February 12, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Glass Den: Coburg cafe

I spoke to someone moving into Coburg recently and they asked for some local knowledge.  The first piece of advice that sprang to mind was to check out the Glass Den.  It combines a fascinating historic building on the old Pentridge Gaol site with creative food with lots of great vegan and vegetarian options.  As soon as I heard they had coconut bacon I was excited and more recently I have tried their almond feta too.

The building is the old gatehouse of Pentridge.  The forbidding bluestone facade reminds us that not everyone has always enjoyed going through these doors.  Above the doorway it says HM Metropolitan Reception Prison.  Inside opposite the counter is a wall of bars.  It still surprises me that the historic prison, built in 1850, was closed as recently as 1997.  Most of the complex is being developed into housing so I love that there is still a little corner where the public can enter.  (You can see more in this market in Pentridge.)

However this space is not just doom and gloom of prison.  The cafe is welcoming with lots of space and light, plants and colour, upcycled furniture and modern touches.  I never see it empty because it is a great place to just sit and enjoy a coffee.

In fact I have been visiting previous cafes here since 2009.  When Sylvia was 3 months old we went here when it was Cafe Della Rosa.  I had mothers group meetings here because there was so much space for prams.  And I have been here for coffees with friends from time to time previous to this year.  In fact I had a superb savoury muffin here one day last year.

It was towards the end of last year that the menu changed and the vegan community was excited by the options.  Coconut bacon and candied almonds were mentioned.  It took us a while to get there but now we have been there enough that when we went last weekend the waiter seemed to know our faces.

We have had lovely service on our visits but there was one big problem on our first visit.  We ordered hotcakes and smashed avo and the crumpets on special.  We were in a hurry and when I checked, our order had been forgotten.  The staff were very gracious in the way they handled it (just as they were the time I forgot my purse) but it meant we only had time for muffins and a drink.  I really loved the chocolate chunk and coconut muffin I had.

Sylvia had a berry smoothie.  I think it was the Halle Berry made of apple juice, mixed berries, strawberries and chia seeds.  It was nice though I am not sure she finished it as it was so big and we didn't have much time for it.  I think she enjoyed the Banana Del Ray more which has banana, mango, orange and mint.

Since our first visit we have had so many occasions where something has been forgotten.  I have forgotten my camera, my purse, Sylvia's shoes.  Then we met friends there recently who had forgotten the documents they were bringing us.

I had lunch there with my mum back in November and they had this picturesque Banana Blossom Tom Yum Salad.  It was on the specials board and had chili, rocket, red onion, carrot, enoki mushrooms, toasted coconut, bean shoots, and coriander.  My mum loved it.

Meanwhile I had the Veggie Delight Sandwich.  I think it was made with the quinoa and seeded loaf and packed with with roasted pumpkin, zucchini, roasted capsicum, tomato jam, beetroot and rocket.  My memory is poor and my note taking is worse.  It seemed quite expensive for a vegetable sandwich at about $15 and yet it was very very good.

Sylvia and I went another day and I forgot my camera when I ordered the crushed avocado.  So the next time we came I ordered it again.  Sylvia just had the beer battered chips.  On this occasion, we had the option of one bowl of chips for $7.5 or two small serves for $3.5 each.  I might have been swayed to order a bowl but I really love the mini chip fryer baskets they use for the small serves.  And the chips are really good.  Hot and crisp and tasty.

Photographing the crushed avo and chippies was a tough ask for me but I can promise you it was such a good meal.  The smooshed avocado is served on seeded loaf next to beetroot relish macerated raisins, then scattered with pistachio dukkah and "smoked coconut" (which I call coconut bacon).  It is truly so much more amazing than your average smashed avo with a slice of lemon or side of feta.

Then there was the time we were driving home and on impulse I stopped at the Glass Den for hotcakes.  When the new menu was produced last year with almond meal hotcakes I was pretty excited.  They are gluten free as well as vegan and looked beautiful.  I apologise the my photo does not do them justice.

Our serve surprised me because it had changed slightly and now they come with grilled banana, jackfruit, lotus root compote, maple syrup, toasted coconut, taro chips, & coconut mousse.  I confess I am not so into tropical fruit.  I enjoyed the taro chips and coconut and even the banana.  The lotus root compote was like it was candied and quite interesting.  I am not into cream so the coconut mousse was pushed to the side.  I was not such a fan of the jackfruit.  But this was the first time I have had jackfruit and I always tell sylvia it takes 20 tastes to learn to like something new so maybe I just need more jackfruit in my life.  Sylvia was happy to just eat the hotcakes..

While Sylvia has enjoyed a few smoothies, she is now asking for the Raspberry Fizz at the Glass Den.  I occasionally have the mint tea but I really love the Good Brew Kombucha.  At $7 it is not a cheap drink but it is so refreshing.  I have tried the lavender, the hibiscus and the apple mint.  Once I was told to beware it fizzing up when it was opened and it never fizzed.  Another time I was not warned and for a few minutes the fizz kept bubbling out of the neck.

I love that the kids menu is not just meat. One of these days I will order the vegemite and cheese for Sylvia.  So far she is more enamoured of the chips and pancakes.  We went to the Glass Den last weekend and she loved the kids pancake with ice cream and sprinkles.

On this occasion we met up with friends who brought along a school kid and a baby.  They were impressed by the coffee, the food and that there was plenty of space to park a stroller.  The place has interesting details for kids to look at too.  Apparently there is a toy box so must check if that is still there.

Once fun sight was the old red telephone.  However it has recently disappeared.  I once saw a waiter answer the phone there.  Then when I asked where it was gone I was told too many people had thought it actually worked.    So I am confused.

I ordered the Biggy (photo at top of post as well as above).  Silly name but one of the best big breakfasts I have ever had.  Ever!  It was a generous spread of roasted Dutch carrots, smoked coconut, avocado, grilled mushrooms, home made baked beans, grilled cherry tomatoes, lightly sautéed kale, beetroot relish with a couple of slices of sourdough toast.  I also spied almond feta on the extras and wanted to try it so I ordered this on the side.  Good choice!  It was soft and creamy and tasty.  The vegetables were really beautifully cooked, I loved the piles of coconut bacon and had lots of saucy sides with the avocado, baked beans and almond feta.  Even the toast was substantial and golden.

It was $22 for the Biggy, plus $4 for the almond feta.  Not cheap but worth paying to have a brunch so filled with vegies and coconut bacon and almond feta.  (Please take note other cafes!)  On the weekend we were chatting to the waitress who told us they had had to put up the prices for avocado dishes because the price of avocados had risen so steeply locally.

The Biggy was so good I could dedicate a whole post to it.  However I will just say that it is interesting that when the menu first was available on leaves of brown paper on a clipboard it included chorizo and bacon with an option of carrots and smoked coconut instead.  Now it is written on clean white laminated menus and offers chorizo and bacon as alternative options.  I also had the avocado instead of the eggs.

Coburg just continues to offer more and more in great cafes.  At the moment, The Glass Den is my favourite.  My only reservation is that it is not cheap enough to eat in too often.  However I am sure I will be back soon.  The food is so good, the staff so nice and the space is the perfect place to relax and enjoy life.  How it must have changed since the days when it was once a the gatehouse of a prison.

For more beautiful photos and reviews, also check out Veganopoulous and Where's the Beef.

The Glass Den Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted February 12, 2016 02:06 PM by Johanna GGG

February 11, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Las Chicas II

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on 

February 7, 2016


We decided to broaden out our Cheap Eats 2006 project by heading south of the river for a return breakfast at Las Chicas, a place we'd last visited almost exactly nine years ago. It's managed to maintain a healthy buzz over the decade, meaning we were confronted with a queue for a table at 11:00 on a Sunday. When we were shuffled in after 10 or 15 minutes we were slotted into the back bench of the courtyard, overlooking one of the most picturesque carpark views in town.


The menu is massive and well-stocked with vego items. Vegans have seven dishes to choose from, including coconut sago ($14) and shitake mushrooms with marinated tofu and miso broth ($16). Prices must have gone up since 2007 - our old post has the most expensive vego brekkie at $12, while nowadays you can get a vegetarian big breakfast for $25.

Cindy ordered something similar to the dish I had way back in the day - the pumpkin, polenta and sunflower loaf with avocado, feta, pomegranate, fresh herbs and lemon ($17). The presentation is a bit fancier these days and the dish itself was an improvement on my old baked beans-based version - the loaf was lighter and not as dry, with the feta and avocado serving as delicious condiments. The salad was basically all basil, which was kind of overkill, but that was the only minor complaint that Cindy had.


She paired the meal with a banana and honey smoothie with milk and yoghurt ($8). The two feature flavours were prominent and very sweet.

I opted for one of the vegan meals - Vik's vegan wrap, an overstuffed wrap filled with broccoli, marinated tofu, mushrooms, onion and vegan mayo and drowning in avocado and a tomato salsa ($16).


There's nothing fancy about it, but this is a massive and hearty plate of fresh, tasty food. The vegan mayo was great - not the low-fat Praise option that we usually fall back on - and the mushrooms and tofu provided the rich savoury flavours to balance out the bright freshness of the broccoli and avocado.


We were pretty impressed with our return to Las Chicas - the coffee's good, the staff are friendly and they've really got their systems together. Despite the crowds of people queuing up for tables, service was brisk and the coffee and food turned up speedily. They've stuffed so many tables and chairs in though that it doesn't feel like a very relaxed setting - you can't really avoid the feeling that you're being rushed through so they can clear the decks and cram the next group in. Still, the food is great, and the menu is huge and varied - there are heaps of things I'd love to go back and try. We'll just try to make it at a quieter time of the week.
____________

Read about our first visit to Las Chicas here. Since then it's reputation has remained strong, with positive write-ups on veg blogs Vegan Sparkles and Nouveau Potato plus loads of omni-bloggers: Eat and Be Merry, for Tomorrow We Die(t), Available All Day, Ichigo Shortcake, Fitzroyalty, The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brunch Addict, Travelling in Mary Janes, msz knowitall, The Baroness of Melbourne, Yum Yum, Juganaut's Foodie Thoughts, KittyBaroque, Mr and Mrs Kong, The Melbourne Glutton, ps: I heart you, SouthSideBrunch, Painting Rachel Red, One Fat Cow, Melbourne Places, Tell Her She's Dreaming, Melbourne Din(n)ing Blog, A Food Trail, My Diet Starts Tomorrow and The World Loves Melbourne.

There are just a few people with less than rave reviews - see Howie's Melbourne Food Blog, The Epicurean of Southbank,Yellow Eggs, Juju's Gastronomy and two fat buns.
____________


Las Chicas
203 Carlisle St, Balaclava
9531 3699
breakfast menu, lunch menu, drinks menu, specials
http://www.laschicas.com.au/

Accessibility: There is a flat entry, but the space is crowded with people and tables. There are a mix of regular tables and higher benches with stools. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter.

Posted February 11, 2016 07:46 PM by Michael

February 09, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Shrove Tuesday Aquafaba Crepes with Haggis

Greetings on this Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Tuesday).  I had a go at aquafaba crepes today.  They were good but perhaps not quite as thin as they should be.  I usually make fat fluffy pancakes but today I wanted them thin enough to wrap around some leftover vegan haggis.

I have mentioned before that I have a vision of making a tartan haggis meal.  On my first attempt at tartan haggis, I piped sweet potato and tomato sauce over mashed potato and haggis.  The piping was far too thick.  On the weekend I had a go at piping much thinner stripes.  It is better.  I need to do away with my shaky hand.  And I really wanted a brighter green but my spinach was from dubious sources.  (Curse you, salmonella outbreak in bags of baby spinach!)

The tartan haggis quest continues.  Meanwhile I had lots of haggis and green cheese sauce leftover.  I made a fairly standard fast track pizza with tomato sauce, haggis and grated cheese.  While it baked I made a vegan cheese sauce.  I based in on Dreena's vegveeta sauce but doubled the cashews, added some garlic powder. I placed half in a squeezy bottle (the white half) and then added a few handfuls of basil and garlic plus a good handful of cooked green peas.  It never went green enough but tasted of peas and basil, ie a little sweet but full of flavour.

For Shrove Tuesday, I really wanted a savoury pancake.  It suited me for it to be vegan.  And I am still fascinated by the miracles of chickpea brine or aquafaba.  I finally found a reason to hang onto my balloon whisk when whisking the aquafaba.  At first the mixture was a little too thick to swirl around the pan.  I thinned it down and made another half batch of pancake mixture (because I had the aquafaba).  So a batch and a half made 8 pancakes.  I wonder if I should have thinned the mixture more.

 When it came to stuffing the pancakes or crepes, they rolled up really easily.  I spread the middle with green pea cheese sauce and then sprinkled lots of haggis along it.  I rolled it up placed it in a greased pan.  It was covered in more cheese sauce, tomato sauce and some grated (vegan) biocheese.  I cooked it for about 15 minutes.  The biocheese was disappointing after having it melt so nicely on toast but I guess it looked good and the cheese sauce gave the cheesy flavour.  It was so filling that one stuffed pancake would have been enough each.  Again I questioned if I had made the pancakes too thick.

Overall I was delighted with these pancakes.  Sylvia loved them with some grated cheese in them and rolled up.  The three of us the last one with nutella in it.  They are quite lacy textured, as aquafaba baking tends to be.  It is a brilliant recipe to use up aquafaba and make easy pancakes.  I will experiment with making thinner ones and report back.

I am sharing these crepes with Kimmy at Healthy Vegan Fridays, Jac at Meat Free Mondays, Karen for Cooking with Herbs.

More pancake recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Pancakes filled with potato and lentils
Pea pancakes with sun-dried tomato pesto 
Spinach pancakes  (gf, v)

Almond meal pancakes (gf)
Banana oat pancakes (v)
Chocolate pancakes with berries and chocolate sauce
Pancakes with oats and cornmeal
Pumpkin buckwheat pancakes
Spiced carrot pancakes

Aquafaba crepes
Adapted from Clean Real Food Highs
Makes about 6 large crepes

1 cup aquafaba
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
4-6 tbsp milk or water

Whisk aquafaba by hand to make it frothy.  Gradually whisk in flour, salt and baking powder.  Slowly whisk in water until you have a thin mixture (like pouring cream, only just thicker than milk).

Preheat heavy bottom non stick frypan over medium to medium high heat.  (I needed medium high).  Lightly grease pan (I used a light coating of margarine for the first and then a spray of oil spray between crepes.)

Now add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mixture to pan and swirl to cover pan.  (I think my pan is about 22cm in diameter.  I used 1/2 cups of mixture but others use 1/4 cups so maybe if I had it thinner I could use 1/4 cups and make more pancakes.)

Cook until when you check the underside there is some light golden brown colour.  The edges will curl up and some bubbles will appear but neither indicate there is colour on the other side.  I found I needed to look.  Flip over and cook for another minute or two until some golden brown spots on the second side.

Stack pancakes with a clean tea towel over them.  They will soften slightly.  Stack or fill to serve as desired.  Can be stuffed and baked.

Green Vegveeta
adapted from Dreena Burton via Green Gourmet Giraffe
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 cup milk (I used soy)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ tsp yellow mustard powder
  • 2 good handfuls of basil and parsley
  • 1 cup cooked green peas
Blend in a high power blender.  (If your blender is not high powered or you use a food processor you will need to soak the cashews.)

NOTE: if I had a handful of spinach or kale I would put that in too.

Vegan crepes with haggis and cheese 
serves 4

4 crepes (see above)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp green vegveeta sauce (above)
1/2 a batch vegan haggis
1/4 - 1/2 cup tomato sauce (such as this or this)
60g grated biocheese or other cheese

Preheat oven to 220 C

Place a crepe on a flat surface and spread about 2 tablespoons of vegveeta sauce.  Crumble 1/4 of the haggis over it.  Roll up and place face down in a greased casserole dish.  Repeat with remaining 3 crepes.  Spread remaining vegveeta sauce on the crepes.  Spread tomato sauce over the vegveeta.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until cheese has melted.

On the Stereo:
Amanda Palmer goes Down Under

Posted February 09, 2016 10:45 PM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni

In My Kitchen - February 2016


Wow, it’s February. I know I say this every year, but time has seriously flown. Most of the last few weeks has been spent catching up with people post Christmas, lots of big meals with friends and family, and not much time spent in my kitchen. There has been a few new additions and some new toys to play with, which is always fun.

First off the rank is this awesome strainer that I got as a present. My sink usually has dishes in it, so I can’t really place a colander down in it, so I’m always trying to juggle the colander in one hand, and a heavy pot in the other and drain my rice, pasta or whatever other item I’m cooking. This new strainer sits over the top of the sink and I don’t need to hold on to it! Genius!


It was pretty hot on the weekend, so I made myself some ice tea using one of the flavours in this T2 fruit tea pack. It was a citrus blend, and quite refreshing. I avoided adding any extra sugar, so it wasn’t very sweet, but still quite nice.


Staying on the drink theme, and also as part of my Shopping Small mission for the month, I got some Summer Snow apple juice. Summer Snow apple juice is pressed locally at an orchard in Officer (just near Pakenham). The family run orchard originally grew apples to supply to the markets but in the late 90’s they crop was hit by a huge hailstorm and none of it could be sold as fresh fruit. To try and salvage the produce, the family decided to juice the apples and as a result, Summer Snow juices was born. These days the juice business has become the primary focus and the juice they produce is spectacular.


I also made these fake meatballs which I saw on Tara’s Vegetaraian blog. The original recipe calls for eggplant and cannellini beans, but I didn’t have any cannellini beans so I substituted for kidney beans. They were still pretty delicious, but a little bit messy to fry. I was planning to make my own pasta, but I got lazy and instead used some angel hair pasta I had in the pantry.



This post is part of the In My Kitchen series hosted my Maureen from the Orgasmic Chef. Head over to her blog to see what is going on in other people's kitchens!

That’s about all from my kitchen this month! What’s been happening in your kitchen?

Posted February 09, 2016 10:54 AM by Moni

February 08, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Apricot and passionfruit smoothie, plus a salad and a spinach dip

Just before Christmas I planned a post about some of the healthier food I was eating in the midst of all the indulgent baking.  I never had time.  So while I am not cooking much that is bloggable (it is either old recipes or a bit of this and a bit of that), it seems a good time to catch up.  However only the smoothie seems worth blogging.  I also made a spinach dip that was really similar to one on my blog and I made a great salad but in the festive craziness forgot to write it down.

We make smoothies quite regularly but I rarely post them now as they are often quite similar (like this smoothie).  However this one is worth sharing because it uses two of my favourite summer fruits: apricot and passionfruit.  It is perfect for a summer breakfast.

We made the smoothie with vanilla yoghurt which I don't usually use.  Around this time, we stopped having yoghurt and muesli or rice bubbles for breakfast, so I really wanted to finish pots of soy vanilla yoghurt and dairy vanilla yoghurt.  The yoghurt made it very creamy and delicious.  Which reminds me that I should make some more muesli soon.

I also intended to post this baked spinach dip that I found on Rock Your Vegan Socks.  Kimmy's photo was really gorgeous and made the dip queue-jump my to do list.  The dip was really delicious but then I found I had posted a really similar spinach dip recipe a couple of years ago.  We had it with sweet potato mash and roasted red capsicum strips wrapped in sourdough flatbreads

For Kimmy's dip I followed the recipe closely, just using spinach instead of kale and sriracha instead of ground pepper.  I highly recommending heading over to check out Kimmy's blog to check out her kale dip.

And then there is the salad that looks beautiful but I never had time to write the recipe.  Such is the crazy time of year.  It was inspired by Woolworths food magazine's Wild Rice and Lentil salad.  Mine was quite different as it didn't have feta and beetroot. 

The salad had a base of wild rice, brown rice and brown lentils.  These were topped with spiralised carrots, spring onions, walnuts, avocado and parsley.  I think the dressing was just oil, vinegar and garlic.  Spiralising the carrot was not great for this salad.  Grated carrot would work better.  And the avocado, that I used instead of feta, was delicious but avocado is suddenly so expensive that I am less likely to use it right now.  I would like to return to this salad and maybe might even remember to write notes next time.

I am sending the smoothie to Healthy Vegan Fridays, Gluten Free Fridays and No Waste Food Challenge.

More smoothies on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana, berry and plum smoothie (gf)
Green smoothie (gf, v)
Raspberry, apricot and pumpkin smoothie (gf, v)
Strawberry cheesecake smoothie (gf)
Tropical orange and carrot smoothie (gf, v)

Apricot and passionfruit smoothie
An original recipe from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 2

1 banana, peeled
2 apricots, stoned
seeds and pulp of 2 passionfruits
1 cup milk*
175g vanilla yoghurt*
1 handful rolled oats
1 tsp chia seeds

Blend

NOTES: We use soy milk but other milks should work.  I made it on different occasions with soy yoghurt and dairy yoghurt and either were fine.

