September 02, 2015

quinces and kale

eat all the smith & deli sandwiches – #2, the temple of doom

the temple of doom sandwich

Day 2.

If you like chilli this is the sandwich for you.

Sorry the photo doesn’t show much of the filling, but I snapped this one in the car with my phone.

This is a pleasingly mouth scalding sandwich packed with heat from jalapeños and a delicious chipotle aioli. It also has some other ingredients that work well against the spicy heat. Turkey and cheese make up the filling, and roasted corn kernels and pickled red cabbage make a soothing contrast against the chilli firepower.

This comes in good sourdough bread and I had mine toasted. Excellent.

Score: 9/10

Smith & Deli
111 Moor St
Fitzroy, 3065


Posted September 02, 2015 10:00 AM

September 01, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Nutty crumbed cauliflower

August 22, 2015

Our vege deliveries have continued to send enormous cauliflower heads our way. We're not sick of them yet, calling on old recipes and trialling new ones with equal success. This is another new one, found on Vegan Richa. Richa coats flat fans of cauliflower in a besan batter, rolls them in a spiced almond meal crust and then bakes them until they're golden brown. Set against black plates with a sash of vegan cheese sauce, they look very fancy.

My rendition above is a little less elegant, but a firm success. The besan batter was smooth and easy to work with. I rapidly ran out of crumbing and made a second batch using roasted hazelnuts instead of almonds - they were a shade darker and deeper in flavour, and I've adjusted the quantities below to fit. If you're not fussy about presentation, there proved an even easier way to prepare these - I dropped the last cup of cauliflower florets into a baking dish, drizzled the remaining batter over and scattered them with crumbs, giving the florets a quick toss half-way through baking. They were just as tender and tasty and almost as crisp; we ended up eating them on sandwiches with mustard.

The larger, more presentable cauliflower slices were served with tartare sauce and roasted cherry tomatoes. I think they're at their best with a tart or pickley condiment.

Nutty crumbed cauliflower
(based on a recipe by Vegan Richa)

1 head cauliflower

1/3 cup besan
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
dash of black pepper
3/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup ground almonds and/or hazelnuts
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
spray oil

Preheat an oven to 200°C. Line two baking trays with paper.

Slice the cauliflower into 1cm-thick pieces, as broad as they can be. Keep and use any florets that break off too.

Prepare the batter in a large shallow bowl. Stir together the dry ingredients (besan through to pepper) and then whisk in the almond milk until smooth.

In a bowl, stir together the crumbing ingredients (except for the spray oil) and then spread them out on a plate.

Take a cauliflower slice and submerge it in the batter, ensuring that it's well covered. Allow the excess batter to drip off, and then place it in the crumbing, using your fingers to press crumbs evenly over the cauliflower's surface. Place the crumbed cauliflower piece on a baking tray and repeat with the remaining cauliflower. Spray all of the pieces with oil and bake them for 20-30 minutes, until they're tender inside and browned on the outside. Don't bother trying to turn them over mid-bake.

Posted September 01, 2015 07:34 PM by Cindy


Vegan Mofo 2015 #1: Tell Us About Your Breakfast

It’s Day 1 of Vegan Mofo for 2015! The Vegan Month Of Food is a month long event where, for all of September, bloggers around the world write about vegan food. Anyone can join in, as long as your content contains vegan food only. In previous years, participants were able to choose their own theme....
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Posted September 01, 2015 01:17 PM

Water Drop Tea House at Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery, Melbourne

Water Drop Tea House at Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery is always a place I want to return to. The last few times I’ve gone, it’s taken me ages to decide what to get from the appetisers menu. This time though, the menu was sporting the all-awesome V for vegan. Everything else is vegetarian, making...
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Posted September 01, 2015 11:40 AM

quinces and kale

eat all the smith & deli sandwiches – #1, home alone


The plan to eat all the sandwiches on the Smith & Deli menu as a Vegan MoFo challenge started as a jokey exchange on a Facebook group I am part of, but after a moment’s thought it seemed like a great idea. Since I started the research (as in – eating) for these posts, Vegan Mofo has changed the rules. Instead of a single theme for the month of your choice, they decided to have one common theme each day.

I’m rebelling and I have decided that all the posts will be on my chosen theme, just like before. These posts happen to fit nicely into the Vegan Mofo 15 theme #5 of Best Sandwich Ever. I had a choice of publishing them over the month, or all on day five. I decided to string them out. Bad me.

So here goes.

Smith & Deli opened in mid June with, amongst other things, a spectacular 32 item vegan sandwich menu. I was on a mission to try them all, so why not write them up for Vegan Mofo 2015?

I was going to attempt to eat them all in the 30 days of MOFO, but in the interest of full disclosure, and the protection of my waistline, a number of these sandwiches were consumed in June, July and August.

The Home Alone sandwich had me written all over it, so it was always going to be my first choice on opening day.

It consists of a roll with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, roasted brussels sprouts, mashed potato and gravy. The sandwich I actually ate on the frenzy of opening day was a one off special as they had run out of both rolls and turkey. Mine was in sublime turkish bread from Noisette Bakery and the turkey was replaced by chicken salad. Both were really excellent substitutions.

This sandwich was so delicious it actually made me a bit weepy. Beware! This is how the slippery slope of sandwich addiction begins!

Score: 11/10

Smith & Deli
111 Moor St
Fitzroy, 3065


Posted September 01, 2015 10:00 AM

August 31, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Transformer II

August 22, 2015

We've been intending to revisit Transformer for breakfast or lunch ever since our dinner visit way back in April. Somehow though we've failed, lazily opting for Wide Open Road or finding ourselves at Smith and Daughters instead. So it was with much enthusiasm that we join Steph, Hayley and a big vego crew for a breakfast meet-up early one Saturday morning. The space is just as impressive in the daytime as it was at night - lots of greenery, a beautiful high ceiling and a pretty relaxed vibe. It was surprisingly quiet, actually, given the shit-fight that breakfast in Fitzroy usually entails.

The menu is short - just six dishes, three of which are vegan or veganisable (half of the menu is GF as well). I went with the savoury Indian crumpet with toasted corn, avocado, cherry tomatoes, quinoa, eggplant chutney and coconut yoghurt ($18) but ruined its vegan-ness by taking up the optional poached egg added on top (+$3).

This is the kind of thing that Transformer does so well, with their slightly fancy and original take on vego food. The crumpet is thick and soft, perfect for slathering with chutney, avo, yoghurt or eggy goodness. There's a nice mix of textures and flavours (although the quinoa feels like a slightly pointless addition) and it's a decent sized dish, leaving me pretty stuffed.

Cindy inevitably chose the buckwheat and wild rice hotcakes, with coffee cacao ganache, mascarpone, date syrup and snap-dried mandarin ($18).

This was the visual highlight of the meal and there were strong arguments made around the table that a vegan version of this is a crucial addition to Transformer's menu. The hotcakes were thick and cakey - noticeably gluten-free, but not in a bad way. The trimmings were where things really went up a notch though - the dried mandarins adding tartness and crunch and the impossibly rich ganache making this a breakfast dessert to remember.

Transformer is a winning breakfast option in Fitzroy - it caters well to vegans and coeliacs, getting a table doesn't involve queuing, and the standard of food is high. Prices are similarly high, but I don't think anyone around the table was unimpressed by the price:quality ratio. Coffee is decent without being memorable, and the Barry White-heavy Saturday morning soundtrack was a great way to kick the weekend off. We'll be back.

There has been a steady stream of positive reviews since our first visit - see Gourmet Chick, What's My Scene?, EightHrs, Oh My Goodness, I'm So Hungree, The Baroness of Melbourne and Veganopoulous

99 Rose St, Fitzroy
9419 2022
breakfast menu

Accessibility: The entry is wide and with a shallow ramp. Tables are well spaced, a mix of mid-height tables with booths and backed chairs, plus higher tables with backless bar stools. There's full table service. The toilets are highly accessible - individual unisex cubicles with marked wheelchair and ambulent options.

Posted August 31, 2015 04:40 PM by Michael

August 30, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Vegan banana french toast

I have had a great night of comfort with a documentary on Countdown on the telly while I baked a batch of favourite chocolate tahini biscuits.  For those who didn't grow up with Countdown, it was a legendary tv music show which was where the youth found out what was going on in music back in the 1970s and 1980s.  Not to be confused with the Countdown game show in the UK.  Countdown: Do yourself a favour is such a fun show that fills me with nostalgia.

Yesterday morning we had another comfort - fried bread!  French toast to be more specific.  And if you want me to be really accurate, it was vegan French toast, which probably sounds less of a comfort to those who love their eggs.  I don't love eggs and never ate French toast as a child but have had some good experiences with the vegan variety.  I found it works quite well with homemade sourdough bread.

While we often use up an old banana in pancakes in the morning, it sometimes seems wasteful to make pancakes while we have bread that I have baked.  When Sylvia asked for French toast and we had a manky banana I decided I must be able to use up old banana and 2 day old bread.  There are few recipe ideas that I can't find someone hasn't done before.  And mostly I check out their recipe and then do my own thing.  As I did yesterday.

I had success with a vegan french toast last year which was coated in desiccated coconut.  We had fresh pineapple and so I said to Sylvia that we should pair it with coconut.  She must have remembered and decided we would dip the french bread in coconut before frying.  Unfortunately she is not quite up to caramelising the pineapple in the frypan so the dish wasn't quite as I would have done in an ideal world.  But we were hurrying and it was really nice with pineapple. 

At least they weren't doused in cinnamon.  At one stage I gave Sylvia a half cup to measure some milk into.  She was still focussed on needing more cinnamon and seemed to think I was directing her to add half a cup of cinnamon.  Luckily I realised the communication breakdown before she added too much cinnamon into the measuring cup.

Maybe a little maple syrup drizzled over the top would have been good.  The French toast was not as sweet as I expected given there was a banana in the mixture.  I did have a little of mine with some peanut butter on it which worked.  Seems that we will now have French toast as an alternative for weekends when we have the manky banana in the fruit bowl.

I am sending this vegan french toast to Elizabeth for her No Waste Food Challenge and to Healthy Vegan Fridays #62.

More vegan breakfast ideas on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana oat pancakes
Chocolate muesli (granola)
Potato scones
Roasted vegetable tofu scramble
Smoky apple baked beans
Spinach, sundried tomato and chive chickpea scramble
Super smoothie with berries, pear and banana  

Banana  French Toast
Adapted from The Minimalist Baker and Green Gourmet Giraffe
1 banana mashed
1 1/4 cups milk
1-3 tsp chia seeds
good sprinkle of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Sturdy bread slices, such as sourdough
coconut, to sprinkle (optional)
margarine to fry

Mix banana, milk, chia seeds, cinnamon and vanilla in a shallow dish.  Dip bread into mixture and sprinkle with coconut on both side (if desired).  Heat frypan over medium heat and melt about a tsp of margarine.  Fry bread for 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown on each side.  Repeat until the mixture is finished.

On the Stereo:
Best of Bowie: David Bowie

Posted August 30, 2015 11:11 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Flora II

August 21, 2015

Melbourne makes late winter that little less bleak by scheduling in the Melbourne International  Film Festival and Writers Festival (and the Fringe Festival isn't trailing far behind!). We've been attending lots of events and sneaking in some CBD meals around them. Red Pepper and Shandong Mama are faves, Fonda saw us through one dinner and we've also returned to Flora Indian Restaurant, which we first blogged nine long years ago. Its Flinders St location is convenient to Fed Square, they're open 'til 10 or 11pm and they turn around food fast - all good qualities for a festival feed.

Flora is an experience with few frills - choose from flourescent-lit menu boards and pick up your own food, drinks and cutlery. There are no markings for special dietary requirements, although there are plenty of meat-free options. There's also abundant seating, and Bollywood clips to bop along to if you position yourself in view of the TV.

We picked out some mini lassis from the fridge ($3 each; rose on the left and mango on the right). They were thick and yoghurty smooth.

Michael requested an all-veg Large Combo Meal ($11.90) and was treated to three veg curries, daal, rice and a pappadum. They weren't super-spicy but did offer enough diversity, and Michael rapidly cleared his plate.

I grazed on the snacktacular Dosa Meal ($10.90), starting with a too-hot-to-handle steamed iddly, a room temperature sauce-soaked vada, and crunchy masala dosa square. There was even some soooooooper sweet kheer for dessert.

Judged on fast food terms, Flora excels with quick service, a comfortable setting, and a varied menu. We'll continue to rely on it when we've got tickets to something in the city.


You can read about our first visit to Flora here (9 years ago!). Since then, it's received a scattering of blog support. Footscray Food Blog, New International Students and A lost Indian in Melbourne love it, while The Ortolan's Last Meal and Asian Restaurants in Melbourne were reasonably satisfied with their experiences.

Flora Indian Restauran
238 Flinders St, Melbourne
9663 1212
menu 1, 2

Accessibility: The entry is wide and flat, and the tables are well spaced with flexibility to move them around yourself. We ordered, paid and picked up our food at low-ish counters, and helped ourselves to cutlery and water. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted August 30, 2015 05:07 PM by Cindy

vegan about town

damona cheezes

I am obsessed with the Damona cheeses, after friend Ju brought the brie to my birthday and I made my first ever cheese platter. IT WAS AMAZING. After you get used to the faint coconut aftertaste (it's a very coconut-based cheese) it's so gooooood. So brie-like, perfect at room temperature and great with some figs on some gluten-free crackers.

Anyway so I purchased the brie, the mozzarella and the pepperjack because they were onsale this week at the Cruelty Free Shop in Fitzroy. Brie, amazing at room temperature spread on pumpkin sourdough. Highly recommend.

I used the mozzarella in a tomato-based pasta sauce, added to my bowl after all was done. The mozzarella has sun-dried tomatoes through it, and it was melty but added a bit too much of a coconut aftertaste to my pasta. I won't use it again on my pasta, but I am going to give it a go on pizza soon.

Today I made cheese toasties out of the pepperjack. It's not peppery at all, and melted really beautifully into the sourdough. Again with the coconut aftertaste, but I'm looking forward to making a tomato and cheese toastie in the very near future.

Overall, I'm a big fan of the Damona cheeses. The brie remains my favourite, but I'm enjoying the pepperjack a whole lot. I remain mixed on the mozzarella.

Damona cheeses are made in Coburg! What a good, local cheese.

Posted August 30, 2015 05:04 PM by steph

August 27, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Carrot almond sauce for bowl food - and random moments

This carrot almond sauce started as bowl food and ended as dip.  I really love bowl food that looks gorgeous and is full of healthy food.  I used whatever I could find for this meal.  Also important is that putting together the bowl was quick and easy.  Strangely I am enjoying celery lately.  Which is probably a result of buying bunches of celery that I must eat through one way or another.  Fresh crisp celery is so refreshing. 

I made some changes to the carrot ginger almond sauce I found at Coconut and Berries.  Emma used almond nut butter.  I had no nut butter on hand so I used whole almonds which blended easily in my Froothie high powered blender.  I also found it easy to use sriracha rather than fresh ginger.  I forgot the turmeric but left it in the recipe as I will use it next time.  And I added some milk to help it blend, which still resulted in quite a thick sauce.  More dip than sauce actually.  But what's in a name.  It was light and really tasty - spicy, smoky, sweet - and lifted a bowl of grains, beans and vegies.

