Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baked vegies with a difference & a truly awesome salad

Here are a couple of simple, yet really yummy, meals I have eaten in the last week.

This is a meal my special man made me to welcome me home from NZ. It's based on Carla's Stuffed Butternut Pumpkin. This is a pumpkin stuffed with rice, chickpeas, capsicum & onion. The only thing we would have done differently is bake the pumpkin for longer, because it was a little bit firm. But, overall, delicious & a fantastic idea - thanks Caral!
Rather than waste the pumpkin flesh that had been scooped out, S mixed it with the leftover chickpeas, & fried it up with some onions, then stuffed the remaining capsicum & baked it for about 30min. Yum.

This is one of my all-time favourite salads. It's stupidly simple - literally just mix a bunch of baby spinach with a tin of drained chickpeas & a couple of finely chopped tomatoes. Add a splash of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar & some salt & pepper. This was our main meal, so to fill it out a little I picked up a ciabatta & baked some croutons to throw in.
I love croutons. Seriously, how awesome are they?

About Life, Rozelle

So I've found myself living in Rozelle. It's a lovely part of Sydney & the walk down Darling St through Balmain offers hours of potential eating & shopping. Of course, the first thing I did was check out the vegan eating options. The obvious one is Harvest Vegetarian, which is top of my 'must try' list. Unfortunately I'm also currently unemployed & expensive meals are temporarily off the agenda.

But, day 1 at my new home & I was still full of optimism about my employment prospects, so splashed out on lunch at About Life, Rozelle's organic supermarket. Like many organic stores it has a cafe attached, with a fair amount of vegan offerings on the menu.

I chose one of the breakfast options - the Scrambled Tofu.
This was different from the usual cafe fare. Soy sauce was absent from the sauce, which made me happy, and the tofu was instead flavoured with turmeric, cumin (I think) & something else I couldn't put my finger on. I actually enjoyed the toast most of all - thick & crusty & wholesomely satisfying.

Being part of a supermarket, there's not a whole load of atmosphere, though out on the verandah it is quite pleasant. I'd recommend it as a good spot for a quick lunch or snack, rather than a destination.

About Life
605 Darling St, Rozelle (they also have another store in Bondi Junction)
Mon-Thur 6am-8pm; Fri 6am-7pm; Sat & Sun 8am-5pm

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Vegan eating NZ - and the rest

To finish up my vegan eating in NZ posts, here's the rest of the vegan treasures I found along the way.

This Felafel Pita at Felafel Gourmet in Nelson was divine. I'm a big fan of sauce, and as you can see, this baby was absolutely loaded up with tahini sauce & chilli.
Felafel Gourmet
195 Hardy St, Nelson
Mon-Thu 9.30am – 5.30pm; Fri 9.30am-8pm; Sat 9.30am-4.30pm

From memory this Pizza & Salad lunch special at Winnies in Queenstown was only $10 - very good value. This is the Caprico without cheese. Not the tastiest (the sauce could have done with more flavour), but it did have a nice crispy base & wasn't short on toppings.
7 The Mall, Queenstown
7 days, 12pm-late

The Roasted Zucchini & Lentil Salad (without the feta) at Dux de Luxe in Queenstown was really good. It was a warm salad & had a nice balance of leafy greens, lentils & other assorted salad ingredients. The dressing was good too. Dux is a cool place - I recommend it for a quiet beer at the end of the day (before the DJ starts).
Dux de Luxe
14 Church St, Queenstown
7 days, 12pm-late

The ol' favourite - Avocado & Tomato on toast. I don't remember the name of the cafe, but it was a really funky little place in the main street of Wanaka.

