Sunday, December 29, 2019

Flourless coconut & chocolate cake

December 14, 2019

A few days after Cindy's actual birthday I finally got around to making her a cake. She had her choice of anything in Ottolenghi and Helen Goh's Sweet. She went for this coconut and chocolate cake, thankfully well within the range of my baking skills. It's gluten free, made almost entirely of butter and sugar, with just enough coconut and almond meal to hold everything together. The ganache is a bit fiddly to make but adds a glossy, chocolatey sheen that's worth the effort. This was a real winner - rich and decadent, with a simple coconut and vanilla flavour. Recommended.

Flourless coconut & chocolate cake
(from Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh's Sweet)

200g unsalted butter, room temperature
250g caster sugar
2/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups almond meal
shake of salt

60g dark chocolate
1/8 cup caster sugar
25g glucose syrup
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
25g unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 23cm spring form tin.

Mix the butter, sugar, desiccated coconut, vanilla and salt in a big bowl with an electric mixer, until the mix is pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add in the almond meal and mix some more, until everything is combined.

Scrape the mixture into your tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, until it's gone brown on top and a skewer comes out clean. Set aside to cool and then remove from the tin.

To make the ganache, combine the sugar and glucose syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir gently until the sugar is melted and everything has combined a bit. Simmer for 5 minutes or so, until it starts to brown.

Pour in the water - the mixture will seize up immediately - just keep it on the heat and everything will melt down again. Add in the vanilla. Once everything is liquidy and combined, kill the heat. Pop the chocolate chips in a bowl and pour the hot mixture over the top. Once the chocolate is melted, whisk in the butter, one cube at a time.

Spread the ganache over the cake and serve!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A festive low-FODMAP cake

December 10, 2019

The lowest common dietary denominator in our book club is a little restrictive: among us there are vegetarians, vegans, the gluten-intolerant and a FODMAP manager. We usually meet up at a pub or quiet restaurant, and ordering individual meals solves most issues. However, we held an extra-special in-house event for Christmas this year! There were tacos and book-swaps and a statistics slideshow (we've been collecting our book scores in a spreadsheet) and I made darn sure there was dessert.

Dessert was another miracle recipe from my Lab Farewell Cookbook. Pia really puts it all out there with this chocolate-berry cake: it's gluten-free and FODMAP-friendly, with vegan options. And I'll admit it's also a little intimidating: I've not made a bundt before, the gluten-free flour is actually 6 flours combined, and the vegan option on the topping is aquafaba. Gluten-free cakes are dicey at the best of times, and I wondered if this one would taste any better than a compromise. But Pia is a master cake baker, and I was ready to put my trust in her.

I was right to do so! I greased that bundt pan with a thoroughness I'll never replicate, and I gently formed a little ditch in the cake batter to house the berry filling. The cake cooked through, cooled for hours, and shyly emerged from its pan without cracks or bumps. The aquafaba was too light and foamy to hold up extra decorations (e.g. see the strawberries, mint leaves and silver cachous pictured below), but it formed a pretty, snowy cap on a handsome chocolate cake.

Most importantly, it tasted terrific. The cake isn't gummy or chalky or rubbery, as gluten-free cakes can be. The texture is a little fudgy, and the rich chocolate and berry flavours are guaranteed to distract you from that last wisp of suspicion that this isn't a 'normal' cake. We ate it with strawberry and pina colada gelati, and it was a hit. The only thing more popular was my slide of correlation networks (not even joking).

Pia's recipe is another long one that's well laid out, and she's given me permission to reproduce it in full below. Note that 350°F = 177°C.

Monday, December 23, 2019

This Borderland

December 1 & 11, 2019

We've been talking about going to This Borderland for the best part of a year now. It's kind of on the way home for both Cindy and I, but only open a few nights a week and our plans kept being derailed. We were finally pushed to visit by the launch of their Sunday morning waffle menu, meeting up with our friend Lisa to try them out. There are three veganisable waffles (all $15) on the brunch menu and we shared them all.

The star of the show is the fried chicken waffle - a really incredible seitan-based chicken patty, smothered in a vegan cheddar sauce dotted with jalapenos. It's a *lot*, so we were happy that we were splitting it three ways, but if this is the kind of meal that gets you excited, you won't beat what Borderland is doing.

