4

What I Ate: The Night Markets Edition

For my last What I Ate of 2016, I’m finishing up with a lot of eats from summer night markets. But first, I made the Thai Barbecue Seitan Ribs from Street Vegan, one of my most loved cookbooks. I screwed up the amount of tofu so the seitan was way mushy but gosh Adam Sobel knows his way around complementary flavours. This sandwich includes smoked chili roasted peanuts (I used half peanuts half almonds because not enough peanuts) and pickled Thai basil onions.

I had the leftover seitan, sauce, pickled onions the nuts with some rice the next day:

To market to market! First up, the Coburg Night Market. I haven’t been in a very long time and Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe mentioned some great Indian nachos she had there. So I went on the final night to try them but alas they weren’t there. I did however try the vegan option black bean taco from Perla Tacos which was a nice snack before going to pounce on more vegan options:

Since becoming vegan my eyes have evolved to have little laser beam thingies shoot out and target any sign that says ‘vegan’ on it. And so it was that I found myself lining up for gluten free gnocchi in a Napoli sauce from the Ardor Food Co stand. I’ve never had gluten free gnocchi, well apart from a forgettable home made attempt using sweet potato, but this was truly excellent gnocchi. Light and fluffy and just lovely. I’d say the nicest gnocchi I’ve ever tried:

In fact it was so good I lined up again for another bowl, this time with the vegan pesto sauce. While the pesto flavours were very good, it was way heavy on the oil for me (I know I know it’s pesto) because of how I’m oil-free at home. So if I had this again, I’d definitely get the tomato based sauces. I was very pleased to see Ardor have stockists near me:

It was fun watching Chef Vince Lotito prepare the gnocchi:

On to the Queen Victoria Market summer night market! I anticipated packed crowds and coming home smelling like a bbq and I was right on both counts. I headed straight towards the Rice and Dice stall to get the Indian nachos because I’d figured out where Johanna bought them from and they were pretty good and far more filling than I had thought:

For a second course I got the vegan momo dumplings from Nepal Dining Room:

When I see an interesting looking food I have to try it if there’s a vegan option and despite being full, I had to have the dhal hopper from Hopper Man’s Stall, part of Drums Cafe at the Queen Vic Market. The ‘bowl’ and the lid you see are crepe-like and made with coconut milk and (I think) rice flour. A chef was telling a customer the ingredients but it was hard to hear but I think she said rice flour. What a fun meal, I disassembled it a bit for the photo but it was like a bowl and lid. I had seen people walking around with these and I was all WOT IS IT I WANT IT so I was most pleased to see the vegan option:

I’ll finish off with scenes from both the Coburg Night Market and the Queen Vic summer night market. The little Christmas tree photo at the top with the beautiful wooden ornaments is from the Birdhouse Collection stall, where I picked up a sweet carved snowflake ornament.

18

Vegan Food Options At The Queen Victoria Night Market 2015

at Queen Victoria Night Market

Tonight I headed down to the Queen Vic for the winter night market. I went last year and wanted to check it out again this year to see if there were more, or less, vegan food options. I can tell you I walked away pretty much pleased (and full… all in the name of blog research, you understand)!

Following is my review and some info on the food stalls, but please make sure to confirm with a stall yourself before purchasing! There were a couple of stalls that were a little hesitant when I asked if a dish was vegan before saying yes. Other stalls could tell me straight away if something was vegan and what they put in it, which is what I want to hear as both a vegan and dairy intolerant person!

I’d also advise getting there at the opening time of 5pm if you can. At this time hardly anyone was around, though by the time I left at 8pm it was packed.

Lankan Pots Drums Cafe at Queen Victoria Night Market

My first stop was at Lankan Pots. Sri Lankan food plus ‘vegan’ written on the menu board equals awesome! I was so glad to get there early because I was chatting to the staff about the vegan curry pouches. A foil pocket is filled with all manner of veggies, soy protein (mock meat) and what turned out to be an incredibly flavourful curry sauce. The pouch sits on some saffron rice and I tipped out the contents and got stuck in to it all. This was so good that when I go back, I’ll get it again and break my own rule of not trying the same thing twice in a row. I’d also like to thank Lankan Pots as my meal was given to me at no cost.