On the stereo 
Fin de Siecle - The Divine Comedy

Posted February 08, 2016 10:28 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Moroccan roasted carrot salad

February 7, 2016


Here's a big, bright salad that's been sitting among my to-make bookmarks for a couple of years. We've actually already got a Moroccan carrot salad in our archives; by comparison, this one streamlines the spice list and has a greater variety of vegetables. Their roasting is brief - the carrots retain a hint of crunch while the onions are soft. Chickpeas are just barely warmed through and lemon wedges collapse in your hand, spreading juice and vesicles across the salad.

Everything's warmly spiced with cinnamon and paprika, while slivered almonds and dates add extra texture and a bit of sweetness. The original recipe also includes a dressing of yoghurt swirled with pomegranate molasses, but we found that there was plenty of moisture and flavour without it.

This salad would make a nice light lunch on its own, with the chickpeas lending just enough substance to satisfy. We teamed it with a watermelon salad for a lovely early dinner, and had plenty left to pack for work.



Moroccan roasted carrot salad
(slightly adapted from a recipe on Delicious Everyday)

1 bunch small carrots
1 red onion
1 lemon
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt, to taste
1/4 cup slivered almonds
400g can chickpeas
1/3 cup dates
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 cup rocket


Preheat an oven to 180°C.

Wash the carrots and trim off the stalks. Slice each carrot lengthways into four or more sticks and place them in a baking tray. Peel the onion, slice it into eight chunks and add them to the baking tray. Slice a lemon lengthways into four wedges and add them to the baking tray. Mince the garlic and add it to the baking tray. Drizzle over the olive oil, then shake over the paprika, cinnamon, cumin and salt. Gently toss the veges around the distribute the oil and spices. Bake them for around 30 minutes - the carrots will still be quite firm, and the onions should be soft but retaining their shape.

While the veges are cooking, place the almonds in a separate small baking dish and toast them in the oven, around 20 minutes. Be sure to check them every 5 minutes just in case they need less time - they can burn quickly.

Drain the can of chickpeas. When the roasted vegetables are done, add the chickpeas to the drain and stir them to catch some of the spicy dressing. Let the vegetables cool down for around 10 minutes. Use this time to finely chop the dates.

To serve, spread the spinach leaves and rocket across a serving platter. Arrange the carrots, chickpeas and onions over the greens; sprinkle with almonds and dates and garnish with the lemon wedges.

Posted February 08, 2016 08:36 PM by Cindy

quinces and kale

a dumpling workshop

potstickers

I love dumplings. I love them, in all their variety and in any cuisine. I’ve never met a dumpling I didn’t like, from Eastern Europe to Asia. But Chinese dumplings are my favourite. Light, delicate and plump all at the same time, they are a work of art.

I’ve tried to make them in the past with wonton wrappers, but they’ve been a dismal failure, thin, broken and leaking filling. Tasty enough, but not a thing of beauty and not really worth the effort.

So it was a no brainer when I discovered a dumpling workshop run by Angie Chong of The Humble Dumpling that offered vegan options. I signed up in a flash. This isn’t an entirely vegan dumpling class but the dumpling fillings are prepared and cooked separately.

I’ve discovered that the secret to perfect dumplings is to make and hand roll the pastry. The other secret is to roll each dumpling wrapper individually by hand towards the centre, not the edges, which is the more typical way to roll pastry for example. This way they are thinner at the edges so that when they are sealed you don’t get a lump of thick dough.

The pastry is made from plain flour, tapioca starch, oil and hot water. It makes a soft but not sticky dough that handles easily. The fillings can be anything you like. I made one that had Chinese cabbage, bean thread noodles, spring onions, roasted pumpkin, carrot, coriander, ginger, garlic, taro, shiitake and wood ear fungus, bound with potato starch and seasoned with salt, soy, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Angie also kindly made me another one that had zucchini, walnuts and tofu with herbs and seasonings. I’m not going to write up the exact recipes because they belong to Angie (If you are in Melbourne you should do the class and you will get them). I will however write up the dough as there are plenty of dough recipes out there.

There were also some intriguing dumplings called Pearly Moons which are a sort of meatball rolled in sticky rice with no wrappers. Obviously I didn’t eat them, but I am going to try to create something like them using mushrooms and gluten flour. You’ll need to wait for some experimentation for those.

filling ingredients pressing the dough rolling the dough veggie fillings for dumplings pleating the dumplings dumplings ready for steaming frying the potstickers dumpling steamed dumplings setting the table tea time

We ate the dumplings two ways, steamed in baskets and also done as pot stickers where the dumpling is fried on the bottom and then a small amount of water is poured in to steam the dumplings with the lid on, the water evaporated and the dumpling fried again. This leaves them with delicious crispy bottoms and delicate steamed tops.

I had a great time at the workshop and I would encourage anyone who loves dumplings to do it. It is small, friendly, held in Angie’s beautiful home and is a good combination of introduction to ingredients, technique and eating. It is very hands on, with plenty of laughter and friendly conversation as we sat round the kitchen table filling the wrappers and making beautifully pleated dumplings. And of course you get to sit down for lunch and eat them!

I cannot recommend the class highly enough. I’ve done a lot of cooking classes and this was one of my all time favourites. I went in as a complete novice and came out an excellent and confident dumpling maker.

 

chinese dumpling dough wrappers
 
author: the humble dumpling
recipe type: chinese
cuisine: vegan
serves: 32
ingredients
  • 1¼ cups plain flour
  • ⅓ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tbs rice bran oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup boiling water slightly cooled
instructions
  1. Mix the flours and the salt together
  2. Add the oil to the water
  3. Pour most of the water into the flours mixing to combine
  4. Add as much water as needed to form ragged clumps of dough.
  5. Turn out onto a floured bench and knead until soft and smooth.
  6. Rest for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Don't cut the dough all at once or the dough will dry out. Use about ⅛ of the dough at a time and keep the rest covered with a damp cloth.
  8. Roll the ⅛ into a sausage and cut into 4 pieces.
  9. Flatten each piece slightly
  10. Roll each piece into a circle 8cm across.
  11. Do this by holding the edge of the dough and roll towards the CENTRE of the dough lightly and rotating slightly after each roll. Resist the temptation to press too hard at first or you will put the dough out of shape.
3.5.3208

 

 

The Humble Dumpling

http://thehumbledumpling.com/

 

 

Posted February 08, 2016 09:30 AM

February 07, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Ray V

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

January 28, 2016


Our recent morning visit to Ray was handy for making comparisons to our earliest Ray breakfasts in 2007. But we were actually much more curious about the evening menu that the cafe has introduced of late, including a $30 per person vegan degustation on Thursdays. Just two days later we arranged to meet our mate Troy there and get a more extended show of their vegan cheffing skills.


Course 1 of 5 was a nice array of finger food - Tooluka olives in sherry vinegar with charred quinoa bread, and steamed edamame seasoned with a lively coriander salt and squeeze of lemon.


Course 2 really raised the stakes with molten cauliflower & miso 'cheese' croquettes, sitting atop piccalilli puree. A pretty salad of raw, pickled and fermented vegetables added piquancy and crunch, and included dabs of black tahini and hemp oil.


As our third course arrived, it was clear that Ray was willing to provide quantity as well as quality. A dish of crushed Kipfler potatoes was dressed with tarragon and a white wine vinaigrette and garnished with caper berries. I couldn't believe it was bettered by a risotto! This one was barley based, offering both bite and comforting brothiness, made green and fresh with peas, asparagus and watercress. The nooch on the side made it clear that this kitchen knows its vegan staples.


The course was made massive with these dense lentil kofta, served in a 'hummus' that reminded Troy of Indian butter chicken sauce, with dollops of macadamia cream and a sprinkling of duhka. This will be the dish that we'll always remember from the meal - hearty yet fancy, with gorgeous spices.


The fourth course was a lovely dial-down, a modest dish of watermelon cubes with a show-off garnish of pomegranate seeds, coconut 'cheese', microgreens and a tart raspberry dressing.


We finished up with chocolate - hooray! A rectangle of soy chocolate icecream sat with microgreens and a medley of crunchy and caramelly bits of biscuit, popcorn and smoked almond butter. The more formidable block of 'cheesecake' tasted equally of chocolate and banana, with just a hint of chilli.

While we've always known Ray to be a damn good cafe, this did not prepare us for the spectacular bargain offered by their Thursday night vegan degustation. The complexity and variety of these dishes rivals Transformer, yet at $30 a head it's half the price. Mock meat-free and vegetable-centred, it's generously portioned and very filling. (Of course, what's served will vary week to week with produce availability.) Whether you've got a special occasion to celebrate or you're just really very hungry, we urge you to find an excuse to visit Ray on your next available Thursday night.

____________

Ray
332 Victoria St, Brunswick
9380 8593
http://www.rayscafebrunswick.com.au/


Accessibility: There is a shallow and slightly narrow ramp on entry. Tables are quite densely packed, but there is a clear corridor through the cafe. We ordered at our table and paid at a low-ish counter. Toilets are unisex, fully accessible individual cubicles.

Posted February 07, 2016 06:32 PM by Cindy

February 05, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Nutella recipes and ideas

Happy World Nutella Day.  I bought a jar of Nutella today and then decided I did not have time to bake with it so instead I am bringing you a round up of some fun Nutella recipes on my blog.

Like rice krispie slice but better

Nutella is great sandwiched between any cookies

A variation on Aussie party food: bread spread with nutella and then sprinkled with 100s and 1000s

Pipe nutella into your doughnuts

Dollop nutella on top of a pancake in the pan and then cover with more nutella

Dessert pizza topped with nutella, chocolate melts and raspberries

Nutella in the cupcake and a little extra swirled on top

Blondies are always better with nutella swirled on top

Amazing result of mixing nutella, chocolate and condensed milk 

If you don't have time to bake, buy a doughnut

 For those who don't eat dairy

Posted February 05, 2016 01:34 PM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni

Shopping Small - Week 1

I am one week down in my Shopping Small experiment and it has been a success so far, probably because I haven’t had to do much shopping at all! Much of this week as been spent eating leftovers from my Mum, or eating out. I did do a big cook up on Sunday night, which was technically still in January, but to get into the spirit I shopped small!

There were quite a few groceries I needed, so I ended up going to an IGA. I also went to a local green grocer to get some fruit and vegetables. I actually found a discounted bag of mixed vegetables which is always a good way to get a range of vegetables which stretch you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes the quality is a little less than perfect, but if you use them up within a few days they are fine.

So what did I end up buying from my first Shopping Small trip?


2L of milk – This is probably the purchase I am least happy about. I wanted to buy ethical, ‘close to the source’ milk, but instead ended up with the IGA generic branded milk. There was a limited variety to choose from, and also the price difference between the options was huge. This milk cost me $2.10, and the most expensive milk cost almost $7 for 2L. Whilst I want to do the right thing, I think finances have to play a part too.

Fantastic instant noodles - Again, a pretty generic option. And again, I had a very limited choice. I did buy the noodles in a bulk pack, with the least amount of packaging though.

Sundried tomatoes and olives. I bought the Always Fresh brand which are an Australian company, and are well priced and taste great. The packaging was in glass which I will either reuse or recycle.

I bought some Danish feta from the deli. I made sure to buy the local Australian variant too.

Also from IGA I bought some watermelon and a red onion. (Yes, I was making my watermelon and feta salad!) IGA support local farmers, so I didn’t feel too bad buying fresh produce from them.

From the green grocer I bought the mixed bag of vegetables I mentioned earlier. There was three eggplants, a red onion, a white onion, a capsicum and a tray of 4 corns. The corns were the only item that was a bit questionable, but still nothing too bad. I used one of them together with the capsicum that day in a noodle stir fry I made, and it was perfect. I also bought a small amount of beans from the green grocer for the noodles too.

All in all it was a successful week. I really didn’t miss the big supermarkets at all. One week down, three more to go! This week I want to try and make my own bread, and also do a little bit more meal planning!

Posted February 05, 2016 08:50 AM by Moni

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Meringue nests with green herb sorbet

January 24-26, 2016


I often like taking dessert to Ottolenghi club, and this month I had a special request from our host to make a recipe that had recently appeared in Ottolenghi's Guardian column. It's the kind of recipe that calls for an open mind as much as a sweet tooth, featuring a green sorbet of apple, celery, parsley, basil and tarragon. This herbal curiosity is supported by a more traditionally sweet base of meringue and crème fraîche.

The sorbet needs a really good blender to puree all that green produce, and I trialled and rejected our food processor and stick blender before finally blending the mixture in our spice grinder attachment in 3 small batches. (Thanks for washing up, Michael.) Even then I can recommend a thorough straining to really get this down to a velvetty, verdant scoop - imagine how off-putting it would be to find a stray celery string in your sweets. A hefty 300g of glucose syrup keeps the sorbet soft, sweet and scoopable.

Ottolenghi's recipe includes baking your own meringues, but I really couldn't be bothered. I just stacked up some supermarket ones with the crème fraîche, confident that this green sorbet would take all of the attention. It sure did! A small serve proved refreshing and unexpected, with just enough richness to satisfy.




Meringue nests with green herb sorbet
(adapted slightly from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe on The Guardian)

300g glucose syrup
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup water
3 royal gala apples
3 long or 5 stubby celery stems
1/2 cup parsley
1/4 cup tarragon, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup basil, plus extra for garnish
8 meringue nests
200g crème fraîche
2 teaspoons dill, to garnish

In a small-medium bowl, whisk together the glucose syrup, lemon juice and water. Pour it all into a large blender.

Peel, core and roughly chop the apples; blend them into the glucose mixture. Trim and roughly chop the celery stems; blend them into the glucose mixture. Roughly chop the parsley, tarragon and basil; blend them into the glucose mixture. Continue blending very thoroughly, until the sorbet mixture is as smooth as possible. Strain the sorbet mixture through a fine sieve, pressing through as much juice as possible and discarding the pulp. Churn the sorbet in an ice-cream maker and freezer in an airtight container for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

When it's time to serve, place a meringue nest in a serving dish for each person. Spoon a tablespoon of creme fraiche into each nest. Gently place a scoop of the green sorbet atop each nest. Lightly scatter the dishes with tarragon, basil and dill leaves. Serve immediately.

Posted February 05, 2016 07:43 AM by Cindy

February 04, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

The Dressmaker Exhibition, Barwon Park, Winchelsea

In the school holidays one of the treats was to visit Barwon Park in Winchelsea where an exhibition of the costumes from The Dressmaker film is showing until 11 March 2016.  Unless you have a close family friend with keys to the mansion, I suggest you check which days of the week it opens.

If, like me, you are familiar with the mansion, you might start in surprise at the railway sign that has popped up by the front door.  It is, of course, from the film.  I read the book of the same name by Rosalie Ham in my book club last year and then went to see the movie with the group.  The story, set in the 1950s small town Australia, tells of a dressmaker returning to her childhood home to face the trauma of her past and to wow the gossips with her stylish creations. 

The exhibition gives us the elegance and fun of the film, without any of its malice and heartbreak.  Upon entering Barwon Park, you know that this is not the mansion in its prim Nineteenth Century regalia.  The grand staircase is covered by a life sized photo of a scene from the movie with mannequins wearing outfits from the scene.

Indeed the rooms are full of mannquins wearing the fabulous frocks from the movie, often with giant backdrops like this one.  And a photo from the movie, just in case you forgot.

In one front room a wall is dedicated to hats from the movie.

And many more gorgeous dresses.  The mannequins seem to have enough style to pull off wearing such wonderful outfits.

The star of the film was Kate Winslet.  Her character's sewing machine and various props are also here to see.

As we wandered about we were able to hear from our guide about the movie.  I was interested to hear it was filmed in the nearby You Yangs.  The landscape looked so dry and dusty.  It was a most surprising location for all these stylish dresses

Those visiting from the old country might have also been surprised at the extravagance of the mansion in the colonies.  The grand staircase is not hidden from the entrance hall but can be seen from behind the display.  It is mighty impressive.

And as I walk up the staircase I am struck yet again by the beauty of the mansion, even though I have seen it before.

It is in this grand hall that a wedding party's outfits from the film is on display. 

And admist all the fancy dresses, I am pleased to see the dowdy dresses of the mother, played with great humour by Judy Davis.

In the "family" rooms of the mansion, much of the furniture has been removed to make way for the exhibition.

Ironically, though the ladies of Dungatar in the movie would have been far more at home in the servants quarters than in the more posh rooms, these humble rooms were not use for the exhibition.

Some of them had furniture from other rooms.  I loved the shabby chic in this photo.

Other rooms were elegantly simple.  Though I daresay it didn't feel too elegant to the maids when they looked at how the other half lived.

It would have been lovely to have devonshire tea in the stables but this was not the day for it.  That will have to wait until next visit.  We had an afternoon tea to attend.

Barwon Park
105 Inverleigh Road
Winchelsea
Open Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday
Dressmaker Exhibition: Wednesday to Sunday until 11 March 2016
www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/barwon-park

Posted February 04, 2016 10:31 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Plenty More salads

January 26, 2016


Our semi-regular Ottolenghi potluck club had its first meeting for 2016 on the January 26 public holiday. With warm weather forecast and a whole day to prepare food, I decided to whip up a couple of salads from Plenty More as our savoury contribution to the spread (the full feast is on display over on our facebook page). My first choice was pumpkin with chilli yoghurt and coriander sauce (pictured above), at least partly because it was pitched as the simplest recipe in the whole book. Given I was turning the oven on to cook the pumpkin, I stuck to the 'roast' section of the book and added the roasted cauliflower, grape and cheddar salad as dish #2.

The pumpkin dish was indeed easy - you roast up some cinnamon-coated pumpkin wedges, whiz together a herby sauce and stir some Sriracha into yoghurt and you're done. The results belie the relative simplicity of the recipe - the sweetness of the pumpkin perfectly complements the tangy yoghurt and the slightly salty coriander sauce.


The cauliflower salad also proved to be relatively simple (I'm pretty amazed that each of these recipes just have one fresh herb and leave it at that). Again, the pay-off easily exceeds the effort put in - roasting cauliflower really brings out its sweet nuttiness while adding some slightly smoky hints (if you get the charring level right). The remaining ingredients - grapes, cheddar, hazelnuts, raisins and parsley - are just about a perfect combination of flavours and textures. 

Making these two recipes in one hit is a relatively efficient way to get stuck into Plenty More - all the miscellaneous prep can be done while the pumpkin and cauliflower are roasting, so the whole process should take less than 90 minutes. We've already remade the pumpkin dish once, and I reckon both of these will slip into our semi-regular Ottolenghi rotation.

Pumpkin with chilli yoghurt & coriander sauce
(very slightly adapted from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More)

1 large butternut pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
90ml olive oil
1 small bunch coriander
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
200g Greek yoghurt
1-2 tablespoons Sriracha chilli sauce
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into thin wedges (about 2cm thick and 10cm long). Leave the skin on. Put all the wedges in a bowl and mix through the ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Lay the pumpkin wedges out on a baking tray (or two) with the skin down. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked through and starting to brown up.

Combine the coriander (leave a few leaves aside for garnishing), garlic, the remaining olive oil and another pinch of salt in a small food processor and blitz to a smooth paste. 

When you've got about 10 minutes left on the pumpkin roasting, pop the pumpkin seeds in on another tray to roast. Keep a close eye on them and pull them out when they've just started to blister and crisp up.

Swirl together the yoghurt and the chilli sauce.

Allow everything to cool a bit. Lay the wedges on a platter and drizzle over with the yoghurt sauce and the herb paste and then scatter the pumpkin seeds and reserved coriander leaves on top.



Roasted cauliflower, grape & cheddar salad
(very slightly adapted from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More)

1 head of cauliflower, broken into bite-sized florets
90ml olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly crushed
100g crumbled cheddar cheese
100g red grapes, halved (and seeded if necessary)
1/2 bunch parsley, roughly chopped (about 3/4 cup)
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Toss the cauliflower with half the oil and some salt and pepper. Spread them out on a baking tray and roast for 25 minutes, stirring a couple of times. You want them to come out golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together the rest of the oil, the mustard, the vinegar, syrup and some salt. Add the raisins to the dressing and let them marinate for 10 minutes or so.

When you're ready to serve things up put the cauliflower in a large mixing  bowl, along with the hazelnuts, cheese, grapes and parsley and then pour over the raisins and the dressing. Toss everything together gently and serve. 

Posted February 04, 2016 07:37 AM by Michael

February 03, 2016

Thoughts Of A Moni

Ther Herbert Cafe

Hipster. Northcote. The two words almost go hand in hand. And together with the hipster in Northcote is the café that they go to have breakfast at. It should have exposed wood beams, there might be concrete floors, the café should preferably be in an old converted factory or warehouse, and the crockery should be mismatched. But most importantly, the coffee has to be good and the food needs to be creative.  The Herbert Café is just what the hipster is Northcote is looking for.

