sculpted buttery frosting. My friends were impressed by the Neapolitan version (pictured bottom left), which was clearly based on real strawberries and not dependent on food colouring. Out of curiosity, I tried a cookie dough cake (pictured top right) and enjoyed the light caramel flavour and scattered chocolate chips. The coconut cream pie (pictured bottom right) seemed constituted of a can of coconut cream whipped with sugar (fitting, I guess).

    Fare Well has a bright atmosphere and great menu - I enjoyed both sharing it with friends, and sitting alone at the bar with a book. Nothing disappointed but, equally, nothing really wowed me. I reckon Melbourne's best vegan food more than matches it.

    Though Union Market boasts of its long history, it's a very current-day enterprise too. It's not really a spot for accomplishing your weekly shopping or picking up boxes of cheap, seasonal produce. Rather, it's all about fancy cheeses, home-made kimchi and homewares that belong in goop.

    The market is even more heavily dominated by stalls designed for eating in, with the astroturf and picnic tables reminding me of Melbourne's food truck scene. I did a long circuit of the building, trying to decide whether I wanted a crepe, tofu taco, dosa, or just fancy icecream for lunch, ...

    I started out with parmesan cheese grits from puddin' (US$5 ~ AU$6.65), served with a little tomato-butter sauce. Contrary to the name, I found grits to have the soft bite of rice pudding and fluffiness of mashed potatoes - definitely a starchy comfort food. (They make a handy benchmark for making my own grits from Vegan Soul Kitchen.)

    Next I moved on to Arepa Zone. The Dominó arepa (US$6.50 ~ AU$8.65) was deceptively cute and compact in its checkered wrapper, unravelling into a delicious mess of saucy black beans, queso fresco and toasted corn.

    Finally, Sarah introduced me to toli moli, which she said was the new dessert craze. These layered desserts are based on south-east Asian falooda, and I initially mistook them for variations on the Malaysian cendol. All the toli moli creations seem to centre on basil seeds, then bring together fruit pieces and jellies, icecream and milk on a flavour theme. I tried their vegan Mango Mogul (US$7.99 ~ AU$10.60), with fresh mango and sorbet, turmeric almond "melk" and flaked coconut. It was a lot of fun but on a hot, humid day I wished that more than just the sorbet had been stored cold.

    Exploring the veg eats around DC was a great motivation for walking the streets and visiting neighbourhoods I had no other reason to be in. I ate extravagantly, and by the time I was done I looked forward to the simple granola bowls, salads and toasties that I subsisted on one week later in the country.

    Posted July 27, 2016 06:16 AM by Cindy

    July 24, 2016


    A Little What I Ate

    Another late What I Ate and not much to show as I’ve been having a fair bit of juices and smoothies again or meals that look blergh photographed. Juicing results in a lot of pulp and I never throw it out. Here’s a ‘carrot cake’ smoothie made with carrot pulp, banana, cinnamon and porridge grains...
    Continue reading »

    Posted July 24, 2016 03:39 PM

    July 19, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    A Fan's Notes II

    July 9, 2016

    We had a pretty decent breakfast at A Fan's Notes last year, but it was a pretty low-key brunch place at the time, so I was surprised when I read on facebook that they'd started doing fancy degustations on the weekends. They take it week about: meaty one week and vegan the next. I hit up the vegan night with a couple of friends to try things out.

    You get five courses for a very reasonable $40, and they've got a good selection of vegan beer and wine to accompany the food. The staff are casual and friendly, and the atmosphere is still more dive bar than fine-dining, which suits me down to the ground.

    Onto the food! The first course was a sesame and peanut crusted rice paper roll, with enoki, pickled cucumber, burnt eggplant and miso dressing. This was a fancy twist on a a classic - crunch from the cauliflower and peanut, and a lovely mix of smokiness and umami from the eggplant and miso. 

    Next up was probably my favourite dish of the night: heirloom carrots, polenta, zucchini & pinenut puree with olives and seeds.

