Sunday, November 29, 2015

Gingerbread cheezecake

November 21-22, 2015


Paula Deen's website does hold a few memorable dessert recipes but I wasn't confident that my friends at the Celebrity Chef picnic potluck would actually want to eat them, vegan or not. I switched over to the more staid Martha Stewart and picked out a gingerbread cheesecake, ripe for the veganising.

Stewart does have her own fussy way of overdoing it. In this recipe she would have us bake a half-batch of Molasses-Gingerbread Cookie dough, only to blend most of it into crumbs for the cheesecake base. I was not so inclined, particularly given that a packet of crushed LEDA gingernuts would guarantee me a gluten-free as well as vegan dessert.

For the filling, a few containers of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and some blended up flax 'eggs' saw me through. I respectfully disagree that Tofutti's product tastes Better Than Cream Cheese, and made sure to increase the molasses and spices to mask it. Some website commenters recommended baking the cheesecake longer for a good set, and I'm glad I followed through; if only I'd remembered to refrigerate it before I went to bed, mine might have held it together a little better!

I'm sure my cheezecake was but a cruelty-free shadow of Stewart's, but it was complimented widely at the picnic. The dry gingernut base softened beautifully, the filling was flecked with flax seeds and had a slight almost-metallic molasses aftertaste.



Gingerbread cheezecake
(adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe)

base
155g packet gingernuts
4 tablespoons margarine

filling
1/3 cup flax seeds
1 cup water
3 x 227g containers vegan cream cheese
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup molasses
generous shake of salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
zest of 1/2 a lemon

Line a springform tin with baking paper. Preheat an oven to 160°C.

Crush the gingernuts to a coarse powder - I place them a few at a time between baking paper sheets and smash them with a rolling pin. Place the crumbs in a small-medium bowl. Melt the margarine in a small saucepan, then pour it over the gingernut crumbs and stir through. Press the crumbs into the base and partway up the sides of the springform tin.

Grind up the flax seeds and blend them with the water; set aside. Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Beat in the caster sugar and vanilla. Thoroughly beat in the flax mixture. Beat in the remaining ingredients until the mixture is very smooth. Pour it into the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 60-90 minutes, until it's set but still a little wobbly in the middle. Allow it to cool on the bench, then refrigerate it for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) before slicing and serving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cheeseburger puffs

November 22, 2015


We joined a gang of veg*n bloggers and associated hangers-on for a potluck picnic in Edinburgh Gardens this past weekend. The potluck was organised by Steph, who added the fun/complexity of a 'celebrity chef' theme. The easy option would have been to fall back on one of the many crowd-pleasing Ottolenghi or Isa recipes we've made before, but we decided to embrace the spirit of the theme more thoroughly and veganise some unlikely celebrity chef dishes.

Cindy had oodles of fun trawling her way through the slightly terrifying Paula Deen archives, weighing up options like the bacon cheeseburger meatloaf and the banana split brownie pizza - this Guardian rundown outlines just how horrifically unhealthy (and unvegan) Deen's cooking style is. In the end, after weighing up the picnic-appropriateness and veganisability of various mad recipes, we settled on these mini cheeseburger puffs, which basically involve wrapping the fillings of a cheeseburger in puff pastry.


With TVP replacing the the ground beef, Tofutti's American cheese slices filling in admirably for crappy cheddar slices and some squares of mock bacon adding our own special touch, these were a gloriously unhealthy vegan sensation. This is about as far from wholefoods as it gets. They were a huge success though, especially with generous dollops of tomato sauce on top. 


They're a bit fiddly to make - the TVP-based mince doesn't hold together as a burger patty at all, so you have to just scoop up a big spoonful of the mix into the centre of each pastry square (see above). Don't skimp on the homemade seasoning - the TVP is pretty flavourless on its own, so you really need to go crazy with the salt and spices. We made up our own versions of Paula Deen's silly salt and steak seasoning. The quantities below make 24 pastries, so consider halving it if you're not feeding a picnic full of hungry vegans.

The picnic food was all incredible - Johanna has already posted up her dishes, keep an eye on Veganopolous for a full round-up as well.