Located just next to the Northcote train station, on Herbert St (hence the name!) the café is located just off the busy High St strip. From the outset, the building really does look like a rundown or abandoned old factory, but as you step inside, the atmosphere changes. The café is very small, and there are lots of little timber tables and timber stools for the patrons. We found ourselves a table, and little clipboards with the menus were handed to us.


We started with our drinks order. The Herbert serves Padre coffee which is what the other half chose, and I got excited seeing Prana Chai on the menu and had to order myself a pot. The drinks arrived quickly and when they arrived at our table, they took up almost all the space! We had to make sure we finished them before the food arrived!



The menu didn’t have my usual option of fritters, so instead I chose to go with a breakfast burger. It had a big juicy portabello mushroom which was well flavoured with garlic as the patty, and also had roast peaches, caramelised onion, avocado, and was served on a wholegrain brioche bun. The burger was very delicious. I had never had roast peaches before, but the sweetness of them and the caramelised onion worked beautifully with the garlicky flavour of the mushroom. If there was to be any criticism, it would be that the burger was pretty tricky to eat. The mushroom kept on sliding out, and so I decided to eat it as a deconstructed burger with a knife and fork. Perhaps that’s how hipsters eat their burgers.


The other half also went for a very unusual choice from the menu, Welsh Rarebit. He had never tasted it before, and had very little idea of what to expect, but when the dish arrived, and he tasted it, he said it was one of the most amazing breakfasts he had tasted. For those that didn’t know what Welsh Rarebit was, like us, it is basically a pimped up cheese toastie. Now I love a cheese toastie, but when pimped up, it goes to a new level. With red onion, Worcestershire sauce and some really good cheese, this was one good toastie. It was the most unique combination of flavour, unlike anything we had ever tasted.


The Herbert Café was certainly a good find. Next time, perhaps we will have to ride our fixies there, just to get into the spirit.
The Herbert Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted February 03, 2016 08:50 AM by Moni

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Ray IV

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

January 26, 2016


Our Cheap Eats project was a welcome excuse to revisit Ray, a cafe we've long liked. I reckon it might've been the first eatery we visited sporting the exposed brick-and communal table look that's now so ubiquitous in Melbourne. Ray's popularity has motivated an expansion and minor remodel since then, though the ambience is much the same.

The menu's had something of a remodel in the last couple of years too. Known initially for its Middle Eastern tweaks to the usual brunch fare (such as dukkah-spinkled poached eggs and French toasted Turkish bread), it's now a haphazard litany of pop culture references with Oatkast and Iron Maiden sitting alongside Avocado Da Vinci. Thankfully their dietary features are clear, with plenty for vegan, gluten-free and halal eaters.


Michael took on the handsome Cob Dylan ($19.80), a generous stack of corn fritters topped with a fried egg and augmented with avocado, fattoush salad, radish, pickles and preserved lemon yoghurt.


I was momentarily disappointed not to see French toast or pancakes on the menu, but perked up when I noticed the granola and the bircher muesli were both vegan. The Pineapple Express ($13.20) seemed the best analog of the bircher I ordered in our first Ray blog post (just $7 back in '07!). It's a riot of julienned apple, mango, pineapple and berries scattered with "chilli popcorn praline" (actually heat-free popcorn crumbs and tiny toffee shards). They conceal a deceptively dense bircher that I had no hope of finishing.


Ray's once outrageously cheap breakfasts are now up at market value, and the menu's had a major makeover. However the service and setting are reassuringly familiar, and we've never had a dud meal there. We reckon it's kept its cool rather admirably this last decade.

____________

You can read about one, two, three of our previous visits to Ray. Fellow veg blogger quinces and kale likes Ray, as do omni bloggers The Hungry Grub, BEAN HERE MELBOURNE, CHOMP AND SLURP, the coffee guide... and the hungry lawyer. Reviews are more mixed on New International Students, Available all day and mochii eats.
____________

Ray
332 Victoria St, Brunswick
9380 8593
breakfast, lunch & drinks
http://www.rayscafebrunswick.com.au/

Accessibility: There is a shallow and slightly narrow ramp on entry. Tables are quite densely packed, but there is a clear corridor through the cafe. We ordered at our table and paid at a low-ish counter. Toilets are unisex fully accessible individual cubicles.

Posted February 03, 2016 07:33 AM by Cindy

February 02, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen, February 2016

So it is February.  I hope your are settling into 2016 and ready to guess what is in this little jar above.  (The answer is at the bottom of the post.)  It is busy here with school starting last week and being back to work and trying to sort out the year and a to do list. 

Over the school holidays we cleaned out some cupboards including the glass display cabinet with some of my good glasses.  The Waterford crystal champagne glasses (not in this picture) were shamefully dusty.

We also cleaned up all the egg cups and put a few out to the op shop.  Sylvia went through a phase of eating lots of boiled eggs but hasn't had one for ages.  Upon seeing her fun egg cups she asked for a boiled egg.  They say boiling an egg is a simple thing to do but given that I have never eaten a boiled egg, making them does not come naturally.

Sylvia did not think I boiled the egg long enough (8 minutes from the start of bringing cold water to the boil with eggs the fridge seemed to be what I remembered doing) so no more eggs have been boiled.  Which suits me.  These days I do not have eggs in the fridge all the time.

My mum bought this gorgeous cut out fairy tale set for Sylvia for Christmas.  We had fun with it during the holidays.  I am not sure why the prince has blutak over his face.  You are welcome to share your guesses.

My mum gave me some apricots off her tree.  They were lovely fresh but there were a lot and they were quite ripe.

So I made them into stewed apricots.  Just a dessertspoon of sugar, a splash of water, brought them to the boil and simmered a couple of minutes until they looked soft.  I am not good at keeping them whole when I stew them.  They tasted amazing.

I was so pleased with my stewed apricots that I decided to stew up some soft peaches.  Which was not a good idea while supervising Sylvia and my niece in the bath.  They were forgotten and very very burnt.  I could have cried.

We visited a kindergarten friend of Sylvia's who is living in a small unit.  Her mum has an amazing garden in a tiny piece of land and had so much silverbeet that she gifted some to me.  It went into a soup like this one.

One of the significant moments of January was when David Bowie died.  I decided to make shepherd's pie which apparently was one of his favourite dishes.  I used up some frozen black beans, fried cabbage and old sweet potato.

It was a great stew but I never got the potato on top.  It was either too hot or too late or probably both.  We loved the stew with rice and in wraps.

Lots of meals in our kitchen have been made with wraps.  These ones I made for Sylvia's lunch have vegemite.  I have stuffed them with salad vegies, leftover stew, vegan omelettes, dips and the truffle mayo that I got for Christmas.  And now they are going into Sylvia's lunch box.

It has been a strange summer.  Lots of hot weather but only a day at a time.  Which is not so bad if there is rain or a cool change at the end of the day.  We have been eating lots of salads.  This soba noodle salad is a favourite. 

We are also very partial to some home made lemonade or limeade in the hot weather.  I have been buying bags of limes from the Odd Bunch table at Woolworths.  It is a campaign to sell fruit and vegetables that are not quite right and charge a bit less.  This lemon-limeade was very refreshing.  Sylvia took a bottle to a friend's place when she went for a sleepover.

How's this for a meal to use up odd bits and pieces before heading away for the weekend!  This bowl food was our meal before we went to Torquay.  Brown rice, wild rice, chickpeas, red capsicum, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, spinach, corn and carrot almond sauce.

Did you guess what was in the picture at the top of the post?  It is gold salt rocks in a grinder.  It is actually a photo from our long weekend in Torquay.  It amused me as a topsy turvy pictures because life often feels different on holiday.  And here the salt was gold, the lamington was pink and the noodles were blue (with spirulina).  The lamingtons are long gone, we had some noodles tonight with the above soba noodle salad dressing and I am looking for a way to feature the salt.

I am sending this post to Maureen of The Orgasmic Chef for In My Kitchen.  It is an event where bloggers around the world share what is happening in their kitchens.  Please head over to Maureen's blog and visit some other bloggers or even join in (by 10th of each month).

Posted February 02, 2016 11:24 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tofu Shop II

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

January 25, 2016


We were heading in to Richmond for a gig on Monday night, so decided we'd take the opportunity to revisit The Tofu Shop as part of our Cheap Eats 2006 project. This place has been trading since the early 1980s, so it's no real surprise that it's still going strong.


The basic ordering process hasn't changed since our first visit in 2008 - you pick your plate size and then select from the bain marie dishes until they've filled it up for you. The prices have gone up, but not by a ridiculous amount - a small plate costs $12, a medium $17 and a large $26 (compared with $8, $15 and $17 back in the day).


I ordered a medium dish and let the staff work out a selection for me - there was lots of good stuff in this bowl, including: broccoli with sweet chilli tempeh, potato and black-eyed beans, chilli jam tofu, chickpea curry, baked zucchini with paprika, feta and garlic (this was the only non-vegan dish) and pickled cabbage salary with celery.


Cindy had a small bowl and picked out her own flavour combo, topping things off with a big dollop of tofu dip and pickled ginger. The food is excellent - fresh, healthy and loaded up with vegetables. It's very reminiscent of Munsterhaus (which originally had some sort of Tofu Shop connection), right down to the same tempeh broccoli dish. Smooshing all the dishes into one plate makes the flavour combinations a little tricky, but it somehow seems to work okay.

We left enough space to try dessert - a piece of the apple crumble with a serve of vanilla malted soy ice-cream ($9). They've ditched the soft-serve that they used to offer, but still have a selection of five soy ice-cream flavours (4 of which are vegan). I quite liked the ice-cream, but it was a bit too tofu-y for Cindy. The apple crumble was pretty bland, sadly.


The Tofu Shop is a reliable source of healthy, flavoursome food. It's been dishing out the goods to Richmond people for decades and the steady stream of people dropping by to grab takeaway suggests that things are still going strong. The prices are a bit steep, and the space itself is nowhere near as nice as the otherwise similar Munsterhaus, but it's a speedy and delicious option if you're in the neighbourhood.
_____________


Read about our first visit to The Tofu Shop here. Since our visit, it's been positively reviewed on vego blogs In the Mood for Noodles and Veganopolous, plus non-veg visitors Poppet's Window, Gastrology, I Talk Too Much My Mouth Hurts, New International Students, Who Told You That?, mochii eats, Olive Sundays and MEL: HOT OR NOT (although there are a few complaints about the prices). KT Eats the World and Sweet and Sour Fork were less impressed.
_____________


The Tofu Shop
78 Bridge Rd, Richmond
9429 6204
price list, our dishes, ice-cream
facebook page

Accessibility:  The door has a small lip owing to the street-level incline. Things are pretty spacious inside, with only high stools to sit on or a lower outside table (see top photo). We ordered and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilet.

Posted February 02, 2016 07:34 AM by Michael

February 01, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Kindness Co cafe, Torquay

On our first morning of our recent Torquay holiday, we parked the car and set out in search of brunch.  Right across the street was the beautiful Kindness Co.  It was one of those occasions when the first place we saw looked perfect yet we looked beyond it, just in case, and yet found ourselves drawn back there.  Not once but twice.

After all how many cafes promise hugs!  And almond feta.  The overpriced vegetable burger in the nearby cafe could not compete.  Sylvia was most displeased to be dragged away from a fancy nutella milkshake.

E was also skeptical because it did not offer a big breakfast option.  So we first had a taco for lunch and then went back to the Kindness Co for one of their beautiful raw cakes.

Sylvia and I decided to share a raw triple chocolate cake while E went to an op shop.  I am not a huge fan of coconut oil that is often used in raw cakes and can find them overwhelming.  The Kindness cakes were quite small and just enough to satisfy me.  I liked it so much I was tempted to buy another.

Fortunately E came back at that stage and ordered the double decker raw cake.  I helped out with a mouthful or two.  Sylvia was delighted with her Rebel Kitchen chocolate mylk.  I was pleased when we looked at the ingredients and found it was made with spring water, coconut milk, date nectar and cacao.  Sylvia was pleased to hear it was not dairy milk.

We enjoyed the Kindness Co so much that when considering where to eat the next day, we were drawn back for a full breakfast. It was raining when we arrived but sunny by the time we left.  The Kindness Co can do that to your day!

The space that has been created at the Kindness Co is very peaceful and relaxing.  It is no coincidence that it is also used for meditation.  Whether inside in the light filled cafe or out in the gorgeous garden, it was a lovely place to spend time.  Though my photos are of an empty cafe, on that second morning it filled up inside while it rained outside.

And I should mention that there is a wood stove in the corner that would make the place really cosy in winter.

I had to try one of the supercharged smoothies.  The Green Love smoothie ($12.50) was filled with banana, avocado, seasonal greens, bee pollen, supergreens, coconut meat and coconut water.  It was a huge glass of thick and really filling drink.  I wish I had asked what was the difference between seasonal greens and supergreens.  I did find the drink tasted a little grassy but it was also quite sweet with the banana and I enjoyed it.

E ordered the Morning Glory porridge ($12) made of oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, vanilla and cinnamon cooked in home made coconut milk.  He really enjoyed it especially with the toppings of grated apple, walnuts, shredded coconut and maple syrup.  It was a huge bowl that he did not manage to finish.

For me there was a very fancy avocado smash named the Abundance of Yum ($16).  The bread was grain free nut and seed loaf made by the JERF Project.  It was very dense but very good.  A little went a long way but it meant that the ratio of avocado to bread was a bit off kilter.  I loved all the toasted seeds on top.  Best of all was adding the little bowl of almond feta (an extra $4).  I always think feta should be little chunks but this was like a spread and it was so good.  Just the right balance of sour and salty.

I regret to say that the main problem of Kindness Co was the huge helpings.  I ordered too much with the huge smoothie and huge plate of smashed avo.  Unfortunately I didn't finish it and needed a lie down on the day bed after my meal.  I might have lain here if Sylvia hadn't claimed it.

Besides I was too busy running down to buy something for Sylvia to eat as she would not have anything off the menu except the chocolate mylk.  Whereas I would have been interested to try the Green Goddess Salad which also included almond feta or the super (raw) noodle salad.

The Kindness Co is not a place for a cheap meal or a bowl of chips for the kids, but I really loved the healthy offerings and the healing feeling of the place.   It is a great recent addition to Torquay's cafe scene.  I hope we might be back some day.

The Kindness Co
5 Zeally Bay Road (corner Cliff St)
Torquay
Facebook Page

The Kindness Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted February 01, 2016 10:51 PM by Johanna GGG

Veganopoulous

Greek Soccer Club Style Jackfruit Souvlaki

Growing up in a Greek home meant lots of soccer matches down at the local Greek club. For bigger matches, souvlakia (that’s the plural in Greek) were for sale. The same kinds of souvlakia were always available at the annual Greek Orthodox church celebrations too. You’d line up with a ticket, get your souvlaki in...
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Posted February 01, 2016 08:25 PM

quinces and kale

adventures with fresh pasta

fresh pasta

I love fresh pasta. It is light and soft but with a pleasing elasticity that holds it together and gives it some body. It is a completely different experience to eating dried pasta. Both are great, neither is superior to the other. They are just different.

When I bought my new Kitchen Aid mixer recently, I also bought a pasta roller attachment. Today was the first time I’d had a chance to try it out. It is far easier than rolling by hand, and it solves the problem of needing three hands – one to turn the handle, one to feed the pasta in and another to catch it!

kitchenaid with pasta roller

Most fresh pasta recipes call for eggs to be used. Clearly that wasn’t an option, so I did a bit of hunting on the internet and discovered that fresh pasta in the region of Puglia (the heel of the Italian boot) and other parts of southern Italy and Sardinia is not made with eggs, but just flour, water and sometimes oil.

Making fresh pasta is a messy business, my kitchen was covered in flour, but I think it is worth it. My first attempt was pretty good, though it looked a little pale and ghostly when it was cooked because there was no yellow colour from the egg. Apart from that the dough was great, even though I had rolled it a bit too thinly and slightly overcooked it in the blink of an eye.

The other half of the batch I rolled slightly thicker and watched it eagle-eyed as it cooked, wary of leaving it too long. Perfection.

I tossed it in a sauce I had simmering. It was made of olive oil, garlic, basil, zucchini and chopped fresh tomatoes from the garden, cooked until just softened and topped with some grated Vegusto Piquant. The sauce looks a strange brown colour because it is made from a mix of red, yellow, black and green tomatoes.

fresh pasta with tomato sauce

Next up I will be trying the fresh pasta in a lasagna and I’ll also have a go at colouring it with spinach and beetroot.

Stay tuned!

 

fresh pasta
 
prep time
20 mins
cook time
1 min
total time
21 mins
 
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: vegan
cuisine: Italian
serves: 2-3
ingredients
  • 190 grams of flour - a high protein specialty pasta flour works best, usually marked 00
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 70 mls of water
  • a pinch of salt
  • extra flour for dusting
instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together until they form a soft but not sticky ball. (I used the dough hook on my mixer, but you could do it in a food processor, or by hand.
  2. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into two parts.
  4. Roll the dough starting at the thickest setting.
  5. Fold the dough into 4 lengthwise and rotate 90 degrees before putting the dough through again.
  6. Do this 3 or 4 times until the dough is coming out smoothly.
  7. Pass the dough through the roller adjusting the thickness on each pass until it is how you like it. I used the setting number 4 on my dough roller for the final pass.
  8. Dust with flour, fold in 4 lengthways, rotate 90 degrees and hand cut across the width. I cut mine about 1 cm so they were probably either narrow pappardelle or wide fettucine!
  9. Cook in LOTS of boiling salted water. Don't skimp on the pan size or it is likely to stick together. The pasta takes very little time to cook, I bring mine back to the boil and count to 10 then taste to see.
3.5.3208

 

Posted February 01, 2016 10:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

The Glass Den II

January 24, 2016


We've revisited The Glass Den for Sunday breakfast again, this time in the company of the Moody Noodles. The cafe has changed their menu since our last visit but the abundant vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options remain, including the wonderful coconut hotcakes. Dietary features are marked with pot-plant symbols that are cute but call for extra concentration.


Michael ordered the vegan breakfast soba ($16.50), a beautiful bowl of green tea soba noodles, sauteed kale, garlic polenta-crumbed oyster mushrooms, pine nuts, smoked coconut and kale sesame crumble. The mushrooms looked and tasted amazing, and Michael enjoyed this rare breakfast-noodle experience.


I took on the somewhat deconstructed black sticky rice pudding ($14). The sticky rice was molded into a dense cake that retained the rice's moisture and chewy texture. In this set-up I found the coconut mousse a teensy bit cloying, but there was bountiful fresh mango to lighten the plate. The odd crunchy moment from the popped quinoa and candied almonds was pretty great too.

Service was a little sharper than on our first visit, the food was just as pretty and tasted at least as good again. (Only their soundtrack is consistently not to my taste!) We reckon The Glass Den is holding a pretty high standard.

____________

You can read about our first visit to The Glass Den here. Since then it's received positive reviews on Veganopoulous, quinces and kale, and ordinary girl, extraordinary dreamer.
____________

The Glass Den
15 Urquhart St, Coburg
9354 5032
food, drinks, specials
http://www.theglassden.com.au/


Accessibility: There's a flat entry and clear corridors throughout the cafe, but the tables and chairs are densely arranged. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted February 01, 2016 07:43 AM by Cindy

January 31, 2016

Thoughts Of A Moni

Taking Stock - January 2016

This year I want to try and do a recap of each month. This set of Taking Stock questions were originally published on Meet Me At Mike’s by Pip, and then I stumbled upon them at I Spy Plum Pie by Liz. They seem like a great way to get a snapshot of what’s going on in my world. Hopefully you enjoy reading them as much as I have compiling them!

Making: Watermelon and feta salad. It’s been so hot recently and this is a really refreshing salad that takes advantage of the sweet watermelon that is in season and the limes that my tree is fruiting. It was also a great salad to take to the Australia Day festivities.


Cooking: Pita bread muffin cups with potato and herbed onion. I made them early in the month and they were a big hit. I paired them with some chilli jam which worked a treat. I might blog them soon so you can all partake in the deliciousness.


Drinking: Water. It’s usually water, and my water bottle is usually within arm’s reach.

Reading:  My Darling Lemon Thyme cookbook. This was a Christmas present, and I am really loving it.

Wanting: A new mobile phone. I dropped mine the other day and shattered the back of it. At the moment it’s being held together by some creatively applied duct tape, but I think it’s time to bite the bullet and upgrade from my iPhone 4S.

Looking: At the herbs that are growing. The luxury of having fresh herbs at my disposal that I can just pop out and pick while I am cooking is something I will never tire of.


Playing: Candy Crush. I’m always playing Candy Crush.

Deciding: What clothes to buy from The Iconic. I only recently discovered this website, and I am hooked. I have limited myself to only one order a month, otherwise I’d be buying things every second day!

Wishing: That I could have more holidays. You can never have enough holidays.