The second savoury option was a little more sensible - a vegan avo smash with rocket. Nothing fancy, but a good option if you can't bring yourself to eat a giant mock-meat waffle first thing.

We finished with the apple pie waffle - vegan apple pie filling, pastry fingers, butterscotch sauce and vanilla icecream. 

This was another winner - again, it'd be a lot if you took it on yourself, but shared between the three of us it was just about perfect. They do a good waffle at This Borderland - nicely crispy on the outside, but puffy and soft once you break through the surface. They've got cheap percolator coffee and a friendly atmosphere, making this the diner breakfast of your dreams.

We had such a good time on our brunch visit that we prioritised a night-time return, swinging by to celebrate Cindy's birthday. The night menu is a bit more extensive and everything on it can be veganised: there's seven kinds of burger, a chicken snack pack, a serious-sounding poutine and a chicken plate plus sides. We kicked things off with a serve of their excellent shoestring fries ($5).

I ordered a vegan version of The James - seitan patty with apple slaw and chipotle mayo ($15). It's a giant tower of a thing, mostly thanks the to ginormous patty, so you just have to embrace getting messy. The patty really is spectacular - it's made in house and you can tell that they've really worked to make something packed with flavour. It might be the best vegan burger patty in town. The trimmings on this one work well too - especially if you add a few drips of one of the many hot sauce varieties they have on the counter.

Cindy went with a half serve of the Charlotte ($10) - a chunk of the seitan, some slaw, some pickles and the chipotle mayo. It's basically a deconstructed version of the burger I had and she was just as impressed (and also relieved she didn't order the full Charlotte - this was tons of food!).

We had other plans for dessert, but I'm very keen to come back and try the vegan cherry pie ($10) on a future visit.

It's a lovely spot - the staff couldn't be friendlier and the casual diner vibe is perfect for a casual meal. Apparently you can order your food to the bar next door if space is at a premium in the diner (or you want booze with your meal). 

The only blog post I can find about This Borderland is this directory-ish listing over at Messy Veggies.

This Borderland
208 Tyler Street, Preston
no phone
sunday waffles, dinner, drinks and desserts

Accessibility: There are two steps up on entry; most of the seating is in booths, but there are high seats at the window too. We ordered and paid at a low counter. There's a single unisex toilet - it's quite small and not particularly accessible.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A far-from-ordinary potato salad

December 7, 2019

I'm fond enough of your regular, mayonnaise-dressed potato salad (hold the bacon, please) but I definitely have room in my life for switching it up. In the Lab Farewell Cookbook, Alys shared an excellent method for doing just that. It tilts the ratio of potatoes to other fresh veges (sugar snap peas! a rainbow of cherry tomatoes!), showers them with dill, and livens up the dressing with horseradish, mustard, and apple cider vinegar.

Although this version doesn't have the thick gloopiness of mayonnaise, the mustard dressing still emulsifies and thickens with whisking and melds with the starch on the potatoes. The effect is much creamier than you might initially expect.

We ate big piles of this salad alongside a Just Add... steak smothered in fried onions: a beaut summer barbecue vibe scaled down for two. We'll be sure to scale up and road-test this salad at a potluck before the season is over.

A far-from-ordinary potato salad
(a recipe shared by Alys in the Lab Farewell Cookbook,
where she credits it to The Green Kitchen by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl)

700g small new potatoes, halved or whole depending on size
15 mini tomatoes, in a variety of colours if you can, halved
150g sugar snap peas, sliced lengthways
1 large handful dill, coarsely chopped
optional: roasted carrot, avocado pieces

2cm piece fresh horseradish or 2 teaspoons horseradish cream
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon or seeded mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
optional: lemon juice and grated rind

Boil the potatoes in salted water then simmer them until cooked, about 15 minutes.

Place the tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and dill (plus carrot and avocado, if using) in a large serving bowl.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together, or shake them until emulsified in a lidded jar.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and add them to the salad bowl. Stir through the salad dressing and you're ready to go!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Zucchini bread

December 1, 2019

In the Lab Farewell Cookbook, Casey advised me that this recipe is a long-time favourite in his family and that it's best enjoyed by a fire. I didn't save this zucchini bread for winter, but I did choose one of the cooler weekends for it, where pottering around the oven felt good.

I've not made zucchini bread before, but I think it sits alongside banana bread and carrot cake as one of those dense, textured loaves that feel wholesome and breaks up the afternoon nicely alongside a cup of tea.

