Friday, April 29, 2016

OzComicCon Perth 2016 (Part 2) - Bird edition

I headed back to the hotel for a short break before getting picked up by my friend Mia. I met Mia through blog comments and also we tested for some recipe books together, but this was my first time actually meeting in person. Mia doesn't have a blog of her own, but some of you may know her because she reads a lot of blogs. She very kindly picked me up from the hotel for us to spend the rest of the day together.

Unfortunately Perth's vegan restaurant, Cloud Nine, was closed on a Monday. So she took me out to The 'Pear'fect Pantry, an absolutely delightful little cafe that is hidden away from the world (you walk past a block of flats to get there, it is well back from the road). And it was such a great place with heaps of vegan options. We both had berry drinks, I had the milkshake (yay for soy, rather than coconut, ice cream) and she had the smoothie. Mia ordered the Satay Tempeh Roll. I had a little bit and it was great. I ordered the Vegan Quiche, which was some sort of delicious perfection. I don't even know what it was made out of... with think some sort of tofu/cashew cream combination. It was so good! They also had some beautiful vegan sweet treats there, though I didn't end up getting any (shocking, I know), because the milkshake was quite sweet and filling.

Berry Milkshake and Berry Smoothie at Pearfect Pantry


Satay Tempeh Roll at Pearfect Pantry


Vegan Quiche at Pearfect Pantry


Desserts at Pearfect Pantry


Afterwards we stopped by La Vida Vegan Grocery, Perth's own vegan grocery store. It was really cool, with some fun products, and the people were really nice.

La Vida Vegan Grocery at Pearfect Pantry


La Vida Vegan purchases


I happened to mention randomly that I would love to see a black swan (Western Australia is well known for these), and we happened to be right near a lake. Within thirty seconds of stopping, a majestic black beauty swam into view... and then came straight out to say hello! The swans were very curious and brave, and not shy about coming up to investigate you! There were so many of them, and they were just beautiful. We ended up walking all the way around the lake, and there were so many beautiful birds. My beloved Australian wood ducks, other ducks, geese, the ibis, pelicans, coots, swamphens, spoon bills, and a fascinating and beautiful bird I discovered was called a Darter. They swim completely submerged and just stick their heads up like a periscope on a submarine! Prepare for bird photos!

Black Swan


Ibis and Friends


Swamphen


Darter


Black Swan


Pelicans


I actually took so many photos, these are just a few! I love seeing animals when I travel, but in their natural environments. Maybe that means sometimes I don't get to see an animal that I would love to see when I am traveling (the otters and the beavers in Vancouver's Stanley Park refused to make an appearance), but I am OK with that. I know they are there. But getting to see so many beautiful birds all in one place was definitely a highlight! The only sad thing was as we were walking around the lake, we got to a part where it smelled awful. There was a little creek running next to the lake, and it was full of dead fish. Poor fish! I shudder to think what was going on there.

After our bird watching stroll, we went back to Mia's to meet her puppies and for a cup of tea and a black bean cookie that she had made, before heading off to a yoga class. Mia teaches a lovely yin/hatha blend, very different from my usual bikram, but it was fabulous and just what I needed! After yoga, we went to pick up her husband and headed out to Veggie Hut, and Indian restaurant with a lot of vegan options. We shared several dishes to maximise our eating experience! These included naan (vegan naan... so happy I could cry), potato and pumpkin masala, uttapam, daal, masala dosa (my first ever dose!), and white rice. It was so yummy, I especially loved the potato and pumpkin masala.

Naan at Veggie Hut


Potato and Pumpkin Masala at Veggie Hut


Uttapama at Veggie Hut


Daal at Veggie Hut


After this I was very full. I had such a lovely day with Mia, it is always great to meet up with online friends in real life! I hope I get to see her again if I go next year.

The next morning I just had a couple of hours before we were all flying off to Adelaide. I was keen to try Flora & Fauna, which had been recommended as well. It was a little walk from the hotel, but it was a lovely morning. This is another cute little laneway cafe, but with a little courtyard outside with tables and chairs as well as a small counter inside. They have some juices and smoothies, but I felt a little chilly so I wanted something warm. Their chai blend has unavoidable honey in it, so I had my first soy matcha latte, which was quite lovely. For breakfast I had the pumpkin and chickpea smash on toast, which also had tomatoes, pine nuts and avocados, and was very satisfying. They put a lot of edible flowers all over their food, and while they were OK I am not really sure they added much to the dish itself. They have a case full of mostly vegan sweets, and I picked up a peanut butter blondie and a ginger molasses cookie for my travels. If you go at lunch time they have a cashew-based vegan mac and cheese that sounds amazing.

