Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's harder -diabetes or coeliac's disease?

what do you think is harder? Considering that I'm vegan of course.

I'm being tested for both and have been thinking about this a lot, even though I probably don't have either. I really really really heart sugar and live for over the top sugary desserts. Diabetes does run in my family, but I was tested not that long ago. But I do really love bread and am yet to find a gluten free bread that I like. But lots of things that are vegan tend to be gluten free too, right? What do you think?

It's amazing the things I think about to procrastinate from my thesis. But please indulge my curiosity.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

London part 2 - The Amazing, The Good and The Average

This has taken a while since there is so much to write about, but finally all of the rest of the London stuff in one place:

The amazing

* Pogo was probably my favourite place in London, it's all vegan and is actually run as a co-op. I especially loved one of their desserts called the knickerbocker glory, it had cream, ice cream, biscuits, cashews, some sort of fruit or jelly, choc buttons and was like a mystery box in dessert form. Their breakfast which I think they only serve on a Sunday was also delicious and included pancakes, the best tasting homemade veg sausages, scrambled smoked tofu and lots more. We went there twice. Here's the knickerbocker glory:

"Cheese" and "Bacon" burger:

Their nutloaf with mashed potato and gravy:Their awesome breakfast, minus one "sausage":

* Inspiral Lounge was a very close second. Toby thinks this is his fav though. We went there three times. They had a whole range of vegan ice cream flavours, like lavender and lucuma. I enjoyed both of those flavours and the raw chocolate ice cream but the one that I had each time was the mint choc chip, it actually contained spirulina but you couldn't taste it and reminded me a lot of the mint choc chip that I grew up eating. Their mains were quite good too. And I loved their tiramisu but wasn't a fan of their raw chocolates and truffles. They also had a range of organic vegan drinks, like Toby's favourite organic perry cider. See how many vegan ice cream flavours there were:

You order one main and 3 sides, Toby and I always tended to go for the same sides: broccoli, roasted potato, and roasted mixed veg with soy mayo, here is the hemp millet patty:

The shiitake tart:
Toby was a big fan of the shiitake tart and the tarragon tofu parcel. The lasagna was probably my fav, I don't know what the green stuff was that they poured over my dish, it didn''t really affect the flavour:

*Peking Palace is a chinese mockplace that we loved, the only downside was there was not really any vegan dessert options, but they did say that they are were going to start making and selling vegan cakes. We shared an entree platter with our friends Scott and Trina. It contained crispy seaweed (that was like crack, I kid you not and I don't even like seaweed), spring rolls, spare "ribs", sesame toast, and curry puffs. This was so large, the photo doesn't really do it justice:

We also shared a mock" fish" dish, a "steak" dish
stuffed mushrooms

and my favourite "duck" pancakes, which you could make up yourself:

The Good

* Rootmaster is a restaurant on an old double decker bus. We went there with vegan from brighton and lots of the PPkers that were in town for the Bust craftacular. It was good but a tad pricey and whilst the service was great I found the dishes a tiny bit disappointing but maybe that was all just the hype and over excitement beforehand. I had the lasagna but I all I could taste was rosemary and I hate rosemary, and Toby who loved rosemary didn't heart it either:

Toby had the flamegrilled burger which was quite good and Toby was impressed by the flamegrilled part:
I was super excited about trying their fondant, but unfortunately there was no ooze in the middle like a proper fondant:
Toby had the cannoli which I was really excited about, but the filling was a little too sour for me:
*Rainforest creatures is a Caribbean food stall at spitafields market. They specialised in raw dishes and we had one of their amazing wraps. It contained sprouted hummous, salads and all sorts of things that I didn't recognise and it was surprisingly delicious, the bread was soft and tasty enough on it own. I wish I could have gone back to get another one. They also sold homemade ultra-gingery Ginger Beer.

They had raw cakes, we had a mango banana cake but neither of us liked it, it just tasted too much like eating dried fruit.

