Melbourne eats

I hope everyone is having a great start to the year. I spent my first week in Melbourne for my cousin’s big Italian wedding and spending time with family. I also managed to discover a few new vegan friendly places and had some amazing eats.

After Marco and I got off the plane in Melbourne we decided to head to Chapel Street, South Yarra. I really wasn’t happy with his funky pink tie that he intended wearing to the wedding. I really wanted him to find something new. But before we could find a new tie I needed to eat. It was lunch time and I was so hungry. The last place I expected to find a delicious vegan friendly place was in this shopping district. However, I came across Spudbar and was really impressed by their healthy take on the humble potato.

I ordered the Chickpea, Pumpkin and Lentil Dahl Spud. This had a legume and pumpkin curry, shredded cabbage, kasundi, carrot and hummus (instead of cucumber yoghurt) over half regular and half sweet potato. It was wholesome, delicious and made mama and baby feel really satisfied.

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Later that evening  we decided to visit the Vietnamese restaurant Quan 88 at St Kilda. We have been going to this family restaurant for years. My uncle was one of their loyal customers at their Richmond location, but when they did the big move  to St Kilda he ended up helping them with their operations. So it was nice to see him and have some good quality Vietnamese.

For entree I ordered the Beancurd & Vegetable Soup which was really flavoursome. For main I order the Vegetarian Curry Hotpot, which had fried soft tofu, eggplant, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli bok choy and onions in a light curry sauce, with a side of jasmine rice. I don’t order hotpot  usually because I find it quite disappointing, but this one was really good and so filling that even in my pregnant hungry state I couldn’t finish it.

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A couple of days later we were taken to a part of Melbourne that I’ve never been to before. Another uncle took us to East St Kilda, where many trendy cafes have popped up in recent times. He took us to one of his favourites Las Chicas. This place prides it’s self on serving local, fresh and sustainable wholesome foods, which is exactly what we found when we stepped in. I really loved their menu which had helpful symbols showing which dishes were vegan, vegetarian, dairy free and gluten free.

I ordered Vik’s Vegan Wrap, which had broccoli, organic silken tofu, mixed mushrooms, lettuce, red onions, vegan mayo, sundried tomato hummus, avocado and tomato & coriander salsa, wrapped in a toasted tortilla, with a decaf bonsoy flat white. This wrap was packed full of flavour and lots of healthy goodies. I usually don’t like silken tofu but it was cooked perfectly and the condiments in the wrap also complemented the other ingredients.

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Marco had to go back go Brisbane, so the next day my cousins took me out to lunch in Brunswick East. They wanted to take me somewhere with vegan options and organic food for me and gluten free and dairy free options for them. One of my cousins has a few intolerances due to IBS, so she is always on the look out for cafes and restaurants that cater for her needs, which is why I love eating out with her while I’m in Melbourne.  East Elevation have a range of creative vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes on their menu. They use seasonal and local produce, as well as organic vegetables. They decor is also beautiful, making you feel like your in a garden courtyard (with aircon).

I ordered the Roasted Eggplant with Tahini, which was served over a pumpkin puree and topped with green beans, moghrabish (Lebanese couscous dish), watercress and toasted pumpkin seeds. This was probably one of the most creative and delicious vegan mains I’ve ever had. I’m now wishing I didn’t live two states away to go back for more.

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I had a free day after that so I decided to have a shopping day in the city. My Nonna was very worried about me walking around by myself incase I could fall, so she accompanied me. Funnily enough, she is the one with the walking stick that nearly fell on me in the tram on the way there. When it came time to eat we looked around the lane ways for something I could eat and that didn’t serve pasta. Nonna doesn’t like ordering pasta out, since she can make it better. After no luck of finding a place in the couple of lanes we went down we ended up at Chinatown. I am not a big fan of chinese food, but I do love noodles and dumplings. So when we past Shanghai Street Dumplings, Wontons and Noodle  and I saw homemade dumplings and vegetarian dishes so I thought it was a good idea.