Matcha Soy Latte at Flora and Fauna


Pumpkin Smash at Flora and Fauna


Dessert Case at Flora and Fauna


On the way back to the hotel, I stopped off at Henry Saw Cafe for a final delicious soy chai, and also popped into a Baker's Delight that I passed to pick up an apple scroll for morning tea at the airport. Then it was goodbye to Perth, and on our way to Adelaide!

I liked Perth. The city itself is very small, which made it good to explore on foot. I don't know how easy it is to get out and about, because I had Mia kindly driving me when I did go out of the CBD. One of the things I liked about Perth was that there were heaps of laneways or walk-throughs that you could explore when you were walking through the city. That was fun! And the food was pretty nice as well. My food highlights were definitely Henry Saw and 'Pear'fect Pantry.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sahara says feed me


While I was away my mum sent me this funny photo of Sahara. Do you think she wants something?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

OzComicCon Perth 2016 (Part 1)

Finally... let's get into some travel food stories! At the beginning of April I headed off to Perth and Adelaide for my first time in each city. I am lucky enough to be on the core team for OzComicCon, and they kick of the year with a conventions in Perth and Adelaide, one weekend after the other. Given that it was a bit of a trek over there, and that I had never been to either, taking some time off work to stay for a week in between made all the sense in the world!

It is a five and a half hour flight to Perth from Brisbane. We were flying Virgin, and as luck would have it there is a Doughnut Time in the Virgin terminal at Brisbane airport (it is right down the very end if you are looking for it). They normally have one or two vegan flavours. My favourite is the Blue Ivy (though looking at their website they don't seem to have it any more... woe!), which is a blueberry filled sugar dusted doughnut. So yummy! Virgin did hand out breakfast on the flight, but they don't have any vegan options. I was more than happy with my doughnut! A bit later in the flight, I also got them to provide some hot water to make up some McDougall's Teriyaki noodles, which I ate with a Teriyaki Primal Strip. I am a hungry vegan and always take a lot of food on flights with me.

Blue Ivy from Doughnut Time


Once we arrived in Perth and got to our hotel, we had a couple of hours before we had to be at the venue for our walk-through. So my first stop was Coles. Yep, I headed straight for the supermarket to stock up on bananas, juice, hummus, bread rolls and soy yoghurt to get me through breakfast and lunch for the weekend at OCC. We did get breakfasts and lunches supplied, but the only vegan option the venue had was fruit salad, so I had to make sure to supplement! On the way back, I noticed a sign outside a cafe saying the word 'vegan options'. It was The Wolf The Bean The Walnut. I was a bit peckish, so I grabbed their vegan coconut wrap. It ended up being $10 for essentially salad (including capsicum I had to pick out) with a mild coconut sauce in a fancy wrap... ouch! But it was a nice enough little snack, if I ignored the price. They also had smoothies, juices and acai bowls there as well, and have other rotating vegan options.

Vegan Wrap from The Wolf, The Bean and The Walnut


After set up, I walked with a friend to Perth's newly opened Lord of the Fries, because she was hungry and needed and early dinner. I didn't intend to get anything, because I am generally underwhelmed by Lord of the Fries and I had some other dinner plans for later, but I ended up getting a mini Poutine Burger because I was curious about it. I was... underwhelmed. However I will say that the fries from here were really good, much better than the ones I had last time I was in Sydney, which were pretty awful.

Poutine Burger from LotF


Thankfully it didn't fill me up too much to put me off my dinner. That morning I had been scrolling through Instagram and learned that there was a vegan friendly stall at Perth's Night Noodle Markets, which were on that very night! So of course I had to go. It was pretty crowded, but I was able to quickly locate Turban Chopsticks and ordered their Satay Noodle Bowl. It was noodles, peanut sauce, tofu, veggies and vegan prawn crackers (!)... but it ended up being so spicy! Tragically I just couldn't finish it all because my stomach was about to implode from the spicy. I don't really cope with spicy food.

