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Blog break!

Well now Marilla, this a bit embarrassing. I haven’t posted in a few months despite a goal to post once or twice a week. The truth is that I kinda don’t really want to maintain the blog anymore. Mostly because I’m just too busy and have lost interest and my time and energy is focused elsewhere. As much as I love going out to eat, blogging those meals was a bit of a chore because I’d take the big camera which would get a bit annoying and too heavy! Lately I’ve just been using my phone and posting on Instagram at @veganopoulous  And it seems like Instagram is where it’s at, with finding out about new cafes or products or whatever.

I’ll leave the blog up but for now I’ll go on a bit of a holiday (away from the blog I mean), and if there’s something big I want to blog about, like my hope-I-can-go trip to Japan next year some time, then that will be included here.

Feel free to check out my account @veganopoulous on Instagram in the meantime!

 

Thanks to everyone for reading, following, commenting and sharing my recipes and posts. Melbourne is such a brilliant place to enjoy vegan food and events and I’ll still be posting about that on Instagram. You don’t need to have an Instagram account to look at people’s photos in your browser, and if you have an Instagram account you can follow whoever you like, without having to post anything yourself (keep your account private if you want). It’s my preferred way of keeping up with what’s going on in vegan land, and posting photos of my cat.

xxxxxxoooooo

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Tribal Tastes Whole Foods at Queen Victoria Market

One of the best ‘new’ (to me) foods I’ve tried recently have been the akara from Tribal Tastes stall at the Queen Victoria winter night market, currently on every Wednesday at 5pm. I’ve become a bit obsessed with them really, and count them as my top pick at the night market. Akara are also gluten free, being made from beans. Deep fried deliciousness!

I tried the akara a few weeks back and promptly posted about them on Instagram. Tribal Tastes very kindly offered me a free meal when I was next visiting and that was last night. I loved it. The akara served with the sauce (which isn’t hot), hand cut sweet potato fries, pickled veg and jollof rice. A lovely meal:

As well as the stall at the night market, Tribal Tastes also have a store at the market, located at Stall 83 in the Dairy Hall delicatessen area. The store opened in 2002 and sells African spices, oils, meal accompaniments and more.

For the night market stall, the menu board reads ‘Akara: food for the Gods- West African bean balls (vegan and GF) with African sauce and salad $12’.

The night market is running weekly until August 29th. Get there for the akara!

Tribal Tastes Whole Foods

Stall 83 in the Dairy Hall, Queen Victoria Market (for the store open during the day)

https://www.tribaltastes.com.au

https://www.facebook.com/tribaltastesfoods/

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What I Ate Out And About In Melbourne

I haven’t done a What I Ate in a while, so here’s a big selection of meals out I’ve really enjoyed. I’m going a bit overboard in my gushing praise but I love everything shown here and feeling pretty damn happy with our amazing vegan options here in Melbourne.

My new favourite is Sandwitch, found at Coburg Farmers Market and Alphington Farmers Market. If you follow Sandwitch on Instagram (@sandwitchau) or Facebook you can see which markets they’ll be at.

My favourite sandwich is the ‘colli-sour’ which has divine beer battered crispy cauliflower, pickle, green salad and preserved lemon tahini in really good pita bread:

I also loved the Meze Brekkie Bowl:

Sandwitch’s mushroom shwarma is also great:

And to finish off lovely Sandwitch lunches, here’s their sweet (but not too sweet) dessert delight made with coconut milk cream, a hint of rosewater, crushed nuts, coconut, seven spices and hibiscus syrup:

In keeping with the market theme, I was thrilled to try these bean based akara from Tribal Tastes at the Queen Victoria night market. Lovely texture and delicious:

I’m rejoicing that for the next month I’ll be walking past Wonderbao once a week, so lunch is settled. I’m loving the crispy eggplant, the tofu and the taro bao especially:

The Cornish Arms have a two week special on vegan chicken kiev served with peas, gravy and potato gems (that’s tater tots. I never knew what tater tots were until I realised they were potato gems. And I think they’re called something else in another country or two but I can’t remember now):

After the kiev I squeezed in the sticky date pudding:

Divine Realm Vegie Delight in the city (lunch hours only, Monday to Friday) is still a favourite. You get a plate of rice with three mains for $7.50 which is a bargain in the city, vegan or not. The menu rotates and this is what’s served on Thursday and Friday. My favourite menu days:

I’m still loving Good Days on Sydney Road in Brunswick, with the epic spring roll noodle salad:

Loving Hut in West Melbourne opposite Queen Victoria Market is another favourite. Here’s the Malaysian char kway teow and some roti in the back:

This is the Mongolian BBQ:

Moving along to my absolute hands-down favourite Miinot Gelato, here’s the Violetta and Darkness flavours. Miinot have the best, most inventive flavours for vegans/dairy free folks too. Their dark chocolate variations (mint slice, black sesame, chilli, and more) won me over to the dark chocolate side:

If you haven’t been to Olivia Spring Cafe in Moonee Ponds, make it a priority! I always get the vermicelli salad with the optional (but mandatory in my opinion) spring rolls:

I was surprised the night we went to Pinarbarsi Turkish restaurant on Sydney Road because there’s a vegan pide on the menu that I hadn’t noticed when I checked out the menu online. I went for the large option and it was pretty big, and really tasty. We’d gone for a last minute family dinner when a relative was visiting, and husband had one of those Entertainment Book vouchers. So all in all a really nice surprise:

Another recent favourite is the macadamia milk peanut butter chocolate shake from Ratio Cocoa Roasters on Sydney Road. This was the perfect level of sweetness for me. A bit of a splurge at $10 for the vegan option but I don’t consider it ‘just’ a milkshake. Love love love:

Moving on again to more great meals at Ray Cafe. I love Ray (I know I know, I love a lot and subsequently gush a lot) and enjoyed this latest version of the Black Maple Society French toast:

The Tofumanchu was excellent:

This vegan kraut dog with sweet potato fries was a board special and also a good meal:

I was at the Southbank side of town a couple weeks ago and got this from the Little India outlet. Nice, but a little too much heat for me in one of the dishes:  

Son and I are big Trippy Taco fans. Here are the nachos and Trippy Fries, we always get the fries then when done we go next door to Fatto a Mano:

I met up with a dear friend at Ubuntu Vegan Cafe in Hawthorn. We both enjoyed our Lizz burgers. The sweet potato fries were fantastic and I also had the blue butterfly pea flower latte:

We’re fans of Zaatar in Coburg here at casa Veganopoulous. My son is happy with the regular zaatar but lately I’m going for the pumpkin kibbeh as well as my spinach pide:

And that wraps up this batch of phone-camera photos, many of which were taken over the past months as I didn’t put them in my May What I Ate due to laziness.

 

Thanks as always for reading my blog. I’ve had a few annoying technical issues lately resulting in some images not displaying and intermittent problems with answering comments. Even as I went to publish this there was a problem, gahhh…

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Dinner At Smith and Bellas

Last week, a group of vegan food enthusiasts met up for dinner at Smith & Daughters (currently a.k.a. Smith & Bellas), to try out the new winter menu which is all Italian themed. Now I’ll admit when I first heard the menu was Italian I felt disappointed. I love Italian food, but I’m very used to it either with what I make at home, and that there a million Italian restaurants in Melbourne.

Well, I should have just done a Bon Jovi and kept the faith because some of the dishes I tried were excellent and I’d go back to have them again, despite my personal rule of never ordering the same thing twice when there’s more on the menu to try.

We each paid $55 (or was it $58?) excluding drinks for these plates-to-share. The menu also boasts a number of gluten free options.

First up, the meatballs ($12 for three). I loved these and counted them as an excellent start. I don’t know what’s in them but I would love these on top of spaghetti. The texture was quite meatbally and the napoli sauce lovely.  Low light photos with my phone sorry, I decided to leave the camera at home because I wanted to enjoy the food and not have the hassle of trying to take great pics:

Next was the garlic bread ($8, has a gluten free option), which reminded me there’s standard okay garlic bread but also, like this, bloody good garlic bread:

Next, the carpaccio ($18). House made thin slices of mock meat, topped with horseradish cream, figs, fried capers, shaved parmessan and a mountain of rocket. Another standout for me:

Now moving in to the Big Plates and Pasta section of the menu, we had the gnocchi ($22) with broccoli rabe pesto, cream, chilli and lemon. Gnocchi done perfectly:

I was especially looking forward to trying the ragu on polenta ($24, gluten free), as I’d heard so many positive comments about it. I’m not really in to polenta, but as a shared plate arrangement it’s fine. I agreed with the positive comments on the ragu and it was my favourite of the night. The slow-cooked texture and appearance was wonderful and I loved the red wine flavour. The polenta was very good too. I want to return just to have this again:

From here we had a couple of sides come out. First up the creamed silverbeet with chilli and preserved lemon ($10, gluten free). I liked the flavours but as silverbeet is one of my least favourite veggies, I just had a little sample and passed on the rest. Others at the table loved it:

I’m also not that keen on Jerusalem artichokes, so the slow braised artichoke-leek-fennel Cheesy Gratin ($14) was something else I had a little sample of and left for others:

The silverbeet and artichoke sides came out at the same time as the Milanese schnitzel in a parmesan lemon herbed crumb ($25). The menu says it’s big. I say it’s massive. I wouldn’t recommend getting it for less than three people sharing and even then I’d say it’s perhaps better for four people sharing a number of dishes. While I really liked this, and it was very chicken-schnitzely, there was a bit of a general agreement that it needed something to go with it like a sauce. It’s essentially a huge tasty slab of mock meat, though the sides of silverbeet and cheesy gratin could have added that little something:

Then we were on to dessert. I loved the tiramisu ($16), which is the closest-to-dairy-tiramisu vegan tiramisu I’ve had to date:

Finally, the bomb Alaska style Baked Vesuvius ($15). This was a lovely mix of chocolate sable and ganache, spiced quinces and black pepper ice cream smothered in a quince and amaretto Italian meringue and torched in front of us. Very nice:

I really enjoyed this meal and had my initial disappointment of a new Italian menu totally, and rightfully, obliterated. I’m trying to find an opportunity to go back now because there’s more on the menu that looks great: the braised broccoli crostini, baked eggplant involtini, rigatoni napolitani caponata, cacio e pepe, tubetti in brodo and the limoncello rice pudding.

Cindy and Michael over at Where’s the Beef? have a great writeup on Smith & Bella’s here.

 

Smith & Daughters

175 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

http://www.smithanddaughters.com/

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Lunch At Dosa Plaza In Preston

HEADS UP: a couple of years ago there were dishes at Dosa Plaza being marked vegan, or staff insisting were vegan, but contained dairy. There were apparently some serious incidents involving allergy. I wasn’t aware of this when I hit publish ten minutes ago but have done a quick search in a Facebook group now. I did ask the Dosa Plaza staff to confirm vegan items and honestly, from the food I ate it didn’t seem not-vegan. It is possible that in the last two years, Dosa Plaza have taken more care with vegan foods. I hope this is the case… I have just learned that lentil balls/donuts often contain cheese and I ordered these (shown below) as they were marked vegan and I was told they’re vegan and don’t contain dairy. But I can’t offer any confident confirmation at this point.

 

I love dosa so it’s a bit embarrassing that I’ve only just been to Dosa Plaza in Preston, despite reading about it on Where’s the Beef? blog back in March 2017. I got to choose the Sunday lunch venue for our group of four, so Dosa Plaza it was.

Dosa Plaza is located on the pointy corner of High Street and Plenty Road and we parked in the nearby supermarket carpark. Once inside, we were a little overwhelmed by the menu which has a bajillion options, either vegetarian or clearly marked vegan. There are gluten free options too. The menu itself is an experience and takes a fair bit of time to work through (and exclaim over), with different sections such as Italo (yes, it’s pasta), Mumbai chaat, Tandoor & Curries, Sizzler and more.

The ordering system involves being given a little piece of notepaper to fill in, listing the menu item number and the quantity you want. So, to start with we got a serve of the onion bhaji:

I also chose the Pani puri, which are served with spiced potatoes, tamarind chutney and a mint dressing:

Our third entree was the Sambar vada (‘lentil donut dipped in lentil soup containing fine carrots, and garnished with coriander leaves’):

There was also a potato masala dosa on our table, which to our surprise was bigger than we anticipated so I added the fork in to give you an idea of size. Pretty sure the dosa I’ve had to date haven’t been this big!

My sister ordered the Mysore masala dosa (‘dosa stuffed with onion, tomato, capsicum and mint tomato chutney with tempered mashed potatoes’). I screwed up the focus on this photo sorry:

I took a leaf from the Where’s the Beef? book and ordered the spring roll dosa. Yes, this works! It had a really nice stir-fry taste to it. Photo at the top.

Another accompaniment we got was described as deep fried bread which I believe is M14 on the menu, but it doesn’t appear online:

I’m glad I finally tried Dosa Plaza. It’s nothing flash, but the food is good and nobody kicked us out even though we lingered for a bit after lunch (though only a few tables were occupied). We were stuffed, and all enjoyed our meals, two of which were vegetarian and got the nod of approval from those who ordered.

My advice would be to set aside the time to go through the menu. Seriously, if you look at the menu online I’m sure you’ll understand the overwhelm element. Still, it’s also fun looking at the different options such as the fusion dishes (American chop suey!). I believe only one dessert option is vegan, and that’s a sweet dosa, but as there was cake back at home I didn’t order it.

I think Dosa Plaza is definitely worth a return visit, even if only to try the Schezwan Sizzler which you can see on the Where’s the Beef? blog post!

Dosa Plaza are located in a few suburbs as well as Brisbane, Adelaide and New Zealand. Check the website to find what’s closest to you. And check out the menu online too, but be warned there’s a lot of it with little sub-menus!

http://www.dosaplaza.com.au/