And I will end with a few random moments:
  • Last week I rode past a nursing home and smelt that they were making a pea soup kind of lunch.  It made me wonder about nursing homes for Sylvia's generation which had so many food allergies.  Will they remember their food allergies in old age?  Will nursing home staff spend lots of time labelling and keeping food separate?  Will there be a spate of food allergy related deaths in the eldery?
  • Last night I made sweet potato and lentil soup for tea.  I had told E that I was making it.  Yet when he arrived home late and went to heat up his tea, he still looked under the tea towel into the rising bread dough rather than going to the saucepan on the stove!  Curiosity?  Confusion?  Hope?
  • Recently there was a story in the news about the Victorian Liberal Party's missing millions of dollars.  What horrified me was the suggestion that if they had had that money in the election last year they might have had more chance in the marginal seats and of winning the election.  I know our electoral system is not ideal.  Yet I still feel despair at the suggestion that money can win elections.

I am sending this to Meat Free Mondays and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Vegan flourless almond choc chip cookies
Two year ago: Mini baked doughnuts and fun stuff
Three years ago: NCR African Curried Coconut Soup
Four years ago: Potage St Germain
Five years ago: Florentines, salads and what's in a name
Six years ago: Potato boston bun
Seven years ago: WTSIM ... Beer Bread
Eight years ago: Blues Clues Birthday Cake

Carrot Almond Sauce
Adapted from Coconut and Berries
serves 2-4

1 cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium)
1/3 cup soy milk
1 tbsp raw almonds
1 tbsp smoked almonds
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp white miso
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp tamari
1 tsp sriracha
1 small clove of garlic
1/4 tsp ground turmeric

Cook carrots and blend with remaining ingredients.

Serving suggestion:
Heat some cooked black beans with tamari and old bay seasoning, add warm cooked brown rice, chopped celery, snow peas and spinach.  Top with a generous spoonful or two of sauce.  It also makes a great dip.

On the stereo:
Turn turn turn: Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell with you are my flower

Posted August 27, 2015 11:55 AM by Johanna GGG

August 26, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


August 19, 2015

We needed a quick dinner before a show in the city on Wednesday night and decided to try out Fonda, tucked up the Parliament end of Flinders Lane. Fonda rode Melbourne's Mamasita-inspired Mexican wave and has since grown from its beginnings in Richmond to four locations across the city. The Flinders Lane one is massive - it was easy to grab a big table at 6pm, but things filled up as we ate and it was pretty hectic by the time we left.

The menu has a decent range of vego options, including a few veganisable dishes. There's a big drinks list too - frozen margaritas, cocktails, hip beers and a short wine list. They also do an array of non-boozy options, including Cindy's choice for the night: horchata ($6). It was a very sweet version of this rice-milk based beverage, but Cindy was happy with it nonetheless.

We started things off sharing around two kinds of chips: the crispy white and blue tortilla crisps with guacamole and pico de gallo ($9)...

and the crunch-cut potato chips with chipotle aoili ($).

Both were excellent, with generous and delicious condiments. The chipotle hot chips in particular were top notch - probably the best dish we had. Cindy ordered the portabello and shitake mushroom quesadilla, served with a fonda salsa ($15).

This was a pretty disappointing dish - the quesadilla fillings were pretty bland, with the mushroom and greens combo not really packing much punch. The salsa helped a lot, but on the whole this dish didn't really inspire (one of our dining companions had the same filling on tacos and was equally bummed out).

I ordered the black bean falafel, with shaved zucchini and cabbage, salsa, pickled carrot and onion and chipotle aioli ($15, this dish would be vegan if you cancelled the aioli I think).

This was much more successful - the falafel were great, and the fillings added some freshness to the burrito and the smokey salsa was great. A few dabs of hot sauce really topped things off. 

Our Fonda experience was pretty mixed - it's a lovely space and the staff were friendly and efficient, but the food was pretty mixed. If you order wisely you could have a wonderful meal, but the prices are high and the quality is varied. It's a handy spot for a quick city dinner, but there is no shortage of those around, so it's probably only worth the trip if you're hanging for something wrapped in a tortilla.



31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
8686 7300
menu, drinks

Accessibility: Entry is up a staircase. Things are reasonably spacious inside, with a mix of low and high tables. You order and pay at a low counter, and they bring the food out to your table. One of our companions reported that the toilets are fully accessible, so perhaps there is also an alternative entry that we couldn't figure out.

Posted August 26, 2015 07:05 PM by Michael

August 25, 2015


More Visits To Raw Trader, City

Since my first blog post about Raw Trader in the city (Melbourne’s CBD) I’ve been back a few times on my own and with company. I follow Raw Trader on Instagram and sit there drooling every morning when they post a photo of what’s in the cabinet, though I get bummed out when I see...
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Posted August 25, 2015 10:25 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Urban Revival Market, Pentridge, Coburg

On Saturday the sun shone kindly on our wintery world.  Sylvia and I hopped on our bikes and rose along to the Urban Revival Market in the D Division Block of the former Pentridge Prison.  This was an opportunity to see inside the old gaol and check out some artisan market stalls.

Pentridge Prison (aka "Coburg College") was built in 1850 and officially closed in 1997.  D Divison has been a female prison, the site of the last hanging in Australia and a remand prison.  It now is available for weddings, kids parties and sleepovers.  And hosts the occasional market like this Urban Revival one which was on the ground floor of three levels of cells.  It was both unsettling and impressive when we turned the corner and saw the rows of cells before us.

One of the first stalls we saw was the Luda Vintageware.  They had old crockery, vintage fly spray cans and a pile of suitcase.  I was most amused by an old bag of silverware that looked like exactly the sort of thing that might have helped criminals find their way in here when it was a functioning prison.

I enjoyed looking at some of the old crockery and linen.  Sylvia loved rifling through the marbles and sampling a Minions banana chocolate macaron from the friendly Colette at Chocolette Patisserie.

As we walked along looking at the stalls, we also peeked in the old cells.  Most were empty.  A few were dumping grounds for odd stuff like what looked like a huge deflated blow up mattress.  Some of the stall holder used them for storing goods.

One stall holder even had their wares on display in a cell.

The market didn't have much in the way of food.  Macarons, a Silician stall and the Twisted Mac stall.  We shared a plain macaroni cheese ($8) and it was so delicious.  I was pleased to find something simple that Sylvia could eat.  You could also buy macaroni cheese with fancy toppings.

We ate in what I think was the old exercise yard, complete with a watch tower and barbed wire at the top of the walls.  It was the least impressive part of the market because there weren't many stalls there and at one side was a heap of rubble.  We arrived as a band was ending.  It might have been a bit more lively if the music was still playing.

As it was, we headed back inside to check out more old crockery, buttons and fun socks.  E had been at a gig and was late to join us.  He was pleased to see some crates of used vinyl LPs and found himself a Peter Paul and Mary record to purchase.

This necklace was my favourite item on display.  The swirls of green and purple in the glass were so gorgeous.  I didn't buy it.  I probably should have.  I might not have worn it a lot but would love to see it catching the light in a window.

It was great to get out on a sunny winter afternoon and interesting to see inside the old prison.  It is very atmospheric.

This Urban Revival Market was a one off.  This is perhaps just as well.  There have been a couple of attempts to hold regular markets here but neither have gained the traction they need.  However as this area of Coburg continues to develop, perhaps the time will come when it is viable to have a regular Pentridge market.  Meanwhile there are a couple of cafes in the old Pentridge complex: the Glass Den and the Boot Factory.  I hope to visit and write about these some time.

Posted August 25, 2015 10:22 PM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni

Magic Mountain Saloon

Asian fusion food is a trend that took Melbourne by storm a few years ago and it seems there are no signs of it slowing down. The originals like Cookie and Chin Chin have become stalwarts on the scene but there are a few new players, namely Magic Mountain. Magic Mountain is actually run by the same team that run Cookie, The Toff In Town, Revolver Upstairs and Boney.

A converted Irish pub which has been turned into a tri level venue that is as much a restaurant, as it is a bar with music, Magic Mountain places equal amounts of emphasis on food, drink and atmosphere making sure that you will have a good night on all accounts.

We went as a group of six people, three vegetarians and three omnivores, and were at a loss as to how the tackle the vast menu. Luckily the staff are amazing and they suggested a banquet option. We name our price per head, and they would decide on our dishes, with the guarantee that there would be enough food. We decided to take them up on the offer with a $40 per head request, but not before we ordered a few beers from their diverse beer list. Pirate Life Ale anyone? They did ask us if we had any preferences or objections to any foods, but other than the fact that half of us were vegetarian, we were happy to trust their judgement.

It wasn’t long before the food arrived, starting with the entrée dishes.

Our first vegetarian entrée was the curried rice and mozzarella balls with coriander and avocado sauce. These were an Asian take on an arancini ball but so much better. They still had the creamy rice and the gooey cheese centre, but they were packed full of Asian flavours with lemongrass dominating. Combined with the avocado sauce, this dish was amazing. I was worried that my dinner had peaked too early!

We also tried the lotus root, peanut and pickled turnip tapioca dumplings. These were also tasty but had an odd texture. The skin was made with tapioca which made it a bit too gelatinous, and I think I would have rather had normal dumplings. Nevertheless the filling was delicious, with the peanut flavour packing a punch.

We were served a salad as part of the entrée and this dish was also one of the favourites on the table. It was a tomato, zucchini and buffalo mozzarella salad with a chilli, basil and cashew crumble dressing. The tomatoes were sweet, the zucchini was sliced paper thin and the mozzarella was so creamy. The dressing brought everything together perfectly, and we were all eyeing off the plate to scrape every last bit off!

The omnivores also received a bowl of crunchy fried chicken ribs which they unanimously agreed was super.

Four entrees later, we were already more than half full, and we were unsure about whether we would be able to make it all the way through mains. Still, when you have a table of foodies, stomach size is never a barrier, and so we ploughed on!

The mains started streaming out, and we struggled to make room for everything on the table! There were two different red curries, a vegetarian one with tofu, baby corn, beans and kaffir lime, and then a duck curry with lychee and pineapple. Both were deemed to be excellent, rich in flavour and with the right amount of spice level.

There was also a noodle dish, which I felt was an interpretation of pad thai. Rice noodles were prepares with egg, tomato, thai basil, garlic chives and garnished with peanuts. Once again, this was another dish packed with flavour which was proving to be a common theme through the night.

A salad was served with main too. This time it was a cauliflower salad with thin slices of grilled pumpkin and almonds, dressed with Asian herbs and spices. Whilst not everyone around the table was excited by this dish, I really enjoyed it, and appreciated the freshness in contrast to the creamy red curry.

The omnivores also had a big bowl of sticky beef ribs which were tender beyond belief. They were able to pull the rib bone straight out of the meat cleanly without the need for a knife!

And to share we had a huge bowl of rice for the table. To say huge would be an understatement, I don’t think we even got through a third of the bowl, which was a shame because I hate wasting food.

Overall the meal was delicious and we all left pretty much rolling out the door because we were so full. Would I go back again? Definitely. Magic Mountain also serve breakfast, so perhaps I will have to put it on the list to see what treats they dish up during the earlier hours.

Click to add a blog post for Magic Mountain Saloon on Zomato

Posted August 25, 2015 11:36 AM by Moni

August 24, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Pan-fried gnocchi & kale

August 17, 2015

I bought a bag of Maria's gnocchi on a whim last time we were at Piedemonte's without any plans for it at all. Our blog archives and my link list held a few recipes, but none of them really grabbed me. I had better luck browsing 101 Cookbooks, where Michael zeroed in on a recipe for pan-fried corona beans and kale containing a small note that Swanson was "confident you could do this preparation with gnocchi... in place of beans".

We bought a small bunch of kale on Monday night and went with it. This is a single pan saute of lightly browned (not boiled!) gnocchi and shredded kale layered with the piquant flavours of walnuts, garlic, lemon and parmesan. It's winter comfort food that's assembled with little fuss, exactly what I needed at the end of an unusually long workday.

Pan-fried gnocchi & kale
(slightly adapted from a recipe at 101 Cookbooks)

small bunch of kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g bag frozen potato gnocchi, just barely thawed
1/3 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Wash the kale, slice off the stems and roughly chop the leaves.

Set a large frying pan over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. When it's hot, add the gnocchi and spread them out evenly across the pan. Give them a couple of still minutes to brown on one side, then toss them to brown on a second side. After a further minute or two, add the kale and a shake of salt, and tossing them through the gnocchi. 

Give the kale a minute or two to wilt, then stir in the walnuts, garlic and nutmeg. Pour in the lemon juice and sprinkle over the zest. When the lemon juice has mostly evaporated, turn off the heat. Serve the gnocchi in bowls and grate the parmesan over the top.

Posted August 24, 2015 07:13 PM by Cindy

quinces and kale

pickled cucumbers


A kilo or so of small lebanese cucumbers that were not going to last the weekend landed in my possession, courtesy of some leftovers at Fareshare. I hate waste, so I used them to make some pickled cucumbers. I’d got the idea to do this after my sister-in-law brought some to a family dinner.  It has taken me an age to publish this post. I wrote it in March and forgot about it.  Here it finally is.

These pickles need to be stored in the fridge as they are not sterilised by heat. But I like them better this way as they retain more of their crispness. It also means that they can have less vinegar than a stored pickle, which I also like, as they are not so tart. They will last several weeks in the fridge.

P1020096 P1020095 P1020094

The important part is to get the ratio of vinegar to water right so they preserve. Everything else is really to taste. The right ratio is about 5 parts vinegar to 3 parts water. I needed about 2 cups in total.

I used this mix and then added enough sugar to take the edge off the vinegar and seasoned with salt, thinly sliced garlic, black peppercorns, fennel seeds and fresh dill. That’s it.

They are delicious.


pickled cucumbers
prep time
15 mins
cook time
5 mins
total time
20 mins
author: quincesandkale
recipe type: vegan
serves: 4 jars
  • small cucumbers
  • 11/4 cups apple cider vinegar (I like this because it is mild)
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 1-2 tbs salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tbs sugar (to taste)
  • 4 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
  • fresh dill sprigs
  • fennel seeds ½ tsp per jar
  • black pepper corns ½ tsp per jar
  1. Wash and prepare the cucumbers. I sliced mine in quarters lengthways.
  2. Pack the cucumbers tightly into clean jars. Add peppercorns, fennel seeds, garlic and dill to the jars.
  3. Add the water and vinegar to a non metal pan (I heated mine in a microwave in a ceramic bowl)
  4. Heat until almost boiling.
  5. Add salt and sugar to taste.
  6. Pour the hot liquid into the jars until they are brim full.
  7. Screw the lids on tightly.
  8. Allow to cool and then refrigerate.


Posted August 24, 2015 10:00 AM

August 23, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate carrot cake

Today was a cake stall to raise funds for Sylvia's school.  We brought home baking to add to all the leftovers in the freezer.  Thank goodness Sylvia didn't bring a party bag of lollies home from the party at the zoo today.  Because I also have some of this chocolate carrot cake left in the freezer.  I had planned to make it for a special occasion but then I ended up making it when I could find time to make it.  Well almost.

The recipe came from Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella who had made a magnificent two layer round cake frosted with nutella and cream cheese.  I wanted a simple one layer affair and when we have cakes at home, I find it easier to bake a square cake that can be cut into square chunks rather than wedges.  And I wanted to justify the purchase of a new square cake plate.

I convinced myself that if I baked it in a larger square tin, it would bake faster.  I even increased the temperature from 160 to 180 C.  However I had a tight deadline with needing to pick up Sylvia and her friend from netball.  As it was, the cake was still uncooked in the middle when I needed to leave.  I turned the oven down low and left.  It was raining hard, Sylvia was playing under a bbq in the undercover area, and I got home to find that the oven had turned itself off.

After 45 minutes at 180 C, an hour with the oven turned off and 40 minutes at 160, the cake was baked!  After that I needed a piece of chocolate cake.  I did have the patience to cool it, decorate it and photograph it (with the light box) before eating it.