With that point of comparison, the texture of the batter wasn't quite what I expected. The honey, coconut oil, eggs and water-charged zucchini completely overwhelmed the wholemeal flour and formed a very runny batter, with the cake still looking very jiggly after the prescribed 35 minutes. This might be in part because of my choice of cake tin - the recipe advises something much larger and presumably the batter usually spreads out a lot further than I allowed it to. I baked my loaf for an extra 10 minutes, and that did the job: the centre was very moist, and exterior was thoroughly toasted without getting burnt. It's so moist that I decided to store it in the fridge to avoid mold.

This zucchini bread has a lovely honey aroma, that toasty/tender contrast, and I'm already established as a sucker for walnuts in this context. And the recipe has arrived just in time, as I've really over-used my favourite banana cake recipe these past couple of months.

Zucchini bread
(a family recipe shared by Casey in the Lab Farewell Cookbook)

1 cup wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup rapidura, brown or raw sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
3 cups grated zucchini (2 medium zucchini)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat an oven to 175°C. Line a cake tin with paper (Casey recommends 8 inch x 8 inch, I used a smaller loaf pan).

In a medium-large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients - flour through to sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, vanilla, coconut oil and eggs until well combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the bowl, stirring as you go. Fold in the zucchini, and then the walnuts. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake until a skewer comes out clean - it's OK if it's still a bit jiggly. The original recipe prescribes 35 minutes, and I found that 45 minutes worked well for my loaf.

Monday, December 16, 2019


December 6, 2019

We've gone to a bunch of gigs at the Merri Creek Tavern this year; they don't run a kitchen so we've been testing out a few of the neighbouring restaurants for dinner. Taxiboat is our pick thus far. Its menu attributes various dishes to China, Mongolia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Korea; they're well-labelled for gluten-free, onion-free and garlic-free options. Most mains are available with tofu and faux-meat as well as the traditionally featured meats.

On this, our second visit, I was most impressed with the Mongolian faux-beef ($19.80, pictured above), which was thickly coated in a BBQ sauce both sweet and savoury, and served on a bed of fresh, lightly cooked broccoli, snow peas and capcisum.

At our table of four, we also shared the Pad Thai with tofu ($16.80, above left); not my favourite rendition of a dish I have a lot of affection for. The Kung Pao Chilli Tofu ($18, above right) was much livelier, with plentiful fresh and dried chilli and just enough sweetness in the sauce.

I think the most memorable dish on the menu is Roast Duck on Heaven ($19.80), which is available with excellent mock-duck pieces in a hoisin sauce, served in a spring roll-wrapper basket with a sprinkling of pine nuts.

The dessert menu also looks fun (pandan panna cotta, tropical coconut dazzler icecream), but it's a bit more restricted on the vegan options (typically one icecream flavour, vanilla on this visit). Nevermind! We're already well pleased to see high-quality mock meat teamed with colourful crunchy veges, all at a decade-old restaurant in Westgarth that the internet never made much fuss about.


Taxiboat was blogged all the way back in 2010 by the Eat Our Way Up High St Project; they were underwhelmed. More recently, it's received positive attention on Green Gourmet GiraffeGastrology, and The Penguin Eats.

94 High St, Northcote
9482 7882
appetisers, mains, mains, noodles & roti, desserts & specials

Accessibility: There are two steps up on entry; low tables, benches and seats are densely arranged inside. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

V Series

November 29, 2019

It's rare that we make it out to Kew, but an art exhibition including works by our friend Tim drew us to the Junction area. We stuck around for lunch at V Series. It's a vegetarian cafe located near Leo's, and was known as A Caterpillar's Dream under previous management. It's retained its forebear's casual, friendly, and slightly reserved atmosphere.

The menu is all vegetarian, with vegan and gluten-free options clearly marked. The 'brekky all day', 'hungry' and 'simple' sections pick from cooking styles across the globe with quesadillas, laksa, okinomiyaki, lasagna, burgers and crepes all available. I took on the vegan version of the Hash Benedict ($18, pictured above): surrounded by a wreath of undressed salad, this was a towering stack of housemade potato hash, avocado, tomato, spinach, mushroom and fried tofu dripping with a tangy hollandaise. This was just the right mix of richness and freshness for me and I slowly, happily cleared my plate.

