Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sydney Part 2

When I woke up on Sunday morning, I was treated to viewing of one of Leigh's visiting cockatoos, Wonky Beak. They were named this because they have a genetic condition affecting their beak. Leigh also has another visiting cockatoo named The Dude, but they didn't make an appearance while I was there. It was lovely to munch on some cold pizza and watch this magnificent bird having a snack. Once Wonky Beak flew off, we watched some RuPaul with the rest of our pizza.

Wonky Beak


We were meeting up with some friends at Soul Burger, a recently all-vegan burger place over in Randwick. I should mention that all these friends I met on the internet, which is one of the reasons I love the internet. I had met Elizabeth and Michelle before, but it was my first time meeting Sarah in person. Lots of fun. :)

Soul Burger has vegan milkshakes, but unfortunately they are all coconut based. Elizabeth and Sarah both got the Strawberry Coconut Milkshake and Michelle had the Vanilla Coconut Milkshake. I tried a little bit of Elizabeth's, because I love strawberry milkshakes, but the level of coconut fat in it was too much for my sensitive soul to manage.

Strawberry Coconut Milkshakes from Soul Burger


Vanilla Coconut Milkshake from Soul Burger


Soul Burger also has some great fries, and we got a bunch to share. First up, the red fries are the spicy ones. I don't enjoy spice, but I did try one small, sparsely spiced one dipped in a lot of aioli and it was not too spicy. My favourite fries were the herby Green Fries. We also had some Kumara Fries, which are Elizabeth's favourite. All fries comes with vegan aioli for dipping.

Red Fries from Soul Burger


Green Fries from Soul Burger


Kumara Fries from Soul Burger


I went for the classic cheese burger, but added pineapple and beetroot because that is what we do here in Australia. It was a towering burger, and I lost a few bits of beetroot before I was able to fit it in my mouth. I really liked the burger fillings. The patty was yummy! But I was a bit sad by the bread roll, which was a bit dry. But overall a good burger!

Cheese Burger with Pineapple and Beetroot from Soul Burger


Leigh and Sarah both got the Chilli Beef Burger (Leigh added pineapple and beetroot to hers), Elizabeth had the Battered Fish Burger, and Michelle had the Spicy Sausage Burger (which has actual sausages in it rather than a patty).

Chilli Beef Burger with Pineapple and Beetroot from Soul Burger


2016-01-31 12.30.42


Spicy Sausage Burger from Soul Burger


This photo is just a small portion of our table. We had a lot of food. We arrived at 12pm on Sunday, and by 12.20pm the place was really getting packed out, so I would recommend getting there early if you are planning on going.

All the fuds from Soul Burger


The afternoon was spent lying around back at Leigh's place, digesting, and watching RuPaul (of course). When evening came, we were able to get ourselves going and headed into Newtown for dinner at Golden Lotus. I had only been here once before, and was keen to visit again.

We started with some Summer Rolls, which were filled with salad and noodles and served with peanut sauce, and the Vegan Wrap. The Vegan Wrap is basically a delicious hoisin 'duck' pancake that they already rolled for you.

Summer Rolls from Golden Lotus


Vegan Wrap from Golden Lotus


For mains, I was craving some tofu and vegetables, so we picked the Tofu with Cashews. I know this doesn't sound very exciting, but it was really yummy. As well as lots of vegetables, they were extremely generous with cashews! We also got the Sizzling Saigon Pancake. There wasn't much sizzling about it, but it was very nice. The pancake itself was folded over a filling of carrots and bean sprouts, and there were fresh greens and herbs on the side. Also the sauce, but Leigh said it was pretty spicy so I skipped it.

Tofu With Cashews from Golden Lotus


Sizzling Saigon Pancake from Golden Lotus


After dinner, we went back to Gelato Blue to pick up another take home pack, this time with Milk Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie and some more Peanut Butter Cornetto. I have taken a bad photo of some of the vegan selection for you - there was also another case I couldn't get a photo of without too much glare!