The cream cheese frosting I used was a simple one based on a frosting I had made many years ago.  It is the sort you make when you want cream cheese frosting but nothing too decadent.  I also added strawberries because I had just bought some.  However I think it might have been more relevant to just sprinkle some chocolate flakes on it.  I also made a chocolate macadamia butter (sort of like this) that would be a really nice rich ganache for a special occasion, so I have included it below.

The reason I initially loved the sound of the cake was that it was nubbly.  I love texture in cake.  Lots of veggies, fruit and nuts.  Carrots, pineapple, chocolate chunks and toasted coconut.  (I had a great idea of using some carrot jam but it was beyond use.)

I used the coconut instead of nuts because Sylvia is not so keen on nuts in cakes.  Thing is, I have now discovered that she is not so keen on toasted coconut in cakes either.  E wasn't so keen either.  He guessed that there were nuts in the cake.  I really liked it.  I thought I might have the pleasure of eating it all by myself.  E managed to eat some but part of the cake has ended up in the freezer.

It is such a dense cake that a little goes a long way.  I am slowly making my way through it but we have heaps of other leftovers to attend to right now.  However it is lovely to have it in the freezer for those days when nothing but chocolate cake will do.  Meanwhile I leave you with some photos from our visit to the zoo today for Sylvia's friend's party.

I am sending this cake to Choclette for We Should Cocoa.

More interesting chocolate cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chocolate porridge cake
Chocolate pumpkin spice cake
Fruitcake with chocolate chunks
Honey, yoghurt and chocolate cake
Mashed potato chocolate cake
Mulled wine chocolate cake
Nigella's nutella cake
Paragon chocolate orange cake 
Walnut fudge cake

More interesting chocolate cakes from elsewhere online:
Black sesame and chocolate cake - Not Quite Nigella
Cherry Ripe coconut fudge cake - Apples Under My Bed
Chocolate cauliflower cake with salted caramel icing - Veggie Desserts
Chocolate, lavender and raspberry cake - Sew White
Chocolate prune cake - David Lebowitz
Chocolate and violet cake - Allotment to Kitchen
Coconut cake with chocolate chunks - The Tolerant Vegan
Eton Mess chocolate cake - Tin and Thyme

Chocolate carrot cake
Adapted from Not Quite Nigella

Dry ingredients:
200g (1 cup) dark chocolate chunks
3/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

Wet ingredients:
400g tin crushed pineapple, drained*
250g (about 3 medium) grated carrots (half finely grated, half coarsely grated)
1 1/4 cup fizzy drink (soda water, cola or beer)*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs

Chocolate cream cheese frosting:
185g cream cheese
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa


Chocolate macadamia coconut ganache:
1 cup raw macadamias
1 tbsp maple
1/2 cup chocolate
1/2 cup coconut

To decorate:
coconut flakes

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in a medium mixing bowl or a large jug.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  Scrape into a greased and lined 20cm square cake tin (or a 20cm round cake tin).  Bake at 160 C for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Frost either with the cream cheese frosting (hand mix ingredients in a bowl) or the ganache (blend in high speed blender until creamy) depending on if you want it to be light or decadent!  Decorate with strawberries and/or coconut flakes.

On the stereo:
Love: The Beatles

Posted August 23, 2015 11:09 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Admiral Cheng-Ho II

August 16, 2015

We had a rare reason to be in Abbotsford on Sunday morning, so we finally returned to Admiral Cheng-Ho for a second visit. Not a great deal has changed since we stopped by in the first week they were open - it's stylish, busy and the menu is all veg (and mostly vegan).

Cheng-Ho takes coffee very seriously, with an array of bean and brew choices - I'm a philistine, and just ordered a straight-up soy flat white. Cindy branched out, with a chai latte - it was a bit disappointing, with the main flavour coming from the dusting of cinnamon on top.

The food menu has changed a little since our first visit, but the basic shtick is the same - the umami mushrooms that we first tried at sister-venue Monk Bodhi Dharma are still an option and there's dishes featuring beans, bircher muesli, avo on toast and chia pudding. The zucchini pancakes from our first visit are gone, replaced with the Crazy Jimbo ($16.50), which I ordered.

It features a couple of discs of slightly dry polenta bread, covered in kale, carrots, broccolini, almond feta and basil cashew cream, and accompanied by avocado, tomato and a tangy beetroot relish. It's a lovely combination of fresh and tasty ingredients. I'm not sure the polenta bread is really a step up from a couple of decent slices of toast, but it's really all about the toppings (and I guess using polenta bread keeps the base dish gluten-free).

Cindy couldn't resist the vegan Northside French toast, with raw vanilla cashew cream, blueberries, strawberries and rhubarb and a raw chocolate sauce ($16.50).

The vegan-ness of the French toast meant that it was a bit light on the batter, which was compensated by the slatherings of chocolate sauce across the three big toast pieces. The fruit and cashew cream were superb, but there wasn't very much of them, meaning the ratio of toast to toppings was a bit high. 

Admiral Cheng-Ho is an excellent option for Melbourne's vegan breakfast-enthusiasts, offering up a much wider array of dishes than most places (with the obvious exception). The food is solid, the coffee excellent and the staff friendly - we really should visit more than once a year.



Admiral Cheng-Ho
325 Johnston St, Abbotsford
9534 7250
menu, drinks

Accessibility: There's a single large step on entry, and a very crowded interior. We ordered at the table and paid at a low counter. The toilet is around the back of the building, requiring you to negotiate some cobblestones and a small step.

Posted August 23, 2015 04:23 PM by Michael

August 21, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Cocoa bites

These cocoa bites were made on a day when I felt like baking but wanted quick results, I wanted chocolate but not too unhealthy, I wanted to snack but in a sensible way.  So I made these cocoa bites that are packed with good stuff.  They are the sort of snack you feel ok feeding to little girls who have just been to netball practice or having before doing a body balance class at the gym.

I made these in my high powered blender rather than a food processor.  They were really good but in a nut butter sort of way rather than finely chopped nuts because I think I got a little enthusiastic with the blender. So they were soft and fudgy, sweet but not overly so, and easy to take about with me.  Maybe not too different from a whole lot of energy balls I have blogged here but I think they were exactly what I needed.

I am sending these cocoa bites to Healthy Vegan Fridays #61 and Gluten Free Fridays #156

More energy balls at Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Almond, date and cranberry truffles (gf, v)
Almond energy snacks (v)
Chocolate almond and coconut balls (gf, v)
Chocolate bliss balls with banana and oats (v)
Dried fruit and coconut balls (gf, v)
Wattleseed cashew truffles (gf, v)

Cocoa Bites
From 86 lemons
Makes about 24 small balls

1 cup dates
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder
1 tbsp flax seeds (linseeds)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Soak dates in hot water for 10 minutes.  In a high speed blender (or your food processor), blend nuts until ground.  Add coconut, cocoa, seeds, agave and vanilla and continue to blend.  Add drained dates.  Roll mixture into balls.

On the stereo:
Tales of a Librarian: Tori Amos

Posted August 21, 2015 01:28 PM by Johanna GGG

vegan about town

[fitzroy] pavlov's duck

In easy walking distance of the house is Pavlov's Duck, a cafe "infused" with Sri Lankan flavours. Of course I was going to give it a go.

The Pol Roti
Miss Bella and I both tried the Pol Roti, a coconut roti with lentils and an onion chutney. It was so good. Not really a roti and more a pancake, it was definitely Sri Lankan in its flavours and was a really lovely and filling start to a Friday morning in a hurry.

The beverage menu is also quite extensive, with both Bella and myself trying variations matcha: I went a matcha latte, and Bella went the matcha smoothie. Latte was acceptable; turns out I'm not a fan of cold matcha, which I could have guessed but might be your jam.

The vegan-ness of the menu is not extensive, but I'd return just for the roti and someone to make me matcha that I didn't have to whisk myself.

It's quiet and easy on a Friday morning, with fast service and an easy atmosphere.

Pavlov's Duck
401 Smith Street

Entry is via a little step, ordering occurs at a high counter. Eftpos available. We didn't check out the toilets.
Get there on the 86 tram (not an accessible stop), the Rose Street stop.
The website is hard to read

Posted August 21, 2015 10:43 AM by steph

Thoughts Of A Moni

Frico Cheese and a Vegetarian Croque Monsieur

This post is brought to you by Nuffnang and Frico Cheese.

There are a few things in life that I could not live without. My friends and family, a connection to the internet, my Garmin running watch, and cheese. Yes, the Garmin watch and the cheese seem to be in conflict, but this is only until you realise that I run so that I can eat cheese (amongst other things).

Recently the lovely people at Nuffnang contacted me, asking me if I was interested in trying some Frico Dutch cheese. I don’t even think I bothered to find out what else was involved with the deal, all I read was cheese, and I was there.

Now I am a bit of a cheese snob. My childhood was filled with Homebrand processed cheese slices, if I was lucky we got Kraft Singles, and up until I was about 15 I thought this is what cheese was. Then one day, we got a block of cheese that we had to cut slices off from, and my world changed. Head blown. I still remember that block, I don’t remember what brand it was, but I remember it was Edam cheese, and Dad told me that it was made in Holland, which was apparently where all the good cheese was made. I wish he introduced me to this cheese earlier, it would have made for a better childhood. But it has also given me great perspective in the difference between average cheese (because no cheese is bad, not even processed cheese) and amazing cheese.

Anyway, turns out I had really lucked out with this Frico Cheese because it is infact made in Holland! I knew this was going to be good! Made by experienced cheese makers since 1898, Frico cheeses are made using traditional methods and original recipes.  The Dutch specialise in semi-hard cheeses, which are exactly as their name suggests – not as hard and dry as parmesan, but not as soft and gooey as a brie. They are creamy without being messy, and perfect to put on a cheese board as they can be cut without too much ooze.

The Frico range includes a wide variety of cheeses, all of which are made from fresh milk from Frisian cows. Frisian cows produce beautiful, creamy milk, which obviously results in beautiful, creamy cheese! I was lucky enough to be able to sample four different kinds of cheeses.

Three of the cheese came from the traditional Dutch Frico range:

Mild Gouda: As the name suggests, the Gouda is a mild cheese that is wonderfully creamy. It melts well so it great to cook with.

Maasdam: The Maasdam was definitely my favourite cheese. It is a holey cheese, with an almost sweet flavour. I feel it would be a great cheese in a fondue.

Mild Edam: Edam is the fancy cheese of my childhood and this Edam lived up to my expectations. It is mild in flavour, and would work great in a sandwich.

The fourth cheese was from the Frico Selections range:

Cumin Spiced Cheese: This was a Gouda style cheese that was infused with whole cumin seeds to give a wonderful spicy aroma to each mouthful. It is probably an acquired taste though, especially if you not a fan of cumin, but we loved it.

I also decided to try and make a vegetarian version of a croque monsieur with the Gouda cheese. Given that it was so creamy, it seemed like the perfect cheese to melt, and I wasn’t wrong.

Vegetarian Croque Monsieur


2 medium zucchini, cut into long planks
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tsp Italian herbs

Bechamel Sauce:
1 tbs unsalted butter, plus extra for spreading on the bread
1 tbs plain flour
1 cup milk
1 tbs Dijon mustard
½ tsp nutmeg

4 thick slices of white bread
2 cups of grated Frico Gouda cheese



1.    Toss the zucchini with the olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs.

2.    Lay on a tray and grill for about 5 minutes on each side, until it is charred.

Bechamel Sauce:

1.    Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.

2.    Whisk in the flour, and allow to cook over a low heat for about a minute.

3.    Whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until the mixture has thickened to a saucy consistency. This may take a few minutes, but be patient.

4.    Set the mixture aside.

Sandwich Assembly:

1.    Butter one side of each slice of bread.

2.    Place the butter sides of the bread down on a fry pan or skillet.

3.    Top the unbuttered side of the bread with a generous handful of grated cheese.

4.    Layer on slices of the grilled zucchini.

5.    Add another layer of the grated cheese.

6.    Place the remaining slice of bread with the buttered side on the outside to complete the sandwich.

7.    Toast the sandwich on the pan on the stove for a few minutes on each side, until it is golden.

8.    Place the sandwich on a baking tray lined with foil.

9.    Spread the béchamel sauce over the top of the sandwich and then top with the remaining cheese.

10.    Grill until the cheese has melted and is toasty.

Just look at the melty cheese! How can you resist?! This was a great way to use the Frico cheese and I think I will definitely be trying a few other things too. I can also see the Gouda working in a lasagna instead of the traditional mozzarella, and I wouldn't mind seeing how the Maasdam works in a simple cheese and tomato toastie.

Frico cheeses are available in Australia at Woolworths supermarkets in the deli section. I think I might have to go and try some of their other varieties too!

Disclaimer: I received these products courtesy of Nuffnang and Frico Cheese, however I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own.

Posted August 21, 2015 09:00 AM by Moni

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tahini rice puff squares

August 15, 2015

Hot on the heels of that cocoa crackles recipe, I've got another melt-and-mix rice bubble treat to share. I stirred this one up in 15 minutes to take along to a crafternoon, where I helped decorate my friend's exciting new recycling venture.

This slice comes from the indolent cook. I replaced the original honey with barley malt syrup for vegan-friendly convenience to good effect. I toasted the rice puffs and walnuts in a pan as directed, but somehow that dulled their fresh crunch, and I wouldn't repeat it.

The slice's dark and glossy finish suggests that this is will be an intensely sweet and chocolatey experience, but actually the flavour is dominated by tahini. It could be a fleeting disappointment, but ultimately it's a nutty, fudgy delight.

Tahini rice puff squares
(slightly adapted from a recipe at the indolent cook)

3 cups brown rice puffs
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped 
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup barley malt syrup
1/4 cup cocoa 

1/4 teaspoon salt

Line a small baking tray with paper.

Place the rice puffs and walnuts in a medium-large saucepan and set them over medium heat. Toss them around frequently until they start smelling toasty and good. Transfer the puffs and nuts into the baking tray to rest.

Combine the remaining ingredients in the saucepan and return the pan to medium heat. Stir the mixture regularly to thoroughly combine the ingredients and prevent burning. When the mixture is smooth, add the puffs and nuts back in and stir thoroughly to combine. Pour the mixture into the tray and smooth it out evenly. I sprayed the back of a spoon with a little oil and used that to press down the sticky, clumpy mixture.

Cover the slice and refrigerate it for at least an hour before cutting it into squares and serving.

Posted August 21, 2015 07:38 AM by Cindy

August 20, 2015

quinces and kale

travelling and eating in central and northern bali

crispy fried tempeh with tomato, onion, avocado and broad beans

In the grim and dismal cold of the Melbourne winter it has been really nice to get away to somewhere warm and beautiful for a week and a bit.

I’ve been to Bali a few times now and I never fail to be taken by its beauty and the friendliness of the people. There are towns, which are largely like other towns in South East Asia, but it is the mountainous greenery of Bali which I love, rice terraces, cloves drying by the roadside, cinnamon trees and bananas just growing by the road. There is also the joy of being able to see the horizon, which is a rare occurrence for city dwellers like me, something I think of as a holiday pleasure.

To see Bali in its beauty, I think you need to head away from the southern beaches which are full of sometimes embarrassing, badly behaved drunks and head further north. This time I headed for the relaxing town of Ubud for some reading and cooking, followed by a some snorkelling at Menjangan Island off the town of Pemuteran, a small fishing town on the north west coast close to Java. I’ve been to both places before.