Lankan Pots also serve other dishes with a vegan option. The chickpeas looked great and I’ll grab those next time as well. If you can’t make it to the night market, check out Drums Cafe at the Queen Vic food court.

lankanpotsatQVM2

Last year I bought a lot of fudge from The Decadent Desserts Company. They were gifts for others but ah, I kinda ate them all. Tonight I headed straight to Decadent Dessert’s stall and bought a few more ‘gifts’. I a lucky recipient will receive salted caramel fudge, vanilla and macadamia fudge and pomegranate pistachio fudge. All the products are vegan and gluten free. I also got to try a cup of the hot chocolate which was beautiful and perfect for how cold it was tonight. Many thanks to the Decadent Desserts Co for giving me the hot chocolate on the house. If you’re going to World Vegan Day Melbourne on November 1st, be sure to look for the Decadent Desserts stall.

The Decadent Desserts Co at Queen Victoria Night Market

I read about Those Girls and their hot apple cider and made sure to pay them a visit. When I went to the US in the mid 90s, my friends there were always drinking hot apple cider (which pretty much consisted of heating it up in the microwave). There was a bit of a queue by this time but very much worth the wait. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Those Girls Facebook page to see where they’ll be next, so I can get (loads) more.

Those Girls at Queen Victoria Night Market

Husband loves bretzels so I stopped by the Bretzel Biz cart. The salted bretzel is vegan:

Bretzel Biz at Queen Victoria Night Market

I had planned on buying some cassava hot chips from the Cassava Chip Man but I was a little full and decided to keep these for next time for my tram ride home. I was given a sample and the chips were great, much more oomph and substance than hot potato chips!

Cassava Chip Man at Queen Victoria Night Market

The Auto Rickshaw staff told me their chickpea masala on rice is vegan:

Auto Rickshaw at Queen Victoria Night Market

Chooh La La were there, handing out samples of nuts. Hopefully they’ll be at World Vegan Day again because I love them:Chooh La La at Queen Victoria Night Market

The Hawaiian Grill stand have a vegetarian option on their menu display and told me it was vegan. Sounds awesome!

Hawaiian Grill at Queen Victoria Night Market

Rice and Dice were back, with vegan options clearly labeled. I enjoyed my meal there last year and I was happy to see them here again:

Rice and Dice at Queen Victoria Night Market

You’ll find a long queue at The Soup Factory. Bowls of soup served in bread bowls! A pyramid of bread! The Mediterranean Lentil soup is vegan and I missed out last year. Looks like I need a few more visits to fit in all the stuff I want to try, Soup Factory included:

Soup Factory at Queen Victoria Night Market

A few hours later I was feeling hungry again and finished off with the vegan burger from The Little Mushroom Co. Served simply with rocket but packing a lovely punch with the dressing, this was a winner. Keep an eye on Little Mushroom Co as they may be introducing more vegan options:

Little Mushroom Co at Queen Victoria Night Market

This band is Holy Moses Heartache and they were great. Apologies to the other band members who aren’t in the photo!

live music at Queen Victoria Night Market

The Queen Vic Night Market is on every Wednesday from 5pm – 10pm until August 26th. There are loads of non-food stalls too, though I didn’t get to check them out much tonight.

Have you been to the night market this year? Any vegan tips to share?

at Queen Victoria Night Market

8

Luna1878 Winter Night Market: the vegan perspective and some Melbourne love

Luna1878 night market

Tonight I headed down to the Queen Vic Market for the Luna1878 Night Market. I’ve been pretty slack with the night markets in general, always meaning to go but when I remember, it’s already Thursday.

My mission was to spend my birthday cash on vegan goodies and locally produced items that really grabbed me. Over the years I’ve changed my shopping style from a wishy washy yeah that’ll do (which I applied to my wedding dress, I couldn’t be bothered trying on anything else after the second meringue), to only buying things I really, really need or love.

I was messing around with camera settings and towards the end, juggling things in both hands trying not to take blurry shots, so apologies for any crappiness that jumps out and smacks you in the nose.

The first stall I hung out at was MAD Products, chatting with Maxine Wren.  Maxine photographs Melbourne streetscapes and graffiti then, using locally sourced wood, turns them in to items like coasters, place mats, small furniture and pictures. For every Graffitiscape coaster and place mat sold, $1 and $3 respectively are donated to Youth Projects Hosier Lane.

Melbourne Streetscapes MAD Products

I loved looking at the MAD coasters. Having lived away from my home town for a few years, I only really appreciated Melbourne once I was homesick. Now I love picking up little bits and pieces reflecting how much I love my city and if we ever live overseas again, I want to be able to take those bits and pieces with me.  So today I couldn’t go past this coaster for $10:

Melbourne Streetscapes MAD Products

I love love love it. When I go in to the city, I try to make the time to walk down Hosier Lane. So my coaster will be used every time I make my tea, which is numerous times a day.