Michael was in an entirely different mood, going for the vegan option on the Thai Basil Rice ($18). He was just as pleased with this medley as I was with mine: spiced minced tofu and mushrooms were served in a lettuce cup, there were cashews and cucumber pickles on the side, and his steamed rice was topped with a schnitzel patty instead of a fried egg.

There was no hope of fitting in a vegan cupcake before we moved on - these generous plates filled up us hungry cyclists very effectively. It'll probably be a while before we're back in the neighbourhood, but we hope you'll consider making your own visit in the meantime.

V Series has also been covered by fellow veg*n blogger little vegan bear.

It's also received a little omni-blog attention, including positive reviews from Eat & Be Merry and Linnie Eats All The Food, plus what look like freebie reviews on Lips Temptations and Gastrology.

V Series
4/26 Princess St, Kew
9939 6133
food, drinks

Accessibility: Looks good - flat wide entry, plenty of space between tables, table service and payment at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Rin Sura

November 28, 2019

We were sad when Handsome Her packed up their cafe in Brunswick and we barely paid attention to Rin Sura, which took their place on Sydney Road. It didn't take long for word of mouth to kick in though, with a couple of different people recommending we try it out. We called in on a sunny Thursday arvo to see what they had to offer.

The courtyard is lovely in good weather - the perfect place to pick through their menu. Cindy was pleased to see a decent list of non-alcoholic drinks, and ordered a coconut virgin mojito ($10). There's a good selection of vegan options scattered throughout - we started with a serve of pan-fried Thai frittata with chilli vinegar dressing ($11).

These were great - crispy on the outside and rich and tasty inside. An excellent start. We followed with a serve of the papaya salad ($12) and the roasted miso pumpkin with coconut red curry and sweet potato crisps ($13). 

The papaya salad was really hot - too hot for Cindy to really enjoy - but otherwise wonderful, crispy and tangy and fresh. The miso pumpkin was maybe my favourite dish of the night - it had a good spicy hit too, with a wonderful curry/miso sauce over sweet, roasted pumpkin. We make a miso-curry pumpkin too - it's a winning flavour combo.

We finished with a serve of the fried tofu bao ($11) and the roti with homemade peanut satay (this was the only non-vegan dish we ordered, $8). The tofu bao were really excellent - pillowy buns wrapped around crispy fried tofu with garlic aioli, slaw, pickled veggies and chilli. Unbeatable. The roti was lovely too - perfectly cooked and with a rich peanut-ty dipping sauce. 

The food was so good that we decided to sample the dessert menu, sharing a Thai tea pudding served with strawberry sorbet, berries and smoky coconut caramel ($12). This hit the mark as well - the pudding was a bit jelly-ish (maybe there was some agar involved?) and its rich sweetness was cut nicely by the berries and sorbet. 

We had a lovely dinner at Rin Sura - the food hit the mark across the board and the service was lovely. It's a great addition to the strip, a mid-priced option for people looking for a somewhere a bit nice in the neighbourhood. We'll be back!

We couldn't find any other blog reviews for Rin Sura, but they're surely on their way.

Rin Sura
206 Sydney Road, Brunswick
9942 7047
non-alcohol drinks, hot drinks, sharing food, mains and dessert

Accessibility: The entry is flat, and tables are densely packed with a clear corridor through the middle. Things are a bit more spacious out the back. We ordered at the table and paid at a low counter. Toilets are unisex and accessible.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Billy van Creamy

November 5, 2019

Billy van Creamy is a lovely icecream business. They've got a food truck, and I've seen tubs of their staple flavours here and there. For a little while now they've had a shop front in Fitzroy North, between Piedemonte's and Edinburgh Gardens. (These neighbours are my best excuses to stop by.) Billy van Creamy do shakes and fancy sundaes as well as simple scoops, and they've got proper cutlery and crockery if you want to eat in at one of their benches.

Importantly, the vegan options here extend much further than fruit sorbets. They've developed a cashew and coconut base that just quietly, creamily supports their feature flavours like it's no big deal. (I think it is a big deal.) Chocolate, salted caramel, and peanut butter choc chip are in regular rotation and high demand. I was just as pleased with the vegan peppermint fudge special they offered last time I was in (pictured above; $5). 

I keep telling myself that next time I'll get some extra honeycomb or fudge sauce or a whole smores sundae, but I keep finding that there's pleasure enough in just the icecreams themselves.