Enjoying: The plethora of sport on at the moment. Between the Indian cricket tour, the Australian Open tennis and the Big Bash League, there is so much sport on offer in Melbourne, and I am loving it!

Waiting: For lunchtime. I’m always hungry.

Liking:  My new black flats. Bought from The Iconic of course.


Wondering: What the new season of MKR is going to be like. I love this show. I love the cooking and I love the bitchiness. Can’t wait for it to start!

Loving: Welcome To Thornbury. This place is seriously awesome.

Pondering: The future. Doesn’t everyone?

Considering: Buying some Who Gives A Crap toilet paper. As part of shopping small, I need to find somewhere to buy toilet paper, and this is an initiative I have been wanting to support for a while. It’s time to do it I think.

Buying: Vegies at the market. It’s all part of shopping small for February.

Watching: Star Wars. I popped my Star Wars cherry and have now watched all 7 episodes. Strangely I actually enjoyed the newer movies more than the originals, with the exception of Episode 1. Jar Jar Binks needs to be buried in a very deep hole.

Hoping: That the presentation I have to give to senior management at work this week goes well. I’m a little bit petrified. I don’t want to be ripped to shreds.

Marvelling: At ultra marathon runners. How the bloody hell can someone run for 230kms?!

Cringing: At the Donald Trump Freedom Rally. ‘Nuff said. 

Needing: A new mobile phone. I dropped mine the other day and shattered the back of it. At the moment it’s being held together by some creatively applied duct tape, but I think it’s time to bite the bullet and upgrade from my iPhone 4S.

Questioning: Steven Avery. Like much of the world population I am hooked on Making A Murderer, but I’m not sure whether he is guilty or not. I think I am more inclined to believe he is guilty, especially with all the evidence that has popped up online since the show was released, but I’m not 100% sure.

Smelling:  All my delicious Lush products, some of which I bought, and some I received as a gift. I’m trying to shift all my toiletries and household items to be cruelty free, so Lush has become one of my regular shops.

Wearing: My new playsuit from The Iconic. Like much of my wardrobe it’s a super bright colour, orange, and I love it!

Following: I Spy Plum Pie. I met Liz at a blogger event I was hosting for work, and since then have been following her blog. As she describes it, it is one part vegetarian cuisine, and two parts sustainability. I describe it as awesome reading.

Noticing: The grey clouds outside. A storm is brewing…

Knowing: That I know nothing. Like Socrates said, ‘True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.’

Thinking: About how the hell I am going to following through on my resolution of running a marathon this year. Sometimes I really do come up with some stupid ideas.

Admiring: The people behind Tamil Feasts. We are going to this on Monday, and I have done a bit of reading on the people behind the scenes. What they have been through is almost incomprehensible to me, and I really tip my hat to them and their ability to not only keep going, but to do it in a positive manner. #RealAustraliansSayWelcome

Sorting:  Through my clothes. I have so much stuff that needs to be put in charity bins because I don’t wear it any more.

Getting: Annoyed. People annoy me.

Bookmarking: Pink Moscato and Nutella cupcakes. I have bookmarked these when this recipe was first posted, but I still haven’t made them. I really should make some time to bake!

Coveting: A new bike… I have a restored one coming to me, for me to decide whether I will ride it enough, and whether I deserve a new one.

Disliking: The heat. I HATE SUMMER. Yes I’m weird, I know, but I’d much prefer winter over summer.

Opening: Bills. Why is it that every time I get mail, it’s a bill?

Giggling: At episodes of Big Bang Theory. Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj can always make me laugh.

Feeling: Lucky. Just generally lucky. I have friends that I love, family that are always there for me, and my health. It is more than many others, and I really should be grateful.

Snacking: On cherries. I love cherries, especially when they are sweet. I really should make a trip to a cherry farm this season.

Helping: My parents move house. They have just moved out of the house they lived in for 27 years and into a new house. This has been a lengthy and difficult process given that both of them are hoarders. Goddamn.

Hearing: Podcasts. I know I’m very late to the party, but I’m finally listening to Serial.

How has the first month of 2016 been for you? If you want to do a recap using these Taking Stock questions, please feel free to leave me a comment below, I would love to have a read!

Posted January 31, 2016 10:14 PM by Moni

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Roasted jackfruit rolls

January 23, 2016


I usually bookmark appealing recipes from other blogs - right now I've got 820 untried dishes, some of them dating back 8 years. But I was so keen on this one that I made it just 3 days after it was published on Like A Vegan! Chelsey's novel use of jackfruit as a roast chicken substitute was potentially much more my style than the common pulled 'pork' approach.

The canned jackfruit is simply drained, slathered in a herby paste I can make from pantry ingredients, and baked for half an hour. Since I only had one can of jackfruit I changed the ingredient quantities, and I'll tinker with them further for future batches - this version was a bit too sharp with brine and lemon juice for my taste.

Serving the jackfruit in soft long rolls with lettuce and mayo brought back Red Rooster memories I'd locked away for 20 years. This alternative is a bit lighter and fresher, and I'm pleased to have a new way with jackfruit in my repertoire.


Roasted jackfruit rolls
(slightly adapted from a recipe on Like a Vegan)

565g can jackfruit in brine
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of half a lemon (would reduce to a small squeeze)
1 tablespoon brown sugar + extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons dried green herbs (I used parsley, sage, rosemary & marjoram)
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
shake of white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
4 soft long rolls
1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
spray oil

Preheat an oven to 160°C.

Drain the jackfruit in a colander (next time I'd also rinse the brine off a bit). Use your fingers to break apart the stringy fibres a bit. Squeeze off the excess water and place the pieces on a chopping board. Cut away the cores and finely dice them.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients from the olive oil down to the yeast flakes, to form an oily golden-brown paste. Add the jackfruit (fibres and cores, the lot) and toss it through to evenly coat it in the paste. 

Lightly spray a baking tray with oil. Spread the jackfruit out on a baking tray, spray it with a little more oil and sprinkle over a bit more brown sugar. Bake the jackfruit for around 30 minutes, until it's golden. It should be a bit brown and crunchy around the edges but still moist in the middle.

Slice the rolls lengthways and scoop the jackfruit into them. Spread or squeeze over the mayonnaise and then layer up the shredded lettuce. Eat straight away, or wrap up for later if you must.

Posted January 31, 2016 09:02 AM by Cindy

January 29, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Torquay beach holiday and what we ate

A few weeks back I decided to try my luck at booking a beach house over one of the busiest weekends in summer, the Australia Day weekend.  And look at where we arrived in Torquay last weekend.  The gods were smiling upon us!  This was a perfect place to arrive home from the beach, kick off our thongs and eat dinner outdoors.

Not only was it a darling verandah but this was the view.  Torquay is quite close to Geelong where my parents live so it is not unfamiliar to us.  However the house was by Spring Creek in an area I don't know.  The garden of stone fruit trees, squash vines and tomato plants was lovely.  The tall gum trees attracted screeching cockatoos and cats wandered in the garden.

You might notice the garden is quite damp.  On the day we arrived, it was a miserable wet day.  It took us almost twice as long as usual to get to Geelong.  The weekend was fairly cool but warm enough in the afternoons.

The kitchen in the living area was compact but had everything we needed.

I took quite a few simple meals and snacks.  Bread, swiss cheese, milk and coco pops for breakfast.  (Sylvia loved the little holiday cereal packs.)  Baked beans, hummus, crackers and vegies for dinners or lunches.  Chips, soy snacks, teddy bear biscuits, wagon wheels, roasted broad beans and dried apricots for snacks.  And soda water and tea bags for drinks.  It all worked well for us.

Sylvia frowned upon not seeing a telly.  Then she was amused to find it was in the cupboard.  And once we found it too difficult to work the tv I was quite relieved.  It made for peaceful evenings.

Sylvia was even happier at the day bed in the corner.  She is very fond of creating houses and before long had made it her space with her minion tucked under his blanket, a mirror on the windowsill and books on a side table..

E loved having the cats visit us.

We managed to go to the beach most days after the first wet arrival.  It was quite cool for swimming in the mornings but lovely to walk along the tide.

We went to Zeally Bay Park along the foreshore.  It is a great kids playground with lots of space and play equipment.

We parked by the corner of Zeally Bay Road and Cliff Street for brunch each morning and were very fond of the healthy food at Kindness Co cafe.  It was so good that I have written a separate post about it.

Meanwhile nearby on Cliff St was one of our other favourites: the taco truck run by The Daily Food Co.  It didn't quite cater to Sylvia who only likes cheese in her tacos.  They did not serve cheese.  They did serve amazing tacos.

Here is my vegetarian taco (beside some sliced tomato that Sylvia rejected).  It was full of black beans with charred corn, capsicum, red onion and zucchini with red slaw, tomatillo salsa and kewpie mayonnaise.  It was really delicious.  (I checked and was told without the mayo it was vegan and they will be there at least until Easter.)  The taco wasn't really filling but at 3 for $13 you can't complain.

We were quite happy to eat a small lunch as it was followed by raw cake at the Kindness Co and frozen yoghurt at Orange Leaf (2C Gilbert Street).  We met my brother and his family who had cycled from their home to Orange Leaf.  It is the sort of place where you fill a tub with frozen yoghurt and all sorts of toppings (fruit, nuts, lollies etc) and pay by weight.  I just ate some of E's because I wasn't so hungry.

Then my mum came to visit.  It was merciful to sit on the verandah of our beach house with a cuppa and a teddy bear biscuit.

Then back to the beach for a swim.  Sylvia got into using the boogie board earlier in summer but the beach at Cosy Corner didn't have many waves for her boogie board.  She was happy to play in the shallows.

For dinner we went to Flippin Fresh fish and chip shop (33 Surfcoast Hwy, Torquay).  We had a bit of a wait but loved the chips and potato cakes.  Unfortunately there were no corn jacks but the pumpkin cakes were really nicely fried and I also tried a vegetarian spring roll which was lovely and crisp but nothing fancy inside.  E also liked his flake and chips.

We were back at the Kindness Co the next day but Sylvia wasn't so keen on the offerings so I bought some cheeseymite scrolls for her at Bakers Delight.

We spent some time browsing the shop.  Yet that is a green giraffe and no I didn't buy it.  I was more excited to find a copy of Vegan Life magazine from the UK.  I have been resisting buying food magazines lately.  This one was great for reading on the verandah back at the beach house.  I also read Tom's Midnight Garden which many of us would remember from childhood.

E on the other hand was quite keen on browing books.  He spent quite a bit of time at Torquay Books.  It is a really lovely bookshop.  Then he had a few hours at the Book Fair.

Sylvia had her book the Railway Children with her but when it came to purchases, her heart's desire is ice creams.  We had to try these Glamington Drumsticks.  Chocolate, vanilla, raspberry jam ripple and some coconut on top.  Fun for a change but more novelty than amazing.

We ate our ice creams just before having a swim.  Which means all the stickiness washes off in the sea rather than finding its way through Sylvia's clothes and hair.

I was ready for a lighter dinner.  We had hummus with crackers and vegies.  Sylvia had baked beans.

On our last morning we went to E's sort of cafe (Tapas?) next to Torquay Books.  He had an egg and bacon sandwich.  It was the sort of place where your options are limited if you don't want egg or meat.  So Sylvia and I both had toasted bagel with nutella.  It was ok but not really a proper bagel.  Sylvia had a well toasted bagel which was rather difficult to eat with a very wobbly tooth.

It is not a place we are keen to return to.  Later I thought maybe we should have gone to Torquay Larder or Growlers or Mobys with its outdoor play area.  Another time when we are down that way!

Then we headed to the beach and had a paddle in the tide before heading back homewards.  It was a relaxing short break before back to school and work this week.

Posted January 29, 2016 10:53 PM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni

Bang Bang

Sometimes all you need is a bowl of Asian soup to make everything better. My soup making skills are non existent, so it is important to have a trusty Viet place to visit. Bang Bang is located in the heart of Northcote on High St, surrounded by many other restaurants so it definitely had to be of a high standard to survive.

We went on a Monday evening unsure of what to expect and were faced with a packed restaurant! There were people sitting outside but it was pretty warm, so we decided to stick with air conditioned comfort inside. There was a little table for two available, so we sidled our way through the patrons and made ourselves comfortable. There was Chinese tea on the table so we poured ourselves a couple of cups and set about deciding what to order from the menu. Like a typical Asian restaurants, like the ones I had often frequented in Springvale, the Bang Bang menu was long and very comprehensive. There was sections devoted to entrees, soups, rice and noodles, and then each kind of protein. There was over 250 dishes to choose from! I was extra excited to discover there was a separate vegetarian section which had stir fries, rice and noodle dishes, and the soup I was craving.

I decided on a tom yum soup. I felt that the hot and sour would work better in summer. Summer is a season where I love eating strong flavours, bitter, sour, spicy, so the tom yum seemed to fit this bill. The other half went for a combination cashew stir fry with steamed rice. We also ordered some vegetarian rice paper rolls as an entrée.

Bang Bang have a fridge of soft drinks, but no liquor license. Instead many of the diners had brought their own beer, cider or wine and were enjoying it with their meal. It seemed like a good option. We hadn’t brought any drinks with us, so instead stuck to our Chinese tea.

Our dishes arrived quite quickly. Two plump rice paper rolls were placed on our table with some hoisin dipping sauce. The rolls were packed tightly with noodles, vegetables and tofu, and when dipped into the sauce were very yummy. It was a good start to the meal.



Once our entrée was finished and the plate was cleared, our mains were brought out. I was very excited to see my big bowl of steaming soup. It was filled to the brim with lots of vegetables, noodles and plump cubes of bean curd. I dressed the soup with bean shoots, Asian herbs, and a squeeze of lime and proceeded to dig in. The soup was exactly what I wanted in a tom yum, full of flavour and lots of tang! It was a good sized serving too, with the ratio of liquid to other ingredients just right. 




The other half’s dish came out, but it wasn’t quite what he expected. He had assumed that combination stir fry with cashews would mean that the cashews were mixed into the rest of the dish, but instead they were generously scattered over the top. Despite this, he did say the dish was very tasty.



Bang Bang is a no frills restaurant. The food is very good, the staff are friendly, and the prices are very reasonably. But don’t expect fancy décor and silver service, that’s not what Bang Bang focuses on. Instead, when you need to satisfy your craving for good Asian food, Bang Bang should definitely be on your list of places to try.
Bang Bang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted January 29, 2016 10:35 AM by Moni

January 28, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Muhallabiya, two ways

December 28, 2015 & January 18-19, 2016


Dinner at the Moroccan Soup Bar usually ends with a plate of little shortbreads and pastries stuffed with dates or nuts and dripping with sweet syrup. The Moroccan Soup Bar cookbook contains a couple such recipes, but also some heartier sweet treats including sfenj/doughnuts and muhallabiya.

As I mentioned in my last Moroccan Soup Bar post, muhallabiya is a dairy-based pudding flavoured with orange and lemon, drizzled with syrup and scattered with pistachios. I made little cups of it to finish a meal with Michael and our two brothers just after Christmas. More recently, Michael's mum and her two sisters visited us for dinner; on this occasion I tried churning and freezing the pudding as an icecream!

Assafiri welcomes adaptations to her recipes and icecream-churning isn't the only change I made. On both occasions I increased the orange and lemon quantities. I should've known it would curdle the milk (!), but thankfully the mixture smooths right out as the cornflour cooks and thickens. I had a lot of syrup left over, and I can recommend it as a lovely flavouring for soda water (vodka optional).

This dessert is delightful in both incarnations. As a pudding, it's creamy and just-barely-set with a strong citrus flavour. As an icecream it's a little powdery and more subtly flavoured. I already have an awfully similar recipe on the blog, actually, and its use of eggs instead of cornflour probably yields a smoother, richer scoop. Nevertheless, it's been fun to get to know muhallabiya better this summer.




Muhallabiya
(recipe adapted from Hana Assafiri's Moroccan Soup Bar)

2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1/4 cup cornflour
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
pinch of saffron
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped, to garnish

syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons orange blossom water
juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 cup water
squeeze of lemon juice

Whisk together the milk and cream in a medium-large saucepan and set them over high heat. In a small cup dissolve the cornflour with 1-2 tablespoons of water, then pour it all into the saucepan. Stir in the orange and lemon zest and juice; don't panic if the mixture curdles, it will smooth out later. Stir in the saffron and sugar and bring it all to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow it all to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly - it should be smooth and custardy.

To make cool puddings, pour the mixture into serving cups and refrigerate them for at least 2 hours. To make icecream, refrigerate the mixture until very cold, at least 4 hours and ideally overnight. Pour it into an icecream maker and churn, then freeze the icecream in an airtight container for at least 4 hours.

To make the syrup, place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring them to the boil, and continue boiling for 10 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool down to room temperature.

To serve, drizzle the syrup over single serves of the pudding or icecream and scatter over the chopped pistachios.

Posted January 28, 2016 07:57 AM by Cindy

January 27, 2016

Veganopoulous

Shop 225 Pizzeria, Pascoe Vale South

Word on the street in Vegan Town is that there’s a new pizza place in Pascoe Vale South offering a vegan pizza. Not just a vegetarian-hold-the-cheese pizza but a real live fully vegan-by-design pizza, topped with vegan sausage and cheese. Yes please! Shop 225 has been open for about four months and is located at...
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Posted January 27, 2016 09:32 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Pilgrim III and Farm Gate IV

January 15 & 17, 2016


MOFO was primarily based out at MONA this year, so we didn't get too much time for Hobart eating. We were out at the festival by lunch every day, so we really only had time for breakfasts. Our first stop was a return visit to Pilgrim Coffee, a regular haunt on our Hobart trips. The menu has changed around a bit from previous meals, meaning I had to branch out from the bean-heavy 'hipster breakfast' that I usually order, instead trying out the omelette with kim chi, rice, spring onion, wombok, coriander and crispy shallots ($18).


The omelette is a wonderful combination of flavours - little dabs of blended up kim chi give it all a great spicy tang, while the shallots and rice add some crunch. It's a top-notch example of the genre, but at $18, it probably needs a slice or two of toast to go along with it.

Cindy's breakfast was even more minimalist - she ordered the charred stone-fruit with vanilla goats curd, mint and almonds ($15).


And she got this bowl containing one halved peach, a smear of curd and a decent sprinkling of roasted cashews on top. For $15! She was quite happy with the dish itself, but it's the kind of thing you feel like charging even $10 for would be a bit cheeky. 

I enjoyed my coffee as usual, but Cindy's chai was bergamot-heavy and lacking in other spices. All in all, Pilgrim has slipped down our Hobart breakfast ranking a bit - the quality of the food is still high, but the prices are a bit excessive (note also: there aren't any obvious vegan options on the current menu).
____________

On Sunday morning we headed back to the Farm Gate Market, the less touristy and more food-focussed alternative to the popular Salamanca Market. There's lots of excellent-looking fresh produce for sale, a decent selection of other food stalls (jams, teas, cheese etc) and a thriving little food court for people seeking brekkie - we come here every time we're in town these days (see one, two, three previous visits).


We got things started with a coffee and a blueberry bagel with raspberry cream cheese ($6.50) from Bury Me Standing - a perfect way to get Sunday going.


I was then drawn inexorably to Pachamama, for my annual Hobart breakfast burrito - they've always got a vegan option, but this year I couldn't resist the classic egg-cheese-bean combo, slathered in their smoky chipotle sauce ($13). It's a complete winner.


Cindy somehow resisted the lure of the burritos, ducking next door to Mountain Pepper Pizza who were offering up a range of rosti-based breakfast treats. She ordered the mushroom option ($7.50) and was well satisfied with the mix of starchy potatoes and creamy, saucy mushrooms. (They also do a vegan bubble & squeak with kasundi.)


We're always a bit sad that we can't buy up more of the great market produce each year, but it's hard to go past a $9 kilo bag of the plumpest, juiciest cherries imaginable. We gobbled these up far too quickly.


Farm Gate is well worth a visit on any food-related Hobart itinerary - there are tons of vegan options, foody gifts and souvenirs, and a steady stream of cute puppies awaiting your attention.


____________



Posted January 27, 2016 07:16 AM by Michael

January 26, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegemite fudge, beach, afternoon tea and more on Australia Day

Last night we returned home from a long weekend at the beach in Torquay.  It was glorious to walk in the shallows with the sand between our toes.  On the way home we stopped at my parents' home for a birthday afternoon tea.  Today is Australia Day so I had some fun with our national icon Vegemite and added it to fudge.

I was inspired by vegemite caramel chocolate, to add a layer of caramel into a chocolate fudge (made of chocolate and condensed milk).  However it was not easy to know how much vegemite to add.  I felt that my cautious quarter teaspoon could have been doubled.  I was happier with my caramel.  I learnt from the caramel for the recent rice krispie slice and tested the caramel on a cold saucer earlier rather than giving it the full 10 minutes other recipes suggested.  It was a bit chewy when kept in the fridge but lovely at room temperature.

