Freakshakes! They originated from Canberra’s very own Pâtissez, and burst from Australia, onto the world stage, with great media hubbub in July 2015.
Currently, the Vegân Freak is:
“Lychee coconut shake – raspberry coulis – coconut vanilla bean mousse – coconut chips – lychee, raspberry & coconut icecream pop (holy mother of vegans this thing does not taste vegan).”
I had a Vegân Freak yesterday (not quite as sexy as it sounds! But almost…) at the Canberra Manuka store. I was a bit worried about the lychee element as I’ve tried to avoid eating them after seeing a particular scene in We need to talk about Kevin. But they were tricky to detect in the shake, so that was for the best.
I had told the staff I found out about the Vegân Freak from Vegan ACT. I heard them saying to each other something like, “It was through a secret vegan society!”. I’m sworn to secrecy regarding whether I can confirm if SVS exists or not.
Oh the shake was so overwhelming. So much sweetness, so much coconut (this has also been mentioned by others, too). I was determined! I was hardcore! But I failed (softcore). I had skipped lunch but it still didn’t work, and I was so hopeful that I’d do better than my last competitive eating foray. But I just couldn’t finish it, so very sad and I so hate food waste. My gameplan was based on the architecture, starting at the top. I ate the icecream pop, then 50% of the mousse, then super-sculled most of the liquid. And then I felt as overly sweet as Shirley Temple (the child actor, but I guess also her namesake beverage). The shakes are the smaller size compared to the “origin” freakshakes, but there’s still so much in a serving! The description describes it as “not tasting vegan” – I don’t know what to say about that, but it does have a really overt cream-fat kind of taste, so it’s kind of accurate?
I appreciate that Pâtissez now offers a vegan freakshake option, and it’s also encouraging for there to be an something for those with dairy allergies. Apparently Pâtissez are developing a vegan chocolate freakshake for Winter – which is so good, we don’t need everything to be fruit-based! (there are some other great flavour suggestions on their facebook page). It would also be beneficial to have some vegan beta-testers. I volunteer as tribute!
When I went to pay, they said, “1 vegan freak?”, and I said, yes, thinking of Bob and Jenna Torres’ book, Hello my name is vegan freak: being vegan in a non-vegan world.
Today’s follow-up (quality assurance!) visit was to the Canberra City (Civic) store, I had the only vegan main option, the Veg Head burger with fries and Pâtissez special sauce:
“Herby chickpea, corn & sweet potato patty, charred zucchini, roast capsicum, grilled eggplant, roasted red pepper, vegan aioli, house marinated fetta cheese.”
Damn, it was the best vegan burger I’ve had (in case my Mum’s reading, it’s not as good as your bean-patty one! But if you’re not reading, then it’s the best). Like, even better than the one at Red Lime Shack in Adelaide. It was so good. I did ask the Pâtissez staff a lot of questions, and confirmed that the chips were fried in cottonseed oil, and that the aioli is done on a soy base (not sure if this is a fortified type, though). Staff were obliging, but I think that there needs to be a quick FAQ or better team-briefing, given that many people with allergies will often opt for the vegan menu item and have questions.
My friend E had the Vegân Freak, so we could compare it with my yesterday-version at Manuka. I sternly warned her that I couldn’t even complete it, but she said she was “born for this”.
And annoyingly, she truly was! (but reassured me that it was due to my coaching). The evidence is as follows…
Yesterday, I found that the trick after my shake-fail was to get some vegan chips from Grill’d to get a good savoury/salt balance (very soon after!).
As a modified version of the ye olde technique of McDonald’s dipping chips in a sundae, E utilised some of my Pâtissez burger side-fries as freakshake dippers. I think we need to register this an innovative concept for the IDEAS BOOM. I hope Pâtissez will think it’s a good idea to start serving a tiny cup of chips with freakshakes! (you’re welcome!)
It can be tricky to find out about freakshakes, as I think the term has now been copyrighted or trademarked by Pâtissez, and they recommend tagging with #Patissez and #FreakShakes
When I was trying to get a trend graph from Factiva, I found it a bit complex (because of the terms) and experimented with advanced search commands like freak and shake* near each other, or dessert-topped shakes, but I didn’t really get anything satisfyingly representative, so the image above is from data source Google trends. You can see the clear peak in popularity in July last year, and then it all gets a bit muddied with the varying names, etc. …and it didn’t seem to allow truncation symbols, so I used both freakshake and freakshakes, in addition to Pâtissez. Even if the interest doesn’t continue over time, it looks as though the cafe is continuing with innovative food offerings – I’m hopeful that will result in more vegan options, too!
The freakshake phenomenon is just part of the Frankenfood portmanteaus, and it could possibly be compared with the vegan Plant-based Disgrace in Sydney. I’m keen to try the Disgrace, but given my lack of success in finishing Vegân Freak, I might have to share it with a few other people.
As always, this post isn’t sponsored and all food etc. is at my own cost. I’d love to know if you also thought the Vegân Freak was super intense! Or if you’ve been lucky enough to eat the Disgrace.
Just in time for healthy new year’s resolutions! Canberra has some wonderful (but not always easy to find/know about) health food shops and places to bulk-buy or bring your own containers. Make sure you check they’ve definitely re-opened after the holidays!
I have a theory about the proximity of health food shops and art galleries – a good opportunity to improve your entire health and outlook…
Mountain Creek Wholefoods, Griffith: A classic favourite. Extensive, intense tea range and lots of health shop products, dry goods that can be measured out (hot tip: there are even barrels under the counter), and a separate area with lots of eco-gifts. Great range of frozen goods and a lovely café to boot.
Parking: Free (specific time limits), very close.
