Pizza at Rubicon Cafe

Last week I was treated to lunch at Rubicon Cafe in North Melbourne.  My dining pals and I went at a non-busy time so the place was empty.  In our group we had vegans (well, me), vegetarians and GF folk and we were happy to see there was something for everyone.

I was in the mood for pizza and the friendly guy who served us was very helpful and told me they’d make me a vegan special.  Sounds good right?  And it was.  It was also of hub cap size:

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Vegan pizza is one of things I usually avoid because, well, the ones I’ve had are mostly crap and boring.  Not this one.  It had potato!!! And pumpkin!!!  And cherry tomatoes, capsicum, mushies, olives, spinach, red onion, broccoli WILL YOU STOP THIS IS JUST TOO MUCH.

This is the best vegan pizza I’ve ever had.  I was never much in to cheese on a pizza so the lack of vegan cheese wasn’t a problem at all and in fact if it were an option I would have said no.

It was about $16  and despite how huge it was, I managed to stuff it all down, leaving some crusts (and some dignity) behind.

Rubicon Cafe is located at 50 Errol Street, North Melbourne.

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Summer salad and Beans at Wide Open Road

Husband said magic words the other day: “let me take you to lunch”.  Arthur and DeeW were with their grandparents and Husband and I had errands and stuff.  We were around Sydney Road in Brunswick so I suggested Wide Open Road because I was in the mood for those slow cooked beans.

We were there a bit after the lunch hour so we were one of only a few tables occupied.  Then I got a bit of a shock to see the menu had changed.  No slow cooked beans.  No smashed peas with maple walnuts on sourdough.  No apple-slaw sandwich.  I wasn’t feeling very well that day and was a bit down in the dumps-sooky when going through the menu and finding that nothing really jumped out at me.  I wanted beans so I ordered the side of ‘smoky braised beans’ and the summer salad.

The beans were delicious and the smokyness was just right.  Not like when you make a smoky-something at home and put too much liquid smoke in.  These were perfect and I really wish they’d make a big serve instead of having it as a side dish:

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The ‘Summer Salad of strawberries, orange, pomegranate, watermelon jelly, coconut tapioca and puffed grains’ was pretty nice too, although I did feel the light sprinkling of puffed grains was a bit unnecessary, though that could be because I really don’t like the chewiness of puffed grains.  I was a bit disappointed that the watermelon jelly was just a few tiny thin slivers.  The coconut tapioca part was really nice though and the best thing about it was that it wasn’t overly sweetened.  The sweetness was just right, so that part gets a thumbs up from me:

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Wide Open Road is located at 274 Barkly Street, Brunswick.  See their website for more details:   http://wideopenroad.com.au/

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After lunch we had some stuff to do around Melbourne University.  I love walking around the uni grounds, some of the buildings are beautiful.  See? Enjoy!

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A late lunch at Gong de Lin (finally)

It seems like everyone in the Melbourne veg*n blogging world has been to Gong de Lin.  Okay well maybe not really, but I feel like I’m about fifty thousand years behind the times because I’d never been.  I was in the city today and was starving around 3:30pm so I said listen up Veganopoulous, you will go to Gong de Lin OR ELSE (or else you… will be hungry I guess).

Yet again, I forgot to take a photo from the street.  Anyway, there’s a little elevator that goes up to the third floor where Gong de Lin is located.  It’s a small, cramped, smelly elevator:

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Gong de Lin was completely empty at this hour:

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I had a bit of a tough time working out what to order.  I thought about tofu but I have enough tofu at home I have to eat soon.  I wasn’t in the mood for noodles.  I don’t like soup much.  So I decided to get the sizzling black pepper steak, to see if it was something that Husband, Mr “Sizzling Pepper Non-Vegan Steak” would think was okay.

After ordering, I began to think that “what the heck have I done?” thought.  I’m not a fan of seitan and I want to avoid pure wheat gluten.  So yeah… a total “WHAT HAVE I DONE” moment of stupidity.  I was in the mood for jasmine tea and a pot cost $2.  I sipped it and looked out the window at the slightly blah scenery, thank you construction work:

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I ordered some plain steamed rice and when the meal came out, it was sizzlin’ a-mightily:

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Okay so first off, the actual taste was good.  The sauce was nice and not overly sweet and the vegies had a good crunch.  Because the sauce was sticky, some of the ‘steak’ was stuck to the foil covered serving plate, so little bits of foil remained stuck on the food.  No, I didn’t eat those bits.

Now I have to say, this did not resemble a steak in any way.  As veg*ns we’re pretty much aware that seitan won’t always fool a meat lover and this dish is certainly not one I’d recommend you use to convince your steak loving friends to eat because “it’s just like meat steak, honest!”  Because it’s not.  The texture of the seitan was just too soft for that.  This is a meal I’d refer to as “sizzling seitan”.

But if seitan is your thing then I do highly recommend the sizzling black pepper steak!