Satay Noodle Bowl from Turban Chopsticks at Night Noodle Markets


I had a little bit of time before having to head off to the OCC Cocktail Party to enjoy the sun setting over Elizabeth Quay, which was nice. And I also enjoyed the big light up lucky cat in the noodle markets once the sun went down.

Elizabeth Quay


Night Noodle Markets


The next day was all hands on deck for the first day of OzComicCon! I started my day with some overnight oats (I brought some single serve oats with me from home), which were McDougall's Maple Oats with some soy yoghurt and a banana, as well as some fruit salad when I got to the venue. I had brought some sort of fancy fruit smoothie in a bottle from Coles that I sipped on for the morning. Then lunch was a roll with hummus, more fruit salad from the venue, and one of the million snack bars I also brought with me (remember, I am a snack bar hoarder). As mentioned, I am a hungry vegan and am always well prepared with food. The highlight of the day, and in fact of both the cons, was seeing this amazing Neko Atsume cosplay. I actually lost control of myself a little when I saw this.

Neko Atsume Cosplay


For dinner that night I went for a walk with one of the other guest handlers to Utopia Vegetarian at Northbridge. It was a little tricky to find, and was up some stairs as well. The ordering system is a little odd, but all the vegan things are very clearly marked on the menu. It also has karaoke rooms! There was an extensive bubble tea menu. I ordered a plum green tea with sago. For my main, I got the Claypot Tofu and some steamed rice. There was a lot of tofu and mushrooms in it, which was great, though also a lot of some strange fatty mock meat, which I was not so keen on. Needs broccoli instead! Kerrie ordered the Chicken Udon Noodles. They were big servings!

Claypot Tofu at Utopia Vegetarian


Chicken Udon Noodles at Utopia Vegetarian


Sunday was another long day for the final day of Perth OCC. I started my day with some more overnight oats, this time using an a Green Tea Oats that I had picked up last year in the US, as well as a banana, and of course fruit salad at the venue. I had a chance in the morning to have a look around some of the cute stalls (I love the handmade and original artist stalls at the conventions!). My lunch was pretty much the same as the day before, but I had a few extra bananas.

Sunday Perth Breakfast


Sunday night is always a late finish at OCC because of packing down at the end of the day. There weren't many options in general in Perth open later on a Sunday night, but thankfully one of the few places that was opened was a Grill'd close to the hotel. They can make all their veggie burgers vegan by removing the dairy ingredients (unfortunately they don't have any vegan subs for these). I had my regular order of the Veggie Burger (minus cheese and mayo), with pineapple and pickles added, and some of their amazing and delicious herby chips with tomato relish (the only vegan dipping option).

Veggie Burger (with pineapple and dill) and chips at Grill'd


I had a free day the next day, and I got up early and walked up to King's Park to check out the botanical gardens. It was a bit of a funny park to walk to, it is a long walk through the entrance to the park to actually get to the gardens. I think it is designed for people who are driving there, rather than people walking from the city. Still, I saw some ducks (I especially love Australian wood ducks) and some pretty plants and flowers, and there were some nice views, so that always makes me happy.

Ducks at King's Park


View at King's Park


Flowers at King's Park


Flowers at King's Park


All that walking sure worked up an appetite! After a stop back at the hotel, I headed out to Henry Saw Cafe, which I had heard good things about. This is an almost too cool for me laneway cafe, with seats made out of milk crates (I am too old for this, at least they had cushions), rap music playing, and some sort of amazingly engineered glass windchimes. However the food was spot on! They have a range of vegan options, including pies and wraps and salads and sweets. I was there for breakfast, so I got the breakfast wrap (beans, mushrooms and BioCheese). It is also meant to have capsicum in it. They are pre-rolled, but they kindly unwrapped it and picked out all the capsicum for me first (I said I was happy to pick it out myself), which was really sweet. I also had a cute little jam doughnut, and a delicious soy chai (ask for it vegan so they don't put in honey!). It was a great breakfast!