I ordered the Vegetable Stir fry Noodles, which had shiitake mushrooms, fungus and boy choy. I really missed noodles so I really enjoyed this dish. My Nonna considers noodles as pasta so she preferred to have a meat dumplings. I ordered her the Panfried Beef Dumplings. I didn’t realise until I saw her struggling to cut her dumpling in half that she was really out of her element. So although I felt at home in an authentic dumpling house, perhaps it wasn’t the best place to bring my 75 year old Nonna.
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On my last day I decided to take myself out for an early breakfast before hitting the Melbourne Museum. I searched the net for some vegan friendly cafes in the area and came across Cafe Lua at Carlton. I wasn’t able to access the menu, but the website said they offered vegan and vegetarian options and where gluten free specialists. I was expecting to see a menu with heaps of vegan options but unfortunately I couldn’t see any when I was given the menu at the cafe. However the waitress was really helpful and told me about a couple of dishes that could be altered to be vegan.

I ordered the Smashed Avocado, which was served on sourdough. It was meant to be served with cherry tomatoes and basil but mine came out with chickpeas, which I didn’t mind since I need the extra protein. I also ordered a serve of Roasted Field Mushrooms and the House Smoothie, which had mango, strawberry, almond milk & basil. Everything tasted great, but I was probably expecting too much from this little cafe.

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My last meal before I left was at Milkwood in Brunswick East. I have been here before with my cousins and being tight on time we decided to come back again. My cousin with the allergies loves this place as they really do cater well for those with allergies as well as vegans.

This time I ordered the daily special which was Soba Noodles with Panfried Tofu, Eggplant, Mango and a Chilli Vinaigrette and Lemon Ice Tea. On such a hot day this dish was so refreshing and exactly what I needed.

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As happy as I am to be back in my own bed, I am a little sad that this is my last trip for a while. I’m not sure when I will travel with the baby but looking forward to sharing with her all my favourite eats when I return to Melbourne.

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48 Degrees Raw Cafe

A couple of Saturdays ago Marco and I visited a new cafe that I have been itching to try since I first heard about their opening. 48 Degrees is Brisbane’s first completely raw cafe on the Northside of Brisbane. They are situated inside Genesis Gym in Windsor. This cafe is run by two female health and wellness coaches, who also reguarly hold Raw Food Workshops. In the cafe they serve a variety of cold press juices, smoothies, organic coffee and different raw breakfasts and lunches options daily. Prefect for gym junkies and the health conscious. Although they aren’t completely organic they do follow the EWG Shoppers guide for the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen to limit pesticide exposure in their food and drinks.

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Since 48 Degrees is know for their smoothies we just had to try one. I ordered the Superfoods Smoothie, which had YOR Supergreens, chia seeds, cacao, goji berries, hemp seeds, dates, cinnamon, maca and banana. Marco ordered the Go Green Smoothie with had avocado, banana, kale, lemon, almond milk, baby spinach, YOR Supergreens and dates. Both were really delcious and pretty filling for the small size.

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For brunch we orderd the Raw Buckwheat Cacao Pancakes and the Raw Sushi with Parnip Rice. Even though I wanted the sweeter breakfast I found myself enjoying the sushi more and Marco prefered the pancakes. They were both beautifully presented, but I think considering the price the sushi probably needed a side.

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All in all I was please with my experience at 48 Degrees. Although Marco has really embraced his new lifestyle diet that I impose on him, raw wasn’t so much his thing. But hopefully I will be able to visit this raw cafe again with our without him.

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Other recent news is that a few weeks ago I won a large organic box from Home Fresh Organics. I was so please with the quality, quantity, variety, price and convenience that I have been ordering a box every week since. Best part is that you can customise the set box, so you are not stuck with things you don’t eat.

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Almost Raw Chocolate Cheesecake for Valentines / Pod Espresso

Happy Belated Valentines! This Valentines I got my gift early from Marco. He surprised me early in the week with some lovely lilies and some vegan cupcakes. He also put together our new desk, which I have been harping at him for the last few weeks. Considering he forgot our engagement anniversary and didn’t get me a DSC01932present for Christmas, he wanted to make sure he got in early this time.