When I was going through my photos (and so many didn’t turn out, including the others I took of Maxine’s stall, arghgh) I realised that because I had been yapping away so much, I completely missed the box of place mats right in front of me! The first one was a picture of the exterior of the Royal Arcade, one of my favourite Melbourne buildings. I know some of my friends and relatives love images of Melbourne like I do, so these would make great gifts.

MAD Products has a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MaxineArtisticDesigns/info  

 

Next up was The Decadent Desserts Company with their big table full of fudge.  I asked if the fudge was vegan, which meant I completely missed this sign:

The Decadent Desserts Co

EEEEEEeeeeee! It made me wonder how many people, like me, ask “is it vegan”.  Which of course is a fab thing! Check out the table of tasty delights:

The Decadent Desserts Co

thedecadentdessertsco1

I bought the larger packet of that Coffee & Walnut fudge you see, plus the smaller $4 snack pack of Chai Fudge, Coconut Fudge and of course the Peppermint. I’ve already eaten the coconut which was delicious. I sampled some of the ginger and that was great too. Another great gift idea!

The Decadent Desserts Company can be found at http://decadentdesserts.com.au/ 

 

Husband is a big bretzel man. We visited Germany a few times (cos we were living next door) and if we got separated I knew I just had to go and find the closest bretzel shop. I bought two tonight from Bretzel Biz. I gave the bag to Husband, then when I went to have some a few minutes later he’d already scoffed the first one and was going all lockjaw on the second.  I’d say he liked them very much, you should have seen him being all foamy mouth impatient when I was trying to take this photo.  This is a photo taken under extreme bretzel pressure:

Bretzel Biz

I had some too (much to Husband’s horror) because YAY the bretzels are vegan. Only the plain ones though, the flavoured ones like salted caramel are not (I don’t think). The plain ones are $4 each.

Check out Bretzel Biz at http://www.facebook.com/Bretzel.biz

 

Signs like this are like the black holes of goodness.  They suck me right in. I love that vegan labeling is becoming so common. I’ve only been vegan for a couple of years but when I started out, I always had to ask if stuff was vegan, what are the ingredients etc etc. Chooh La La!

Chooh La La Praline

Chooh La La Praline

I really liked the almonds so I bought a bag for $5. I have to try really hard not to eat them all in one go. Mehhh, who am I kidding.  I’m going to eat them all now.

Chooh La La can be found at http://www.facebook.com/choohlala

Regretfully, I didn’t get the name of the stall I bought these Melbourne badges from ($2 each or $10 for six badges).  The badges are made from street directory maps. The Melbourne one is mine, the Sunshine one is for a friend who grew up there:

Melways badges

 

The Birdhouse Collection stall had some gorgeous wooden animal shaped magnets. I couldn’t decide which one to get.  So I thought what would Harry Potter do?

thebirdhouse

There were other lovely animal designs, including Australian animals, as well as hot air balloons and merry go rounds.

The Birdhouse Collection can be found here: http://www.thebirdhousecollection.com.au/

 

I’m a sucker for buying popcorn that is different than the plain old salted (and heavily burnt) break-your-teeth popcorn I make at home. I also wanted to buy something for the family and I knew they’d love this popcorn from The Steel Drum Popcorn Company. Seriously, you could take a lovely fire heated bath in this massive steel kettle and swish your salts around with the paddle:

Steel Drum Popcorn Co

The popcorn is cooked in oil and dusted with salt and sugar and is addictive. Naturally I wouldn’t hesitate to buy more.  I’ve forgotten how much it cost too:

steeldrumpopcornco2

 

I made sure I went to the night market hungry and I was really curious to see what vegan options there were. After passing row after row of heavily meaty places, I crossed my fingers and hoped that the ‘vegetarian’ on the Rice and Dice sign actually meant vegan.  AND IT DIIID:

Rice And Dice

riceanddice4

Sooo I’m one of those eyes greedier than the stomach people. When I asked the friendly guy up there for something vegan, “I don’t mind what it is, as long as it’s vegan” (that’s me), I didn’t actually ask what the dishes were.  I just asked if I could get a combo of whatever was vegan. Maybe someone did mention what the dishes were, but my brain was all veganveganveganit’svegan:

Rice And Dice

Whatever it was, it was really good.  Next time I’ll pay more attention. I can’t find an online info source for Rice and Dice.  You just have to go and check them out yourself 🙂

 

Another sign that had me excited was this:

soupin bread bowl stall

Now, as I’m not really a soup person, THIS is why I was excited:

Soup in bread bowl stall

SOUP IN A BREAD ROLL BOWL. I’m so getting that if I see this stall somewhere again.  I think they may have been called the Soup Factory.  I could see people standing around eating soup out of bread bowls and I wanted one too, despite being pretty full because SOUP IN BREAD ROLL BOWL. Except this was the queue:

Soup in bread bowl stall

No soup for you, Veganopoulous.