Mini cheeseburger puffs
(adapted from this Paula Deen recipe)

burger mix
1.5 cups TVP
1.5 cups boiling water
1 small onion, diced

seasoning
Roughly 5 parts salt, 2 parts pepper, 2 parts garlic powder, 1 part onion powder, cayenne, ground coriander and dill - up to about 2 tablespoons.

toppings etc
1 packet Tofutti American cheese slices -12 slices, quartered into 48 little squares
enough mock ham to make 24 little squares
6 sheets puff pastry

Soak the TVP in the boiling water for 10 minutes or so, until the water is absorbed.

Fry the rehydrated TVP with the onion for about 5 minutes. Stir in the seasoning, then kill the heat and let the mix cool to room temperature.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. 

Defrost the pastry sheets. Make the puffs up - each one needs one quarter of a sheet of the puff pastry, a tablespoon of the burger mix, two cheese squares and one ham square (see above). 

Fold the four corners of the pastry up to meet in the centre and cover the filling (see photos above). Pinch the corners of the puff pastry squares together and partially along the seams, leaving a few little air holes along the edges.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is crispy and golden. They're delicious fresh out of the oven, but just as good served later at room temperature.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Urad dal with coconut & coriander

November 15, 2015


We had a few friends around for dinner on Sunday night and decided that an Indian feast was the way to go. We fell back on some old favourites - palak paneer, samosas and kulfi - and included this Ottolenghi-inspired dal as something novel. It uses urad dal - black lentils - which are firmer and hold their shape better than some of the other dals we've used before. The downside to their firmer texture is that they need to be soaked overnight, so you need to be a bit organised.

The recipe is otherwise straightforward - it's a simple one pot meal that just needs a bit of time to get the liquid thickened up. The dal itself is lovely, with the garam masala giving it a nice warmth and depth, but the toppings are what really make this stand out. It's definitely worth tracking down fresh coconut if you can - we found frozen shredded coconut at Mix Supermarket in Brunswick, which was an easy solution. The recipe below makes tons of food - we were eating leftovers all week (with no complaints).


Urad dal with coconut & coriander
(adapted from one of Ottolenghi's recipes from The Guardian)

300g urad dal, soaked overnight
60g ghee
1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 whole green chilli, finely chopped
1.5 tablespoons garam masala
800g can crushed tomatoes
salt
200ml coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons black mustard seeds, toasted
100g roughly grated fresh coconut (we found some pre-grated in the freezer at an Asian supermarket)
50g crispy fried shallots
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped

Drain and rinse the dal and set aside.

Heat the ghee in a large saucepan and then fry the onion for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until its golden and soft.

Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and garam masala and stir-fry it all together for a couple of minutes.

Tip in the tomatoes and cook for another few minutes.

Add the dal, along with a litre of water and a teaspoon of salt. Cover until the mix is simmering and then simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Cook it down until you've got a thick, soupy texture.

Kill the heat and stir in the coconut milk, lime juice and mustard seeds.

Serve, topped generously with the coconut, shallots and coriander.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Fan's Notes

November 14, 2015


We've been angling for a visit to A Fan's Notes since our friend Will talked it up as a super vegan-friendly addition to the strip of cafes on Nicholson Street in Carlton North. We were too early for them a week ago, so we took no chances on Saturday and wandered up for a late lunch.

It's a cluttered little cafe, immediately winning me over with posters of The Chills and The Clean, along with an impressive bookshelf and general scruffy-hipster vibe. The menu is full of vegetarian and vegan options, with five vegan or veganisable dishes (an enchilada and a quesadilla along with the scrambled tofu, bircher and burrito discussed below) and another five vegetarian dishes across the brunch and lunch menus. Coeliacs are also well catered for, with six dishes to choose from.

I was almost lured in by the vegan scrambled tofu, with polenta, asparagus, burnt eggplant, roast peppers and snow peas ($17), but instead went with the vegan option on the black bean burrito, hoping they'd replace the scrambled egg with scrambled tofu. Sadly they don't, but you still get a ludicrously fat burrito, stuffed with a slightly smoky black-bean mix and slathered in avocado, a corn and tomato salsa and accompanied by a pile of crispy kale chips ($17).


