Sunday, 27 September 2015

[wa] community gardening and vegie good times

On a really quick visit to Perth last week, and the highlight was probably visiting the community garden at my childhood church.

This used to be a whole lot of junky, empty land out behind the church. Pat, a member of the congregation, went to a Living Smart course - a course I used to facilitate (!!!), Living Smart is a series of workshops about living sustainably in your community in WA, and was designed by Earth Carers and is totally excellent. ANYWAY, during the course of the course, they all agreed that 'community gardens' was an essential component of supporting and growing one's community. And Pat was all 'we have this empty land, it could totally hold a garden', and this community garden was born.

I love this garden so much! It's maintained in conjunction with the Swan View Community Association, and uses this unused space, and builds community. The produce goes to another local church, who have a soup kitchen twice a week (though of course people working in the garden take some bits and pieces home). It has pushed this aging church community out into the wider community, and also brought some of the wider community into the church community. There's also some involvement with the local high school (Swan View Senior High). And it's so adorable, to see these people (and this building) that I've known since I was a wee penguin in a different light.

This photo to the right is my mum harvesting kale, a vegetable she's never before cooked. On the day I visited, they were having a sustainability fair as a part of Sustainable Open House Day. I'm actually having a word with them, because their sausage sizzle was Classic Bunnings (white bread, cheap meat sausages), and their crochet was Classic Church Fete (crocheted coat hangers and crocheted tissue boxes) and their apple pies were only $3, and I may not believe in their God but they are adorable and I definitely want them to make crochets that the hipsters would want to buy. ANYWAY, way adorable.

If you're a Perthie in the Greenmount/Swanview/Midland area, you can visit the garden on Tuesday mornings (and the church, Uniting, on Sundays at 9:30, if that's your jam).


The rest of my trip to Perth was mostly food. Visited Mt Lawley staple Veggie Mama for a delicious plate of curries and salads, and took myself out to breakfast at Swan Valley Cafe. Both are exclusively vegetarian. Swan Valley Cafe has always specialised in teas but has recently branched out to include matcha lattes, and it was a lovely one. My breakfast there was beans on toast - their bread is all gluten free, and really lovely, and the beans were EXCELLENT. There was zucchini and capsicum in them, and they were served on one trillion cherry tomatoes and spinach leaves, with lots of avocado. My only complaint was how quickly it went cold.

At Veggie Mama I always get the 'Mama's Curry' as one of my curries, with a beautiful creamy potato and fried tofu mix of amazingness, as well as whatever other curries catch my eye. Veggie Mama specialises in fresh juices and fantastic salads, and always has something interesting going on in the sweets department.

Good Perth times, except for the rain, what is UP with that. (Ans: climate change)

Veggie Mama
Cnr Beaufort + Vincent
Mount Lawley
Get there on any bus going along Beaufort Street to the city
There's a seated area that's accessible, but ordering takes place at a counter that's up a half-flight of stairs. Takes CC. Never been there at night but during the day it's so well lit.

Swan Valley Vegetarian Cafe
990 Great Northern Highway
Get there in your automobile, and drink at some wineries on your way out again. Lots of ramp access, both into the restaurant and around to the garden in the back. CC available. Well lit and very quiet. Includes an attached tea shop and nursery.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

[fitzroy] cider house

very rice-y, vegetable-y nasi gorengRolled into The Cider House this arvo, looking for a place to take my out of town friends. I haven't been there in an age and I wanted to try some of the vegan goodness on their menu.

No regrets, my friends. I had the nasi goreng and it was so good. I never order SEAzn food from "modern Australian" kinds of restaurants, because I'm always disappointed; they're a little too fusion and not enough wok hei as appropriate for my tastes. This was worth it, though. The tempeh was so perfect kering tempeh (and there was a lot of it), there was so much sambal and it was spicy, it was all flavoursome and delicious. I will totally eat it again. It made me very happy. My only sadface was that it was a little toooo saucy (like me).

I also ordered the sweet potato wedges and though it was an awkward combination, my only regret is that I was too bao le to finish them.

Cider: Cheeky Rascal Raspberry + Apple

Cider House
386 Brunswick Street

Get there on the 11 tram, stop Leicester St. I am pretty sure there's a step into the restaurant, lighting is good during the day and poor during the evening. The tables are awkwardly close together and there's a high risk of couches with low tables. CC available.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

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.

Friday, 21 August 2015

[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

Saturday, 8 August 2015

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.

Friday, 20 March 2015

lemon myrtle and macadamia nut biscuits

Housemate Bella has some AMAZING biscuit recipes up her sleeve, and this is one of them. It's one of my favourites because a) LEMON MYRTLE, b) we have a lemon myrtle tree. If you don't have a lemon myrtle tree, you can just buy them ground. No pictures because they didn't really turn out but you must eat these ASAP. I'm eating one right now. 