Gelato Blue


Chocolate Milk Cookie and Peanut Butter Cornetto from Gelato Blue


Then we made yet another dessert plate with all our many ice creams, plus some left over sweets. And we finished watching that season of RuPaul... and my favourite WON! TEAM JINKX FOREVER! And just so you know, if you mix the chocolate ice cream with the turkish delight ice cream it tastes like those chocolate covered turkish delight bars. I did this important research for you!

Dessert Plate!


I was leaving the next morning. I had a pre-leaving breakfast of the last half of my jackfruit roll, which was still amazing even after a couple of days. I also had packed a little second breakfast snack for once I got to the airport. The Vegan Teahouse sells a number of products, but my favourite is their Britney Banana Bread. I always get some Britney when I am in Sydney for my trip home. Leigh had also given me one of the Rebel Mylk chocolate banana milks, which was really nice.

Bananarama Breakfast


I thought my vegan food adventures were over, but when my plane landed in Brisbane and I was walking into the terminal I did a double take - there was a little Doughtnut Time kiosk there! Doughnut Time has a vegan doughnut, and they had some in stock, so I picked one up. They used to have a raspberry flavour, but they had just switched it out for the You Go, Glen Coco, which has a caramel glaze and coconut flakes. The glaze was a bit sweet for my liking, but I thought it was a pretty good doughnut otherwise! It is also gluten free. If you are at Brisbane Domestic Airport and looking for Doughnut Time, it is all the way down the end of the Virgin side of the terminal.

Doughnut Time Vegan Doughnut


And so ended my weekend in Sydney, which was just lovely. A huge thanks to Leigh for letting me stay with her, and thanks to all my friends I got to catch up with. It was so great, I can't wait to do it again!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post<

Sahara


While I was away my mum sent this photo of Sahara smooching around on the floor. You can see her head is in motion!

Friday, February 5, 2016

CFS February Mystery Box

A short break in my Sydney adventures to share with you the contents of this month's Cruelty Free Shop Vegan Mystery Box! Here's what's inside!

Cruelty Free Shop February Mystery Box


Here are my thoughts.

  • Lamyong Mushroom Chunks: Funnily enough, I was just thinking about getting some of these. I love them!
  • Pukka Refresh Tea Bag: This one has peppermint, fennel and rose, another one I haven't tried before.
  • Leahy Garden No Chicken Noodle Soup: I do have another sachet of this in my cupboard, but I will be saving these for cooler months.
  • Sweet William Strawberry White Chocolate: I will be gifting this to some lucky white chocolate lover, as I believe white chocolate is an abomination, and I am not a fan of Sweet William either. Part of me wants to try some because I love strawberry, but I know it will make some of my Sweet William and white chocolate loving friends very happy. :)
  • Nak'd Cashew Cookie Bar: I am a huge fan of Nak'd bars, and Cashew Cookie is one of my favourite flavours, so I am definitely happy to have this to add to my hoard of snack bars!
  • Jokerz Candy Bar: I do generally find Go Max Go bars too sweet for my tastes, but they are fun for an occasional treat. And they don't get better then their vegan version of snickers. Hello chocolate caramel peanuts!
  • Go Macro Protein Bar: I am super excited about this. I have only tried one in this range, the peanut butter one, and it was really good. But they are expensive so I haven't bought any more yet. I am very happy to have scored one in the box! This flavour is Sunflower Butter and Chocolate, which I can't wait to try!
  • Pacific Foods Chocolate Hazelnut Milk: I love this stuff, it is like drinking Nutella.
  • Tartex Herb Pate: Another product I am a big fan of, I love this on crackers or sandwiches with tomato. Full sized as well for all my pate needs!
  • Pur Pomegranate Chewing Gum: Another one I will likely be gifting, because I don't do gum (I have this weird thing where it makes me gag). I am going to definitely try one piece though, because the flavour sounds like it will be great for the 30 seconds I can keep it in my mouth. I like pomegranate.