Bali is also a great place to eat. Indonesia is the home of tempeh and tofu and it is pretty easy to get vegan food here.  I’ve also found the Balinese to be very friendly and helpful in making sure we can eat well.  There are some great cafes and restaurants in Ubud specifically catering to vegans, which is not so surprising. The eating opportunities range from the upmarket to small local warungs that can feed you beautiful fresh food for under $5. We also ate well in Pemuteran. The staff at our accommodation there (Taruna Homestay) were on the ball about what was vegan,  even alerting us to some hidden egg in a dish.

I’m just going to add many, many pictures of the fabulous food we ate, and give a list of some of the places we tried. There were many more, but these were the ones I liked best. I haven’t reblogged the places I’ve already been to even though I revisited a few, these are well covered in a previous post.

Feast your eyes. :)

balinese veggie curry sweet potato tapioca balls with coconut cream and palm sugar syrup square rice cakes with sprouts and peanut and chilli sauces flowers for offerings rice fields black sticky rice with coconut, mango, chilli salt and coconut sorbet indian style curry tofu, eggplant, tomato sambal crispy fried tempeh with tomato, onion, avocado and broad beans mee goreng water spinach (kangkung) with tomato, garlic and chilli breakfast fruits tempeh satay with beans, bean shoot and fresh coconut salad roasted pumpkin salad bowl snake beans in coconut sauce veggie curry with lontong (rice cooked in banana leaf) coconut iced coffee, water, steamed rice cake black rice with coconut cream and palm sugar syrup full plate of lunch after cooking school vegetable satay, steamed tofu and tempeh in banana leaf and bean and coconut salad crispy fried tempeh with kecap manis spicy mushroom soup banana, palm sugar, coconut gado gado bean and fresh coconut salad


Sari Organik
Jl. Subak Sok Wayah, Ubud, Bali

There are two, one near the bridge on the main road and one across the rice fields.
We went to the rice field one. It is worth it alone for the walk and the views.

Aya Warung
Jalan Bisma Ubud
Bali 80561, Indonesia

Seniman Coffee
Jalan Sriwedari No. 5, Ubud, Bali 80561, Indonesia

Taruna Homestay
Jl. Raya Singaraja-Gilimanuk,
Gerokgak, Desa Pemuteran, Kabupaten Buleleng,
Bali 81155, Indonesia

Paon Cooking School
Laplapan Village, near Ubud
Bali, Indonesia.

Posted August 20, 2015 10:00 AM

August 18, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Honey joys, gluten free sausage rolls and a birthday

When there is cornflakes in the pantry, a birthday on the weekend and not much time for baking, honey joys seems just the thing!  As a child I often encountered them at parties and cake stalls.  They were always popular.  As an adult I have discovered that they are cornflakes covered in a light toffee sauce.  No wonder they are still loved by kids.

The event as my niece, Stella's third birthday.  I had said I would bring sausage rolls.  Serendipitously while checking out the new Coles at Coburg North I found this Genius gluten free puff pastry.  I decided to make half gluten free sausage rolls (with sesame seeds) and half regular (with poppy seeds).  Which was just as well, given that the packet of pastry was only enough for half the batch of sausage roll filling.  I probably could have rolled it out a bit thinner but not too much more. 

I have tried a few gluten free pastry recipes in the past and found them hard to work with.  This pastry was really good.  It was dairy free but had egg in it.  I amended my usual vegetarian sausage roll recipe to be dairy free and gluten free by substituting 1 cup of silken tofu for the cottage cheese and gf breadcrumbs and quinoa flakes instead of wheaten breadcrumbs and oats.  I had to add a bit more breadcrumbs and quinoa flakes than when I make my regular recipe.

The honey joys were far more straight forward to make gluten free, even given that I made two batches.  It was a matter of boiling up butter, sugar and honey and then stirring in cornflakes and baking.  I always find honey joys great when I start eating them and then halfway through they are too much.  I am obviously not the only one if the amount of half eaten honey joys left about at parties is any guide.  So I made them with mini muffin cases.  They were the perfect size.

I used different coloured mini muffin papers to make it easy to tell the two batches apart.  There wasn't much difference between the traditional and gluten free honey joys.  The gluten free cornflakes were more sturdy and didn't rustle as much as the traditional ones.  Yet everyone seemed happy to eat either (other than the celiacs).  I also added coconut sugar to keep down the refined sugar.  This worked really well and probably added to the toffee flavour.

We rushed down to Stella's baking party (run by Little Wren Cookery School).  Her little friends and cousins decorated chef's hats, donned striped aprons and got to work baking while the parents went down the road for a coffee.  When we came back at the end they had made pizza, decorated cupcakes and made freckles on sticks. 

We then returned to Stella's place where my sister Fran had a birthday cake for Stella with more of her cousins.  I heated up the sausage rolls.  They went down very well.  Fran is a big fan of them and the coeliacs in the family were impressed by the gluten free pastry.

The honey joys also went down well.  I knew Sylvia would love them because I had had to keep her away from them the night before when I had baked them in advance.  I was surprised to find that my niece Maddy was very fond of them.  My parents could not be there but I am sure my mum would have appreciated us having honey joys which is the sort of thing she might make.

Fran had also made cupcakes with Peppa Pig toppers and had ordered a gorgeous gluten free chocolate cake with a Peppa Pig scene on it.  Stella was delighted and had fun blowing out the candles.

I think this is the age when kids start to really notice parties.  Stella was so delightful to watch with her sense of wonder and excitement at all the food and presents and company.  She checked over a toy cow with her new doctor's kit and danced to a card that sang happy birthday.  Sylvia and I stayed the night at Fran's.

The next morning Fran had guests for more birthday celebrations but we just stayed for green and pink pancakes for breakfast, a game of hide and seek and some fun on the kiddie keyboard.  Then we headed home, well rested and with not a leftover in sight!

I am sending this post to Gluten Free Fridays, Free From Fridays, Inheritance Recipes and Recipe of the Week.

More gluten free party snacks on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Baked rice paper spring rolls (gf, v)
Cashew cheese stuffed dates (gf, v)
Cheesy almond muffins (gf)
Pea, quinoa and feta fritters (gf)
Sesame hummus bites (gf, v)
Sushi with vegan salmon pate (gf, v)
Voracious vegan pate (gf, v)

Apricot delight (gf, v)
Cherry Ripe cake pops (gf)
Coconut ice (gf)
Donna Hay brownies (gf)
Gluten free gingerbread cut out cookies (gf, v)
Maple meringues (gf)
Vanilla cupcakes (gf)

Honey Joys
Adapted from Kelloggs
Makes about 18-20 mini honey joys

3 tbsp butter or margarine*
3 tbsp coconut sugar*
2 tsp honey
2 cups corn flakes*

Melt butter, sugar and honey and gently bring to boil so that mixture is bubbly.  Remove from hat and mix in corn flakes.  Spoon into mini muffin (or patty pan) tins that are lined with papers.  Bake at 150 C for 10 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

*NOTES: traditionally honey joys are made with butter, castor sugar and Kelloggs cornflakes.  I used margarine to keep it dairy free, coconut sugar because I could and I made one batch each with Kelloggs cornflakes and gluten free corn flakes.

On the Stereo:
Flood: They might be giants

Posted August 18, 2015 10:52 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Magic Mountain Saloon

August 12, 2015

Cindy and I had a Wednesday night free and decided to freshen up our restaurant game a bit by heading into the city to try somewhere new and buzzy. Magic Mountain Saloon fit the bill - it's run by the people who run hipster-magnets Cookie, The Toff and Revolver and is getting a lot of blog attention (see the link list below). We turned up at 6:45 without a booking and were relegated to a pretty uncomfortable corner of the bar, so the word is clearly out - it's definitely a place you should book for. The venue's split over three levels - the ground floor is restauranty, with tables and a longish bar, the mezzanine is small with a couple more tables and the top level feels more like a bar with some tables - a lot more people hanging out and drinking rather than sitting down for dinner.

It's moodily lit, with a red glow cast over everything and clubby music pumping away at a volume just below 'really annoying'. The staff are friendly and reasonably efficient, and were quick to set us up and offer us drinks. I unadventurously ordered a beer, while Cindy took on the Cuban creaming soda ($5), with vanilla syrup, lime and mint.

The food menu was Chin Chin-esque: a mix of dishes of different sizes and styles that are designed to be shared. There's a reasonable number of vego options - three appetisers, five sides and a couple of bulkier wok dishes. We somehow resisted the lotus root, peanut and pickled turnip dumplings ($14.50), instead opting for the curried rice and mozzarella balls with a coriander and avocado sauce ($12.5) to get things started.

They were a Thai twist on arancini, with a nice curry kick cutting through the rice and cheese. Next up we tried the green papaya, yard beans, tomato, avocado and peanut salad ($17.50).

I quite liked the idea of this - take the classic papaya salad and mix it up with some generous chunks of avocado. That combo really worked, but the whole dish was loaded up with so much chilli that it was hard to really enjoy it.

Finally, we ordered the tofu red curry with eggplant, yard beans and makrut lime leaves ($21.50), with a couple of rotis on the side ($5.50 each). The mix of tofu and veggies in the curry were great, as were the roti breads - the curry sauce was passable, but in contrast to the salad was overly sweet and lacking in spice. Once the chilli burn from the salad passed, this was a bit on the plain side.

We finished up with a split dessert - a coconut and lime panacotta with strawberry and mint compote ($14.50).

This was tangy, smooth and sweet, but it didn't really knock my socks off - I should always order something chocolate-based for dessert I think.

Our dinner at Magic Mountain Saloon was passable - the food was okay, the service was sharp and the vibe was pleasant enough. It's clearly trying to muscle in on the incredibly successful Chin Chin territory (although to be fair, Cookie's been working a similar space for years), but it didn't quite measure up to those standards. I'm interested in trying out their breakfast menu, but I doubt we'll hurry back for dinner.

Magic Mountain Saloon has good reviews, although the high spice factor comes up in quite a few reviews - check out Stuck in Transit, frenchtoastandindiepop, Nom's Adventure, The Baroness of Melbourne, Delightfully Tasty, foodie about town, bonjourchickie, nik-nak castle, Spoonfuls of Wanderlust, The Glutton's Diet, The Everyday Melburnian, The New Fave and kT Eats World. There are some reviews of a freebie breakfast event at Barley Blog, Gastrology, I'm So Hungree and Sweet and Sour Fork.

Magic Mountain Saloon
62 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
9078 0078
menu, soft drinks

Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up on entry and the interior is pretty crowded. There's a mix of bar stools and regular tables and full table service. The gendered bathrooms are located on the third floor - I didn't see a lift anywhere.

Posted August 18, 2015 09:50 AM by Michael

August 17, 2015


Lentil As Anything, Preston

Lentil As Anything in Preston have recently re-opened and are now Melbourne’s first fully vegan Thali bar, serving up Southern Indian meals. If you’re not familiar with how LAA operates, they’re a non-profit community organisation and you pay-as-you-feel. You can also find other LAAs in Footscray, Abbotsford, St. Kilda, Thornbury and Sydney. It may look a...
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Posted August 17, 2015 11:43 AM

blog | easy as (vegan) pie - australian vegan recipes and places to eat!

kimchi buffalo cauliflower with simple slaw

Wow well December 18, 2012 was the last time I posted a recipe on this blog. How time flies. It's close to 3 years later - how ya been? Things are well with me. Crazy as ever. I've been cooking up a storm the past year and experimenting with lots of different things. Mainly making everything from scratch. Stock, pasta, sauces, preserves - I've been getting my inner

Posted August 17, 2015 10:03 AM by Carla

August 16, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Strawberry and smoky chickpea salad

Tonight I wanted to bring you a long winded post with lots of photos.  However I don't have time and, even if I did, my computer would not let me bring you the photos.  So instead I am posting a simple salad.  (I had more photos but I had problems with a few of them!)

But let me ramble for a moment.  I have recently started a Healthy Bowls Pinterest board.  All these bowls of beautiful vegies have given me Pinterest envy.  I want my dinner to look this beautiful.  Perhaps wee Sylvia is onto something when she asks for her vegies to be separate on her plate.  It could even be that I disliked lots of vegies as a child that I could only learn to love them when mixed up and now I am finally beginning to just enjoy them, albeit with a salad dressing so good that Sylvia was happy to eat her vegies with it.

I thought the vinaigrette was helping her to enjoy eating spinach.  Then a few nights later I serve her baby spinach with no dressing expecting her to leave it.  Instead she picks up a great big pile and takes a big mouthful.  The child in me is still amazed at her love of vegies.  Fortunately the adult in me was ready for some healthy vegies after a carbs and chocolate trivia night.

The salad was just what I needed.  It started with cheap strawberries.  I fossicked around in the fridge, made a lovely vinaigrette from an Eats Well With Others roasted berry salad and made smoky chickpeas using my tofu bacon marinade.  The chickpeas were a bit salty so I think I would reduce the tamari next time.  Otherwise I was smitten.  With a savoury muffin on the side, dinner was ready.

I am sending the salad to Healthy Vegan Fridays #58, No Croutons Required, Eat Your Greens, Gluten Free Fridays #155 and Meatless Mondays.

More healthy main meal salads on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Avocado, pickled ginger and tofu soba noodle salad (gf, v)
Couscous salad with chermoula (v)
Gado Gado with marmalade (gf, v)
Leon superfood salad (gf)
Mock tuna (chickpea) salad (gf, v)
Morroccan chickpea and couscous salad (v)
Smoky potato, bean and corn salad (gf, v)

More healthy main meal salads elsewhere:
BBQ Roasted chickpea summer salad - taste space
Chickpea nicoise salad - Eats Well With Others
Chopped BBQ tofu salad - Delicious Knowledge
Diane Henry's Crazy Salad - Kahakai Kitchen
Greens salad with creamy avocado dressing - Two Peas and Their Pod
Kale, brown rice, red quinoa salad with miso dressing - Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary
Power salad wit orange vinaigrette - Tina's Chic Corner

Strawberry and smoky chickpea salad
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe salad with vinaigrette from Eats Well With Others

Strawberries, halved
Carrots, cut into batons
Cucumber, cut into batons
Cooked beetroot, cut into wedges
Baby spinach
Smoky chickpeas (below)
Balsamic vinaigrette (below)

Smoky chickpeas:
1 tbsp nooch
2-3 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp maple
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp liquid smoke
400g tin chickpeas

Balsamic vinaigrette:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
salt and black pepper, to taste

To make smoky chickpeas, mix all ingredients except chickpeas to make marinade.  Fry chickpeas in marinade over medium high until marinade is absorbed and chickpeas are slightly sticky.  Set aside to cool.

Whisk all the balsamic vinaigrette ingredients together.

Arrange chickpeas and other ingredients in individual bowls and drizzle with vinaigrette.

On the Stereo:
The Velvet Underground and Nico

Posted August 16, 2015 10:32 PM by Johanna GGG


What I Ate and Week In Review

Here’s a look at some of the eats the family and I have had recently. Above is a Mexican style stew with black beans and whatever veggies I had to use up. On the top is a cashew lime avocado cream. We had a special visit to Mr Nice Guy’s Bake Shop. I haven’t blogged...
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Posted August 16, 2015 06:28 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Cocoa crackles

August 9, 2015

We were invited to celebrate the first birthday of our youngest friend last weekend. Her party had a rainbow theme, and the savoury food was provided by the wonderful Las Vegan Catering (I ate so much pizza). A week ahead I asked how I could help, and I was enlisted to make chocolate crackles.

Chocolate crackles are always vegan and very nearly gluten-free, but these ones have the 2015 treatment. There's coconut oil instead of copha, of course, and coconut sugar instead of regular icing. I even had gluten-free brown rice puffs on hand instead of Kellogg's bubbles. This version appeals to 2015 me much more than the original recipe - although it's a little crumbly, it's got a stronger cocoa flavour and none of the greasiness of copha.