Probably the biggest surprise of my whole trip. Stumbled into this place after arriving late into Fox Glacier. In such a small town, I really didn't expect much in the way of choice, but Cooks Saddle Cafe & Saloon had this Lentil Stuffed Capsicum listed as vegan right there on the menu - no changes required! It reminded me very much of nutmeat in texture & flavour & was very similar to the meals I make at home. A very pleasant meal to end a long day of driving.
Cooks Saddle Cafe & Saloon
19 State Highway 6, Fox Glacier
7 days, 11am-late (hours are seasonal, so call to check 03 751 0700)

Finally, this is a pretty standard Roast Vegetable Panini at Shoreline Cafe in Kaiteri. There was a false start with this one. I had asked for it without the ricotta & pesto (from memory), but it came out covered in melted mozarella (which wasn't listed on the menu). I took it back, apologising for not having specified no dairy (I'm always forgetting to do that & I really should have learnt my lesson by now). The waitress was pretty friendly about it & I was soon delivered a fresh meal. I really hate sending meals back (we've all heard the stories about chefs spitting in the food), but in this case there was nothing I could do to avoid the cheese & I was really hungry.
Shoreline Cafe
Corner Inlet & Sandy Bay Rds, Kaiteriteri
Summer - 7 days 7.30am-10.30pm; Winter - 7 days 10am-5pm (call to check - 03 527 8507)

Vegan eating NZ - post Milford Tramp

Have you ever done a tramp in NZ? Or a multi-day hike anywhere in the world? If you have, you'll know that after 4 days of eating the same food, you'll be craving something different in a big way. That's how I felt when we got back to Te Anau after completing the Milford Tramp.

First thing on the menu was one very long, very hot shower. It was awesome, the best shower I have EVER had. I was so in love with that shower I wanted to marry it.

Anyway, moving on, second thing on the menu was a nice glass of whiskey - which definitely hit the spot. And third thing on the menu was a hot, tasty meal. The Ranch in Te Anau provided just that. It's not a fancy place - just a country cafe/bistro/pub playing some pretty bad country music. But it was warm, the staff were friendly & they had vegetarian nachos on the menu. All i had to do was pass on the cheese & I was delivered a beautiful, tasty, crunchy, hot plate of goodness. The topping was the best thing about these nachos - with a whole mix of sauteed vegetables & beans.
The Ranch Cafe & Bar
111 Town Centre, Te Anau
7 days, 12pm til late

The fourth thing on the menu had to wait until the next morning - a real coffee. NZ is like France - they do bowls of coffee. Bowls of coffee are so awesome. Especially when you haven't had a real coffee in 4 days... sigh :-)

Vegan eating NZ - Otago Rail Trail

When we headed off on our adventure on the Otago Rail Trail, I wasn't expecting a whole lot in the way of vegan food. After all, once you leave the big cities behind in Australia, you're pretty much left with chips or salad at the pub. Not so in NZ. Not only is vegan not a dirty word, I actually found that people went out of their way to please me. Obviously, there were a couple of times when I resorted to a bowl of wedges at the pub, but considering we were on the road for 4 full days, that's not too bad.

Here are a couple of the highlights, starting with the Dunstan Hotel in Clyde. This is a baked potato stuffed with stir-fried vegies. I asked for no dairy & voila! This monster of a meal was promptly delivered. Awesome. I struggled to finish it, but forced myself to swallow every last mouthful, because I was worried I wouldn't see that many vegetables again for the next 4 days. I was wrong (happily).

Dunstan Hotel
35 Sunderland St, Clyde
7 days 11am-11.30pm

My other highlight was the Oturehua Tavern. Grahame & Liz run this awesome country pub & were our saviours after we were caught in 30min of drenching rain on the final leg into town. After settling into our room & changing into dry clothes, we wandered into the pub in our socks, put our shoes by the fire to dry & pretty much spent the rest of the evening curled up next to the fire sampling the local reds.

Having been told I was vegan (because our room came with breakfast), Liz very kindly went out of her way to make me a special lentil pie (& also made the bro a vegetarian version of the same pie). It was so awesome I can't really describe it in words. Because it wasn't just that the pie tasted good (& it tasted really really good). It was the friendliness, the welcoming atmosphere, the willingness to go out of their way to please & the feeling of having a warm, delicious meal at the end of a long day's cycling.
I highly recommend paying Grahame & Liz a visit. If you're planning to visit for lunch or dinner I would call ahead because I don't think there's anything vegan on the menu, but the tavern is equally worth a visit for a drink & a good chat.