There are about forty different hot sauces to choose from as well - you can see the bottle of Tasmanian pepper sauce just in the edge of the picture above. I was deeply impressed by my meal - it's not super complicated, but it's executed well, is a mountain of food and was goddamn delicious. 

The sweet side of the menu is not quite as exciting as the savoury, with Cindy limited to either a vegan bircher, with apple and sweet dukkah ($11), or this slightly terrifying banana French toast, with pistachio cream, smoked sugar and rum syrup ($16 - the original dish has bacon, I'm not sure whether the price changes when it's omitted).


Long-time readers will know my feelings on bananas, and this was pretty much my nightmare: some sort of banana bread, with a soggy cooked banana draped across it. Ugh. Cindy was more accepting of the strong banana flavour and pudding texture, but even she was feeling some order envy as she looked at the varied savoury plates around her. 

A Fan's Notes is a great addition to the Brunswick brunch scene - its vegan-friendly savoury dishes are particularly noteworthy. There's decent coffee, friendly staff and great music on the stereo - we'll definitely be back.
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The only previous review of A Fan's Notes that I could dig up was this short and positive write-up at Gluttony Fair.

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A Fan's Notes
787 Nicholson St, Carlton North
9943 8373
brunchy, lunchy, drinks
facebook page

Accessibility: There's a flat entry way to a slightly crowded interior. You order at the table and pay at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sweet'n'sour mock pork

November 8, 2015


Sweet and sour pork was a childhood Chinese takeaway staple for me, and I still love the tangy sauce and juicy pineapple pieces just as much as Michael hates them. I occasionally order vegetarian versions around town but I've only just tried making it for myself for the first time. With Michael away on a work trip and the leftovers of a can of pineapple in the fridge, I was surprised how easily it came together.

Some mock pork pieces and canned pineapple chunks were mandatory, of course, and I filled the meal out with red capsicum, snow peas and a carrot cut into half moons. I looked to blog Rasa Malaysia for a sauce recipe - it has a tomato ketchup base, then builds up the sourness with plum sauce (I had homemade plum jam on hand) and rice wine vinegar, saltiness with vegan Worcestershire and oyster sauces, and that trademark texture with a little cornflour. The sauce glistened thickly against the mock pork pieces, but wasn't so abundant as to pool in the bottom of the dish.

This sweet'n'sour mock pork smelled exactly as I remembered it, and I ate it gladly for days with steamed white rice.


Sweet'n'sour mock pork
(adapted from a recipe on Rasa Malaysia)

vegetables
1 red capsicum
1 carrot
2 handfuls snow peas
1/2 cup canned pineapple pieces

mock meat
450g mock pork pieces
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

sauce
3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 teaspoons plum sauce or jam
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons vegan oyster sauce
2 teaspoons cornflour
4 tablespoons water

Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and set them aside.

Make sure the mock pork pieces are thawed and bite-sized. Place them in a container with a well-fitting lid. Sprinkle the cornflour over the mock meat, place the lid on the container and shake it around until the mock meat is evenly coated in the cornflour. Set it aside.

Place all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir them until they form a smooth sauce. Set them aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large frypan or wok. Add the cornflour-coated mock meat pieces and stir-fry them until golden. Add the vegetables and stir-fry them until they're bright and glossy - I did the carrot, snow peas, capsicum and pineapple in stages according to my texture preferences. Pour over the sauce and gently stir it through for no more than two minutes. Serve the sweet'n'sour mock pork over steamed rice.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mukka

November 8, 2015


Back in August, fitzroyalty noted that an Indian restaurant was likely to pop up on Brunswick St next to Madame K's, where the vegan-friendly Frolic had previously offered froyo and waffles. Vegan About Town got in as soon as Mukka opened, thrilled to access veg-friendly Indian street food so close to home. She went on to invite me there for lunch just a few days later and I was out the door in 30 minutes.

The restaurant lets in plenty of light, and the interior is cheerful, casual and clean. I'm accustomed to Indian restaurant menus running to several dozen pages; the food here is listed on a single compact sheet, but maintains the high proportion of vegetarian and even vegan options, all clearly marked.


I love me a lassi, and a Mukka they come in two flavours, mango and rose-cinnamon ($6.50). Even better, they offer vegan-friendly analogues ($7, rose-cinnamon one pictured), made slushy and refreshing with blended almond milk and ice.