Before we left for our holiday in Torquay, I chopped up the fudge into small squares, wiping the knife between slicing.  Sylvia and I tasted a piece or two and it was addictive.  We wisely dropped it to wait in my mum's fridge before the afternoon tea.  I would not like to say how much would have been left had we taken it to the beach house with us.

My mum put on an impressive spread for the afternoon tea.  I loved that there were plenty of savoury options - herb scones, samosas, sandwiches, bruschetta, zucchini fritters, as well as lots of sweet options - lamingtons, friands, my fudge, little cakes, scones with jam and cream, and lemon tarts.  I also took down cashew cheese stuffed dates but am not sure which category they fit.

There was also a gorgeous Persian love cake for the birthday cake decorated with pomegranate and pistachios.  We were so full after all the good food.  Luckily we didn't eat much after breakfast and then we just had snacks for tea.  Some of the family then played cricket outside but I stayed inside and chatted.

Today back in Melbourne, we headed out to Kings Domain on the fringe of the city for the annual RACV Australia Day picnic and federation vehicle display.  It the place where the Australia Day parade finishes and the crowds enjoy food trucks and activities.

On the way in we were handed free cartons of Choc Lamington Big M (flavoured milk), offered Australian flags and given free sun cream.  I had a baked potato and a chocolate ice cream.  We spent most of our time sitting in the shade at the main stage watching the ukulele group, Justine Clarke, Aussie pub rock classics and hip hop dancers.  I wondered if I could change my birthday when we watched those born on 26 January birthday being treated to cake.

We had a little time to wander around the other stalls.  I would have shown Sylvia how to play totem tennis if it hadn't been so popular.  I was convinced to have a henna tattoo.  And we enjoyed looking at the vintage cars.  The one above gave everyone a start with the [fake] arm hanging out the back.  I asked the owner if he drove around like this and he said he had too many complaints about a body in the boot so the police have ordered him not to do it any more.

Before I finish this post, I have a few esoteric Australian photos to share.  Above is a group of haybales with the Australian flag imposed on them.  We saw it on the Princess Highway yesterday.  I am always in admiration of vision while driving along country roads and stopped to take a photo.

Given that we have just been to the beach, I thought that for Australia Day I would share a quintessentially Aussie picture I took of my family at the beach a few weeks back.  It was my first outing to the beach for the summer and a joy to see how Sylvia enjoyed surfing the waves on a boogie board.

This picture is street art in North Carlton I took late last year.  I wish there were many Indigenous images I had encountered today and I didn't need to dig through my photo archives for a picture.  However though I have been seeing lots of Australian flags around Australia Day, the only Aboriginal flag I saw today was carried by a couple on the train home.  It embarrasses me.

There are Aboriginal events held today.  My friend Heather met us at Kings Domain and said that she encountered an Aboriginal group occupying the Flinders St Station intersection.  However I would love to see Aboriginal Australia incorporated into more mainstream events like the RACV picnic.

I wish I had more space and eloquence to explain why it is sad and harmful when we don't remember Australia Day as a day of invasion of Aboriginal Australia.  Instead I highly recommend you read Chelsea Bond's article The day I don't feel Australian: that would be Australia Day and then if you want to imagine how it would feel to have your land invaded, check out The Conversation's Australia Day film guide listing films in which Sydney has been invaded. 

It would be great if Australia Day were a day for all Australians.  And though I want to be inclusive, I happen to know that not everyone embraces vegemite.  There are many who share Amanda Palmer's sentiments against our lovely salty black spread.  However we always tell newcomers it is best used sparingly.

This fudge can be compared to a salted caramel with a slightly deeper flavour.  In fact I was surprised none of my family was horrified when I told them the secret ingredient was vegemite.  If you grew up on vegemite like we did, you wil no doubt love this fudge.  To the novices, I suggest try this fudge and you might just find it is a way to like vegemite.  If you really can't bare the thought of vegemite in fudge, the check out more of my Australia Day recipes.

More vegemite in recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cheeseymite scones
Dahl
Dark vegetable and lentil stew
Gravy
Mashed vegetables with vegemite 
Nut roast

Chocolate fudge with vegemite caramel
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe, Bakers Corner and Tin and Thyme

300g condensed milk
300g dark choc chips

Caramel filling:
100g condensed milk
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp castor sugar
2 tbsp butter
1/4-1/2 tsp vegemite*

Line a 13 x 22cm loaf tin with baking paper.   Melt 180g condensed milk with 200g choc chips.  (I did this in the microwave.)   Spread evenly into the loaf tin.  Set in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the caramel.  Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil on medium heat stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.  Check if it has struck the right balance between too soft and too chewy by putting a small drop on a cool plate and checking it once it has cooled (this should be seconds).

Scrape the caramel into another bowl to help cool it.  Leave about 5 minutes and then spread onto the set chocolate mixture.  Return loaf tin to freezer for about10 minutes.  Then melt remaining condensed milk and chocolate and spread over the caramel.

Set in freezer an hour or so and then cut into small squares.  Wipe the knife between each cut to keep the slices neat.  Keeps in the fridge for at least5 days.

NOTES: I added 1/4 tsp of vegemite which was barely discernable so next time I would try more.  However for vegemite novices, 1/4 tsp might be just enough.  I accidentally melted 300g each of chocolate and condensed milk and used about two thirds for the bottom and then remelted the last bit for the topping.  I found that I had about 90g of the 395g tin of condensed milk left for the caramel but luckily had a little extra in the fridge.  However I would measure the 100g for the caramel before I measured the last 100g for the chocolate topping as I think the later is more important to have correct.

UPDATE: Shaheen at Allotment to Kitchen has posted a marmite fudge based on this one.  She used a lot more marmite than I used vegemite so I definitely will next time too.

On the Stereo:
Molly - Do Yourself a Favour - the Soundtrack to the TV Miniseries and Molly's Life in Music - Various Artists

Posted January 26, 2016 10:38 PM by Johanna GGG

January 25, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Straight Up

January 16, 2016


The Hobart eatery at the top of my wish-list this year was Straight Up. I read about this all-vegetarian cafe on quinces and kale about a month before we arrived, and we shared our breakfast with the very same mutual friend as they did!

Straight Up is quite centrally located on Liverpool St, and has a light, casual look and prominent espresso machine that's likely to attract non-veg diners. Once in, they'd surely not be put off by the menu! It's stealthily gluten-free and absent of bacon, of course, but who wouldn't be tempted by corn bread topped with grilled haloumi, avocado and herb salsa, spiced ginger buckwheat porridge or miso marinated pumpkin? And that doesn't even cover the dishes we did order...


Michael picked out the vegan BBQ king brown mushrooms served on potato hash with caramelised onions, harissa and kale chips ($17.50). Michael didn't miss his toast with a potato hash in play, and he loved the meaty mushrooms and slaw-like toppings. His only wish was a little more spice from the harissa.


Our friend and dining companion ordered my plan B and was kind enough to offer me a bite. It was a pretty and gently sweet plate of smashed banana on toast, topped with soy ricotta, pink pear slices, popped amaranth, activated buckwheat and drizzled stripes of date syrup ($13.50).


Lovely as it was, Plan A ensured I had no order envy. Behold, the chocolate waffles ($15)! Vegan and gluten-free, these waffles were thick, crunchy and a guarantee I wouldn't need lunch any time soon. Cinnamon grilled bananas, berry sauce, chocolate icecream and coconut crumble lent softness, sweetness and tanginess, bringing together the best darn vegan waffles I've ever ordered.

Our hot drinks were pretty good and the staff were chipper. This cafe has gone Straight Up to number 1 in our breakfast recommendations for Hobart.

_____________

You'll struggle to find a bad word about Straight Up in the blogosphere, where it's been mentioned on chocolatdehaut (twice!), Two Clowns Tripping, The Hobart Life, Walking the Derwent River and quinces and kale.
_____________


Straight Up
202 Liverpool St, Hobart
(03) 6236 9237
breakfast, drinks
http://www.straightupcoffeeandfood.com.au/

Accessibility:  The door has a small lip owing to the street-level incline. Tables are generously spaced inside. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter. Toilets were unisex but narrow, with stair access.
_____________


Posted January 25, 2016 04:28 PM by Cindy

quinces and kale

lunch with friends – the great souvlaki taste off

souvlaki

Last weekend I headed out of Melbourne to Kyneton to have lunch with some friends. We ate the most delicious food. We sat out in the garden underneath a beautiful large tree. Underneath the table, the chooks clucked and the dogs lounged, both of them hopeful for dropped morsels.

The lunch had been suggested months ago when I reviewed the Smith & Deli souvlaki. Jokingly (or perhaps not) a new friend who I had met at a party recently suggested I had to try hers. So months later, here we were assembled for the great souvlaki taste off.

Since then, she has opened a vegan food service called Mrs Monagle’s Ethical Fine Food.

This post was never intended to be a review of the business, but since I’ve tasted the food, I feel like people need to know about it. This is great vegan food.

I am happy to recommend her food based on my lunch as well as the food I ate at the party previously.

souvlaki ingredients

The souvlaki were delicious, served DIY style in pita with almond feta, tomatoes, salad and vegan tzatziki. It is a hard call as to the winning souvlaki, so I think I’m going to wimp out and call it a tie. They are equal but different.

I’m very fussy about my seitan and I think the texture on this one was utterly perfect and definitely the winner. Soft, chewy and crunchy all at the same time. And while it was deliciously seasoned, I’d probably give the edge to the S&D one for the chilli hit.  I’m being picky and being forced to critique them though. I’d happily eat both any time. Even on the same day.

vanilla slices hot jam donuts

We also had delicious vanilla slices with proper traditional passionfruit icing and HOT JAM DONUTS! Sorry for shouting but they were sensational. Call me a glutton, I ate three. I fear if there had been more I would have eaten them too! :)

A lovely day with friends.

 

Mrs Monagle’s Ethical Fine Food
https://www.facebook.com/1ethicalfinefood/

 

Posted January 25, 2016 10:00 AM

January 22, 2016

Thoughts Of A Moni

Shopping Small - An Introduction

I have made a resolution. Not a new year’s resolution, just a February resolution. For the next month I will be shopping small.  What does this mean I hear you ask? It means that I will not buy anything from a Coles or a Woolworths. Why? For a variety of reasons…

Transport activities hurt the planet significantly. Whether it be transporting food across the country, or across the world, there are significant costs both financially and environmentally. Most of the foods in a major supermarket are bought en masse due to the buying power they command, so there is little chance that they are produced locally and instead have travelled long distances to arrive on the shelves. As an alternative, if produce can be bought locally, it means that is has had a much shorter distance to travel, reducing transport costs and lessening the environmental impact.

I also believe it is important to support our local farmers and producers. The stories of Coles and Woolworths using staple items like bread and milk as loss leaders have been around for a long time. By selling milk for $1 a litre, the supermarkets have squeezed out any margins the dairy producers would have made and forcing many of them to leave the industry due to unsustainable circumstances. I am guilty of purchasing this cheap milk on most occasions purely due to the impact on my wallet, but when I think about the bigger picture, I feel it is my responsibility to do what I can to ensure that we do not kill the dairy industry in Australia. Of course this situation applies to many of the food industries, whether it be the bakers, the fruiterers, or for the non vegetarians, the butchers and the fishmongers.

Often buying from the smaller retailers means that you may have to pay slightly higher prices, but it also means that you go into a specific shop to buy a specific item. There have been so many instances when I have gone into Coles to buy one item, let’s say some cheese, and in the process walked based half a dozen displays with things on special. In the end, I bought not only the cheese but also some chocolate, some biscuits, maybe a tub of ice cream, some toothpaste and probably a punnet of strawberries. Yes, they were on special, but were they necessary? Probably not. On the contrary, if I was to go to a deli to buy cheese, none of the other items would be around to distract me, so potentially I would be saving, or rather not spending money on items I didn’t need.

Of course there are some items that are difficult to buy from anywhere other than a supermarket. Basic staples like flour or sugar, or cleaning items like garbage bags. For these items, I have decided to shop at IGA. IGA supermarkets operate as independent franchises and thus support the local community, which aligns with part of the reason I am trying to avoid Coles and Woolworths. I will try and limit the amount I buy at IGA, but I know that some things will be unavoidable.

Shopping small will involve a significant amount of planning. Small businesses are often not open for extended hours, so I will need to plan out my meals for the week and make sure I do a bulk load of shopping on the weekends. This will probably be advantageous is many regards too. It should mean that food doesn’t go to waste, and that I don’t come home and have no idea what to make for dinner! I also plan to pre make lunches for the week, which is always handy, and means I will be eating relatively healthy.

I will be documenting my shopping small adventures weekly on this blog, so tune in to see what works and what doesn’t! And if you’re extra keen, follow my hashtag on Instagram, #ShoppingSmallWithMoni!

Have you ever tried Shopping Small? How did you find the experience?

Posted January 22, 2016 09:05 AM by Moni

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Australia Day recipes

Australia Day on 26 January is almost upon us.  Whether you are celebrating settlement or commiserating on invasion (it is a day full of political opinion as much as parades and bbqs), I hope you will be eating good food.

Today for Australia Day I share some iconic Australian recipes, and recipes using iconic Australian food.  It has been hard to narrow down so many favourite recipes so I have tried to only include quintessentially Aussie food, rather than recipes of my family. Here they are (clockwise from top left):

Classic Australian baking:

Kids parties and lunchboxes
  • Hedgehog - similar to fridge cake, biscuit cake or tiffin - a chocolate slice with chunks of biscuits
  • Honey joys - cornflakes baked with a honey butter coating
  • Lemon slice - chunks of biscuit in a slice of lemon, coconut and condensed milk
  • Apricot delight - dense uncooked mixture of dried apricots and coconut cut into small squares
  • Coconut ice - very rich condensed milk and coconut mixture usually with a pink layer and a white layer
  • Chocolate crackles - chocolate coated rice bubbles, traditionally made with copha (hydrogenated coconut oil - which is less popular these days). 

Australian brand names in recipes:
  • Tim Tam brownies - brownies stuffed with tim tams (chocolate sandwich biscuits)
  • Chokito fudge - fudge stuffed with chokito (chocolate bar with fudge and rice bubbles)
  • Grubs with Tim Tams - chocolate balls made of condensed milk, cocoa, coconut and biscuit - this recipe uses Tim Tams instead of traditional Marie biscuits
  • Violet Crumble ice cream - ice cream stuffed with Violet Crumble - a chocolate covered bar of honeycomb
  • Tick Tock teacups - biscuits with clock faces form the saucer with a marshmallow cup, a lifesaver handle and a freckle for the froth - these are really cute party favourites
  • Cherry Ripe cake pops - cherries, condensed milk and coconut are mixed and dipped in chocolate to imitate a favourite chocolate bar

Classic savoury Australian recipes (vegetarian):
  • Sausage rolls - one of my favourite party recipes - "sausage meat" wrapped in pastry
  • Damper - simple campfire bread leavened with baking powder
  • Party pies - while the larger meat pie is an Aussie classic, these smaller versions were always at parties of my youth
  • Chiko rolls  - minced meat and cabbage in a really chew fried pastry
  • Zucchini slice - lots of egg and grated zucchini plus some fried bacon all mixed and baked a bit like a fritatta
  • Pumpkin soup - it was a great shock when I first travelled to find that pumpkin soup was not as ubiquitous as I had thought from living in Australia

Recipes using Australian ingredients
  • Vegemite in Cheeseymite scones - I hardly need to tell you about how dark and salty vegemite is and that it is best eaten in small amounts - it goes well very with cheese.  (And if you want a sweet recipe then try vegemite fudge.)
  • Pumpkin in Pumpkin, pecan and poppyseed scones - I know well that many other countries have pumpkin but few seem to have it like we do in Australia where our Queensland Blue and Kent pumpkins are regular household vegies - and we love it in scones
  • Quandong syrup in the frosting on Kale cake - I only tasted quandong syrup recently and loved its gentle fragrant fruitiness in a cream cheese frosting - an indigenous fruit that I must learn about
  • Dried wattleseed in Mud cake -  I love using native seed, dried wattleseed, instead of coffee granules in baking - it has a slight bitterness that echoes coffee
  • Weetbix in Marshmallow weetbix slice - weetbix was first made in Australia (thought it became weetabix in some countries) and was one of the main cereals when we were young - it is low in sugar and high in fibre so retains its popularity - the marshmallow slice with it is a faovurite from my childhood
  • Pepperberry in Tofu and pesto crackers - in Australia we have an indigenous mountain pepper with edible leaf and berries - I've used it in baking occasionally

Quirky Australian themed recipes
  • Southern Cross cake - an easy Australian-themed cake
  • Buttermilk and lemon myrtle damper in Aboriginal flag dinner - many years ago as a new blogger I created a dinner homage to the Aboriginal flag - one day I will do it with a better photo!
  • White Christmas - we have very few iconic Christmas recipes in Australia but this no bake slice filled with rice bubbles, dried fruit and copha (or white chocolate) is an old favourite
  • The Getting of Wisdom book cake - the cake didn't look very much like a book but it did feature the name of a classic coming-of-age Australian book that we studied at school
  • Shamburger pizza with the lot - the classic Aussie burger in a fish and chip shop has lettuce, fried onions, beetroot, fried egg, tomato and bacon as well as the burger in a bun - I had a go at putting a veg version on a pizza
  • Gluten free Tim Tams - I also had a go at making gluten free Tim Tams for the celiacs in my family - they were good but the melted chocolate was not on my side that day

Classic Australian recipes I hope to blog one day
  • Sponge cake - my mum makes beautiful light sponge layer cakes regularly on birthdays so I feel it is my destiny to bake sponge cakes
  • Fairy bread - what Aussie party is complete without bread with butter and coloured sprinkles though such a simple idea that it seems crazy to blog it
  • Jelly slice - have loved jelly slice since childhood but need to get around gelatine to make it (the Moody Noodles have had a go)
  • Cheesymite scrolls - a recently Aussie classic take on the bread roll though the idea of pairing vegemite and cheese is an old one
  • Vanilla slice - custard between layers of puff pastry with lots of icing on top - I only occasionally want one so the idea of a whole batch of them seems a bit much
  • Pavlova - this is one of my mum's regular desserts that I grew up on - I want to try one but dream of making a vegan one with aquafaba - though it needs to have the marshmallow inside and crisp outside to be proper pav
So now I am pretty amazed at how many Aussie recipes I have produced here.  Cultural cringe makes us Aussies believe we have little to offer the rest of the world but it aint true.  And I haven't even started on other favourites like coffee scrolls, jelly cakes, peach melba.  Check out my Australia Day Pinterest board for more ideas.  Whether commiserating or celebrating, I hope you are finding some Australian food for our national day.

NOTES: For American readers, when we say "biscuit" it is like your cookie.  Our slices are similar to American bars.  Rice bubbles are known as rice krispies elsewhere.  It is confusing but Google will mostly help out.

Posted January 22, 2016 12:30 AM by Johanna GGG

January 21, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Preachers, Hobart

January 14, 2016


We headed down to Hobart on Thursday for our annual pilgrimage to the wonderful MOFO festival. With no gig-going planned for our first night in town, we met up with some friends to suss out some bars around Battery Point. We started off at the cute and difficult-to-find tiki bar South Seas Cocktail Lounge, which got us started with some lovely cocktails.

The cocktails left us keen to find dinner somewhere close by, so we ducked around the corner to Preachers, a burger-focussed pub that we knew had a few vego options. The wind had kicked up too much for us to enjoy the beer garden (complete with school bus), so we huddled inside and looked over the menu.

It's surprisingly veg-friendly - there's a vegan pumpkin and mushroom burger and a vego felafel one, plus a good array of fried small plates and a salad. I was pretty psyched to try the vegan burger, but Cindy returned from the bar with the surprising news that Preachers had somehow run out of burger buns at 8:25 on a Thursday night and what's more, we had 5 minutes before the kitchen closed. We quickly rejigged our plans and ordered one each of almost everything else vegetarian on the menu - clockwise from the top: felafel ($12), pumpkin and chickpea salad ($12), fries ($6.50), onion rings ($6.50) and Tasmanian tempura mushrooms ($12).


The felafels were just passable - a bit doughy, but at least not too dry, but everything else hit the spot pretty well. The mushrooms and onion rings were probably the stand-outs, but the salad was an essential dish given how fried everything else on the table was. I think we were all a bit disappointed about the lack of burgers, but this table full of fried goods was a reasonably good fallback.

Fortified, we decided to continue bar-hopping, heading back to Society, a place that Will had scoped out earlier for its fancy spirits range. Look at that bar!


The cocktail selection was superb - Cindy's chocolate and whey (with Hartson sheep whey vodka, Mozart dark chocolate liqueur and chocolate shavings, $18) was the pick of the bunch, smelling like a box of Cadbury Roses and packing a delicious boozy punch. My Salamanca sloe gin was a combo of two kinds of McHenry gins (Sloe and Dry), with sugar, lemon and soda ($18) was a bit more refreshing, but I couldn't hide my chocolate envy.