Oturehua Tavern
Main Rd, Oturehua
Not sure about opening hours - give them a call 03 444 5856

Vegan eating NZ - Wellington

After 3 weeks in NZ I was pleasantly surprised with how well I was eating. I knew from prior research that Auckland (which I didn't even get around to visiting) & Wellington were going to be good, but I was a bit unsure about the rest of the country.

Here's a summary of the vegan eats I sampled in Wellington at the beginning & end of my trip. Starting off with a snack at Matterhorn. Matterhorn is all dark wood, dim lighting & trendy as can be. I liked it, but would have felt more comfortable at a laid-back bar. We got there too late for the full menu so had to satisfy ourselves with the bar snacks (there isn't really a whole lot more choice on the other menus for a vegan anyway). There are a couple of vegan options in the snacks - I went for the White Bean & Lemon Dip with Crispy Pitas & Spring Onion Relish.
This was yummy - not much different from what I make at home, but then, I wasn't at home was I?

106 Cuba St, Wellington
Mon-Fri 11.30am-late; Sat-Sun 10am-late

While discussing where we should go for dinner one evening I discovered Southern Cross. This pub/bar has a very vegan-friendly menu, making it oh so easy by actually marking the suitable items with the goold ol' 'v' for vegetarian or 'vg' for vegan. Love it. First visit I chose the Homemade Dips with Olives & Toasted Bread.
Not super-fancy, but everything it promised to be - there was a kumara & a beetroot dip & all the breads were really tasty.

The bro went with something a little more adventurous - a Stonegrill with Marinated Tofu, Veggies & Sesame Soy Noodles. The stonegrill is a volcanic rock heated to 400 degrees celsius, which you then use to grill your own meal. It's pretty cool. And also very tasty.
On my second visit I wasn't as hungry, so chose the Warm Winter Salad of parsnip, pear, walnuts, greens & marinated tofu. It was a big meal & extremely satisfying. Really hit the spot.
I loved this place. The vibe was great, the staff were friendly, the service was efficient & the music was cool. You should definitely put it on your Wellington list.

Southern Cross
39 Abel Smith St, Te Aro, Wellington
No idea what their hours are, but you could give them a call - 04 384 9085

Here we have one of the vegan breakfast options at the Maranui Cafe - the Scrambled Tofu with Avocado. There was way too much soy sauce on this - especially for a breakfast dish. But I loved the avocado toast - it went some way to balancing out that overwhelming salty flavour.
Maranui is a really cool cafe with great staff, great music, a laid-back vibe & fantastic views over the harbour. There's not a great deal on offer for vegans, but the coffee is good, so I recommend you at least give it a go.

Maranui Cafe
Maranui Surf Life Saving Club
The Parade, Lyall Bay, Wellington,
7 days, 7am-5pm

Last but not least is the Wellington stalwart - Midnight Espresso. For an omni cafe, this place is uber-vegan friendly. There's loads to choose from - whether you want a quick counter snack or something more substantial off the menu.

On my first visit I was just after a refreshing drink & decided to ask if their milkshakes could be made vegan. The answer? Yes they can. And to replace the dairy ice-cream they used avocado... aweseome! So here is my Vegan Raspberry & Avocado milkshake - super creamy, beautifully rich & even a little bit good for me :-)
My second visit to Midnight was at lunchtime & I was starving after a morning of tourist-type activities. I chose the vegan nachos. They came loaded with vegan goodies - beans, olives, jalapenos, salsa, avocado, vegan mayo & hommus. Yum yum yum!
Wellington knows how to do cool without pretension like nowhere else I've ever been & Midnight is no exception. Friendly staff, awesome laid-back vibe, good music (of course) & a menu that will leave you wanting to come back again & again until you have tried it all. A must for any veg*n in town.