For his gift he wanted me to make a nice dinner and following by a Chocolate cake. I spent most of the last couple of days at work looking a different recipes online. I didn’t want to make a traditional chocolate cake, I wanted to make something a bit more special. I came across The Ultimate Chocolate Fudge Pie by Chocolate Covered Katie and thought I had to try this. I love vegan cheesecakes and pies. Whenever I get the chance to order one I always do. I never tried to make one myself so I thought this was my chance.

I adapted the original recipe a bit by making a brazil nut base and changing the amounts of ingredients a little to taste. This recipe was really easy to make and doesn’t take long to make at all. It was also really delicious and I swear you can’t taste the tofu. Marco didn’t even know that it was made of tofu and he can usually pick these things. He was a little disappointed he didn’t come home to a death by chocolate cake, but he still did like it. He also took a nice big piece to work and professed this afternoon that it was much better then he thought.

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Almost Raw Chocolate Cheesecake (vegan, no bake, gluten free)

Ingredients for base:

1 cup brazil nuts

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon vanilla essence

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons cacao peanut butter

Ingredients for filling:

1 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Sweet Williams)

350g organic tofu (semi firm)

1 tablespoon vanilla

3 tablespoons cacao

3 tablespoons coconut oil

3 tablespoons plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate; more if you need)

Method:

1. First make the base by placing the brazil nuts in a process and wizz until they have broken down a little. Add the rest of the ingredients for the base into the processor. Don’t over process the brazil nuts too much, leave a little chunky.DSC01954

2. Take a springform baking pan and place baking paper on the bottom and grease the inside edges with coconut oil.

3. Place the base mixture into the pan and push down with a cake spatula, making sure that it is equally distributed.

4. Next prepare the filling. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler use a small heavy based pot and add a couple of tablespoons of milk, so that it doesn’t stick.DSC01963

5. In the processor add the tofu, melted chocolate and the remaining ingredients. Continue to process till smooth. While its processing you may have to wipe down the edges with a cake spatula so that all the ingredients combine well.

6. Pour the filling on top of the prepared base. Smooth the top with the cake spatula.

7. Place the cake into the fridge or freezer until ready to serve. The longer it sits the firmer it will get. I put mine into the freezer until it firmed up a little, then into the fridge and served about an hour later.

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Before I go I wanted to share a new vegan friendly cafe just down the road from my place. Pod Espresso is a little cafe in Stafford just of the main road. They serve great coffee, breakfast, lunch, desserts, cold press juices and smoothies. They are more then just a cafe, they are also an organic supermarket. They sell organic packaged and fresh products and were quite reasonably processed.  Marco and I went in for brunch last weekend. I wasn’t sure if they were vegan friendly, but I have seen many vegan options on their facebook page.

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On the day they only had a couple of breakfast options. I ordered the Avocado on Sour Dough with Dukkah, Rocket and Lemon juice. It was really delicious and a nice change from the usually Avo on Toast.

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Next I had to try their coffee and Vegan Mint Lamington. I haven’t had a lamington in years and I have never seen a vegan one before. This was absolutely delicious. I just wish Marco ordered his own so I didn’t have to share. The coffee was also great.

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We are very happy that we have such a nice cafe so close to home. Hope to visit Pod Espresso again soon.

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Peace Pies, Redcliffe

Over the weekend Marco and I finally got to visit Peace Pies at Redcliffe. Peace Pies is a cafe that specialise in vegan pies. They also serve all vegan lasagnes, cheesecakes, fish and chips and more. You can also buy vegan products in store, including food products, toiletries, books, etc.

This place is definetely become a favourite of mine. The staff are so friendly and the place has a really good vibe. The food was excellent and we both left very impressed and extremely satisfied.  I’m so happy that we now live close enough now to Redcliffe so that we can become regulars. If you are still a little scared of vegan food or have sceptical friends, this is the place for you. Peace Pies is not so in your face. It’s just a cool place to have a karma free meal and enjoy the bay breeze.

