Chapel Street Eats

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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

Baked Falafel with Quinoa Tabouli

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I freaking love falafel, and for some reason I’ve always enjoyed the baked kind more than the fried. Maybe it’s memories of greasy kebab shops with crispy oily falafels that leave a coating in your mouth. Maybe it’s the fact that you can put them in the oven and leave them be to do their thing without too much worry. Whatever the reason, they rock.

I actually made this recipe back in Gympie when we were living in the van. Oh, how it seems so long ago…cooking in our tiny fold out kitchen on the side of the road or in the bush. Those were the days! I didn’t have an oven then to bake them, but have since made the recipe again and enjoyed it as much.

What I liked about these is how moist they are, they don’t dry out even when baked. Rather than being like dry biscuits, they are like mouthfuls of creamy hummus. And who doesn’t love hummus?! They are also one of those magical foods that taste even better the next day, so they make great leftover lunch.

Of course, tabouli is the perfect match for falafels, and I love the hint of mint hidden away in it – so fresh and zangy. Oh and the parsley helps with the garlic breath you may find you have after eating all this. You’re welcome.

falafelBaked Falafel with Quinoa Tabouli

Quinoa Tabouli:
(serves 4 as a side dish)

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1 bunch flat leafed parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt

Rinse and cook quinoa according to instructions. I usually do 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid. Allow to cool.

Add quinoa, tomato, cucumber, red onion, parsley and mint to a bowl and toss to combine.

Whisk garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a small bowl. Pour over tabouli and mix through.

Ta-daaaaa! Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Baked Falafel:
(makes 12-14 small falafels)

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 brown onion, diced
2 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp hulled tahini
3 Tbsp chickpea flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C and lightly grease a tray.

Blend onion, garlic, parsley and coriander in a food processor or blender.

Add half of the chickpeas, cumin, paprika, lemon juice and tahini and mix until well combined.

Add the remaining chickpeas, and pulse until just combined. I like to leave half of them kind of chunky.

Transfer mix to a bowl, and stir in flour and baking powder. The mix should be like a thick paste or soft dough and you should be able to roll it into balls without making too much of a mess. If it’s too wet, add a little more flour. If too dry, try adding some more lemon juice or water.

Roll mixture into balls and lay out on the tray, press slightly to flatten into disc shapes. Spray or brush lightly with olive oil (optional).

Cook for 15 minutes, then carefully flip each falafel over. Bake for another ten mins, until golden brown.

Serve with tabouli and dressing of choice – here I whisked together some tahini, white wine vinegar, water and smoked paprika, then topped with some hot sauce (of course!)

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Yong Green Food

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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

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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

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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

Banana Choc-Chunk Muffins

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Lately I’ve been bagging some awesome deals on overripe bananas. I doubt I need to explain what I have been doing with said bananas. It’s winter! I’m getting my banana-bake on.

One of my favourite treats that mum would make when we were little was banana choc chip muffins. There was also a banana date version that I recall enjoying (though we all know that dates are not chocolate). I can still picture the muffin recipe book that she used to cook from! So for me, banana choc chip muffins have a really strong taste-memory attached to them, the kind where you take a bite and an image immediately pops to the forefront of your mind. I love it.

muffins4

I’ve done a few different versions of these over the past fortnight and distributed them among the masses, the ones below are definitely my favourite.

Unfortunately for Ruby Tuesday, she was not amongst the masses. This did not impress her.

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Try explaining to a dog why there is food within reach but they are not allowed to touch it.

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Sorry Rubes!

Sad puppies aside, these muffins are absolutely divine straight out of the oven, all soft and oozing chocolate. Mmm…oozing. They are also incredible once they’ve cooled down, and the chocolate gets all chunky. I honestly can’t decide how I like them better – I will have to do some further research and get back to you.

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Banana Choc-Chunk Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carb soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
4-5 small-medium overripe bananas
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 flax egg (1Tbsp flax meal + 3 Tbsp water)
1/3 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180C, and lightly grease a muffin tray (or line with papers).

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In a medium bowl, mash the bananas up with a fork. Add coconut oil, sugar, vanilla and the flax egg and stir with a fork until well combined.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. If the mix seems to dry, add a dash of non-dairy milk. Fold through chocolate chunks, being careful not to overmix.

