Friday, January 20, 2017

Melbourne Part 4

My final Melbourne post! The Monday we spent in Melbourne was my 35th birthday. We started with a celebratory breakfast at Matcha MylkBar in St Kilda (also my first time going to St Kilda). Matcha MylkBar has a long list of very silly sounding hot drinks. I would have loved to try so many of them, but I only had room for two. I started with a warming Apple Pie Latte (applie cider, apple pie spice, cinnamon).

Apple Pie Latte at Matcha Mylkbar


Ashleigh got the Potato Leek Rosti with Asparagus, Truffle Hollondaise and a Vegan Poached Egg. It was meant to have their new vegan fried egg, but they had sold out. She also got some Almond Fetta on the side.

Potato leek rosti, asparagus, corn truffle hollandaise, poached vegan egg,almond fetta at Matcha Mylkbar


I ordered the Heirloom Tomatoes, Fresh Avocado, Almond Fetta, Kale Pesto and Crispy Kale on toast, with a side of potato leek rosti and shiitake bacon. I know, I know. The vegan ordered essentially a fancy avocado toast. Also a vegan egg. The vegan egg I ordered cautiously as it is coconut based (and sweet potato), but after talking with them it transpired that it is more a coconut and almond milk blend, no heavy coconut oil or cream. So it didn't make me sick. It was pretty good in terms of texture, but taste wise is nothing like an egg. Definitely more a sweet thing (which they mention). Everything else was pretty nice, though the avocado was on top of everything and not on the actual toast! I had to move off the tomatoes to spread it onto the toast. I will make a mention of the toast, which was their own GF bread made from cactus flour. It was sensational!

Heirloom tomatoes, avocado, almond feta, kale pesto, crispy kale, toast, mushroom bacon, rosti, poached vegan egg at Matcha Mylkbar


I finished off breakfast with a sweet treat in my favourite colour - pink! They had cruffins (croissants baked into muffin shapes and filled), and I picked a strawberry filled one. It was no way at the level of the Smith & Deli croissants, but it was pretty nice! I also had a Beetroot Latte with it (beetroot juice, dehydrated beetroot, blood orange, chocolate), which was earthy and nice.

Beetroot latte at Matcha Mylkbar


Strawberry Cruffin at Matcha Mylkbar


I would have loved to have tried some of their other lattes, like the carrot cake latte and the charcoal latte. And looking at their menu now I see they have a new latte that has peanut butter and purple sweet potato in it... can someone send me one of those immediately please?

After brunch, we went for a little stroll around the St Kilda waterfront.

Luna Park


St Kilda


We headed back into the city and checked out some of the free exhibitions at ACMI, as well as hitting up some of the cute geek shops in the city for Neko Atsume and Tokidoki Unicorno collectibles. For lunch I went to one of my favourite places, Supercharger. You can pick from a whole selection of different components to put together your lunch. I don't really remember what I picked, but it was tasty.

Supercharger lunch


After this we had planned on going to the Art Gallery (which had so many cool things going on), however I was given the birthday gift of a crushing headache. So what actually happened is I had to go back to our room and lie down in the dark for two hours until it lifted. Oh well. At least it lifted in time for me to enjoy the Smith & Deli Strawberry & Cream tart I had been saving for my birthday.

For dinner we met up with my friend Jess and my brother (who was also visiting Melbourne) at Neko Neko, a Japanese place that has several vegan options. I love Japanese! Plus they have homemade soy iced matcha in adorable bottles!

Iced soy matcha at Neko Neko


We ordered everything to share. Starting with the Eggplant Dengaku and the Tofu Agedashi, both of which came with a fun plate with several different little mounds of different tasty things. They were both great, but the dengaku sauce was particularly amazing.

Eggplant Dengaku at Neko Neko


Tofu Agedashi at Neko Neko


We also shared the vegan ramen. They make their own vegan ramen noodles, however as two of our party were GF we got it with rice noodles. I suspect it would have been better with the actual ramen noodles (also in other photos I have seen the gluten full vegan ramen seemed to have additional toppings), but it was still good.

Vegan Ramen at Neko Neko


Finally we got the Raw Okinomiyaki. This really in no way resembled okonomiyaki, but was more like a delicious (if rich) nut cheese terrine.

Raw Vegan Okinomiyaki at Neko Neko


Afterwards we walked to Casa del Gelato for some dairy free sorbets.

