Clovelly Restaurant

Clovelly 1
Clovelly Restaurant
Best Western / Olde Maritime Motor Inn
Corner of Banyan Street & Merri Street
Warrnambool, VIC 3280
AUSTRALIA
Ph: 03 5561 1415

When Mr. AA told me that he’d booked us a spa room here, I was ecstatic – but a quick Google for veg food options left me a bit worried. As it turns out, Warnambool is a little more veg-friendly than the internet led me to believe. I contacted the hotel more than a week in advance and explained my dietary requirements, hoping they could help me out – and they kindly obliged. Just in case you’re wondering, you don’t need to be a hotel guest to eat here.

Clovelly 2

If you’re up for a fine dining experience, I can definitely recommend coming here. Mr. AA & I are fairly casual people, so when the waitress called him “sir”, I just about choked on my water! You’re treated with the utmost respect when you’re a guest at Clovelly. The décor is clean, simple and understated and the staff are friendly, professional and can confidently recite the day’s specials to you.

The only vegan options on the menu are the side dishes: steamed veg, garden salad & sweet potato fries. There’s spinach and ricotta canneloni on the menu for those of you who are vegetarian and still eat dairy and eggs. I humbly told the hotel that I’d be happy to have a main-sized serve of the side dishes (chips & salad) and was pleasantly surprised when I received this on the first night!

Veg Stack

Normally when it comes to vegetable stacks, I freak out a little over how oily they are. They alwaysalwaysalways need something acidic to cut through the weight of the oil and freshen the meal up a bit. In most cases, even a simple lemon wedge will do – in this case, the chef dotted the stack with warm semi-dried tomatoes. The tomato juice bursted in my mouth and undoutbedly “made” the dish. The sweet potato fries were perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside making them a great guilty pleasure, and the salad was good but nothing to rave about. All in all, I was really pleased with this; I honestly never thought I could feel so full from eating a plate of veggies! The variety buried in there was decent… Somewhere in there was eggplant, zucchini, carrot, capsicum, radishes and squash.

I was kindly invited back for dinner the following night for another [different] vegan meal and I accepted!

Fijian Curry
Fijian Curry

This was a Fijian curry – something I’d never had before. If you’ve never had one either, it comes fairly close to a Malay style curry in flavour. Again, I was surprised with an impressive varriety of veg: onion, eggplant, zucchini, carrot, red and green capsicum & celery. The eggplant was the stand-out vegetable here and the sauce, while seeming mild to my mouth, actually caused my nose to run. I love a good curry and after this experience, Fijian cuisine is something I’d like to explore a little more.

Clovelly 3

A shout-out and huge thank you to Jonathon & staff for going above and beyond what was requested and expected. It was so nice to feel warmly welcomed and catered to!

If you’re a vegan and thinking of heading here, I highly recommend it – just make sure you give plenty of notice as a courtesy.

For the non-vegans, apparently the seafood platter is amazing – Mr. AA loved it so much that he ate it two nights in a row!

Fishtales Café

Fishtales 1
Fishtales Café
63 Liebig Street
Warrnambool, VIC 3280
AUSTRALIA

Fishtales 2

With a name like Fishtales, in a regional town on the coast, my assumption was that this might be a fish n chips experience so I planned to bypass it — until I saw this chalk board out the front!

Fishtales 3

The interior was brightly painted and bustling. The wait staff are on the ball and the meals come out quickly – these guys don’t waste any time! There’s a courtyard out the back but on a hot day, the thick walls keep the inside a little cooler, despite the lack of fans/air conditioning.

Fishtales Veg Burgers

This was undoubtedly the most overwhelming menu I’ve ever had to deal with – at six pages long, I really didn’t know what to do and I was admittedly already a little delirious from the 40C heat. There wasn’t a page dedicated to vegetarian options, it was instead spread out like this: an all day breakfast menu, a fish & chips menu, a burger menu, a drinks menu and so on. I had to scan the pages to see what was available to me (more menu photos below) – the vegan options aren’t marked in any way, so just a note to anyone not very savvy when it comes to ordering vegan options… If the vegetarian item contains aioli or pesto, ask for your meal without these.

