Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bodhi Cafe

Mr T and I stumbled across a new vegetarian restaurant today by accident. It's called Bodhi Cafe and is located at 241 Victoria st, Abbotsford near the corner of punt rd and Victoria st. It was perfect timing because we were starving.

I ordered kumquat tea and BBQ Pork with fragrant rice (flavoured with mint and soybean crisps) and Mr T ordered the tofu don dish. The kumquat tea was perfectly sweet, the BBQ pork was beautifully presented and the rice was so yummy you could eat it by itself. The BBQ pork itself was up to the standards of all the mock meat places in Melbourne. Unlike other Chinese veg places in Melb though this had a more relaxed cafe feel, and instead of just BBQ pork you got a bit of a variety on your plate. Mr T thought his meal was boring but he did order the dish minus the egg that it normally comes with and if you ask me he ordered the most boring thing on the menu.

Kumquat tea (almost finished ohhps)

BBQ Pork

Mr T's 'boring' tofu don dish

I was very impressed, the decor was cute, the food was cheap with mains costing between $8 to $9 and best of all it is open til 11pm everyday except for Monday.

On the downside or the upside depending on your perspective there are more teas and coffees to chose from than there are main meals. There are only 10 mains to choose from but you can order things like lavender latte, and peanut butter coffee and red date/longan tea. They also had entrees like spring rolls and chicken nuggets and a variety of desserts (none of the desserts looks vegan friendly though). The mains alone though left us quite full. Here's a copy of the mains page on the menu:

It reminded me of Hong Kong cafes and like a smaller version of Fo Guang Yuan tea house.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

It was only after I returned from Hong Kong that I discovered that vegan mooncakes exist.

I visited an asian supermarket today and stood in line with about 30 other people to purchase some more mooncakes (my second box).

I recommend red bean paste ones or lotus seed flavoured mooncakes. They normally say on the labels how many egg yolks they have in them so just look for the ones that don't have any eggs in them, they are generally the cheapest. They also come in pretty red tin boxes which I am sure I will find some purpose for. Tradition has it that you should cut each one into 4 or 8 pieces see here for instructions (yes someone actually posted pics of how to cut a mooncake).

Pic taken from

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Crazy food combinations

I don't know how I have missed it. But I only just discovered the regular blog event called They Go Really Well Together (TGRWT). The food nerd in me was so excited when I found it. I'm really impressed with some of the participating entries including Green Gourmet Giraffes Peanut Stew with Bananas . I can't wait to give some of the parings a go especially bananas and parsley, strawberries and coriander and mint and mustard . I know that the time has past to participate in those particular parings, but I am still going to give them a go and share the results. To find out more about how it works and other pairings go here. I should probably also mention that the latest pairing is lavender and apple and the deadline is October 1st. I'm not a huge fan of lavender flavoured anything so I will be giving that one a miss.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Home Song Stories

Home Song Stories is a movie about a chinese woman who migrates to Australia with her two children in the 60's to be with an Australian man. The story is told through the eyes of her son and written and director by Tony Ayres in an attempt to understand his own mother better. Joel Lokin who plays Tony Ayres is an adorable, captivating and very convincing young actor. If for no other reason it is worth seeing it for his amazing acting ability. If you need other reasons the story is very interesting. Other films, may have focused on the migration aspect, but this focuses on family and relationships and more specifically his mother who goes from relationship to relationship and who turns out to be quite a complex character. The cinematography is also beautiful. I read some review that likened it to In the Mood for Love but I wouldn't put in the same category. Can anything really beat in the Mood for Love or be its equal? That's not to say its not beautiful , it is! It's also an Australian film and one of the few ones that doesn't have typical embarrassing yobbo characters. Yay!

Only one word of warning: if you have a tendency to cry at sad parts in films take a pack of tissues with you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pretty Tassie

I know Tasmania is beautiful but didn't realise that Hobart itself is such a pretty city/town. I just wish I took more photos inside the town and around Salamanca, but I think I made up for it by taking lots of pictures elsewhere.

