Mr Natural Vegetarian Pizza

Some nights you just want to eat pizza without having to make it or even leave your house to get it. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Hooray for home delivery!

Mr Natural has two locations – St Kilda and Fitzroy. The menu consists of a range of entirely vegetarian pizzas, all of which can be adapted to become vegan with the optional addition of vegan cheese, pepperoni and various other tasties like beans, tofu, sprouts and sauces. The online ordering system is simple to use and you can easily customise your pizza with the removal and addition of whatever ingredients your heart does or does not desire.

This was my first experience with Mr Natural – in the past, every time I decide that I want to order pizza, it’s been too late to get in before close. This time I planned ahead and reaped the rewards. I think the delivery guy was a bit startled when the Bear and I answered the door short of breath after sprinting to the door yelling “pizzaaaaaa!” So much excitement.

mrnatural First up we went with the Broccolini pizza. I’ve heard people rave about broccoli on pizza, and I thought it was about time I gave it a go. It had broccoli, onions, olives, capsicum, cheese, herbs and sesame seeds. I thought that it had potential, but was missing something – it was just a little bit bland. The unveganised version of the pizza included feta cheese, so maybe that offered the bite needed. If I ordered it again, I would add pineapple or more chili or more olives or something, but otherwise I loved how many veggies were packed on there (and how greeeeeen it was).

mrnatural2Second, we got the Cool Peppers, which is apparently the result of a pizza creation competition. This one had tomato, olives, capsicum, vegan pepperoni, vegan cheese, chili flakes, parsley and sesame seeds. It rocked. It was spicy and awesome and I hope it gets added to the regular menu, because I loved it. It was kind of hard to go back to the broccoli pizza afterwards as this one packed so much more punch. In saying that, the broccoli pizza tasted awesome cold the next day.

It’s so great to have easy takeaway/delivery options for vegans, particularly old favourites like pizza. Sometimes you just want to lie in bed watching movies and eating pizza, and thanks to places like Mr Natural, your dreams can come true.

Mr Natural Vegetarian Pizza
469 Brunswick St, Fitzroy North
Mon – Thurs & Sun – 5.30pm – 10pm (delivery 6pm-9pm)
Fri – Sat – 5.30pm – 11pm (delivery 6pm – 9pm)

Red Robyn, Camberwell

The weekend before last, the Bear and I took a bike ride out to my folks place. Upon arrival, we decided to head over to Camberwell with them to get a bite to eat for a late lunch. I had been wanting to check out the Red Robyn for some time after hearing them described as an ‘allergy friendly cafe’ – catering for a number of different dietary requirements, including vegan, fructose allergies, nut allergies and FODMAP diets. Everything on the menu is also gluten-free and soy-free. Wowzers.

The cafe itself is on a quiet part of Camberwell rd, and you could quite easily fly right past it without noticing if it were not from the cute little red robin sign out the front. Inside, the place is warm and bright, with splashes of red throughout to fit with the theme.

redrobin2 I wasn’t sure if we were going to be let in as we were cutting it quite close to kitchen closing time, however we were welcomed with a smile, and provided with lovely service throughout. I started with a coffee while I perused the menu a little further.

redrobinThere were many dishes that caught my eye, but ultimately I went with this one. Ask me what it is. I can’t remember! I think it was some sort of smoky eggplant and potato croquette, with a fresh salsa. Wow my memory is failing me terribly. I really need to take care if I plan to write about a meal!

Regardless, I remember it was tasty. My mum, dad and the bear all went with non-vegan options, and all commented on how much they enjoyed their meals too. On the way out, I was told that there are usually plenty of vegan sweets on offer, including vanilla slice (be still my heart!) so I DEFINITELY have good reason to return.

Red Robyn
393 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell
Mon – Fri – 7.30am – 3pm
Sat – Sun – 8.30am – 3.30pm
(kitchen shuts 30 mins prior to close)

Music for your Mouth: The Smashing Pumpkins

I bet you were all waiting for these guys to come along. It was definitely one of the first foody bands I had thought of when coming up with the list. Yet another teenage discovery, the Smashing Pumpkins were definitely high on rotation back in the day. I don’t listen to them a lot anymore, but when I do I always feel reminiscent of those days. Just like getting on like a house on fire with an old friend you haven’t seen in years, the music just comes back to me.

