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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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?

Coco Bliss Superfood Bar

Hi all, hope you had a lovely week. Guess what only 5 more sleeps till we get the keys to our new home! We spent most of the weekend window shopping for different furniture, accessories and kitchen equipment. We have had to refrain from spending till we know what actually going to go. I’ve only seen the house twice so its a bit hard to remember most of the ins and outs. However, I couldn’t help myself today, when I saw these Anna Gare Retro Juice Tumblers.

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Since I didn’t see Marco all week and then found out he look another shift on his day off, he agreed to take me anywhere of my choosing. So I choose a new place that just opened less then a month ago. Coco Bliss Superfood Bar is located on Oxford Street, Bulimba. They cater for the health conscious and health junkies alike.  They offer smoothies, frappes, protein shakes, pressed juices, organic coffees, acai bowls, pink pitaya bowls, muesli fruit salad bowls, raw/baked desserts and salads and rice paper rolls. They have plenty of vegan, gluten-free and raw-food options and are 80% organic and refined sugar free. Besides using fresh ingredients, they also infuse their fares with superfoods such as Acai, Coconut water Lucuma and Goji Berries, for an extra nutritional kick to your smoothie or breakfast bowl.

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We arrived at about 2pm for some afternoon tea. We were both really tired and needed an afternoon pick-me-up. I couldn’t believe how busy they were. It was just as constant flow of people stopping by for juices and smoothies.  Luckily most weren’t staying, so we managed to get a seat at the bar. Apparently we spotted someone famous too. See the guy with his girl ordering at the counter. Marco thinks it may be the Australian, Jesse Williams, who now plays NRL in the US. I didn’t notice, I was too busy trying to choose something to order. I was only going to have a drink, but refined sugar free desserts, who can walk past that?

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I ended up ordering the Acai Berry Iced Coffee. I had never heard of it before, which made me all the more curious. It had organic acai berry coffee and coconut water. Marco also wanted a something cool and caffeine infused, so he ordered the Mocha Frappe, which contained banana, medjool dates, cacao, espresso and cinnamon. They were both really nice and light and really gave us that jolt we needed. I quite liked the taste of the acai berry coffee, its not bitter at all. Its quite mild and similar to coffee. Marco’s smoothie was a little bitter, but luckily on the bar there was some natural sweeteners for customers to utilise. I think one was honey and the other maple syrup. So he added a couple of swigs and for the perfect sweet balance.

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On the side I ordered this Vegan Chocolate Muffin. Normally I would order a raw vegan cheesecake or bliss ball, but I was really craving a chocolate muffin with sweet icing. This really hit the spot. It was moist and sweet and the icing was really delicious. Of course the one that didn’t want anything else had to eat half of my muffin. Next time we order two!

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Marco and I really liked this place and would definitely return. Looking forward to dropping in for an Acai or Muesli bowl or to try another one of there super smoothies and healthy desserts.

Have you been here? What did you think?

Other recent vegan eat include:

Choc Strawberry Chia Pudding with Coconut Yoghurt from Raw ‘n Juicy, Brisbane CBD.

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Veganised Morning Bruschetta with beans from Bare Bones Society, Jindalee, Brisbane.

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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.

Revisit The Shady Palm and discover the Flamingo

I can’t believe how fast this weekend has gone. It’s been lovely weather for winter. It’s been really hot during the day, so no needs for jackets and tights. I have been trying to get as much Vitamin D as I can, hoping it will make up the weekdays. It was also perfect weather for brunch. Over the weekend we revisited The Shady Palm Cafe for lunch and tried another new discovery Flamingo Cafe for Sunday breakfast.???????????????????????????????

This was our third visit to The Shady Palm Cafe, however it was our first for lunch. When we arrived it was just as busy and bustling as usually. We already knew what we were ordering. For lunch they have two vegan options, one shared dish and one main. I didn’t know what to order, so I had to order both. I ordered the Crispy Plantain and Peanut Fritters with Mojo and the Fried Okra Tacos with chimmichurri, ranch, black beans and corn salsa. Marco ordered the Handcut Fried Potatoes with Chipotle Mayo and three Sliders with different meats fillings.

Crispy Plaintain & Peanut Fritters with Mojo

Crispy Plantain & Peanut Fritters with Mojo

These fritters were really delicious. I don’t know how to describe the flavor, because I this was the first time I have tried plantain. I think was the sweet tomato sauce was the ‘mojo’, This sauce was amazing and really brought the dish alive. Marco really liked these fritters too. We definitely would order these again.