* Saf could almost go in the amazing category, and I think the main reason I have put it here is price and the dish sizes. It was quiet expensive compared with the others and the quality albeit great didn't warrant the price in my opinion. I had the scrambled tofu which contained caramelised onions on crispy toast, it was very tasty but not quite what I would expect from an upmarket restaurant:

Toby had the frittata with lots of thinly sliced mushrooms and artichokes. He enjoyed both the texture and the taste.
We shared the cashew cheese with pesto, dehydrated tomatoes, and balsamic glaze for an entree. It was fantastic but way too small.

was a smallish restaurant that had been suggested to us by a few people. We tried the fried plantains, it was the first time we have tried them, they looked like bananas but kind of tasted a bit like a sweet potato:

I had the burger which come with vegan garlic aioli and a tomato based sauce on the side. The garlic aioli was great, and the burger was good.Toby had the stroganoff which he though was a little bland but much better than vita organic (see below):

I didn't enjoy the chocolate cake at all:

but the pancakes were beautiful and delicious and was served with vegan ice cream:

* Neals Yard salad bar is an omni place that sells vegan soft serve ice cream. We had both their mango and chocolate flavours swirled together, it was so tasty that I didn't mind eating ice cream outside in London's winter.

The average

It is worth mentioning all the average meals we ate in London. Many of the meals we ate weren't bad as such just weren't particularly good and tended to be quite similar bain- maree style food with options like baked potatoes, dhal, tofu stir fry etc.

First up there was Beatroot which I have to mention was one that Toby and I disagree on, he enjoyed the sausage rolls and said they were almost as good as Cindy and Michael's sausage rolls. In fairness, I didn't get to try their desserts but I did try the quinoa salad which was too lemony, and I love lemon flavoured dishes.

We also went to one of the many vegan chinese buffet places, which is all you can eat, but the food seriously sucked, they tended to use tvp to make mock dishes rather than gluten and the regular soy mock dishes that you normally find at vegetarian restuarants, neither of us wanted to eat lots because we didn't really enjoy the options.

We went to vita organic, and I had an amazing juice, however neither of us enjoyed any of the svaoury dishes that we had which included salads, brocoli, and stroganoff. I'm a little dissapointed that we didn't get to try their raw desserts though which looked pretty good. I'm suprised by this place because everyone seemed to enjoy it except for us.

Toby and I also went to a music festival in England called All tomorrow's parties. And practically starved, we survived on chips, crisps and two minute noodles and the highlight food wise for the 3 days we were there was pizza hut pizza without cheese which really is saying something. We had fries from two places and they both sucked, I'm not sure how one manages to screw up fries, but they were disgusting, I couldn't even finish them, I hated them so much. I'm not sure if the potatoes had gone bad or the oil or what but they were far the worst tasting fries I have even eaten. Toby said he went to get vegie sausages everytime he needed food betweensshows. He thought he has eaten more than 30 of them but I couldn't even finish one and their veganess was questionable. In the end we had a bit of a don't ask and don't tell policy since we had pretty limited options. I was so cranky from not having decent food by the end of it and hanging for anything other than potatoes.

Products and other stores

I loved a store called B Never too Busy to be Beautiful on oxford st which I think is owned by lush and sells makeup and perfume most of which are clearly labelled as vegan, and tend to use natural ingreidents. I picked up some bright red lipstick and a perfume and am already wishing that I got more.

We also got to try quite a fair few vegan products too including:
* Linda McCartney's pies, which were sooooo good, the pastry was light, and contained an actual gravy as you can see oozing out, it was probably the best tasting vegan pie I have ever had:

* Provamel flavoured soy milks, I managed to try all 4 flavours (vanilla, choc, strawberry and banana) and enjoyed them all but loved the banana flavoured one.
* Raspberry ruffles: vegan from Brighton introduced me to them, and I wished I would have bought more. They tasted a lot of like tiny cherry ripes and were sold at a 99pence or 1 pound stores
*Booja booja ice cream: we had the chocolate flavour and it only contained 4 ingredients: water, cashews, agave and cocoa. The cashew base meant it was far creamier than other dairy free ice creams.
*Booja Booja fresh truffles: they sold them in packs of two in a healthfood store that we went to and they were rich and amazing and even better than the regular booja truffles.
* Swedish glace: is a dairy free ice cream, we had the vanilla flavour which you can actually find in many supermarkets. It was good, but I wish I could have tried their other flavours.
* We also had the delicious Provamel custard and soy yogurt which come in a variety of flavours, and were super creamy. Why can't we have vegan soy yogurt like that here?

In summary, London had lots and lots of vegan options, and while some were awesome, there are some pretty mediocore options.

