New Zealand Eats

This is another post that’s been waiting to see the light of day for far too long – almost 12 months in fact. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we took a little trip over to our neighbour New Zealand. We spent 2 1/2 weeks driving around the south island in a campervan. It felt good to be back on the road living the van life, albeit too short. While we did a bit of simple van cooking in that time, we of course did our fair share of eating out as well. Today I’m going to share some of those eats with you, because it fits in perfectly with this week’s international theme.

Before I go any further though, I must apologise for some of the photos that you are about to see. Unfortunately I decided to mess with my camera settings while we were over there, and I struggled to remember what I’d done/get it back to normal so a few of them are a little wacked. I also must apologise about the lack of detail that is to follow. I made some notes in my diary about each dish and our thoughts on them while we were there, but since it is now 2016, the old diary is no longer with us. Whoops.

shroomroom2

Our first stop was to the Shroom Room Cafe in Lyttelton, not too far out of Christchurch. Lyttelton was very sweet, and we were immediately attracted to the laid back vibe of the Shroom Room – from the name, to the retro crockery, to the rustic interior.

shroomroom1

shroomroom4
We shared two dishes, above I think was the veggie hash stack. As I said, I don’t remember too much detail (can you blame me after 12 months?), but uhh….that’s what it looks like?

shroomroom3
I’m pretty sure this was a falafel burger. I do recall the bread being dense and tasty, but perhaps a little dry. Nothing a bit more sauce or avocado wouldn’t solve. The side salads were a little lacking in size and content – a few more slices of cucumber and some cherry tomatoes wouldn’t go astray.

shroomroom5The items we got were straight from the quite extensive display cabinet, but they also had a decent sized menu board to select from. We shared a banana milkshake from it which made us reminisce of our childhood and banana nesquik. I would have loved to come back and sample more from the menu, but it was a little out of the way of the rest of our journey, so I guess I’ll have to save it for next trip.

fergburger3
While in Queenstown we visited the infamous Fergburger, which had constant queues out the door. Wanting to know what all the fuss was about, we took up spot in the line.There were two vegetarian burgers on offer – one falafel based and the other tofu. Having had our falafel hit at Shroom Room, we both opted for the Holier Than Thou – a tempered tofu with a spicy satay, coconut and coriander sauce, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, snow pea shoots and aioli which we were told could be made vegan. Unfortunately, that meant removing most of the sauces and being given replacements. I vaguely remember requesting some sort of chilli sauce, but I think it ended up being sweet chilli. The burger itself was kind of disappointing, likely due to the lack of flavours that were supposed to make it delicious.

fergburger1
Obligatory chips.

fergburger2
Old mate duck wanted in on the burger action.

hellpizza3
Next eat was Hell Pizza, who have a few locations around NZ. We had heard good things about them, so made an effort to visit them when passing through Invercargill.

hellpizza1
We got the Sinister – a pizza with refried beans, avocado, onion, salsa, jalapenos, capsicum and optional vegan cheese (which we went for). I was a little hesitant to go with the mexican style pizza, but I need not have worried. This was gosh darn delicious. I mean SO good. After eating this pizza, we talked about it for the rest of our trip, making loose plans to find another Hell Pizza to get our fix. Unfortunately it never happened (though we almost went for a 30+ minute detour on the way back to the airport to try and find another store before recognising that this was kind of crazy and not worth missing our flight home for….or was it?)

hellpizza2
We got some garlic bread too because, well, garlic bread, and were surprised to find it cut lengthways. It seemed like a wholemealy type loaf which was nice.

soulfood2
The last meal to share with you was from Soul Food Organic in Wanaka. Soul Food is a little cafe slash health food store with a good range of veg options on offer. We stopped in for a quick lunch after a kayaking adventure on the lake. I can’t remember exactly what this was – some kind of vegan omelette crepe thing with tofu and maybe miso? It was the last one of it’s kind in the display cabinet and unfortunately I think the last of yesterday’s batch as after I got mine a whole bunch of fresh ones came out. It was nice but a little wilty.

soulfood3
The Bear got a cream of asparagus soup which he was thrilled with because he loves it and I have never made it for him.

soulfood4
I spotted this banana bean coconut ice cream in the freezer on the way out and had to give it a go as the retro style packaging was too cute. Good thing I did, as it was mighty fine. They do a range of flavours according to their website, including vanilla bean, chocolate, mango and toasted coconut caramel, though I only saw a couple of them. They apparently also do flavoured coconut milks – yummo!