Closest gallery: M16 artspace
Let’s be natural, Mawson: The giantest health-food shop! Their display of bring-your-own-container goods is overwhelming. Lovely vibe and they have the easiest discount club, it’s an automatic percentage off every visit, you don’t have to remember anything. I think there have been yoga classes in the past as it’s such a big space, and beauty treatments are also available.
Parking: Free (specific time limits), very close.
Closest gallery: Mawson Gallery
Greenway organic, Tuggeranong: Interesting ingredients, staples like nutritional yeast and dairy-free ice-cream. Lots of dry goods for dietary requirements e.g. celiacs, as well as frozen food and a wide range of chocolate bars. They get new products in a lot, but it can be worthwhile to phone to check that what you need is in stock.
Parking: Free (Don’t park at Homeworld as it’s very expensive, usually Hyperdome is best as you can get a few hours free), relatively close. Or nearby on-street parking near the restaurant strip exit.
Closest gallery: Tuggeranong Arts Centre
As Nature Intended, Belconnen markets: Lots of what you’d expect in a health food shop plus fruit and vegetables and delicious cakes (see the cabinet). Really good vegan frozen food options, and lots of beauty products. Similar to Mountain Creek as it has a café component (very big) but many more meal options.
Parking: Paid, nearby carpark.
Closest gallery: Belconnen Arts Centre
ANU Food Co-op, Acton: Community-based, non-profit cooperative with bring-your-own-container options. Also sweets, vegan cheeses, unusual vegetables and fruit. Similar to As Nature Intended and Mountain Creek in that there’s an in-store café (the lunches are great value and generally vegan).
It has been around for ages, I don’t remember when it was in the Union building, but before the current bricks-and-mortar, it was in a transportable building near the Law Courts, and prior to that, a different transportable near the current site.
Parking: There is a loading zone out the front, but it’s more polite & good karma to park in the proper spots. There is a useful map on the Co-op’s website.
Closest gallery: Drill Hall Gallery
Naked foods, Braddon: I must admit, I was surprised when this opened, given the long-standing ANU Food Coop isn’t too far away. This is on my “to visit” list, as I never seem to get there during opening hours – “The store is set out in the style of a lolly shop – but the wares for sale are anything but.” – …and I’m like a little kid leaning my head on the glass trying to open sesame the doors.
Parking: Paid, nearby or up the road.
and the best for last…
Canberra Organic Food Collective, Dickson: Grass-roots, affordable organic dry foods. Bring your own container options, it’s easy to decide what you want to order from the price-list (kilogram quantities). The only place I’ve found in Canberra that sells real, genuine, potent cinnamon. Worth it for that alone, but also other good spices, rice, nuts, beans and more.
Parking: Free, on-street.
Closest gallery: ANCA
There are a few health food shop chain stores in Canberra (Go Vita, Healthy Life), but they are pretty easy to find so I haven’t listed them. You can also buy health foods in giant containers at Costco (dates etc.), but I didn’t visit there as I balk at paying a nightclub cover charge, let alone a discount shop admission fee. I have found that Supabarn have really well-stocked and unusual “health food” aisles, too. And some places I’ve missed are in this fulsome list from Vegan ACT.
For fresh vegetables and groceries, there are lots of good independent places like Choku Bai Jo, the regular farmers’ markets (North and South), Fyshwick markets, Organic energy, markets at the Botanic Gardens, and more…
As always, this post is not sponsored (my own time, money and opinions), but probably contains some South/North Canberra bias! All photos are from today apart from the Let’s Be Natural one (taken in April).
Happy Cooking for Copyright! (I have accidentally been typing this as Cooing for Copyright, which I really hope happens but I’d prefer for the pigeon to survive, than die in a pie for copyright reform).
Why is it all happening? FAIR (Freedom of Access to Information and Resources) have done a naughty thing and posted handwritten recipes to their website. Why would this make them “baddies”? It technically breaches copyright law:
“FAIR claims copyright law reform is long overdue – and it’s focusing on the fact that in Australia copyright in published works lasts 70 years after the death of the creator, but for unpublished works, copyright lasts forever. This means old diaries, letters, even recipes are locked away.
Sue McKerracher, spokesperson for FAIR, and CEO of the Australian Library and Information Association, said, ‘We’d like the same copyright terms for unpublished works as for published works. Then our libraries, museums and historical societies could put these treasures on the web for family historians, researchers, and everyone else who is fascinated by our social history.’”
If you squint, it could also be Crooning for Copyright. That would be fun in quiet library reading rooms – barbershop flashbomb! They could sing from unpublished song lyrics. The combs in their back pockets would give them away, though. They’d be whisked out by the guards the instant they tried to see their preppy reflections in the silver embossing on book spines.
My cooking was off to a good start except the caster sugar leaked all inside the shopping bag. Possibly this could be because of a self-serve checkout. Maybe the person that packed my bag just shoved it all in there and the vegan margarine box dented the sugar packet. I wish the food duopoly would just pay more staff so that I don’t throw everything into the bag in a rage because I’m paying them for me to be on the checkout. Mr Sonja said “no use crying over spilt sugar”.
I baked Margaret’s vintage Crunchy ginger slice. I’m not the best at following recipes, and was doing quite well till the topping. I started to worry that it wasn’t thick enough so I emptied the icing sugar bag into it. Then there were heaps of lumps (which are meant to be stirred out), it looked like the saccharine equivalent of swimming carnival when they fill the pool with corks and non-swimming kids have to grab them all. Like bobbing for apples except they are in a molten ginger lava and the apples are sugar lumps. I ignored the saucepan of topping for a few minutes because I was envisioning my slice being the equivalent of the skinny untanned guy at a competition for really swole golden body builders. How would it look compared to all the pretty #CookingforCopyright dishes? Then I turned back and all the lumps were gone! I’m sending thanks to my mysterious kitchen angels. I realised this meant maybe I had followed the instructions so I covered it in coconut.