For today’s meal, I’ve smashed some pumpkins (sort of? the blender smashed them for me I suppose..) into a creamy delicious risotto. This is actually the best risotto I’ve ever made. I think the taste is great, but I also really just cooked it to perfection – I have a habit of cooking risottos on high heat to try and get them done quickly. This time I was patient, cooked it slowly, and reaped the rewards.

So many songs, how to choose one for this post? I’m playing Tonight, Tonight, because it’s a great song and the film clip is awesome. It’s inspired by the Georges Méliès silent film, A Trip to the Moon. I looove Georges Méliès films, they are so whimsical and wonderful and absolutely captivating. If you haven’t seen any, look them up after watching the Pumpkins homage – you won’t regret it! (The ones with added soundtracks and hand colouring are especially magical!)

smashingpump1

Creamy Pumpkin and Leek Risotto with Crispy Sage
(serves 4)

1/2 butternut pumpkin (about 1 cup once pureed)
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 brown onion, diced
2 leeks, white and green parts, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 cups arborio rice
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped sage
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp chili flakes
Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp coconut oil
Sage – approx 20 leaves
Pinch of sea salt

First up, you’re going to want to roast your pumpkin. Preheat your oven to 200C. Remove all bits of skin and seeds, and dice pumpkin flesh. Place in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Chuck in two garlic cloves in their skins as well, just because how can you roast a vegetable without adding some garlic? Exactly, you can’t. Roast for about 25-30 mins until tender.

When the pumpkin is about half done, heat up 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and half of your leek, and saute for five or so minutes until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

While this is happening, bring your stock to boil in another pot, then turn down to a mild simmer.

Add rice to onion mix and dry fry for about a minute. Add white wine, and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, until most of the wine has been absorbed.

From here, start adding stock. I like to use a ladle and scoop it in one ladle-full at a time. Your rice should always be JUST covered by stock. Turn heat down to medium-low, so that it is never more than a slow simmer. DO NOT walk away from your risotto…this takes some time, but it’s best to be patient. Continue to add stock as needed to keep liquid above rice, then wait for it to absorb. Stir your risotto frequently so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

When your pumpkin is done, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Place in a blender, and squeeze your little garlic cloves out of their skins and into the blender too. Blend until smooth and set aside.

Once all your stock has been added, check texture of rice. If it is al dente – perfect! If it still has a little way to go, you may need to continue adding liquid until it reaches the desired texture.

Add remaining leek, sage leaves, nutritional yeast and chili flakes and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour pumpkin puree in and mix well.

For the crispy sage – heat 2 Tbsp coconut oil in a small pot until very hot. Have some paper towel on a plate ready next to you. One at a time, drop your sage leaves into the oil. Have a fork ready to scoop them out after about 10 seconds, when they become crispy. Follow this process with each sage leaf, then sprinkle the lot of them with a bit of crushed sea salt.

Remove risotto from heat, serve and garnish with sage leaves.

smashingpump2

 

veganmofo

 

Las Vegan Cafe

One more pre-MoFo post, before the madness begins..

Las Vegan Cafe is around the corner from my work in Collingwood, and I’ve enjoyed a meal there many a time. I’ve only ever photographed it once about four months ago, when my friend Liz from I Spy Plum Pie and I met up for a bite of lunch.

Las Vegan serve a range of standards, from parmas to pizzas to burritos to salads. The servings are generous, the prices are reasonable, the staff are friendly and they have cake. What more could you ask for?

lasvegWe were having trouble choosing, so decided to share two plates. First up the rice balls, which came with a side of salad and some thick satay sauce. The balls were really crunchy, and the satay was tasty – even Liz, who is an ex-peanut-butter-hater, enjoyed it.

lasveg2And nachos! Full of black beans (my favourite bean for Mexican), jalapenos, salsa, sour cream, and a huge dollop of guacamole. Nice thick corn chips that aren’t compromised by the weight of the topping when scooping.

Get amongst it!