Steph and I shared a plate of Tibetan Momos ($10), dumplings with a thick, elastic rice flour skin and mild cabbage-potato filling. The accompanying chilli sauce was creamier than it was spicy.


We were really here for the dosa, each ordering our own Classic ($12.50). The crepe was crisp all the way through with a deeply savoury, almost cheesy, flavour (don't worry - it's totally vegan). The potato curry filling was generous, chunky and dotted with mustard seeds. I dipped my way through as much of the thick sambar dal and coconut chutney as I could.

The staff were friendly and helpful in a way that's rare but appreciated, offering us advice on a well-balanced set of dishes to order. I'm eager to try the puri, the tandoori, the paneer curries made with tofu and the breads, but it's going to be really, really tough to go past this dosa. Clearly many more visits are in order this summer.
____________

This restaurant's opening was first flagged by fitzroyalty, and the first blogging visitor appears to be vegan about town.
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Mukka
365 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
9917 2224
main menu, dessert & drinks
http://mukka.com.au/

Accessibility: There is just a small lip on the entry. Tables are moderately spaced throughout the interior. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. Toilets were located out the back, accessed by a flat but narrow path, and gendered.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Carolina

November 7, 2015


Michael was keen to have Saturday breakfast at a fan's notes on our friend Will's recommendation, but at 9am they still weren't really open yet. Instead we crossed Park St to Carolina. We've visited before for breakfast and for drinks in the evening, so we were confident of a pleasant experience even if we hadn't seen the latest menu.

Vegan and gluten-free items are clearly marked but sparse on said menu, and other dishes look adaptable (e.g. remove feta from white beans, and goats cheese from herb-oiled avo on toast). The vegan and gluten-free Okay, Carolina fritters stand out as the most unusual offering, done okonomiyaki-style with pickled ginger, nori, chilli, Japanese mayo and a side salad with white miso dressing ($15).


Michael was tempted by those fritters, but ultimately went for the Carolina white beans ($13) with poached eggs ($4). They were fragrant with smoked garlic and sage, then topped with feta and fresh green herbs, almost but not quite toppling Michael's devotion to Henry's beans.


I pretended to take interest in a few other items, but couldn't resist the over-the-top lure of their new sweet plate, the campfire doughnut ($16.50). Two thick, cakey pieces of brioche were dusted in cinnamon-sugar then topped with a toasted home-made marshmallow and maraschino cherry. It was sweet, sweet, sweet; not really cut through by the excellent sour cherry jam or the thick dark chocolate sauce offered on the side.

Although Carolina wasn't packed out, it seemed buoyed by a steady stream of locals and regulars. The couple of staff members on hand were warm and capable, letting us feel almost like regulars too.

____________

There are positive reviews of Carolina on TOT: HOT OR NOT, Gagwood Blog, Let's Get Fat Together, the coffee guide..., and Skinny Glutton. little eats liked the food, but had a bad experience with the service.

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Carolina
11 Nicholson St, Brunswick East
0425 731 315
breakfast, lunch & hot drinks, cold & alcoholic drinks
http://www.carolinabrunswick.com.au/

Accessibility: There's a single step up on entry. Tables inside are densely packed with a clear passage through the middle. We ordered at the table, paid at a low-ish counter, and didn't visit the toilets. TOT: HOT OR NOT and little eats report a pram-friendly back garden.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Shop Ramen

November 4, 2015


We've had our eye on Shop Ramen and its vegan bowl a long time, but only recently made our first visit after 9pm on a Wednesday. Although we didn't get to witness their noodle-making in action it was the right time to comfortably snag a seat - two years after opening there's still often a queue out front.

The menu is reasonably simple, living up to the neon sign out front advertising RAMEN, BUN & PIE. While dietary requirements aren't clearly coded, key ingredients are listed after each dish and the staff are on hand to help.


We started by sharing a bun ($4) stuffed with special sauce-smothered tofu, sauerkraut, peanuts and coriander, and almost too steaming-hot to handle.