I licked the beaters and had my usual fear that even when they’re not in the machine, they’ll suddenly come to life and shred my tongue. Then I burnt my mouth on the topping spoon. But the slice looks good and I’m not embarrassed to take it to the library tomorrow! (which is almost as important as copyright reform)
We trekked up to Goulburn to research for an upcoming Arlis/ANZ (Arts Libraries Society, ACT chapter) roadtrip.
Last year our chapter visited Braidwood. In the years to come perhaps we’ll go to Cooma, Gunning, Gundaroo, Murrambateman (nearby Crisp Galleries), Mittagong (antiques/crafts and I’m excited by veg*n places like nearby Berrima Health Vegetarian Café) or Crookwell (they have a Potato Festival! …need I say more?).
Our first stop was Grit café, which had been recommended for its vegan options. The food was nice (a modified big breakfast) but I’m sorry that I got a bit hangry with the lady at the counter, because she opened with the vegan options being salad. Regrettable.
My modified big breakfast was still enjoyable and they are able to veganise smoothies with soy or almond milk. Next time it would be better to call ahead, to see if they had any raw vegan desserts like the scrumptious-looking ones in their facebook albums.
I do feel bad about my poor manners, but it was also the disappointment of huge anticipation for their cakes and vegan-friendliness.
We enjoyed the toy shop in the main street which sells a projector painting set which claims “The children have it, with a color of the sky.” I remember having the sky when I was a kid. Less on the sliding scale of family-friendly was a painted sign in the pub’s window but sadly we weren’t there on a Wednesday.
Marilyn Psuchake’s 3 Poles were stunning, Here+Now was my favourite one, with the mosaics providing a preview of the local buildings. There is a great shot of them (as a group) by creakingbones. I should have been more organised and looked at the Art in public places brochure.
The Lilac City Markets were just wrapping up and were high on the chutney index, and it was intensely windy so all the petals were flying off the nearby rose garden. I can see why it’s called the City of Roses (but the next festival isn’t till March). Apparently the “go-to” markets are 3rd-Sunday-of-a-month at Riversdale Homestead and the 4th-Saturday-of-a-month Goulburn Brewery Craft Markets.
The Library was closed which was disappointing, but it helped us to find the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery. These dogs (Amanda Stuart’s mongrel country (nil tenure), 2013) were guarding the outside. This image of another iteration of the sculptures out in the “wild”, which gives such a joyous and free feeling of bounding across open country.
The current exhibition is Rod McRae’s Wunderkammer, filling the gallery with installations focused on taxidermied animals (all ethically sourced), addressing environmental topics. It was confronting, but that’s what made it work – and I saw a sad connection with all the roadkill on the way back home.
We had a few misses with antique shops, because Glenholme Antiques and Collectables is now closed (the owner has retired). I consoled myself by looking at the hydrangeas. These were one of my childhood flowers and the colours are an interesting indicator of soil condition.
Café Book is also closed on weekends which was disappointing as I’d like to see their book stock. Other places that we should try next are Shaw’s Antiques, Michael’s Old Wares and Collectables, Accolade Antiques and Yarra Glen Pottery.
We tried to find Gallery on track but must have taken a wrong turn, in any case we were treated to a small informal graffiti show under the bridge.
We initially went to the old street address for The Argyle Book Emporium (don’t go to 176 Sloane Street, it’s now at 260 Sloane Street). We found them on the second go, and my goddess, it was astounding. Amazing. The building was previously the police station, and the strong holds are just full of books covering every surface, as though they’re melting Dali clocks draped everywhere. It was the highlight of our visit. They sell records too.
I had a great vegan dinner in June last year at 98 chairs, and they again made some custom menu options for us. The veganised roasted mushroom, garlic & Dutch cream potato soup was my favourite, then we had the vegetarian (for me, without cheese) combo dish (vegetable assiette, fresh spring rolls, kimchee, corn grain and miso salad, red cabbage, mushroom and leek pie). I liked the different elements on the dish but discovered I’m not evolved enough for kimchee. Mr Sonja loved the zucchini fritters too.
I have yet to try the other vegan-recommended places (Ban Thai and Gouburn Workers Club).
We stayed at Mandelson’s, an 1846 historic guesthouse. It was very beautiful, and had the feeling of Professor Xavier’s mansion. There are lots of sitting rooms, they used to have high teas which I can vividly imagine.
There is also an expansive quilting room which has lots of imported batik fabric (for sale!) and sewing detritus, which was why Claire (one of the owners) was keeping the door closed. The entryway has the original marble black-and-white checkerboard floor which would be suited to dramatic entrances (I wonder if the early Masonic presence in the town contributed to the choice of pattern? Pure speculation but could be an interesting theory!).
No roadtrip is complete without some #PatADay action. We met another visitor, the owners’ grandpuppy, Wataru, who was just cuteness overload and so soft. He is bilingual so he can woof in Japanese (wan-wan).
Previous guests (back in the day) include photographer George Barron Goodman, who advertised for people to sit for portraits at Mandelson’s, when he was visiting in February–March 1847 (Advertising. (1847, February 11). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW), p. 1.) and (Advertising. (1847, March 22). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW), p. 1.). He was making daguerrotypes, a precursor to the modern photograph.
Goodman also promoted his collection of views of Australia’s interior landscapes, which he employed as excellent embellished scenery for portrait backgrounds (Advertising. (1847, January 2). The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 1.). Perhaps Goulburn was added to this collection once he visited?
Someone on Tripadvisor said Mandelson’s was “a bit like Cluedo” and I can see why – it would be a fantastic setting for a Murder Mystery party or lots of other events.
On the way back, we didn’t visit the Big Merino (again) but here is a Merino butt pic.