    This dish really lets the veggies shine, with the polenta chips adding some salty goodness. Simple, but effective.

    Next up was a butternut and caramelised onion agnolotti with smoked hazelnut pesto, artichoke and white bean puree.

    This felt like the most 'fine dining' dish of the night - dustings of powders, dabs of pesto and micro-greens garnishing a soft and sweet agnolotti and a wedge of caramelised onion. Fancy.

    The last of the savoury dishes was a crispy fennel-stuffed onion with potato puree, toasted corn and truffle.

    This was another winner - the little roasted ball of fried goodness sitting on top of a smooth smear of creamy potato, all backed up by the salsa-esque corn. 

    The dessert course finished things off: an apple and date trifle with coconut custard, pistachio crumb and mandarin.

    This was another lovely mix of textures and flavours - not too sweet and with plenty of fruit, but still indulgent enough to be a worthy ending to a fine meal.

    At $40 a head, this is a really good value meal - among the best value vegan meals in town. Ray's vegan degustation was cheaper, but it's been discontinued (at least over winter), meaning only Shu is really offering a similarly-priced vegan degustation. It's a lovely venue, with great staff, good music and a really fun atmosphere. Hopefully A Fan's Notes keep these degustations running - you should really get along as soon as you can to make sure they do.

    Read about our last trip to A Fan's Notes here. I can't find any blog reviews of the degustations yet - hopefully the buzz will keep building.

    A Fan's Notes
    787 Nicholson St, Carlton North
    9943 8373
    our menu (it changes every fortnight)
    facebook page

    Accessibility: There's a flat entry way to a slightly crowded interior. You order at the table and pay at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

    Posted July 19, 2016 08:42 PM by Michael

    quinces and kale

    the glass den 2


    After arriving home from Europe, I caught up for brunch at the Glass Den with my friend who had been housesitting while I was away.

    I chose the Glass Den because I love it and it caters to both vegans and non-vegans alike.

    The food is modern, delicious, beautiful to look at and a cut way above your average cafe.

    I chose a vegan “chicken” burger and my friend had the porridge. Both were great. The porridge was so beautifully decorated with fruits and flowers. The burger was enormous and I foolishly fell for the “Would you like fries with that?” up sell and ordered the sweet potato fries which were excellent. The tomato relish on the burger was swoon worthy.

    vegan chicken burger with sweet potato fries

    I’ve also included a photo of a breakfast udon noodle dish that I ate on another visit that I didn’t blog about. It gives you an idea of the range of creative food that they do. Udon noodles with kale and crumbed mushrooms. For breakfast. Delicious.

    breakfast udon noodles with kale and mushrooms

    The coffee is great too.

    I really cannot fault the Glass Den, it remains high on my list of favourite places. I have never had a disappointing meal.

    15 Urquart St,
    Coburg, 3058
    (03) 9354 5032

    Posted July 19, 2016 10:46 AM

    July 17, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Washington, DC II

    July 4-6, 2016

    This year I was in Washington DC for the 4th of July. Lodged in a hotel just blocks from the US Capitol, I anticipated garish, crowded celebrations and mawkish patriotism. I found little of it, just the floats pictured above and a glimpse of the evening's telecast. At this time of year the National Mall actually hosts a Folklife Festival that casts a spotlight on another country and culture.

    In 2016 the festival presented Basque culture. We witnessed metalsmithing, pottery, stone-cutting, boat construction, weaving, painting, cheese-smoking, sports, singing and some truly unique performance. It was tough to imagine what was to come as we watched a troop of men (pictured above, click to embiggen), in what looked like petticoats and soft dancing shoes, lacing each other into furry coats as if they were corsets and strapping enormous bells onto their backs. Joaldunak proved very entertaining, and gave a friendly, generous translated interview about their village traditions, the family connections among the team, and the new all-woman group that's started up in their region.