I had a couple of dodgy photos from a place we stopped in at in Dunedin – I think it was Circadian Rhythm. It had some pretty average reviews but we decided to give it a shot anyway. Seemingly the reviews were quite accurate and the food was as disappointing as my shoddy photos and the service subpar, as many reviewers had noted. As I just looked it up to try to remember the name, I’ve discovered that it is now closed anyway (perhaps for the better?) so I will leave them off the post entirely and end on the high of delicious banana bean ice cream. Thanks Little Island!

Shroom Room
48 London St, Lyttelton
Open 7 days – 8am – 4pm

Fergburger
42 Shotover St, Queenstown
Open 7 days – 8.30am – 5am

Hell Pizza
2 Dee St, Invercargill (other locations available)
Sun – Thurs – 11.30am – 9pm
Fri – Sat – 11.30am – 10pm

Soul Food Organic
74 Ardmore St, Wanaka
Mon – Fri – 8am – 6pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 4pm

broccoli2016-300x300

Save

Power Plant Cafe, Templestowe

Today I’m talking about eating out – something that I am no stranger to, and certainly enjoy. I have every second Friday off, and while I usually spend these days doing personal admin kind of stuff (seriously, how do people survive on full time employment?), I also like to enjoy the occasional brunch on these days as it’s so nice to be able to avoid the craziness of the weekend cafe rushes. I’d heard rumours of a recent menu change at Power Plant Cafe, so the Bear, one of our housemates and I decided to head out there and check it out. It was a cold, wet and miserable “spring” day, which once again meant that we didn’t get to sit in the outdoor area. Regardless, the indoor area was as bright, open and fresh as ever.

This particular day, our breakfast got pushed back to brunch, and brunch to lunch so by the time we got there I was starving. So while I knew from past experiences that options such as their macro bowls are delicious and nutritious, they were not appealing to me in that moment. I needed solid, carby goodness.

powerplant1

With that in mind, the Bear and I agreed to split two dishes – choosing the Brekkie Burger from the specials board and the Reuben. My housemate went for the Brekkie Burger too. The Reuben consisted of corned tempeh, sweet onions, house made pink kraut, horseradish dressing and a side of crisps. The horseradish was a little overwhelming in the first bite, however I adjusted to it quite quickly and enjoyed the different spin on the sandwich. It was perhaps a bit sweeter than the other reubens I’ve tried, though I appreciated the tempeh as something different from usual mock meats. In saying that, the Smith and Deli Reubenstein is still number one in my heart, sorry Power Plant.

powerplant2
I asked for carby and carby was what I got with the Brekkie Burger. Inside was a hash brown, a slice of a kind of eggy quichey thing, tomato, rocket and a cheesy sauce. I had thought that the tempeh bacon was going to be in there too, but it was probably a good thing it came as a side as I’m not sure I would have been able to get my mouth around it otherwise. The bun was perfectly soft and flour dusted, and on the whole this was just what I needed.

Not pictured are the bowl of fries and aioli we got for the table. I was a little disappointed to find they weren’t the smoked paprika coated fries of previous visits, but they were still delicious and the aioli so damn creamy. We also had coffees and remembered to request Bonsoy rather than the standard soy (Vitasoy?) they have on offer. We were far too full to have any cake afterwards, and racked with too much indecision to choose something to take home, though the Bear got a free mini cupcake with pink icing and hundreds and thousands to celebrate Plant Power’s 1st birthday which he was pleased with. It was very cute, though disappeared before I even got the chance to ask for a picture of it. With the first year under their belt, Power Plant have also decided to extend their opening hours to 7 days giving us plenty of time to treat ourselves with their goodies. Hoorah!

Power Plant Cafe
2-6 Swilk St, Templestowe
Open 7 days – 8am – 3.30pm

 

corn2016-1-1024x343


Save

Save

Something Raw, Mandurah W.A.

I was in Perth a couple of months ago, staying with family. Unfortunately it wasn’t a leisure trip – my wonderful Grandad who had been unwell passed away. This was a pretty devastating experience for our family, and for this reason it is not something that I want to talk about at length with the internet, except to say that we love him and miss him more than words can express.