So a couple of things I will gift on for someone else to enjoy, but overall I am again pretty happy. There are several products in there that I know I already love, but don't often get around to buying, so I am happy to have them in my cupboard!

The box is $199.95 for a six month subscription, which is just over $33 per month. You can also get three month and single subscriptions.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sahara with Mystery Box


Sahara checking out the box.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sydney Part 1

I went on a little getaway to my beloved Sydney this weekend, which is why I haven't blogged for the last week. The last couple of times I have been away it has been for some sort of Comic-Con or Forum, but this was purely just to hang out and eat food and have a nice break. I stayed with my fabulous friend Leigh, and we had an amazing time with food and fun. This is going to be a picture heavy post! I decided just to smoosh all my many photos into two big posts. Prepare for food photos!

I got into Sydney on Friday afternoon. The original plan had been to go and see The Force Awakes in Moonlight Cinema, but rain cancelled that plan. So to console ourselves, we started the weekend with some ice cream from my favourite ice cream place, Gelato Blue. The last time I was here in September they had about 8 vegan flavours. In just a few months they now have 20! Plus a cabinet full of great vegan baked treats and a menu of ridiculous vegan sundaes. The still have a few non-vegan flavours, but it is clear the direction they are moving. Hurrah! Leigh got a cup with the Strawberry Raspberry sorbet, and I had a cone with Peanut Butter Cornetto flavour, which is amazing.

Strawberry Raspberry Sorbet and Peanut Butter Cornetto from Gelato Blue


For dinner I was keen to try a new-to-me place, Zuzuzu (The Tokyo Noodle Bar), which has a special vegan menu (make sure that you ask for the vegan menu and be sure to specify vegan when ordering). I ordered the Soy Milk Ramen, which was lovely, and some Agedashi Tofu, which was great. Leigh got their vegan bento box and a side of their take on Eggplant Dengaku - they deep fry small pieces of eggplant and top with sauce. I tried a couple of pieces, and while the eggplant was a bit too deep fried for me, the sauce was great!

Eggplant Dengaku from Zuzuzu


Tofu Agedashi from Zuzuzu


Soy Milk Ramen from Zuzuzu


Vegan Bento Box from Zuzuzu


We headed back to Leigh's place for the night, and I was introduced to RuPaul's Drag Race, which is now my current obsession. On Friday, Leigh had ordered me a My Little Panda Kitchen lunchbox, which included a pulled jackfruit and slaw roll, chickpea salad and chocolate truffles. MLPK is an amazing small business that delivers awesome lunchboxes around Sydney and also makes beautiful cakes (more on that later). I had half of the bun for first breakfast, and it was delicious!

My Little Panda Kitchen Lunchbox


My Little Panda Kitchen Pulled Jackfruit Roll


Fortified for the first part of the morning, Leigh and I went through a wander through her neighbourhood on the way to the train station on a kitty hunt. Only two kitties were spotted, but they were so delightful. We also stopped in at Leigh's local vet and I got a very good hugging of their almost clinic cat.

Our first stop in Newtown were the markets to visit the vegan stall Rhubarb Bakes and pick up some goodies. Someone in front of us snaffled the last cinnamon sugar doughnut (curses!), but there were still lots of other treats to choose from. I got a vanilla slice (with passionfruit icing... what is this pink icing business?), a lamington and a chocolate cream filled doughnut to take away for later.

Rhubarb Bakes - Vanilla Slice, Lamington, Chocolate Cream Filled Doughnut


We went to Sadhana Kitchen for second breakfast. We both had the Benedict - black salt and sesame encrusted avocado, marinated mushrooms, coconut bacon, sprouted bread and the 'best hollandaise sauce ever'. First up, the sauce was nice, but not the best ever. I really enjoyed this breakfast. I am not sure I detected any black salt or sesame encrusting my avocado, but avocado is always great. The coconut bacon was the weakest link. It was too tough to cut through, I just kind of had to eat it in a big chewy blob, and it tasted mostly of coconut after a couple of chews, the smoky flavour got lost. Still, a fun breakfast. I had also planned on ordering a juice, but they were out of juice, so I got a Rabbit Hole Chai with soy. This was a large, steaming hot cup. We also met up with our friend Kelsey here, and she had their Maxibonn special, which was a giant ice cream sandwich!