Casa Del Gelato dairy free selection


Tuesday was our final morning in Melbourne, and we of course headed back to Smith & Deli one last time. This time I got the Egg McMartinez for breakfast. It has a tofu egg, bacon and cheese and chose aioli and BBQ sauce to go on it.

Egg McMartinez from Smith & Deli


I had hoped to stock up on a lot of yummies to take home with me, but unfortunately they didn't have much. They are closed on Sunday and Monday, and it was early on Tuesday morning, so there wouldn't have been enough time for everything to be fully stocked I guess. I did get a mulled wine brownie to take home.

Mulled Wine Brownie from Smith & Deli


Then we headed off to the airport. On the way, we stopped at Lord of the Fries to get a second breakfast. I got the mini Tibet (tofu egg, cheese, mayo, mustard) with a hash brown. It was adequate.

Mini Tibet Burger and Hash Brown from Lord of the Fries


On the flight home I was given another vegan meal, this time a warm curry wrap, though I didn't take a photo. Then it was home and into the furry embraces of my living kitties. I always love visiting Melbourne, the food is just so good. I am not sure when I will get a chance to get there again, but I will enjoy the memory of this trip for a long time to come.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

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Back in my second Melbourne post I shared a photo of Morgan, one of the cats that Leigh was looking after. This is Buster, the other cat. Super silly and fun.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Melbourne Part 3

Going back to my Melbourne trip in November. For dinner on Saturday we went to Fina's 2 in Fitzroy. This was my second trip to Fina's, which has a giant vegan Vietnamese menu.

We started with some rice paper rolls, because I love fresh rice paper rolls. I skipped the dipping sauce, though. It was too chili for me!

Rice Paper Rolls at Fina's 2


For drinks Ashleigh had their Lemon Lime & Bitters and I had the Taro Frappe. I get so excited when I find vegan taro drinks, they are purple and they taste like cookies. So good.

Lemon Lime & Bitters; Taro Frappe at Fina's 2


Ashleigh had the Bamboo Noodle Soup (which is what I had last time, though she had to get it gluten free so it didn't have the different mock meats in it). And I had the pho. These are both huge and delicious bowls of steaming hot and tasty soup. So big that we couldn't quite finish them! But they were good, so we pushed it as far as we could.

Bamboo Noodle Soup at Fina's 2


Vegan Pho at Fina's 2


We waddled home with full tummies, but still managed to have a bed dessert picnic while watching some RuPaul Drag Race season 1. We had a GF Chocolate Strawberry Brownie from Smith & Deli (so good, they make the best fruity brownies) and a slice of GF Apple Berry Pie from Fatto A Mano (adqueate, nice tart filling but the pastry was so so).

GF Chocolate Strawberry Brownie from Smith & Deli; GF Apple and Rhubarb Pie from Fatto a Mano


For Sunday morning breakfast, I tried somewhere new. We headed out to Little River Cafe in Brunswick for breakfast with Leigh. I started with a quite nice soy chai.

Soy Chai at Little River Cafe


They were launching their new menu that morning, and had a special of vegan waffles with ice cream, peanuts and chocolate syrup. Leigh braved this, along with a side of hash browns. But she reported that it was way too sweet for her (she suspected as much, but was lured by the waffles anyway). For morning sweet tooth lovers only!

Vegan Waffles and Hashbrowns at Little River Cafe


I ordered the pancakes, which came with ice cream and berries. And I got a side of hash browns and a side of vegan bacon. I was excited about the ice cream because they told me it was soy based, however when it came it was clearly coconut based. And the sort of gross too fatty coconut type, so I had to scrape it off. But the pancakes were good, and the hash browns were good. The bacon was OK, though I just don't love vegan mock bacon, I am a tempeh bacon girl forever.

Vegan Pancakes with Hashbrowns and Vegan Bacon at Little River Cafe


Ashleigh had the Hash Brown Wrap with tofu, which she said was good but needed more sauce.

GF Hash Brown Wrap at Little River Cafe


After brunch, Ashleigh and I headed into the city to see Kinky Boots. It was a lot of fun! To sustain ourselves, we picked up a couple of sushi rolls from a place in the city. No photos. They were just OK sushi. But it got us through the afternoon.

That night we had a truly special dinner at the recently opened Transformer in Fitzroy. This is a fancy place, with fancy food! We requested the vegan and GF 'Feed Me' option, which is $45 and they bring you several dishes to try. The only downside was that they took our menus away quite quickly after confirming this, so I didn't get a chance to notice the fun non-alcoholic and non-fizzy drinks they had. Oh well, water is always good.