Lemon myrtle and macadamia nut biscuits

You will need:

200g vegan margarine
100g white sugar
225g macadamias (chopped)
225g flour
some lemon myrtle leaves (fresh or dried)

If you're not using a blender, chop the macadamias and lemon myrtle leaves first. 


Preheat your oven to 200°C

Cream margarine and sugar (in a blender or with a whisk). Add your macadamias and mix until all the pieces are blended in. Mix in your lemon myrtle leaves. Add your flour. Mixture should be a bit crumbly but stick together well. 

Roll into balls roughly the size of a golf ball. Put them on a tray greased or lined with baking paper.

Bake for 10-15 mins, until they're a little bit brown on top. Wait until the tray is cool, then put them on a cooling rack.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

misc christmas party noms

The flattie (Bella) and I hosted a Christmas party last night! We did minimal catering because we were too busy and I only got home at 1700 and our first guest arrived at 1805 (as per our invites), but I did prepare a few things.

I made crunchy chewy clusters, which I've been obsessed with ever since Cindy first introduced me to them (at the same time as I introduced her to If You Are the One, so it was a fair trade). HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

I basically only sort of use Cindy and Michael's recipe, and what I made last night was so amazing that when I tried to pack the last handful away, Ral scooted up to me and shoved them all in his mouth.

I melt 100g of dark chocolate couverture. While it's melting I combine a cup worth of dried fruit, usually goji berries, white mulberries, and 3 or so dried bananas (note these are like liquorice rather than banana chips), diced small, with a third of a cup of cashews. When the chocolate is melted I add a pinch of salt and a third of a cup of desiccated coconut, then mix the fruit and nuts until they're all covered. Put them on a baking tray that has baking paper on it (important! for non-stick), and then fridge them for an hour. Done. Delicious. So much yum.

I also made pizza pinwheels, ginger and five spice biscuits cut into sharks and penguins, and gluten free Swedish jam thumbprint cookies, and that's a recipe I've been using forever and highly recommend.

There's no picture of the food, so here's a picture of us in our Christmas party clothes.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

CANCELLED: VegMel Picnic!

OH NO WE ARE CANCELLING THIS EVENT. Please stand by for rescheduling. Sorry for the short notice! 


VEGMEL IS FIVE. It happened about two weeks ago, so five and a bit, but birthdays can last for ages.

To celebrate, as we do every year, we are having a picnic!

Come for vegan noms, friendly vego faces, and to talk crap. We'll be in Princes Park, up near the bowls club and the pond. Bring a vegan plate and a picnic blanket, or just yourself.

This event is open to all, not just bloggers. It's always fun! (I promise)

Sunday, October 5
1pm - 4pm
Princes Park
near the bowls club

Facebook event

Monday, 11 August 2014

comfort, lazy noodle soup and other favourite comfort foods

A friend asked me for my top five favourite things to cook, and I listed them as follows:

Kari Kapitan (often with oyster mushrooms and firm tofu instead of the mock chicken)
Lentil Ragu + long pasta (sometimes also with tempeh)
yellow Dahl
Pasta Salad made with whatever is in the house (and, hopefully, five spice tempeh)

However then I realised I had missed one, because I have never previously blogged it; mostly, because I have never considered it worth blogging. Here, then, is one of the laziest things in my cooking repertoire: noodle soup.

Please note that when I say lazy, I mean it is lazy for me. Your laziness may vary. It is also a very flexible, forgiving recipe. You can add and subtract as you deem necessary (though I really mean it about the star anise).

makes: about two portions

2 star anise
1 carrot
2 or 3 bok choy (or a whole lot of chinese cabbage)
dark soy (you don't want it to go dark brown but you want it shaded - 3 tablespoons? less? something like that)
2 fresh chillis
5 cups water
1 tsp dry powdered stock, if you have it
1 inch fresh ginger, washed but not peeled

whatever noodles or tofu or frozen dumplings you have lying around the house, suitable for 2 people
any other vegies or whatever that you deem appropriate

Bring water to a boil in a pot. In the meantime julienne the carrot, saving the ends; cut off the ends of the bok choy. Throw these ends, plus the star anise, soy, chilli, stock and ginger into the pot. Reduce heat and let simmer for twenty minutes, lid on but ajar. When it smells AMAZING, add your vegetables and noodles and dumplings as appropriate. I like to use a stick of rice noodles and two cakes of yellow mee, already soaked in hot water and rinsed to remove the starch. If I'm using firm tofu I'll add it at the same time as the carrots to give it the opportunity to soak in the flavour. Add the bok choy leaves and stems separate from each other, but near the end. But not so near the end that they're not soft. SOFT BOK CHOY/CHINESE CABBAGE IS LIFE.