While there, we were able to catch up with the rest of our family which happens far too irregularly since moving to Victoria. This included spending a few nights with my Granny down in Mandurah, which of course involved a few meals out. Since I was last there, a newer cafe called Something Raw has opened up, and with a menu full of vegan options it was definitely worth a look.

somethingraw1

My brother and Granny both went for the Jackfruit nachos, and although I was pretty jealous when they came out, they graciously shared some with me. As the name suggests, these were loaded up with pulled jackfruit along with fresh salsa, sour lime creme, cashew cheese, guac and a side of jalapenos. Boss nachos, I really enjoyed them. At $22, they may seem pretty pricey, but to be honest W.A prices are on the whole a lot higher than we over east are used to.

somethingraw2

My mum went for the toasted green wrap – $16. This was packed with spinach, avo, chickpeas and olives, along with what I think was Bio cheese. Mum gave it the thumbs up, and from the mouthful I tried I could only agree.

somethingraw3

I had the raw taco bowl for $19. This was loaded with lettuce, corn, salsa, guac, spring onions, sour lime creme and walnut mince, alongside some dehydrated crackers. It was a pretty decent serve, and tasty but I would have liked to see a bit more walnut mince – there wasn’t quite enough to spread through the bowl so I was left with a fair bit of lettuce at the end. I would also be keen for a side of jalapenos, but I was lucky enough to score some leftovers from the others’ nachos.

There are also have a bunch of desserts and drinks on offer, though we didn’t indulge as we were pretty full. I also find it a little hard to handover $12 for a smoothie, but as I said, I think this is pretty in line with W.A prices in general and I just need to suck it up when I’m there.

Something Raw Cafe is a welcome addition to Mandurah, and I hope to see them stick around as there was a serious lack of good veg options in town last time I was there. The only bummer is that it’s not on the foreshore – cos who doesn’t like having a meal overlooking the water? Small complaint though. Check this place out!

Something Raw Cafe
6/26 George St, Mandurah
Tues – Sat – 8.30am – 4pm

Save

Some eats of late (and not so late)

Yes, I’ve done it again. It seems my posts are running on somewhat of a bi-monthly schedule at the moment, even with the best of intentions. Shout out to those of you who are still here reading, thanks for sticking around!

Today is just a jumble of recent and not so recent eats…photos that have been sitting unlabelled (‘cos I like to test my memory) on my lappy, waiting for their time to shine.

cupcakecentral1

First up – some sweet treats from Cupcake Central. The Bear sat in on a seminar through his uni with the lady who started Cupcake Central as a guest speaker. He came home raving about what an entrepreneur she is, and so I felt particularly inclined to taste some of her goods, having been aware that they offer vegan options.

cupcakecentral2

Cupcake Central run one or two vegan flavours per day, as well as a GF option. You can check their baking schedule online and look up which flavours will feature on each day. These also change seasonally so you will never get tired of eating the cupcakes (as if you ever would, eye roll). These were chocolate peanut butter bad boys, and they were freakin’ tasty.

WARNING: The rest of the photos in this post will be from my on it’s last legs phone’s camera, as I do not frequently have my camera with me. Apologies for quality, but I want to share the eats with you anyway, ’cause that’s what it’s all about.

powerplant
This is Power Plant Cafe’s avocado on toast with lemon, coriander, chili, tomatoes and walnut and truffle spread. It is highly recommended. The presentation was on point and while at first I was worried that there wasn’t going to be enough avo to cover my two delicious pieces of toast, I needn’t have worried. I try to avoid avo on toast when I go to places where I have lots of options, but I couldn’t look past it with the twist of walnut truffle spread. Just too good. I also had a coffee, a strawberry milkshake, and a raw PB cup.  Not to mention our table got some chips to share – the chips here are on form – covered in smoked paprika and with a thick and creamy aioli, though unfortunately the milkshake was far too sweet for me.

This was my second visit to Power Plant, the first I enjoyed an equally well presented and delicious macro bowl and took some cupcakes home with me. The menu is fairly small but I’m keen to work my way through it. The cafe itself is light, spacious and calm, with two outdoor sitting areas for those sunny days.

theglassden

My housemate and I finally checked out the Glass Den after rave reviews. We were not disappointed. I got the breakfast soba noodle salad with polenta crumbed mushrooms, pine nuts, smoked coconut, kale sesame crumble and a side of almond feta. I kid you not, this was so good that a lady from another table came over and asked what I was eating. “I’ll have what she’s having”

I’m so keen to go back and try the Tiramisu Hotcakes I’ve been seeing pop up all over Instagram. I’m not usually a sweet breakfast kind of girl when I’m eating out, but I need to have them…they are a work of art.

beangreencafe
We were heading past the Prahran Market a while back and I was ravenous, so we stopped at Beangreen Cafe for a quick bite. I got some chickpea fritters, three salads and some hummus. Everything at Beangreen is super reasonable in price – I think I paid around $9 for this plate. Simple, wholesome and tasty.