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DSC01819For lunch Marco ordered the homemade Lasagna with salad. I couldn’t leave without trying one of their pies. It was hard to choose, but I settled on the Creamy Cauliflower Pie. I ordered it with salad and curly fries. Marco was very happy with his lasagna. It was cheesy and saucy and tasted a lot better then it looked. My pie was really delicious. The pastry was soft and flakey and the filling was really creamy. The best part was that it wasn’t trying to be something that it wasn’t. The pie did have a little bit of faux chicken, but it wasn’t so overwhelming that you couldn’t taste the cauliflower. The curly fries were also really good. I have always loved curly fries, since the days I use to fry them in my first job at Hungry Jacks. To complement them, the waitress brought us some of their home-made tomato sauce.

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After coming all the way here, we weren’t going to leave without trying their desserts. It was very hard to choose, but we settled with the Chocolate cake and the Pear Flan. I can’t tell you what was better they were both really good. They also didn’t have that weird taste that some dairy free desserts have. I don’t think anyone would of not gone for a second bite of either of these cakes, they were just that good. They were both really sweet though and by the time I got through more then half of both I was having a sugar overload.

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Have you visited Peace Pies? Tell me what you think?

Brunch at Grub Street and Tofu Scamble with Sundried Tomatoes and Kale

What I look forward to most on the weekends is doing brunch with Marco. In the area that we recently moved to there are lots of funky little cafes that offer different unique breakfast options. This weekend we visited Grub Street, a popular suburban cafe in Gaythorne. This was our first visit, so we were curious  to see why this little cafe is always so busy and has such great reviews. I was also very excited to try their vegan option.

I ordered the Carrot pancakes with roasted corn puree, rocket, corn relish and avocodo. Besides being dairy free and vegan, this dish was also gluten free. From what I could tell these pancakes were made of carrot, red onion, capscium, cumin, coriander, fennel seeds and chickpea flour. They were so dense, but not really heavy. The corn relish was also amazing and sweet, so it perfectly complemented the savoury pancakes. It was absolutely delicious and definitely made Grub Street one of my of new favourite cafes.

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When we don’t brunch out on the weekend, there is one special dish that Marco always likes me to make. This recipe is Tofu Country Scramble from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen recipe book. In fact last weekend I made it for some visiting meat-loving tofu-fearing family members. They actually preferred my tofu scramble over my mum’s scrambled eggs. So you guess which one was left over and which was gobbed up quick.

This morning we decided to do brunch again. But by the time we drove over and realised that the cafe we wanted to go to was closed because they hadn’t reopened for the new year, Marco was about to murder me. So  I suggested another cafe, however they had already swapped to the lunch menu. I was willing to stay but Marco really wanted eggs. Instead he suggested we go back home and he would ‘help’ me make tofu scramble. So thats what we did. It was so satisfying and the money we saved in eating out paid for 4 bags of groceries.

I slightly adapted the original recipe and added kale, red onion and shallots. I love the flavour combination of the nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes and tofu. I think this recipe taste better than regular scrambled eggs, which can be rubbery and tasteless and other tofu scrambles that can be watery and not really convincing. It is a great way to include some green vegetables first thing in the morning. I usually enjoy this dish with grilled turkish bread (like Marco did this morning), but today I just enjoyed it with some creamy avocado and it was just as good.

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Tofu Scramble with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Kale (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium red onion, diced

2-3 shallots, diced

10-12 sun-dried tomatoes, diced

500 g medium-firm organic tofu (pressed and crumbled)

1 large handful of red or curly kale, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons gluten free organic soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

3 heaped tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat a pan with olive oil  on a medium heat. Then sauté the red onion and shallots for a couple of minutes before adding sun-dried tomatoes. Continue to sauté till the onions start to soften.

2. Add the crumbled tofu and sauté for another couple of minutes until the tofu starts to brown a little.

3. Add the kale, soy sauce, turmeric and nutritional yeast, sea salt & black pepper and cook until the kale has wilted.  Serve immediate.