I was sorely tempted by Collector and the new café on the way past, but we ran out of time. I used to really enjoy Lynwood Café, and I agree with theyellowhouseintheU, it is a big loss, but she says that Some Café is really worth a visit – see yellow’s post. You can still buy Lynwood jam, though. I fell asleep for most of the way home.
October has been a layer-y month for me – I feel like things just keep stacking on top of other things. I always think of Wendy Orr’s Peeling the Onion when I hear the word “layers”. It’s a good term to describe my home method of organisation – piles or horizontal filing. Imagine a floordrobe made of paper. I very much admire Teresa’s posts which have a nice focus with by-the-month updates, and make me feel less angsty about only posting every 4 weeks. She describes hers as: “A monthly capture of my feelings and doings, in the raw”.
I set myself a challenge at the start of the month to reduce my sugar intake – this is layer-themed as well, because I want to be super muscular and get rid of my sheath of fat. I’d like to achieve a flat stomach, like the Australian Venus by Rayner Hoff. I also thought that I was so sugar-infused that if I was stranded on a desert island (this scenario is posed to vegans daily), the cannibals would find that I’d probably taste like maple-infused meat (this was only a minor motivator).
To modify my sugar habit, I’d hoped to go cold turkey, because I took Gretchen Rubin’s Moderator/Abstainer Quiz and I thought I was an abstainer (is it just me, or is that a really gross-sounding word?). It didn’t completely work. A friend who has achieved 0 sugar started taking magnesium and cinnamon. I eat a lot of cinnamon.
Even though I’ve had sugary vegan treats once a week (carrot cake from Hari’s in Sydney, raw peanut cheesecake by E, chocolate slice made by my Mum, raw cake by B, and my botanical cuisine reward jar), they were all made by other people, and still much less than my usual amount. I also remember each one vividly!
Another lady at art school tried to reduce her intake of desserts by making a rule that she could only eat things she had baked herself. I have tried this for a few years with less success. As a result, I would normally eat raw homemade cake mix every day. Mostly to console myself about our broken oven (so it’s not like cooked cake is an option). That provides some context for being pleased even with this level of sugar – because I really did used to eat a lot of cake mix. Plus hunny bunny chocolate every 3 days. And 1-2 botanical cuisine jars a week. As well as some cake from Sweet Bones or The Front Gallery. Writing this list gives me the same realisation as those gross TV shows where they put a week’s worth of food in a tube (so wasteful!) to shock people.
Despite the “moderator” approach, I still had a celebration botanical cuisine Melbourne nights dessert tonight. I pretended I was drilling into the earth through the stratum of cashew and chocolate like the geological coffee plunger in William Kentridge’s mine film. I felt the sugar rush (as exciting as the game in the lego movie) like pressing the recharge resonators button on an ingress portal.
As it’s a Friday, NGAC was doing their usual BiblioDessert – a 3pm tweet about desserts for library people (you normally need a boost by then). So I was obliged to eat some sweets. I will continue to eat less sugar next month, but I did spend a lot more time thinking about sugar and was sorely tempted by my sugar lip scrub. Other things have happened since last month, but sugar and avoiding sugar have been my main obsessive activities.
Cupcake lust means that I often forget to take a picture of pretty cakes before desire takes over. Here are my unscientific findings – I was impressed by the six factors for tasting mayonnaise in Gladwell’s Blind: the power of thinking without thinking, but I haven’t worked out a cupcake scale. More testing required.
Following, what I hope is an almost comprehensive list of vegan cake sources in Canberra:
Sweet Bones (Braddon): Very high-profile vegan business in Canberra. Fancy swirly icing and a fair amount of cake in the patty pan.
The Front Gallery and Café (Lyneham): Fairly recent vegan caterer, with wonderful local raw cake made by Celeste of Raw Capers.
Veganarchy (Bus Depot Markets, various): Gabby’s vegan cupcakes are wonderful, the best flavour is chocolate peanut butter.
Crafted3 (Canberra Farmers Markets, various): Natalie’s vegan meringues are fantastic (I used to get them with fruit at Mornings in Paris, see below). Cupcakes are on my to-do list.
Cake Cabinet (on order): Creative luxe cakes made by Nie-kiewa, check out the “In the Cabinet” galleries and prepare to be amazed.
My Rainbow Dreams (Dickson): Not really a cake, but their walnut and choc chip biscuits have just the right mix of salty and sweet. Honorary cupcake.
The Green Way Organic (Hyperdome in Tuggeranong): Not a café, but they stock Naked Treaties which include raw cake and imitation raw chocolate bars (“nickers”).
I haven’t yet tried the cakes at Jazz Apple Café (Civic), or the sweets at V Spot Café (Civic – apparently they have Naked Treaties and maybe some Raw Capers products).
…my very favourite veg* places tend to close down, so I keep my favourites close like a gastronomic spirit animal (they might be mentioned here but I haven’t given them the f-word). My last favourite place was Mornings in Paris (Nicholls), which closed earlier this year and had just the best homemade vegan icecream. Before that it was Bernadette’s Café (Ainslie) which I think closed in the 2000s, and prior to that, it was the Ridge Organic Restaurant (Farrer). Actually the last one hasn’t closed, but it was vegetarian and now it isn’t. If they have vegan options, I might go back there one day.
Vegan fare has made leaps and bounds since my last “Vegan in the Parliamentary Triangle” update (April 2014) on vegan food in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle, Parkes ACT, Australia. I’ll do an actual, thorough update towards the end of the year, as I haven’t had time to go to lunch everywhere yet (plus it’s only been 2 months!).
Portrait Café (National Portrait Gallery) still has vegan quinoa salad on their everyday lunch menu. It’s great that this item has continued and I hope this is due to the statistical significance of the vegan dollar. Plus their across-the-road neighbours, National Gallery of Australia is now catering to vegans!