Remove the star anise, carrot ends and ginger before serving, unless you really want to eat boiled star anise (I don't recommend it).

I often eat with extra soy+chilli sauce that I make at the beginning of the process, which gives the chilli and the soy time to infuse each other.

This stock, with the same things but bigger proportions, is good for all sorts of chinese vego cooking. Also add garlic cloves (peeled) and oyster mushrooms to the stock while it's going for a fuller flavour. Very authentic. TRUST ME. TRUST THIS AZN FACE.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

bare burger [various locations, nyc]

My first and last nights in NYC saw me dining on food from Bare Burger. After being collected from La Guardia and depositing my belongings, I walked with my hosts to Bare Burger in Astoria, where the staff were friendly and delightful, offering advice, opinions and the ingredients list as required.

We started with two serves of fries: one sweet potato (or "yam", which is often not actually yam), and one of not sweet potato. This is served with a whole lot of sauces, which our waiter kindly replaced with some other options, more vegan, for me.

Bare Burger has a whole lot of options, but both times I've eaten there now I delighted in the Barest of Burgers, which is where you get to pick everything! I went with the wholemeal bun and filled it with this amazing black bean patty, smoke house sauce, avocado, tomato, spinach and mushrooms.

I'm not ashamed to say that tonight, my last night in NYC, we stayed in to do some work and ordered delivery from Bare Burger and I ordered something very, very similar. It was a good nom choice, as they also do gluten-free and were totally lovely. (Also there is vegan cake on the dessert menu)

Bare Burger
33-21 31st Avenue (also has other locations)

Thursday, 3 July 2014

grasslands [toronto]

I know it’s a big call, but breakfast at Grasslands was the best meal I had during my time in Canada, despite the amazing pie at The Wallflower. 

At first we were really only going because it was one of the few places that could cater for vegans and coeliacs and also took bookings. But it was so good. SO. GOOD. 

Having had a big night before (we got back to our accommodation at well after midnight, having consumed many alcohols, spent the day in the sun, and hung out in an indoor hotel pool for many hours), it was with a gentle stride that we navigated our way on public transport to Grasslands, located on Queen Street West. 

We arrived to find a beautiful puppy lying across the doorstep, and I fell upon a lovely coffee. 

I wanted to eat everything on the menu, but in the end went for the Hangover Helper, on the grounds that I was a bit delicate. The Hangover Helper is comprised of scrambled tofu (with mushrooms and daiya cheese), salsa, guacamole, spinach (which I asked to be withheld), toast, chips, salad and watermelon. The tofu was a lovely texture with the daiya adding a slightly cheesy creamyness. The salsa and guacamole added a nice little flavour, and then I added a big of sriracha sauce for a little spice and it was perrrrfect. The salad was bland but a nice addition to the friedness of the rest of it, and finishing it off with three slices of watermelon was just right. 

ALSO AMAZING: the bite of french toast I had; the bite of gluten-free waffle I had, so light and fluffy and, as Dr F said, you couldn't tell it was gf + vegan at all (unlike the pancakes at Fresh, so sad). 

I am disappointed that I didn't get a chance to return to Grasslands. If you get a chance, HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 

478 Queen St W

Stairs to enter and down to the toilets. Payment at the table. CC accepted. Lighting okay but it was daytime.  Get there on the streetcar. Service really helpful and lovely. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

fresh on bloor [toronto]

Being located close to my Toronto accommodation, and being a vegetarian restaurant with a weekend brunch option, we ended up at Fresh on Bloor. Fresh has four locations and makes some really interesting dishes and juices, with a menu I was super in to.

So, after a morning wandering the queer area of downtown Toronto and getting interviewed on Toronto TV re: Pride (during which I admired a unicorn costume as "like being bi, because we don't exist, we're either one or the other" and said "Canadia"), Tris and I wandered down to Fresh and met up with some of the other members of our girl gang. 

Several Australians insisted I order a “bowl” at Fresh, and despite Fi demanding I order the beach bowl, instead I was drawn to the green goddess bowl, with broccoli, tempeh, sunflower seeds and kale and bok choy in tahini and ginger tamari sauce. I ordered the baby size, with udon noodles. It was SO GOOD and the perfect size and I must make it as soon as I get home, I loved the sauce and the beautiful fresh raw broccoli and the sunflower seeds. With warm udon but raw veggies, it was perfect for a humid Toronto afternoon, before we adventured on to the Bata Shoe Museum (also an excellent use of my Toronto time). I also went with the gingersnap power shake, matcha, ginger, strawberry, blueberry, banana, maple syrup and almond milk. It was very unexpected and strong but I loved it.