Fishtales 5
Love Potion No.9 Juice – OJ, Apple, Beetroot & Strawberry

Fishtales 4
Summer Cooler Juice – Watermelon, Apple & Mint

The juices were delicious and thirst quenching, but served at room temperature, which was pretty warm. Thankfully they were happy to provide us with a cup of ice on request!

Fishtales 7
Tofu Burger

When I saw the wholemeal bun, I already felt like I was winning. From bottom to top was: hommus, carrot/red capsicum/bean shoots, tofu, sweet chili sauce, tomato & mixed lettuce. The tofu was obviously of high quality and not over cooked – it had a really nice dense but fluffy texture. Simple but delicious, I’d definitely eat this again and could even make it at home!

Fishtales 6
Chilli Chips

Ok… So I have a bit of a weakness for chips/fries. I didn’t ask any questions about these when ordering (stupid) but thought I better clear it up with them afterwards, just to be sure. On the up side, the chips are vegan/don’t contain any animal fat. On the down side, they share a fryer with seafood. Whether you decide to eat these or not is totally up to your discretion – they taste great, but knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn’t order them again. It just feels a little… Gross. I don’t regret trying them though and I won’t judge you if you decide to have a taste!

Below are some menu photos for your to browse – there was an entire page of international cuisine (curries/stir fries) that I bypassed completely because of the weather, but I know there was some suitable options there too, I just forgot to photograph them. It didn’t appear that any of the sweets on offer in the display cabinet were vegan, but I wasn’t too disappointed by that.

If we were in town longer, I’d love to try a few more things on the menu – we might just have to pencil in another trip for this purpose (no, I’m not joking – there’s also an Indian restaurant and a handful of Thai restaurants in town that I won’t have a chance to check out, sadly!).

Fishtales Breakfast

Fishtales Other Veg Options

Fishtales Focaccias

Fishtales Juice 1

Fishtales Juice 2

Fishtales Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cactus Jam

Cactus Jam 1
Cactus Jam
50 Liebig Street
Warrnambool
VIC 3280
AUSTRALIA

Mr. AA was kind enough to book us a short holiday in Warrnambool – his ulterior motive was a sci-fi exhibition at the local art gallery, which he made up for by booking us a room with a spa (ha!). Both Google and Happy Cow left me feeling fairly nervous about my food options, but thankfully the strip of restaurants a block from our hotel wasn’t quite as dismal as I expected.

Cactus Jam 2

We stopped in at Cactus Jam for lunch today. All signs on Google point to this being a Taco Bill restaurant, but it’s not. From what I can gather, it used to be (?). It’s fairly big inside and I’m pretty sure they need the space because when we walked past last night, it was busy.

Cactus Jam 3

Upon arrival we were greeted and seated with a trusty bowl of corn chips and salsa. These chips were really thin and crispy – definitely not the standard supermarket variety. I’m glad the bowl was small, because I could have easily filled up on them!

Cactus Jam 4
Vegetarian tostada without dairy – $9.90

It’s slim pickings for vegetarians, with only two options for lunch and just a few more for dinner. The nachos wouldn’t be the same without cheese and sour cream (or some kind of vegan substitute for them), plus I was in the mood for beans – so I ordered the tostada without dairy. It’s served on a corn tortilla, so it’s gluten free. Tortilla types aren’t specified on the menu, so you’re best off asking the wait staff about this – Mr. AA’s fajita was served with a flour tortilla.

Taste-wise, it was exactly what you’d expect and what you see is what you get. The only thing it really needed was some spice/heat in the pinto beans. They were fairly plain, so if you’re not already a bean lover, you might find yourself sorely disappointed. On the up side, Mr. AA was impressed with the fajita and the service was perfect. The girls were there when we needed them without us having to look around for their attention and they didn’t linger or pester us.

Cactus Jam 5

Cactus Jam is a licensed venue, so there’s a fairly good drinks menu – including Mexican beers and an impressive variety of margaritas! I ordered the mango and Mr. AA ordered the lime.

Cactus Jam 6
Mango Margarita.

It was about 36C outside when we stopped for lunch and this drink was SO PERFECT. It was ice-cold and smooth; we agreed that these were far too easy to drink so make sure you walk here, don’t drive. You’ll want to sample as many flavours as possible. Both the mango and lime were excellent.