Distribute evenly among the muffin pan, then whack them in the oven and cook for 25 minutes, or until slightly golden and they bounce back when you touch them. Do the old skewer test if you need to check.

Devour.

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The Bear Cafe, Fitzroy

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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.

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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.

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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

Shakahari

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As a social worker, I am expected to case note everything I do (phone calls, emails, client appointments) within 48 hours of the event occurring (but preferably immediately). This is for obvious reasons – the longer you leave it, the more likely you are to miss important details. Before I leave work in the evening I catch up on any notes from throughout the day that I haven’t yet had a chance to write up.

I only wish I could have such a sense of urgency with my blogging! This post dates back to March, and as a result, the details of the meal are kind of fuzzy. This meal took place as a celebration for me starting my first ‘real’ job, and so naturally I chose to have it at Shakahari.

Shakahari have long been one of my favourites – I’ve had many a ‘special occasion’ dinner here, in fact, it has always been one of my main go-to celebration meal place. Even with more and more amazing vegan eateries popping up all the time, Shakahari still holds a special place in my heart and continues to provide outstanding vegetarian food. I still remember drinking my first ever long island iced tea here on a birthday years back.

Shakahari have been dishing up amazing vegetarian dishes in Carlton since 1972, and have now expanded to open a second restaurant – Shakahari Too – in South Melbourne. They also hold the title of the longest running exclusively vegetarian restaurant in Australia – how cool is that?

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We got a couple of entrees to share to start us off, and found it difficult to select just three. This was the rainbow pate – I was definitely attracted to the colour in this dish. The pate was lovely, though we could have done with a couple more crackers to split between us.

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This is a terrible picture of the avocado magic – a sort of avocado tempura. I remember enjoying this one a few years back, and it didn’t disappoint this time either. The sauce is coriander based, and brings a wonderful strong flavor to the creamy avocado.

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Lastly, some delicious treats – I can’t remember what they are! I’m looking at the menu thinking it must be the mushroom agnolotti. Whatever it was, I do remember it was delicious.

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For my main, I ordered the ‘Legendary Satay Shakahari’. I can understand why it’s legendary – the satay sauce is the stickiest, creamiest, peanutiest satay sauce ever, and the differing textures of the tofu, seitan and vegetables work a treat.

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Other orders on the table included this dish, which again, I cannot remember – it had many components and from memory the zucchini bits were kind of pickled?

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A couple of people on the table went for the laksa, which was also full of amazing tofu, tempeh and seitan textures.

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Somebody else enjoyed this beautiful pesto pasta dish, topped with soy cheese and pine nuts.

I think there was another main, but it didn’t make the cut due to it’s non-veganness (totally a word).

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Finally, what meal at Shakahari is complete without a tofu crème caramel? ARGHYUMMM. This is a perfect dessert – silky tofu topped with crunchy pistachio toffee and drizzled with a sweet caramel sauce. Yaaaaayyy! I think most people on the table got this, though there were a few non-vegan options making an appearance too.

Phew, I bumbled my way through that one. Luckily, my blog is not going to ever be subpoenaed for court (I hope), so I guess the sketchy details don’t matter too much. Or the sketchy photos. Hmm. Lesson learnt – I think it’s time to try and cut through my backlog again. See you soon blog-world!

Shakahari
201-203 Faraday St, Carlton
Mon-Fri – 12pm – 3pm and 6pm – 9.30pm
Sat – 12pm – 3pm and 6pm – 10.30pm
Sun – 6pm – 10.30pm

Toasted Sunflower Pesto

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Hello friends!

Apologies for neglecting you – I’ve been a busy bear with work lately, and have perhaps not quite gotten my time-management skills running like a well-oiled machine. Hand me the oil though – I’ll get there! Give it time..

Anyway, I thought I’d pop in and drop this delicious green bomb on you. Everybody knows I can’t get enough of pesto, and this is my latest creation. I made this up a couple of months ago now, and have made it several times since with slightly different variations – the recipe below is the basic plan I had in mind. One thing was the same throughout, and that was the use of sunflower seeds and walnuts as the base nuts. Toasting the sunflower seeds really brings out such a beautiful flavour, you must try it!

