Saturday, 30 June 2012

accidentally vegan: belgian chocolate thins

One of the things I love about China is the whole new range of accidentally vegan things to explore, such as this brand of chocolate crisps that Lainie and I discovered in a supermarket in Qingdao. This supermarket, by the way, located in the basement of the Hi-Sense shopping centre (海信广场) if you ever get a chance to go, was amazing. Cappuccino flavoured soy-milk (in both 2 litre and 500ml tetras), my favourite brand of instant noodles, and conveniently located next to a Starbucks and a hilariously painted toilet.

Anyway, chocolate:

belgian thins

They're like chips, but they are chocolate and mint, there were also a couple of other flavours but I was short on space for the trip back to Beijing. They're the perfect size!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

fancy eats at capital m

I spent most of yesterday in the vicinity of Xuanwumen, suspiciously close to my work despite it being a public holiday (端午节, the dragon boat festival). As a break between meandering around Niu Jie and heading down Liulichang Jie (which is the calligraphers' area), C (my companion for the day) suggested we drop into Capital M for lunch.

Cups at Capital M

I've been to Capital M only once before, to meet Senator the Hon Bob Carr, and acknowledged it was a bit swanky without really taking in quite how swanky it was.

After having a two hour, three course meal, and spending way more money on one meal than I have previously in Beijing, I, uh, now get the idea just how swanky it is.

salad at capital m

Unsurprisingly I couldn't eat any of the set menus, but with a bit of negotiation I was still able to get a meal with some amazing moments. Such as this salad, above, with grape fruit, flower petals, and an assortment of leaves, in a light dressing. I hate dressing, and yet I still found this absolutely delicious.

pasta at capital m

I followed this up with a modified pasta, ordered without the anchovies (ps, things that taste terrible: anchovies), but with everything else: capers, olives, tomato. This was very oily, and C, who is Italian, made fun of me for ordering pasta outside Italy.

fruit at capital m

Finally, to round out my meal, I ordered the fruits with sorbet, which turned out to be made with a coconut milk base, and was rich and creamy and delicious.

Not pictured here: the Turkish Delight with which we ended, nor my delight over soft, fresh, crispy, and most importantly not-sugary bread.

3/F, No 2. Qianmen Pedestrian Street
(just south of Qianmen)


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

beijing and my hotpot/steamboat obsession

It seems weird to blog about hotpot in the middle of a Beijing summer (currently 27C though, so not too bad), but I just had one on Sunday so it’s fresh in my mind. And I love them so. 
individual hotpot
I’ve spent years of my life obsessed with hotpot (or steamboat) as the weather cools, and trying to convince my mother that the weather is cool enough, no really, to have a steamboat or two running in the house. After going vego, steamboat at home is still possible, but no longer do I find myself able to steamboat out and about due to the preponderance for good chicken stock in the soup. Beijing, though, is filled with hotpot restaurants of different varieties, and the cheapest, the most tackiest of chains, are so cheap they don’t put animal products in their soups – the cheapest of all are just water and salt and a piece of ginger and an inch of leek.  There’s Little Sheep, and Xiabu Xiabu, both just down the road from my house, where you can choose your soups spicy or not spicy; and at Little Sheep they give you popcorn when you enter (not vegan, maybe not vego) and make you pay extra for the sesame dipping sauce. 
delicious delicious luck
Most places I frequent you share the pot, which is fine when I tell my friends in advance that the pot will be filled only with tofu, vegetables, noodles and mushrooms. Inevitably, we’ll get to the end of the order, and the waitperson will look at me. 不要肉, I’ll say, don’t want meat, before they have a chance to ask.  I love a good hotpot, and it can be pretty easy, even if you’re in China and don’t speak Mandarin, because the menus are almost always big and glossy with pictures for every plate you can order, and there’s usually only one type of item on a plate – meat OR bok choy OR tofu, which makes it easy to get nothing but vego things. 

However there are things to be aware of, as a veg*n. There’ll be sauces floating around, for dipping – I’m not a big user of the sauces, but they’ll sometimes not necessarily be vego, they’ll be cut with something fish-based. A lot of places, especially fancy places, fill their soup with animal products, so you have to specifically ask if it’s water or stock in the pot.  When I return to Melbourne I have plans to start investigating as many steamboat restaurants as I can, to see if I have any options. I know that Enlightened Cuisine and Vegie Mum are both doing a steamboat for winter, which I look forward to trying  And if I don’t, I’m just going to have to buy one and start having 火锅 parties at my house. 

Friday, 1 June 2012

accidentally vegan #2331 [+ E120]

[transcription: Um no I am a vegetarian myself and I know for a FACT that vegans can't eat Jelly Beans OR Arnott's barbeque shapes because they contain Worcestershire sauce in them and that is made from anchovies which ARE FISH which is meat and Jelly beans well they contain jelly which is um hello GELATIN which is bones and felsh of animals so I don't know where you got that information but...]

Yes, anonymous commenter who is not the first person to have made this comment and been deleted, you are way a better vegetarian than me because after five years of being a vegan I definitely have never ever done any research and had no idea that gelatine is made from dead animals or that worcestershire sauce generally contains anchovies and I've definitely never read the back of any snack foods or called or emailed any manufacturers in order to verify the things I then post on my blog or put in my body. How kind of you to educate me on these things, because otherwise I would have gone my life assuming fishies were vegetables. And I definitely didn't just go read the back of an Allens Jelly Bean pack in order to not find the word gelatine on it (spoilers: I didn't find the word gelatine).

I did, however, find colour 120, which is cochineal. Does anyone know any more about this?

And look, just for the record, I want to know if something I'm eating isn't vegan, and I accept that sometimes I'm wrong and that sometimes I might accidentally tell you a thing is vegan when it's not, but I am not open to being told like I don't know what I'm doing, like I can't read or am incompetent.