The party wasn't exclusively new age mama mania - there was plenty of lurid colouring in the vegan-friendly Skittles and the spectacular six-layered rainbow cake prepared by a pro.

Cocoa crackles
(slightly adapted from a recipe at Natural New Age Mum)

125g coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
pinch of salt
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
2 cups brown rice puffs

Melt the coconut oil in a medium-large saucepan. Add the sugar, cocoa and salt, stirring until smooth. Stir in the dessicated coconut and then the rice puffs, until everything is well mixed.

Line a muffin pan with a dozen papers and spoon the crackle mixture out equally between them. Refrigerate the crackles for an hour or more before serving.

Posted August 16, 2015 05:24 PM by Cindy

August 15, 2015


Melomakarona Inspired Scones For International Scone Week

It’s International Scone Week! Well, we’re at the end of it and so I’ve just been able to sneak in this submission with a day to go. This year’s International Scone Week is being hosted by Tandy from Lavender and Lime. Tandy has listed the participants in the sidebar of her blog, so you can...
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Posted August 15, 2015 03:29 PM

August 14, 2015


Aquafabulous Pecan Tahini Sweet Potato Banana Bread

This banana bread (with a whopper of a title…sorry) was a bit of an experiment– in other words, I had stuff I needed to use up like aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas), bananas, wholemeal flour and a sweet potato I’d roasted a few days ago. Whenever I have bananas getting overripe, I always go for...
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Posted August 14, 2015 05:23 PM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


August 8, 2015

From Steam Junkies to Addict - I'm not sure I care for cafes naming themselves after compulsions but it seems I'll eat their brunch. Addict has the typical trappings of an inner north cafe - a communal table and drop lights, longnecks for water pitchers and a small queue. Luckily for us, the 10 minute wait estimated by the waiter was more like 2. It was barely enough time to stare hungrily at the doughnut display before we were seated at a sunny window bench.

The Addict menu has abundant Vs and GFs, but doesn't offer much in the way of information or eating for vegans. The coconut & lychee porridge and the citrus-spiked chia pudding might pass muster, but conferring with staff would definitely be needed. By contrast, the vegetarian options are varied and take up half the menu, from buttermilk pancakes to corn fritters and a mega Go Green breakfast.

The Chai Boy Latte's ($4.50) paraphernalia took up most of my table space. For all its name-dropping and bench-hogging it wasn't all that memorable, mildly spiced and only briefly steeped.

The food was a long time coming - even slowpoke Cindy here had sipped the last of her latte before it arrived. Michael ordered the oft-blogged potato hash and mushroom duxelle with roasted field mushroom, a poached egg and caramelised onion ($18). It was compact and quickly consumed, but very rich and dominated by the mushroom flavours. As I continued eating my meal, I caught Michael staring longingly at the corn fritters left by a couple of ladies further along the bench.

Although our friend Will had particularly recommended the pancakes, I passed over them for a blackboard special of cinnamon dusted brioche French toast, date and peanut puree, caramel banana, vanilla mascarpone, sweet and salty nuts, and maple syrup ($17). I was served a whole lot more fried and sugar-rolled brunchtime bang-for-my-buck than Michael was! The brioche was only lightly battered, and dusted to resemble cinnamon doughnuts, the bananas were nearly collapsed under their caramelisation, and the garnished macadamias were deeply toasted. It was spectacularly over the top, and I ate it all.

Michael should not have been surprised that I could manage only a cursory taste of the doughnut we ordered afterwards. It was all Krispy Kreme puff, without cakiness and (to my disappointment) without any tanginess to its berry-tinted icing.

The staff were friendly and capable but there seemed too few of them; we were left waiting for long periods to order and receive food. What the Addict kitchen made was very, very good - fancy but well-composed, a smidge pretentious yet ultimately satisfying.



240 Johnston St, Fitzroy
9415 6420
menu, specials

Accessibility: There's a shallow ramp on entry. Tables inside are standard height and crowded in, with a mix of chairs and stools. We ordered at our table and paid at a medium-high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Posted August 14, 2015 08:23 AM by Cindy

August 12, 2015


Melbourne University Farmers Market, Food Co-Op, Shuki and Louisa Felafel

Melbourne University holds a farmers’ market on Wednesdays until October 21st (with no market on September 30th). Melbourne did its weird weather thing where it was raining when we left home, but beautifully sunny when we were at the market– perfect market weather! This was my first visit to the Melbourne Uni market and of...
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Posted August 12, 2015 05:44 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Pumpkin, pecan and poppyseed scones and my first light box photos

It is International Scone Week so I obliged the scone gods and got out my thinking cap.  I really wanted to make scones a bit like Karen's pumpkin, walnut, poppyseed and cheddar muffins but I wanted them vegan so I checked on my kale scones for ideas.  These are not at all traditional scones.  They are filled with so many bits that they like a meal in a scone.

In fact one of the things I love about scones is how easy they are to whip up.  Unless you go all fancy like these scones and spend ages roasting pumpkin, frying caramelised onion, toasted pecans and then dealing with the awkwardness of kneading dough full of bits.  It was worth it!

I like to spend my energy on one component of the meal and go easy on the rest of it.  So I served these scones with some salad that was helped along with some leftover salad dressing.  It was a fantastic meal as I am in need of lots of vegies after all my baking over the weekend.

In fact I loved these scones so much that it inspired me to finally drag the fold up light box that has been in the car for a week or two after my brother loaned it to me.  Considering I had only been shown it once, it was pretty easy to set up.  My main problem is finding space to set it up and plug in two power cords.

The other problem with a light box is that it is all very well to think that I might spend some time photographing dinner but a lot of the meals I post are my dinner.  Though I might stop to snap a few photos before we eat, it is more important to sit and eat with the family than to spend ages setting up a pretty photo.  Sometimes I manage to photograph leftovers the next day if there is food leftover and it is in good shape.  But this is not always practical.

However for nights when I can photograph some food later in the evening a light box would be great.  I would recommend this Optex Portable Photo Studio and Lighting Kit because it did improve my evening photography.  Though my brother cautioned that it needs a macro lens (which I own).  I just wish I had a space where I could set it up permanently.  (Alternatively you could try making a homemade lightbox.)  Then I would probably need a tripod camera set up.  Sigh!  There is always something else.

I am a huge fan of the classic Aussie pumpkin scones.  Sadly Sylvia does not like pumpkin so I don't make them so often.  However I live in hope that she will come round as her young tastebuds mature and remember how much she loved pumpkin as a baby.  Not yet.  She wouldn't eat these scones.

I cut back on seasoning because the recent kale scones were too intense.  I thought it was a mistake when these pumpkin scones were warm but once cooled I was pleased that I hadn't overwhelmed the sweet pumpkin flavour.

With the onion, these are definitely savoury but you could easily omit the onion, add a little sweetener and make these an interesting vehicle for jam and cream.  Either way I can highly recommend having a batch of these warm out of the oven wrapped in a tea towel to make your kitchen feel homely.

I am sending theses to Tandy at Lavender and Limes who has stood in for Celia as host of International Scone Week.  I am also sending them to Tea Time Treats, Extra Veg Challenge and Healthy Vegan Fridays #59.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Chocolate and cranberry scones - for International Scone Week
Two year ago: Beetroot, apple and walnut scones for International Scone Week
Three years ago: Treacle gingerbread and more Open House Melbourne
Four years ago: Canberra - of modern museums
Five years ago: NCR Carrot and Fennel Soup
Six years ago: Carrot Cake and the Lost Sock
Seven years ago: Easy as Vegetable Pie
Eight years ago: The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

Pumpkin Pecan and Poppyseed Scones
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Makes about 18 scones

1 1/4 cup milk  (I used soy)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups white self raising flour*
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour*
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 tsp mustard
3/4 tsp salt flakes
50g margarine or butter
1 cup roasted diced pumpkin*
1/2 cup caramelised onion*
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

To assemble:
extra wholemeal flour for dough
milk for glazing
poppy seeds for sprinkling

Mix milk with lemon juice and set aside to sour.

Place flours, nutritional yeast, mustard and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Rub in margarine until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in pumpkin, onion, pecans and poppyseeeds.

Make a hole in the centre and pour in milk to make a soft dough.  If it is slightly sticky sprinkle some flour on it. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead briefly until it comes together into a smooth dough.

Gently pat dough to about 1.5cm thick.  Use a scone cutter or glass dipped in flour to cut out scones.  Place on a tray lined with baking paper (or greased and floured) with about 1 cm between each scone.  Glaze with milk and then sprinkle on poppy seeds (just a few so you can still see when the top bakes).

Bake scones for 15 to 20 minutes until they are golden brown.  Wrap in a tea towel.  They are best on the day of baking but also great the next day.

  • To make vegan scones, use a vegan milk and margarine.  
  • I roasted the pumpkin with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt until crisp and slightly charred around the edge.  Most of the pumpkin got mooshed into the dough but a few pieces held their shape.  
  • To caramelise the onions, I finely sliced 2 red onions, chopped the slices into about 4 pieces each and fried them in some olive oil for about 15 minutes on medium high and 15 minutes on low heat.  Then I stirred in a good pinch of salt and a tablespoon of brown sugar.  I continued to fry until all the sugar had melted.  This made about 1/2 cup.  
  • To make self raising flour, add 1 tsp baking powder for each 1/2 cup of flour.

On the stereo:
1989: Taylor Swift

Posted August 12, 2015 02:24 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Chimichurri pumpkin bowl

August 4, 2015

We had a big chunk of pumpkin leftover from our most recent veggie box and, after considering a few old favourites, decided it was time to bust out a new recipe. The bowls in Isa Does It have proven pretty successful so far, so when we discovered this recipe on a scan through the index, we were sold (added bonus: it used up a wilty bunch of coriander also leftover from the veggie box). 

Like the other bowl recipes, there's a fair few components - you're baking pumpkin, cooking pasta, heating up beans and making a spice paste - but none of them are very complicated. The issue is more the mess you leave behind than the difficulty involved in throwing it all together. And the results are definitely worth it - the garlicky chimichurri proving to be a surprisingly perfect accompaniment to the sweet, roasted potato, with the beans and pasta adding some bulk and protein. 

We went back for a second round on this - the spice paste recipe makes much more than you'll need for one dinner - and it worked just as well with roasted carrots as with pumpkin. We've had nothing but good results from Isa Does It and this just adds to my resolution to go pawing through it for more ideas.

Chimichurri pumpkin bowl
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Isa Does It)

~1kg pumpkin, chopped into big chunks (you don't need to peel it)
250g linguine (ours was a quite passable batch of gluten-free linguine leftover from one of Cindy's field trips)
2 cans black beans

2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pepitas
1 big bunch of parsley, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
1 small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Pop the pumpkin on a lightly oiled baking tray and bake for 45 minutes or so, until completely soft.

While the pumpkin is baking, make the chimichurri in a food processor. Start by blending up the garlic until it's finely chopped. Add the pepitas and grind them up into small crumbs. Throw in the rest of the ingredients and blend into a thick puree.

Drain the beans and heat them up in a small saucepan

Prepare the linguine as per the instructions - you want it to be the last thing that's ready.

Drain the linguine and stir through 1/2 of the chimichurri paste (the noodles' heat will take the sting out of the garlic).

Assemble your bowls with the pasta, beans and pumpkin, topped with a few extra scoops of chimmichurri and garnished with pepitas.

Posted August 12, 2015 11:25 AM by Michael

August 11, 2015


Review and Giveaway: Plant-Powered Families By Dreena Burton

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED This is a worldwide giveaway! For details on how to enter, please read on. When I first became vegan, I looked for vegan cookbooks and searched many a forum and community looking for advice on what would be good for not only a new vegan, but one with a family to cook...
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Posted August 11, 2015 02:56 PM

August 10, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Cheese, pea and corn muffins for trivia night

Last year I went to the school triva night.  Our table didn't do well at the trivia but I was more disappointed that we didn't have much food while tables around us were groaning under the weight of others' fancy offerings.  This year I was determined to make more of an effort with the food even if I still didn't know all the answers to the questions.  As always I had lots of great ideas and limited time.

On the day before the quiz, I had some time at home to bake.  Firstly I decided to use some of the puff pastry in my freezer to make Italian purses.  Mine were slightly different as I was just using up what was in the fridge - peas mixed in some green soup (like this), marinated peppers and mozzarella cheese.  I grated up the rest of the mozzarella and it was far more than I needed.

I decided to make muffins and found a recipe for Corn Spinach and Tomato Muffins at Create Bake Make.  However I didn't have any spinach and tomatoes.  So instead I used peas and sun dried tomatoes (in oil) and used up some of the Greek yoghurt I had found too thick for my chocolate muesli at breakfast.  I only had enough mozzarella for the larger muffins which were golden brown unlike the mini ones that didn't change colour much.  They came out of the oven as I ran out the door but I felt satisfied that I had one contribution for trivia night.

The next day was one of these crazy days when I had a friend of Sylvia's over for breakfast before taking her to gymnastics, visited another of her friends for lunch, went to the supermarket and then dropped Sylvia off for a sleepovers.  (Yes, her social life is far busier than mine).  So I abandoned my plans for fancy food like this or this and fell back on favourite recipes: sausage rolls and grubs.

Our team, called the Barnacles, ate very well.  My other team mates had already had tea but everyone bought food.  So as well as muffins, sausage rolls, vegies and grubs, we had crisps, crackers, iced fruit loaf, favourites chocolates, 99% chocolate and strawberries.  We didn't win but we came a very respectable third considering that there were 5 points between us and the winning team.

The following day we had heaps of leftovers, though the sausage rolls went very quickly because we all love them, even Sylvia.  In fact by the evening I had eaten my fill and needed salad.  But that is a dish for another day.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Chocolate chip and cola muffins
Two year ago: MLLA Smoky apple baked beans for potluck brunch
Three years ago: Wholemeal pretzels and pea soup
Four years ago: Around Orange - the vision splendid
Five years ago: Honey, Yoghurt and Chocolate Cake
Six years ago: Potato boston bun
Seven years ago: My Vegetarian Lasagne
Eight years ago: Rumbledethumps: death to the red hag!

Cheese pea and corn muffins
Adapted from Create Bake Make
Makes 12 regular muffins and 18 mini muffins

2 cups of self raising flour (I used half white, half wholemeal)
1 cup of green peas (I used frozen)
kernels of 1 corn cob
1 cup of grated tasty cheese
1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (mine were in oil)
a shake of smoked paprika
good pinch of salt and pepper
2 eggs
½ cup olive oil
1 cup of yoghurt
1 tbsp milk
Grated mozzarella for sprinkling (optional)

Place flour, peas, corn kernels, cheese, sun dried tomatoes, paprika and seasoning into a large mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Whisk the eggs, olive oil, yoghurt and milk in a small mixing bowl or large jug.  Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Spoon into greased or lined muffin tins (either regular or mini muffins work) and sprinkle with mozzarella if desired.  Bake at 190 C for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Mine lasted a few days.

On the stereo:
The Good The Bad and The Queen

Posted August 10, 2015 11:07 PM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni


One of my closest friends lives in Singapore, and with a public holiday and a long weekend that they have just had, she decided to make a quick visit down to Melbourne! A catch up was on the cards, and when I asked her what food she felt like, she said she missed western vegetarian food. I went through my wishlist of restaurants to visit and I decided that Transformer sounded like the perfect fit for our catch up.

Transformer is a quintessentially Melbourne venue. Located in a dim Fitzroy side street, Transformer is the latest venture from the team behind Veggie Bar. It is the slightly more hipster and definitely more fine dining cousin, and based on the fact that bookings need to be made in advance, it is a very welcome addition to the family.