Midnight Espresso
178 Cuba St, Wellington
Mon-Fri 7.30am-late; Sat-Sun 8am-late

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sydney Cruelty Free Festival

Last Sunday I was lucky enough to be in Sydney for the Cruelty Free Festival. I stopped off early in the morning to have a quick look around, but having just eaten a big breakfast, I decided to head off to do some work & return later in the day.

By the time I got back it was about 2pm & my tummy was rumbling pretty loudly. After umming & ahhing for a while I decided on the spinach & mushroom gozleme for lunch.
The gozleme was much more filling that I anticipated, so I had to walk around a bit before I could face dessert. There was SO MUCH to choose from. Cupcakes, cheescake, brownies, icecream, pastries, cookies, I was overwhelmed with choice.

In the end I couldn't go past the vegan cornetti (cream horn). Look at that beauty!
The pastry was super-light & flaky, filled with a delicious soy cream. I'm normally not a big soy-cream fan, but this one was nice.

Because there was so much choice I decided to have a second dessert course. This is a hazelnut Hungarian pull-apart pastry. It was their last one, so even though I only wanted a half, I got the whole thing for $5 - bargain! It was huge - about the length of a paper towel roll but much wider. And it was still warm from the oven - I had to stop myself from devouring the whole thing & making myself sick.
After another day of eating way too much I settled down on the grass in front of the main stage to watch some bands. It was so nice I abandoned my plans to move on and stayed for the rest of the afternoon. I was lucky enough to catch one of my favourite Australian artists - Diana Anaid.
Diana is a long-term vegan and animal rights activist. It was the perfect end to the festival to lie in the sun and listen to her beautiful music.

Thanks CFF organisers! Hopefully next year I'll be able to help out as well.

More Sydney vegan eats

I had one of those moments when I was uploading the photos for this post (all of stuff I ate on Saturday). I suddenly realised, 'holy crap, that's a lot of food!'. As one friend said, it's OK, you're on holiday. I like her thinking, but I'm not sure that I can justify the 'I'm on holiday, I'll eat whatever I want' thing for 3 months (and counting)... It's just so exciting to be in a new place - I want to try everything and I want it now!

Anyway, lets talk about the food. Next on my list of Sydney vegan-eats was Naked Espresso in Newtown. I was extremely tempted by the giant fry up and the Aussie vegan feast, but I decided to be sensible and went for the BLAT instead (using redwood vegan bacon). It came as an open sandwich with a side of vegan mayo & Dijon mustard. This was tasty, but I was left feeling a little dissatisfied. I think it's because this is the kind of meal I can make easily at home. When I go out for a meal I like to get stuff that's a bit different, or fancier than what I can be bothered to do myself. Not that I'm blaming Naked, I should have put more thought into my order.
I checked out the vegan pizzas on the Basil Pizza menu while I was there and I can't wait to get back and try them!

Naked Espresso
126 King St, Newtown
Sat-Sun 9am-2pm

For lunch I went back to my old Sydney backup - Iku. This time I opted for a change to my regular mezze box and got a rice ball wrap. It was all kinds of delicious, mainly because there was no skimping on the sauces. There were 2 different sauces in there, something tahini-ish and the other mayo-like and there was heaps!
Iku Wholefood
Various locations throughout Sydney, check website for opening hours

S & I met up with a couple of friends in Newtown for dinner & by the time we wandered down King St & chose Arabella - a Lebanese restaurant that K had visited before, we were all starving. Hence these photos are of the carnage left behind after our feast - we just couldn't wait for the photos to be taken!