    Jovial cooking demonstrations ran throughout the day, with at best half of the jokes making it through to those of us who don't understand Basque. It was hard for me to imagine recreating any of their dishes at home, as they prepared fish three ways, and later added four kinds of red meat to a breakfast skillet. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the demonstrators' banter and pride in their traditions.

    We did manage to find a few veg options at the Basque food stall. A cold bean stew didn't sound so exciting but was actually rich and well spiced, colourfully garnished with pickles and peppers. My hosts urged me to try Basque ciders - they have a particularly astringent aftertaste, ranging from sour to olive-y. The almond custard pastry we shared for dessert was a much more typical crowd-pleaser.

    I spent rest of the week seeking veg-friendly dinners around the city centre. We, The Pizza was located just around the corner from my hotel. It's a bright and casual spot with an eye-catching display of enormous New York-style slices. A US$4 (~AU$5.30) slice of Forest Shroomin' Pie was enough to call dinner, but I grabbed a nice little Farmers Market Salad to diversify my veges (and took a slice of Spinach & Artichoke Pie away for next day's lunch). I also liked that they make a range of sodas with their own syrups. The Co, Co Nut Soda (US$3 ~ AU$4) was unusual and refreshing, but not a great match for cheesy pizza.

    Happy Cow pointed me towards British-themed pub The Alibi. Their credibility was somewhat undermined by the inclusion of Cinnamon Sugar Sweet Potatoes with Vanilla Icing, Shrimp Po' Boys and Gumbo on the menu, but I was there for Vegan Fish And Chips (US$13 ~ AU$17.20).

    These guys got the plate off to a good start by using Gardein mock fish - I reckon it's the lightest, flakiest fake-fillet on the market. The triple-cooked chips were a respectable tribute to the mother country, and the tartar sauce was much appreciated. (Honestly, I would've loved some green veges on the side.) Unfortunately my ginger soda (US$4 ~ AU$5.30) lacked both bite and bubbles.

    Located in the business district, the pub was comfortable but a little cheesy, a spot for after-work drinks and tourists rather than neighbourhood residents.  While I didn't have the stamina for more than one pub meal in a week, it might have be fun to try their other veg options, including sausage rolls, devilled eggs and mushroom burgers.

    As the week went on I honed my hipster-vege eating, so stay tuned for few more DC eateries.

    I also visited and blogged about Washington DC two years ago!

    Posted July 17, 2016 08:41 PM by Cindy

    July 14, 2016


    New Vegan Menu At Ray in Brunswick

    Back in March, I blogged about a vegan mezze evening held by Ray in Brunswick. Ray has very recently introduced a new fully vegan breakfast (served all day) and lunch menu. The new vegan menu is one of those where you see the vegan options have been well thought out. I was impressed enough with the vegan...
    Continue reading »

    Posted July 14, 2016 04:30 PM

    July 12, 2016

    where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

    Seattle & surrounds

    June 28-July 3, 2016

    I didn't just cloister myself away in Seattle's all-veg restaurants (or indeed, the city itself) during my stay. I was also inducted into the world of baseball, witnessing the Seattle Mariners defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates. I'd expected that the refreshments would be restricted to hot dogs and beer and I swooped on these Dirty Tots as soon as I saw them - the 'tater tots are scattered with surprisingly sharp, soft cheese, pickled peppers and, if you're not me, bacon. I washed them down with the smallest Mountain Dew I could find and tried not to notice the oil pooling in the bottom of the tray.

    Actually, there was a broader variety of food than I'd expected - I noticed wood-fired pizzas, tacos and even a Thai noodle stand further around Safeco Field. I was delighted to match up the real baseball experience with what little I'd learned from The Simpsons - the organ music, the spruiker throwing bags of peanuts and, on my way out, evidence of a stand selling nacho hats.

    As well as the Mariners, Seattle is the home of Orangette, a food blog I've been reading for nigh on a decade. Its author Molly Winzenberg and her husband Brandon own a pizza restaurant with a bar next door; these venues were on my wish-list for the trip. Three of my Aussie friends obliged in joining me there one night.