Our booking was for 6:15pm on a Friday night, and in a sign that a great night of food was ahead of us, the restaurant was full. The restaurant has a mixture of low tables, window seats and high bar tables. I had been forewarned of this on Zomato, so I made sure I had requested a low table. There is a semi open kitchen, which is always heartening for me as a diner. I feel like if I can see my food being prepared, the kitchen will feel more accountable!

The menu is designed with a clear focus on sharing. The dishes are split into three categories – small plates, garden plates, and mid plates. Natually there is also a section for dessert, but everyone knows that we have a separate stomach for desserts. The recommendation from the waitress was that we should order two or three plates per person, but everything looked so delicious that we ended up ordering seven plates between the two of us! I’d like to think it was all in the purpose of research for the blog! The dishes arrive at the table as they are prepared, so there is a steady stream of food being brought to you.

Our first dish, and possibly the best dish of the night, was the sweet corn fritters served with lime aioli. The fritters were moulded into rectangular prisms, which was a presentation style I hadn’t seen before, but it certainly made it easy to eat! The highlight was the aioli though. It was creamy and tangy and just plain delicious! We ended up keeping the remnants of the aioli bowl on the table when we sent the plate back, just so we could pair it with our other dishes!

The corn fritters were demolished promptly and our next dish arrived. This dish was one that I had chosen. It was a spelt and seed steamed bun with crispy tofu, pickled cucumber and an Asian chilli mayo. These normally come as one piece per serve, so we ordered two serves! I am a big fan of steamed buns, and these were no exception. The spelt and seed combination did add a slightly different flavour and texture to the bun than what I’m normally used to, but the filling was perfect. There was crunch from the tofu, freshness from the cucumber and the mayo provided a wonderful flavour that tied everything together. It was a shame there was only one bun for each of us, I could have easily downed four or five of these!

Dish number three was one that V had chosen, and I must say, she had chosen well. It was a fried brussels sprout dish with green apple, and a creamy sauce. I don’t know why people have such an aversion to brussels sprouts. I feel as though they have been given a bad reputation without much reason. Personally I am a big fan, so I was excited about this dish. The sprouts were fried beautifully, V thought they were a little charred, but I prefer to think of them as caramelised. They had a sweet, smoky flavour, and the freshness of the apple cut through it well.

Dish number four appeared at our table almost at the same time as the brussels sprouts (or perhaps our eating pace had slowed down because we were slowly getting full!). We had chosen a sweet potato dish which was roasted with a Japanese spice, togarashi. I had never had togarashi before, and I must say its flavour was fairly subtle. This was paired with a coconut yogurt and lime. Sweet potato is another vegetable that I love, so I was always going to like this dish. It was however the dish that was the most simple and easy to replicate at home, so I’m not sure if I would order it again. The focus was on the produce thought which was nice.

The next dish was a recommendation I had received so I was determined to order it. It was a ricotta and rye gnocchi served with sprouted lentils, pumpkin mousse and blueberry compote. Unfortunately this was probably my least favourite dish, although I still enjoyed it, just not as much as the others. The gnocchi was a little bit stodgy, but perhaps I had just gotten a bad batch. As quirky as it sounds, the pumpkin mousse and blueberry compote actually made a great sauce when mixed together. It is amazing how such a random combination, which I would never think of pairing, worked so well.

By this stage we were really full, but we had one more dish to go! If only we had not eaten with our eyes when order and thought about what our stomachs were capable of! Still, never one to accept defeat at the hands of food, I persevered to be rewarded with another great dish. Our final dish was an artichoke dish which was served with parsnips three ways. There were parsnip chips which sliced thinly and fried to a crisp, roast parsnip and parsnip puree. The artichokes were tender and flavoursome and together they married perfectly.

With the sixth dish, I was well and truly full and ready to declare the meal ended but V had other ideas with her mind firmly fixed on dessert. And who was I to say no? After all, it would be unfair to my dessert stomach to not give it anything to eat. I let her chose the dessert and she decided on a very interesting dish. It was a lemongrass crème served with mandarin fresh and dehydrated forms and topped with a layer of tempered white chocolate. The dessert was served in a beaker (yes the ones you find in a science lab!) and the seal of the white chocolate had to be cracked with a spoon! It was quite a theatrical dessert!

We both absolutely loved this dish. The freshness and lightness of the lemongrass and mandarin was exactly what we needed after the heavy meal and we demolished this dessert.

All through the night V couldn’t help but comment about how ‘Melbourne’ Transformer was and this was what she missed about being home. And it was true. The exposed brick walls, the converted warehouse feel, the quirky menu pairings, the mismatched crockery, this is exactly what dining in Melbourne is all about, and Transformer did it so well.

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Posted August 10, 2015 12:50 PM by Moni


Toastie Temple at PAM Lane, Preston Market

Preston Market is a place I visit every now and then for cheap fresh produce, but I’ve always wished there was a greater variety of vegan lunch options there. Market trips were always followed by heading off to lunch somewhere else most times. Well folks, there were a lot of fist pumps around here this...
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Posted August 10, 2015 12:06 PM

quinces and kale


quesadillas and taco

I’ve been trying to get to Papasito for ages, but it just seems to have evaded me, either through it closing for a break or because we just couldn’t get ourselves organised. “We must go to Papasito” had become a familiar mantra.

Finally, I caught up with some friends for dinner there on a freezing winter night.

To save thinking we opted for the $45 vegan banquet and ordered a variety of cocktails, wine and beer to match, all of which were good.

We started with a generous serve of house made corn chips that came with a delicious salsa roja, guacamole and cashew cream. We scoffed the lot because they were so tasty. The corn chips were thin, light and crispy.

The next course was a palate cleansing salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, corn and cactus. It left my mouth zinging, with a bit too much pepper for my taste, but I otherwise enjoyed it.

Next up was a plate with a soft open tortilla with impeccably cooked eggplant, with roasted potato, onion and corn. It was accompanied by two half quesadillas with different fillings, one pumpkin based and the other blackbean.

corn chips and salsa, cashew cream and guacamole salad quesadillas and taco black bean casserole chocolate mousse

This is probably where we should have stopped…but a hearty blackbean and mushroom casserole was next up, served with a stack of warm tortillas. We were all too full to do it justice and it was a bit the same in flavours as some of the previous dishes so it didn’t encourage us to gluttony.

Lastly came the cashew vanilla dark chocolate mousse. It was fabulous, not too rich and I managed to eat it all despite being REALLY FULL.

The food was perfect for a winter’s evening, solid, warming and hearty.

I’d go back, but next time I think I’d order a la carte to have less food and perhaps a bit more variety.

219 High St,
Northcote, 3071
9482 7033

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Posted August 10, 2015 10:00 AM

August 09, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Kiwi cashew slice

August 2, 2015

Our vege deliveries tell me it's kiwi fruit season, so I bookmarked Emma Galloway's recipe for raw kiwifruit + ginger 'cheesecake' the moment I saw it. With melting oil and maple syrup going on, it's not strictly 100% raw, but it's that little bit more workable.

I blended this one up on a Sunday morning, with some equipment that was distinctly inferior to Galloway's. My food processor struggled to break down the dried dates in the base layer, so mine was rather coarse (pre-soaking the dates might yield better results). It didn't fare much better with the cashews in the filling, even though they'd been soaked overnight - there were soft but discernible flecks of nut throughout the mixture. The food processor was completely incapable of pureeing the sly spinach leaves that colour the third layer, so I transferred this last mixture to my spice grinder for a finer result. I added an extra kiwi fruit, too, to intensify the flavour and work through my fruit stocks that little bit faster.

For all my skepticism, this slice has been lovely. The base was crumbly, but the larger date chunks were like chewy caramel. The topping is smooth and almost fluffy, with a subtle twang of ginger. Some fresh kiwi fruit on top completes a gradient of dense sweetness through lighter creaminess to wake-up juicy sourness. We've snatched snacks of it throughout the week, and I've held some over in the freezer to look forward to later.

Kiwi cashew slice
(very slightly adapted from My Darling Lemon Thyme)

1 1/2 cups dried dates, pits removed and roughly chopped
2/3 cup raw almonds
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

3 cups raw cashews
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons minced ginger
handful of baby spinach leaves
3 kiwi fruits, peeled

extra kiwi fruits to garnish

Cover the cashews with water and soak them overnight. Drain the water.

Line a large slice tin with baking paper. Grind together the base ingredients in a food processor until they resemble coarse crumbs. Press them into the base of the slice tin, using the back of a spoon to smooth it all out.

For the filling, blend together the cashews, coconut oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and ginger until very, very smooth. Pour half of the mixture out onto the slice base and smooth it over with a spoon. Place the slice in the freezer while you perform the next step.

Blend the spinach leaves and 3 kiwi fruits into the remaining cashew mixture until it is smooth and green. Retrieve the slice from the freezer and pour the green mixture evenly over the slice. Refrigerate the slice for 5 hours, or freeze it for 2-3 hours. Garnish with fresh kiwi fruit slices when serving.

Posted August 09, 2015 06:29 PM by Cindy

August 08, 2015

vegan about town

parmageddon at the cornish arms

We're all very familiar with the vegan parma available at the Cornish Arms in Brunswick. Important for your info, though: cheap speciality parmas are available Friday lunch, and Sunday lunch and dinner. These parmas are $14 (maybe $12?), and come in a variety of styles including poutine and something with pesto and pepperoni. AMAZING.

Featured here is the poutang, a parma topped with facon, chips, cheeze and gravy, on a bed of chips, with a garden salad. ACTUAL PERFECTION. Go there tomorrow - it's Sunday.

Posted August 08, 2015 07:17 PM by steph

August 07, 2015


Juanita’s Kitchen, Preston

Juanita’s Kitchen in Preston held their official opening today. You may be familiar with Juanita’s Kitchen– they have a product range including vegan and gluten free cooking sauces, salsas, marinades, chai blends, tea blends and smoothie mixes. The range features flavours of Mexico as well as West African style cuisine in the Le Baobab range. All...
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Posted August 07, 2015 10:09 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Wilson Avenue Launch and Green Refectory vegan sausage rolls

Urban architecture fascinates me.  There is so much scope for creativity and beauty in our cityscapes that I love seeing what innovators produce.  On the weekend, we went along to the official launch of the new Wilson Avenue public space where some of the road has been pedestrianised between Jewell Station and Barkly Square.

My eyes were initially drawn to the rock climbing wall in the middle of the space.  However looking around there is a lot of street art too.  We even were able to watch street art in action as one of the walls was being painted during the event.  You may remember the picture of the girl's face previously on the wall (seen in the bottom corner of the bottom photo on my post about the Wilson Ave pop up park.)

There were lots of activities scheduled for the launch.  We were there because E was playing with his ukelele pals.  First up they played on the grassy knoll and then later they played at the other end of the space. 

Sylvia had a go at the climbing wall.  She had lots of fun with her friend who came along.  There was a lull in the fun when they ran into each other and one of Sylvia's wobbly teeth suddenly got a whole lot wobblier (and bloody).  However they recovered to watch with awe as the samba dancer shook her booty.  They danced along to the accompanying drum band that played with high energy. 

There was also a space in the program for the dignitaries to make an appearance.  I was particularly impressed at the Welcome to Country by a local Aboriginal elder.  He explained why we acknowledge elders past and present, explained about the smoking ceremony and told some local creation stories. 

This was hipster Brunswick with the Mayor wearing purple tights, kids doing their own face painting and kombucha freely available.  I was amazed and so happy that the drink on offer was kombucha from The Good Brew Company rather than coffee (which I don't like).  I had a glass of the apple, mint and chlorophyll, which was wonderfully refreshing.

There were also people walking around with trays of food.  I didn't even bother to check if the sausage rolls were veg but I did have some scones with jam and cream as well as slices such as hedgehog and lemon slice (cut up into mercifully small squares).  I was curious to know where they were from and asked one of the waiters.  It was provided by Green Refectory.

Which is perhaps why I thought to go just a few doors along to the Green Refectory pop up cafe.  The original Green Refectory is a bit further down Sydney Rd and is always busy and full of nice baked goods.  The pop up (which the waiter told me had been there for a year despite originally being planned for just 12 weeks) likewise had a tempting array of food.

What really excited me was that they had vegan sausage rolls.  I asked what was in them and was told they had tofu and nuts.  It sounded promising.  Regular readers probably know I love vegetarian sausage rolls and make them at home often.  However it is hard to find a good one when out and about.  So I was pretty excited by these vegan sausage rolls.  They were really good.  I agree with the waiter that when the weather gets better it will be lovely to buy a takeaway sausage roll to eat in the new Wilson Avenue public space.

On the way home we stopped in at the St Vincent de Paul op shop around the corner.  It is a fairly upmarket charity shop with lots of quality goods but not many bargains.  Despite this, or perhaps because of it, we left with a few purchases.

All in all we had a great time of it.  Great music, great fun, great food and great to catch up with friends.

Green Refectory pop up cafe
99 Sydney Road, Brunswick
03 9387 1150

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Posted August 07, 2015 02:03 PM by Johanna GGG

August 06, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Gochujang fried cauliflower

August 1, 2015

It's been too long since I last did some extended, just-for-fun weekend cooking! The half a huge head of cauliflower delivered in our recent vege box inspired me to try one of J. Kenji López-Alt's battered-and-fried cauliflower recipes, which he published more than two years ago on Serious Eats.

I'm not in the regular business of battering or deep-frying, but its never quite as bad as I imagine. There's always a bit of dripping, and disposing of the oil isn't great, but it was well worth it for these tender, golden cauliflower bites. This particular batter includes sesame seeds and dessicated coconut. To my surprise they separated from the batter once it hit the oil, floating up to the surface to form a fragile, nutty lace. It was kinda fun and tasty to nibble at, but a hint that I shouldn't bother including these ingredients in the future - I'll just keep some sesame seeds aside for garnishing instead.

The key point of interest and flavour in this recipe is really the gochujang, a smooth Korean spice paste of roasted chillis and fermented soy beans. I'm glad I image-searched this condiment before we went shopping, because we happened upon the distinctive red plastic completely by chance in an unfamiliar shop - it wasn't on a designated shelf and was covered in a fine layer of dust (but was within its expiry date, I was sure to brush off that dust and check!).

The gochujang forms the foundation of a dressing that's warm, tangy, salty and sweet. It clings to the batter, giving the cauliflower a soft, lively coating that eliminates any need for a dipping sauce. It reminded me a bit of the barbecue sauce we've used for years, and I can imagine skipping the batter palaver and dry-frying tofu in it.

Gochujang fried cauliflower
(slightly adapted from a recipe at Serious Eats)

1 head cauliflower
1/2 cup cornflour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sesame seeds (would save for garnish instead)
1/3 cup dessicated coconut (would skip entirely)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vodka
large volume of vegetable oil, for deep frying

1/4 cup gochujang
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons water

Chop the head of cauliflower up into bite-sized florets.

In a medium bowl, stir together the cornflour plain flour, baking powder, sesame seeds (if using), and coconut (if using). Whisk in the water to form a smooth batter, then whisk in the vodka until the batter is smooth and runny.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.

Pour the oil into a saucepan until it's about 6cm deep (we chose a small saucepan so that it wouldn't be too much oil). Set it over medium-high heat.

When a drop of batter sizzles in the hot oil, it's time to get frying. Drop a few pieces of cauliflower into the batter, coat them all over, and shake off any excess batter before gently dropping each floret into the oil. Fry the cauliflower florets in batches, for around 4-6 minutes each, until they're golden. Transfer the cooked florets to absorbent paper and season them with salt. (If you're cooking in many batches, consider transferring the fried cauliflower to a baking tray in a oven on its lowest setting, to keep them warm.)