Las Vegan Cafe
22 Smith St, Collingwood
Tues – Wed – 11am – 3pm
Thurs – 11am – 3pm and 5pm – 9pm
Fri – 11am – 9pm
Sat – 10am – 9pm
Sun – 10am – 3pm

 

Red Door Corner Store, Northcote

Well helloooo! You guys, I have been so busy preparing for MoFo next month that I have barely had the energy to write any blog posts. I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into this year, I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew so to speak. Oh well, I’ll give it a red hot go and see what happens. I’m really looking forward to reading all the wonderful posts from everyone!

Today is just a pit stop I suppose, to remind you I’m still here and to share a quick meal that I ate last week. The Bear and I both had a Friday off, so we decided to go out for brunch. The sun even came out for us, and it was G-L-O-R-gloooooorious! We popped over to Northcote and sat out the front to bask in the warm rays. Happy times.

I had never been to Red Door Corner Store before, but I had heard of it and liked the rhythm of the name so really wanted to check it out. The cafe is located a couple of blocks back from High street, in amongst the houses – so it really does have that ‘corner store’ feel. Quite charming really! The staff were just as charming as they buzzed around taking orders and delivering coffees.

There were not many (if any) outright vegan items on the menu, however a few items had little marks noting how the dish could be made gluten free or vegan.

reddoorThe Bear and I both ordered the same dish – corn, zucchini and quinoa fritters, avocado, romesco and grilled corn salsa, though Bear had his as the original item on the menu suggests – with a poached egg on top.

These were not what I expected at all – fritters always brings to mind flat round disc shaped creations. However, wikipedia tells me that fritters can refer to a wide variety of foods – basically batter or breading with stuff inside. This fits the bill. Plus when I opened my mind a little and saw photos of banana fritters, I realised that many fritters I have eaten are not disc shaped. MOVING ON.

The insides were all blended up and creamy, the romesco was surprisingly sweet but nevertheless enjoyable and I loved the colourful salad. Rainbow foodies!

We also ordered some coffees and a small side of chips to share because chips are delicious, even if they aren’t reeeeaaaalllly breakfast food. The coffee was nice, albeit a little cooler than I would have preferred. The chips were delicious, and came with a non-vegan aioli which the Bear devoured.

reddoor2In conclusion, the Red Door Corner Store turned this grumpy armless bear….

reddoor3…into a happy, satiated and fully-limbed one. The end.

p.s. Yes I jumped on the Daiya bandwagon…by the time I got to it, there was only pepperjack flavour remaining. I ate it on a variety of things, but mostly just melted it on crumpets.

crumpiesIt was gooey, and somewhat stringy, and coated my mouth. I enjoyed it. Just don’t eat it straight out of the bag because it is disappointingly bland at that point – somehow melting makes it magical. Cheeeeeese!

 

Red Door Corner Store
70 Mitchell St, Northcote
Mon – Fri – 7am – 4pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 4pm

Chapel Street Eats

These eats go back a while. The first was way back in April on ANZAC day – the bear and I met up with my mum and dad for lunch and a movie due to it being a public holiday. We met in between our places on Chapel St, and headed towards the Sweetwater Inn for a bite to eat. Unfortunately, they weren’t yet open when we got there, though that may be a good thing – this post may have had far too much deep-fried-ness otherwise. Yowzers!

I’ve never really spent a lot of time on the South Yarra end of Chapel st – it’s a bit more fashion-oriented than I can bear for very long. They do have a couple of cinemas though, and plenty of cafes and restaurants to drink cawfee and fill tummies.

We decided to stop at a Mexican place called Amigos, as it wasn’t too far from where we needed to be. Amigos has three location – South Yarra, St Kilda and the CBD, and according to the website they have been serving Mexican food and drink since 1981.

Upon viewing the menu, I noticed two items labelled vegan. Not a huge choice, but good to have the options labelled nevertheless.

amigosThe bear went for the Ensalada Verde – a green salad with avo, tomato, red onion, and a citrus and herb dressing, topped with tortilla strips. He enjoyed this, and even let me taste a little. Decent tasting though someone overpriced at $16.50 for some leaves and bread, in my humble opinion.

amigos2I had the Pico de Gallo – a blend of tomato, red onion, coriander, lime and chili with corn chips ($10.50). Nice and fresh tasting, and suits my love of snacking foods.