Billy van Creamy is well known to the mummy set: the only blog posts I found about this Fitzroy shopfront are on TOT: HOT OR NOT and mamma knows north.

Billy van Creamy
27/29 Best St, Fitzroy North

Accessibility: There's a shallow ramp on entry. Tables are low and seating is low benches and stools, with decent spacing between them. I ordered, paid and picked up my food from a low counter.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Mary Miller

November 5, 2019

We cycle past the cafe Mary Miller on our way home from work most days. We know the spot well from its previous incarnation as Julio, and even spent the 2007 federal election night there. As Mary Miller it has received plenty of sponsored blog attention (see links at end of post), which I didn't really bother with... until Cruella deVegan posted about its vegan options, including a kaleidoscopic bibimbap

I stopped in for a quiet solo lunch on a public holiday. The menu had a lot to linger over: that bibimbap, a vegan chicken burger, French toast and pancakes, fritters, eggs, and veges. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and adaptable dishes are abundant and clearly marked. The vegan B.L.A.T. ($16) had the right balance of mock meat and fresh greens for me: the Turkish bread was unusually fluffy and light, and it was generously layered with vegan bacon, vegan feta, spinach, avocado, tomato and mayonnaise.

The menu covers so many of my meal moods, from fruit-and-yoghurt to rice-based bowls and burgers, that I'm seeking any excuse I can to go back for more. 

I've gotta thank Cruella deVegan for getting me through the Mary Miller door!

Otherwise in blog-land, Mary Miller seems to have given out a zillion freebies, most of them declared, with predictably positive reviews: A Chronicle of GastronomyThe Penguin EatsLips Temptationsfo0die (twice), Love at First BitethelittlehungrylifeSuzie Scribbles2WO FAT GIRLSWHATEPIEATS and Gastrology.

Mary Miller
171 Miller St, Fitzroy North
9489 6740
meals, kids' menu & drinks

Accessibility: There's a step up on entry (see top pic). The indoor furniture consists of reasonably spaced low tables and chairs with backs. I ordered at the table and paid at a low counter. I didn't visit the toilets.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Noo Moo Foods

November 1, 2019

Our friend Lisa recently alerted us to Noo Moo Foods, a vegan food trailer tucked away in the industrial back-blocks of West Heidelberg. Cindy and I both work in the neighbourhood, so one Friday afternoon we all met up there to try it out. It's a very unassuming set-up - literally a little trailer in the front of a warehouse with a handful of plastic chairs and low tables. It feels like it's mostly aiming for the delivery market, but it was pleasant enough to eat-in on a warm Friday arvo.

Don't come to Noo Moo Foods looking for salad - this is a burger and fries kind of establishment. The menu has seven kinds of loaded fries (including some topped with mashed up burger rings!), nuggets and five different burgers. We started with a ten-pack of the nuggets ($10) with mayo and Hazel's dirty fries (topped with gravy, coconut cheese sauce, coconut bacon and fried onions, $12). The nuggets were great - I'm not sure what brand they're using, but they're delicious - great texture, nicely fried and with excellent mayo to dunk them in. The loaded fries were tasty, but unsurprisingly a bit of a mess to eat. The coconut bacon got lost a bit in everything else, but the cheese sauce and gravy combo worked surprisingly well.

I also wanted to try a burger - this is the Culverlands industrial schnitz - a southern spiced fried pattie with bbq sauce, secret sauce, coleslaw, pickles and cashew cheese ($17). This a messy, delicious treat - there's so much sauce that things inevitably drip, but all the chaos is just about worth it. 

The friendly staff treated us to a tangy lemon sorbet to finish things off - it was just the sour/sweet burst we needed to cut through the oily dinner. Noo Moo Foods is working in a similar vein to Lord of the Fries - the burgers here are a bit more expensive, but a bit better quality as well. If you're in the neighbourhood and feel like junk food for dinner you can't really go wrong.


You can read more about Noo Moo Foods over at Messy Veggies.

Noo Moo Foods
20 Culverlands Street, Heidleberg West
loaded fries, burgers etc

Accessibility: It's a flat entryway, but you order and pay at a high counter and the only chairs are low plastic stools. We didn't visit the toilets.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Burmese fermented tea leaf salad

October 26-31, 2019

This recipe from the Lab Farewell Cookbook is actually two gifts. I'll tell you about the second gift first: the recipe is for a salad with an ingredient I've never encountered before, fermented tea leaves. There's a not-so-authentic-but-it'll-do recipe for making them at home, and I took it on with a 'lil help from my friends.