I paid $20.80 which kind of made my eyes bug out a little.  This is pricey for what I got and I was thinking why didn’t I just go to Om’s Vegetarian?  But Gong de Lin is a place I’ve been wanting to try for quite a while now and it was nice to have the time to myself to do something ‘special’.  Next time though, I’ll get a tofu dish or something without seitan!  Service was helpful and quick but of course, I was the only customer!

Here are a few photos out and about in Melbourne.  This is the old Melbourne General Post Office, which now houses a bunch of boutiques and other stores:

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I absolutely love this building.  I want to get really rich, buy it and live there.  I love it so much, I have no idea about its history:

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A typical Melbourne city street scene:

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Gong De Lin is located at level 3, 264 Swanston Street.  They are open 7 days from 10am to 10pm.  When you walk in at ground level there’s the lift in front of you to your left.  The lift opens on level 3 directly in to the restaurant.

And I have to mention Chrissy Amphlett, who passed away two days ago. It’s only now as an adult that I’ve really enjoyed watching music videos and live performances of The Divinyls and I never really appreciated them as much when I was growing up.  Chrissy, in my opinion, was one awesome, rebellious rock chick but when I heard she had been cast in The Boy From Oz, as Judy Garland no less, I thought it was a bad choice.  That was until I heard her sing and she was magnificent in the role.  She wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I think under all the hunched over scowling (more so in her earlier days) and attitude, she was a deeply sensitive person and extremely intelligent.

Thanks Chrissy!

Chickpea Sensation Patties from ‘Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan’

As part of my push to get back in to meal planning, I went through a small pile of cookbooks to try out new recipes.  The kitchen table was cleared for me to work and I got Arthur to sit down and do some of his English grammar work.  He complains and moans about it being the most boring thing on earth.  That is why I know he is up to no good when he is intently scribbling in his workbook:

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That’s my boy.  Did any of you pick up on the hip hop dude’s hand in the conductor’s bum?  (the “AHHHHH” is supposed to be a scream of surprise…)

Today’s recipe choice was the Chickpea Sensation Patties from Dreena Burton’s “Eat, Drink & Be Vegan”.  I am yet to go wrong with a Dreena recipe.  I love her books and read through them often.  Dreena recently wrote a blog post on finding a balance between motherhood and working.  It’s a good read and I found myself nodding along here and there.

Back to the patties.  They involve a food processor which always get a thumbs up from me!  The most time consuming part was chopping the onions and celery then frying them up a little.  In other words, not much work at all.  You just moosh everything up in the food processor then fry the patties.

The patties reminded me of the stuffing you’d make for a Christmas dish (without the rosemary).  The kitchen was full of warming smells.  I really liked them but the kids didn’t, as I expected.  Tthat’s okay, they much prefer bland foods and I was an adult before I could handle thyme and rosemary.

I steamed some cubed potatoes then fried them up with a tiny bit of oil and a generous pinch of good Spanish paprika.  For Husband, I put some raw carrot, snowpeas and green beans on his plate because that’s the way he eats them.  Being a believer in the benefits of raw food, I’m not complaining!

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Tofu Makhani from Holy Cow!

I’ve been really bad with meal planning lately.  The way I like to plan is to look through my bazillion cookbooks and try a few new things.  Unfortunately for the past few weeks, my kitchen table has been covered with all sorts of junk.  Before I sit down to work, I must have a completely clean, clutter free space.  I like to lay out all the cookbooks and a notepad and make a list of what I’d like, what the kids and Husband would like and notes on what we all might like together.  Which is rare, as the kids and Husband all have their own food ‘issues’.  This week, I went through these books:

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(yes, sharp eagle eyed readers!  That is indeed a new kitchen table)

So I was going through these cookbooks and a few websites.  Holy Cow! is one of my favourite vegan recipe sites.  I love Indian food.  Love love love it.  So for the stuff I jotted down, I went and did a nice big grocery shop.  I usually like to avoid the big supermarkets but we had a gift card thingy:

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Hey!  Who put these in my trolley?:

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So years ago, before I was vegan, some friends and I went to dinner and one of my buddies ordered the chicken makhani/butter chicken.  I’d always ordered a korma or rogan josh but after that I was converted to the rather unhealthy chicken makhani.  Husband loved it too.  The vegan version I’ve been using is The Kind Cook’s Not Butter Chicken recipe and I really do like it.  Today I decided to try Holy Cow!’s recipe for Tofu Makhani  because I wanted to make something with cashews.

The recipe is very straightforward and involves marinating some tofu in advance (if you want) then frying it.  For the sauce part you toast some spices, then add onions and the other stuff and finally whiz it all up in the blender:

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Husband doesn’t eat tofu (by choice) so I added in some green beans and potatoes I’d steamed.  See steamy photo:

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I enjoyed this dish but I suspect I added a bit too much of something (ground fenugreek maybe?) as there was a slightly bitter aftertaste.  It tasted better on the second day and I kept finding myself going back to have another sneaky piece of tofu  🙂

Are you a makhani nut too?