Luna1878 Winter Night Market: the vegan perspective and some Melbourne love

Luna1878 night market

Tonight I headed down to the Queen Vic Market for the Luna1878 Night Market. I’ve been pretty slack with the night markets in general, always meaning to go but when I remember, it’s already Thursday.

My mission was to spend my birthday cash on vegan goodies and locally produced items that really grabbed me. Over the years I’ve changed my shopping style from a wishy washy yeah that’ll do (which I applied to my wedding dress, I couldn’t be bothered trying on anything else after the second meringue), to only buying things I really, really need or love.

I was messing around with camera settings and towards the end, juggling things in both hands trying not to take blurry shots, so apologies for any crappiness that jumps out and smacks you in the nose.

The first stall I hung out at was MAD Products, chatting with Maxine Wren.  Maxine photographs Melbourne streetscapes and graffiti then, using locally sourced wood, turns them in to items like coasters, place mats, small furniture and pictures. For every Graffitiscape coaster and place mat sold, $1 and $3 respectively are donated to Youth Projects Hosier Lane.

Melbourne Streetscapes MAD Products

I loved looking at the MAD coasters. Having lived away from my home town for a few years, I only really appreciated Melbourne once I was homesick. Now I love picking up little bits and pieces reflecting how much I love my city and if we ever live overseas again, I want to be able to take those bits and pieces with me.  So today I couldn’t go past this coaster for $10:

Melbourne Streetscapes MAD Products

I love love love it. When I go in to the city, I try to make the time to walk down Hosier Lane. So my coaster will be used every time I make my tea, which is numerous times a day.

When I was going through my photos (and so many didn’t turn out, including the others I took of Maxine’s stall, arghgh) I realised that because I had been yapping away so much, I completely missed the box of place mats right in front of me! The first one was a picture of the exterior of the Royal Arcade, one of my favourite Melbourne buildings. I know some of my friends and relatives love images of Melbourne like I do, so these would make great gifts.

MAD Products has a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MaxineArtisticDesigns/info  

 

Next up was The Decadent Desserts Company with their big table full of fudge.  I asked if the fudge was vegan, which meant I completely missed this sign:

The Decadent Desserts Co

EEEEEEeeeeee! It made me wonder how many people, like me, ask “is it vegan”.  Which of course is a fab thing! Check out the table of tasty delights:

The Decadent Desserts Co

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I bought the larger packet of that Coffee & Walnut fudge you see, plus the smaller $4 snack pack of Chai Fudge, Coconut Fudge and of course the Peppermint. I’ve already eaten the coconut which was delicious. I sampled some of the ginger and that was great too. Another great gift idea!

The Decadent Desserts Company can be found at http://decadentdesserts.com.au/ 

 

Husband is a big bretzel man. We visited Germany a few times (cos we were living next door) and if we got separated I knew I just had to go and find the closest bretzel shop. I bought two tonight from Bretzel Biz. I gave the bag to Husband, then when I went to have some a few minutes later he’d already scoffed the first one and was going all lockjaw on the second.  I’d say he liked them very much, you should have seen him being all foamy mouth impatient when I was trying to take this photo.  This is a photo taken under extreme bretzel pressure:

Bretzel Biz

I had some too (much to Husband’s horror) because YAY the bretzels are vegan. Only the plain ones though, the flavoured ones like salted caramel are not (I don’t think). The plain ones are $4 each.

Check out Bretzel Biz at http://www.facebook.com/Bretzel.biz

 

Signs like this are like the black holes of goodness.  They suck me right in. I love that vegan labeling is becoming so common. I’ve only been vegan for a couple of years but when I started out, I always had to ask if stuff was vegan, what are the ingredients etc etc. Chooh La La!

Chooh La La Praline

Chooh La La Praline

I really liked the almonds so I bought a bag for $5. I have to try really hard not to eat them all in one go. Mehhh, who am I kidding.  I’m going to eat them all now.

Chooh La La can be found at http://www.facebook.com/choohlala

Regretfully, I didn’t get the name of the stall I bought these Melbourne badges from ($2 each or $10 for six badges).  The badges are made from street directory maps. The Melbourne one is mine, the Sunshine one is for a friend who grew up there:

Melways badges

 

The Birdhouse Collection stall had some gorgeous wooden animal shaped magnets. I couldn’t decide which one to get.  So I thought what would Harry Potter do?

thebirdhouse

There were other lovely animal designs, including Australian animals, as well as hot air balloons and merry go rounds.