Breakfast Burrito (mushrooms, beans, biocheese) and Jam Doughnut from Henry Saw Cafe


After breakfast I walked to the Western Australian Museum. The museum is about to close until 2020 for renovations, so most of the exhibits had been moved out already, but they did have a ticketed exhibit from the British Museum there called 'A History of the World in 100 Objects' that was pretty cool. My favourite object was a pre-historic etching of a bison on a rock. There were other interesting things there as well, including some ceramics. I love ceramics!

Prehistoric Bison Drawing at Objects at WA Museum


Ceramics at Objects at WA Museum


I also stopped by the Art Gallery of Western Australia, where they had a great exhibit done by grade 12 art students. It included one that had some very powerful animal rights themes. I would have loved to have had a chat to that student! Also a very beautiful sculpture of a horse made from driftwood.

I had to head back to the hotel to meet a friend for lunch, and on the way I stopped in to rehydrate with a green juice from a place called The Growers on Shafto Lane. My juice had cucumber, spinach, kale, mint, parsley, lemon and coconut water in it.

Green Juice from Grower's


I'll be back in my next post with more Perth food and a lot of really pretty Perth birds!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim


While I was away, my mum sent me heaps of photos of the kitties. Here is Dim Sim, sleeping on her pinky, and apparently in control of the remote as well. The things they get up to when I am away!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Eating For Animal's Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale for Save A Cow at The Green Edge

Wow, what a mouthful of a post title! Yesterday I held my fourth Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. I organised it through the vegan food group I founded, Eating For Animals, and this year we were raising money for the wonderful Save A Cow. We ended up having a super lovely day. While it didn't reach the crazed crowds of the ALQ bake sale I organised in February, we had a steady stream of customers and we closed up an hour early because pretty much everything was gone. Once again, we held it at The Green Edge, who kindly made the space available to us as well as making a generous donation to the cause.

As per usual, because I love to live on the edge, I made a bunch of things that I had never made before for the bake sale, as well as my trusty Berry Patch Brownies and gluten-free Soulhaus Cookies.

Coconut Cornmeal Cupcakes with Lemon Icing from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and The New Vegan by Aine Carlin: These were one of my gluten-free offerings. I used the gluten freedom vanilla cupcake recipe from VCTOTW as my base, using coconut milk instead of soy milk and adding coconut extract. I used cornmeal, but it was a bit grittier than the one they probably use. These cupcakes generally are pretty dense even without the cornmeal. The flavour was definitely good. I think I prefer the chocolate GF cupcake recipe in this book to the vanilla. I iced them with the lemon icing recipe from The New Vegan.
Rating: :)

Coconut Cornmeal Cupcakes with Lemon Icing


Orange Vanilla Dream Bars from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur by Kelly Peloza: The base for these bars is quite thick, and ended up a little on the crunchy side because I needed to bake it a bit extra to get it to go golden, but it was a lovely orange dessert when paired with the icing (which set up perfectly). The orange flavour comes from a mix of orange juice and orange marmalade. I blitzed my marmalade in a food processor first because it had a lot of big chunks of peel in it. Very nice!
Rating: :)

Orange Vanilla Dream Bars


Mint Cookies 'n' Cream Cupcakes from Chloe's Vegan Desserts by Chloe Coscarelli: I find that Chloe's cupcakes tend to bake up quite big. This recipe made 16, but you could get an extra one or two out of it if you filled them a little less and they would still acceptable cupcake size. This recipe calls for crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (I used Oreos) in both the batter and the icing. I used my food processor, so they ended up more ground than crushed, and my icing turned out a fair bit darker compared to the photo in the book. All the mint in this recipe comes from the peppermint extract in the frosting, which adds a nice and refreshing note. A note for decorating - I iced the cupcakes the day before the bake sale and had them in the fridge overnight, then garnished them the morning of so that the cookies wouldn't go soggy. The icing gets super firm, so ideally leave them out of the fridge for a bit to warm up or it will crack a bit!
Rating: :)

Mint Cookies 'n' Cream Cupcakes


Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes with Maple Frosting from Chloe's Vegan Desserts by Chloe Coscarelli: If you are looking for these cupcakes in the book, you won't find them. The actual recipe is Cinnamon Mocha Cupcakes... but I really don't like coffee. So I changed it. In the batter, I left out the the espresso powder and doubled the cinnamon. For the icing, I used some leftover plain icing out of the freezer (probably about 1/3 to 1/2 of a regular batch of her icing) than I beat up with some more icing sugar to firm it a bit more and also some maple extract instead of the espresso powder in water. The result was amazing! Definitely my favourite of all the things I made for this sale. Who needs coffee? Try it this way!
Rating: :D