The exciting development since my April lunch-around (mentioned above) is that the NGA Café (National Gallery of Australia), now offers “vegan curry of the day” as an everyday $15 lunch menu item. I haven’t tried it that often to be aware of the different types available, but it’s been good 2 times, so signs point to positive.
If you’re organised and can phone ahead (preferably the day before), vegan dessert can also be arranged (I think it’s usually less than $10, might depend on the day).
Today’s dessert had syruped strawberries, almonds and quinoa cream – sort of a healthy rice pudding.
Previous custom vegan desserts have been similar quinoa cream based desserts with fruit and crunchy bits (delicious but unknown). Rumour has it that there may be a possibility of getting vegan mudcake sometime.
I would rate the curry as meeting the requirements of 3 Canberra Beanies (convenience, health factor, cost). I would rate the dessert as an almost 3 (maybe 2.8?), because it would be more convenient if it didn’t require pre-order.
Now that there is the achievement of vegan savoury items on the regular gallery menus, I hope that vegan desserts are the next frequent feature, not just for vegans but also our dairy-free friends.
I had a mobile/computer free weekend retreat in Goulburn.
The only photo I took was of my dinner from 98 Chairs. Their team was very accommodating (no vegan pre-warn, either!), and the chef even explained all the options (there were several! It’s weird when you have choices). Both soups were vegan (I had leek, broccoli and potato with toasted almonds) and they modified a main (Pressed puff pastry, pea risotto, roast pumpkin, mushroom, sundried capsicum, quinoa, & salsa verde = without the risotto). Everything was scrumptious, worth making the roadtrip from Canberra (thanks Liz P for the recommendation!). Apparently there’s a garden out the back, even during the cold weather maybe they could light up that space to make it a feature for diners.
I didn’t even get to see the Big Merino (even though I don’t wear wool. When I was little there was a giftshop in the underbelly), let alone eat at other vegan-friendly places.
Next time I’d like to try the juices and raw vegan desserts at Grit Café, check out the options offered by the Goulburn Workers Club (recommended by Peanuts Funny Farm) and dishes at Ban Thai. I’d also like to see the castle, or if it’s not a castle, the reason for having a castle sign near Goulburn. A lair for batmerino?
An update on finding vegan food in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle, Parkes ACT, Australia. Previously tried and tested in my post of June 2013.
With over nine months since last battling for vegan fare, you would be forgiven for thinking there was ample gestation time for a new veg*n establishment. Nay! So here’s a summary of what you can get from the existing non-veg*n places – not entirely comprehensive, but there are limits to being a vegie legend in a lunch break.
Old Parliament House Terrace Café (prev. The Kitchen Cabinet with Ginger Catering, who are now at the Arboretum) is now under new management (Restaurant Associates), so they no longer sell farm vegetables or vegan chocolate (disappointing). There is a vegetable wrap but I’m not sure about the condiments.
Pork Barrel still offer basic pizzas (but on a special occasion, a great beetroot tart), Coffers (Treasury Building) and Café Milieu (John Gorton building) still offer sandwiches and basic rice and vegetables).
Bookplate (National Library) still have custom salads (pro tip: ask for hummus), but all the ready-made salads have meat (including the grazing plates). The less formal Paperplate downstairs (not open on weekends) has ready-made wombok noodle salad and couscous broccoli salad that are both vegan, but you’d best check the dressing ingredients on the day.
Portrait Café (National Portrait Gallery), like OPH, is now under new management. The previous people (Broadbean Catering formerly known as Portrait Catering, now at National Museum) offered custom salads, lentils and zucchini balls, but they preferred a phone call ahead. The good news with the new management is that they have something on their menu that is already vegan! I can’t overstate my excitement about this development. It is a jewelled quinoa salad with sultanas, toasted seeds, confit garlic, herbs and preserved lemon. Brian the friendly besuited manager even checked that the confit was vegan. The heirloom tomato salad can be made vegan sans feta, but it wasn’t as amazing as the quinoa. Be wary of the chai latte liquid mix, as it contained honey (at last check).
NGA Café (National Gallery) no longer have their vegan cupcake, and continue to occasionally have vegan items (as surprises rather than standard). With some prompting they can make a custom vegan salad. On special catered occasions they’ve made wonderful veg*n things but they just aren’t on the everyday menu. Be wary of the chai latte powder mix as it may contain dried dairy products, but if the lovely Amanda is at the counter, she can make a delectable chai tea (make sure it’s the chai tea bags) with soy milk on the side or in the teapot.
Galileo Café (Questacon) have sesame crackers and fruit cups, and are willing to make custom vegan wraps in quiet periods (i.e. not the school holidays). The manager Lianah was very accommodating and happy to check all ingredients.
At the other end of the triangle, Hideout had no vegan options, I asked if they’d consider stocking Veganarchy cupcakes, which would be delicious and worth making the trek.
Double drummer had lentil and pearl barley salads, as well as lots of ingredients for fresh juices. It was so busy that I didn’t get to ask about the options – make sure you check the salad dressing first.
The café at National Archives has a vegetable wrap, be careful of the hot chocolate as it has milk products in the mix. Across the road, the café at Prime Minister and Cabinet building has sushi, salad and boiled vegetables.
It doesn’t really abide by the rules, but I went to Waters Edge for Xmas dinner and they made some wonderful vegan dishes (modified versions of menu items). Waters Edge and the Hyatt (haven’t been back since the last post) are the most expensive on this list.
Places I haven’t tried for lunch during the week are Queen’s Terrace Café (Parliament House), Lobby Restaurant, and the Deck (Regatta Point) and others. I haven’t included establishments that aren’t in reasonable lunchtime walking distance of the cultural institutions, I would like to go to Maple + Clove for their focus on handmade and nutritious food, but the person on the phone was quite firm about not catering to vegans.