The first dish was Organic Popcorn with Japanese Spiced Sea Salt and Nori. Normally I am not a fan of popcorn, except for that sweet and salty stuff that I can never seem to put down. But this was delicious. Wonderfully seasoned, and without that annoying texture that normally turns me off popcorn.

Oragnic Popcorn with Japanese Spiced Sea Salt and Nori at Transformer


This was followed up by an Artichoke and White Bean Dip with Caperberries, and a truly excellent GF flatbread for dipping. Of course, as always, we wished there was more bread!

Artichoke and White Bean Dip with Caperberries at Transformer


GF Flat Bread at Transformer


The Mozarella, Zucchini, Mint and Pea Salad with Currant Puree was refreshing, with the creamy mozarella and the sweet currants. My tummy can be a bit iffy with raw zucchini (zoodles are a no go in my household), but they managed it perfectly.

Mozarella, Zucchini, Mint and Pea Salad with Current Puree at Transformer


The Steamed Broccolini with Pumpkin Seeds, Barberries, Saffron infused feta, and Pecans was OK. I didn't think the flavours worked together as well as some of the other dishes. Plus they had made it quite oily.

Steamed Broccolini with Pumpkin Seeds, Barberries, Saffron infused fetta, and Pecans at Transformer


The Cumin-Braised Eggplant, Chermoula, Smoked Labneh, Quinoa Crisps and Mint was amazing yet problematic. The eggplant was divine, it just kind of melted in your mouth. Beautiful. And the crisps were fun as well. However the sauce was really just too spicy for both of us (even though I had been assured at the start that there was nothing in that night's feed me menu that was very spicy). I scraped off the sauce for the eggplant underneath, but it was spicy.

Cumin-Braised Eggplant, Chermoula, Smoked Labneh, Quinoa Crisps and Mint at Transformer


My favourite dish of the night was the Three Rice Pilaf with Lentils, Chickpeas, Pomegranate and Fried Onions. I loved the crunchy texture and the sweetness of the onions and the tartness of the pomegranate seeds. I could have eaten a huge bowl of this.

Three Rice Pilaf with Lentils, Chickpeas, Pomegranate and Fried Onions at Transformer


Of course we had to try their desserts (not included in the price of the feed me menu). Only two of their desserts were vegan, and only one of those was also GF for Ashleigh. So she had the Warm Chocolate Brownie, Salted Coconut Ice Cream, Cherry Gel and Hazelnut Ganache. This was incredibly rich, I tried a bit. The coconut ice cream was of course way too coconut fatty for me, but I scored a lot of her cherry gel which I enjoyed.

Warm Chocolate Brownie, Salted Coconut Ice Cream, Cherry Gel, Hazelnut Ganache at Transformer


I know you are confused as to why I also didn't get the above dessert, I am not shy about my love for cherry and chocolate. However I (rightly) suspected that the coconut ice cream would be gross for me. Also, I was intrigued by the other vegan dessert. Pistachio Cake with Saffron Poached Pear, Star Anise Meringue, Almond, and Lemon Thyme Sorbet just sounded too different and interesting to pass up! It was really good (and the sorbet was refreshing and not coconut fatty at all, though they put it on the side for me just in case). I especially loved the poached pear.

Pistachio Cake with Saffron Poached Pear, Star Anise Meringue, Almond, and Lemon Thyme Sorbet at Transformer


Transformer was a really delightful experience, and I would highly recommend it to everyone. I would like to go back sometime and order off the menu itself, because there are lots of yummy things on there.

One more Melbourne post to go! Then I will get to Christmas.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post: Sahara Update

Sahara


Someone decided to pull out some sutures, and so is now wearing the neck tutu. Sahara's final results came back, confirming that the mass in her colon is indeed lymphoma. As I mentioned, this is the 'best' sort of cancer to have, out of a bunch of shitty options. But obviously it is still cancer, and I am devastated that my little bear has this going on inside of her. We can't take out her stitches until the 25th, and will be starting her first week of chemo then. I really hope it works.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Cruelty Free Shop January 2017 Mystery Box

A quite break in the Melbourne posts. This is a nice short post, which I can manage easily. An update on Sahara is at the end of this post, with her cute kitty photo.

For Christmas this year I again got a six month Cruelty Free Shop Vegan Mystery Box subscription. The first box turned up this week. And this is what was inside.

