Thursday, August 22, 2019

Yellow II

August 11, 2019

I stretched my birthday celebrations nearly three months past the actual date, arranging a family weekend in Sydney with my mum and siblings. They flew from all over the world for the weekend and I picked Yellow for a special Sunday night dinner. Yellow's a well-loved Sydney fine-dining place that picked up a lot of buzz in 2015 when it shifted to an entirely vego menu. It was the perfect place for a fancy night out.

We ordered the five course banquet ($85 a head) and were easily talked into adding a serve of the sweet potato, chipotle and lime tortillas as a bonus course ($8 each). They started us off with a couple of warm-up dishes as well: the housemade sourdough with a smoky mushroom powder on top and a plate of lightly pickled veggies with a macadamia-based dipping sauce. The bread is always a highlight at fancy restaurants and Yellow is no exception.

Next up was our extra dish - sweet potato, chipotle and lime yoghurt tortillas and a serve each of the macadamia tofu with grape, celeriac and little strips of kelp. The tortillas were lovely - smoky and sweet with a hint of spice, but the tofu dish was just okay. The little bursts of flavour from the grapes were great, but otherwise it wasn't particularly memorable.

Things moved up a gear with our next dishes - charred cabbage with black garlic, dashi and mustard seeds (left) and romanesco broccoli with tomatillos, green pepper and preserved lemon. These were both great - the romanesco dish was my favourite of the night, with a brilliant mix of strong flavours and some lovely textural touches. The cabbage wasn't far behind - loaded with richness from the sweet black garlic and the almost caramelised dashi.

The final savoury dish was tempura Jerusalem artichoke with leek, black lime, sage and goat's yoghurt. This was another winner - delicately crispy batter filled with nutty, starchy artichokes with some nice tang from the powdered dried lime.

Dessert was a honeydew sorbet with yuzu curd, coconut and peppermint. This was a fresh and tangy way to finish the meal with more fun textures (although I'm always a bit disappointed when there's no chocolate at dessert).

Yellow is a wonderful restaurant - we had fantastic service all night (right down to an embarrassing candle and song in my dessert) and the food is brilliant. It's great to see an all vegetarian fine dining place thriving - they're really worth a visit.

You can read about my previous visit to Yellow here.

All the blog reviews of Yellow's vego incarnation were positive - check out Will Be, Sashimisho, Ms Brulee, welcome to andyville, Sarah vs Carbs, foodie mookie, Does My Bomb Look Big In This?, Belly Rumbles and the unbearable lightness of being hungry.

57 Macleay Street, Potts Point

Accessibility: There's a flat entryway and a reasonably accessible layout inside. Toilets are gendered and accessible.

Saturday, August 17, 2019


August 11, 2019

We've just had a long weekend in Sydney and we based ourselves in Darlinghurst, a neighbourhood that Michael and I are now quite familiar with. Even so, we didn't recognise the cafe Organism just next door to Shenkin. It's got a cute, rambling vibe and a promise of waffles, so I gently steered Michael and his mum there for a small Sunday breakfast.

The menu is centred primarily around toast, rolls, bagels and waffles and there's a gorgeous display case of croissants, pies and muffins. Vegetarian options are plentiful; vegan and gluten-free options are less common but well-marked, including a lunch-time bibimbap that hits both marks.

After initially being drawn to the tofu l'ancienne roll, Michael settled on the Crush'n on Avo ($14) - a modest portion of sourdough toast and smashed avocado, topped here with tomato, feta, parsley and black sesame seeds.

There's a mini waffle menu with four different options, and I was in the mood to skip by the ostentatious ice-cream-laden ones and just get the simple ricotta version ($8). This really brought out the best in the waffle! It was lightly crisp with caramelised spots on the outside, concealing a thick seam of lemony house ricotta through the middle. A topping of maple syrup and cinnamon sugar supplied ample sweetness, and I enjoyed a rare honey yuzu tea ($6) on the side.  

I was utterly charmed by Organism, with its slightly cluttered nooks and understated meals. I'll definitely check in on them again, hopefully for a slice of pie next time, whenever I find myself in Darlinghurst again.

288 Crown St, Darlinghurst
(02) 7901 2509
facebook page

Accessibility: Pretty limited! There's a steep, curling staircase with handrails to enter. Furniture is densely packed and a little rickety, a mixture of heights and back supports. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Samoa biscuits

July 27-28, 2019

I was in a baking mood this weekend! I pulled this recipe from the depths of my bookmarks, sourced from one of my favourite food blogs back in 2007: Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit. It's a vegan version of the Samoa, which is Girl Scout cookie well-known in North America, possibly but possibly not named after the country.

I can't vouch for the authenticity of this version; it's certainly not ring-shaped like the other ones I've seen online. It looks like it might be heavier on the dough and lighter on the coconut. But it has the coconut chewiness that I was hankering for, crunchy pecans, and a smooth layer of chocolate across the bottom of each biscuit. 