When all the cauliflower is cooked, toss it gently but thoroughly with the dressing and serve, garnished with an extra sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Posted August 06, 2015 05:29 PM by Cindy


Vegan Food Options At The Queen Victoria Night Market 2015

Tonight I headed down to the Queen Vic for the winter night market. I went last year and wanted to check it out again this year to see if there were more, or less, vegan food options. I can tell you I walked away pretty much pleased (and full… all in the name of blog research,...
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Posted August 06, 2015 12:13 AM

August 05, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Tea Towels III

Continuing my occasional series of tea towels, here is the third installment with some of the tea towels we have bought on holiday or been given.  As E's mother in Scotland had a great collection of tea towels, it is fitting that many of our tea towels are from Scotland.

The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, 2011


Downton Abbey (a freebie with a DVD we bought)

Marks and Spencer tea towel

New Zealand

50th anniversary of the Australian Breastfeeding Association 
(previously the Nursing Mothers Association of Australia), 2014

Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland (featured in The DaVinci Code)

A Scottish tea towel
This is how they say "Keep Calm" in Scotland!

Orange, NSW

Love the design on this Scottish tea towel

Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee 2012

The Willow Tea Rooms (designed by Charles Rennie Macintosh), 
Glasgow, Scotland

Yet another Scottish tea towel
I love the architectural drawings of all those beautiful Edinburgh buildings

To see more, go to my first and second post on my tea towels.

Posted August 05, 2015 01:41 PM by Johanna GGG

August 04, 2015


In My Kitchen, August 2015

Here’s a look at the various bits, pieces and munchies that have been floating around my kitchen lately. I’m linking up with Fig Jam And Lime Cordial for the monthly In My Kitchen Series. It’s not vegan specific so there are non-vegan blogs participating but anyone can join in and link up. I visited The...
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Posted August 04, 2015 09:34 PM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen August 2015 (recipe testing and apple pie)

August seems to find me busier offline than ever.  Which means my blogging energy is on the wane.  Don't worry!  I am not about to give it up!  I just am finding it tough with not enough natural light in a cold dark winter in the first year that it is really mattering to me since I started blogging.  I have borrowed a light box from my brother but need to find time to work out how to use it.  I am still trying to sort out the space issues with photos on my computer, as well as being kept busy with a whole host of other activities.  Including recipe testing which is taking some of my blogging energy.  Then there are the recipes that just aren't ready for a full post!  Like the apple pie that needs further work.

Let me start this month's peek into my kitchen with a taster of my recipe testing.  I was so excited that one of the recipes for the cookbook by Leigh Drew that I got to test was a batch of vegan cheeseymite scrolls.  They were so good.  Sylvia ate one when it was warm and then refused to eat them once cooled on the grounds that they were "too vegany".  I was so in love with them I could have cried when they were all gone.

I was intrigued at a Kraft version of Nutella.  We all loved it.  E thought it superior to Nutella.  I found that it could be eaten from the spoon.  Sylvia was impressed at adding it to a smoothie.

Recipe testing has had me looking out all sorts of equipment I don't usually use.  I have purchased a new frypan that can go from stovetop to oven.  However I didn't buy pie tins because I have this motley assortment of pin tins from my late maternal grandmother.  I photographed them with a 20cm cake tin beside them to show just how little and cute they are.

Lime spiders are a Christmas tradition in my family.  So when I saw this lime spider soft drink sentimentality gave way to pester power and I bought it for Sylvia to share with her friends at our Christmas in July lunch.  I had a small taste and it was just sweet lemonade without any of the fun or fizz of a spider. 

Another disappointment in the kitchen was this vegetarian jelly.  I am not a huge fan of jelly but Sylvia loves it.  So during a kitchen clear out I found this packet that was best by 2010.  I mixed it up and it never set properly.  Unfortunately because it was so many years out of date I am not sure if that was the problem and I wonder if I should buy more to check.  Sylvia loved eating the swampy jelly and would be happy to test taste!

Not all has been awry in my kitchen.  This packet of Sakata Roast Tomato and Balsamic rice crackers was bought on the recommendation of Kari in her July In My Kitchen post.  We consume a lot of rice crackers here, mostly seaweed.  Kari said that these are her favourite so I wanted to try them.  Sylvia and I were most impressed.  They are part salt and vinegar and part bbq and 100% delicious.

I am not a connoisseur of olive oil.  I love the stuff but don't use a lot in recipes.  However I do love to support a local company.  So while I was entertained by the label on this bottle, the clincher was that the company's address was close to where I live.  Then I was disappointed to read their website and find it full of marketing guff without any real information about the company.  I am yet to open the bottle so I can't tell you much more about the actual oil but it does have a cute photo on the label!

A few weeks ago I had a friend of Sylvia's over and made this tart while they played.  It was a triumph of leftovers.  Pastry that was clogging the freezer, the remainder of a vegan cheese sauce, some cherry tomatoes on the turn, and some leftover sun dried tomato butter.  I fried the tomatoes in the butter til soft and most of the liquid was absorbed and baked them on the cheese and pastry.  It was delicious and was a good snack for the kids.  I think Sylvia preferred the crusts!

It is the time of year when fresh fruit is not at its best (though I bought 3 punnets of strawberries for $6 today) so we have been having lots of smoothies.  I really enjoyed this peach nectar in a smoothie with banana, orange, strawberries, passionfruit and soy milk.

On the weekend I made overnight sourdough bread but it was too cold for it to rise enough to be ready to bake by lunchtime.  Instead I bought some zaatar pizzas from Zaatar on the way home and filled mine with hummus and vegies.  E had Sriracha on his which is his new favourite hot sauce.  The price of the pizzas has risen from $1 to $1.30 but it still makes for a cheap and delicious lunch.

Finally I want to reflect on our meal on Saturday night.  I thought I would make something simple for the main course so I could make apple pie.  It still took me from 4.30 to 7.30 to make dinner.  To be fair, I did spend time speaking to my mum on the phone, getting Sylvia's dinner, breaking the sugar container, and generally organising other things around the house while I made dinner.  There is no such thing as making dinner with no distractions at my house.

Above is a capsicum that I chargrilled over the gas flame because it seemed quicker than roasting it.  I was following a recipe from Ottolenghi for Marinated peppers with pecorino.  I wasn't too impressed with this dish because the marinade was too garlicky.  However I changed so much - chargrilling, no watercress, less cheese and less herbs - that I don't hold Ottolenghi responsible.  I still have some marinated peppers to use in another dish.

I had some shortcrust pastry in the freezer so I decided a pie would be easy as stewing them is pretty straight forward.  However chopping up the apples took quite a while.  I stewed up about 8 granny smith apples (give or take what Sylvia could swipe from the chopping board) with 1/4 cup castor sugar, 1 tbsp brown sugar, a shake of cinnamon and juice of half a lemon.  I cooked them until mostly soft and they then cooked to a lovely soft filling in the pie, though I wondered if they should have had held their shape.

I had decided to serve the marinated peppers with fresh bread, brussels sprouts and tofu besan omelet.  The omelet was meant to be a matter of quickly whizzing up ingredients but as I used a firm tofu instead of a soft one, I found myself having to add lots of milk to reach the right creamy consistency.  Then there was more mixture than usual and it stuck to the bottom of the frypan.  Usually my omelet slides out like a golden disc but this one was a mess on the plate.  It still tasted lovely and the leftovers were eaten in a sandwich and then on mee goreng.  In hindsight scrambled besan would have been quicker.

For dessert we had a slice of apple pie.  The filling was lovely but the pastry was not quite right.  I think part of the problem was that I was using supermarket pastry rather than making my own.  I had some pastry scraps that I rolled out but you can see they were still quite thick on the bottom.  I prebaked the bottom for about 10 minutes which shrunk from the edges and then I couldn't pinch together the top and bottom around the edges.  Brushing the top with milk and sprinkling with sugar was good as the pastry was not sweet.  I baked it for about 40 minutes at 180 C which I think was right and might have been ok if I had not prebaked the bottom.  More experiments are required.  (Hence my recipe notes here to refer back to.)

I had asked E to buy ice cream for the pie because I knew he and Sylvia would like this.  He was in a rush and bought chocolate orange ice cream.  It wasn't what I would have chosen but they enjoyed it.

I am sending this post to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for her In My Kitchen event.  Head over to join in (by 10th of each month) and/or check out what is happening in other bloggers' kitchens. Celia usually has the links to other In My Kitchen posts on her side bar but she has some other pressing issues this month and has asked us to scroll down the comments to find links.

Posted August 04, 2015 10:34 AM by Johanna GGG

August 03, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Steam Junkies

August 1, 2015

Last weekend we headed up to Florence St for a late breakfast before running some errands around Brunswick. We've had half an eye on The Commons for a couple of years - it's a unit block by the railway tracks that has sold itself on its sustainability measures. On an Upfield walk last year we noticed that the ground floor cafe, Steam Junkies, has a few veg options and they've been given a thumbs-up on Green Gourmet Giraffe.

The odds for vegetarians are good, with thirteen of the twenty-two regular menu dishes boasting a V (and almost half the menu including a gluten-free friendly *). Looking beyond the plain toast, though, there's not a lot designed for vegans. Poached eggs and cheeses abound, and there's also a curious preponderance of quinoa.

Michael's plate captured their poached eggs-on-superfoods style, starting with quinoa toast and a mound of garlic sauteed kale and spinach, dotted with dried cranberries, almond flakes and goats curd with a couple of asparagus spears too ($16). His coffee and eggs met with the high standards expected of inner-north cafes, and he liked the way the cranberries broke up the green theme.

Budgeting on a two-meal day, I made my first one a haloumi burger ($13.50). The cheese was rolled in sesame seeds and one of the lightest I've encountered, with barely a squeak to be had, not to mention voluminous! Really, look at it. There was double the cheese this burger needed. But instead of playing haloumi Jenga, I elected to eat this a half at a time, first with the relish-smeared brioche top and second with the tomato, mayo and rocket. The tangy dressings and side salad of rocket, cherry tomatoes, apple and radish were my ideal complements to the cheese, and I capped it all off with a frothy freshly squeezed orange juice ($6).

With its communal table, bike racks and polished concrete floor, Steam Junkies does everything you'd expect of a Brunswick cafe. Their egg-and-quinoa menu is a mite less predictable, and the haloumi burger is unforgettable - they could well have their niche.


Bloggers have been unanimously positive about Steam Junkies - see fellow vegetarian Green Gourmet Giraffe and omnivorous bloggers A Place A Day, makelovetotheworld and CHOMP AND SLURP.

Steam Junkies
1/7-9 Florence St, Brunswick
9973 4309
regular menu, specials
facebook page

Accessibility: The entry is flat and wide with a sliding door. Tables are generously spaced, with a mixture of low backless stools, benches and slightly rickety chairs (a couple of infants' high chairs are also available). We didn't visit the toilets, but observed another customer borrowing a key from staff to access them outside the cafe. We ordered at the table and paid at a low-ish counter.

Posted August 03, 2015 09:34 PM by Cindy


A Vegan Christmas In July Dinner at Shu, Collingwood

Shu Restaurant in Collingwood has been at the top of my must-eat list for a while. Every Wednesday evening is dedicated to vegan dining but arghghgh, we’re usually always busy on Wednesday. So I was pretty excited to receive an email from Shu inviting me to a vegan Christmas in July degustation evening on a night...
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Posted August 03, 2015 12:56 PM

quinces and kale

dad and dave’s

berry pancakes

I headed west on Sunday for brunch to meet some friends that had recently moved to Melbourne.  We settled on Dad and Dave’s, a cute café amongst cute cafés in Yarraville. I’m always amused by the trendiness of Yarraville. Having grown up in the west, nobody would have been caught dead there when I was a kid. But it is lovely, with beautiful houses and a nice village feel. It always was, but it suffered from being in the not very desirable western suburbs. Things have changed.

While not a vegan café, Dad and Dave’s has had some good reports on vegan social media.

The café itself is cosy with a cute homey feel. The display cases are full of good looking cakes and other treats, some of them vegan.

There are four vegan or veganisable options on menu for breakfast. We ate two of them, the corn fritters with avocado and a beetroot chutney and the berry pancakes with maple syrup. Both were very good.

The service was friendly, the serves generous and the coffee great.


corn fritters with avocado and beetroot relish


Dad and Dave’s
27-29 Birmingham Street,
Yarraville, 3013
03 9314 3038

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Posted August 03, 2015 10:00 AM

Thoughts Of A Moni

Bowery To Williamsburg

I am rarely in the CBD for breakfast or brunch, always preferring a more local option. Last week however, we were in the city on a Saturday morning picking up our race packs for Run Melbourne (which I ran a PB for by the way!), so I decided we should take the opportunity to check out a cafe that we wouldn’t otherwise frequent.

I didn’t have anywhere particular in mind, so I actually used the Zomato app (!) and found that Bowery to Williamsburg was a short walk away. It had a pretty good rating, and I vaguely recalled reading some good reviews about it, so I thought we should give it ago.

Located in a typical Melbourne laneway, we arrived at the cafe only to find a line outside. I was starving, and really didn’t want to wait, but luckily the line was moving fairly quickly so we decided to persevere. It wasn’t long before we were seated, although unfortunately we were seated outside which wasn’t ideal for a winter day in Melbourne. Luckily the rain and wind held off so it wasn’t too unpleasant.

We had already checked out the specials board while we were waiting in the line, so when it came time to place our drinks orders the other half wasted no time in ordering a jam donut milkshake. This milkshake flavour sounded amazing, and whilst the strawberry jam flavour was definitely prevalent, it missed the mark a little bit with any donut flavour. To me it felt like they had just added some strawberry jam into the milkshake mixture. It was a welcome addition, but nothing too special. I decided to just stick to water this time, making sure I was well hydrated for the run on Sunday.

We were actually pretty late for breakfast, so instead we were handed the brunch menu to order from. The main difference between the two was that there were no bagels on the brunch menu, however there were a few crossovers with the lunch menu instead, so I guess it evened out. There was a clear New York feel to the menu, with potato latkes, grits and even a Reuben sandwich!

I decided to go for an eggy option and chose the Turkish shakshouka baked eggs which were served with pita bread. The sauce had chickpeas and was topped with onion jam and paprika yogurt. The serving was very generous with two large pieces of pita bread and three eggs! Yes, three! I don’t think I’ve ever had a breakfast with three eggs!

This dish was very delicious and there was little to fault with it. If I had to pick something, it would be the fact that I would probably prefer Turkish bread instead of pita bread, but this was a minor issue. The eggs were cooked well, and the oozy yolk mixed in with the rich tomato sauce and yogurt provided a great dipping sauce for the bread.

The other half went for a meatier option and chose the Cuban braised pork. This involved a rather large mound of pork set atop sweet potato bread, served with refried black beans, corn, guacamole and a couple of fried eggs.

Once again this was a very generous serving with no skimping on the proteins. The verdict was that the sweet potato bread was something special, and probably the highlight of the dish.

Overall Bowery to Williamsburg provided us with a great breakfast in the CBD. Whilst I don't like waiting in queues, in this case it proved that good food is worth the wait.

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Posted August 03, 2015 09:00 AM by Moni

August 02, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Don Don, ACMI and Blur

Last year I met with some former colleagues for lunch at Don Don.  I think I might have been there many years ago with some friends from our travels who absolutely raved about the place.  Since then E and I have been there for a few quick and cheap dinners before going out, the last one being last week before seeing Blur.

