Thursday, March 26, 2020

New Day Nights @ New Day Rising

February 9, 2020

We're long-time fans of New Day Rising's day-time bagel-focussed offerings, but in the last few months we've fallen in love with their semi-regular New Day Nights events. Run by our old pal Pip, these are three-course vegan meals for $50 including a drink, and this particular one was a bushfire relief fundraiser. We've been to a handful of these, but the most recent was so bloody good that we figured it was time for a quick blog post. They're charming nights - the cafe only seats about 15 people, so it's cosy and friendly and there's always a lovely buzz. And the food! My goodness.

Pip kicked us off with vegan goats cheese, peach and thyme toasts - like a burst of summer in your mouth.

The main course was spectacular too: grilled polenta with blistered tomatoes and basil. Pip always tracks down wonderful produce and finds ways to really let it shine. This was so simple, but we were all giddy at its quality.

It came with a nice fresh salad of mixed leaves and radishes with a simple dressing.

Dessert was another late-summer classic: fresh fig, fig leaf panna cotta and walnut praline. Truly incredible.

It feels weird to write about this perfect meal a few weeks later. This was in that short sweet spot, between the worst of the fires and the dawning realisation that Covid-19 was going to hit hard. We were joined by a couple of friends and had a wonderful meal and a balmy ride home - feels like forever ago. Hopefully Pip will start these up again once all this has passed - keep an eye on New Day Rising's Instagram for updates.

You can read about our earlier visits to New Day Rising here, here, here and here.


New Day Rising
221d Blyth St, Brunswick East
menu (this changes every time)
instagram page

Accessibility: A small step up on entry into a fairly crowded interior. You order at the table and just pay whoever you can grab by the coffee machine. The bathroom is accessed from outside somewhere - we've not checked it out.

Monday, March 23, 2020


February 5, 2020

Cindy and I met up for dinner in Carlton, after I went to the launch of Laura McPhee-Browne's very fine book. We took the opportunity to try out Taquito, the newest Mexican place that has taken up the old Markov Place venue on Drummond Street. It's fancyish Mexican, with fancyish booze - the kind of place where you can drop $50 without even trying. The menu is vegan-friendly and they're on top of all kinds of dietary restrictions. 

I stuck with one of their tap beers, but Cindy couldn't resist a housemade horchata ($7), a milky, rice drink with vanilla, cinnamon and a few other spices. She loved it.

We kicked off with a smoked and pickled cauliflower tostada with black garlic and pinenut salsa ($12). This was predictably fantastic - black garlic can really be guaranteed to take any dish to the highest level. 

We followed up with a vegan taco flight ($23 for 4). The selection is pretty changeable I think - ours included a sweet potato option, black beans and battered cauliflower - all were really excellent.

We finished off with a plate of the excellent buffalo milk cheese curds topped with pickled watermelon and peanut salsa macha ($14).

Sadly this review is being written many weeks late, so my memory is pretty sketchy - mostly I have remember feeling very positive about the whole experience. The staff were super friendly, the atmosphere was humming and the food was excellent. It's a strange time to write restaurant reviews - so many places are going to struggle through this period. Taquito are doing their best to keep things going, with takeaway and spaced out tables - grab a bunch of tacos and eat them in the park if you can.


350 Drummond Street, Carlton
0450 651 247

Accessibility: There's a step as you come in the Drummond Street entry - we didn't check out the entryway off the cobbled laneway at the back. There's a mix of low and high seating and full table service. We didn't visit the bathrooms.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Gingerbread waffles

January 11, 2020

We took a break for a week in January, and spent much of it renting a huge house in the country with a bunch of friends. We watched movies, did jigsaws, read books, and (of course) shared meals. I volunteered to make waffles for breakfast one morning and thought wistfully of some gingerbread ones I had years ago at a cafe. I started researching recipes online, thinking that I'd splice them with a Vegan Brunch recipe for something to suit our group's dietary requirements.

I should have started with Vegan Brunch, because it turns out there's a gingerbread waffle recipe sitting right there for the making! (Now that I'm blogging it's clear I should have checked here even earlier, because apparently I've made this recipe before! This blog so often now outperforms my own memory.) 

These waffles are really nice without quite being a knock-out. They're crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, maybe a touch spongy when I'm looking for cakey. For all their molasses, fresh ginger and spices, their flavour isn't as strong or as complex as I was looking for - I'd happily increase and further diversify those flavourings. The waffles are excellent vessels for berries and coconut yoghurt. I was delighted to watch one tablemate meticulously place one blueberry in each waffle indentation, then carefully douse the lot in maple syrup.

Gingerbread waffles
(a recipe from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz;
this quantity of batter made 8 waffles)

2 cups almond or other vegan milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons grated ginger
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
oil spray

Preheat your waffle iron.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk together the milk, vinegar, oil, molasses, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the grated ginger. Sift in the remaining ingredients (except for the spray oil!), and stir well until smooth.

When the waffle iron is ready, spray it thoroughly with oil, and pour in the waffle batter in batches, cooking as directed by the appliance manufacturer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


January 16, 2020

When we shared dinner with friends at Theodore's, the staff recommended to us "a new wine bar over at the intersection of Brunswick Rd and Lygon St". Its name is Faye, and we all agreed that we should make it our next meeting spot. (A photographer at The Age chose the same evening to capture it, and captured our table in the process.)

Faye's entry and signage is set back a little from the street, but not hard to find if you're actively seeking it out. The same goes for dishes suiting special dietary requirements: while chicken hearts, ox tongue, pasta and cheeses featured prominently across the menu, the staff helped us cobble together a set of dishes that ensured the vegetarians, dairy-allergic and gluten-intolerant among us all had plenty to eat.