Afterwards, we went on the Jam Factory to see The Grand Budapest Hotel at the cinema. It was the first time I had been to the movies in quite some time, and I enjoyed watching a film in the dark on the big screen. Gotta love Wes Anderson, I enjoyed the unusual darkness of this film, as well as the usual quirky patterns of conversation. Since then, I’ve been to the cinemas two more times (Good Vibrations and All This Mayem) and am looking forward to more visits – hopefully I’ll catch a few films at the Melbourne International Film Festival starting tomorrow….look out!

Next up, a trip to Lord of the Fries. Why oh why do I continue to go here and not enjoy myself?

Perhaps that is a little harsh – it’s just that I have such high expectations! Vegans and omnivores alike, everybody tells me how great Lord of the Fries are..it makes me feel like I am missing something. Can somebody please explain to me why they are so good? Perhaps I make continually bad choices, I don’t know. Perhaps I need to visit at 3am after a night out – I bet I would enjoy it then.

lotf2The bear and I got a few bowls of fried stuff. Here is some chips and chili poppers with vegan cheese and hot napoli sauce. Yet another sauce that really didn’t do much for me, although it was better than the satay and the special vegan mayo that I’ve tried before. The sauce wasn’t spicy at all, and the chili poppers were pretty tasteless – just friedness, with bland cream cheese style filling.

lotf1Sorry for offending your eyes with this picture, I know it ain’t the prettiest. This is a bowl of chips and onion rings with vegan cheese and gravy. Admittedly, this was the best sauce of all the ones I’ve tried, despite its translucent gelatinous appearance. Not saying it was amazing, but definitely preferable to the others.

Maybe I need to try the sweet potato fries. Or the burgers or hot dogs. I had a burger once and it was okay, but nothing mind blowing. No doubt I will be back some time, as I feel the need to crack this mystery.

lotf3Oh my goodness – to think I almost let you get away without laying your eyes on this monstrosity! Okay, that was mean, I actually enjoyed this until I felt sick. The Chapel st store also does a few milkshakes, this one being Oreo flavoured. I know it looks a bit like sewerage, but it was not too bad – a bit sickly sweet, but hey, why else would you get a milkshake?


Amigos

7/478 Chapel St, South Yarra
Sun – Thurs – 11.30am – 12am
Fri – Sat – 11.30am – 1am

Lord of the Fries
170 Chapel St, Windsor
(see website for other locations)
Mon – Wed – 11am – 8pm
Thurs – 11am – 9pm
Fri – Sat – 11am – 5am
Sun – 11am – 9pm

Yong Green Food

At the start of June, my Granny came over from Perth to visit. On one of the first days she was here, she and my mum came to meet me in Fitzroy and we went to Yong Green for lunch.

I was happy to find they were open when we arrived, as I have been having some poor luck with them this year – every time I make an effort to try and go, they end up being closed for holidays! Thankfully, not this time.

Yong Green Food have a wonderful menu which is based around healthy, sustainable and seasonal food and conscious eating. Pretty much the entire menu is vegan, or vegan on request, and they also cater for other dietary requirements such as organic, gluten-free and garlic/onion-free.

If the food’s not enough to draw you in, their sustainability initiatives are also admirable – Yong Green have taken steps to reduce their greenhouse emissions by purchasing their own GreenPower and acquiring carbon credits through abatement projects. They also donate 10% of their profits to support farmer-managed natural regeneration in East Africa.

yonggreen2We had a lot of trouble choosing what to eat – we couldn’t decide between entrees or desserts. Ultimately, we went with mains to ensure we had room for coffee and cake afterwards.

I went with the famous dragon bowl – brown rice, topped with various veggies (I think there was carrot, cucumber, sprouts and more) and sliced soy beef. There is also the option to have it with tofu.

yonggreen1Excuse the crappy photos and shadows plz.