*Serves 4

Lunch at Orawgi

It was so nice to wake up today and not have to go to work. Wish I had more wisdom teeth to remove so I could take more week days off. I don’t get sick very often, unlike most of the people in my office. I really believe it’s because my plant strong diet that keeps me well.

So to take advantage of this lovely sunny day with Marco, who was also off, we visited a raw cafe that I have been wanting to visit for ages. Orawgi is a raw, organic, healthy conscious cafe in Woolloongabba, Brisbane. It was created by Jamie Louise of Turf Studios and Jamie Louise Living Raw.  Jamie is a young entrepreneur who is passionate about raw foods and yoga. What she has created is really special and is really worth the trip. I think I discovered this cafe just after I started working full time. Unfortunately Orawgi is currently only open Monday-Friday. However, I heard from the lovely staff member that they are going to start trading on weekends soon!

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Before we arrived we didn’t know what to expect. I knew they were within the building of BioSolar and the photos on the website looked really nice. Marco isn’t a big fan of anything raw. He’s kind of over salads and sprouts that I try to make him eat on a regular bases. But once we walked in he was pleasantly surprised.

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Since they change their menu daily I didn’t have my order already picked out. They had on offer today Living lasagne, Mexican pizza with a walnut meat, Raw burger, Coleslaw and a Kale Salad. They also had a range of delicious smoothies and sweets. Everything looked so fresh and delicious that we wanted to try a bit of everything. We ended up ordering 2 Lunch specials that also included a smoothie or a dessert.

I ordered the Living Lasagne with Coleslaw the Ubud Smoothie and Marco ordered the Mexican pizza with a walnut meat, Kale Salad and dessert. First thing that came out was our smoothie. The girl serving us was nice enough to give us half each in these cute little jars. The smoothie was amazing. It had passion fruit, cinnamon, cashew milk and a few other ingredients that I can’t remember. I never knew passion fruit would taste so good in a smoothie.

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Next the meals came out.  They were both fantastic. We shared both. We couldn’t get enough of the creamy raw lasagna or the mexican pizza. I have never had a raw lasenga or pizza before so I was worried that the vegetables would be hard and and dehydrated pizza dry. But in fact the lasagna was perfectly soft and creamy and so full of flavor. The pizza was just as tasty and morish. I could live on both of these. The salads were also quite nice, especially the kale salad which had avocado and pepitas seeds. The only down side is that I had to share with Marco. I’m sure he felt the same way.

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For dessert we decided to go for the most stunning dessert, the Mixed berry Cheesecake. This was also fantastic. It was soft, creamy and had the wow factor. We both couldn’t get enough. I think this has to be the best raw vegan cheesecake I’ve had in Brisbane. It was also a great big serve. So we left extremely full and satisfied.

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Marco and I were really pleased that we visited Orawgi. The food is amazing, the staff a really lovely and the decor is really refreshing and quirky. I will be looking forward to visiting them again when they begin trading on weekends so I can bring my nearest and dearest.

Hansell and Gretel Espresso Bar

This weekend we tried another ‘vegan friendly’ cafe, Hansell and Gretel Espresso Bar at Gaythorne. This place is was only newly opened this year and has lots of glowing reviews on Urbanspoon. I couldn’t find their menu online, so I thought we would be surprise when we got there.

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When we arrived I could not believe how busy it was. We ended up having to wait for a table. This gave me some time to appreciate the decor. I especially loved the mural above the kitchen and the old tea sets along the walls. They really did an excellent job of setting themselves apart from other regular breakfast and lunch cafes. Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long for a table. We spotted a couple of free seats on a shared table that we slipped into.

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The menu also carried on with the fairy tale theme, with names like The Step Mother and the Woodchopper’s Breakfast. I only found one dish that specifically had a vegan option, Persian Veg Fritters. They also offered a couple of vegetarian dishes and some side dishes to complement. In regards to sweets, they didn’t offer anything vegan. However they did have a couple dairy free, which had eggs or honey, such as the Cherry ripe quinoa pudding, Choc Quinoa Muffin and Carrot Cake. They also offered a range of House Specialties cappuccinos, fresh juices and teas.