The Birdhouse Collection can be found here: http://www.thebirdhousecollection.com.au/

 

I’m a sucker for buying popcorn that is different than the plain old salted (and heavily burnt) break-your-teeth popcorn I make at home. I also wanted to buy something for the family and I knew they’d love this popcorn from The Steel Drum Popcorn Company. Seriously, you could take a lovely fire heated bath in this massive steel kettle and swish your salts around with the paddle:

Steel Drum Popcorn Co

The popcorn is cooked in oil and dusted with salt and sugar and is addictive. Naturally I wouldn’t hesitate to buy more.  I’ve forgotten how much it cost too:

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I made sure I went to the night market hungry and I was really curious to see what vegan options there were. After passing row after row of heavily meaty places, I crossed my fingers and hoped that the ‘vegetarian’ on the Rice and Dice sign actually meant vegan.  AND IT DIIID:

Rice And Dice

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Sooo I’m one of those eyes greedier than the stomach people. When I asked the friendly guy up there for something vegan, “I don’t mind what it is, as long as it’s vegan” (that’s me), I didn’t actually ask what the dishes were.  I just asked if I could get a combo of whatever was vegan. Maybe someone did mention what the dishes were, but my brain was all veganveganveganit’svegan:

Rice And Dice

Whatever it was, it was really good.  Next time I’ll pay more attention. I can’t find an online info source for Rice and Dice.  You just have to go and check them out yourself 🙂

 

Another sign that had me excited was this:

soupin bread bowl stall

Now, as I’m not really a soup person, THIS is why I was excited:

Soup in bread bowl stall

SOUP IN A BREAD ROLL BOWL. I’m so getting that if I see this stall somewhere again.  I think they may have been called the Soup Factory.  I could see people standing around eating soup out of bread bowls and I wanted one too, despite being pretty full because SOUP IN BREAD ROLL BOWL. Except this was the queue:

Soup in bread bowl stall

No soup for you, Veganopoulous.

I spotted this sugarcane juice cart, which I am assuming is vegan, but ran out of time to check out:

sugarcanejuice1

 

There was a stage area with live music and a few of these tables (this photo was taken when I arrived at 5pm, there weren’t that many people but it really filled up soon after):

Luna1878 night market

 

When I first arrived at 5pm, I was a bit surprised that the stalls seemed spread so far out but after speaking to some stall owners, I realised it was to accommodate crowds as the summer night market gets really crowded. As more people arrived I saw this was quite a good idea and I liked having the room to move between stalls. There were other stalls I would have liked more time to look at, like candles, handmade jewelry and essential oils.

My biggest gripe would have to be how smoky it was from the barbeque/grill stalls.  I found it really, really unfortunate that a vegetarian food stall was placed right next to a spit roast stall (I spoke to the person serving at the veg stall and they weren’t happy about the situation). I hope that the foods serving veg*n options can be moved to a different area. It was so smoky that I stank out the tram with my bbq smell– even at home now my clothes, bag and beanie still stink. As soon as I walked in the door the family commented I smelled like a bbq 😦

To veg*ns considering going, please be warned that there are spit roast/grill type food stalls.

 

The Luna1878 Winter Night Market will be held every Wednesday 5pm – 10pm until August 27th. More info can be found at http://www.qvm.com.au/night-market/luna1878-winter-night-market-2/

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Lunch at Wagamama, Rocky Horror in Melbourne

On Saturday, I met my mum and sister in the city for lunch and a casual stroll around before heading to the Comedy Theatre to watch the 2pm session of The Rocky Horror Show. We started off with lunch at Wagamama on Flinders Lane.  We ordered a bowl of salted edamame and I went for my Wagamama usual, which was the ‘spicy yasai itame’: tofu, mushroom and veg with chili, ginger, garlic and lemongrass on rice:

Wagamama spicy yasai itame

My sister ordered a vegan udon noodle dish, though I can’t see it on the menu.  I tried some and really liked it:

Wagamama udon noodles

My mum ordered a non-vegan meal so I won’t mention it here, but she kindly treated my sister and I to lunch so I don’t know how much the dishes cost.  As always, the service was fast, friendly and knowledgeable with our waiter being very clued up about which bits of a meal were vegan. I note that there are a large number of negative reviews on Urbanspoon.  All I can say is that my mum, sister and I expect good meals when we go out to eat and we got them at Wagamama.  Spicy, tasty, filling portion sizes and definitely not bland. My mum especially is always happy to chat about what was missing, this could have done with more garlic, that could have done with less cooking and so on but she was very pleased with her meal and would order it again.