beangreencafe2
The Bear got this giant cookie – we can’t remember now what it was. I want to say it was ginger, the Bear thinks it may have been macadamia.

nekoneko2
A colleague and I recently popped up around the corner to the relatively newly opened Neko Neko near the corner of Gertrude and Smith streets. I ordered the Agedashi tofu. This delicious plate of red rice and various veggies and pickles is just what comes with most of the main dishes. AMAZING. How did they know I love lots of little individual piles of things to enjoy?!

nekoneko3
This is the Agedashi tofu itself. Full of little goodies like pepitas and hemp seeds (I think? I can’t remember now – am just assuming from the picture).

nekoneko1
My colleague and I shared the tofu as well as this raw okonomiyaki. Now this didn’t have a huge resemblance to the traditional okonomiyaki, but it was certainly delicious – dense and creamy. It came with it’s own little piles of veggies and some miso eggplant macadamia sushi. At $18, it’s more than I’d usually spend on a work day lunch, but we wanted to treat ourselves and we felt we got our money’s worth with these delightfully presented, healthy meals. They do have sushi rolls and mini bento boxes ready to go if you prefer a cheaper and faster lunch – I will be back to investigate this further.

donuttime
And last, but not least – my housemates surprised me by splitting two vegan donuts from Doughnut Time – one was chocolate with strawberries and pistachios on top, and the other was matcha. The latter was my favourite, while it didn’t taste particularly strongly of matcha, I enjoyed the tanginess of what I assume is freeze-dried raspberry on top. Delicious.

Cupcake Central
7/672 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn
Mon – Fri – 7.30am – 6.30pm
Sat – 10.30am – 5.30pm
Sun – CLOSED
(Check other locations for their hours)

Power Plant Cafe
2-6 Swilk St, Templestowe
Mon & Tues – CLOSED
Wed – Sun – 8am – 3.30pm

The Glass Den
15 Urquhart St, Coburg
Open 7 days, 8am – 4pm

Beangreen Vegetarian Cafe
Prahran Market
163 Commercial Rd, Sth Yarra
Mon & Wed – CLOSED
Tues & Thurs – 7am – 5pm
Fri – 7am – 6pm
Sat – 7am – 5pm
Sun – 10am – 3pm
CASH ONLY

Neko Neko83 Smith St, Fitzroy
Mon – Fri – 12pm – 3pm & 5.30pm – 10pm
Sat – 5.30 – 10pm
Sun – CLOSED

Doughnut Time
5 Degraves St, Melbourne
Mon – Fri – 7am – 11pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 11pm
And various locations in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast (check each for opening hours)

Save

I’m back! V Series Kew, Fritz Gelato and Gelato Messina

Oh hello (queue tumbleweed)

That seems as good a way as any to start the post after the impromptu hiatus I have been on. It was never intended, but after having a post-MoFo breather, a couple of short holidays and just general life happenings, suddenly it is three months later. And helllloooo 2016.

To be honest, I also lost a bit of my blogging enthusiasm. It’s not that I’ve got nothing to post, on the contrary there’s still recipes that I didn’t get around to posting during MoFo as well as a million other eateries. Yes, a million. But the longer I went without posting, the harder it seemed to make the time to sit down and come back to it. I’ve also been battling with technology a bit – I’m no photo editing pro – I just make it up as I go. However I’ve had some photos that I wanted to share that got drowned in a coloured light and I’ve been trying, failing, cussing at my computer and trying again to fix them but I’m just not getting anywhere. Unfortunately these photos, chronologically speaking, should be posted first as they were from my trip to Perth back in October, but as I haven’t been able to get them right I’ve just been really stuck instead of moving on and coming back to it later. Anyway, I’ve finally moved on and I’ll come back and tinker with them and hopefully share them with you all later. At least I’m back tap tap tapping away at these here keys again – it’s a start.

So today I’m going to share a bit of a riff-raff account of a few things that I have eaten around the place. Starting with an impromptu brekkie at V Series in Kew the other day.