Michael dipped into the widely lauded vegan tofu ramen ($14), piled with broccoli, pickled shitake mushrooms, edamame, cress and sesame (the standard version includes egg, but they're happy to exclude it). The excellent cashew milk broth is the novelty of this dish, but the fresh, slippery noodles were probably actually the star.


I took on the other vege main - a chilled rice bowl ($14) containing uncooked tofu squares in a sesame salsa verde topped with shredded fresh and pickled vegetables. Edamame, almonds and currants kept the brown rice interesting, and a salty soy sauce pooled in the bottom of the bowl.


The salted caramel milkshake is more widely recommended than the pie, but I didn't find myself to be much in the mood for either dessert after a meal of rice and pickles.

Blog accounts from ramen aficionados note that the broths and ingredient combinations at Shop Ramen are far from traditional - that might be one reason why us vegos get a look-in. They served us well when we needed some late-night veges and we might call on them for this kind of post-show nourishment again. Yet I probably won't be devotedly queuing on the regular.

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Fellow vegetarian bloggers are split on Shop Ramen - I Spy Plum Pie enjoyed her visit, while Ebezilla's Food Blog was disappointed with her food.

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Shop Ramen
329 Smith St, Fitzroy
menu
facebook page

Accessibility: There is a small lip at the door. Inside the low tables and stools are quite densely packed, although there is a clear path through the middle. We ordered at the table and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Spicy fried edamame & tofu with eggplant & soba noodles

November 1, 2015


We've been giving Community a good workout lately and having some very successful meals. It was our go-to book again for a healthy Sunday night dinner, with Cindy picking out this soba, edamame and eggplant salad. We made a few changes to the recipe, first adding in some tofu to make sure we had lots of leftovers for lunch, and second switching the edamame out for broad beans because that's all we could find at the shops.

There are a few processes involved in making the dish - you've got noodles to cook, eggplant to roast and a frying pan full of tofu and beans to manage - but everything can be done while the eggplant is roasting and it all comes together easily in the end. The pay-off is a massive saucepan of delicious noodly salad, with a mildly spicy sauce and a nice mix of textures from the tofu, beans and eggplant. This version of the recipe makes a lot of food, so it's probably worth rescaling things a bit unless you want to eat it every day for a week.


Spicy fried edamame and tofu with eggplant and soba noodles
(adapted from a recipe in Hetty McKinnon's Community)

4-5 eggplants (1.5kg)
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

350g soba noodles

4 tablespoons sunflower oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 long red chillies, seeded and sliced finely
1 tablespoon minced ginger
300g frozen podded edamame (or broad) beans
500g firm tofu, cut into 2cm cubes
5 tablespoons tamari
3 tablespoons vegetarian oyster sauce
1.5 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

Partially peel the eggplants, leaving a stripe pattern, and then cut it all up into 2cm cubes. Spread the cubes across a couple of baking trays, drizzle over the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast them for 25 minutes or so, until they're tender. If the eggplant is done early, you can just kill the heat and leave the trays in the oven so it all stays warm.

While the eggplant is baking, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the soba noodles for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Drain and refresh with cold water.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Stir-fry the chilli, garlic and ginger for a minute and then add in the edamame and tofu, stir-frying for another 2-3 minutes (a bit more if you want to get the tofu to go a little golden). Stir in the tamari, sesame oil, oyster sauce and cook for another minute, thickening the sauce up a bit.

Combine the noodles, eggplant and the tofu/bean mix in a large bowl and toss gently. Serve with a sprinkling of the sesame seeds on top.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Almond Feta

November 1, 2015


Last weekend our friend Natalie invited us to skip the World Vegan Day crowds and eat breakfast nachos at her place. It was an excellent decision - we layered up plates with corn chips and scrambled tofu, black beans, potatoes, avocado and cashew cheese, met her cat, hung out in the shed and did newspaper quizzes. I brought over a watermelon salad as a fresh dessert we could pick at with forks.

The big innovation here is that I made my own vegan almond-based feta. I've had a few vegan feta recipes stowed away for years and I based this on the one at In The Mood For Noodles. Since it was intended for dessert, I skipped the garlic and the marinating in herb oil and relied on just the lemon juice and salt for flavour. I cut some corners, reducing the soaking time and the water involved in the original, but making sure that I got a smooth grind on those almonds. 