The weather was beautiful and around 16 degrees the whole weekend but it was freezing on top of Mt Wellington which is only a 30 minute drive away and yes there was even a bit of snow.

A viewfrom Mt Wellington, it doesn't do the sight justice but it was too cold to play around with my camera settings.

View from our room in battery point

Salamanca Market(I got the vegan pies from the summer kitchen stall on the left), I love how the mountains are so visible from Hobart itself.
View from Treetop walk.

I will post more pics later, the reason I am posting like crazy at the moment is because I am home sick and quite bored right now.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Vegan food in Hobart

We wandered around the first day in Hobart itself and stumbled across a cafe called tricycle cafe which did organic fairtrade coffee which made Mr T very happy. We had already had breakfast but prior to our 6.45am flight so we decided to share a second breakfast. We ordered the chilli beans on toast minus the cheese and the waitress was nice enough to split it on to two plates even though we only ordered one plate and she was also smart enough to realise that no cheese means no margarine too. The dish was great, it had just the right amount of spiciness and the avocado and lemon went really well with it. It's a really cute place too, gorgeous wallpaper and old pictures of tricycles cover at least one of the walls and good music. Mr T approved of the coffee too. It kind of reminds me of Pushka in Melbourne.

Next we tried Tassie's only Chinese veg restaurant Shu Yuan. Maybe we have been spoiled too much with good Chinese veg food in Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong but this place was just disappointing. I ordered a plate of rice with two dishes, and Mr T ordered a plate with 3 dishes. It was not enough food, and expensive for precooked small meals. It reminded me of veg out time but the food wasn't as tasty or as big or as cheap. In fairness though maybe the meals made to order are better. I guess if you no other Chinese veg option than it's ok. I feel bad for posting a not so great review, and the truth is the food taste wise is not bad but just not great.

Our next place was by far our favourite: Sirens. I was surprised to find it empty when we wandered in around 6.30pm on a friday night and that only a few tables were filed up by the time we left. For a veg restaurant I was a little disappointed to discover that there was huge cheese focus and that they only had 3 vegan mains and 1 vegan dessert but when the few options are great I don't mind not have many options. I had the smoked tofu with pesto and Mr T had one of the special board meals: the stuffed Eggplant with polenta and chili chocolate sauce which will feature on the new menu which starts next week. My meal was good and Mr T's was amazing. Chocolate and chilli go so well together, but you already know that! And the nutty stuffing inside the eggplant, mmmm I was jealous that I didn't order it . Next we had the amazing dark chocolate mousse with a cashew crust served with coconut sorbet and their dark chocolate 'bikkies' which were also featured on their specials boards. I was so excited I forgot to take pics. The bikkies tasted like healthier homecooked version of chocolate oreos. And Cindy was right about the mousse, it was certainly the star of the night and I would recommend you fly to Hobart to try it. I'm not sure if I would agree it was the best vegan dessert ever (that prize has to go one of the cakes at Vegetarian Orgasm) but it's certainly up there. The crust was perfectly sweet and nutty the mousse rich and chocolatey and the coconut sorbet the perfect side. The only downside of Sirens was the prizes, Mr T's main for example was $19 but it was so worth it.

Lunch on sat we had two different types of vegan pies from one of the stalls at the end of salamanca market which were just ok and a little pricey at $4.50 for take away but convenient. If you are going for convenient though I suggest the vegan shepherd pie over the curried veg pie.

The following night we decided to go back to Sirens, this time we wandered in at a little past 6pm to again an empty restaurant and asked if it was open yet? The waitress replied it was but unless we had a booking it was all booked out. How does a restaurant goes from empty on a fri night to booked out on a sat? I felt like a fool for not booking and on Mr T's actual birthday but I had no idea.

