Om Vegetarian and Open House Melbourne 2013

A last minute change of plans saw me freeee to catch a tram in to the city today and check out some of the buildings open for this year’s Open House Melbourne.  First up on the list was the Royal Historical Society:


Unfortunately I got the date wrong, it’s open tomorrow only.  So I slumped around the corner to the Hellenic Museum:


I got to look around upstairs (which always means photos of staircases and balustrades):


… and old fireplaces:


I was too busy taking photos to find out about these giant mutated Sylvannian Families:


The Hellenic Museum features stories about and by people who made the journey from Greece to Australia.  These are also the stories of my parents, who both arrived here with my grandparents when they were little.  I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been for my grandparents, knowing they would never see their families again and having to start from scratch in a strange land.  Fortunately they did have family here, who had arrived before them, but it was still very difficult.

After the Hellenic Museum, my next open house building was the former public records office, which now houses the Victoria Law School:









From there it was off to the Phillips Shirt factory, where I could have seen old machinery had it not been for the queue that was forty five minutes long.  A quick photo of the outside, then I went off to get lunch:


On the way home, I was near the Rendezvous Grand Hotel Melbourne (also part of Open House Melbourne) and a tour was just beginning.  The hotel celebrates its 100th birthday this year.  There were beautiful stained glass windows and wood panelling:








We got to look inside the hotel room with this wall art in the shower:


This is the ceiling gum leaf detail in the room:


Further down the corridor somewhere:


The heritage room:


Lunch was at Om Vegetarian on Elizabeth Street.  Up the old stairs:


and in to here:


A meal at Om costs $6.50 which includes rice and two curries plus naan and some hot pickle.  Yes, I only got two pieces of potato, but you can go back for more.  I didn’t, because the meal was quite filling plus I bought a samosa for $2.  Everything was pretty good:


Open House Melbourne is on tomorrow (July 28).  Did you visit any of the buildings?

The Philips Air Fryer (aka Veganopoulous the sucker)

So one day, I was channel surfing (I rarely watch tv so this was a rare moment) and Arthur walked in to the room just as a home shopping infomercial came on  for the Nicer Dicer.  And I said to Arthur now come and be seated and let me show you how advertising tries to brainwash us in to buying crap.  Twenty minutes later Arthur says “I think this would be a really good gift for you Mummo” and in a monotone I replied yessssssss.  But then I snapped out of it cos I googled reviews and people were saying how you end up with shaved bits of plastic in your salad.  Phew, they almost had me.

A few months ago, Husband had sent me some links for an air fryer.  I looked at them briefly and said pfffft what a waste of money.  And the air fryer was passed off as a thing of nonsense.


Welllll.  Like the evil little engine that could brainwash, the air fryer came back to try its luck.  In another rare tv moment, as I was home alone and was about to watch a DVD, the home shopping network was on and the feature product was the Philips Air Fryer, reduced in price with a special deal on a second baking tray.  I had no idea what it meant but I decided to see just how gimmicky this baby Dalek was.

Yes, Veganopoulous was sucked in.  Initially, I looked at it and thought how on earth would that size tray feed a family of four to six?  A quick google of reviews showed gush after gush of people cooking [non-vegan-food] with baby potatoes in the same basket, all to feed a family of six.  Impressive.  Then of course, the discussion of cooking chips.  I looove hot chips but to get mine all soft on the inside crispy on the outside required a ton of oil in the oven tray and I really do not like cooking that way.  I tried the oil sprays but the potatoes (in chip form or slices or wedges) turned out urgh.

I also realised that if I was to feed a healthy, balanced meal to my family, then the portion sizes provided by the air fryer tray or basket would be more than enough.  Portion size has always been my downfall!

It’s been two weeks since I saw that program, and one week since the Philips Air Fryer arrived.  Like just about every other air fryer owner in the galaxy, I tried potato chips first.  This involved slicing my potatoes in to strips and soaking for at least half an hour.  Then pat dry, toss with a teaspoon of oil and some salt (I made them plain) and stick them in the air fryer for twenty minutes at 180C:


 Shake the basket once at the halfway mark:


I have to say, the chips were pretty good and Arthur, who insists he doesn’t like my home made chips, thought these were fab:


My second experiment with chips also involved some sweet potato.  As I was only cooking for myself, I used a few tiny drops of oil, a pinch of curry powder and some salt.  Again, pretty good.  Not crunchy-crispy but I’ll stuff myself on them:


I will definitely use the air fryer to make chips and other potato goodies where I have previously had to use a lot of oil.  I’ll get Arthur to sample some sweet potato fries again as he didn’t like the oven baked ones I  made.  I have a recipe for stuffed mushrooms which looks good because mushrooms are another thing I have to use a bit too much oil on.

The Philips Air Fryer comes with a recipe book but it’s not very useful to a vegan, apart from the chips recipes and a stuffed mushroom recipe (the stuffing isn’t anything special).  There’s a ratatouille which looks good too.

This isn’t a cheap appliance, but neither was my dehydrator or blender and I bought those for health reasons and with my blender especially, it gets used all the time.  And I wanted to cut my use of oil waaaay down.  Cooking roast potatoes always had me feeling a bit ewww about all the oil.