January Vegan Mystery Box


  • Orgran Outback Animals Chocolate Cookies: I haven't had these before, but I have had a lot of the other Orgran products including their vanilla kids cookies. They are in cute animal shapes, which makes me feel a bit weird eating them, but they are fun for a snack.
  • Nature's Charm Jackfruit: I enjoy making assorted jackfruit dishes, and while I have a few tins in my cupboard already I am always happy to have more. Pulled BBQ jackfruit is very delicious.
  • Global Organic Black Beans: I was low on black beans, so this is very handy!
  • Just Wholefoods Lemon Jelly Crystals: I don't know if lemon would be my choice, I much prefer strawberry or raspberry, but I am planning to use this in some sort of fun dessert. I do find that sometimes this brand of jelly sets very soft, so just be aware of that if you are using it to make anything that requires a form to be held.
  • The Chocolate Yogi Astral Cruch: I am generally pretty pick about raw chocolate, except for Loving Earth with is the best. But this is meant to be very good. It doesn't have coconut oil in the ingredients, so I am keen to give it a try.
  • GoMaxGo 2Fer Bar: I was cautiously optimistic when this first came out as I used to love Twix bars. Unfortunately this was nothing like a Twix bar, and I am not a fan.
  • Eco-Vital Fruity Gummy Bears: These seem like a fun snack or decorating option.
  • Hurraw Almond Cardomom & Rose Lip Balm: I love the flavours and smells or Hurraw, though generally I don't find the lip balm itself strong enough for my dry dry lips. But this sounds delicious... must not eat it.
  • Emma & Tom's Cocoa and Coffee Bean Life Bar: I love Emma & Tom's bars, though will be gifting this one because I do not love coffee.


This month's box is nice, though there is nothing particularly stand out for me. I have five more boxes to go, and will continue to share with you!

I do just want to make a note as well regarding chocolate. This year I am striving to only buy fair trade chocolate (see theFood Empowerment Project's Chocolate List for more information). Obviously when signing up to boxes, I am not in control of what is put in the box. I know that GoMaxGo chocolate is not fair trade. I am not sure about The Chocolate Yogi or Emma & Tom's. Orgran is on their approved list. I am planning on doing a post at some point about my adventures in fair trade chocolate from an Australia perspective (a lot of the brands on the approved list are not available here).

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post: Sahara Update

Sahara home from surgery


Sahara had her surgery on Thursday in the end, the surgeon was sick on Tuesday. The surgery itself went well, and her recovery from it has so far been good. She was in hospital for two days, but came home with me yesterday afternoon. She seems fairly well in herself considering she had major abdominal surgery three days ago. On the good news side of things, the liver lesions are benign changes. That has been confirmed on histopathology from the lab. Unfortunately the mass in her colon is definitely cancer. Most probably lymphoma, though I am still waiting on the final final confirmation from the lab. Lymphoma is the best option in a long line of crappy options, as it tends to have the best response to chemo (though the drugs that she has been on to control her IBD for the last four years may interfere with that, we just have to wait and see). I'll update you again when the final result is in.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Melbourne Part 2

Hey everyone. I've had a pretty light on posting month for December. I guess I needed a little break after MoFo. I barely turned my laptop on for the last week, except to download new podcasts (current favourite is Babes Watch Buffy). Things are pretty tense for me at the moment. Those of you who follow my Twitter and Instagram will know that Sahara had an ultrasound last week that found lesions in her liver and a mass in her colon. She is going in for surgery tomorrow to get biopsies. These are not good things to have. I am a bit of a wreck, so my blogging will probably continue to be sporadic. Or maybe I will blog heaps to try and distract myself from things. Who knows. Anyway, I had mostly written this second post about my November Melbourne trip, so here it is. I am going to try and finish off Melbourne before I talk about Christmas food, which may mean a while until I post, but rest assured we had an excellent Christmas feast.

Back to Melbourne! We had already managed a fairly substantial day of eating, but then it was dinner time. We had thoughts of going out to a vegetarian/vegan food truck out in Preston, but we were tired after a long hot day of walking around and the wind was getting up so we decided to go closer to home at one of my Melbourne staples, Yong Green Food, and glad that we did as things got extremely gusty and it would have been very unpleasant in an outdoor food truck situation.

We shared the Mock Tuna Nori Rolls and the Buckwheat Pancake Roll to begin with. The nori rolls were OK, but the buckwheat pancake was outstanding!

Mock Tuna Nori Roll at Yong Green Food


Buckwheat Crepe at Yong Green Food


We also refreshed ourselves after our hot sunny day of walking with some Watermelon Crush drinks, which are watermelon crushed with lemon and ice. So sweet and cooling.