    I assumed that Delancey and Essex would be located on a hip retail strip and was surprised to see them nestled unobtrusively in a residential area. This didn't seem to dim their popularity - we put our names on the waiting list at Delancey and settled in with drinks and bar snacks at Essex. I had a potent little cocktail called Cedro in Thyme (US$12 ~ AU$16) and made from vodka, Salers, pear brandy, Acqua di Cedro, and a house-made thyme tincture.

    We nibbled on bright, sweet Castelvetrano olives (US$4 ~ AU$5.30) and an intermittently hot and sugary snack mix of cashews, rice bubbles and flaked coconut flavoured with vanilla and Aleppo peppers ($US6 ~ AU$8).

    Delancey didn't keep us waiting any longer than we'd been warned, finding us a table for four in the back corner. It was a little loud and dimly lit. The pizza menu has the very American style of just a small number of toppings per pizza, although here they take extra care and pride in sourcing high-quality ingredients from local suppliers.

    The bases were relatively thin, crisping up at the edges and softened with sauce in the centre. The white pie (above left, US$16 ~ AU$21) was a festival of cheese with house-made ricotta, fresh and aged mozzarella, Grana, and a bit of garlic. The Crimini (above centre, US$14 ~ AU$18) was generously scattered with its namesake mushroom, a little thyme and a strong whiff of truffle oil.

    To drink, I tried a non-alcoholic house-made beetroot shrub (above right, US$4 ~ US$5). It was such an unusual, almost savoury soda, and it suited the pizzas well.

    We opted to pack up some of the pizza and order some desserts to share. Delancey is known for its chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with grey salt (US$3.50 ~ AU$4.60) - so much so that you can eat them baked, as dough, and/or matched with a Ramos Pinto 20-year tawny port. My companions tried every combination! Preferences for baked vs dough varied, but we agreed that we preferred mixed-in salt to the concentrated sprinkle here.

    I had my eye on the bourbon roasted peaches (US$9 ~AU$12). Although I expected more fruit and more syrup on my plate, I nonetheless enjoyed their combination with crumbled corn cookies, anise hyssop leaves and brown butter icecream.

    Neither Delancey nor Essex are really designed for vegetarians (and I don't think vegans would have much fun there), but I was very glad to visit them - I think I'd be a fan even if they didn't have a blog connection that's special to me.

    On my last day on the west coast, my mate Kim and I ventured out of Seattle, and she suggested the Black Diamond Bakery for a breakfast stop. The bakery's brick oven was built in 1884, but the adjoining cafe serving breakfasts is a youthful 25 years old by comparison. The menu is a classic diner selection of eggs and bacon and chicken fried steak, pancakes and French toast and hash browns. Everyone is served half a canned peach in syrup and a miniature blueberry muffin to begin.

    There are a few incidentally vegetarian options, and they'll also happily omit the meat on other items (like Kim's burrito). I took on a veggie and cheese omelet (US$11.99 ~ AU$15.80), a brightly yellow egg batter wrapped around sauteed spinach, capsicum, onion, mushroom, tomato and a long, stretchy thread of orange cheese. I must admit to being more enamoured with the sides, a huge serving of home-made crispy edged hash brown and, in preference to toast, a gorgeously fluffy biscuit spread with butter.

    On a clear day, the Black Diamond Bakery supposedly has a view of Mt Rainier, but we weren't blessed with one of those. We thought their garden was charming anyway.

    We did eventually find our mountain views, though, and a waterfall too before we turned back to town (see pics below). Here we queued up for one of Seattle's other attractions - the original Starbuck's.

    I'm not much of a coffee drinker (much less at 5pm) so I revelled in Starbuck's diluted conception of this drink, ordering a 'tall' (i.e. small) S'mores frappuccino. My straw first hit on a thick chocolate syrup base before working through a sweet, milky vanilla coffee; I could barely suck the 'marshmallow-infused whipped cream' through my straw and, honestly, I didn't really want to. 