I just went with flour mixtures and syrup combinations that used my pantry supplies efficiently, and was very happy with the results. If you like your biscuits chewy rather than crunchy, I'd recommend pulling them out early around the 10 minute mark, and not baking them for the full 14 minutes listed in the original recipe.

Samoa biscuits
(slightly adapted from Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit,
where it's credited to The Veggie Voice)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 3/4 cups flour (I used a mix of plain and wholemeal)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup ground pecans
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/2 cup coconut or other vegetable oil
1 cup vegan-friendly sweet syrup (I used 1/2 cup malt syrup, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup golden syrup)
250g dark chocolate

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a couple of baking trays with paper (I was out; I just sprayed oil on the tray and did fine.)

In a large bowl, stir together the rolled oats, flour, salt, baking powder, coconut and ground pecans. Get your oil into a liquid state if it isn't already (I melted my coconut oil in a saucepan) and pour it over the dry ingredients; mix until well combined. Pour over your sweet syrup and mix thoroughly until a dough forms; fold in the chopped pecans.

Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, flatten them slightly, and place them on the baking trays (they will rise and spread a little, but not a lot). Bake for 10-14 minutes, until browned around the edges (10 minutes was plenty for mine). Cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Melt 200g of the chocolate using your preferred method. Spread a teaspoon of chocolate on the bottom of each biscuit. When it's well set, flip the biscuits back over. Melt the remaining chocolate and drizzle it in stripes across the tops of the biscuits, and allow it to set. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Barton Fink

July 26, 2019

Barton Fink is a bar on High Street in Thornbury that's been around for four or five years without ever really drawing our attention. That all changed in May this year when they introduced a fully vegan menu. It's a mock meat-heavy selection of food that feels very US dive bar: tacos, hot dogs, burgers, nachos, etc. We stopped by for dinner on our way out to a gig in Northcote.

On a Friday night things were busy without being crowded - we had no trouble getting a table and food came out super quickly. I couldn't resist the full selection of tacos on offer ($18 for 4 or $5.50 each).

The range includes mock fish, mock chicken, jackfruit pulled pork and a beef 'n' bean mix. These are excellent vegan tacos - my two favourites were the mock fish, which had a brilliant aioli on top of some crispy battered fish pieces, and the beef and bean, which was rich and smoky. It was great to try all four though - I'd recommend it.

Cindy ordered the southern soul burger - crispy mock chicken with jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, chipotle mayo and a side of chips ($16.50).

The chips were ace and the burger was a very solid effort - we think the mock chicken patty is house-made seitan, which is always an impressive effort. It was heavy on the jalapenos, which would have suited me, but wasn't ideal for Cindy's taste. 

The atmosphere at Barton Fink was just okay - it's dark and there's footy on the tv, while the Coen brothers-inspired interiors won't be to everyone's taste. It's fine though - I sat happily in the corner and read my book before Cindy turned up. The food is definitely worth the visit though - I can't wait to go back and try the hot dogs. 


The only blog review of Barton Fink we can find is from their pre-vegan era on Parma Daze

Barton Fink
816-818 High Street, Thornbury
9484 7426
menu page 1, page 2

Accessibility: There's a ramp on entry and a mix of regular tables and higher ones with stool seating. You order and pay at a bar. The toilets are unisex and fully accessible.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Roasted cauliflower salad

July 7, 2019

Here's another gem from the lab farewell cookbook, shared by Saras. It's a recipe that she got from her cousin in Jerusalem for a salad with my favourite clash of flavours and textures - savoury cauliflower and hazelnuts refreshed with celery and parsley, in a sweet and warmly spiced dressing, all scattered with pretty, tangy pomegranate seeds. We're already familiar with a very similar salad made by Ottolenghi, but I like that Saras' version uses some of the celery leaves, not just the stalks, and those fresh pomegranate seeds replace dried fruit. 

This is such a versatile recipe: it packs well for picnics, potlucks, and workday lunches; it passes as a light but satisfying meal on its own, and makes a bright side dish for just about anything else. We matched it oddly but very happily with a batch of kimchi, gochujang & cheese scrolls

Roasted cauliflower salad
(a recipe shared by Saras,
which she credits to her cousin)

1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted
1 large cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to roast the cauliflower
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1/4 cup celery leaves
1/4 cup parsley

Preheat the oven to 240°C.

Place the cauliflower in a baking tray, pour over olive oil and generous salt, stirring it through the cauliflower. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender, and browning around the edges. Set aside to cool.

Place the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, and some more salt in an old jam jar. Screw on the lid and shake the dressing until emulsified.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts.

Toss everything together in a big salad bowl and, Saras recommends, "bask in the praise".