Watermelon Crush at Yong Green Food


For our mains, Ashleigh had the Raw Kelp Pad Thai. Unfortunately the chili cashew sauce was a bit beyond her spicy tolerance (and definitely way exceeding mine), so most of this got left behind. It is just a big hunk of all the same flavour, nothing to break it up, so only pick this if you are into spicy! I ordered the Yin and Yang Charger, which is a combination of different things. Overall it was really nice, though the batter on the oyster mushrooms was tasteless and I pulled it off and just at the mushrooms, and the sauce on the tofu was sweet but a bit too spicy.

Kelp Pad Thai at Yong Green Food


Yin and Yang Charger at Yong Green Food


Yong Green mostly tends towards the raw dessert side of things, which does not float my boat. However earlier at Friends of the Earth I had picked up a beloved sourdough cinnamon sugar doughnut made by Crumbs Organic Bakehouse AKA the best doughnuts ever. It was delicious.

Crumbs Organic Sourdough Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut


The next morning it was back to Smith & Deli. Saturday is croissant day there, and I was so excited. Originally they used to make their croissants with coconut oil, which were a no go for me. However they now make them with a vegetable blend that is perfect for me! The croissants aren't ready first up, you need to go a little later. I was still too keen and early, so I decided to have a pre-breakfast snack of a chai and some fruit. But fruit I mean a Strawberry and Cream tart, of course.

Strawberry and Cream tart, Chai from Smith & Deli


We ate our breakfast in the park (even though it was a bit nippy), and then had a stroll around Carlton Gardens to pass some time.

Carlton Gardens


Carlton Gardens


Then it was croissant time! They have a few different flavour options, so I got a chocolate, and almond, and a pizza croissant to take away for freezing and transporting back to Brisbane. And I got the Croissantwiches of Eastwick to eat then and there. This is a croissant with ham, cheese and mustard actually baked into it. It was amazing!! Best croissant pastry ever as well.

Croissantwiches of Eastwich from Smith & Deli


And of course I got some stuff to take away. Including a Blueberry Danish. And, oh look, a strawberry and cream tart!

Croissant; Blueberry Frangipane Danish; Strawberries and Cream Tart from Smith & Deli


There was actually a vegan beer and food festival on this day, though as it was cold and raining and we didn't want to get stuck with crowds we went and met with Leigh for lunch at Ray's Cafe in Brunswick (which was actually just around the corner from the festival). This was a solid plan. Ray's is not vegan, but has an exciting vegan menu.

All three of us started with the Beet Roots and Manuva Smoothies (Beetroot, Raspberry, Banana, Pure Maple, Hibiscus, Date & Coconut water).

Beet Roots and Manuva Smoothies at Ray's Cafe


Ashleigh had the Steam Funk for her starter (Steamed Edamame, Coriander Salt & Lemon), as it was gluten free.

Steam Funk at Ray's Cafe


Leigh and I shared the Fries Against (Beer Battered Fries, Aioli & Pickles + Vegemite Gravy, Miso Cheese & Pickles) and oh my gosh this was AMAZING!

Fries Against at Ray's Cafe


For mains, Leigh for the Beast of Brunswick (Crispy Mock ‘Chicken’, Miso Cheese, Avocado Raita, Baby Cos, Pickled Adelaide Tomato, Pickle Aioli & Apple Relish in a Toasted Sourdough Bun)

Beast of Brunswick at Ray's Cafe


Ashleigh got the Rojo Mojo Juju (Smoked Tofu, French Lentils, Roast Baby Potatoes,Pickled Brussel Sprouts, Almonds, Basil & Mojo Rojo).

Rojo Mojo Juju at Ray's Cafe


And I got Rage Against The Tagine (Mushroom Tagine, Charred Quinoa Bread, Greens, Cauliflower Hummus, Garlic Crumbs, Smoked Tofu, Pickled Shiitake & Pea Tendrils), which was delicious!

Rage Against The Tagine at Ray's Cafe


After this, we strolled around Brunswick for a little bit. There is a bakery called Choukette that has some vegan things, and Leigh and I both got some macarons. Do not do this, they were disgusting and awful and left a foul taste and texture in our mouths. Gross. Leigh was house and cat sitting, so we went back to meet the kitties. Morgan and Buster were both delightful, especially given that I was missing my own kittes!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

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This is the black beauty named Morgan. She is a very glorious girl!