With such a bar-heavy start to our weekend in Hobart Preachers turned out to be an excellent dinner choice, soaking up the booze and leaving us in good shape to tackle MOFO 2016 (see first day pics below).

____________

The first place we spotted Preachers was on Veggies & Me's vegetarian guide to Hobart. It's also been reviewed positively at Living and Loving Hobart, The Hobart life and katiecrackernuts
____________

Preachers
5 Knopwood St, Hobart
6223 3621
burgers and salads, share plates and fried stuff
facebook page

Accessibility: There are steps up into the bar, although things are relatively flat and clear once you're in. We ordered and paid at a high bar, and didn't visit either the beer gardens or the toilets.




Posted January 21, 2016 09:53 PM by Michael

Veganopoulous

What I Ate: The Krishna Indian Restaurant Vegan Buffet Version

Back in December, Krishna Indian Restaurant (aka Krishna on Barkly) in Footscray held a Seven Days of Christmas all vegan buffet. I KNOWWWW RIGHT?! SEVEN DAYS OF INDIAN FOOD BUFFET. I was lucky enough to go twice and enjoyed some fabulous food and good times. Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe has a more detailed writeup...
Continue reading »

Posted January 21, 2016 11:25 AM

January 20, 2016

Veganopoulous

Paperboy Kitchen, Melbourne City

Recently I’ve been hunting out vegan options around the city (what we Melburnians call the CBD area). I don’t mean the well known veg*n places that everyone knows– I mean those places which aren’t vegan but offer some great plant based meals and are handy for vegans who are visiting or working in the area....
Continue reading »

Posted January 20, 2016 09:19 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Damper: traditional Australian campfire bread

When we were young, my mum would mix flour and water and places it in the coals of the fire in the BBQ at a bush picnic area.  We ate it with slabs of butte from the local dairy and (for my parents) billy tea.  I have such fond memories of it that I am very picky about damper recipes.  They have to be very plain and have a thick crust.

I read somewhere that damper is Australia's version of soda bread.  Though I used self raising flour in my damper, it is different from using bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk together in soda bread.  I love the simplicity of damper.  If you have flour and baking powder you can make it.  Which I guess is why it was part of the swagman's diet in colonial Australia. 

Of course in the days when the swagmen wandered the bush they could stop a will to light campfires on which to bake damper and boil the billy.  Nowadays we are more aware of bushfires and must be more careful about lighting fires.  This summer is not a great one for cooking damper on an open fire.  The hot dry weather has resulted in many days of total fire ban. 

When we were young a bbq was a grill above a fire.  These days bbqs often involve gas and coals both at home and in picnic spots.  So I guess there are generally less people lighting campfires.  However you can baked damper in your oven.  It wont have that charred taste of the fire but it can have a thick crust and be fluffy inside.

We really loved this damper.  It had that robust yet fluffy crumb with a thick crust.  More like beer bread than soda bread.  I tried to bake it in a casserole dish to imitate a camp oven but it cooked too slowly so then I baked it on a baking stone until it was golden brown.

We tore chunks of damper to eat with a bottom-of-the-fridge-clearing stew.  Then we had some with jam for afters.  Well E and I did.  Sylvia had been on a sleepover the previous evening and had fallen asleep at 5pm.  I tried to wake her for dinner but she slept through til the next morning.  A shame.  I think she would have enjoyed the plain damper.  Seems I need to make it again.  And it would be perfect on Australia Day next week.

I am sending this to Kimmy for Healthy Vegan Fridays, Solange and Margot for Inheritance Recipes, and Helen and Camilla Credit Crunch Munch.

More savoury Australian baking:
Buttermilk and lemon myrtle damper
Party pies (v)
Pumpkin damper (v)
Pumpkin scones 
Sausage rolls
Zucchini slice

Damper
From Kidspot

2 cups self raising flour
generous pinch of salt
1 cup water

Mix salt into flour and then gradually mix in water to make a soft sticky dough.  You can use your hand to knead in the last few bits of flour and give it a couple of kneads on a floured surface to make a smooth(ish) dough.  However it should be treated gently as too much handling will make it tough.  Bake on a floured baking stone or baking tray in a hot oven until golden brown.  Mine took about 40-50 minutes at 220 C but my oven is quite slow.  Best on day of baking but will be ok the next day.

On the Stereo:
Ruby: Killjoys

Posted January 20, 2016 08:41 AM by Johanna GGG

January 19, 2016

Veganopoulous

Review of the Latest Gardein Products to Hit Australia

There was a fair bit of excitement when Gardein products finally landed in Australia and we were able to get a repeat of that excitement when more products began shipping here. My review of the first batch of Gardein products was quite favourable and these new products are pretty tasty too. First up, the Meatless...
Continue reading »

Posted January 19, 2016 03:40 PM

January 18, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chokito fudge

Today I want to encourage you to celebrate underrated Aussie chocolate bars.  Such as the Chokito.  Honestly, I get worried some days when they are not available in my local supermarket.  Not that I am looking to buy.  Just checking that they are still in circulation!  So I created a fudge filled with chunks of Chokito.  It is sort of like a fudgy crispy fudge.

For those who aren't familiar with it, here is what it looks like.  A bar of fudge smothered in rice crisps and milk chocolate.  Yes it is sweet but oh so good.  If you are a fan of condensed milk, then this is for you.  Unless you don't live in Australia, in which case you might not be able to find them easily.  Although according to Wikipedia they are also sold in Switzerland and Brazil.

When I was young we didn't eat chocolate bars a lot but there were moments when we could choose one.  At such times we all knew our favourite bars.  For me it was Chokito.  Strangely enough I have very few vivid memories of it but I have one: as a teenager I had a minor operation and I remember waking from the anaesthetic and being greeted by my family bringing me a Chokito.  It cheered me up.

I made this fudge upon a whim.  I know that January is supposedly the month of detox and dieting after festive excesses.  Yet that is just not happening when every weekend is another birthday celebration and at the end of the month is both Burns Night and Australia Day.  I guess we are still in party mode.

It is also the school holidays which meant that this was a fun activity on a day around the house.  Sylvia was beside herself with excitement at chopping up Chokitos.  She was also very excited when I pulled out the couches and mopped the day before.  

And what kid - big or small - could not be excited at fudge that involved chopping up chocolate bars, melting condensed milk and chocolate, and sprinkling fudge chunks.

In fact we were so excited that we could not wait for the fudge to be firm enough to slice.  Which might mean we each had a piece of soft fudge.  It was so very yummy.  Then I put it into the freezer so it got firm quicker.

I could highly recommend putting a Chokito into your fudge.  However I understand not everyone loves it as much as I do or has access to it.  So I can also recommend adding other chocolate bars to this fudge or even veganising it with vegan chocolate, vegan condensed milk and vegan chocolate bars.  Or you could just be really healthy and enjoy this fudge on my blog vicariously.  Which I think I probably need to do in future!

I am sending this fudge to We Should Cocoa which is hosted by Lovely Appetite and about simple recipes this month.

More fudge on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Black bean cacao fudge (gf, v)
Caramel fudge (gf)
Chocolate cashew fudge (gf, v)
Chocolate layered fudge (peppermint or caramel) (gf)
Hedgehog fudge with dried cherries
Mostly raw double layer fudge (gf, v)
Nutella fudge

More fun fudge elsewhere online:
Chocolate Crunchie Fudge - Jacqueline Meldrum on baby.co.uk
Easy Tim Tam Fudge - Kidspot
Mars Bar Fudge - Create Bake Make
Peppermint Crisp Fudge - Thermobliss
Tim Tam Milo Fudge - Bake Play Smile

Chokito Fudge
Makes lots of small pieces

300g dark chocolate (I used one with 50% cocoa solids)
300g condensed milk
25g butter
3 Chokito bars
85g fudge chunks, for topping

Line a 15cm square cake tin with baking paper.  Chop Chokito bars into chunks and set aside.  Melt chocolate, condensed milk and butter.  Mix in Chokito chunks.  Tip into prepared tin and smooth on top with the back of a spoon. Scatter fudge chunks over the top and lightly press into the fudge.  Leave in the fridge to firm up (or put it in the freezer if you are impatient).  Cut into small squares.  Keep in an airtight tub in the fridge or at room temperature.

On the stereo:
The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic

Posted January 18, 2016 09:34 PM by Johanna GGG

quinces and kale

marcella hazan’s boiled zucchini salad

boiled zucchini salad

Yes, in the blink of an eye, they are back. The zucchini are here and I need to find ways of using them. So here it is,  the first zucchini recipe of summer 2016.

The name of this salad is totally unpromising, BOILED zucchini salad. But trust me it is good. Normally i wouldn’t have given it a second look, but the recipe is from the opinionated Queen of Italian cooking, Marcella Hazan, now sadly gone. I’ve never made a recipe of hers that was a failure. My sister had also been singing its praises.

This is a simple salad of steamed zucchini, dressed with garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and parsley  I made it with some different shaped zucchini I had. Some of them were a bit larger than ideal, but it was still good. It is soft and creamy, with a zippiness from the vinegar that raises it above the ordinary.

It is the time to get out your best oil, vinegar and salt because it depends completely on the ingredients.

It is a “definitely more than the sum of its parts” dish. Great with just some fresh crunchy bread.

 

marcella hazan's boiled zucchini salad
 
prep time
5 mins
cook time
10 mins
total time
15 mins
 
author: marcella hazan
recipe type: salad
cuisine: vegan, italian
serves: 4
ingredients
  • 4 small zucchini
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic crushed to a paste
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chopped flat leaf parsley
instructions
  1. Steam the zucchini until very tender. They need to be soft so they just hold together.
  2. Cut in half lengthways and remove the top and bottom and place on a plate.
  3. Smear the cut surfaces with the garlic.
  4. Tilt the plate so any excess liquid runs off.
  5. After the zucchini has drained, drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle with red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning. I like mine with plenty of tang from the red wine.
notes
My garlic in the photo of the recipe is a bit too coarse, it is better if it is a paste, unless you like chomping into chunks of garlic.
3.5.3208

 

Posted January 18, 2016 10:00 AM

Thoughts Of A Moni

Grand Trailer Park Taverna

Grand Trailer Park Taverna had been on my wishlist for a while. We had tried on a previous occasion to go there for a quick dinner before an evening show, but unfortunately it had been too full to get a seat and we weren’t prepared to wait. This time, having learnt our lesson, we arrived nice and early before we went to see Cats The Musical.

The restaurant is located at the top of some dimly lit stairs, a complete contrast to the surroundings outside. It is actually set up like a trailer park! There are camper vans that form part of the décor, and an American diner style set up to capture the theme.




The menu focuses on burgers with names that pay homage to Hollywood. There are a large range of beef burgers and also the token vegetarian burger.


Naturally I chose the vegetarian burger, the Cynthia Benson, which had the most unique patty. The description told me it would be a mushroom patty, which I assumed would be a grilled Portobello mushroom but I was totally wrong. It was infact a patty that was made with minced mushroom (instead of minced meat) which was crumbed and fried. It was a concept I had never thought of, but it was amazing. There was also American cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, special sauce and American mustard all on a brioche bun. I am not usually a fan of the brioche bun, but on this occasion it worked well. This was definitely one of the best vego burgers I have had.


The other half decided to have the Atomic burger. This burger contained a beef patty with American cheddar cheese, caramelised onion, chilli cheese kransky, streaky bacon, BBQ sauce, cayenne truffle mayonnaise on a brioche bun. It was only until he was about half way through the burger that he realised that there was no salad element to his burger! No lettuce or tomato! He wasn’t sure if this would make the burger better or not, but he too deemed his burger one of the best he had ever had.


We also had some chips to share, beer battered, thickly cut chips that were crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Yum.

Trailer park also has a section on its menu dedicated to milkshakes, spiked milkshakes to be specific. You can have a Kinder Surprise, Nutella and Frangelico milkshake, or a crème brulee, vanilla, brandy and toffee top milkshake just to name a few! We decided it was a bit early in the week to be having such an indulgent drink and instead opted for the virgin version of the crème brulee milkshake. It was still delicious, and such a treat! There is also a bar with rotating beers on tap, so you can have traditional alcohol too.


Grand Trailer Park Taverna certainly lived up to the hype I had heard about. I had gone in with pretty high expectations and they were delivered upon. Melbourne has well and truly caught on to the burger craze, and Grand Trailer Park Taverna is a worthy member of the scene.

The Grand Trailer Park Taverna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted January 18, 2016 09:01 AM by Moni

January 16, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Lamingtons for an Aussie party

When I asked my nephew Dash what he wanted me to bake for his birthday he requested lamingtons.  A lamington man, in fact.  I thought about using a gingerbread man cookie cutter to cute the sponge cake before dipping it into chocolate icing and coconut.  But that was too challenging and you will see down the post that I had another solution.

This is my third go at making lamingtons on my blog.  The first batch of lamingtons were good and a little pumpkiny and the cake was very sticky.  Since then Sylvia has developed a pumpkin-aversion.  The second batch of lamingtons was vegan and used some quince syrup.  They were good but not the airy sponge cake of traditional lamingtons.  This third batch was excellent with a light sponge cake and rich chocolate icing.  The recipe came from Masterchef's Sophie Young.

For the uninitiated, lamingtons are a traditional Australian cake that have long been popular for afternoon tea, cake stalls and fundraising drives.  I grew up with them often in my mothers pantry and always at my grandmothers so they are a sentimental favourite (as I have written about previously).  However they are also slightly challenging.

Firstly there is the sponge cake which should be light and soft.  Airy eggy baking is not my strength.  Then there is all the faffy sifting and folding.  Beware the flour bombs if you don't fold thoroughly and yet if you fold too vigourously you will beat out the air.  The recipe I chose had no leavening but eggs.  This made me a little nervous so I added some self raising flour.  The sponge looked quite flat when out of the oven but had a really good texture.

Next there is the messy business of dipping the cake into chocolate icing and coconut.  The icing needs to be thin enough so that you can dip cake into it but thick enough that it will cling to the cake and not end up in a pool under the wire rack.  There is no way to do this neatly.  The kitchen gets covered in coconut.

And then there is the matter of getting the right ratio between the cake, the icing and the coconut.  I had to make a tiny bit more chocolate icing which got quite thick towards the end; a spoonful of icing sugar and a drizzle of water mixed in to the remains was enough.  I had lots of coconut leftover, probably because I didn't measure it in the first place.  (The amount of coconut below is from the recipe I followed.)

It is all worth it in the end.  I was really pleased with these lamingtons.  They were fluffy sponge with a rich chocolate icing that didn't drip much.  I chose to go with the traditional dessicated coconut rather than the chunkier shredded coconut that Sophie Young used.  We made them on the morning of Dash's party so that the icing was still a bit damp which is the best way to eat lamingtons.

When we got to my parent's house, Dash's parents, Chris and Fergal had arranged a fun party for him and his cousins.  They really know how to organise an event!  We arranged the lamingtons on a plate in the shape of a man.  Sylvia chose some blue smarties for eyes.  Dash has a book about the Lamington Man.  It is an Australian version of the gingerbread man where he says "run, run as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I'm the lamington man".

We had a great time at his party.  Firstly there was pizza for lunch, followed by a swim at the local pool.  Then we had sausage rolls, hot dogs, spring rolls and crisps.  There was a break in party food while the kids went out to have a bash at the Darth Vader pinata.  There was a Star Wars theme going on here with themed cups and party horns as well.  But the food was all Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi.

Then back inside for more traditional Aussie party food: hedgehog, fairy bread, frog in the pond and lamingtons.  Yes we were all well and truly stuffed.  But we still had room for birthday cake.

The funniest moment of the day was when my brother and his wife were sitting chatting to us when the kids had eaten their full and gone outside to play.  Andy stood up in disgust and said "we are the frogs in the pond".  If you have never heard of frog in a pond, it is jelly with a chocolate freddo frog in it.  Andy and Erica had been standing where one of the kids had spilled jelly.  It was a funny end to a fun day.

I am sending these to Janie (and Karen) for Tea Time Treats, Mandy (and Kirsty) for Cook Blog Share, and Emily for Recipe of the Week.

More Australian baking on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chocolate caramel slice
Ginger fluff sponge (gf) 
Honey joys (gf)
Potato boston bun (v)
Pumpkin scones
Tim Tam brownies

Lamingtons
Slightly adapted from Sophie Young on taste.com.au
Makes 25

Sponge cake:
4 eggs
125g caster sugar
75g self raising flour
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
50g margarine

Chocolate icing:
25g margarine
160ml (2/3 cup) soy milk
500g icing sugar
50g (1/2 cup)  cocoa

200g dessicated coconut

Preheat oven to 190 C.  Grease and line a 22cm square cake tin.

Measure flour and set aside.  Melt margarine and vanilla together and set aside.  Beat eggs and sugar for 4 minutes.  They should be pale and creamy and about three times the original volume. Sift flour onto egg mixture until covered and fold in gently with one motion with a metal spoon.  Continue doing this until all the flour is sifted.  Drop a spoonful of egg and flour mixture into the margarine mixture and mix well.  Now very gently fold the margarine mixture into the egg mixture until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes.  The sponge should be golden and spring back when you touch it in the middle.  Turn onto a wire rack lined with a tea towel.  Cool.

Leave the sponge overnight (or place in freezer for 20 minutes to firm up).

When you are ready to coat the lamingtons, make the chocolate icing.  Choose a heatproof bowl that is about medium mixing bowl size but not too deep because you will be dipping into it.  Stir the margarine and milk in this bowl over a gently simmering saucepan of water until the butter has melted. Turn off heat and remove bowl from the saucepan.  Sift the icing sugar and cocoa together and mix into the milk mixture until you have a thin icing.

Cut the sponge cake into 25 squares (ie five rows lengthways and widthways).  Set up the bowl of chocolate icing with two forks and a spoon, a shallow bowl of the coconut with two forks and a large wire rack.  Drop a square of cake into the chocolate icing and cover in icing, spooning icing over it if necessary.  Pick up the square with two forks and hold above the bowl to let as much icing as possible drip back into the bowl.  Drop the icing covered cake into the bowl of coconut.  Use the forks with the coconut to toss the cake in coconut.  Pick up the cake with the forks and place gently on the wire rack.  As you can see in my list of equipment, I find it easiest to use different forks for the icing and coconut bowls.  This recipe didn't drop much icing but will drip a little under the wire rack.

The lamingtons can be kept in an airtight container.  They are best on the day of making, great the next day and then after that start to diminish in texture.

On the Stereo:
The Captain: Kasey Chambers

Posted January 16, 2016 02:49 PM by Johanna GGG

January 14, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Andy Warhol - Ai Weiwei and Studio Cats at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)

The school holidays are whizzing by.  It is hard to believe we are halfway through January.  We have been busy with visits to the art gallery, the museum, the pool, family and lots of tidying up at home.  We have been listening to a lot of David Bowie.  His death was a shock.  His life was amazing. 

I mention David Bowie because his constant challenging and inventive artistry might be compared to Warhol and Weiwei.  One of our fun days out was to see the Andy Warhol - Ai Weiwei exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.  It is truly spectacular, beautiful, esoteric, fun, thought-provoking and innovative.  A bit like David Bowie!

For those who are not familiar with Andy Warhol and Ai WeiWei, they are two innovative and significant artists whose lives and art have similarities.  Andy Warhol was born in 1928 and achieved fame as a pioneer of pop art in New York in the 1960s.  He died in 1987.  Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing and is a contemporary artist and political activist who is still alive.  They never met but Weiwei was exposed to Warhol's work when living in Manhattan in the early 1980s.

We start in the foyer of the gallery where Weiwei's Forever Bicycles installation transforms many frames and wheels into a massive monolith of metal.  Like much of what we will see throughout the exhibition, it finds beauty in mundane objects.

I know a lot more of Warhol than Weiwei and his Campbell's soup images are so familiar as to be hackneyed.  Yet is still a delight to see them here with a lego image of Weiwei dropping a Han Dynastry Urn.  Two sides of taking culture for granted.  That which is so precious we can barely touch it and that which is so common as to be invisible.

Next is an installation where we spent most time.  Large balloons in the shape of the Twitter bird and a Llama (or Grass Mud Horse which is a symbol of defiance against Chinese internet censorship).  They float in front of a wallpaper that on closer inspection has CCTV, Twitter and Llama motifs.  It is a place of beauty and peace with deeper ideas imbedded in the imagery.

Fans gently waft the balloons about but the public is also able to push them this way and that.  It is particularly attractive to kids who are used to punching balloons.  I am there with some family including my nephew Dash who is great company for Sylvia.  I think they could have stayed here all day caught up watching the balloons swirl and punching them about.