Before Sylvia was born, we were fans of Gopals for its quick and cheap food.  If you don't want any choice about your meal then Don Don is every bit as quick and cheap, maybe more.  I have been enjoying it but it is not all vegetarian like Gopals.  The menu is small.  Vegetarians have a choice of tofu curry don, soba salad and miso soup.  I have stuck with the tofu curry don which is a bargain at $5.90. 

It is indeed cheap and cheerful with plastic bowls and spoons.  The tofu curry don consists of lots of rice and Japanese curry sauce with tofu, a token vegetable (I have had zucchini and cauliflower) and some pickled vegies.  The meal is pretty basic and not as generous with vegies as I would prefer.  But for the price it is a decent feed.

After dinner we had enough time to go to ACMI Cafe for coffee and cake.  It is some time since we have been there.  When Sylvia was a baby and went where we went, we visited quite a bit.  (Unlike these days when we go where she goes!)  So I couldn't help looking out at the highchairs and space for strollers to see that it is still very child friendly.  I suspect that Sylvia would love the booths that are new since our last visit.

E had a coffee with a very nice biscuit.  The range of herbal teas was too limited for my tastes so I had a ginger beer with a slice of warm chocolate mud cake with lots of lovely gooey ganache on top.

The main event was the Blur concert at the Rod Laver Arena.  I didn't take a lot of notice of Blur when they were at the height of their fame but I have great memories of dancing to their music in nightclubs and of spending time with friends in London who were the sort of fans who lived for backstage passes to Blur gigs.  The band is also a sentimental favourite because one of the CDs that E bought when we were first going out was a Blur EP.

When E and I left the concert we turned to one another and said, wow that was so much better that I expected.  It was a fantastic concert.  Even sitting up the back, we were immersed in the energy of this amazing band, though shielding our eyes from the intense light show at times.  Their songs are beautiful and moody and cheeky and fun.  The band members are such fascinating people.  (Did you know that the drummer is a practicing criminal lawyer, a computer animator and a political activist?)  It was their first gig in Melbourne for 18 years and I am so glad we were there because who knows when their next gig will be.

Don Don
198 Little Lonsdale Street, CBD, Melbourne
Tel: 03 9670 7113

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Posted August 02, 2015 11:12 PM by Johanna GGG

July 31, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Paneer tikka masala and Spinach and chickpea curry

It was the end of a busy week during the school holidays.  I was late making dinner, E was late home and Sylvia was late to watch her film.  She bore it well, ate beans on toast while I chopped and fried and stirred.  She complained about the noise of the paneer frying and then snuggled up with us on the couch to watch How to train your dragon.

I had been meaning to make the Paneer Tikka Masala for some time.  At the start of the week I had made dahl to eat with the masala.  It took me a week to find time to make the masala so fortunately we had the big pot of dahl to tide us.  By the end of the week I still had some left. It made a fine accompaniment to the masala.

The masala seemed to last a long time.  I made a cauliflower in spicy peanut gravy (with cashews instead of peanuts and peas instead of the leafy greens) that I had made years ago and it was really nice but very grey.  I made the sauce in my high speed blender which made it smoother than my previous attempt. 

A night or two later I made another curry with spinach and chickpeas.  The recipe methodology needed some slight tweaking to work for me so.  However it was a great simple fast recipe that I hope to make again.  I particularly like that it uses lots of chickpeas for those on the aquafaba bandwagon.

I was very pleased to have three curries to serve together.  I love lots of curries but only manage to make them on different nights.  However by the time I had eaten the spinach and chickpea curry over a few nights I had had my fill of curries.  I blended the leftovers with some vegies to make a very good soup.

I am sending the Paneer tikka masala to Gluten Free Fridays and the Spinach and chickpea curry to Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More curries from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana Curry (gf, v)
Beetroot, Greens and Chickpea Curry (gf. v)
Chana Masala (gf, v)
Chickpea and potato curry with mango chutney (gf, v)
Chickpeas and paneer in a spicy creamy cashew gravy (gf)
Spicy pea curry (gf, v)
Watermelon Curry (gf, v)

Paneer Tikka Masala
Slightly adapted from Ivy, Phyllis and Me
Serves 6

4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of chilli paste
3-4 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
400g tin of tomatoes or 3 fresh large tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock (or less)
600g paneer cheese, cut into cubes
1 tsp of salt

Brown onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan.  Stir the ginger and garlic in for 1 minute.  Stir in the spices to make a paste.  Gradually stir in the yoghurt and then then tin of tomatoes.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the stock and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.  It should reduce thought mine didn't that much.  (However once it had sat for an hour or two it thickened a lot.)

While tomato mixture is simmering, fry paneer in remaining oil over medium high heat until golden brown.  I did this in two batches.

Mix tomato mixture, fried paneer and salt.  Cook another 2 to 3 minutes and serve with rice or naan bread.

Spinach and chickpea curry
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Serves 4-6

1 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp mild curry paste (I used Rogan Josh)
400g tin of tomatoes
2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
250g baby spinach
squeeze lemon juice
basmati rice, to serve

Fry the onion in oil until soft.  Stir in curry paste for a minute or two.  Add tomatoes and chickpeas.  Cook on medium to medium high for about 5 minutes until thicken slightly. Add spinach and cover for about a minute or two until it is wilting.  Stir in seasoning and lemon juice.  Serve with rice.

On the stereo:
Melt: Straightjacket Fits

Posted July 31, 2015 12:54 PM by Johanna GGG

July 29, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


July 20-21, 2015

I had a speedy few days in Perth last week and hassled Steph for dining tips. She gave Formosa/Utopia the thumbs up, so I swung by a couple of times to suss it out. It’s tucked away in Northbridge, in a little courtyard back from the street a bit, so keep your eyes peeled to avoid walking straight past. Once you’re in, you’ve got to figure out the ordering process – the best thing to do is grab a menu, a pen and a little form for ordering and settle in at a table. The menu is humungous, with something like 200 dishes to choose from (plus seemingly millions of bubble tea and related drinks). Everything is pretty clearly labelled – I’d guess about half the dishes are vegan and spice levels are marked. It’s not cheap, but it’s not outrageous either – most mains are between $16 and $20. It’s heavy on the mock meat, although there are enough veggie and tofu based dishes if that’s not your thing.

To order, you fill out the form with the code from the menu and take it up to the counter – they double check what you’ve ordered, so there shouldn’t be any confusion even if your handwriting is as bad as mine. On my first visit I ordered the vegan version of the tom yum chicken ($16.50) with a side of the fried crispy mushrooms ($6) and rice for one ($2.50). This was way too much food, which is always the risk when you’re dining alone and trying to sample as much of the menu as possible.

On my first few mouthfuls I was mad for the mushrooms – crispy, salty and with a nice spicy dipping sauce – but I gradually tired of them as I went on. You should probably hold off on these unless you’re sharing, the mushroomy texture got a bit overwhelming as the batter cooled down and lost its crisp. Still – five stars for the first 10 or so. The tom yum chicken was a complete success, a nice mix of hot and sour flavours in the soup and a decent amount of veggies to go along with the mock chicken.

On my return trip I took Steph’s advice and ordered the fried kuay teow ($11.50) and was once again unable to resist some accompaniment, going with the salted fried chicken ($9). For some reason the chicken isn’t marked vegan, which confused me a bit – maybe there’s egg in the batter?

Either way, it’s delicious – crispy and salty and impressively chicken-y. The texture works better than the mushrooms over a whole plate too. The noodles were solid as well – a rich, smoky wok hei, dotted with sprouts, greens, tofu and a few chunks of mysterious mock meat.

You wouldn’t really go to Utopia for the ambience – it’s brightly lit, simply furnished and there’s nothing fancy about the service. Still – there’s a lot going for it: the staff are friendly, the menu ridiculously long and the food that I sampled a pretty decent version of mock-meat heavy vego Chinese food. They’re open late, they do a good line in bubble tea and they’ve got a karaoke room out the back somewhere – you can see why Utopia is a Perth vego favourite.


There are positive reviews of Utopia on vegan about town, foodieatwork and watermelon3.


109 James St, Northbridge, Western Australia
08 9227 0238
menus: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve
facebook page

Accessibility: The restaurant access is up a flight of stairs (although there may be a lift somewhere - I forgot to check). You order and pay at a low counter. The toilets are gendered and accessible.

Posted July 29, 2015 08:49 PM by Michael

July 28, 2015

Green Gourmet Giraffe

N.Tran Bakery and a day out in Prahran

I had a fun trip to Prahran with a friend last week.  Carmen had invited me to along to a library session on Twitter.  The day was looking promising when we found a parking spot easily.  That is quite an achievement around Chapel Street.

The information session was interesting and makes me think maybe I will open a Twitter account when I have some time.  Though perhaps the most fascinating moments were when an old guy on roller blades turned up at the doorway of the session just to watch and looking at the swastikas in the library tiles on the way out.  (The building was no doubt built before Hitler sullied the swastika.)

We enjoyed looking up at all the wonderful old buildings.  And browsing in some of the shops beneath.

I enjoyed checking out some street art nearby.  It is great to get out in a different part of Melbourne from my usual inner North. 

Then we had lunch at N.Tran Bakery.  I had the vegetarian salad roll with tofu (banh mi).  It was freshly made and filled with lovely vegies and tasty slices of tofu.  My only regret was that I ordered the standard salad and didn't think to ask for some beetroot in it.  Carmen had the rice paper rolls which were huge.

We had been lucky to order before the rush arrived but as we ate in store we were amazed that it got quite busy.  We paid Prahran prices ($7) but it was a really good lunch.  Satisfied we got in the car to go home and got terribly lost when we missed a turn and found ourselves exploring many no through roads by Southbank.  Luckily we were happy to chat as we drove - or perhaps this was why we got lost in the first place.  Next time we will listen to the GPS.

N.Tran Bakery
263 Chapel Street, Prahran
03 9525 0889

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Posted July 28, 2015 11:34 AM by Johanna GGG

Thoughts Of A Moni

Queen Victoria Winter Night Markets

During winter, whilst most Melbournians are hidden away indoors in the warmth, in their ugg boots on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate, those of us willing to brave the elements are in for a treat. For the fourth year running, every Wednesday night until August 26, the Queen Victoria Market comes alive for the Winter Night Markets. While night markets in Australia are usually synonymous with summer, sangria and live music, The Queen Vic winter night markets borrow a bit of inspiration from the European Christmas night markets and then put a quintessentially Melbourne slant on them.

The weather may be cold and inclement outdoors, but once you are under the canopy of the market, a beautiful warmth embraces you. There are open pit fires lit up across the market, and everywhere people are huddled around them eating their delicious treats. The fires are cordoned off so there is no fear of falling in!

There are lots of little stalls set up with everything from tarot cards and fortune telling, ecologically friendly soaps, knitted scarves and beanies, all the way to some typically Melbourne artwork. There was also a very cool roaming silent disco which involved a big pack of people dancing around the market with headphones on! I was very tempted to join them!

My eyes were firmly on the prize though, and I quickly made my way to all the food stalls to decide what I should eat.

Food is an integral part of the markets and there is plenty of variety on offer. There is everything from soup, to skewers, to a pop up 400 Gradi stand making pizzas! I made sure to remember that my stomach had a limited capacity and carefully made my choices for the night.

The first thing we tried was a hot apple cider. This had been recommended to me earlier in the week, so I knew that I had to tick this off my list. Think of apple pie in liquid form, and you will have the flavour of this hot apple cider. It was delicious with strong overtones of those typically winter spices in cinnamon and cloves. The drink was served with a little cinnamon donut as a garnish and together they proved to be the perfect start to the night.

We then moved on to the entrees. Our initial plan was to have skewers, a vegetable skewer for me and a chicken skewer for the other half, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?!) the Poppy's Thai stall had run out of vegetable skewers. The other half had a chicken skewer, which he said was delicious, and instead I lined up and got myself some cassava chips from the Mr. Cassava van. The last time I had cassava chips was in the Amazon jungle in an eco lodge, so I held them in pretty high regard, but luckily Mr. Cassava came through with the goods. These chips were just as good as I remembered them to be, a marginally denser texture than normal potato chips and with a slight earthy taste. Unfortunately, I was too eager to eat them, and forgot to take a photo of them, so you’re just going to have to trust me when I say that the serve was very generous for a snack portion.

Next we moved to mains. Again, via another recommendation, I had heard rave reviews about The Little Mushroom Co so I decided a burger from here was necessary. With a choice of quite a few burgers, I settled on the Ultra Mexican Mushroom Burger. I’m not sure how much of the burger was Mexican, let alone ultra Mexican, but it was definitely ultra tasty. There was a big portabello mushroom, a generous slice of haloumi, some spicy chipotle mayo, balsamic, and parmesan all served in a ciabatta bun. It was a great burger and made me realise that I could easily replicate this at home! My only criticism was that it was a touch on the small side but other than that there were no complaints.

I probably could have eaten more, and there were a fair few other stalls that caught my eye, but I forced myself to exercise restraint and didn’t eat any more. At least it gives me an excuse to go back another night!

Posted July 28, 2015 09:15 AM by Moni

July 27, 2015

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Pear & caramel icecream

July 18-19, 2015

Last week I enthusiastically renewed our vege box order with CERES.... except that I actually ordered an all-fruit box instead of a mixed fruit & veg box. We were beset by multitudes of bananas, apples, kiwi fruits, oranges and grapefruit, more than a dozen mandarins, a couple of limes and four pears. We've been working through them - stirring the limes into creme fraiche for sweet potato wedges, packing apples into our bags for work and punctuating our days at home with mandarin peeling. I made a big batch of rice pudding to enjoy with the kiwi fruits and some apple & walnut pancakes once, too. The bananas are only just ripe now.

Three of the four pears went into this David Lebovitz icecream recipe, prepared for dessert when we had some friends over. They're cooked in caramel, blended smooth, then strained and churned into a rich, velvety scoop. The caramel procedure, which I've used for salted caramel icecreams, always gets me nervous - it teeters on burning in some spots while others wait their turn to melt. The flavour in the mixture stayed just on the right side of bitter and mellowed out a lot during churning and freezing. The pear ended up playing subtle too - sweet and fruity pre-churn, later forming flecks of texture and leaving just a whisper of flavour. It was rather upstaged by the excellent chocolate self-saucing pudding that one of our guests brought, and we've made a point of eating the leftovers without that kind of delicious distraction.

The most striking feature of this dessert was the 48% milk fat cream that I used. It made for a rich, languorous icecream that was easy to scoop and didn't melt, even after half a hour of sitting at the table, waiting for us to serve seconds.

Pear & caramel icecream
(a recipe from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop)

3 medium-sized ripe pears
3/4 cup castor sugar
500mL heavy cream
pinch of salt
a squeeze of lemon juice

Peel the pears and remove their cores. Dice them up finely.

Place the sugar in a medium saucepan and set it over consistent medium heat. Given enough time, the sugar will liquefy and turn brown. You can use a wooden spoon to gently shift the unmelted sugar towards the heat.

When the sugar has entirely melted to amber caramel, add the pears. A bunch of the caramel will seize up around the pears, but don't worry about it - just keep stirring the pears into the caramel and allowing the sugar to melt back down. Let it all to cook, stirring regularly, for about 10-15 minutes, until the pear is tender.

Turn off the heat and add the cream - just a couple of tablespoons to start, and then bigger and bigger portions until it's all well mixed. Stir in the salt and lemon juice. Refrigerate the mixture until it's very cold, preferably overnight.

When the mixture is very cold, use a stick blender to puree the pears until they're as smooth as possible. Strain the mixture to make sure the worst fibrous bits are out. Churn the smooth icecream mixture an icecream maker and freeze it for at least 4 hours before serving.

Posted July 27, 2015 04:09 PM by Cindy