Please remember that it is safest to check that menu items are definitely vegan and allergy friendly, and that they haven’t changed since last check – and let me know of your experiences with vegan food in the Parliamentary Triangle.
It’s encouraging to see the progress at the Portrait Café, and that their staff are happy to verify that menu items are genuinely free of animal products. I’m really thankful that they’ve actively responded to feedback. I’ll provide another update in the future, I’m hopeful that there may be more good news of permanent vegan menu items (not just salad!) to plant-power the Triangle masses.
Back from our brief holiday in Adelaide, which I rate as a hot contender for vegan capital of Australia! When my Mum travels she sends postcards which only contain descriptions of food eaten, probably the source of my view of holidays-as-food (she now chronicles the weather so as not to be eating-centric).
I had the quinoa burger (vegetarian but made vegan, it was delicious but not as good as a burger I had later) and a nectarine cake (pretty tasty but needs coconut cream or something to go with it).
I felt a bit weird from the heat and so much cake so we went to Chocolate Bean for more cake (logical!). I’m pretty sore that I didn’t realise there was a lavender cupcake (my favourite flavour), on one visit I had the vegan choc hazelnut praline cake and another time I had the vegan peanut butter cheesecake. The praline one was better but too much for one person. I’ve previously enjoyed their chocolate soup but unfortunately it’s dairy-based.
We met with family at pinehill bistro in Glenelg, I didn’t have high hopes and their menu didn’t list any vegan items. So it was exciting when they offered to make stuffed eggplant (although one of my friends would cite eggplant, mushrooms and onions as the vegetables-of-first-resort for veg*n options on the fly). It looked nothing like I expected but I was pleased to be able to eat something, and it was quite good.
Then we headed to Grind it (also Glenelg), they had a few vegan options on the menu so I got the quinoa patties. I had to refill the parking meter, on the way back, I saw another cafe had a sign with a cartoon orange saying “squeeze me and drink my blood!”. When I returned to my seat, the quinoa patties were waiting there interfiled with dead slices of orange. Awkward. The patties were a bit dry and the green sauce was super hot! They had also placed a spoon with nectarine and yoghurt on the plate which was surprising given it was advertised as a vegan dish, so I didn’t risk it.
In Brighton there was a very familiar caterpillar (but not identifiable for everyone in our group! Previously documented by Helen) – on the way to the Brighton Jetty Classic Sculptures. My favourite sculpture was Monica Prichard’s Sand City.
Unfortunately we missed out on the Brighton Jetty Bakery which has lots of vegan options. Next time.
In Goodwood we lined up to get a table at Eggless Dessert Café, and it was so worth it. Their menu is on a different theme each month, and Ken at the counter said there was a family that came once a month and ordered every single item. Efficient! I had the spring rolls and then the black sticky rice sundae (rice, f-ice cream, coconut cream and toasted coconut). The waitress recommended the sundae over the plain rice with coconut cream. It was amazing. I could eat 5 of them. Both the spring rolls and the sundae are on the February menu, too.
It was also fun to walk up and down the street, the stobie poles are emblazoned with angels, there is a mosaic couch, teapots growing succulents hang from the pedestrian railing, corrugated iron magpies are pinned to the fence and finally a pink cat shop (nsfw).
Our last stop was in Port Adelaide at the Red Lime Shack. I am so glad we went there, because it was the best vegan burger I have ever had on all counts – flavour, charm, price, romance, whether I would eat 100 of them, etc. I had the walnut, sage and roast carrot burger, which tasted “convincing” without being meaty. The tahini mayonnaise may also rekindle my mayo love affair, which had lost the spark when I’d tried other vegan mayos that had the taste and appearance of bodily fluids (not in a good way).
The raw key lime pie was delicious and reminded me of the raw vegan food made by Raw Capers here in Canberra – really good texture made with good quality sweeteners and a health focus. M thinks that the most tasty part of a cake is the little “V” at the centre (broken off in this photo). I think this is more the anticipation of first bite, but perhaps the theory requires some exploration.
On our next visit, we’d like to get to Zen house, Two bit villains, Vegetarian delight, and Godzilla. There are heaps of restaurants listed on the Adelaide Vegans site – it’s my hope this will one day be the case for Canberra, see the current veg*n restaurant list on the ACT Vegan & Vegetarian Society site.
Thanks Adelaide, I am very full.
During our Hawai’i ceremony, I felt breathless like the Cure’s Love Song, the sun shone through the leafy canopy and the forest so kindly bore witness.
I walked towards him at the waterfall, the celebrant said the words, and my partner gave the most wonderful and thoughtful vows. We exchanged leis which were made with an orchid called “Sonia” (purely a coincidence!).
Thank you to Frieda Gayle, such a wonderful and thoughtful celebrant, who even hiked to several areas to find the perfect place and really did organise everything!
Many thanks to Shawna Lee for taking us to the rainforest and the beach, and for your heartfelt hula and beautiful photographs. We couldn’t have asked for a more magical ceremony, and we are so grateful for all your assistance.
Yesterday we had a family celebration at a rural property in a Canberra valley, with thanks to Leonie for letting us picnic and croquet on her lawns. It was lovely to share a quasi-wedding experience with my family, as our Hawai’i ceremony was really an announced elopement.
My dodgy photos won’t do justice to the beautiful flowers and food, so I’ll link to Leonie’s professional photos when they’re available. I’m looking forward to seeing the family photos, but I’m a bit worried about the couple ones, as being photographed is one of our areas for improvement.
It was a very relaxed affair, but I think that’s because everyone contributed towards the day – there was even a gift of a hand-built deck in our backyard, so we’ll always remember this moment in time when we play on it. We also had a nice moment opening cards from overseas family, who also sent a traditional Norwegian spoon for sharing porridge. I’m sad that I didn’t take a picture of the food before it started being demolished (a good testament for vegan catering!) and melting in the sun –it was also amazing that the layered cake survived the trip in the bouncy Terraplane.