Fried Okra Tacos with chimmichurri, ranch, blackbean and corn salsa

Fried Okra Tacos with Chimmichurri, ranch, black bean and corn salsa

Handcut Fried Potatoes

Handcut Fried Potatoes

I really loved my main dish. Like the fritters, it was like nothing I have had before. I was expecting hard shelled tacos, like you get out of the box. But this was a nice surprise. I am a big fan of okra, but I have only used it with Asian dishes before. All the flavors of the components went really well together. The potatoes were also great accompaniment too. They mayo wasn’t vegan, but they were great without that anyway. It was actually meant to accompany Marcos sliders, but I can never say no to hot chips. Its my one weakness which I have never been able to kick. So we had a great experience yet again at The Shady Palm Cafe. Although they only have a couple of vegan options, they were good enough for me to come back especially for.

This morning for brunch we decided to try somewhere we haven’t been before. I’m not sure how I found out about Flamingo Cafe. They were listed as vegan friendly, so we had to go and check them out. They are in Fortitude Valley, just off the main shopping strip on Ann Street, in a tiny side street. They are surrounded by shops with independent designers and alternative fashion. We decided to sit inside since it was extremely sunny and were greeted by really friendly waitresses. The decor was really quirky and retro, from the vibrant pineapple wallpaper to the artdeco chandeliers. It is like no other cafe in Brisbane. I have read many review from others who say its their favorite hangover cafe, but I’m not sure I would want be hungover in a place like this. However, being sober I really enjoyed the visual appeal of this little oasis.

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The menu is not very long, but it does change regularly and they have daily specials. I was happy to see a vegan option that didn’t have to be altered. I ordered the Slow Cooked Beans with English Spinach, Herb Salt and Toast. Marco ordered the MSA Minute Steak with Caramelized onions, Fried F.R Egg, tarragon mayo, tomato relish and Rocket. I also ordered the Flamingo Ice Tea to drink.

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My slow cooked beans included a variety of beans, including lima, chickpeas and cannelini beans, with lots of fresh herbs. It was really nice. The only thing I would say is that I would of liked the flavor of the tomato stronger and pack more of a punch. Luckily I had plenty of sea salt to add. The bread was really nice and crispy and the serve was really generous. The signature Flamingo Ice Tea was really amazing. The flavor of  mint, lemon and ginger were really strong and made this drink really memorable. I usually get a coffee, but it was nice to have something so refreshing. Marco was quite happy with his dish. I have to say that his caramelized onions were pretty good. Overall it was a good experience and I would go back with friends. Only con was that the parking in that area is a bit risky and mostly a tow away zone.

After brunch we went over to one of Marco’s new discoveries, Flour and Chocolate. His friend took him last week for Cronuts. Even though I couldn’t eat anything there he wanted to get something for the ‘kids’ (his nieces and nephew). It really is a lovely little patisserie. While we were there I asked the owner about vegan options. She told us about the amazing baguettes and sourdough loafs they do in many different flavors throughout the week. So I don’t Marco visiting them during the week, so long as he brings me some crispy French bread. While he was choosing treats for the ‘kids’ I spotted something I haven’t seen before, Organic Bread Flour. Looking forward to making some focaccia or cinnamon scrolls very soon.

DSC06563The last thing I wanted to share was the most creamy guilty free vegetable pasta I made a couple of nights ago. I had heaps of cooked bucatini leftover and I was craving something creamy. It was also a great way to use a heap of green veggies that had been neglected in my fridge. I also made a cherry tomato foccacia with left over pizza dough. However I wasn’t too happy with it, since it was more like a biscuit then a pizza bread. It wasn’t thick enough and over cooked. I will try this again soon and include the recipe. Its something I really miss that I use to eat really often as a quick lunch in Milan.

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Creamy Pasta Primavera (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

3 serves of long pasta (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1 cup cashews (soaked or raw)

1 cup water,

1 cup frozen/fresh broad beans (and/or peas)

olive oil

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 large zucchini, sliced in batons

1 bunch asparagus, chopped half

1/4 cup white wine (optional)

3 leaves of curly kale, without stems, sliced

1/2 tsp nutmeg (more to taste)

1/2 almond milk

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. If you haven’t pre-soaked your cashews, boil for 10 mins. Put in high speed blender and break down cashews, then gradually add water till you get cashew cream.

2. In the meantime boil the broad beans for 5 minutes. Then remove from hot water, rinse to cool down, then remove skin. Put to the side.

3. Heat large pan with olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes.

4. Add zucchini and cook for another couple of minutes. ???????????????????????????????

5. Add asparagus and wine. Let the wine absorb and continue to saute until the zucchini and asparagus are tender.

6. Add kale and sea salt. Saute for a minute so that the kale is no longer dry and is bright green in color.???????????????????????????????

7. Add the broad beans, cashew cream and almond milk (add more if cashew cream sticks to pan). Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Cook until the cashew cream and almond milk combine and become nice and creamy.