Monday, December 21, 2009

London part 1

Hi everyone, we are finally back and blogging. Still needs lots to do to though to the site, like get the previous posts under Toby's name not mine, so please bare with us.

I'm going backwards in order of destination that we visited but thought I would start with London.

The first day we arrived in London, we had been flying for 13 hours and I struggle to sleep on planes so was completely exhausted, starving so bad that I was shaking, and it was raining, freezing cold and dark AT 4PM. We also got lost trying to find Itadaki Zen restaurant. And I learnt the hard way that people in London can be frigging rude, Toby and I tried to ask 3 different people for help with directions and each person did this wave of the hand thing and kept walking.

Needless to say we were so relieved when we finally found this place. And one of the owners was friendly and passionate and explained that it is the first vegan organic Japanese restaurant in Europe. He also explained that it had only recently opened and that it was connected to organic sustainable farming projects in Japan. He also gave me directions and showed me where on the map the nearest organic supermarket was, It's one of the few places in London that I wish we could have returned to but didn't get the chance to. And Mr T wished we could have returned to try a dish called Neba Neba.

Anyway on to the food:

I can't comment too much on the sushi since I practically inhaled it, but Toby reported that it was fresh and delicate:

Next up we had the tempura which the staff explained is seasonal, it was served with sea salt on the side and was crunchy and delicious:

We shared this yu tofu dish which had a light broth which Toby thought was a bit bland, but I thought was healthy and just what the doctor ordered:

I had one of the smooth tofu desserts, I forget the name but it was smooth, contained sesame paste and a sweet syrup and we both loved it.

And look how cute the place is:

Itadaki Zen Restaurant
139 King's Cross Road
London, WC1X 9BJ
020 7278 3573


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday and Satay Bar

We are leaving for our holiday today, things have been pretty hectic and I have been hogging the computer for my thesis, so poor Toby hasn't had a chance to blog at all lately.

We probably won't be blogging much for the next couple of weeks while we are away, although we might be able to on our first stop to Hong Kong since we will be staying with Toby's family and have internet access, but I can't promise anything because I expect to be stuffing myself silly with vegan yum cha and shopping til I drop. Then we are off to London and Berlin where I don't expect much internet time at all.

But I have some news:

Toby and I are going to start a new combined blog when we get back and I finally have a decent camera, which makes a pretty good change from my camera phone.

Anyway on to the food, when I worked in the city I used to frequent Satay Bar and Toby is now a regular eater there. It's a small cafe, which tends to be quite busy at lunch time on weekdays but makes a awesome take away lunch option for city workers. We recently confirmed in writing that all of the veg options are vegan. You can choose from tofu skewers, spicy tofu skewers or vegetables skewers. For $8.40 you can get two skewers, satay sauce and two sides (rice/salad/krupak). The satay sauce is certainly the best tasting satay I've ever had. And the krupuk have the texture of vegi chips or prawn crackers but with a more natural flavour.

Toby being a big eater always get the larger pack with 3 skewers:

Satay Bar
Corner of Flinders Lane & Custom House Lane
Phone 9629 1466
MON - FRI 10am - 7pm

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Minor Place and Darth Vader

Just a few things before tonight's main event:

1) Light n i n g BO LT: Secret Show (at) Irene. \m/
2) Check out Photos of Vegan Fitness Week Melbourne. (Photos by Noah)
3) Dean Wareham, from my favourite band Galaxie 500, blogged about his recent Melbourne tour and the "memorable in-store at Pure Pop Records in St. Kilda".
4)Matt Preston wrote about Trippy Taco.
5) My heart is broken: Bulmbers is not veg*n. And guess what? Also most apple juice brands are not veg*n neither.

"It's not you, it's me."

Kristy and I rode our bikes to A Minor Place (103 Albion Street, Brunswick) for breakfast last Saturday. The Soy Latte was pretty good.
The pretty Bonsoy spiral

What did we eat? Henry's Beans. It is made of Cannellini Beans (Kristy's favourite), garlic, rosemary (Kristy's pet hate) topped with dukkah, and served with lemon. They were not bad in my book. *pointing mic to Kristy* "What do you think about the beans, Kristy?". Kristy: "I was reluctant to go just for one bean dish, but I was pleasantly surprised."

This is pretty much the only vegan option. They also stock Crumb's vegan muffins.

Pip, the cooking god, tried to make it at home. Her version looks like the lost twin of Henry's Beans, but I haven't tried it though.