I spotted this sugarcane juice cart, which I am assuming is vegan, but ran out of time to check out:

sugarcanejuice1

 

There was a stage area with live music and a few of these tables (this photo was taken when I arrived at 5pm, there weren’t that many people but it really filled up soon after):

Luna1878 night market

 

When I first arrived at 5pm, I was a bit surprised that the stalls seemed spread so far out but after speaking to some stall owners, I realised it was to accommodate crowds as the summer night market gets really crowded. As more people arrived I saw this was quite a good idea and I liked having the room to move between stalls. There were other stalls I would have liked more time to look at, like candles, handmade jewelry and essential oils.

My biggest gripe would have to be how smoky it was from the barbeque/grill stalls.  I found it really, really unfortunate that a vegetarian food stall was placed right next to a spit roast stall (I spoke to the person serving at the veg stall and they weren’t happy about the situation). I hope that the foods serving veg*n options can be moved to a different area. It was so smoky that I stank out the tram with my bbq smell– even at home now my clothes, bag and beanie still stink. As soon as I walked in the door the family commented I smelled like a bbq 🙁

To veg*ns considering going, please be warned that there are spit roast/grill type food stalls.

 

The Luna1878 Winter Night Market will be held every Wednesday 5pm – 10pm until August 27th. More info can be found at http://www.qvm.com.au/night-market/luna1878-winter-night-market-2/

8

Lunch Today at Invita Living Food at the Queen Victoria Market

Yay for haircuts!  Especially when you haven’t had one in over a year.  Today I headed down to North Melbourne to get about two hundred kilograms worth of boofy hair cut off (more like six inches but boy my head feels lighter).  After that I went for a short walk down to the Queen Vic Market to pick up a bunch of coriander.  I also thought I’d go and check out Invita Living Food, as I’ve been past it many times without realising I could actually find healthy vegan food in there.

Initially, I was just going to browse and not buy anything but one of the menu items caught my eye: the rice ball.  The description on the menu board (which is different to the description on the website) was ‘rice balls, corn carrot, zucchini, coriander, sea weed, tamari, ginger juice, lemon juice, olive oil, rice crumbs, tapioca starch’.  Gluten free, vegan, full of good healthy stuff.  I think it cost $14.60.   I asked if it was fried in oil and the staff person told me it was baked. The rice ball sure sounded better than my plain bean and veggie soup that was waiting at home!  My stomach was growling, it was another half hour before I’d be home and so I thought why not?  It’s a beautiful day!  Phone photos, sorry!

invita3

The rice ball was pretty big though I was a bit surprised the inside was quite mooshy and for a while I wondered if it was undercooked but I guess with those ingredients, it’s a mooshy ball.  I took a pic but you can’t really make it out:

invita2

I figured I’d eat it, blog about it and see what readers think!  I liked it regardless of the mooshy factor but my favourite part of the meal was the eggplant chickpea salad on the side.  This was really tasty. The serving of quinoa with some veg and lentils mixed through was okay.  There was a little bit of chutney too, I tried it and it was a peanut satay kind of flavour.  It was sweet though and as I’ve cut out sugars/sweet food (apart from fruit), I put this to the side.  Only after I’d emptied a sachet of sugar over it to stop me being tempted to eat a bit more…

There were vegan desserts on display, alas I took a photo that didn’t turn out.  Plus I didn’t want to linger too much around the dessert display, seeing as I’m not eating sweet stuff!  Invita also serve juices, shepherd’s pie, lasagna, a tofu burger (no bun is mentioned) and other savoury breakfast and lunch items.  I very much enjoyed sitting under the marquee listening to the hustle-bustle market sounds and the ding dings of the trams!  All while flipping my new ‘do around.

farah

invita1

Invita Living Food is located at 76 Therry Street, near the Vic Market jam donut van and the organic fruit and veg section.