I was very pleased with the results, though you can see that this baked feta gets a little golden around the edges. (It turns out that I should have baked it at 200°F, not 200°C! Whoops.) It remains a bit softer and more fragile than dairy feta but it captures the  smoothness, whiteness, and tang of its namesake.


Almond Feta
(adapted from a recipe found on In The Mood For Noodles,
where it's credited to Vegetarian Times)

1 cup whole or flaked blanched almonds
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Place the almonds in a bowl and cover them with lots of water. Allow them to soak for 5-24 hours. Drain the almonds and rinse them briefly with fresh cold water.

Place the almonds in a blender or spice grinder and add the remaining ingredients plus 1/4 cup water. Blend everything thoroughly until it's as smooth as possible.

Place a sieve over a bowl and line the sieve with two layers of clean Chux wipes or cheesecloth. Scoop in the almond mixture, then pull up the fabric corners to parcel up the cheese and tie the cloth ends together with string or a rubber band. Refrigerate the bowl-sieve-cheese parcel setup for 12 hours, to allow some moisture to drip off.

Preheat an oven to 200°C (try 90°C next time) and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Retrieve the almond cheese, unwrap it and scoop it into the tin. Fold the baking paper over almond mixture to fashion it roughly into a little rectangle. Bake the feta block for 40 minutes, flipping it over at the 20 minute mark. Allow the cheese to rest for 30 minutes then refrigerate it until firm.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Gas-Light Izakaya in the Gasometer Hotel

October 31, 2015


The latest incarnation of the Gasometer has been open a year and a half, offering a steady stream of gigs and gastropub meals... except that the kitchen's just been rebranded Gas-Light Izakaya! We stopped in early for dinner before swinging around to the band room for Dan Kelly's album launch.

The menu doesn't pay much mind to special dietary requirements - there are more than enough dishes to sate vegetarians, but vegans and coeliacs are likely to have a tougher time of it.


The fried cauliflower florets ($9) were huge and hard to maneuvre with chopsticks, but had the right balance of crunchiness and tenderness. The accompanying sweet and sour sauce only left us hankering after the spicier version we've made at home.


The jalapeno and cheese korokke ($5, foreground) was also expertly fried, though we were ambivalent about the warm mushy filling (Smith & Daughters has really spoiled us for any other croquette!). We were more taken with the tofu bao ($6 each) and especially their red dragon sauce.


Finally we split the tofu katsu-sando ($16), a neat little sandwich of crumbed tofu, chilli relish and mustard leaves on a soft brioche bun. The accompanying French fries were only so-so, but it's a nice and reasonably priced self-contained meal.


With its nori-laced Caesar salad, fried chicken bao and icecream doughnut sandwich, I reckon that Gas-Light Izakaya is appealing more to local trends than Japanese traditions. The dishes we tried generally delivered on their descriptions, but they're just barely designed with veg*ns in mind. It'll continue to be a convenient food stop for a Gasometer gig, but I don't envisage making extra excuses to visit.

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We've got lots of posts on previous incarnations of this dining room, the most recent from over a year ago. This izakaya incarnation has been blogged only on I'm So Hungree, who was positive.
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Gas-light Izakaya in the Gasometer Hotel
484 Smith St, Collingwood
9416 3335
menu
http://www.thegasometerhotel.com.au/gaslight-izakaya/


Accessibility: The Gasometer has a small step on entry. The tables are crowded in some areas but the booths and tables closest to the entry are relatively spacious. Ordering and payment occurs at a high counter. Male and female toilets on the same level are accessible only when the band room is vacant and are not particularly spacious; alternate toilets are located upstairs, one cubicle each for two genders.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Stagger Lee's

October 31, 2015


Michael and I both had good news at work on Friday, and he insisted that we breakfast somewhere fun to celebrate on Saturday morning. I suggested we check out Stagger Lee's, which our friend Lisa recommended a few months ago as a good spot for vegan options.

With exposed bricks and bulbs, two communal tables and serious, single origin coffee, Stagger Lee's fits the inner-north cafe mould. The menu is annotated with Vs, VG, VGOs and GFs (including the wine list!) but we couldn't see a corresponding legend. The V*s were all over the place, on lemon curd-covered crumpets, granola and bircher bowls with coyo and almond milk, ricotta-spiked avocado with corn and jalapenos, and a herby omelette.