So far I’m noticing a big lack of vegan recipes for air fryers but that’s cool as I’m sure we’ll eventually see more.  I’m hoping a lot of the recipes I would make on the stove can somehow be used in the fryer.  I would love to have a vegetable pakora or onion bhaji that isn’t deep fried but those batters tend to be quite wet and I’d probably have to line the basket so the batter doesn’t drip through.  I’m also looking forward to doing something with eggplant.  I love eggplant but again, so much oil is used!  I’ve been wanting to make my vegan moussaka again but the thought of frying the potato and eggplant has put me off.

I’ll be sure to blog about my success and failures using the Philips Air Fryer!

Wagamama, the Nicholas Building and a big old rainy day

After a freakish 23C warm winters day two days ago, Melbourne sure turned on the charm today with the cold and rain.  Naturally, it had to be a day when I had to go to the city and do a fair bit of walking.

I knew in advance I’d go to Wagamama for lunch because they make a really good vegan spicy tofu stir fry.  For me, Wagamama is a great option if you have people in your group with a mix of dietary requirements:


As Husband had taken the kids off to a playdate all day and I had my own stuff to do, my mission was to head back to the Nicholas Building, where I visited l’uccello the other day.  I love old buildings.  I know I know, ‘old’ covers a lot of stuff.  But it all takes me back to when I was little.  My uncle was a jeweller with a little workshop in a big dark spooky old city building, with tiled walls and heavy old doors, a creaky old elevator and all those glorious original features.  My uncle occupied the only office on one floor and the lights at the end of the hallways were turned off and we kids were always too scared to go to the toilets.  My cousin even wet her pants on the lino.  I loved the dark wood handrails and mosaic tiles in the stairwells.  If you’re my age and grew up in Melbourne, you may remember the Coles cafeteria.  My mum would take my sister and I to the cafeteria as a special treat (or the Pancake Parlour, depending on where we went on our last visit).  Then we’d catch one of the old red or blue trains home, where you had to climb up steps to get in the carriage.  It was all so important.

Visiting the Nicholas Building brought back so many memories.  Although my uncle didn’t work there, it was all quite similar.  I was pretty much alone there today, snooping around corridors and trying to open the little doors (ssshhh).






Zombie hotel?


Go this way to escape zombies:


Or you can call the Doctor:


Did Veganopoulous attempt to open the doors on the top?  Why yes, yes she did.  Unfortunately they seemed to be stuck fast:




I want to get a private detective license, just so I can get an office in the Nicholas Building with this kind of door:


Here are some more of the shops in the Nicholas Building:


Harold and Maude has lots of groovy vintage and recycled-renewed goodies:




Kimono House is gorgeous:






I forgot to take a photo of Buttonmania, another awesome little shop.

On the way home, I passed through Flinders Street Station.  In Melbourne, when you tell someone you will meet them under the clocks, you mean under here:




Personally, I think they should replace ‘spit’ with ‘PISS EVERYWHERE’:


This is handy to know (ha ha, see what I did there?):



These metal contraptions are for validating your travel ticket.  I’ve often wondered what happens if you get stuck halfway.  Do the barriers clamp down on your crotch?  Anyone?
This is the Immigration Museum.  Full of awesome and I hope to go back there soon:
Another building I love to look at is the Majorca House Building:

majorcabuildingRandom shots of Melbourne streets:








The Eureka Tower.  When it was completed in 2006, it held the record for the highest residential building (measured to the highest floor) in the world.  If you pay for an overpriced ticket, you can get a view from the top:


I passed by Habib Wholefoods, got greedy and bought myself a piece of carrot cake. Usually I’d be too impatient to wait until home so I’d start eating it on the tram (with a fork!) but this time I decided to savour the peace and quiet at home and kick back with a cup of tea in my tennis set.  Well, the universe often has other plans for a weary, greedy Veganopoulous.  Today the universe decided that the zipper on Veganopoulous’s kneehigh waterlogged boot would get stuck.  Folks, have you ever had a boot stuck to your leg when you’re hanging out to eat a piece of cake???  And go to the toilet?  And take off your cold, drenched sock?


But when Veganopoulous is feeling particularly greedy, Veganopoulous always wins.

I hope you enjoyed fab weather today and may your boots go unwaterlogged and unstuck.

Crumbs Bakery North Melbourne and a visit to beautiful l’uccello

Today I started my errands in North Melbourne:


I hadn’t had breakfast so at 11:15 I went to Crumbs Organic Bakehouse on Errol Street to try their pizza.  The window display had the usual delicious looking treats and I settled for a pizza slice with tomato, capsicum and mushroom.  Yum!


Well.  This was the week I was supposed to stop eating desserty things and sugar.  I sort of forgot about that:


From North Melbourne I hopped on the tram and headed in to the city to meet up with my buddy J.  While I was waiting for her, I hung around the Block Arcade.  Here’s the mosaic, complete with a stranger’s manky shoe:





I didn’t need an excuse to listen to this guy outside play:


When I met up with J, we went to l’uccello, supplier of vintage haberdashery materials.  What a beautiful shop!  From the windows and wood panelling, to the displays and just all kinds of beautiful awesome.  See for yourself!













l’uccello is located in the old Nicholas Building in Melbourne.  I was all oohing and ahhing over the little doors:


I would love a letterbox like this:


Some of the shop windows in the Nicholas Building:


Here are some more snaps I took when out in the city today, before it started bucketing down and made my Lord of the Fries burger go all soggy while I was trying to eat it when hurrying to my tram stop:




The view from the Lord of the Fries stand at Flinders Street station:


Hope you enjoyed that little tour 🙂