V Series is the evolution of A Caterpillar’s Dream (which I visited once previously) – the place has had a makeover with some noticeable improvements on decor and dining ware. I particularly liked the little pots of fresh herbs decorating the tables. The menu we were given on the day had a breakfast page, drinks page as well as a 3-course lunch deal with a selection of dishes to choose from, however this differs to that available on their website where it appears you can order an individual item from the lunch menu and there are more items on offer.

vseries1

The bear and I both ordered the same dish – the crispy tofu benedict, although he added an optional egg to his. I had not been feeling particularly hungry before spontaneously deciding to stop by for breakfast, so I probably could have done with just one of these stacks. That’s not to say I didn’t finish them both of course…

I was pleased with the generous amounts of mushroom, spinach and avocado layered atop the english muffins, the crispiness of the tofu was also satisfying although most likely deep fried. I appreciated the effort of the hollandaise but this was not quite on point – it tasted too sweet and heavily reliant on mustard for flavour, I had to add plenty of salt and pepper to combat the sweetness. If V Series could perfect the sauce it would take this to the next level.

vseries2

I also ordered an iced coffee to share because you know, iced coffee is delicious, albeit filling alongside the massive brekkie.

vseries3
As if we could walk out without taking some cupcakes from the cabinet – all of which are vegan. After far too much deliberation, we selected the classic cheesecake and the salted caramel cupcakes. Both were delicious – I’m a sucker for cheesecake so this went down well, but the salted caramel sauce and toffee flake were also impressive. I’m pleased with the evolution of V Series, and will definitely be back again, particularly after realising that our energy company had sent out a card giving discounts at certain eateries with V Series included. Excellent.

I was on Bridge Road recently on a hot summer’s day and stopped in to Fritz Gelato. Fritz have a sign on the wall indicating that all their sorbets are vegan.

fritz

The entire bottom row here, aside from the yoghurt flavour on the far left, are sorbets. Unfortunately I forgot to actually get a photo of the gelato I ordered, but I got strawberry and bounty – delicious!

Speaking of gelato, I stopped by Gelato Messina on Smith Street a while back and was pleased to find this vegan coffee sorbet with hazelnut praline, which I paired with the classic chocolate sorbet. I need to go back and see if they are still serving it, as this was divine – the crunchy praline just made it next level goodness.

messina

When I started this post, I thought I would share some Smith & Deli treats I have enjoyed, but after sifting through my photos I think there is enough for a post of it’s own so I will just end this now before I have any more reasons to put this post off. Yeeehah!

V Series
Shop 4/26 Princess St, Kew
Mon – Fri – 8am – 4.30pm
Sat – Sun – 9am – 4.30pm

Fritz Gelato
334 Bridge Rd, Richmond
Open 7 days – noon until late

Gelato Messina
237 Smith St, Fitzroy
Sun – Thurs – 12pm – 11pm
Fri – Sat – 12pm – 11.30pm

New bloginnings and Pana Cafe

You may have noticed something different around the little vegan bear neck of the woods (ha, bear…woods….yep), we’ve had a bit of a makeover! I am now a dot com! After much time feeling overwhelmed and technologically incapable, and then a little time with my brother and his girlfriend doing the majority of the legwork (thanks guys) I am here. Thank goodness for the technical knowledge of others.

These parts will remain pretty basic for the time being while I work out how to do a little more, which will most likely be a bit further down the track as I am aware that MoFo is fast approaching – if I’m going to participate this year I need to spend a bit of time planning. While I recall the stress of last MoFo like it were yesterday (has it really been a year?!) it was also a whole heap of fun and with the new structure I am hoping it will take some of the pressure off (no matter how self-imposed said pressure may have been). Nevertheless, a bit of forethought can’t hurt.

I’m doing my best to update all links, and I’m hoping that the transfer of subscribers went down successfully. Please let me know if you have any issues viewing, commenting, or anything else while on the blog and I’ll try to amend it.

Oh, and while I remember – I am officially getting ‘social’. I’m now on instagram as littleveganbear_ and you can link up with me through the button on the right side bar. Oooh look at me go!

Just for kicks, here are some snaps from a recent trip to Pana Cafe in Richmond with some girlfriends. For those who aren’t aware, Pana are a Melbourne business who deal in the trade of delicious raw chocolate. You may have seen their bars stocked in shops around the place – they are recognisable by the cute little alien looking dudes on the front of the box. Pana use all vegan, organic ingredients and are refined sugar free.

IMG_9647
Apart from their classic bars sold through various stockists, Pana also have a cafe on Church street in Richmond where they serve up an array of slices, cakes and other raw treats which look almost too good to eat. Seriously, I reckon we spent more time ooh-ing and aah-ing over everything than we did actually eating, they are so gosh darn beautiful.

We couldn’t help but be pulled by the allure of the larger ‘surprise cake’, which we were pretty sure we had pegged as choc-mint. We also got a slice of what I think was spicy apple slice, if my memory serves me correct.