For me, y'all know that my tests of a restaurant come early (non-alcoholic drinks) and late (dessert). Faye ticked off the first one with Soda #1 ($7) appearing at the end of the cocktail menu. It's a mix of fig leaf whey fermented strawberry soda garnished generously with mint and lemon; more carbonated and lightly flavoured than a kombucha by my reckoning.

The mark of a fancy dining experience, we were served bread and spreadably-soft butter, with gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives for those who needed them.

A couple of us were keen on silverbeet and fontina croquettes ($8 each), their thick crust and rich filling offset by strips of asparagus and apple.

A salad of fig leaf ricotta, heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers ($18) was an excellent mid-summer choice. The chef kindly portioned out precisely one beetroot slice per person ($17) and the diary eaters among us carefully shared the thick caramelised yoghurt they were served with.

We also shared two heavier mains. The eggplant ($28) was one of the most popular dishes of the night, flavoured with black garlic and supported by plenty of braised lentils and Otway shiitake mushrooms. The prospect of sourdough pasta ($26) was intriguing and it proved to be my favourite savoury dish of the night, served in a nest with salted ricotta, then teamed with big chunks of smoked zucchini.

There was enough stomach room around the table to have us cover the dessert menu ($10 each)! The dairy-free option (bottom right) was a very pink and tangy bowl of rhubarb sorbet, fermented strawberry (probably the solid partner to my soda's cordial?), and vermouth. We also sampled pineapple icecream with long pepper and coconut (bottom left), flowering gum icecream with smoked mango (top left), and white balsamic icecream with semi-dried plums and chocolate (top right). It's rare to see such an inventive dessert menu, and having a chance to try the lot was even more fun than any single dish.

Faye was a fun and fancy night out, and we were well attended to by the staff. It looks like the kind of place that will rotate its menu regularly - we're hopeful that they'll continue to cater imaginatively and with friendly consideration of their customers' dietary requirements.


Shop 1/22-30 Lygon St, Brunswick East
9943 3050
food, drinks

Accessibility: Both step and ramp access is available from the street. Tables are low, chairs have back support, and furniture is medium-spaced. We didn't visit the toilets.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

where's the best in 2019?

The wonderful house-made mock chicken at This Borderland

Summer is over, and we've only just wrapped up our 2019 posts! The end of the year was tough, and I'm choosier than ever about when and what to add here. Still, there's been time now to sift through a long year, update our navigation pages, and pick some highlights.

First up: we're sad to see some faves shut their doors, including Fitzroy eateries Munsterhaus and Billy & Lucy, veg-friendly pubs The Rev and The Snug, and the legendary Sizzle Plate makers, Dosa Plaza.

The dish so good, I once embroidered it

Of course, there's always something new to try around Melbourne. We don't hit the hotspots as fast or as comprehensively as we used to, but we're adding 14 more eateries to our honour roll. The Carringbush Hotel is a welcome new addition to the pub scene: we've lunched in the beer garden, held book club there, and competed in their trivia nights. We love having Kevabs and Samba's Jhol Momo in the neighbourhood for cheap, nourishing food when we're not in the mood to cook. Theodore's is a bit fancier, but we've treated ourselves there, too, under the same conditions - we have always felt well looked after by the staff and the veges they serve.

Sure, I'm recommending the veges... but aren't Theodore's pretzels pretty?

We've both been commuting (mostly cycling) to jobs in the north-eastern suburbs in 2019, and so we're eating more often in Preston and the surrounding suburbs. We're very fond of the mock chicken at This Borderland (pictured up top), so much so that I chose it for my birthday dinner. We've also made multiple stops in to Mesob and to Taxiboat. I've had a summer of great icecreams, primarily from Cuppa Turca and Billy van Creamy, which are both along our cycle path.

One of the numerous banh mi businesses we visited in Hoi An

Our most distant meals were had in Hoi An. We spent a fabulous week there in September; walking, swimming and cycling, taking a cooking class and visiting local landmarks, finding numerous vegetarian restaurants, and eating all the banh mi we could find. I drank a lot of coffee.

You can pickle green tea leaves?! Just one of the things I've learned from the Lab Farewell Cookbook

In our own kitchen, the menu has revolved around a special new cookbook. No, it's not the latest Ottolenghi or Moskowitz release; it's a one-of-a-kind compendium of recipes given to me by the colleagues I left when I switched jobs early in the year. It's been such a privilege to experience recipes that are important to them - because they're impressive at dinner parties or reliable on work nights, because they're beloved family recipes or something that reminds them of their country of origin. I made 24 of these recipes in 2019 and my goal this year is to complete every remaining recipe in the book at least once. It's the number one reason you can expect this blog to keep kickin' on in 2020.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Cuppa Turca

December 25, 2019

We had a misplaced hunch that Black Waffle would be open on Christmas day, and it was Cuppa Turca that instead sated our mid-afternoon hankering for icecream. This High St cafe serves a rare range of Turkish desserts, including dondurma/ice cream. (Here's a nice SBS Food article covering the cafe's inception.)

The texture of dondurma is more substantial and less frothy than the icecreams usually scooped in Australia, with a bit of chew and stretch about it. Cuppa Turca rotate their flavours and we've found that about a third of them tend to be vegan and coconut-based. They're not just falling back on the usual fruit flavours when they go dairy-free: the cup above boasts Turkish delight and dark chocolate ($6.80), and we saw black tahini among the options too.


Cuppa Turca has also received positive coverage on TOT: HOT OR NOT.

Cuppa Turca
244 High St, Northcote
9489 3114
facebook page

Accessibility: We think there's a gentle incline rather than a step on entry. We ordered and paid at a high counter. Interior furniture is reasonable crowded. We didn't visit the toilets.