We are there long enough for me to take up a conversation with the guard who has the thankless task of asking children to be gentle with the balloons.  She tells me they have to replace some of the balloons when they get shabby.  And that Weiwei personally designed the space.  "So what was he like", I ask in fascination.  Apparently he was always in the other room to this guard!  So no insights there.  What a shame.  The whole exhibition shows him to be an amazing person.

Then we are back to rooms of pictures and exhibits.  So many ideas crammed in here that it is intriguing.  Lots of ordinary life transformed into art.  Some of it both exotic and familiar such as Warhol's box of coca cola bottles from 1967. 

Weiwei's one man shoe is one of the most bizarre exhibits.  What would this man look like?  How would he walk? 

More mundane and yet every bit as fascinating is Weiwei's Tonne of Tea.  (See the huge brown block.) 

Bringing together the every day and the political is WeiWei's Letgo Room.  The walls and ceiling are made of over 3 million faux-Lego blocks.  (Apparently Lego refused to provide blocks for political artwork.)  The block depict quotes and photos from high profile political Australians such as Gary Foley, Rosie Batty and Julian Assange.

Both Warhol and Weiwei had many multiples images in their work.  These reflect the mass produced items of the industrial age.  Little boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.  Yet often not quite the same.  I love the beauty both artists find in this repetition.

There are many flowers in the exhibition.  These are Warhol screen prints.

When the Chinese government confiscated Weiwei's passport in November 2013, he posted a photo of a bouquet of flowers in a bicycle outside his studio every day on social media in protest until the passport was reinstated in July 2015.

I really love wandering through a gallery and taking in images rather than reading lots of signs.  Yet I probably would have enjoyed reading more about the images because they have many layers of meaning in the ouvre of both Warhol and WeiWei.  Walking through with children makes reading harder.  So I was interested to read online that this arrangement of antique stools is a commentary on the relationship between the individual and the collective in China's socialist history.  And I had just thought it an interesting way to arrange stools.

I really liked the multi media room with Warhol's Screen Tests.  (Do you recognise any of the faces above?)  It also had footage of Weiwei riding about Beijing and a slideshow of 7677 called 258 Fake.  I would have loved to have sat and watched more that I had time for before the kids were off onto the next room.

And in the next room I saw statues and prints and photos of Weiwei flicking the bird at famous monuments around the world.  I can't tell you too much about this or the images screening in the room with the bean bags.  I discovered I had lost my ticket and had to get across the foyer to the remainder of the exhibition which included more prints and items from both artists' studios.  (I probably had Stendahl's Syndrome by then.)  The one piece of information that fascinated me was the sparkle on some of Warhol's prints came from crushed glass scattered in the ink.

Once out of the paid exhibition we proceeded to the Studio Cats for kids which is both interactive and free.  It is complementary to the Warhol-Weiwei exhibition.  Sylvia and Dash stacked Brillo and Heinz boxes while my mum and dad waited in line for the photo booth where they could make all sort of faces to make a fun video that we emailed to ourselves.

They sat on the chair with cat tails in front of monitors with cat ears to write captions on cat photos (Clever Cats). 

Then we sat and watched a slide show about how much Warhol and Weiwei loved cats and how many millions of cats are on the internet today.  Coincidence?

And there are lots of cat pictures in the room too.

It was a blissfully mild day (in this Melbourne summer where it is a scorching 42 C one day and a wet chilly 19 C the next.)  We went outside to the 2015 Summer Architects Commission by John Wardles Architects.  This colourful structure had tables and chairs under it and looked a relaxing space for a spot of lunch.

I really liked how the Gallery has lunchboxes ($8.50) for the kids.  I ordered one for Sylvia with a cheese and vegemite sandwich, veggie sticks, hummus dip, muesli bar and apple juice.  It seemed perfect for her (in a world where not many lunches at cafes are).  I also bought a similar one for Dash but with ham and cheese sandwich.  And for myself I bought a Vegetable Love roll with roast vegetables, brie, macadamia and pesto ($12).  It all seemed just right.

Kids have a way of seeing lunch from a totally different perspective.  Sylvia refused to eat her sandwich because it had butter on it.  The veggie sticks and dip were unavailable so she was given sultanas instead.  The muesli bar was replaced with a smartie cookie.  And the final moment of doom was when Dash dropped his sandwich and the pigeons ate it.  I enjoyed my roll though it had a slight chill to it.  But by then we were rushing out the door because there was much to do so I gulped it down in a hurry.

I highly recommend the Warhol WeiWei exhibition even despite the hefty price of $26 per adult.  I could go back and spend more time looking at images, wandering what on earth the artists were thinking and watching multi media.  I am hoping I might have the opportunity but you never know what life will bring!

Andy Warhol Ai Weiwei exhibition
$26 per adult, $10 per child

Studio Cats: Andy Warhol Ai Weiwei for kids
Free entry

Garden Cafe
Grollo Equiset Garden (through the foyer and the Great Hall)

NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne
11 December 2015 - 24 April 2015
10am - 8pm in January

Posted January 14, 2016 11:11 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Cafe Lalibela II

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

January 11, 2016


Cindy's family wanted to meet us for dinner in Footscray and, with our enthusiasm for our new Cheap Eats 2006 project still high, we decided it was a good opportunity to revisit Cafe Lalibela. It's been more than seven years since we last visited, and not much seems to have changed. The staff are friendly, the service casual, the menu has a good range of vego options and there's a steady stream of people coming through the door.

We made the same move as last time and ordered the beyainetu (the platter below serves 3), a combination of different veggie dishes on an injera platter ($14 per head - up from $12 seven years ago, which is pretty good going).


The dishes are heavy on the protein: lentils and beans cooked in various sauces, along with a potato and carrot dish. The injera is the star of the show - the fermentation adds a citruss-y kick to the chewy, spongy bread, which soaks up the relatively mild flavours of all the stews. It's fun and messy to tear at the injera and scoop up the stews - it's a rare treat to eat with your hands. Added bonus: the delicious Ethiopian beers are a ridiculously affordable $5 a pop.

Cafe Lalibela feels timeless - almost nothing has changed since we visited nearly eight years ago - great, cheap food in a cheerful, casual setting. We really need to go back before 2023 rolls around.

____________

Since our visit in 2008, Lalibela has been positively written up by vegos In the Mood for Noodles and omni-bloggers Footscray Food Blog, Howie's Melbourne Food Blog, Gosstronomy, Apples Under My Bed, Eurasian Sensation and Eat and Be Merry for Tomorrow We Die(t).

____________

Cafe Lalibela
91 Irving Street, Footscray 
9687 0300
vegetarian menu

Accessibility: The entry is flat and there's a reasonably clear path up the middle of the restaurant, although the tables themselves are all wedged in pretty close together. We paid at a high counter and didn't visit the toilets. 

Posted January 14, 2016 01:05 PM by Michael

Thoughts Of A Moni

In My Kitchen - January 2016

This year I’ve decided to join the monthly In My Kitchen posts hosted by Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef. It’s a lovely way to document the things that are happening on the food front, and it is always interesting to see what other people are up to. Usually the posts have to be done by the 10th of each month, so I’m obviously a little late for January, but I will pick up my game from next time now that I’ve got myself organised!

Santa brought me lots of lovely things for my kitchen. Everyone that knows me, knows that food is a massive part of my identity. Whether it be eating, cooking, or talking about food, it is a topic that dominates my personality and who I am. I often say that I really can’t be friends with someone that doesn’t like food!

Anyway, onto the crux of this post…

In my kitchen there are a lovely trio of jams and jellies. I love condiments, although I rarely buy them for myself, but I received this gift for Christmas from Jenny! I haven’t opened them yet, but it won’t be too long… That chilli jam is calling out to me!


We also received this Moroccan spice from Treeze. It is a blend of cumin, coriander, garlic, cayenne pepper and other delicious things, but I’m not quite sure what to use it on. I imagine the traditional use would be to sprinkle it onto some meat or chicken and grill it, but I need to find a vegetarian use for it! I’m thinking it may work on a tofu steak, but I will have to do some experimenting!


Jenny also gave me this fabulous cookbook from Emma Galloway, the author of the My Darling Lemon Thyme blog. I have often used her blog to find recipes, and this book follows in the same steps. There are some great ideas that take advantage of fresh produce and healthy (but tasty) eating, and I can’t wait to get cooking from it. There is a breakfast recipe of baked eggs in pits bread cups that I really want to make!


Whilst I try to make most of my food from scratch, there is the odd occasion when I just don’t have time, or I’m not feeling up to it. In such cases, the range of frozen Vegie Delights foods are a lifesaver. There are burgers, falafels and other mock meat products. I know that these are processed, and really not that great for you, but for the occasional emergency food they are brilliant, and I think they taste great! Coles had a big sale on them where the whole range was 50% off, so I stocked up, and the freezer is full of them! We’ve already eaten a box of the burgers for lunch, and we had chickpea falafel wraps for dinner tonight, yum!


And in stark contrast to the processed foods, I also have some super fresh produce in my kitchen. There are fresh eggs from backyard chickens, home grown lettuce, home grown cucumber and home grown basil. I love fresh produce, and when you eat it regularly, you can taste the huge difference.


I now always say that I have been so spoilt, that I couldn’t go back to store bought eggs. The backyard chickens (and ducks, don’t even get me started on how good duck eggs are) produce the best eggs with the yellowest yolks, that anything else just seems sub-standard. It is also important to me that the animals are treated well, and I know that this poultry is living the good life. Whilst supermarkets may make claims to stock free range eggs, a little research reveals that ‘free range’ chickens can be stocked with a density of 5 birds per square metre and up to 2500 birds per shed. It’s a far cry from the 4 acres that the 50 or so poultry that I get my eggs from have. I know that not everybody has the luxury to have access to poultry like this, but I think it’s important to be aware of what is going on, rather than turning a blind eye.

The fresh lettuce and cucumber will go into a salad, and I used a lot of the basil yesterday in a simple but delicious pasta sauce of garlic, cherry tomatoes and basil. These flavours combine well together, and this sauce tossed through some spaghetti and topped with freshly grated parmesan makes for a perfect meal.


And that’s about all from my kitchen this month! It’s heating up a bit now, so we’ll have to see what summer treats are happening in my kitchen in February!

Posted January 14, 2016 08:50 AM by Moni

January 13, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Caramel chocolate rice krispie slice with a Peppermint candy cane variation

When my brother said we were meeting for lunch for his wife's birthday I decided to make a rice krispie riff on the classic Chocolate Caramel Slice for my sister in law who loves traditional Aussie slices.  It was not perfect but it was gelatine free, gluten free, almost dairy free and avoided all the nut allergies in the family.

With just one look you can see I could do better.  There is the tell tale chocolate bloom.  And not enough chocolate.  I think I would double it next time.  Underneath this is a caramel layer that was so chewy I called it "the jaw breaker".  Then there was the rice krispie layer which was good but perhaps when I decided to use more coconut I might have used less rice krispies.  Alas, it didn't look as impressive as the slice that inspired me.

At least it wasn't a melting 42 C like today!  And the almond butter worked just as well as the cashew butter in the previous rice krispie slices I have used before.  I hope to experiment more with this idea.  Cooling the caramel on a plate while cooking seemed helpful in getting a sense of how far the caramel had cooked.  Having complained about cooking it too much, the coconut condensed milk made a nice caramel but I wonder if it did not colour up as much as the dairy condensed milk.

I only needed part of the rice krispie mixture and then ants have attacked leftover candy canes so I used the two or three that I salvaged to make a peppermint version with the rest of the slice.  It was good but again the coconut made it a bit dry and I think stopping to bash up candy canes (on a folder tea towel so we didn't pock mark the kitchen table like last time) meant that it didn't hold together so well.

We took it down to my brothers' place where a bbq was held but the main event was the sweet food.  My sister in law made gorgeous gluten free cupcakes and a yummy clinkers slice.  My mum made a dependably good gluten free chocolate cake and an impressive gluten free pistachio and pomegranate cake.  My sister had had a birthday celebration for her boyfriend the previous night and brought along leftover chocolate layer cake.  It was a tyranny of choice.  Which is no bad thing at a birthday celebration.

More rice bubbles slices on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chocolate almond rice bubble slice (gf, v)
Jeanette's coconut date slice (gf, v)
Mars bar slice
Monster rice krispies (gf, v)
Nutella rice bubble slice
Pooh bear honey slice

Chocolate caramel rice krispie slice
with a Peppermint candy cane variation
A work in progress recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe

1⁄2 cup almond nut butter*
1⁄2 cup rice malt syrup (or brown rice syrup)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp margarine or butter*
pinch of salt
1 cup desiccated coconut*
4 cups rice bubbles (ie rice krispies, or other puffed rice)*

For Chocolate caramel variation:
400ml tin condensed milk*
125g dark chocolate chips*
1 tsp neutral oil

For Peppermint candy cane variation:
3-4 tbsp crushed peppermint candy canes
1/2 tsp peppermint essence
75g dark chocolate chips*
1 tsp oil

Put nut butter, rice malt syrup, brown sugar, margarine and salt into a large microwave proof bowl and heat in microwave until warm and gooey (about 1 minute).  Mix in coconut and rice bubbles.

To make the Chocolate caramel rice krispie slice:
Press 2/3 of the mixture into a 22cm square tin lined with baking paper.  (I found using my hands was the best way to press it firmly and that the quicker this was done after mixing the better.)

Gently simmer the condensed milk for 10 to 15 minutes until it changes colour and when cooled on a plate is soft but holds its shape.  I boiled my coconut condensed milk for 15 minutes on medium heat, bubbling it along the whole time and at the end of these time it was really really chewy.  Pour hot caramelised condensed milk over the rice krispies.  Cool.

Heat the chocolate and oil in the microwave until mostly melted and stir to completely melt.  Spread over cooled caramel layer.

Cool in the fridge and cut into squares to serve.  I found that small squares were required because it was quite intense.  Keeps in an airtight container for at least 4-5 days.

To make the Peppermint candy cane rice krispie slice:
Mix remaining mixture with crushed candy canes and peppermint essence.  Then press into a lined loaf tin.  Do this as soon as possible after stirring.

Melt the chocolate and oil in microwave until mostly melted and stir to complete melting.  Drizzle over peppermint slice.  Cool in fridge to set chocolate and then cut into squares.

*NOTES: For vegan slice check that the margarine, condensed milk and chocolate is vegan.  I used nuttalex margarine and coconut condensed milk.  For gluten free slice, check that the rice bubbles are gluten free.  For a nut free slice, you could try using this date and coconut slice as a base.  If you don't have access to coconut condensed milk at the shops, you could try this vegan condensed milk recipe with coconut milk or milk of choice.

On the Stereo:
Best of Bowie: David Bowie

Posted January 13, 2016 10:01 PM by Johanna GGG

Veganopoulous

Super Simple Peachy Melba

Did you know it’s Peach Melba Day today? That’s according to the highly official website http://www.daysoftheyear.com. Peach Melba is a great summer dessert– peaches, raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. At school camps we had the somewhat stripped down version which was a tin of diced peaches plopped on some cheap nasty icecream.   The...
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Posted January 13, 2016 01:15 PM

January 12, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tom Phat III

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on


January 6 & 10, 2016


In 2006 Tom Phat was a new entry into the Cheap Eats guide, on the frontier of Brunswick gentrification and Asian fusion food. A decade later its brunch & bar fit-out has barely changed and aged rather well, with floor space doubling thanks to an extension into a neighbouring shopfront. While dishes have shuffled around from time to time, the menu has remained a mish-mash of eggs and roti, curries and stir-fries, cocktails and mocktails, with well-marked veg options, plenty of tofu and at least one mention of tempeh.

We first visited and blogged Tom Phat in 2008 and made a follow-up post in 2011. While these describe positive encounters, we'll admit to a couple of disappointments regarding both the food and the service in between; Carla was far more thorough in her polarised feelings on easy as vegan pie. In the past week we've returned for both dinner and breakfast to find out how Tom Phat is faring in 2016.


For dinner, Michael ordered the fried crispy silken tofu with red pumpkin curry, basil and lime on rice ($19). The tofu pieces were like deep-fried clouds, the curry was fragrant and citrusy, and Michael was very pleased.


I took on the nasi goreng ($18; we paid $12.90 for the same dish in 2011). It was sweet with kecap manis and a little smoky, with skewers of tofu and tempeh and a fried egg that spilled golden yolk over the rice. Another winner, we reckoned. I washed it down with a tangy Eastern Sunset mocktail ($6) of orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice and grenadine.


With happy memories of a scrambled tofu dish back in the day, Michael set his eye on their current version for breakfast ($14.90). It wasn't the spicy egg-substitute he was anticipating, instead a soupy bowl of 'roast tomato salsa' holding silken tofu blobs, wilting spinach leaves and a few button mushrooms. 


Michael does credit Tom Phat for introducing him to Vietnamese iced coffees (still $4 after 5 years). He's mighty fond of getting his summertime caffeine with a shot of condensed milk, though he now does so more often from Wide Open Road.


Meanwhile, I was curious to revisit the roti pancake ($12.90; up from $11 in 2011). Indicative of changes in me more than at Tom Phat, this didn't work out. Tough to cut, filled with mashed banana and encased in toffee, this was extraordinarily sweet even before the icecream hit the plate (oh, for a little lime or spice to cut through the sugar!). My two favourite things about roti are its flakiness and its delicate crunchy surface, and this approach maintains neither.


If nothing else, Tom Phat remains consistently inconsistent! It seems any dish is equally likely to generate a grin or a grimace. We were similarly bemused by the playlist, a mix of early '90s hip hop by night and Wilco backed up against CDB by day. The service staff, at least, were reliably friendly and efficient. It's fascinating that such a restaurant has persevered for a decade with very few updates - we'll probably continue to swing by every now and then, but Tom Phat has never really locked down our loyalty.
____________

You can also read about one, two of our previous visits. Since then it's received praise from fellow veg blogger little vegan bear.



____________


Tom Phat
184 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
9381 2374
breakfast & drinks, lunch & dinner
http://www.tomphat.com.au/


Accessibility: Tom Phat has a small ramp on entry. Tables are aligned through the length of the building with a corridor through that starts off wide but gets a little more crowded towards the end. There is a disability-marked toilet out back. We ordered at our table and paid afterwards at the low-ish counter.

Posted January 12, 2016 10:16 AM by Cindy

January 11, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Krishna Indian Restaurant, Footscray - vegan buffet

I have heard a lot of good feedback about Krishna Indian Restaurant in Footscray and was very excited to go along to a vegan buffet there just before Christmas.  The restaurant (which is Krishna Indian Restaurant on the window, Krisha Pait Pooja on the website and Krishna on Barkly on the Facebook page) has been around for a couple of decades but only last year did it decide to become fully vegetarian with lots of vegan and gluten free options clearly marked on the menu.

In the week before Christmas, Krishna Indian Restaurant offered a vegan buffet for a week.  Above is the menu on the night we went.  For $28 per person it was excellent value and the food was delicious.  I loved being able to have lots of small dishes.   It was also interesting to go with a group and see that everyone had different preferences.

First up we had a Lentil soup.  I love lentils so this was very pleasing.  It was quite thin but tasty and a light start to the meal.

For Entrees we had Samosa, Onion Pakora and Veg Manchurian.  I could have stopped right here and just kept going back for more.  The samosa was perfect triangles of fried filled pastry with a sweet and very spicy dipping sauce.  The manchurian were wonderful - dumplings in a sweet and spicy sauce.  The onion pakora was crisp and delicious.  I regretted not going back for more of all of these but I did want to keep going through the whole menu.

The main course had lots of curries to taste.  I was very excited by the sound of the Shahi Tofu (Tofu in a creamy cashew nut sauce) [top right] and surprised to find that the sauce was not quite as creamy as I expected.  It was more tomatoey than creamy and I loved it but wished I had asked for more tofu chunks.  Top left is the Soy Nugget Masala which was my least favourite.  I enjoyed the creamy sauce but the chunks were a bit too mock meat, which is just not my thing.

In the middle right is the Eggplant and Potato Curry and bottom left is the Potato and Chickpea Curry.  These dishes made less impact on me.  I enjoyed them but just as part of the mix rather than as stand out dishes.  It is great to go out with a group but I find that I get caught up in conversation at times rather than focusing on the food.  A couple of the dishes were a bit spicy but generally it was not too spicy for me, which was a relief as I don't eat lots of spicy food.

The curries were accompanied by Garlic Naan and Saffron Rice.  Both were very very good.  I also tasted some of the Gluten Free Naan which was lovely though a bit less chewy and tasted like it had besan in it.  When we were quite full, the owners brought around Kashmiri Naan.  I am very partial to this flatbread stuffed with nuts and dried fruit.  How could I refuse!  It was excellent.  Hot and buttery straight from pan with that wonderful sweet nutty filling.  Is it any wonder that I was too busy scoffing it to take a photo.