This is what's left of my Fatoush - the salad was loaded up with beautiful deep-fried flat bread and tons of olive oil & lemon juice - yum yum yum!
The dips - only two of which were vegan - the hummus on the left & the garlic on the right. The waiter (possibly the owner?) had said originally that since we had ordered so much food he would 'bring us some dips'. This implied to all of us that they were complimentary. We were wrong - they were on the final bill. Oh well, they tasted good!
My fried cauliflower with tahini dipping sauce. I'm a huge fan of cauliflower but I've never eaten it like this before - I will be in future because it was delicious!
Two lonely felafels that no-one could squeeze in. I think these were my favourite dish - they were super-crispy & came with a side of pickled vegetables and the same tahini sauce I had with the cauliflower.
Just as we were all groaning & moaning about having eaten too much, the bellydancers came out (I think they are there Saturday & Sunday nights). I would have like to stay for the entertainment, but the others were all pretty tired so we said goodbye.

The food at Arabella was really really good - for that reason alone I'll go back. The service was friendly & efficient and there was a pleasant atmosphere. The prices are fairly high but now that we know how much you get for your money, next time we won't order so much.

489 King St, Newtown
7 days 5-11pm; Fri-Sun 12-3pm

Sunday, October 30, 2011

O Organic Produce, Surry Hills

On my quest for a vegan breakfast in Surry Hills, I happily stumbled across O Organic Produce - a recommendation from Mandee at Cupcake Kitteh. I have since discovered they have 2 other stores - at Bondi Westfield & Wynyard station.

O has that healthy, friendly vibe you get in most organic places. Lots of timber, lots of smiling staff and nice chilled music. We were there for breakfast, but I was sorely tempted by the array of takeaway lunch treats in the cabinet - the salads looked amazing.
I've actually been a couple of times now - it's the kind of place I know I will go back to again and again until I have tried every vegan thing on the menu.

On the first visit S got his favourite juice - apple, carrot & ginger. It was delivered quickly & was as fresh as you would expect.
I didn't have to think much about what to order for breakfast - the vegan french toast was a no-brainer. I was very curious to see how it would stack up to the Monk Bodhi Dharma version (see 1 & 2).
It stacked up well. The bread was super fresh, perfectly fried & topped with lovely sweet fresh fruit, toasted coconut & agave syrup. I still have a soft-spot for that vegan cream cheese at Monk Bodhi, but this version has to be at least equal for flavour.

There was only one hiccup - they forgot my coffee and when I finally got it after I had finished my breakfast the milk was burnt, which wasn't the nicest end to the meal.

Visit 2 went off without a hitch. This time I opted for savoury - organic baked beans on sourdough, with a soy banana smoothie.
The beans were really really good. The sauce had tons of flavour - based around their zucchini & tomato chutney and there were lots of nice fresh greens to balance the heavier, spicy flavour of the sauce.

O Organic Produce
487 Crown St, Surry Hills
Mon-Sat 7.30am-4.30pm; Sun 8.30am-3.30pm

Crave Sushi, Terrigal

Just a quick note to tell you about a new cafe in Terrigal. Crave Sushi has taken the place of a cafe (which I can't recall the name of) that was stupidly trendy & overpriced.

Unfortunately it seems to have maintained the status quo. While the staff were very friendly the day we visited (in complete opposition to what other reviewers have described), the prices are high, even for Terrigal standards. This is no fine-dining Japanese restaurant and offers nothing different from a standard Japanese takeaway that you would get on every corner in Sydney & Melbourne.

But, it still offers vegans another choice on the Coast, so I thought I should share. Here are the vegetarian inside-out rolls - crammed with lots of yummy tofu & fresh vegies.
I would still recommend vegans go to Body Fuel for a decent meal, but, if you find it closed (as we did), Crave at least offers a healthy alternative.

16 Church St, Terrigal
7 days, breakfast & lunch; dinner on the weekends in summer (call for exact times - 4384 6751)

Bodhi, Sydney

I'm taking advantage of my time in Sydney to check out every vegan-friendly offering that I can, just in case I don't make it back.

So far I have squeezed in 2 trips to Bodhi. Many others have been before me - check here for a start.