Mum organised all the details – making the cardboard table pad, stamping the cutlery napkins, finding tableware and furniture, even down to hand-quilting a hot pink rug. Intense! I think it stems from her project management expertise. I am so thankful for her caring and organised nature and to spend this special moment together.
We forgot to bring our board games (carcassonne and dominion), but my father and brothers had set up a croquet lawn, so we enjoyed pretending to be in Wonderland. Somehow one of the brothers Barfoed managed to break one of the mallets, I didn’t realise it was such a violent sport.
It was nice to see all the furry cows and hear the kookaburras’ songs. There was a spot in the forest that reminded us of our ceremony spot in Hawai’i, a funny connection between such different landscapes.
You can see below, Mr. Cat on my veil (made by Effie Dee), and the largest earring contains one of my Grandma’s gallstones. She always said they should be made into earrings (my previous post provides context), so artists Lan Nguyen-Hoan and Tarn Smith have been transforming them with silver. When the series is complete I’ll share better pictures. It was really gratifying to fulfil my Grandma’s wishes and feel like she attended, in a way.
We had a wonderful experience at the ceremony and the picnic, and I am so glad that we both decided to speed-date on that fateful night so many years ago.
Our excellent (and of course highly recommended) facilitators:
Celebrant: Frieda Gayle, first listing on Kauai directory
Driver, photographer, hula dancer: Shawna Lee
Hair & make-up: Chelle at Koloa Town Salon & Day Spa
Marriage paperwork and local advice: Ellen at The Wine Shop Kauai
Pizzas: Merriman’s Gourmet Pizza & Burgers
Post-ceremony art exhibition enjoyment: Galerie 103
For both events:
Tux t-shirt: Millie at T-Bar Canberra Centre
Gloves: inherited from Grandma
Shoes: second-hand online
For Canberra picnic:
Gallstone jewellery: Lan Nguyen-Hoan & Tarn Smith
Hair & make-up: Jess and Anne at Rhubarb & me
Flowers: Anna at The Snail & Petal
Wedding cake: Nie-kiewa at The Cake Cabinet
Vegan picnic catering: Gabby at Veganarchy
Photography (beautiful pictures to come, the ones above are my dodgy ones) and venue: Leonie at Snowgum Studio
Tusen takk! xxx
Yesterday was a great balance of work and play – but not much rest as I’ve been a couch sleeper for a few days. This is because Ms Cat is healing from nerve damage, so she is isolated in her bedroom with Mr S, so Mr Cat and I are banished to the couch. If it meant that Ms Cat was rehabilitated, I would be happy to be a sofa lady forever.
So to wake up a bit, I walked around the Parliamentary Triangle, and as I reached the summit of the little hill near the Gallery of Australian Design, two birds (swallows?) flew circles around me like they were using ribbons as a lasso in a charming Disney special. I hope it wasn’t an elaborate form of swooping, which gives the experience an air of malice. I will imagine it was a flying hug. The sun was finally gleaming and all the Reconciliation Place sculptures near the Portrait Gallery and Questacon were glistening.
When I reached the National Library there was a swarm of children getting excited about Children’s Book Week winners. The winner’s list makes a nice little poem: Sea Hearts, Children of the King, The Terrible Suitcase, The Coat, Tom the Outback Mailman & A Forest.
I managed to avoid the crowd and enjoyed Jyll Bradley’s City of Trees exhibition, but I forgot to collect my free poster. The first works in the exhibition are my favourite, the branches shimmer and sway as you walk past, like the twinkling of a heatwave. Outside, I noticed this sweet (yet savage) bike!
Continuing with happy experiences, it was great that the National Library’s Bookplate restaurant was able to create a vegan salad on the spot for the same price ($15.90) as their “regular” Caesar salad. It’s my hope that one day there will be more options for diverse dietary choices in the Parliamentary Triangle.
I walked past the National Gallery and saw that the cast shadow of Neil Dawson’s Diamonds (2002, Sculpture, aluminium extrusion and mesh painted with synthetic polymer automotive paints, stainless steel fittings and cables) casts a shadow reminiscent of the silhouette of an icon in popular culture.
Enjoy the weekend, see some art, and remember to “Read across the universe” as advised by Children’s Book Week, 2013. Or just keep things horizontal a la Ms Cat.
I started to make a cake earlier in the day, but the raw mixture/batter always tastes better than the cooked product (unless you use coconut oil or cocoa butter, then the cooked cake is perfection). So it didn’t reach the oven.
It’s great as a late night pick-me-up, chocolate body paint (I guess?) or maybe even porridge topping.
I wouldn’t say it’s 100%, but as Genevieve says, “What the world needs is not another recipe for cake but the perfection of edible dough!”. Surely a worthwhile mission. I’m a big fan of raw Anzac biscuit dough, which may make it closer to perfection next time.
Vegan cake mix, no cooking required!
(could be rebranded as “Vegan chocolate pudding”)
Based on Mandy Stone’s Vegan Chocolate Cake from Martha Stewart, but halved (approximately) to try and modify dough intake.
1/3 cup hazelnut meal
1 cup of white flour (or coconut flour)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup melted vegan margarine
good dash of vanilla essence
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/8 cup cacao nibs
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Mix hazelnut meal, flour, cocoa powder, bicarb soda, salt and sugar.
Add melted vegan margarine, vanilla essence, and apple cider vinegar. Mix quickly.
Add desiccated coconut, cacao nibs, chopped walnuts.
Present a sundae glass (fancy!), or if we share slobbiness, eat out of the mixing bowl. I am normally against this, but you could double dip your spoon if you want to mark it as your private eating territory. Top with coconut cream if you need to wind back the sugary taste.