We noticed a breakfast menu and returned when Fresh opened at 10:30 on Sunday in order to sample it. After the amazing lunch on Friday, followed by a stunning brunch at the vegan Grasslands on Saturday (more on that in another post), I had high hopes. Sadly, it was not able to reach the heights of the previous meals, with my banana nut pancake platter (2 pancakes, tofu scramble, tempeh bacon) a bit average. The pancakes were vegan and gluten free and, as much as it pains me to say it, you could tell; and my coffee was sickly sweet. 

So, Fresh. I would go back for lunch, to eat many of the things on the menu, and also for dinner; but I’d rethink the breakfast. 

326 Bloor Street West

(also other locations)

Toilets down a flight of stairs. Step to enter; tightly packed tables. Ordering and CC/payments at the table. Good lighting. 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

magic oven [toronto]

Retrieved from the plane and escorted via PT to my home for my stay in Toronto, I gathered with my international girl gang at Magic Oven on Danforth Avenue in Toronto. Magic Oven is a delightful pizza restaurant that caters to a variety of diets (including vegan and gluten free), lets you modify anything as much as you wish, and allowed us to ask a million questions and stay for a long time as we drank wine and ate pizza.

Despite the presence of several good looking vegan pizzas on the menu, I decided to build my own. I went for a wholemeal base, with tomato + garlic sauce, daiya, sweet potato, thyme roasted mushrooms, and something infused spinach (I can’t remember, it was three days ago). It was so gooooooood. It was a really happy introduction to Toronto’s vegan food. 

There was also vegan cake and vegan mousse available but regrettably I was too full to even consider it. 

No pictures because you know what pizza looks like. 

798 Danforth Ave (and other locations)

Stairs everywhere. CC payment at table. Okay lighting. Super accommodating. We have started calling it Magic Coven and I like it. Would eat there again. 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

the wallflower [vancouver]

I found out about The Wallflower by accident, trying to find somewhere to eat in downtown Vancouver. Immediately I knew it was something I wanted to try: their vegan shepherd’s pie, the internet said, was EXCELLENT. (And it was)

Overwhelmed by choice, E helped me out by suggesting we share a small poutine, which we did: as first poutines go, it was pretty excellent. I spent some time asking questions about how it compared to actual poutine and what an actual poutine contains (the closest I ever come is the Lord’s French Canadian), and A, an unrepentant meat eater and on-off resident of Canada for some time, says that it was pretty close. 

I also ordered a small mac and cheese, and, of course, the vegan shepherd’s pie. I couldn’t finish either, and I was worried I had made a mistake, but oh, my quokkas, I had not. The leftovers went into the fridge but they didn't remain there for very long, and it was with great delight that I ate them (and am thinking about that mac and cheese even now).

The shepherd’s pie was heavy and meaty and filled with mushrooms and something ground, and gravy, and topped with a crispy, cheesy potato. The filling was peppery and spicy, and I usually hate pepper but it worked perfectly with the filling so I couldn’t help but want more. The mac and cheese was cheesy and creamy and I wanted to eat more but I also wanted to save it for my lunch the next day! 

The side salad was fine but covered in a grossly sweet vinegarette. Ugh. The salad did not come home with me.

SO GOOD. RECOMMEND. Don’t look too closely at the wallpaper: it’s covered in wall flowers. The decor is oddddd but the toilets are nice and non-gendered. Service is pleasant. 

2420 Main Street

No bookings same day. Make sure you specify when you’re ordering vegan and they’re so good for it. Non-gendered toilet. Payment at the table, not sure about entry. Wide passage; booth seats available. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

bandidas taqueria [vancouver]

Arriving at 11:00 on a Sunday morning we were in for a 15 minute wait for our party of 3, but after a little wander down the street (and an opportunity for me to look inside a Dollar Tree store) we were seated and served and out of there by 12:00 and I was pretty impressed. 

I couldn’t find this on the website but I was super excited to get to Bandidas Taqueria to discover it can all be veganised! At which point I struggled and struggled, and it was with some difficulty that I picked the muffins (two corn bread muffin tops, topped with guac, cheese, and fried tofu), to which I added roasted sweet potato + potato and veggie sausage. Please note: where the menu says ‘yams’ it lies; it means sweet potato.

THIS WAS SO GOOD. I have been thinking about these corn bread muffins all day, thinking about making them when I get home, thinking about going there again, thinking about how much I love salsa and corn and guacamole and everything that this dish chooses to be.

Also they don’t do takeaway unless you bring your own; they emphasise their bike parking; their toilets have notes about bikes on them. And their cocktails sound delicious. If I had been with drinkers, I would have had something, never mind it being 11:20 when we ordered. 

Outside, we saw this ghost; maybe zie was hungover from haunting in the shortest night of the year. 

2781 Commercial Drive

Website says lots of bike parking out front but there could be more. Step to enter, noisy, hard to navigate. Visited in daylight so not sure about lighting. Can get there on PT as it’s close to Commercial-Broadway Station.