This blog is a celebration of the wonderful world of vegan cooking. Enjoy!

* The title of this blog refutes the dangerous idea that veganism is a weight-loss diet and that all vegans are skinny. Conversely, being a-not-so-skinny-vegan is also not the same as being overweight or unhealthy. All food intake must be part of a balanced lifestyle.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Some notes from Australia... (Brisbane)

You might have noticed that I've been a bit absent lately. This time it wasn't just Cambridge eating into my spare time, I have legitimate excuses that are not attached to my code or my thesis. Firstly, I no longer have a computer at home which makes blogging a little difficult since my supervisor is not too keen on blogging in the office. Secondly, I spent all of July in Australia.

I moved to the UK in September of 2010 and have not been back to Australia since then. Despite the fact that I complain about the English weather, the horrid English food and the grumpy NHS doctors, I really do love the UK. But I also love Australia and it was really lovely to be home.

I have lots and lots of new and exciting recipes I would like to share with you all but I thought I would take some time to dedicate a few blog posts to some new and old favourite food spots that I visited while in Australia for all of my Australian readers (since I do tend to neglect them most of the time!).

In general, I think Australia has become a little more vegan friendly (or perhaps I've become so accustomed to paying exorbitant prices at UK restaurants that I'm eating at nicer places in Australia?). Even in my small, country hometown of Grafton I found a really lovely restaurant to eat at (twice!) and a couple of other places that were more than accommodating.

One thing that really got on my nerves is that everywhere in Australia charges extra for soya milk and decaf coffee. Apparently Australian cafes think it is necessary to charge me an extra $1 per cup of coffee for not being cool enough to drink caffeine and cow's milk! Not cool, Australian cafes, not cool at all.

Apart from the price of the coffee, it was so lovely to be able to enjoy cafe culture in the sun again. I especially enjoyed being back in Brisbane and meeting friends in all of the lovely cafes and restaurants that I've grown so fond of over the years so I think that will be the first place I write about. I didn't take any photos of any of the food in Brisbane, since I've eaten in the places so often, so I'll just write a few lines about each of my favourite places and I hope it helps any vegans visiting the area in the future.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer here in the UK (and the lovely mild winter at home in Australia!) and I look forward to sharing more of Australia (and then some great recipes!) with you soon!

Brisbane Vegan Recommendations

The Forest Vegan Cafe
West End

I don't think there is a single restaurant (vegan or non-vegan) in Brisbane that can beat The Forest for value for money. For $13 you can get an enormous plate of food (your choice of hot mains with brown rice or salad from the counter) or a good sized bowl full for $8. There is also a huge range of burgers, wraps and sandwiches with a lovely selection of vegans cakes and desserts (although the cakes are the same cost as the mains!). It's been refurbished in the past few years (although, unfortunately, the bathroom facilities have not so if you can avoid them then you probably should) and there is always free, self-serve water available.

The hot food can be a little bit bland sometimes (especially if you go for something like the dhal) but I would highly recommend getting a mix of salads and hot food because the salads are always delicious even if the ingredients look a bit surprising.

I ate here several times on my recent visit. They are open every day for both lunch and dinner and everything is vegan.

The Three Monkeys Cafe
West End

Although I never actually order any food at The Three Monkeys (you can get them to make some of the sandwiches vegan but I can never be bothered with the hassle, especially since The Forest is 500m down the road) but I love to meet friends here for a big bowl of soy chai. There is no denying that the atmosphere at The Three Monkeys is not really found anywhere else in Brisbane so I don't feel so bad about only ever going there for the chai. Note, though, that the soy chai is served with honey so if you are a non-honey vegan then you should tell them so when you order at the counter. It's also a very busy place and seating is hard to get so I would recommend scoping out a spot first and then ordering.

Elizabeth Street,City

Govindas is another great value-for-money place. Located opposite the Myer Centre on Elizabeth Street their entire restaurant is vegetarian and most of it is vegan (just ask, they are well aware of what a vegan is and can always let you know what you can and cannot eat). If you are a student then you can get the all-you-can eat Feast Deal for $10 instead of the usual $12.90. The Feast Deal includes rice, daily special mixed vegetable curry, split mung dahl, koftas with fresh tomato and herb chutney, a pappadam, fresh garden salad, halava with custard (unless you tell them you are vegan and then they give you a vegan alternative) and home made ginger & mint lemonade. And you just keep going back for more and more until you've had enough!

 If you don't want to have the Feast Deal you can also buy smaller portions of each of the daily specials or order off the menu.

It's yummy food, great value and lovely service.

Kitchen Sanitarium Cafe
Eagle Street, City

This was a new Brisbane experience for me. It was open when I used to live in Brisbane but due to the fact that it is only open for breakfast and lunch, and it's in the middle of the city, I just never made the effort to visit before. Which was stupid. Because this cafe is awesome.

It's a totally vegetarian cafe with lots of vegan options available on the lunch menu. If the cafe becomes a regular spot for you there are daily specials to break up the monotony of having the same thing every visit. However, I dn't think that this will be a problem; I had the Spiced Pumpkin Wrap on my visit and couldn't believe how full of flavour (or how large) it was.

I also met a friend there for breakfast early one morning, which was also a lovely experience, but there are a couple of things to note. Firstly, there is only one option for vegans on the breakfast menu: avocado on toast. It's yummy but if you don't like avocado you might be out of luck. Secondly, they don't advertise coffee on their menu although they do serve it. So, if you are desperate for that caffeine hit, just ask for it.

It can get quite busy during lunch so I would recommend booking a table.

A Night In India

Ah, A Night in India, how I missed you and your dhal palak! I cannot say enough good things about this restaurant. The service is awesome, the curries are delicious and they know what a vegan is and are more than happy to accommodate (curries can be made vegan and the roti is vegan).

Book ahead on Friday and weekend evenings because the restaurant is super busy. Also, takeaway gets a discount and the portions are slightly bigger so if you live nearby I would recommend getting takeway and enjoying the deliciousness at home!

Dragon Inn Restaurant
Chinatown, Fortitude Valley (aka The Valley)

They may serve a lot of meat, and they may have some pork dishes in the vegetarian section of their menu, but their Sizzling Szechuan Tofu and Chinese Mushroom with Tofu dishes are so awesome that I will keep going back here for a very long time. This is my favourite Chinese restaurant in Brisbane. Just be careful when you order anything else. Not everything may be as un-meaty as it seems...

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