Michael exclaimed over how great the coffee was, then tucked into the vegan version of the green garden ($20), a medley of cashew cheese, broccolini, avocado, fennel, radish, herbs, pomegranate seeds and sprouted lentils. The smoked ocean trout and poached egg of the original version were replaced with a bowl of sauteed mushrooms. Michael loved the salty and slightly astringent freshness of the salad. The mushrooms worked well, too, but perhaps didn't call for the same $20 price tag that the trout does.


On a day of celebration, I was compelled to order the Willy Wonka waffles ($16). The waffles themselves were plain and dry, but dressed up to the nines with a scoop of honeycomb icecream, miniature chocolate cone, soda pop jelly, strawberries, freeze dried raspberries, popping candy, chocolate sauce, and a laughable garnish of three green leaves. It was an entertaining one-off.


I'd be more likely to come back to Stagger Lee's to try the fancy little cakes or the croissants, while Michael had a flash of regret when he spotted the veggie breakfast burgers in the display cabinet. (The 'gangsta milkshakes', however, have my side-eye.)

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Stagger Lee's has already won a fan of fellow veg blogger I Spy Plum Pie and numerous omni bloggers, see De-brief Me, A Tale of Two Bougies, A Melbournite, Simple Palates, Seriously, MEL: HOT OR NOT, Gourmet Chick, Brunch Addict, grazing panda, Eatingdiaries, Let's Get Fat Together, Verdict lobster, I'm So Hungree, Occupie Fitzroy, INLOVEWITHBRUNCH, thehangrybitch, Eat. Play. Shop., Never Too Sweet, A Chronicle of Gastronomy, Go to bread, not bed!, Lifes Merit, Vonderwoman in Melbourne, Couchfoodies, Yellow Eggs, Food Fable, Locked Loaded And Caffeinated, Gastronomical Ramblings, confessions of a little piggy, Eat Australia, foodie about town, Melbourne Vita, Hedge To The Downs, hungrycookie and Feed Reid. Reviews are ambivalent on Melbourne Patron, Miss Sage Sugar, Peat & Drift, and Lip's Temptations.
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Stagger Lee's
276 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
9419 5564
menu
http://staggerlees.com.au/

Accessibility: There's a shallow ramp through a wide entry. Tables are somewhat densely packed but there is a wide pathway through the middle. We ordered at our table and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Kitchen Inn

October 5 and 29, 2015


Since our office move a couple of months back I've been continuing to explore the food options around the neighbourhood (while missing Sonido and Smith & Deli of course). I had a tip-off from a mate that Kitchen Inn had a surprisingly decent range of vegetarian options, so I dropped by to check it out. It's a short menu section with just five dishes, featuring Kitchen Inn's house-made noodles, rice, vegetables and - in all five dishes - vegetarian BBQ pork. Each dish is super affordable - just $8.90, for plates so big you'll struggle to finish them. Vegans will be well served by most of the options (the egg noodle dish is a no-go, obviously), but will need to let the staff know to exclude the egg that comes standard in dishes like the fried kueh teow and fried rice (I failed in the noodle dish on the left below, but excluded the egg successfully from the fried rice on the right).


The fried kueh teow was fantastic - excellent noodles, wok-fried to give them a smoky wok-hei and filled with a generous mix of mock-pork, egg and veggies. The fried rice was good as well - not quite as successful as the noodles, but a fantastically good value lunch, especially with a few scoops of chilli oil on top.

Kitchen Inn is a bit of a madhouse at lunchtime - if you get there at 12pm or later, you're probably going to have to queue for a while and/or share a table. They do offer takeaway if you'd rather just take your mock pork to the park or your desk. Kitchen Inn has quickly found its way into my regular lunch rotation - I'm keen to work my way through all the veggie noodle dishes on the menu.
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Kitchen Inn
469 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
9328 2562
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Accessibility: There's a small lip on the door. The interior is very crowded, with people and tables - there are outdoor tables as well that are a bit simpler to nab a seat at. You order and pay at a high counter and they bring the food out. I haven't visited the toilets.