10 Feb 2011
Melbourne was rawesome!
A quick trip to Melbourne has opened my eyes to raw food
With a few days off from the Australia Day public holiday, Dave and I decided at the last minute, to drive down to Melbourne and stay for an extended weekend. It’s always a long drive but I love a good road trip!
We were up bright and early on Australia Day and arrived in Melbourne CBD a little after 4pm.
I had planned to bring snacks and felafel rolls for the drive but in my morning daze, somehow I forgot the rolls and only packed carrot sticks and popcorn. Needless to say by the time we arrived we were very hungry, so after checking into our hotel we went in search of food.
Being a public holiday, quite a few places were shut. I just wanted something takeaway and not overly processed or fried. We happened upon The Organic Food and Wine Deli and were pleased to find a large range of vegan takeaway options.
Dave got a mushroom and tofu (on rye sourdough pastry) pie and I got an avocado, hommous, salad on spelt sandwich. I wish I’d tried the nori rolls, they looked good and all the TOFWD prices were really reasonable.
Over the next few days we walked, supped and sipped our way around the city and some inner suburbs.
Sadly, La Panella Bakery was closed at this time of year, but we’ve agreed it is best we visit again soon and review their much raved about baked goods :)
Here are my food highlights (there’s more pics on Flickr too).
Vegie Bar does raw!
We always go to Vegie Bar when we’re in town and it’s a personal goal of mine to someday work my way through their extensive menu!
This time I thought I’d check out the specials and saw a whole board dedicated to raw, vegan food (well, it had three options anyway).
Yes, I’ve had food raw before, but I’ve never done the “raw food” thing. I was curious…What on earth were zucchini noodles? I hadn’t tried cashew cheese but it was something I really wanted to make too…
Zucchini noodle salad – “Amazing high protein, nutritious salad of julienned zucchini, marinated portobello mushrooms, avocado, enoki, spicy cashew cheese, quinoa and miso dressing.”
This was the first thing I ordered from the specials. I had no idea what to expect and when it came out I remember thinking “Where’s the rest?” – If you’ve ever seen the most generous servings of other meals at Vegie Bar, you’ll know what I mean!
Once again though, my eyes were bigger than my belly because this meal was very filling… and utterly delicious.
Zucchini noodles. Zoodles! You probably already know about these but they were a revelation to me. The zucchini was quite ‘al-dente’ and I could have easily mistaken them for linguini. The dressing was so full of flavour as were the dehydrated vegetables on top.
This meal was definitely the standout on this trip. I honestly could not stop raving about it and I knew I had to go back to Vegie Bar to try the rest of their raw offerings.
Living vege stack – “Thinly sliced crisp zucchini and squash, tomatoes and baby spinach, layered with cashew cheese, walnut and sage pesto, zesty tomato and beetroot sauce and heirloom tomato salsa.”
Dave and I shared the vege stack and flaxseed crackers.
The super-colourful vege stack came out topped with some kale leaves which I’d wanted to try. The whole thing was delicious. I loved the pesto with the creamy cashew cheese filling. The beetroot sauce was a beautiful, bold colour!
Flaxseed crackers – “Dehydrated flaxseed tomato crackers topped with nut cheese, romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, crusted avocado and spicy pine nut sour cream.”
We both loved this one too. The tomato flavours in the crackers were so concentrated and zesty and the crusted avocado was spicy and went great with the creamy nut cheeses. I was really impressed at how much flavour was packed into this meal, and again the serving size was deceptive.
All up the raw specials were fantastic at Vegie Bar. I spoke to one of the staff who told me that they’re also working on a separate raw menu too. I can’t wait to go back… You can bet I plan to work my way through that one!
Shakahari restaurant came highly recommended by a friend as a more fancy place to eat. We booked for dinner and I’m so glad we did as it was another memorable meal.
It took us ages to decide what to order. The menu is quite varied and apparently changes seasonally.
I decided on the avocado rolls for an entrée, partly because they were a signature dish, and partly because I’d never tried fried avocado before.
Avocado Magic: “Avocado wedges, red capsicums rolled in thin eggplant slices then ‘Tempura’ fried in a rice batter, served with a jade green sesame coriander puree. A signature dish.”
Quinoa Gnocchi – “Red quinoa (high protein grain), rice flour and finely shredded vegetables made into gnocchi triangles. These are pan-seared in mild chilli olive oil with wilted asian greens and a balsamic reduction.”
Dave got the gnocchi. I tried a triangle and the texture was perfect along with the flavours. I’d love to try to make gnocchi like this.
Our mains were both equally as good as the entrees. Lovely presentation and service too. I had the Tokyo Awaken and Dave got the croquettes.
Tokyo Awaken – “Unpolished red rice cooked with riso, diced kombu and vegetables.This comes with spinach,mashed tofu salad and ponzu braised pumpkin, leeks and daikon.”
Croquettes de Chine – “Crunchy patties of steamed mashed yam, potatoes, roasted macadamia nuts, pickled turnips and diced vegetables. Served with herbal oil tossed greens, kim chee and a mild black bean ginger sauce.”
I’m sorry to say that we skipped dessert despite the very tempting options. Hey, it gives me an excuse to go back again!
Casa Drool Del Gelato
Lucky for us, we had exceptionally warm and sunny days on our trip – perfect for gelato chomping.
I was keen to get down to Casa Del Gelato (163 Lygon Street, Carlton), to sample their vegan flavours. They have plenty, a whole freezer cabinet full in fact. It was a tough decision to pick which gelati we were going to try.
In the end Dave got hazelnut, pistachio, espresso and I picked cherry, baccio and chocolate.
Oh my goodness, every one was unbelievable. Rich, creamy and totally drool-worthy. If only I could find vegan gelati like this in Sydney… I wanted to transport tubs of the stuff home!
Although only a short trip, as always we had such a great time in Melbourne. I’m so glad I tried Vegie Bar’s raw dishes in particular. It’s introduced me to the world of raw food and shown me how interesting and creative dishes can be. I’m so inspired to try more raw meals.
In fact, since I’ve been back I’ve been about 90% raw and have definitely noticed a boost in energy and mood. I’ve learnt to open a young coconut without chopping off a limb too. I feel fantastic! I’ve also been enjoying my green smoothies so much that I invested in a new kitchen tool…
Behold the Vitamix! I’ve used it so much already. I love it! Stay tuned for some blender experiments :)