IMG_9641
Well we sure were surprised, because there was not a hint of mint in this baby. Instead we found berries and a delicious lime tasting cream on top. Rich, silky smooth and delicious the whole way through. I was keen for something less chocolate-y with the slice, and it didn’t disappoint. I felt our eyes were a little too big for our tummies though, as I was feeling pretty stuffed by the end.

Shout out to my pal Steph for the photos which I have borrowed. Also shout out to the lovely lady who did an excellent job at slicing the goodies into thirds for us. It is worth noting that while it is called the Pana Cafe, there really are only a couple of stools (3 or 4) and a bench at the front of the shop, so if you aren’t lucky enough to nab them you might have to take away.

Speaking of take aways, I took a few choccies home to share with the bear. I can’t remember what they all were – oh deary me, how many times do I swear I’ll start taking notes for occasions like this? One was sesame, I feel like one might have been lemonade, maybe lavender and rose? Whatever the case – they were all incredible. I would even go so far as to say that I enjoyed them more than the cakes – perhaps being bite sized there was less chance of being overcome by the richness.


Apologies for the shitty late night camera phone job, but these darlings couldn’t wait any longer!

Pana Cafe
491 Church St, Richmond
Mon – Fri – 10am – 5pm
Sat – 10am – 4pm
Sun – 11am – 3pm

True North II, A Caterpillar’s Dream and Fina’s Vegetarian Cafe

Another work drive out to Coburg a while back resulted in another need for lunch. After the last pleasant experience at True North, I swung by to pick up another sammich. This time, I opted for a faux chicken deal.

truenorth21Excuse the car lap shot, I’m eating on the run (don’t worry, am still in car park).

truenorth22The make up of this one was chicken, mayo, lettuce and sprouts on sourdough bread. It was decent, though not as satisfying as the reuben I previously got there – still a respectable lunch. The bear has been asking since my previous post when I would take him out there for a reuben, I think he has been distracted by the offering of a vegan reuben a lot closer to home through Smith & Deli for now though.

Though I’ve been living a short walk away from A Caterpillar’s Dream for six months now, I’ve only made the effort to eat there once. It’s a kind of strange spot for a vegetarian cafe, nestled on the edge of a carpark shared with Leo’s Supermarket and Laurent’s Bakery, amongst other things. It’s a pretty standard cafe set up, nothing to write home about. I apologise in advance for the dodgy photos to follow.

caterpillarsdream1My mum went with a lighter option – the rice paper rolls with lemon and chili sauce. While in appearance, they did not impress, mum declared them tasty.

caterpillarsdream3Dad went with the zucchini corn fritters, with avocado, chutney and sour cream. This was a ‘vegan available’ item, though I can’t remember if dad took them up on that. Either way, he enjoyed it.

caterpillarsdream2We got some ‘sweet potato wedges’ with plum and black pepper spice to share. These were not at all what we were expecting – they were quite sweet and were reminiscent of the pumpkin cakes from chinese restaurants. A bit to dessert-y for me.

caterpillarsdream4Luckily, I had just a few salty regular fries with my meal – pie, chips and salad. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what was inside the pie – was it mushroom? That’ll teach me for leaving it for so long before sharing. A satisfying lunch, but lucky I had some others to share the chip load with.

caterpillarsdream5Mum had her eye on the cake display from the moment we walked in, and though I was getting full, who am I to deny somebody of their cake dreams? We shared this tiramisu cupcake, it was lovely and moist.

caterpillarsdream6Lastly, I had to have an iced coffee, because duh. It was good, however it was definitely enough to tip me into over-fullness. A Caterpillar’s Dream offers decent vegetarian food at a fairly reasonable price – there is nothing outstanding, but it does the trick just fine.

Another really old post is from Fina’s Vegetarian Cafe. I think this might date back to living at the old place, when we frequented Fina’s on a fairly regular basis. Though we’ve eaten there many times, I don’t think I’ve ever shared the experience.

finas1Some spring rolls to share. After living just off VIctoria St, I could never eat spring rolls without lettuce and mint again! How did I not know about this sooner?

finas2We had a habit of getting the same few dishes each visit (pancake, spicy noodle soup) so this time we were determined to try something different. The bear went with the special vegan quang noodle – a combination of noodles, veggies, paper tofu and mock bacon in a creamy broth, with fresh herbs and bean sprouts on the side. While bear enjoyed his dish, he tasted mine and immediately got food envy. Lucky we like to share.

finas3I actually can’t remember what this was – I think perhaps the bamboo soup? All I recall is the deliciously chewy bits of mock meat – either bacon or duck, and a clean and tasty broth.