ImageToasted Sunflower Pesto

3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 cloves garlic
3 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh coriander
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup flax seed oil
1/4 – 1/2 tsp chili flakes

Toast walnuts and sunflower seeds in a pan over low heat for approximately five minutes, until slightly golden and aromatic.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the garlic and throw it in a food processor/blender along with the lemon juice and salt. Blend to combine.

Add toasted walnuts and sunflower seeds, process until well chopped up – I usually keep going until they are the consistency of coarse crumbs.

Add herbs, oil and chili flakes and blend until the desired consistency is reached. If it’s too chunky, add some water or oil a little at a time until it’s smooth enough.

Need I tell you what to do with it next? Eat it on crackers, stir it through pasta, use it in a sandwich, in salad, on tofu, EAT IT ‘TIL IT’S GONE!!!

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Banquet at Gong De Lin

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A while back, Veganopoulous posted about a banquet lunch at Gong De Lin which she had bought through an online deal on Scoopon. After noting the array of food, I promptly went online and bought one for myself too. Nothing like a vegan bargain!

The voucher sat in my inbox for months, until this weekend when I finally realised I only had a matter of days left to use it. So the bear and I took ourselves out to dinner last night so as not to let it go to waste.

Prior to Veganopoulous posting about Gong De Lin, I had never heard of the place. They’ve only been around for a year or so, and they are somewhat easy to miss – on the third floor of a building on Swanston Street, up near QV. I had a quick look on Urbanspoon before we went and noted quite a few reviews detailing rude, angry staff and food being reheated in the microwave. This perhaps set my expectations a little lower than usual, however we were pleasantly surprised. The friendly waitress seated us in a booth by the window and brought us some corn soup very promptly. I love getting to sit by the window, especially at such a height where you can look out onto the streets below.

ImageExcuse the crappy camera photos please.

The corn soup was pretty standard, similar to one we had in Box Hill last week – I kind of like it, while finding the texture very odd at the same time. It was certainly nice to sip on something warm after coming in from the cold.

The waitress was very attentive, and offered us a choice of jasmine tea or soft drink (as they were out of plum juice), as well as a choice between spicy chicken or mushrooms for our main. I was so stoked about being given the choice, and ordered the chicken without skipping a beat. She also brought some dipping sauces for our dumplings much to the bear’s delight – just try and keep his paws away from a jar of chilli oil!

ImageNext up – spring rolls. As Veganopoulous said, spring rolls are spring rolls! They were enjoyable and not too oily, accompanied by a chilli dipping sauce. The bear was too busy smothering his in a concoction he had made in his own bowl to notice this sauce until the end.

ImageThe dumplings came out at about the same time as the spring rolls. The skin looked quite thick and I feared it might be cardboard-y, but they were softer than I had expected. I always like it when dumplings, buns or spring rolls are filled with mixtures that have identifiable bits in them. These had little chunks of tofu among lots of greens. I enjoyed them.

ImageNext up a bean sprout salad. This was a little soggy, but I liked the juiciness to break up the entrees – it was quite a palate cleanser!

ImageThis was bear’s dish of the night – sweet and sour pork. I am constantly amazed by the different textures that mock-meat takes on these days – it really is fascinating. Just last week we had some vegan prawns at Vegie Hut (which I hated – too prawny would you believe?!) The sauce was really thick and the flavour spot on. We were given a bowl of rice each to accompany the mains.

ImageThe other main was the spicy chicken. The sauce itself was not overly spicy, but there were chillis scattered throughout the dish which certainly packed a punch. This dish also had water chestnuts (which I haven’t had in SO long!) and peanuts. I liked the stringy texture of the mock chicken.

ImageFinally, dessert. I’m not going to lie – I didn’t enjoy this. Little flavourless balls of dough in some sugar water. Neither of us finished it. By that point we were pretty full anyway, so it was no big loss.

So Gong De Lin is now on the radar – I’ll remember it if I’m looking for a sure-fire vegan Chinese option in the CBD. It was a good deal – $39 for the two of us for all that food, however I did not get a chance to browse the menu to see what the standard prices are. Maybe we’ll just have to come back and find out!

Gong De Lin
Level 3, 264 Swanston St Melbourne
Open 7 Days – 10am – 10pm