Benedict from Sahana Kitchen


Rabbit Holw Chai from Sadhana Kitchen


Maxibonn from Sahana Kitchen


Now, remember I mentioned that My Little Panda Kitchen does cake? Leigh had sweetly ordered a mini-cake so that I could experience some delicious cake while I was in Sydney, and we picked it up from Sadhana. The decorating theme was pink unicorn, which was perfect, and the innards were salted caramel cake with chocolate peanut butter ganache filling. The pink icing was vanilla buttercream. So pretty!

My Little Panda Kitchen Unicorn Cake


The plan was to wander down Newtown and poke in and out of shops as we went, which we did. We also stopped in at Bliss & Chips, and all-vegan 'Fish' and Chips shop! Now, I have a very low tolerance for deep-fried, and practically everything on the menu is deep fried (as well as vegan fish/seafood and potatoes they also deep fry hotdogs, baked beans, Jokers bars, butter, and pizza!), so Leigh and Kelsey got some chicken nuggets and ships to share and for me to snack on. The nuggets were a bit too fried for me, but I enjoyed the chips, especially with the yummy dill tartare sauce.

Chicken Nuggets and Chips with Tartare from Bliss and Chips


After a bit more wandering we came to Superfood Sushi, an all-vegan sushi place I was keen to try. To be honest, I was a little disappointed. First of all, when you take you seat (or even if you just pop your head in to take a look at the menu), the owner insists on explaining the entire menu to you, which is kind of awkward when you just want to have a nice read through the perfectly self-explanatory menu. We ended up sharing a combo platter with the Sweet Kiwi Nut and Magic Mushroom rolls. The Kiwi roll was a bit bland, except for the spicy sauce on top! The black rice is not seasoned. The mushroom roll was much better in terms of flavour, though almost a bit too salty. We each had a 'piece'. Leigh and Kelsey enjoyed their Kimchi and Seaweed inari. I decided to try the 'Super Salmon' watermelon nigiri. While it was nice, it was really just slightly dehydrated watermelon, they didn't seem to have tried to season it at all. This place is a good concept, but I think they to work on their flavours a little bit more.

Combo Platter from Superfoods Sushi


Salmon Nigiri from Superfoods Sushi


In the afternoon we went to The Cruelty Free Shop so I could spend a $10 voucher that I had on a few treats. Then we went to meet Leigh's partner at Sappho Books for an afternoon beverage. About this time a massive storm rolled in, so we hid out there until it had passed before hopping a bus back down into Newtown.

Last time I was in Sydney I went to Gigi Pizzeria and it was true love, so we had to go again this time. Arriving at about 6.30, there was no line (last time we got there closer to 8pm and had to wait outside for 45 minutes), and we were ushered straight in. The only downside about Gigi is that they seem to be going for a club vibe rather than a restaurant - they have very loud music playing! Also very low lights, so excuse the dusky pictures.

We started off with the Arancini ai funghi porcini (polenta crumbed porcini mushroom rice balls), which were absolutely delicious! We then decided to go for broke and ordered three pizzas: Funghi e Radicchio (Swiss brown mushrooms, garlic, dairy free blue cheese, parsley, radicchio, & roasted walnuts, extra virgin olive oil), Melanzane (San Marzano tomato, grilled eggplant, cherry tomatoes & basil salsa, extra virgin olive oil) and Cavolo (Cauliflower puree, artichokes, pinenuts, capers, currants, garlic & parsley, extra virgin olive oil). The Melanzane was my favourite, life-changing pizza from my last visit, and once again it did not disappoint. The Funghi pizza was great, though very rich from the blue cheese. I also really liked the Cavolo (I love the cauliflower, currant, pine nut combo), though the toppings were very unevenly distributed so some pieces just seemed to be all artichoke. If you are in Sydney, you must go here, the pizza is so good! We couldn't finish all the pizzas, but that meant we had some left to take home for breakfast the next day. Turns out that these pizzas are amazing cold as well - they passed the most important test of pizza!