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I decided to go with the vegan Persian Veg Fritters. These fritters had 15 ingredients including sweet potato, zucchini, raisins, carrot, ginger, garlic, and cumin. They were served with beetroot coulis and a herb salad. All that was omitted was the tatziki. I also ordered the Avocado smash with coriander, lime juice chives. Marco ordered the Steak & Philly 12 inch sub.

My dish was nice. The fritters were small, but had flavor. However they really did need the beetroot coulis to complement it. I was happy I also ordered the avocado on the side, as the meal would of been a bit small without it. As much as I love avocado, there wasn’t really much punch of flavor from the lime. The salad was just a bit of baby spinach, onion and some parsley. Compared to Marcos dish, mine was a little average. He was really enjoying his sub with hickey smoked beef, gherkins and cheese.

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Since I still had room I decided to order coffee and dessert. I ordered the Cherry ripe quinoa pudding for dessert. This was not vegan as it had honey. I still do eat honey, but a lot less then I use to. I know this is a very controversial topic with vegans though. My sweet coffee on the other hand was vegan. I ordered a Soy Queenslander, which was a cappuccino with macadamia inside and macadamia praline on top. The dessert was ok, but I couldn’t eat much of it. I guess it tasted more like breakfast then dessert for me, as the quinoa had a bit of a bite and it was a little heavy. Marco really didn’t like it. I think their other desserts would of tasted a lot better. The coffee on the other hand was really nice and very sweet. To be honest I am not sure the coffee it was worth the price in comparison to other cafes I’ve been to recently.

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So the verdict? I was happy I tried this place and I think they have some great ideas. Its great they offer a vegan option on their menu, unlike other cafes. However I wasn’t blow away by my meal. For a  vegan meal I am not sure I would be in a hurry to go back to Gaythorne. However if I was to go back with friends I would be happy to know I wouldn’t go hungry. They staff were really nice and helpful in helping me make my choices. They menu caters really well for vegetarians and omnivores, so hopefully their vegan options will improve in the future.

Delicatezza

This morning Marco and I were out for our weekend brunch and discovered a new little cafe in Mitchelton. I actually found them on the Urban List’s “Brisbane’s Best Avocado on Toast“. Their breakfast menu looked vegan friendly and I was really craving some creamy avocado on toasted bread.

Normally we wouldn’t travel so far so early, but Marco had a 2 hour meal break, so I meet him at work and we took off to the north side. It didn’t take much convincing him when there’s a big breakfast involved.

Delicatezza is a cafe and a deli on the Blackwood Street strip. For vegans you probably aren’t interested in their gourmet meats and cheeses. However, they also have a nice range of other specialty products, including traditional pastas and chutneys. They offer breakfast and lunch Tuesday – Sunday.

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Before we arrived I made a booking. Luckily I did as it was really busy morning for them. The staff seated us straight away and were really nice and friendly. When I asked about vegan options they were very helpful too. There were two dishes on the menu that I was interested in. The Avocado Char including avocado, tomato kasundi (chutney), lemon, on char ciabatta or sour dough bread; and the Swiss Brown Mushrooms, included sauteed mushrooms with parsley, truffle oil, lemon and ciabatta.  So hard to choose, so I had to try both. I ordered the Avocado Char with the Swiss brown Mushrooms on the side. Unfortunately Marco couldn’t been torn away from ordering a big breakfast.

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I couldn’t believe how big my meal was when it came out. I have been trying out some of the local cafes near my work lately and I usually only get giving one piece of bread with some mashed avocado. I wasn’t expecting to big pieces of ciabatta bread with a whole large avocado on top. Other then being very generous, this dish was prefect. The avocado was creamy and rip, the bread was fresh and toasted nicely with olive oil. The tomato kasundi (chutney) also tasted really nice. It was sweet and savory and went really well with the avocado and lemon juice. The mushrooms were also really nice and tasty. I would definitely recommend ordering either of the dish or ordering this combination like I did if your extra hungry.