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes


Butterscotch Apple Cookies from Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson: I made these to use up some more of my butterscotch chip haul. The dough is a bit funny. You beat butter and other liquid ingredients together, then beat in the flour, then stir in the chips and the apple. It ended up having a very gummy feel to it. These cookies also didn't spread at all, so I smooshed them down on the bake tray. They were meant to be golden brown in 10-12 minutes, but I had to bake for more like 20. I got two dozen cookies using an Australian TBS as a scoop. Despite being a bit funny to make, I ended up loving these. Mostly because of the apple and cinnamon flavours, the butterscotch wasn't too sweet. I didn't sift icing sugar over them as the recipe instructed, because that would have just been messy to take to a bake sale.
Rating: :D

Butterscotch Apple Cookies


Vegan Anzac Biscuits from Suzy Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher by Suzy Spoon: My mum actually made these as a contribution. She made them while I was away, and froze them until the sale. Given that the bake sale was the day before ANZAC day (which is today, the 25th), it seemed fitting to have some there. The biscuits had the classic flavour, but were quite soft. I like crispy Anzac biscuits. I wasn't sure if that was because of them being frozen, but mum said that they never went crispy even when fresh (the recipe says they will crisp up as they cook).
Rating: :)

Vegan Anzac Biscuits


Chickpea Blondies from 500 Vegan Recipes by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman: Everyone's heard of black bean brownies, but how about chickpea blondies? I must admit I was intrigued to add these to my gluten-free offerings. Chickpeas, sugar, peanut butter, strawberry jam and a few other ingredients made a very dense, fudgy blondie (the only flour in it is a smidge of brown rice flour) that was delightfully not too sweet.
Rating: :)

Chickpea Blondies


Double Chocolate Macadamia Cookies: This made a lot of cookies (I got 50 using an Australian sized TBS as my scoop), which was good because I was able to take some to a baby shower last week and some to the bake sale yesterday. I have no patience for actually chopping macadamias, so I just crushed them with my nut mallet. These are sweet and chocolatey.
Rating: :)

Double Chocolate Macadamia Cookies


So they are the new things I made. Let's see what else is on the table! My co-bakers with EFA are Marion and Lisa, and they also baked some lovely yummies.

Gluten-Free Coconut Ice by Marion.

Coconut Ice


Gluten-Free Soulhaus Cookies by me (from Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats by Allyson Kramer). I make these every bake sale.

Soulhaus Cookies


A tray of cookies! Inlcuding Jam Drops by Lisa, the Apple Butterscotch and Anzac Cookies, Choc Chip Chai cookies by Marion, and Double Chocolate Macadamias.

Cookies - Jam Drops, Apple Butterscotch, Anzac, Choc Chip Chai, Double Chocolate Macadamia


Cupcake tower! Peanut Butter Cup Caramel Brownie cupcakes by Marion (there's a close up photo of those as well!), and Lisa made some Nutella and Carrot Cake Cupcakes.

Cupcakes - Peanut Butter Cup Caramel Brownie, Nutella, Carrot Cake


Peanut Butter Cup Caramel Brownie Cupcake


Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies from Lisa and Berry Patch Brownies by me (from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton, another bake sale faithful).

Brownies: Peanut Butter Swirl, Berry Patch


And Marion made these adorable Save A Cow cupcakes! How cute are they?

Save A Cow Cupcakes


A shot of the table! We ended up raising $782 for Save A Cow, which was a fantastic outcome!

Bake sale table


I was pretty hungry by the time we finished, but also pretty keen to get home, so I ordered a burger to takeaway. I got their special, a pulled BBQ jackfruit burger with kale slaw. When I got home I realised that instead of kale slaw on the burger, there was lettuce, so I guess they were out of slaw. But it was still really good. The jackfruit was delicious! And it had tomato and avocado and mayo on it. The best jackfruit burger I've had, I think.

Pulled Jackfruit Burger from The Green Edge


Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Cave Kitty


Playing peek-a-boo with a little Burmese hiding under a blanket.