My mate Toby is an expert in all things tea, and he recommended Assembly in Carlton for green tea leaves that are good enough to eat. The leaf prep is simple: rehydrate, drain and lightly ferment in salt, flavour with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. The result is, to me, a distant cousin of pesto - it's got that concentrated green flavour, but the tea is lightly bitter instead of summery and sweet like basil. Following the recipe's general guide, I teamed it will a little pickled ginger, then generous shakes of salted roasted peanuts and fried shallots.

The first gift is the written recipe itself. It's a rollicking read that runs to two-and-a-half pages, and instead of paraphrasing it I'm submitting it whole, with permission.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Nat's pumpkin rice dish

October 26, 2019

This Lab Farewell Cookbook recipe comes from Nat. She'd be the first to admit that she's not a fancy or especially enthusiastic cook, yet she's one of the two people who took charge of on this whole cookbook project as a gift to me.

Paradoxically, I knew that her recipe would be a handy one - she shared one of her stand-by dishes, something she made to low-key impress her partner in their early days of dating. It's a bowl of pumpkin, rice and Thai curry flavours that Michael easily pulled off on a weeknight. It's got roughly the texture and all the comfort of a risotto, right down to the more solid and perfectly microwaveable leftovers that we packed for lunch.

We're getting pumpkins on the regular in our CERES boxes, so this is gonna get the repeat treatment for sure.

Nat's pumpkin rice dish
(a recipe shared by Nat in the Lab Farewell Cookbook,
where she credits it to Jamie Oliver)

a small handful of makrut lime leaves
2-3 chillies, seeds removed and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 thumb-sized pieces ginger, peeled
3 sticks lemongrass, outer leaves removed
large handful coriander, leaves picked and stalks chopped
1 heaped teaspoon Chinese five-spice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
600 - 1000g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 5cm pieces
565mL vegetable stock
200g basmati rice
400mL coconut milk
salt and pepper
juice of 1-2 limes

Use a mortar and pestle, spice grinder or blender to make the fragrant soup base: smoosh together the lime leaves, chilli, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander stalks, five-spice and cumin. Remove any stringy bits that remain.

Heat the olive oil in a very large saucepan and add the pulpy soup base. Stir in the onion and cook on low-medium heat for 10 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add the pumpkin and stock, stirring everything together and then bringing it to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on until the pumpkin is soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the rice; it's OK if some of the pumpkin mushes up. Simmer under the rice is cooked, a further 10-15 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the coconut milk, and season with salt and pepper. Remove it from the heat, add the lime juice to taste and serve garnished with coriander leaves.

Monday, November 04, 2019

La Tortilleria II

October 25, 2019

Here's a short, updated note of appreciation for La Tortilleria. It was the most convenient place to grab dinner on a Friday night, before attending A Midnight Visit. In spite of its industrial location, La Tortilleria's eatery continues to do very well for itself - the four hopefuls ahead of me were sent away to wait for a half-hour, and we were lucky to squeeze into a table for two with a time limit.

The menu is still gluten-free with abundant well-marked vegetarian and vegan options, including vegan cheese and chorizo. I went for a quesadilla con nopales ($9.50, pictured at 12 o'clock) which is made with a blue tortilla; the cactus gives just the slightest pickley sharpness to an otherwise mild cheesy snack.

I must admit to scraping the raw onion off the papas con chorizo taco ($5.50, pictured at 8 o'clock), but it was worth it for the roasted potato and soy chorizo underneath. My favourite was the frijoles con chipotle taco ($5.50, pictured at 7 o'clock) - the beans were so hearty, and garnished with a sprinkling of savoury crispy rice.

Now that I've figured out my way there by bike, I'm resolving to visit more often. The food is simple and lovely, the staff are capable and friendly, and the atmosphere is lively and colourful. Besides, I didn't have time for a horchata!