On our first visit I forgot my camera and it was way too dark to take any photos. You'll just have to take my word for it - the Sweet Vinegar & Soy Glazed Crispy Shitake Mushrooms were divine. Unfortunately there was a bit of a hiccup because I had actually ordered the Asian Stuffed Shitake Mushroom, but really wasn't concerned as the meal I ended up with was so yummy. S ordered the Peking 'duck' pancakes. This was also great, though I'm not a huge fan of mock meat, I could definitely appreciate the flavours.

The second visit to Bodhi was last weekend. We had initially tried to visit the Night Noodle Markets - part of the Sydney food festival - but after a quick walk around couldn't see anything particularly vegan-friendly at any of the stalls. Plus, the crowds were huge, which you can kind of see in this terrible photo I took with my phone.
Since we were already in the park, we decided to head back to Bodhi. Unfortunately I forgot my camera again, but we had a little more light, so I was able to take some very blurry shots.

This time I ordered the Mushroom, asparagus, red capsicum, soft tofu and cashew nuts tossed in a creamy coconut lemongrass sauce in an asian pastry. The flavours were unbelievable!
S got the Malaysian curry with lychee, asparagus, pineapple, snow pea, tofu, bamboo shoots and pine nuts. This was the first curry I have tried with so many sweet flavours - I really enjoyed it.
We have had great service on both of our visits to Bodhi - the staff are very attentive (it could border on annoying for some, but for me didn't reach that tipping point). The setting is beautiful, under the old moreton bay figs and I really can't imagine a nicer place to be on a warm summer's evening.

Lower Mezzanine Level of Cook and Philip Park (Between St Mary’s Cathedral and the swimming pool)
2-4 College St Sydney
Lunch 7 days 11am-4pm; Dinner Tue-Sun 5-10pm

Truman Cafe, Albert Park

My Melbourne office has just moved from South Melbourne to Albert Park and I quickly made it my business to discover the local food & coffee delights. I reckon I hit the jackpot on day 1. Truman Cafe seems to have only opened a few months ago, but in true Melbourne fashion, already has a loyal local following.

The first reason for that must be the coffee - perfect every time, smooth, strong and delivered in cute retro style.
The second reason is the atmosphere - a little bit retro, a little bit warehouse, a little bit bayside and with funky, chilled music all day long.
The third reason doesn't have a photo - it's the staff. Every single person I met over 3 days was super-friendly, helpful, efficient but laid-back at the same time and just all-round charming.

The menu doesn't have any outstanding choices for vegans, but it's not too bad for this part of the bay. On the first morning I ordered the sauteed mushrooms on toast. I think they came with feta, so I asked the waitress if that could be left out. She immediately asked if I was vegan, which I loved - it gives me confidence when 'vegan' isn't a foreign word. It turned out that the mushrooms were pre-cooked in butter, but as it wasn't busy the chef was happy to make up some fresh without the butter for me - what outstanding service!
The second meal I at was the now standard cafe fare of avocado & tomato on sourdough. A simple dish, but the freshest ingredients plus loads of avocado made it something special.
And then, once I spotted the pepper grinder I kept finding reasons to add more... and more. Just look how cute it is!
My final meal didn't get a photo - it was just a quick serve of toast on my way to the airport. I can't wait to get back to Melbourne now - Truman is the kind of place that becomes your home away from home. Vegans, don't go there expecting a feast, but I still recommend it based on the coffee, service & overall vibe.

Truman Cafe
381 Montague St, Albert Park
Mon-Fri 7am-5pm; Sat-Sun 8am-5pm

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blue Corn, St Kilda

I recently got to revisit Melbourne for a working weekend and took advantage of the opportunity to catch up with friends while I was there. For dinner one night I met a friend at Blue Corn in St Kilda. Despite having lived in St Kilda & Elwood for many years, I had never eaten at Blue Corn, mainly because of the prices. It's not overly expensive by any means, but it was always out of reach for my student-poverty lifestyle at the time.