Wagamama in the city is located at 83 Flinders Lane (the Southbank restaurant has closed). Toilets are near the cash register. Mum paid with plastic so that, along with cash, is accepted. The restaurant itself has long table seating indoors and seating outdoors.  The long tables are well suited to groups. http://www.wagamama.com.au/restaurants/flinders-lane-melbourne

Wagamama on Urbanspoon

 

After lunch (and before, actually) we had some time to kill so we walked around the city for a bit.  My sister and I both love older buildings with the gorgeous wood work and tiling, so when we noticed the stairwell at the Presbyterian Church of Victoria Offices, we had to go inside and snoop:

Presbyterian Church of Vic Offices

I WANT:

Presbyterian Church of Vic Offices

Presbyterian Church of Vic Offices

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The Manchester Unity Building.  I wish they’d get rid of those barnacles:

Manchester Unity Building

We looked around the Royal Arcade and went in to the Babushka store:

Babushka Shop Melbourne

Babushka Shop Melbourne

Babushka Shop Melbourne

Finally, on to the Comedy Theatre for the Rocky Horror Show.  The cast were great, my favourite parts were when the actors had to pause before delivering lines because they were trying not to laugh. Of course, I was taking photos (before the show!) of the wood panelling.  Nitpick time: perhaps someone would consider fixing the curtains, they were awfully torn in some areas:

Comedy Theatre Melbourne
A fun day out in my fab city 🙂

Preston Market with a vegan twist

I was introduced to Preston Market a couple of years ago, when my vegan friend T shared her secret with me: buy the old brown spotty bananas and other fruit right before closing time when the prices are dirt cheap.  A tray of fruit, past its best but still fine for freezing or smoothies, can be found for $1 or $2.  I’d pick up many kilograms worth of old bananans for a few dollars and use them in my smoothies.  The greatest discovery by far though was the hot jam donut van because they’re vegan.  Brilliant!

I went back to Preston Market a few days ago to see what it offers for vegan shoppers.  I stopped in at The D’Souzas for some amchoor (mango) powder.  Of course, whenever I go in “just for one thing” I end up with many things.  The D’Souzas store always has what I need and service is always smiley and friendly:

Preston Market

I picked up some soy beans from Preston Market Health Foods.  There were many elderly Greek shoppers here, looking for dried chickpeas for their ‘revithia’ (chickpea) soup and lentils for their ‘fahki’ soup:

Preston Market

Preston Market

Of course, there are a number of fresh produce stalls with prices cheaper than the big supermarkets:

Preston Market

Preston Market

I walked around looking at all the stores inside the main market area but didn’t see any other veganny-options kinds of places.  There were bakeries, continental delicatessans and lovely looking cakes but unfortunately none appeared to offer anything vegan, from my quick browsing.  I looked at the food stalls and alas, nothing vegan there.

I was pretty hungry so I headed for the Cornutopia van.  I’ve been there once before and enjoyed my vegan burrito so I ordered that again. The burritos (regardless of filling, it appears) are $10. Action shot:

Preston Market

The final stop (the most important of all): the jam donut van!

Preston market hot jam donuts

Preston market hot jam donuts

Overall, Preston Market is great for well priced fruit and veg, especially for those bargains right before closing time. You can find your nuts, dried beans, lentils and so on and different kinds of flours. More vegan options in the way of food would be great but I must confess the only food I go there for are donuts. Still, it would be nice to go there and have more of a selection of vegan food to chose from.

Preston Market
Preston Market
Preston Market

Preston Market

Preston Market

These are my purchases. I’m sure that’s the cheapest I’ve seen this particular vanilla extract.  As for the clove oil, I need some to help with minor mould problems around the house. I’m sure I paid double $3.90 for one of those teeny bottles in pharmacies! I also picked up some quinoa, curry powder (I like to try different kinds) and amchoor powder, which always seems to be in recipes I want to try then when I buy the stuff, I can’t find the recipes:

Preston Market purchases

If there are other markets out there you love for vegan shopping, please leave a comment!