We love Fina’s – the service is friendly, the meals are tasty, well portioned and reasonably priced. Since this visit, Fina’s have opened up their second restaurant – this one on Brunswick St in Fitzroy and 100% vegan. We popped by on opening night to enjoy a meal, will share our findings later.

True North Cafe
2A Munro St, Coburg
Mon – Fri – 7am – 4pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 4pm

A Caterpillar’s Dream
Shop 4/26 Princess St, Kew
Mon – Thurs – 8.30am – 4pm
Fri – Sat – 8.30am – 4pm & 5.30pm – 9pm
Sun – 9am – 4pm

Fina’s Vegetarian Cafe
268 Victoria St, Richmond
Mon – 10.30am – 3pm
Tues – Sun – 9.30am – 9.30pm

Smith & Deli, Fitzroy

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the hot new place in town – vegans and non-vegans alike are buzzing with the news. Yep, those awesome folk over at Smith & Daughters have opened up their own deli, just around the corner on Moor St, aptly named Smith & Deli and stocking everything you could possibly need, from sandwiches to salads, premade pizzas to hot soup, coffees to herbs and spices. I’m yet to step inside yet, but Faye at Veganopoulous and Cindy and Michael at Where’s the Beef? have taken some great photos of the snazzy interior.

While I have not had the opportunity to visit them in person as of yet, I am lucky enough that my bear had a free day and offered to pop by Smith & Deli and meet me on my lunch break with some (read: LOTS) of their goods to share. You can imagine my excitement when I was greeted with this:

smithdeli1At first the bear apologised for getting all “his type” of foods, but I was pretty sure any food from Smith & Deli was going to be my type of food so I was not too worried.

smithdeli3First up, we split a “Rubenstein” sandwich – pastrami, sauerkraut, pickles and Russian dressing on rye bread. This is my second reuben style sandwich ever, and I’m loving them more with each try. Everything about this was perfect, from the thickness of the bread to the tanginess of the generous filling.

smithdeli2Next up, the kim chi and cheese scroll. Are you kidding me?!

smithdeli4Seriously. So de-freaking-licious I can’t even. The bread was so soft and while I thought the kim chi might be a bit too mild in amongst all the dough, it had an excellent kick.

smithdeli5Our last savoury course consisted of a steak and curry pie. This probably wouldn’t have been my first pick, though at the same time I want to eat EVERYTHING on offer, so how could I not be happy with this?

smithdeli7At first we were not blown away by the pie, as we were still coming down off the awesomeness of the last two things. It’s a steak and curry pie. However the more we ate into it, the more we realised that it was a bloody good pie – if we hadn’t already stuffed ourselves with goods beforehand, we probably would have rated it higher to begin with. The pastry was good, there was a strong curry flavour and a generous amount of melt-in-your-mouth ‘steak’ interspersed with chunks of vegetables. Nothing to scoff at!

smithdeli8Oh you thought it was over? Nohohohohooo.

As if there wouldn’t be sweets! Bear brought this doughnut – I’m not actually sure what it was and neither was he – he said he was so overwhelmed he just pointed at things. It had kind of brownie chunks on top? Sweet, delicious, and almost enough to tip us over the edge.

We had to go for an ambulate so we didn’t go into a food coma. While walking, the bear (after previously professing his love for Smith & Daughters by declaring we must eat there weekly) announced that this was his new place, and he was “a deli boy” now. Fine by me. I have a whole deli of treats to work my way through!

Smith & Deli
111 Moor St, Fitzroy
Tues – Sat – 8am – 7pm

Trang Bakery, Collingwood

Ever since I was alerted to the fact that there was a new Vietnamese place on Smith St serving vegan bahn mi’s by Cindy and Michael of Where’s the Beef, I have been an eager regular of Trang Bakery. Being quite north of Johnston st, Trang is a little out of the way of the regular hubbub of Smith St, however it doesn’t stop them attracting a line out the door each lunch time, and going the extra distance is definitely worth it.