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After the meal we ordered coffees, which were also spot on. They had Merlo coffee and Organic Vitasoy. Marco ordered a Raspberry Slice for dessert. Unfortunately for me they didn’t have any vegan desserts, but then after a meal like that I don’t think I could of fit one in. I’m so happy we tried this place. If I am in the area again I would definitely visit them again.

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After that Marco had to go back to work and I had to do some shopping. Since I had my cousins birthday dinner tonight, I had to buy her a present. After searching through the big department stores and not finding the right gift I came across an Oxfom store. This is a non profit store that sells goods made from in Asia, the Pacific and African countries. Besides home wares, jewelry and other traditional gift wares, they also sell fair trade coffee, chocolate and other specialty food products. I bought my cousin these African Jams and Organic Gypsy Teas. They look so good now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t buy any for myself.

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After shopping for a couple of hours I started to get really thirsty. So I stopped buy a juice bar that I haven’t been to in years. I remember Oasis Juice Bar from the first time I snuck out to the city with my friends when I was 13 years. I’m pretty sure it still looks the same as back then nearly 13 years later. They sell a range of fresh juices and smoothies (dairy & dairy free), as well as fresh fruit, fruit salads and yogurt with fruit. I ordered a fruit juice with apple, pineapple and lime. It was really refreshing and gave me the energy to keep on shopping.

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Primal Pantry & the Regional Food Festival

Hi all, I’ve been a bit quieter the last couple of weeks. I have been away from my place and eating out a fair bit the last week. Yesterday I discovered a new food find that caters to vegans and vegetarians. Primal Pantry is Brisbane’s first paleo grocery store and cafe in Teneriffe. I was not very familiar with the paleo diet till recently through other blogs. Although I don’t agree with this lifestyle diet, I was interest to visiting them for their vegan options. They are also 100% gluten free and mostly dairy free (except for whey). Marco was also very excited when he saw all the meat options. He has come alone way to eat a mostly vegan/vegetarian diet, but he still gets his meat fix when he can.

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We arrived around 1.30 to meet some friends. I was surprised how busy it was and we had to wait about 20 mins for a table. In the meantime I read some of their little pamphlets on what is paleo and why no legumes, dairy or gluten. I also had a look at their groceries, which included fresh fruit and vege, coconut flour, coconut sugar and almond nut butter. Once we got seated, I asked about the vegan options. The waitress told me that the chefs can make up special dish for me or I could modify one of their menu options. She said usually they have pre-made vegan salads, however today they had sold out. She also mentioned that most of the smoothies were vegan and a few of the desserts.

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I decided to order one of the dishes on their menu, that could be modified, which was the Shaved Brussel Sprout and Endive Salad with walnuts and pear (and no bacon). I also ordered the Hulk Smoothie, which had the pear, spinach, mango, lime, coconut, water, ice. Marco ordered the BBQ ribs special. It also came with a small fennel salad, which was good to know that he can tolerate it. Last time I made something with fennel he wouldn’t touch it.

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My juice and salad were nice. I never tried raw brussel sprouts or endives before and I felt lighter after eating it. Not sure I will be running back there for this salad. However, the breakfast options for vegans look a lot more tempting. Such as Potted Muesli with Orange Blossom Pears and Coconut Labna, Cacao Granola with Berry Compote and Coconut Cream or Cinnamon Pancakes with Grilled Figs, Pistachio Crumb and Maple. Marco was very happy with his meal. Not sure about my friends, they didn’t really comment. Perhaps I forgot to ask them.

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No one wanted to stick around for dessert. They all preferred to go to The Shady Palm Cafe and Bar. So we went there. Unfortunately they don’t have vegan desserts. So before I left the Primal Pantry bought a Coconut Berry Slice takeaway, which I ended having at home later. I haven’t ever tried anything with Coconut flour before. It was quite nice, but not a full on dessert like Marco and my friends had.