Little Tudor Villages, Lord of The Fries and Big Lou’s jam donuts

Last week, we were in East Melbourne and took Arthur and DeeW for their first visit to the Fitzroy Gardens.  I went there often as a child and loved the model Tudor Village and Fairy Tree. I always had the urge to jump the fence and go and touch the houses and as an adult that impulse is still there (I really need to learn parkour so I can jump that waist height fence…)

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tudorvillage1

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tudorvillage4

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fairytree

fitzroygardens2

 

It was the Queens Birthday public holiday and we figured Lord of the Fries would be open so we went to the Fitzroy outlet at for lunch.  Husband, Arthur and DeeW only ever order the fries plain with a bottle of tomato sauce:

lotf2

I went for the Original LotF burger and because I was sitting down and not eating on the run like I usually do when I grab a LotF burger, I didn’t make a mess:

lotf3

If you haven’t been to LotF before, they are meat-free.  If you’re vegan be sure to ask for a vegan burger so you get the vegan cheese.  They also have fries with lots of sauces, but again be sure to check which are vegan.  I’ve never had a hot dog from LotF.  Maybe next time because it was only after I ordered that I saw a big poster advertising their Coney hot dog: a sausage topped with con carne, mushrooms and onions. Yes, there will be a next time and soon I hope, before this Coney hot dog special is over:

lotf1

Big Lou’s Donuts at 318 Brunswick Street has been mentioned in vegan circles as they advertise vegan donuts:

biglous1

I thought this meant that all their donuts were vegan (custard Berliner!!!) but alas, only the made-to-order hot jam donuts are vegan.  That’s okay, because those are my favourite donuts. The donuts were really good, they don’t have that hot-jam-donut-from-a-donut-van taste and appearance but I think the donuts from the van at Preston Market still hold the number one spot for me.  Big Lou’s come second:

biglous4

biglous3

 

biglous2
Big Lou's Donuts on Urbanspoon
 

The past week has been pretty busy with one day rushing in to the next.  I’ll leave you with some photos of the Coburg Carnivale community event which was held yesterday.  I didn’t know it was on and only happened to see it because I had to stop off for some groceries!

carnivale4

carnivale1

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Lunch at The Vegie Bar in Fitzroy

The Vegie Bar seems to be one of those places that everyone I know, veggo or not, has visited at some point.  I’m a latecomer to this party (again) so when my sister said she had a day off and would take me out to lunch and to choose a place, Vegie Bar was that place.

I’ve been in to the Vegie Bar on a busy weekend at dinner time to pick up a dessert but hadn’t eaten in there. It has always been very crowded with quite a wait, so I haven’t bothered. This time however, just before lunch, it was just right. I looooved these retro green swivel chairs:

vegiebar5

My sister and I chose an entree each, though we always share what we order therefore we never order the same thing (we call this The System, which my husband completely dishonours, saying that if you want to try something just order that meal.  NO, Husband.  No.  If you follow The System, you get to try MORE things.  Especially good when you can’t decide between two dishes. It’s not double dipping or picking off plates, because you take your portion from the other person’s meal before putting saliva on your eating utensils).  My sister chose the gyoza dumplings.  These were okay, a bit light on the filling though:

vegiebar4

I chose the roti channai which was a potato lentil dhal with roti.  This was okay but the green on the side was just undressed salad leaves (and some were manky and slimy):

vegiebar3

For the main, my sister chose the Mee Goreng (tossed with tofu, veggies and potato).  We both hadn’t had a satay sauce kind of dish in a long time so this was a clear first pick.  The meal tasted pretty good, but we felt there could have been more tofu:

vegiebar2

I ordered the Sindhi curry with butter beans (and other veg) that was up on the specials board. We both agreed it was okay but probably wouldn’t order it again:

vegiebar1

My sister got the Immunity juice, made with carrot, ginger, apple and orange. We loved this as it was really heavy on the ginger.  Perfect!

Service was friendly and quick and although I braced myself for our meals taking a while, they came out fairly quickly. I do see why Vegie Bar is considered a favourite among many, but I felt that because the juice was the best thing we ordered, I wouldn’t rush back.  I would go again one day, as there were lots of other meals on the menu that sounded pretty good.

vegiebar6

The Vegie Bar is located at 380 Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. http://vegiebar.com.au/

Vegie Bar on Urbanspoon