I can't believe I waited so long. Blue Corn is AWESOME! My friend convinced me to have a margherita to start - isn't it beautiful?
I ordered the dips, which came with cornbread, corn chips & olives. It was huge, just as Carla had described! I loved the variety in flavours too - from memory the dips were guacamole, tomato/capsicum, hummus, olive & I really can't remember the fifth one. The cornbread was super-fresh & delicious too.
We had dessert at home, which was a mouth-watering bowl of fruit salad with lemon sorbet. In my opinion, the absolutely most perfect way to finish off a gorgeous meal.
I definitely recommend Blue Corn for south-side vegans - in my opinion it easily stacks up to Trippy Taco. The atmosphere is fun and the staff are friendly and laid-back, all in all a great place to hang out for the night.

Blue Corn
205 Barkly St, St Kilda
Mon-Fri 6-11pm; Sat-Sun 9am-11pm (these opening hours are unconfirmed - best to call them to check - 9534 5996)

Funky Pies, Bondi

Since I've been hanging around Sydney more I figured I may as well get out there explore this city's vegan offerings. While not quite as vegan-friendly as Melbourne, and with quite a reliance on Asian-inspired food (which I like, but don't love), I have been pleasantly surprised at what I have found so far.

On the day S & I completed the Coogee-Bondi walk, I made sure we timed it so we could visit Funky Pies for lunch. I have eaten their pies many times in Melbourne, but I was itching to visit the cafe after reading these reviews by Melbourne bloggers last year.

I was also happy to finally try the one pie I have never been able to get my hands on in Melbourne - the Eezy Chic 'n' Cheezy. I opted for the less-healthy option of mushy peas, mash & gravy (in place of salad).
As you can see, the pastry is super flaky & the pie was nicely browned on top. The filling delivered what it promised - chunks of 'chicken', broccoli & mushrooms in a creamy sauce. While I enjoyed it, it's not my favourite Funky Pie (that honour is still held by the classic Funky Chunky for now). I think the flavours probably weren't strong enough for me. The cafe itself is small, but has a great vibe with friendly staff. They also sell a range of vegan-friendly products alongside their own pies.

For dessert, I couldn't go past the brownie. Unfortunately, I left it in my bag all day and it melted a little bit. I realise that this photo doesn't look very appetising - but check out all that coconut oil! Cholesterol-free deliciousness!
I still haven't managed to get to Funky for their weekend breakfast, but I'm determined to try those pancakes, so stay tuned!

Funky Pies
144 Glenayr Ave, Bondi Beach
Mon-Fri, 7am-8.30pm; Sat-Sun 11am-8.30pm

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blue Mountains noms

I have just spent a lovely weekend in the Blue Mountains. The mountains are a haven for all kinds of alternative lifestyle types, but unfortunately there's not a lot of vegan noms on offer. There have been a couple of vegetarian cafes up there in the past, but I think the last one closed down a few years ago.

Lunch on day one was a picnic in the middle of one of our walks. After walking for a couple of hours this sourdough pumpkin seed roll with falafel, hummus & olives was unexpectedly delicious.
That night we headed into Katoomba for dinner & after walking the main street and checking all the menus for potential vegan fare, we decided on Cafe Zuppa. It had a promising listing of vegetarian mains. Sadly, none of those were vegan-friendly, but the staff were quite friendly & helpful about it. I chose the vegetarian pasta (no cheese). This was a huge bowl of tasty fettucine smothered with semi-dried tomatoes, artichokes, olives, eggplant & onion. Not mind-blowing, but tasty & very filling.
After dinner we stopped off at The Carrington for a drink. This gorgeous hotel has only recently reopened after extensive restoration work. I could easily have sat in front of the fire all night, but eventually we had to make our way home.
The next day we picked up some lunch at the Leura Markets. There was a mexican food stall with a clearly advertised vegan wrap. I love supporting businesses that make it easy for vegans so I happily tried one. It was really tasty - the tomato & bean mix was pleasantly spiced & topped up with lentils, zucchini & eggplant. Along with a simple fresh salad & nicely toasted flat bread it was the perfect antidote to the cold winds that were blowing through the mountains that day.