Arancini from Gigi


Funghi e Raddichio Pizza from Gigi


Melanzane Pizza from Gigi


Cavolo Pizza from Gigi


Our final stop before we went home was back to Gelato Blue, where we got a take home pack of Watermelon Sorbet and Turkish Delight.

Watermelon Sorbet and Turkish Delight from Gelato Blue


Finally we got home, and decided that the best way to fuel our way through some more RuPaul's Drag Race was with an extreme dessert plate - My Little Panda Kitchen Cake, vanilla slice, lamington, doughnut, ice cream... and some grapes. Also a cup of peppermint tea.

Dessert plate!


Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim


While I am away, my mum puts up photos of the kitties on Instagram for me. Here is Dim Sim, paw outstretched.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Taco Cleanse Mini Cleanse

Even if you are living in a cave, surely you have heard of the hottest craze that is sweeping the globe. The newest way to feel fabulous! I am, of course, referring to The Taco Cleanse.

Now, I must confess, I tend to be more of a burrito girl. When I received my copy of the book I posted on Instagram joking that I was going to make all the recipes into burritos. Clearly, there was no one more in need of a taco cleanse than me. I'll be honest, I was scared. I don't like spicy food. Or capsicum. And how can I supplement appropriately on the cleanse when I don't drink alcohol or fizzy drinks? Was this really the right fit for me? I did the taco quiz but I kind of ended up being a mix of results. Who was I in this taco world?

I started preparing for a mini taco cleanse by working in some taco yoga to my regular yoga practice. Lying there in soft tortilla pose, I knew I was ready for the abundance of joy that a taco cleanse could bring to my life. I picked a day, stocked up on flour tortillas ('mini'-sized aka 15cm/6in size), and readied myself. Yesterday was that day.

Breakfast

Accelerated Breakfast Taco: I thought it would be good to ease myself in with something familiar, and this accelerated breakfast taco gave me all the comfort of one of my regular breakfasts (toast with PB, banana, blueberries and cinnamon) but with the bonus of being wrapped in a comforting tortilla. The recipe calls for PB and a banana, with optional cereal. I used blueberries in cinnamon instead of the cereal. Delicious! I was worried that I would still be hungry afterwards, so I had a second one, and then I was super full!
Rating: :D

Accelerated Breakfast Taco


Lunch

My two breakfast tacos kept me full all the way through until lunch!

Corn Tortillas: I don't like corn tortillas. Every time I buy them they are gross and cardboardy and just fall apart. So when a recipe called for corn tortillas I decided to be brave and make some of my own for the first time. But I only made a quarter batch (3 tortillas) thinking that I wouldn't really be a fan. WRONG. I wish I made the whole batch! These are nothing like the gross store-bought ones, but are instead amazing and delicious and magical! I don't have a tortilla press, and I tried doing the pot smooshing method but they didn't get thin enough, so I ended up rolling them out. I also used baking paper rather than plastic, which may have been an error because they stuck a little. They ended up being kind of ugly, but who cares what they look like when they taste this good.
Rating: :D

Corn Tortillas


Mexican Chopped Salad Tacos: The reason I made the corn tortillas was to make these tacos, which were delicious and fresh. I made a couple of changes to the salad, which may have upset the optimal anti-oxidant - oxidant balance that the recipe provides. I left out the capsicum and added grated carrot, left out the raw onion, and substituted celery for jicama due to availability issues. I also changed the dressing by leaving out the oil and using some water with guar gum instead. Don't be cranky, taco gods! I have nothing against oil, I just find that oil heavy salad dressings make me feel a bit icky, same with deep fried foods. Anyway, it all ended up being a delicious and fresh salad, and when wrapped in fresh corn tortillas it was all kinds of heavenly.
Rating: :D

Mexican Chopped Salad Tacos


Afternoon tea

I was a little peckish around the 4pm mark. So I made a kind of taco that had vegemite spread in a tortilla. With some celery sticks on the side. I am not sure where a spread inside a single folded taco sized tortilla falls in the technical taco spectrum.