With a huge range of vegan options including mock duck, chicken, fish, pork, lemongrass tofu, tempura eggplant, chicken burger, prawn (and possibly more), they really are my new best friend. At $5 (or $5.50 for eggplant) they are a great cheap and filling eat.

trangeggplantEggplant is my most commonly ordered – especially since they have changed the way they’ve cut the eggplant to better fit the roll. I guess it’s probably my favourite as I always feel a pang of disappointment if I get there later in the day and there’s no eggplant in the tray.

trangtofuThis is the lemongrass tofu – it’s between this and duck for my second place. You have the option of peanuts and chili (yes and hell yes), wholemeal of white bread, and an array of fresh veggies. They also put some kind of paste on the bottom – Michael and Cindy describe it as a roasted eggplant relish, and some special sauce and shallots on top. Heaven!

trangchicken This is the last one I have a decent photo of – I think it is the roast chicken, but could be duck – I can’t remember. I haven’t forayed into the seafood options as have never been a fan of real or mock seafood – too fishy (unless you batter some tofu, deep fry it and call it fish a la Cornish Arms) so can’t vouch for them, but I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had here.

There are also some donuts and sweets that I’ve just discovered are vegan (though haven’t tried) and they have other options like noodles and rice paper rolls, however I can never resist the bahn mi. Trang have expanded and opened up a second shop in Hardware lane in the CBD. Let’s hear it for our vegan-friendly friends!

Trang Bakery and Cafe
382 Smith Street, Collingwood
Open 7 days, 8.30am – 4pm

Admiral Cheng-Ho, Nourished: 385 and Natural Tucker Bakery

I’m going to do a bit of a dump, as charming as that sounds, as despite my best efforts I have not been posting as regularly as I had hoped. In a bid to clear some of my backlog, I’m going to summarise a few recent (or not so recent) eats.

admiralchenghoFirst up, a long overdue follow up visit to Admiral Cheng Ho in Abbotsford for a catch up with some old school friends. There’s been a change in menu since my last time there, with all dishes now completely vegan with the optional extras of cow’s milk, feta, yoghurt etc. It’s nice to be the ‘norm’ and not have to pay extra for the vegan option for a chance. A winning move in my books.

I went with the ‘Crazy Jimbo’ – polenta bread with almond feta, sauteed kale and seasonal veggies with tangy beetroot relish and basil cashew cream. Funnily enough, it was basically the same dish that I had last time, though with polenta bread replacing zucchini fritters and the addition of almond feta. I recognised this before ordering, but just like last time the idea of all the different components – especially tangy relish and smooth cashew cream – won me over. I was not disappointed, enjoying each mouthful to the very end. I could honestly eat this every morning.

nourished385

One sunny weekend, I went for a family catch up lunch to Nourished: 385 in Prahran. A relatively new cafe on the scene, it’s shtick is “clean eating” – whatever that means. The thing I like about all this new super clean wonder health eating hoo-ha, is how it is easier to find vegan meals in a wider variety of places. With that in mind, we went along. Nourished:385 is pleasantly located next to the shady Victoria Gardens, and as we sat out in the back courtyard we were able to overlook the greenery, where babies and dogs ran wild.

Unfortunately, the vegan brekkie item I had seen in my quick internet search prior to choosing the place was no longer on offer, and the only items I could have were smashed avocado minus the egg or a quinoa salad. Not wanting to be overcharged again for some avo on toast, I went with the salad.

Unfortunately, I can’t say this was a winner. For $18, I expect more than some mixed salad leaves, a sprinkling of quinoa, corn, beetroot and tasteless ‘marinated’ tofu – expensive and thoughtless. The dish I had above at Admiral Cheng-Ho was $16.50 for comparison’s sake. Others enjoyed their meals more, but I was disappointed.

Going way back now, I was driving back through Carlton North and decided to stop at Natural Tucker Bakery to pick up some lunch.

naturaltucker1 I grabbed a few wholemeal vegan pies for the bear and myself, and heated them up at home with a side of salad and ajvar. The pies were pretty rustic, full of hearty chunks of veggies and lentils.

naturaltucker2Mmm…pie.

naturaltucker3And when I saw there were vegan lamingtons on offer, how could I not? Because vegan lamingtons. I particularly enjoyed the toasted shredded coconut coating the outside.

Phew, and that’ll do me for today! Tune in next time for more eats from this little vegan bear. Roar.

Admiral Cheng-Ho
325 Johnston St, Abbotsford
Mon – Fri – 6am – 4pm
Sat, Sun & PH – 8am – 5pm

Nourished: 385
385 High St, Prahran
Tues – Wed – 7.30am – 4.30pm
Thurs – Sat – 7.30am – 10pm
Sun – 7.30am – 6pm
Natural Tucker Bakery
809 Nicholson St, Carlton North
Mon – Fri – 8am – 5.30pm
Sat – 8am – 3pm