Avoid the temptation to add coconut essence – it is often made of glycerine which can be derived from animal fat.
My tummy hurts from eating too much cake mix – if I had cooked it I would have eaten less, but with 30% less enjoyment. Tummy and willpower need to talk.
It’s difficult to get vegan food in many parts of Canberra, but especially so in the parliamentary triangle. I propose that the current amenities review of the parliamentary zone result in a vegan food truck or wandering cupcake seller, it could be called govsnack (copyright Cush, @cu5h).
I’m providing this summary of my experience with cafés and restaurants in the parliamentary triangle in the hope that they’ll recognise the vegan/vegetarian market, without the requirement to phone ahead or make a special request. Look at the success of Sweet Bones in Braddon, only 4 kilometres away from the parliamentary triangle (but with a fair chunk of time trying to find a car park there and one on return).
I went to The Kitchen Cabinet (Old Parliament House), I’d been to their 2012 Chocolate Maker talk (see if you can find me in the photos!) which was very accommodating to vegans (but then it is pre-booked so it’s a different thing altogether). Today I was incorrectly enthused by their roast vegetables with pine nuts listed on their menu, before their staff member kindly pointed out that it was a quiche filling. Clearly subheadings on chalkboards are not my forte. There was lots of blocks and gift packs of Lindsay & Edmunds organic chocolate for sale, but solely milk or white chocolate combinations. If there was dark chocolate I could have bought it, as Peter is very insistent about not putting milk solids in chocolate (he mentioned this at the Chocolate Maker talk).
Lots of other produce including pumpkins, but I had already used up too much of my lunch break walking around so I didn’t have time to buy, chop, cook and eat vegetables from start to finish.
Lovely roses outside Parliament House, maybe I could eat them – rose petal icecream and lavender truffles are my top favourite foods of all time.
Here’s a list of other places to eat in the parliamentary triangle, if you want lunch on a weekday. Some of these places have excellent call-ahead vegan options but I hope that they become permanent menu items:
Promenade Café at Hyatt Hotel (custom risotto if you turn up for lunch without a call-ahead), I have also attended the weekend high tea where I’ve had a separate special meal (everyone else accesses the buffet), there was a chargrilled vegetable sandwich (average) and dessert plate (excellent). Make sure you mention it when you book the high tea tickets.
Pork Barrel (tomato or mushroom pizza with no cheese, depending on your view of veganism relating to yeast, no call-ahead),
Coffers at the Treasury building (basic white rice and vegetables, no call-ahead),
Bookplate at National Library (custom on-demand salads, call-ahead needed. They also do excellent vegan catering with lime-soaked coconut strawberries). Paperplate (LG1 level of the Library) has a noodle salad that could possibly be vegan,
Portrait Café at National Portrait Gallery (custom on-demand salad, zucchini balls, call-ahead definitely needed, which sometimes goes to their voicemail which means they are very busy and probably won’t make it),
Café Milieu at John Gorton building (sandwiches, basic rice with vegetables, no call-ahead), and
NGA Café (National Gallery) inside on lower ground level has an apple blackberry cake (but there were none today, very sad) and occasional dairy free salad. The Turner Tea Room on level one offers cream tea, lunch and high tea – I’m unsure if there are vegan variations on the menu offerings. The outside café might sometimes have vegan soup and bread at the during winter (today was wombok soup, which was apparently vegetarian but not vegan).
Places I haven’t tried for lunch during the week are Galileo Café (Questacon), Queen’s Terrace Café (Parliament House), Waters Edge, Lobby Restaurant, and the Deck (Regatta Point) and probably some others.
Sometimes it takes a lot of phone calls, planning and walking just to get lunch. Perhaps instead of parking spaces in the parliamentary triangle, we should convert all the parking spaces into community gardens so there would always be something to eat.
Get on the cosy winter trend but off the soup train with the comfort of pie, pie, pie.
I once saw a home decorating magazine cover that promoted a story, “How to be comfy”. People actually need cosifying instructions beyond recipes and pillows, like gentle lighting, rugs, texture and headboards (Welcome: How do you cosy-up a home?, 2011).
I would add, large mugs for drinking and eating (multi-purpose, to warm the hands), lavender heat packs, good quality socks and scarves, and remembering to cover your car before Jack Frost does it on your behalf (in Canberra, anyway). Plus of course, eating pie! Here’s my recipe.
Vegan shepherd’s pie recipe
Inspired by Sweet Potato and Lentil Pie by Amy and Andrew, via Uproar.
Blind bake a pastry crust on 180 degrees C for about 10 minutes.
Chop 2 onions, 1 sweet potato, 2 carrots and 1 stick of celery into small chunks. Boil or microwave until tender (if you like you can fry the onions with garlic). Drain. Cook 1 cup of brown rice and mix with the cooked vegetables. Add a tin of lentils in vegan gravy to the mixture. Mix in 2/3 cup of tomato pizza or pasta sauce or tomato paste. If it’s the last sauce in the jar, put some water in and shake it around to get it all out. Add 2 tablespoons of tamari. Sprinkle with vegan stock powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Put the filling in the blind baked pastry crust. Sometimes this will make enough filling for 2 pies, so just freeze the extra amount (in a pie dish), so that it’s the right shape for defrosting for another pie for ron.
Chop 9 or so potatoes into small chunks, cook in a small amount of stock until tender. Don’t drain it, keep the water in, use an electric beater to mash the potatoes, creating a well in the centre. Put a tablespoon of vegan margarine or oil in the well of the potato mixture. Heat 1 cup of soy milk and pour it on top of the margarine, then beat the whole mixture again. Put the mixture on top of the filling. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian herb mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, then place under the grill for 5 minutes to brown.
Welcome: How do you cosy-up a home? (2011). Real Living, (66), 9. Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre, EBSCOhost (accessed June 22, 2013).