    To finish, here are a few snaps of the more natural beauties of Washington state...

    Posted July 12, 2016 12:40 PM by Cindy

    quinces and kale

    berlin – kopps for dinner

    white grilled asparagus, broad beans, leek and potato cake, truffle foam

    I’m now running behind terribly on the blogging of my trip. I’ve been back for two weeks, but in that time I headed to down to Hobart for 5 days for a series of workshops to sing the Bach St Matthew Passion with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Chorus as part of the Festival of Voices.

    So I’m now heading back to Berlin (virtually) to review the last of my food highlights there.  Having sampled and LOVED brunch at Kopps I was keen to go back there for dinner. I was also keen to compare it to my other fine dining experience at the Lucky Leek.

    Kopps do a 3, 4 or 5 course menu with or without matched wines. I was on my second last night in Berlin before heading back home so I decided to splurge on the 5 courses with matched wines. It saves agonising over what courses to choose. 🙂

    Here’s what I ate:

    This was a lovely amuse bouche of a tiny raviolo with a leek cream.

    amuse bouche - ravioli with leek cream

    Next up was a dish that sounded more promising in theory than it turned out in practice, coconut polenta balls with avocado and sesame crisps.

    It was very pretty and pleasant enough, but lacking in real flavour. The sesame crisps were great though. Accompanied by a lovely late picked riesling from the Rhine.

    coconut and polenta balls with asparagus puree and sesame crisps

    The soup that followed was delicious, which is not something I’d often say about zucchini soup but they had the seasoning in this one just done perfectly. The soup was in fact zucchini and okra with tomato jam and the contrasting crunch of some raw kohlrabi spirals. The wine with this was a German white burgundy.

    okra and zucchini soup with tomato jam and kohlrabi

    Next up was a pea ravioli dish with pea puree and a mint and coriander foam. Nice enough but not earth shattering and the pasta could have been more delicate. And so far there had been foam on three out of four dishes! This was accompanied by a lovely buttery French chardonnay.

    pea ravioli, pea puree, mint and coriander foam

    Next up my definite favourite of the night. Asparagus season was in full swing in Germany while I was there and they favour big fat white asparagus. It was on the menu everywhere, including here. This dish was just perfect. Grilled asparagus, potato and wild leek cakes with broad beans and another foam. This time I could forgive it because it was black truffle foam. This came with a beautiful crisp white from Austria.

    white grilled asparagus, broad beans, leek and potato cake, truffle foam

    And then on to dessert. This dessert could have been great, if only the chocolate elements had been dark. I’m being picky, it was faultless in most respects, but it just needed that great bitterness that dark chocolate gives. It was accompanied by a lovely Austrian dessert muscat, not sticky like a lot of Australian dessert wines but light and floral.

    choc mousse, choc parfait, strawberry salad and sorbet, mint pesto

    And finally a post meal amuse bouche of a small bite of apple strudel. Delicious.

    apple strudel post meal

    It was good, with a couple of slightly disappointing dishes, but I’m glad I did it. Kopps is still the hands down winner in the perfect brunch category though.

    For fine dining I enjoyed my meal at the Lucky Leek more, mostly because it was more varied and just a bit more refined.

    I waddled home to my hotel glad that the tram took me right to the door…

    Linienstraße 94
    10115 Berlin-Mitte

    Posted July 12, 2016 10:38 AM

    July 09, 2016


    What I Ate: Kitchen Cleanout Edition

    This What I Ate post is really the past fortnight. I’ve been doing a kitchen cleanout and have vowed to use up ingredients I’ve found before going shopping for other stuffz. We’ve also cleared out our little upright freezer, so I had even more stuff that needed to be used. We had family over and...
    Continue reading »

    Posted July 09, 2016 04:31 PM