You can read about our first visit to La Tortilleria here. Since then it's received positive reviews on Not My Bread And ButterSweet & Sour ForkThe Aussie CoeliacThe New Fave and The Coeliac Plate

La Tortelleria
72 Stubbs St, Kensington
9376 5577
savoury foods, desserts

Accessibility: Limited! The entry is up some stairs and I couldn't see an alternative. The interior has narrow sections is densely packed with furniture. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. There's a single unisex toilet.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Daughter in Law

October 10, 2019

Our friends Ben and Nat took us out for a surprise date on a Thursday night in the city - we didn't know where we were heading and I'd never heard of the place we ended up: Daughter in Law. It's an offshoot of Horn Please in North Fitzroy and has a very similar vibe: slightly high-end Indian, a great booze selection and a relaxed atmosphere.

Ben took care of ordering for the table and came up with a wonderful mix of dishes. We started out with a selection of small plates: balls of happiness (top left, $3.50 each), Colonel Tso's cauliflower (top right, $18, vegan) and papadi chaat (bottom, $18, vegan).

The balls of happiness are crispy hollow fried dough, stuffed with chickpeas, yoghurt and spices - they explode with flavour in your mouth! They were happy to adapt these as vegan too. The little chickpea bubbles they came served on were great as well. The Colonel Tso's cauliflower was probably my favourite dish of the night - super spicy little battered delights. I ate well more than my fair share. The papadi chaat is billed as Indian nachos - a great mix of crispy wafers, veggies and delicious chutneys. 

We followed up with a couple of curries: vegan roast pumpkin and butternut squash ($18) and palak paneer ($22), with a naan basket ($12) and a serve of the spiced mushroom and beetroot tandoor ($12, vegan).

These all hit the mark too, although we were already filling up by the time we got through the tandoori veggies. The palak paneer is a good test of an Indian restaurant and Daughter in Law do a very fine one.

We somehow pushed on for dessert - a serve of gulab jamun (top left, $10), kulfi (top right, $8), coconut sorbet (bottom left, $8) and chocolate ice cream (bottom right, $8). Both the bottom two were vegan. I only tried the chocolate ice cream - it was incredibly rich and creamy and utterly too much. Cindy had the kulfi, which came served in what we gather is the traditional style.  

Daughter in Law is an excellent CBD dinner option - there's a good range of vegan stuff, the servings are generous and everything we had was super tasty. Service is lovely as well - definitely a good option for when you want something a bit fancier than dumplings.

We couldn't find any blog reviews for Daughter in Law (which might say as much about how hard it is Google makes it to find blogs these days as anything else).

Daughter in Law
37 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
9242 0814
food, mocktails, dessert

Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up to enter. The interior is pretty crowded, with full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


October 5, 2019

Yamato is located in the same cobbled laneway as our beloved Sichuan House, and it's been there at least 15 years. Every time I've seen it, I've remembered that it was recommended on easy as vegan pie (now half that lifetime ago!). It's difficult to pull Michael past SH's mapo tofu, but I have at last succeeded, on a Saturday night en route to the Corner Hotel.

For me, Yamato has two key points of appeal. First, it has the charming atmosphere of the small cafes we've visited in Japan - it's densely packed with furniture and cute knick-knacks, and there are kneeling tables for those who are keen on them. Second, the vegetarian entrees and mains are clearly set out separately in the menu, meaning no awkward investigations into stock and bonito flakes are needed.

The execution of those dishes doesn't rank quite as highly. The skin on our nasu dengaku ($8.30) was too tough to split with chopsticks or teeth; its seasoning was fine.

The Agadashi Combi ($13.10) was a pleasant assortment of battered veges and fried bean curd, but not the epitome of lightness or crunch.

For me, the Zaru Soba ($11.30) was the surprise winner! I loved the texture of the buckwheat noodles and the light flavour of their broth; some sly ice cubes were keeping it all fresh.

Our Yamato meal was modest, and modestly priced. While not every dish was brilliant, I can see myself sneaking in for a quiet slurp of soba and trialling something from the remaining dozen vege options.


Blog reviews of Yamato span a decade! It was a positive one on easy as vegan pie that led us there.

There are also positive reviews on Weekend NotesNurikko Visits, my name is Food, and Food Rehab, and reasonably positive reviews on Short & Stout, and Eat & Be Merry; bloggers are distinctly unimpressed on Espresso and MatchaSweet & Sour Fork, and The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar.

28 Corrs Lane, Melbourne
9663 1706
vegetarian menu
facebook page

Accessibility: The laneway that Yamato is located in is cobbled, and there's a step on entry. The interior is very crowded, with a mixture of booths, standard height tables and kneeling tables. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.