8. Add the cooked hot pasta to the sauce and coat in the sauce and serve

*Serves 3

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Green Edge Revisited

Over the weekend we finally visited Green Edge since their move and renovations. We have been to their new store since they moved, but we hadn’t tried their cafe menu yet. I have been craving their burgers for a while and really looking forward to their return. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are the only vegan grocery store/cafe in Brisbane. They are now situated at Windsor, off Lutwyche Rd.

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The new store is really nice and spacious and there are lots of tables and booths for cafe customers. They also seem to have a bigger range of products. You can see most of their products on their website. However they also have organic vegetables now as well.  Sorry I don’t have better pictures of their merchandise. I forgot to take photos until I was out the door.

The cafe menu has also changed as well. They still have their vegan delicious signature burgers. But now they can be ordered with a side of hand cut potato chips. Other new additions include Risotto of the day, Chilli Roasted Mushrooms, Noodle Bowl, Fettuccine and Roast Pumpkin Soup. However if your not too hungry you can order one of their vegan pies or sausage rolls. They also have  range of vegan cheesecakes and brownies, Chocolate Sundae and Ice cream Dream boat for dessert.

I was going to order one of their new menu items, but I had been craving their burgers for so long. So to try something almost different I went for a burger I hadn’t tried before. I order the Mushroom Burger (marinated mushroom flats, lettuce, tomato, house dressing, mango chutney, vegan cheese), which included their house salad and hand cut potato chips.  Marco ordered their Veggie Burger (homemade veggie patty, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, house dressing, mango chutney) with the same sides and we shared a Peanut Butter Milkshake.

Mushroom Burger

Mushroom Burger

Veggie Burger

Veggie Burger

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Peanut Butter Milkshake

The burgers were just as good as I remembered them, bursting with flavor. The side salad was still just as good as before. They have the most amazing salad dressing. They chips were great too. I think they may be baked as they aren’t as crunchy, but also not oily at all. We fought over what milkshake we were going to order, but I am happy Marco won out on the Peanut Butter Milkshake. This milkshake was amazing. Not sure how they do it, but I can’t seem to get the same flavor at home.

After lunch we had a wander through the aisle. I bought some coconut yogurt, vegan chedder, gluten flour to make seitan and some bpa free organic beans. I didn’t do a really big shop as I expect to be back soon. We left very full, but we couldn’t resist splitting a vegan fudge brown on the way home. They still have the best brownies in Brisbane!

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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The Shady Palms Cafe & Bar

I really have an appreciation for weekends since I have started working. We now brunch every weekend. On this weeks brunching adventure I discovered a new cafe, The Shady Palms Cafe & Bar. I first saw them last week when I was browsing the Weekend Edition and noticed they had some vegan options on their menu. I really excited to try them since most cafes don’t give a vegan option for breakfast.

I haven’t been to Stones Corner for years. My mum use to take me and my friends when we were 14-15 years, to go shopping. I didn’t notice as many shops and boutiques this time, but God there are lot of cafes. It was also so busy. I think I will be frequently Stones Corner a bit more, as an alternative to other restaurant hotpots.

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So when we arrived at the cafe, I could not believe how busy it was. It was buzzing with customers and loud music and the kitchen looked so busy delivering one delish dish after the other. The cafe was also quite big, so you could sit in front, in the front bar room, the back room or the garden. We opted for the front bar as it was quite a windy day. The menu is has a Pan-American theme, so there are many menu items that I haven’t seen before. For vegetarians there are many options for breakfast and lunch, such as Sticky date, spiced pumpkin and ricotta hotcakes with pecan praline ice cream (breakfast) and Sliders with Grilled cheese w fried green tomato, mashed sweet potato and chipotle mayo (lunch). For vegans they have Fried green tomatoes w kale, sweet potato, corn and black eyed pea salsa for breakfast. For lunch there isn’t any vegan specific menu items, but I’m sure dishes like  the Tacos with Fried Okra, could be made vegan. Other menu items include espresso coffees with Bonsoy, teas, juices, cocktails and other alcohol beverages.

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We shared a table with a couple of guys who were also having breakfast. When we ordered at the bar we received this Yoko Ono image so our waitresses knew where we were. Marco can never go past a big breakfast, so of course he had the Shady Palm breakfast with House-made cornbread, maple bacon w poached egg, hollandaise sauce, kranksi and roasted mushroom. He doesn’t eat this stuff at home anymore, which is great so I go easy with him when we go out. I on the other had had the vegan dish, Fried green tomatoes w kale, sweet potato, corn and black eyed pea salsa. This was amazing and probably one of the most creative vegan dishes I have ever had. The only thing I could say was wrong with it was that I wanted to eat another plate of it. It was also quite light, so I could fit in a Bonsoy Flat White after.

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We were really impressed by the Shady Palms Cafe & Bar and can’t wait to take our friends. I really liked that they offer a delicious, creative vegan option, which sets them apart from most regular eggs and toast cafes.

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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!