So we decided to try Annapurna Indian Restaurant which apparently doesn't use gee. We walked in only to discover that luckily we got the last table in the double story restaurant. Which was strange considering there a was another Indian restaurant opposite it and Hobart appeared to be dead. What everyone eats out on sat in Hobart and no-one eats out on a friday? We ordered their onion bhajis and spinach pakoras.(both on the specials menu) We were surprised to find these huge looking plates instead of the usual small servings of entrees in Indian restaurants. They were both delicious and quite filling. I loved the lemon pieces to squeeze over them.

Please note this pic was taken after we had already started making a mess and eating them. They were actually bigger and prettier.

For mains we had dal (not because I am boring but because I figured I needed a little bit of protein and iron and other legume goodness) which tasted like a thousand other dals and a pumpkin curry which had the just the right amount of tang and was delicious. It also gets a thumbs up for decor as it didn't appear to be as tacky or as cheap looking as other Indian restaurants I have been to and the service was great. I explained at the beginning that I am allergic to dairy (white lie) and am vegetarian and asked what my options could be and there was about a dozen main meals and almost every entree to chose from. Yes more vegan choices at Indian restaurant than a veg restaurant.

On sun we packed a lunch as we were warned that everything was closed. We were glad we did because Hobart is completely empty most of the shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants are all closed on Sunday . All in all with a tiny bit of planning and possibly booking for Sat nights Hobart was was quite vegan friendly. Sure it doesn't complete with the amount of choices in Melbourne but for a small city/town it was great. I just want to go back to Sirens again!
Don't you wish there was vegan version of Iron Chef?

Ok, maybe that's just me. But if you do here is your chance to see something quite similar and for a good cause too. Here's the blurb:

To share affordable, healthy food and raise funds for their work, Food not Bombs and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre are, for a second time, taking the spectacle and drama of the Iron Chef battle - but with more - to the streets. Rusty Chef, a spin-off of the cooking show, Iron Chef, will be held at the Collingwood Town Hall in Melbourne on Saturday, September 29. The event will include live music and graphic cooking close-ups broadcast live onto a big screen inside the venue. During the event, the chefs and their kitchen hands will have only one hour to prepare vegan food fit for the masses. As part of the challenge, they will use only gleaned or donated ingredients in a competition to see who can prepare the most magnificent banquet. Following the competition, all the food will be shared with the attendees. All monies raised will be shared between the two organizing groups. Food not Bombs is a local group which, since 1996, has been feeding homeless and other needy people in the city using food donated by organic markets and shops. This includes taking meals and food to picket lines, to high-schools with homeless and asylum-seeking students, to mental health institutions and to rallies and conferences. The Asylum Seekers Resource Centre has been Australia's leading asylum seeker aid, health and advocacy organization since 2001. The centre provides more than 20 services and for more 3000 asylum seekers, via a team of 700 volunteers Presale tickets can be purchased at the ASRC, located at 12 Batman St., West Melbourne.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I suck at making/decorating cakes

I decided to make Mr T a cake for his birthday since it's such a big birthday (30th). I made a vegan cheesecake using this recipe from vegweb.

The 'cheesecake' part actually tasted pretty good and even my family approved. The problem is the crust tasted a little burnt despite me following the cooking instructions. It also looked little too brown and well ugly on top. It was also much smaller that I imagined. This is the slightly better look with melted chocolate and strawberries. Next time I will skip the chocolate. I had to decorate it in a hurry for a family celebration and Mr T ended up actually decorating his own cake. Poor Mr T!

I heart trees

Mr T and I travelled to upper ferntree gully yesterday to do the thousand steps or Kokoda walk. It was great. Lots of beautiful ferns and trees. Although it reminded me how unfit I really am. Thankfully there are lots of plaques along the walk which are great excuses to stop and rest. It took us about 45 minutes to walk up in at a slow pace and about 20 minutes to walk down. We packed a lunch and had it once we reached the top. We enjoyed the walk so much we have decided to try to do about one walk like this a month.

Here are some pics:

Any recommendations for the next one?