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The weekend before this I went to the Brisbane Regional Food Festival at Southbank. There were so many people and lots of samples or small dishes to purchase. Most of the samples were chutneys and dips and the small dishes were quite expensive so we didn’t eat to much. There were not many vegan options either. Many tents were dedicated different fine dining restaurants showing off their canapes (for a fee) and smaller gourmet brands getting exposure. Not sure where Marco got this Campari for me. Marco also had to buy a piece of that Rockie Road. He didn’t buy one as big as the one in the photo below. They were $100 each. Unfortunately it didn’t come in vegan variety. But I got some Noosa Chocolate  Factory Dark Chocolate with Valencia Orange to make up for it.

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The most exciting thing for me was getting to watch Poh Ling Yeow make her signature dish, which got her through the first Master Chef auditions. She made Abacus Beads, which are a regional specialty from Malaysia. They are similar to a gnocchi, but made of taro root. I have been a big fan of her since I first saw her on Master Chef. In fact I boycotted the show after she didn’t win. I also bought her recipe book. Although there is a lot of meat dishes I still get inspiration from her book even though I am trying to follow a vegan diet. The only dishes that I have veganise so far are from her book are Borscht & Pirozhki. But I definitely would like to veganise her Abacus Beads dish. The actually beads are vegan, but she added minced pork and dried prawn, as well as coriander and fresh shiitake mushrooms. I got to try the Abacus beads and they were so delicious! They were bouncy and really to anything I’ve tried before.

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At the food festival I bought this Shiitake Mushroom Log from My City Garden. I have been wanting to grow my own mushrooms for a while, so I jumped at the chance to buy this for $15. To grow the mushroom I had to soak the log for 18 hrs and then leave it to grow. Its only been a couple of days but they are gradually growing. I should be able to grow two more batches after this. I’ll keep you updated on how they look once grown. Can’t wait!

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Marco also finally bought my 5 year anniversary present. Nearly 10 months late, but better late then never. He got me a lemon, lime and avocado trees. He also potted them for me. I’m hoping this inspires him to have some more interest in my veggie patch. Apparently that’s still my ‘problem’ lol.

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Tonight I was inspired to make something with Shiitake mushrooms. These aren’t my fresh ones, just dried ones. I also used my garden pak choy and eggplant over brown rice. Marco didn’t really like this meal, but at least he ate it. For me it was nice to have a nice healthy wholesome meal.

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Vege King

This afternoon Marco and I finally finished work at same time. So we decided to have an early dinner in the city.  I recently saw Vege King advertised online as a vegan friendly restaurant. So when I saw the  coupon I brought it straight away. They are only open till 6.30pm Monday to Friday so it has been hard getting  a chance to try them previously.

Vege King is tucked away on the end of Adelaide and Wharf Street.  It wasn’t too hard to find. When we walked in we were greeted by two friendly Indian people, who gladly took our coupon and showed us everything they had to offer. Since it was late in the day on their last day of the week, the didn’t have as much as usually on offer, but there was still plenty of curries and menu items to chose from. Although most of their menu is vegan, vegetarian and gluten free, they do offer a few meat options. It was nice to be in a place where it was the opposite to the norm though. Their menu includes Vege Samosa, Puri Chole, Pizza, Salads, Lasagnas, vareity of vegetarian and meat curries, dosas, desserts and drinks.

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I ordered another new discovery Dosa Marsala, which came with sambhar dahl and chutney. Marco ordered two curries dish, which included Spinach & Mushroom curry, Chicken Korma, rice and papadum. All were vegan except for the chicken curry of course. We were both really impressed by the food. It was fresh and full of flavor. It was also on pair with our regular Indian restaurant.

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For dessert I got the Apple Crumble, which was vegan and Marco got the Carrot Cake (not vegan). They were both really good too and a nice end to the meal.

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So the verdict? This is a great, cheap city eat. The people are friendly, the food is authentic and delicious. Plus you can have a vegan dessert!