I had decided beforehand that I would not have dessert.  I've never been very interested in Indian sweets.  But somehow I found myself taking a bowl of dessert.  Perhaps it was curiosity.  And indeed I was glad I did.  The vegan Gulab Jaman was amazing.  It wasn't as sweet as when I have tasted it before and had all the comfort of a good pudding.  I was not so interested in the Rice Pudding but was very surprised to find that I really enjoyed the Mango and Coconut Ice Cream.  Despite not liking mangos or being much of an ice cream person, I found I could not stop eating the ice cream.

By the end of the meal I was well and truly stuffed, but with such good food.  It was a really lovely night out.  Great to catch up with some of the lovely bloggers that it has been wonderful seeing online and offline this year.  And the family that runs Krishna is so friendly and welcoming.  We had a chat about making our own yoghurt and sourdough and the owners gave us little Christmas gifts.  Check out Veganopoulous and Where's the Beef to see more about the regular Krishna menu.  I am looking forward to returning there soon.

Krishna Indian Restaurant
Shop 3, 578 Barkly Street
West Footscray
(03) 9687 5531
www.krishnapaitpoojawestfootscray.com.au

Krishna Pait Pooja Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted January 11, 2016 10:22 PM by Johanna GGG

Veganopoulous

Blackstrappy Gingerbready Breakfasty Smoothie

Maybe it’s the time of year and being in denial that my Christmas gingerbread has long vanished, but I’m all about gingerbready flavours right now. In the past I’ve made those pumpkin pie kinds of smoothies but today I wanted my regular banana breakfast smoothie with a gingerbread makeover. I’ve also been adding blackstrap molasses...
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Posted January 11, 2016 01:27 PM

What I Ate

We’ve had some really hot blergh days here so my cooking has been rather no-fuss lately. I’m thrilled though that both Arthur and DeeW are back to eating porridge. YESSSSSSSS! I’m thrilled because it requires minimal effort to make. I also found a whole tray of strawberries for $7 (from the Fresh Food Market at...
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Posted January 11, 2016 12:19 PM

quinces and kale

blogging mojo, sourdough flatbread and dhal tadka

dhal tadka

I lost my blogging mojo a little over the last few weeks. Like everyone, I was stupidly busy in the run up to Christmas. On top of the normal end of year craziness I was helping a friend move house. This meant my time was a bit squeezed and I honestly couldn’t be bothered cooking. I’ve been eating a lot of fruit from the garden and while that’s delicious, it doesn’t make for a very exciting blog post.

The mojo is back however, sparked by inspiration from two bloggers. The first was Johanna over at Green Gourmet Giraffe who dropped by last week with some sourdough starter for me.  I’ve been making great bread with it, using a slightly modified version of the no-knead recipe.

flatbread

 

The second was Vaishali over at Holy Cow! She’d written a post early in December for Dhal Tadka that caught my eye, so I bookmarked it for future reference.

One led to the other. I had some leftover dough from bread making so I decided to make some flatbread. I just rolled the dough thinly and slapped it onto a frying pan to cook for a couple of minutes on each side. I then held the bread in tongs over the gas flame to puff it up and char it slightly. The flatbread obviously needed something to go with it…dhal seemed like an excellent choice.

Of course I tinkered, partly out of necessity because I didn’t have the ingredients, partly because I am an inveterate tinkerer with recipes, and partly to add more punch to the dhal. I didn’t have some of the types of dhal Vaishali used so I went with what I had, channa, split urad and mung. I also made more of the tadka spice mix, upping the quantities by half because I love garlic and chilli. I left out the sugar.

If you have a pressure cooker the dhal can be ready in 20 minutes.

Good, simple, comforting and delicious food.

 

dhal tadka
 
prep time
5 mins
cook time
45 mins
total time
50 mins
 
author: holycowvegan.net tweaked by quincesandkale
recipe type: vegan
cuisine: indian
serves: 4
ingredients
  • ½ cup channa dhal
  • ½ cup mung dhal
  • ½ cup split urad dhal
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • enough water to cover by 2 cm.
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1.5 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 3 dried chillies (I removed the seeds)
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt to taste
  • fresh coriander
instructions
  1. Wash the dhal, cover with water, add the turmeric and cook until tender.
  2. Heat the coconut oil and fry the mustard seeds with the chillies
  3. When the seeds start to pop, add the garlic and fry until fragrant and golden, but NOT burnt.
  4. Add the chopped tomato and cook down slightly.
  5. Stir the oil spice mix into the dhal mix and season with salt and lemon juice to taste.
  6. Garnish with fresh coriander.
3.5.3208

 

 

Posted January 11, 2016 10:00 AM

Thoughts Of A Moni

Shakahari Too

For over 20 years, Bharatha Natyam was a huge part of my life. Bharatha Natyam is one of the ancient Indian classical dance forms that originated in the temples of South India and these days is showcased around the world. I was lucky enough to be a student of Bharatha Natyam, and whilst in the early days going to class seemed more like a chore than a pleasure, these days, I am ever so grateful that I had the opportunity to learn about my heritage and culture through this beautiful artform.

The friends I made through dance class are also formed some of my most long lasting friendships. Rehearsing for performances can often be extremely stressful, and the dance studio becomes a pressure cooker of emotions, so the people you spend time with in these situations often see you at your very worst - angry, frustrated and in tears, but they also see you at your very best, the elation of finishing my arangetram (dance graduation) was a moment I am still immensely proud of today. These days I rarely perform, or even attend classes, but I still love to be involved with my dance school, whether it be through co-ordinating the lighting at a dance concert, or helping behind the scenes. And most importantly, I love catching up with my old dance friends.

As time has passed, many of us have moved onto different phases of our lives. There are engagements, weddings, babies, toddlers, some of us have moved interstate, and some of us have even moved overseas, so catching up doesn’t happen that often. Still, when it does, it is always fun, and we always manage to reminisce about our crazy times on stage or in class.  Just before Christmas an old dance friend was visiting from Singapore. She was ridiculously organised, so had planned a catch up via Facebook long before she even arrived! The restaurant we chose was Shakahari Too. I was actually pretty keen to try this place, given that I had only ever been to the original Shakahari in Carlton, which has become a vegetarian stalwart in Melbourne.


We all had varying degrees of hunger, so we decided to order individually rather than share. Some of us ordered entrees, some entrees and mains, and some had their eye on dessert too! Surprisingly, I opted for just the main, but with so much food on the table, it meant that I got to hear the opinions on lots of items! Some of my friends had also just discovered that I was a food blogger, so they were very obliging, letting me take photos of everything before they started eating!

The entrée that a few people chose was titled Avocado Magic. This was a very pretty dish to look at, and upon reading the description it sounded quite interesting. It was explained to be wedges of avocado and red capsicum rolled in thing eggplant slices and then fried in a rice batter like tempura. Served with it was a coriander and sesame puree. I didn’t try any of this dish, but everyone that did was quite impressed. They were all avocado fans, and they agreed that if you didn’t like avocado, then this dish was not for you. I am a fan of avocado and I love things deep fried, so I’m guessing this dish would have been a winner for me.


For mains, most of us chose the Green, Green Laksa. Laksa paste is traditionally made with various fishy ingredients like shrimp paste, when then the opportunity arises to have a vegetarian laksa, I always pounce on it. The laksa at Shakahari Too didn’t disappoint. The bowl was packed full of ingredients and it looked to be a filling meal. There was Japanese udon noodles, baby spinach, mushrooms, bean sprouts, fried tofu and tempeh. The soup broth was flavoured with Thai krachai (which I learnt was a weak version of galangal), basil green curry coconut stock and lots of Asian, fragrant herbs. The soup was wonderfully warming, and so full of flavour. With every mouthful I could taste the subtleties in the herbs and spices, and combined the result was a flavour explosion in my mouth. I had definitely made a smart decision in choosing the laksa, I was on a winner.


Around the table, a friend had chosen to have Nonya Lodeh, which was a lemongrass and spice flavoured brown rice, served with a turmeric galangal coconut curry with blanched cashews, a mix of vegetables including snake beans, okra, potato and cauliflower, some pickled vegetables and a pappadum. She too was satisfied with her dish.


It was then time for desert, and whilst I was full from my laksa, a couple of us chose to have the Raw Avocado Chocolate ‘Cheese Cake’ and the Tofu Caramel. Both these desserts were vegan, and I am not a big fan of replacing dairy in a predominantly dairy dessert.  I tried both of these plates, but neither were to my taste.

The ‘Cheese Cake’ had an interesting, but nice base. It was made from crushed walnuts, dates and coconut oil. It was very different from the usual cheesecake base, but the flavour of the nuts with the dates worked well. My issue was with the ‘cheese’ bit of the cake. Avocado cannot replace cheese, regardless of how much chocolate you put in it! I love avocado, but I’m not sure I like it in a dessert like this. Whilst there was coconut sugar added, it simply wasn’t sweet enough. I understand that this was definitely not meant to taste like a normal cheese cake, but I just didn’t like it.


I had much the same opinion of the tofu caramel. It was obviously modelled on a crème caramel, and whilst the textures were replicated quite well, it tasted completely different. The smell of the tofu was very overpowering, and again, it simply wasn’t sweet enough.


Despite the fact that both the desserts were a fail, the mains at Shakahari Too were delicious, and I would definitely go back to try the rest of the menu. But most importantly, it was a great night, catching up with old friends, and a catch up that hopefully we can do more often.

Shakahari Too Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted January 11, 2016 08:50 AM by Moni

January 10, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

One pot pasta with chickpeas and zucchini

I am excited to find a one pot pasta that works after a few failed experiments.  I have seen lots of one pot pastas online.  The idea of throwing all the seasonings and vegetables in the pot with the pasta seemed brilliant.  It was just a matter of getting the seasonings right and enough vegies to make a healthy meal.

One of the main reasons I wanted to make the one pot pasta is that it always looks so pretty online in the before photos.  So I made sure I arranged mine to please the eye.  This might be one of the reasons it wasn't quite as quick as I had hoped it might be.  It meant I was a little late to visit a friend after dinner but at least I was quite satisfied by my meal.

When I had a taste of it lukewarm upon arriving home, I could taste the undercooked onion slightly and did so again the next day.  I had chopped my brown onion fairly fine so perhaps a red onion would be better here.  I had also thought of adding spinach at the end but was feeling too rushed by the time it was cooked to do this.  Some fresh basil at the end would also be great.  And E added grated cheese but I did not think this was necessary.

This was a great tasty dish to slurp up quickly before heading out of the house.  I can see this becoming a regular meal.  It didn't take too long and mostly used ingredients I regularly have in the house.  It had a good amount of vegies which could be increased by spinach at the end.  And I am sure with practice I could make it even quicker.

I am sending this to Meat Free Mondays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, and Cook Once, Eat Twice.

More quick pasta recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Angel hair pasta with feta, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach
Avocado Pasta (v)
Fettuccine Napoletana (v)
Hurry up pumpkin alfredo (v)
Pasta with mint and parmesan
Spaghetti hoops (v)

One pot pasta with chickpeas and zucchini
Adapted from Yup It's Vegan
Serves 4

350g spaghetti
400g tin chickpeas, drained
400g can diced tomatoes
1 zucchini, halved and sliced thinly
1/4 cup sliced black olives
2 tbsp capers
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs
1/4 tsp ground pepper
3 cups vegetable stock

Place pasta in a large saucepan.  If it needs to be broken up to fit that is fine.  Place remaining ingredients in the pot finishing with the stock.  Cover and bring to the boil.  (Check and adjust seasoning at this point.)  Cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  I simmered mine for about 8 minutes and then took the lid off and cooked it on high for another 2-3 minutes with lots of stirring to boil off a little bit more liquid but not all as it will thicken to make a tomato sauce.  Serve hot.  Leftovers are good to serve the next day.

On the Stereo:
Who killed Amanda Palmer: Amanda Palmer

Posted January 10, 2016 09:44 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

January 10, 2016


Cindy and I moved to Melbourne mid-2006 and one of the first things we did was grab ourselves a copy of The Age's Cheap Eats Guide. The rise of Zomato/Urbanspoon has diminished the influence of these books, but when we arrived the Cheap Eats was our guide. This year we're pulling the old book off the shelf to see what's changed in the past decade.

I've gone through each of the 474 listings in the 2006 guide, noting down the type of venue, the region it's in, whether or not we've blogged it and whether it's still open. Shockingly, there wasn't a single Mexican restaurant in the 2006 guide - an almost unbelievable absence given the Mexican explosion that hit Melbourne a few years later.

Of the 474 places listed in the 2006 Cheap Eats, 282 (59.6%) are still open. The survival rate varied substantially by venue type - bakeries were pretty secure while burger joints, seafood purveyors and vegetarian restaurants failed in droves.

There was surprisingly little variation by region. I expected that the gentrification of the inner-north would have swept away the majority of the 2006 entries, but it was the inner South-East (South Melbourne, Middle Park, Albert Park, South Yarra, Prahran and Windsor) that had the most closures.

Now, to the most important statistical question - what impact does getting reviewed on where's the beef? have on a business? Well, of 73 places we blogged, 58 are still open (79.5%), while of the 400 places we didn't blog, 224 are still open (56.0%), so early signs are positive. Even more strikingly, of 8 vego places we blogged, 5 are still open (62.5%), while only 2 of the 9 vego places we didn't blog survived (37.5%).

To properly test our influence though, you need to control for the kinds of places and areas that we tend to blog. So I popped all of these data into Stata and got cracking. In a logistic regression analysis, controlling for type and region of venue, places we blogged were 4.7 times (2.2-9.9) more likely to be open than those we didn't*. Surely all the evidence you need of the remarkable influence that where's the beef? has on the world.

Throughout 2016 we're planning to revisit some of these old listings, returning to favourite eateries and finally checking out some places we've shamefully never gotten around to. We reckon these stayers warrant our blogging attention as much as buzz-hungry new venues.

____________

* The very fact that a place stayed open increased the likelihood that we eventually got around to blogging it, meaning that the causal relationship here goes in both directions. As a robustness check, we just looked at whether or not being blogged on wtb by the end of 2007 was associated with being open in 2016 - the significant relationship remained, adding weight to the argument that where's the beef? attention is a strong predictor of business survival.

Posted January 10, 2016 01:31 PM by Michael

January 08, 2016

Veganopoulous

In My Kitchen January 2016

Welcome to the first In My Kitchen for 2016! There aren’t many photos to show as foodie Christmas gifts were eaten before I remembered to take photos *cough* My mother in law gave us a bunch of delicious sweet plums from the tree in her backyard (above). I’ve got some ideas and hope to create...
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Posted January 08, 2016 10:43 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen - January 2016

The fireworks crackle in the night air and yet another year begins.  Almost all the Christmas decorations are away.  I've started cleaning out the kitchen but not got very far.  I've carted a load to the op shop today.  The school holidays are whizzing by and we still haven't finished the holiday giant crosswords from The Age newspaper. 

Early summer means apricots.  On New Year's Eve we passed a fruit and veg shop with cheap apricots.  I bought a bagful and stewed them up for breakfasts and snacking. My mum tells me she has some off her tree waiting for me!  Fresh apricots make me very happy.

We are just about through all of our Christmas gift chocolates and biscuits.  This cup of chocolates was given to me by a gorgeous little boy.  Kids are so cute with presents.

Sylvia received quite a few activity presents that have amused her over the holidays.  This drawing set required tracing pictures onto plastic and shrinking them in the oven.  I might just have been more excited than Sylvia because it reminded me of my childhood when we would shrink chip (crisp) packets in the oven for fun.  That was before chips came in that crinkly foil paper that doesn't shrink.  Sylvia also had lots of fun with it.  (Thanks Anne.)

We have had a few mornings of making "squeezy bottle pancakes".  I had fun with Christmas themed pancakes.  Sylvia is keen to make more.  Not quite sure what pictures will appear in the frypan next! 

I made these spicy noodles from Eats Well With Others.  They were good but had a bit too much soy sauce.  I think I probably used a lot less noodles than Joanne.  I suspect I didn't do a good job of converting from emperial into metric measurements! 

A peek into my groceries!  I haven't been baking much lately.  So ready snacks have been quite welcome.  Roasted chickpeas and broad beans (fava beans) are always great to have in a bag when we are out.  We really liked the salt and vinegar flavoured ones.  The Nairns stem ginger oat biscuits were surprisingly spicy.  E loved them with butter and jam.  Sylvia and I have been quite into the energy bars made with dried fruit and nuts - she likes apple rumble and I love the chocolate mud bars.  And I had a moment of needed ready meals just before Christmas because I had no time to cook so I bought lots of instant meals like the Dhal Tadka.

We have had a few pizzas lately.  I am quite adept at making fast track pizza with sourdough (see the notes section of the recipe).  This pizza has to be a favourite.  It is tomato sauce, vegan omelette, tofu bacon and cheese.  It was so delicious in a comfort food sort of way.

My sister brought these crisps to E from Ireland.  They tasted quite like sour cream and chive crisps.  But it was fun to think that they had real shamrocks.  I guess I should have checked the ingredients because it does seem a bit weird to think they put shamrocks in crisps.  Now the packet is in the bin and I will never know!

Another presents for Sylvia that provided lots of entertainment was this magic garden.  You put the water in the base, the cardboard soaks it up and grows crystals.  This is not the fully grown garden.  However it is the best photo.  By the time it was fully grown, little fingers had fiddled with trees and knocked them over and few times and it was moved to the verandah and as soon as little fingers in question had gone for a sleepover the garden found its way to the bin!

Tonight's dinner was inspired by Recipe Yum's Potato Quesadillas.  With lots of changes!  I mashed the potato with some guacamole spices (kindly given to me by my friend's mum who is selling them), fried the onion and added garlic, spinach, plum vinegar and smoked salt, and added some pizza cheese that I had bought a while back and needed using.  Delicious.

We have had dinner outside quite a bit while the weather has been nice.  One evening we were enjoying sitting outside when E sunk very low very suddenly.  His seat had given way.  I have had these chairs for 25 years so I feel I have got good value out of them.  But I am very sad they are giving up the ghost.

And I will finish with a close up of ripening cherry tomatoes in our garden.  Unfortunately I can't show you a handful.  As soon as any have ripened, Sylvia pops them in her mouth.  Though perhaps tomorrow I will have a few because she is at my parents' house on a sleepover.

I am sending this post to Maureen of The Orgasmic Chef who is hosting the wonderful In My Kitchen event while Celia takes a break.  It is an event where bloggers around the world share what is happening in their kitchens.  Please head over to Maureen's blog and visit some other bloggers or even join in (by 10th of each month).

Posted January 08, 2016 10:04 PM by Johanna GGG

Vegetarian Life Australia

More pies … vegan mushroom and broccoli with cashew cream

So the other day I tried round two of vegan pie making 101. This time I attempted a mushroom, broccoli and cashew cream pie. Cashew cream has become my go-to … Continue reading

Posted January 08, 2016 12:04 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Choc-notella pudding

January 3, 2016


I couldn't stop thinking about Family Favourites. I would have loved to make a frozen chocolate crunch or shared around some mango coconut splice blocks, but they just wouldn't work at a picnic. Then I thought of nutella pudding. I didn't need to make more food at all, really, but I couldn't resist a go at veganising nutella pudding.

This one goes in the style of British self-saucing puddings, with the nutella in the sauce and a typical cake batter plonked on top of it. I tracked down a jar of biona dark chocolate spread, which was a little less sweet than nutella and completely lacking in hazelnuts, but it did the vegan silky chocolate job perfectly. Dairy cream became coconut cream, buttermilk begat vinegar-spiked soy milk, butter was replaced with margarine, and I switched the eggs for apple puree (I'll go for a mashed banana instead, one day).


For all those changes, it was the same pudding in every way that mattered. It's probably intended for mid-winter eating, still steaming with a scoop of cream or icecream on top. But it's day-after no-extras state holds just as much nostalgia for me, and that's pretty much how ate it at the picnic.


Choc-notella pudding
(adapted from this family recipe)

1/2 cup vegan chocolate spread
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
90g margarine
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup apple puree
3/4 cup plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa

Lightly grease a baking dish and preheat the oven to 180°C. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the chocolate spread and coconut cream. Spread the mixture over the base of the dish.

Mix together the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and set the aside. The milk will curdle into a buttermilk substitute.

Use the same mixing bowl to beat together the margarine and sugars. Beat in the apple puree. Sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoa, then mix them until just combined. Mix in the curdled soy milk.

Pour the cake mix into the baking dish and gently smooth over the top. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Posted January 08, 2016 10:04 AM by Cindy

Veganopoulous

Fina’s 2 Vegan Restaurant, Fitzroy

Fina’s 2 Vegan Restaurant is a relatively new-ish restaurant (about a year old) in the heart of vegan town– Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. Like Fina’s Vegetarian Cafe in Richmond, Fina’s 2 boasts delicious Vietnamese cuisine, though Fina’s 2 is all-vegan. The menu itself is the sort I appreciate most because there are pictures of everything. I...
Continue reading »

Posted January 08, 2016 08:00 AM