The dragon bowl comes with a miso soup and chili sauce – the warm miso an especially nice touch for a winter’s day. The meal was delicious, filling and nourishing.

I didn’t actually take photos of my mum or granny’s meals – mum went with the macro dragon bowl, so it was very similar to mine. Granny went with a Japanese curry, which was absolutely scrumptious.

Then the cake!

yonggreen3We got a piece of raw cake each, and split them three ways so we could each have a taste. This was the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Not too dense and with a generous amount of raspberries and sauce, this was lovely.

yonggreen4I’d never had a raw pecan pie before, and our first meeting was successful. I would definitely eat you again pie!

yonggreen5The tiramisu was my favourite, and unfortunately the smallest (and most expensive) of the three. This was also my first raw tiramisu, and the addition of spiced rum was most welcome.

The cakes were very nice, though I’ve probably had better elsewhere, and given the price ($9 – $10.50/slice) I would probably prefer to spend the money on entrees next time as the savoury food on offer is more interesting.

Yong Green Food
421-423 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Mon – CLOSED
Tues – L – 12pm – 4pm, D – 5pm – 10pm
Wed – 5pm – 10pm
Thurs – Sat – L – 12pm – 4pm, D – 5pm – 10pm
Sun – L – 12pm – 4pm, D – 5pm – 9pm

Pizza and Gelato

This is the week. After experiencing some technical issues that led me to believe I’d lost a whole bunch of photos, and the subsequent joy of finding said photos, I’m doing it! I’m getting rid of the backlog!

And first on the list, a trip to Eat Pizza in the city.

I’m not sure just how long Eat Pizza have had inner city locations – there is one in North Melbourne and one in the CBD – but I do recall believing that they were only in Footscray and Maribyrnong. Now looking at their website, I’m not even sure the Maribyrnong one still exists.

Regardless of when they arrived, they are definitely there.

While Eat Pizza are not an exclusively vegan or even vegetarian pizza shop, they do offer vegan cheese, ham and salami at an extra cost. We headed in to the Flinders St location to check it out one evening on our way to a gig in the city.

eatpizzaWe went with a classic vegetarian with pineapple, vegan cheese and vegan salami (and a sprinkle of chili flakes). The first thing I noticed was how generous Eat Pizza are with their toppings! Every single slice had a large circle of vegan salami and there was plenty of cheese. The base was beautifully soft and doughy, and overall, the pizza was excellent.

A slight structural issue – as the salami took up almost the whole slice, and everything else was stacked on top of that, we had a few problems with topping sliding every which way. And personal choice – I would have chucked a bit more tomato on the base, and a bit more chili on top – but that’s just me.

I’m pretty psyched to have another vegan pizza option so close by, though it doesn’t seem like they do delivery which means you have to put in a bit of effort to get your pizza.

On another occasion, the bear and I went for a bit walk around the city, out to Carlton, Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond. It’s only natural that we would need an ice cream pitstop during this adventure.

Luckily, Casa Del Gelato was there to service our needs. Casa Del Gelato has been selling gelato from their Lygon st location since 1980 – holy moly! They have a huge range of vegan sorbets, but also a selection of six or so soya gelatos, which include creamy flavours like chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio and coffee.

casadelgelatoThe bear ended up going for some dairy flavours, while I matched the bacio and coffee flavours. What can I say? I love ice cream, and I especially love being able to choose flavours that aren’t usually on offer (read: something other than sorbet). Creamy and delicious. I don’t care if it’s winter, ice cream rules! Thank you Casa Del Gelato, I love you!

Eat Pizza
1c/557 Flinders St, Melbourne
(See website for Nth Melbourne, Footscray and Glenroy locations)
Mon – Thurs – 10.30am – 10.30pm
Fri – 10.30am – 11.30pm
Sat – 12pm – 11.30pm
Sun – 12pm – 10.30pm

Casa Del Gelato
163 Lygon St, Carlton
Open 7 days, 12pm – 12am

La Panella Bakery

I’m pretty sure every vegan in Melbourne knows about the wonderful La Panella Bakery.

Located in Preston, this completely vegetarian bakery offers a wide range of vegan treats, from savoury pies to sweet scrolls. You can buy hot pies – ready to eat, or cold ones from the fridge to take home and freeze/cook later. Whenever I go, I stock up with a few spares.