I bought an all black Keepcup. It has saved quite a few paper cups since I bought it two weeks ago. I call it Darth Vader.

Monday, November 9, 2009

La Double Vie De Dumplings

A cold winter night in 2001, a young man who had just finished his 14hour shift stepped inside a small restaurant, in the strangest part of China. A little town where Maggie Cheung, wearing no make up, will ride pass you on her bicycle. A little town where hairdressers/brothels are opened next to primary schools. He picked 2 out of the 20 kinds of dumplings from the menu. There were 50 dumplings. He finished them with minced garlic infused soy sauce and 3 big bottles of beer.

When I eat dumplings, I think of my old days working/living in Mainland China. I still insist to have dumplings with minced garlic and soy sauce.
I recently found probably the best packaged vegan dumplings in Mix Oriental (293-295 Barkly Street, Off Barkly Square, Brunswick). The Korean made dumplings are a little different than the Beijing or Shanghai ones I normally eat.
The packaging

I love to fry them (around 15-20 at a time) with 2 tablespoons of oil, mid/high heat for around 3-4 minutes. And then, put 4 tablespoons of water on the pan, put the lid on and let it simmer on low/mid heat for around 7-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, mince a glove of garlic finely (DO-NOT-USE-A-GARLIC-PRESS!!!), add to a dash of Yeo's 100% seasame oil in a small bowl of soy sauce. They should be crispy on bottom and soft on the top. Crack a Hightail Ale open and enjoy.

The other night, inspired by Carla, Kristy and I made
Pumpkin, sage and pecan raviloi with white bean and garlic sauce and frizzled leeks from The Voluptuous Vegan to feed our friends the other night. It is a lot of work but worth it. Not on a 30 degree day though.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vegan Fitness Week and My new bag

So my vegan comrades flew from Manchester and Brisbane for the Vegan Fitness Week 2009 in Melbourne. We kicked off with the World Vegan Day Expo.

One of the world strongest vegan Joni and Fritz Gelato's Ali,
winner of female push up competition.

We dined at Plush Pizza and I suggested Coco Loco for desert. Double happiness!

Kashew Mylk Chocolate Gelato.
It was good. $15 good.

So far, We did some powerlifting, some axle/log presses, Brazilian Jujitsu, bike riding, shot put and discus throwing. For food, We took the guests to try East Brunswick Club's famous Vegan Parma, Las Vegan's Burgers/Muffins/Calzones/Bottomless Chai, La Panella's Donuts/Pies and Veg Out Time's healthy yummy cheap eats.

Strongwoman Rochelle cleaning the 35KG log

La Panella Pies eating after the long ride
Joni shaking some Brazilian Jujitsu actions

In other news, I've just got my 'Hong Kong Skyline' bag from the lovely Crumpler Custom Store.

Designed by me and the girl at Crumpler

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Me, The Tobinator And The Boys' Night Out

I went to Critical Mass last night while Kristy, Steph, Pip, S-J and the gang were enjoying the yummy Vegetarian Vietnamese food in St Albans. I was there at 17:30 and there were no cyclists in sight. I thought it was cancelled but "the mass" finally showed up around six. The bikes were cool and the people were friendly. It kind of put me off when a cyclist was drinking a beer while riding though.

We finally started riding around 18:30. A lady asked me if my name is Toby. I said yes. The "The Tobinator" sticker on my bike must have given it away.

I was enjoying the ride but 2 minutes in I've got a call. Button The Bird Slayer was outside the house and I had to go home to take her back inside. Okay, goodbye Critical Mass, I will see you in December.

So I ended up having dinner with Craig at East Brunswick Club. The menu has changed. Vegan Parma is $12 everyday (but smaller) and they now serve Funky Pies with a side of Salad. They also have Mountain Goat Steam Ale on tap.

Craig and I both ordered the amazing Vegan Philly Cheese Steak and a pint of Steam Ale. The Cheese Steak was awesome as usual. The new beer Steam Ale is kinda like the Indian Pale Ale they used to make but yummier.

Talking about about EBC. CURSE ov DIALECT is having their album launch there at 20th Nov and Why?, the only non-hiphop act under Anticon label, will be there for their Meredith side show. I am giving Why? a miss because we will be overseas. Be quick, my friends. Tickets will be sold out in no time.