Dinner

The most important type of taco in the taco food pyramid is the breakfast taco! So I decided a breakfast taco for dinner would be the optimal.

Wake and Shake Scramble: Tofu scramble is classic. And this is an easy and cheesy scramble where you shake up the tofu with the seasoning and then bake it. After a recommendation from a friend, I only used half the amount of nooch required, and this was the right amount of seasoning to coat the tofu, with a little bit of crumbly bits left over.
Rating: :)

Wake and Shake Scramble


Foundational Tempeh Bacon: This is bacon made for tacos! Finely chopped tempeh in a delicious sweet and smoky sauce. There is no marinade time required, so this comes together super fast. I had a 300g block of tempeh, so I increased all the sauce ingredients slightly, and I got about two cups worth of tempeh. Throw it in anything!
Rating: :)

Foundational Tempeh Bacon


Supreme Bacon, Scramble, and Cheddar Tacos: These were an amazing combination, using the scramble and tempeh recipes above. I used some sharp cheddar cheese that I had made from Artisan Vegan Cheese as the cheese here. So GOOD! The recipe is very strict about not adding in any other ingredients, though I think that some chopped tomato would be nice, but who am I to question the wisdom of expert taco scientists?
Rating: :D

Supreme Bacon, Scramble, and Cheese Tacos


'Living' Chipotle Sauce: This is also a recommended topping to try with a scramble and tempeh bacon taco. Even though, as mentioned, I don't really like spicy food, I was seized by taco madness and taco enthusiasm and thought I may as well. After all, they say that a spicy dinner taco will help your dreams! I made a small batch of this, only a quarter of the recipe. It is pretty magic how it goes from dark red chiles to a creamy, orange sauce as you blend. Taco magic! And, as expected, this was spicy. Though the heat fades fast at least. Not something I will be using regularly, but fun to try for me and I am sure spice lovers will be fans.
Rating: :)

Living Chipotle Sauce


Taco with Scramble, Bacon, and Chipotle Sauce: I did add some coriander to this for cooling properties. This was fun, but one was enough because of the spiciness of the sauce. The cheddar version is definitely my preferred version!
Rating: :)

Taco with Wake and Bake Scramble; Foundational Tempeh Bacon; Living Chipotle Sauce


Dessert

There are several dessert taco recipes in the book, but I was just after a quick single serve and so I created an easy dessert taco with crunchy speculoos spread, So Delicious Almond Chocolate ice cream and fresh raspberries. In a flour tortilla. Super yum!

Dessert Taco


My final taco count came in at 11 for the day (or 10.5... I am not sure about that Vegemite one). I was not only fulfilled, I was full and happy! So many tacos. As someone who doesn't eat a lot of tacos, I think I have reversed my taco deficiency in a single day! And there are so many more delicious recipes in there left to try. I slept wonderfully. I am sure my hair is at least 9% shinier today!

In short, we should all taco cleanse!

Seriously though, this book is one of the funniest cookbooks I have ever read. If I was to quote all the lines I laughed at, I would be in copyright violation. And it has had a HUGE amount of press coverage, which makes me so happy. Some of that coverage has not quite picked up that it is a parody (the recipes are real, but the premise is taking the piss out of the cleanse obsession), but other coverage has been fully embracing what the Taco Cleanse is all about. And what a great vehicle to get people thinking about vegan food as well!

So go forth and TACO!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Taco the cat doing taco yoga


On of our nurses has a cat called Taco, so what better cat to be our cute kitty of the day? Here is Taco, demonstrating some cat taco yoga.