The prices are super decent – sausage rolls and pies go for around the $2-3 mark, and sweet treats vary according to the item. You can quite easily walk out of there with a bag full of goodies for under $20.

It isn’t gourmet quality, but it satisfies that craving for a good old pie and sauce when you need one. Oh and did I mention it is dirt cheap?!

This bounty is from a trip I took a couple of months ago, and continued to eat for the following weeks.

lapanella1 First up, a coffee scroll. A doughy piece of goodness, with a sticky sweet coffee flavoured icing.

lapanella3I can’t remember if this was the classic or the mushroom pie.

lapanella4They kind of look and taste the same to me – both are filled with a chewy TVP-based mince with a rich gravy-like sauce. Classic!

lapanella2The pastie! I was never the biggest fan of pasties, probably because it was always the only veggie option in lieu of pies and sausage rolls. This pastie was generous in size and packed with various vegetables, including what seemed like shredded potato. It had a kind of strange side flavour – hard to explain, but once I tasted it I couldn’t not.

lapanella5This is whatever the first pie wasn’t. I’m guessing classic, because it just has one little symbol on top.

lapanella6Mmm…pie.

lapanella11Sausage roll. Who knows what goes inside a sausage roll? Not me. This was a good replica of that sausage roll you’d get at the school canteen with one of those squeezy packs of tomato sauce that would always spit at you when you cracked it open.

lapanella7As you can probably guess, this is the curry pie. A different kind of gravy, with a few extra veggies thrown in. A nice alternative, but I prefer the plain.

lapanella8What’s this – a hot jam donut? You betchya!

lapanella9Almond and walnut hedgehogs. I wouldn’t recommend these – you can’t really taste much chocolate, so it kind of feels like eating a block of wax. Sorry La Panella, I still love you though!

lapanella10And finally, lemon and jam tarts. I liked the lemon – it had a bit of tang to it, however the jam was sickly sweet. From memory, they always are though.

So there you have it, my last La Panella haul. You all know where it is…get on board and enjoy some cheap, classic baked goods.

La Panella Bakery
465 High St, Preston
Mon – Fri – 6am – 6pm
Sat – 6am – 5pm
Sun 6am – 4pm

The Bear Cafe, Fitzroy

Given the namesake of my blog, I can’t believe how long it took us to pop in for lunch at the Bear. It’s one of those things we had talked about doing for ages, but it kept slipping our minds – perhaps due to it being right up near the end of the Brunswick St shopping strip, towards Alexandra parade.

Anyhow, one morning we woke up and decided to fulfill our mission to visit the Bear. And boy are these bears glad they did.

The cafe has a warm homely feel to it – as soon as we sat down I felt like I was in somebody’s loungeroom, surrounded by books and mismatched furniture.

Everything on the menu is vegan, though there is also cow’s milk as an option for coffees.

bear1

We grabbed a few coffees and took a quick peruse of the menu, which consisted of a variety of toasties as well as a bunch of different brekkie items and a soup of the day. I was immediately drawn to the roasted vegetable and pesto toastie, and added some soy cheese for an extra dollar or so.

bear2
Such a great sandwich, and billy-bear had toastie envy as soon as it appeared. It was everything you could ask for in a toastie – crispy bread (extra points for the grill grooves!) gooey, and delicious filling, plus a lovely little fresh salad side. Simple food, done well. Total winner.

bear3

Bear went for the double decker sammich – basically a big breakfast in a sandwich. This is a photo of the remaining half. This was good, but nowhere near as good as mine. I’m more about the filling than the bread, so I ain’t be needing an inner piece.

The Bear is cute and cosy, and I loved the details like the little fabric embroidered napkins, the op shop plates and the jam jar water glasses. The staff were charming, the food was cheap and it was an all-round lovely place to be. Oh, did I mention there are sweets too? Get on down to the Bear! I will definitely be returning soon.


The Bear Cafe
439 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Mon – Fri – 8.30am – 6pm
Sat – 9am – 6pm
Sun – 10am – 5pm