Taco Bill Mexican Restaurant Warrnambool on Urbanspoon

Breakfast on the go!

I had every intention of eating these with a basic chia pudding and some raw caramel, but I ran out of time. These are the last of my organic cherries – I bought a tub (yes, a TUB) at the local market last week. I’m going to have to pick up some more this Sunday… What I can’t eat, I will have to pit and freeze for smoothies/raw desserts. They’re just too good to pass up!

Recipe Review: Mini Raw Sweet Potato Caramel Pecan Pies

Raw Swt Potato Pie 1
Mini Raw Sweet Potato Caramel Pecan Pies

A friend of mine form out of town visited yesterday – she’s a raw food lover and requested that I make this pie for her from Fragrant Vanilla Cake. Admittedly, I was pretty apprehensive about eating raw sweet potato because I know it can get that floury coating on it like regular potatoes so I decided to make a back up recipe as well. To my surprise, the sweet potato was superb and my back up recipe was the one that failed!

Raw Swt Potato Pie 2

The most time consuming part of this was soaking, sprouting and dehydrating the buckwheat for the crust. The rest was fairly easy to put together, but it ended up being a very expensive dessert – I used about $15 worth of pecans, $10 of medjool dates, $5 of vanilla extract & beans, plus all the other specialty items (coconut oil, coconut butter, raw cashews etc.), some of which I thankfully already had on hand.

That being said, the recipe yielded double what I expected. Instead of two mini pies, I actually had four – so you could easily use this recipe to make one small to normal sized cake.

Raw Swt Potato Pie 3

Flavour-wise, it was pretty impressive. The caramel alone was the best sweet thing I’ve eaten in ages and I could have downed it by the spoonful (ok, maybe I did). The sweet potato filling was bursting with flavour – heavily spiced and no trace of floury-ness from the raw sweet potato – though to be sure, I whizzed it up in my Blendtec rather than my food processor. I didn’t want to risk any grainyness. And the crust has a great texture – which included a little extra crunch from the buckwheat. Individually, each element of the pies was astoundingly delicious, but altogether it was a little too sweet and rich for me. It probably doesn’t need the caramel, but I wouldn’t skip it, because that’s the best part.

The price alone will turn me off making these adorable little pies again, but the caramel is most likely going to be a staple in my repertoire. I can’t get enough of it and want to eat it over and over again. Perhaps even with my sweet quinoa porridge or a basic chia pudding!

Death Star Cake Pops

Well, here it is: Mr. AA’s birthday “cake” – a fleet of nerdy, edible Death Stars.

Death Star Cake Pop - Vader 1
Darth Vader endorses Death Star cake pops.*

Despite them being a bit of a “craze”, I didn’t really know much about cake pops until this experiment – and although I did a bit of research and asked a friend of mine plenty of questions, I still ran into a few problems. I’ll talk you through the process with some photos below.

First up, I was horrified to learn that the inside of a standard cake pop is crumbled cake mixed with icing to bind it all together. This just seems like WAY too much sugar for my liking. Mr. AA isn’t much of a sweet tooth, so I tried to find a way around this by purchasing one of these silicone moulds that will bake your cake into spheres (hence eliminating the icing altogether). I thought this was a rather brilliant solution. The outside of a standard cake pop is made from “candy melts” – something that isn’t even remotely vegan. The next best thing? Melt some chocolate. Easy peasy.

To make the process a little quicker, easier and gluten-free-friendly, I started by using an Orgran cake mix. This back fired on me a little – the gluten free gal I shared them with thought they were great, but this was hands down one of the worst cakes I’ve ever tasted. It was rubbery in texture and fairly bland. You could tell it was made with water and the sugar and chocolate flavours just weren’t strong enough. The cake mix also didn’t rise too well, leaving my spheres a little flat and lop sided.

Death Star Cake Pop Tray
Silicone cake pop tray in action. Cakes pictured contain gluten.

So… I went ahead and made two more batches of cake batter from scratch. I used the “basic chocolate cupcakes” and “simple vanilla & agave nectar cupcakes” from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. These worked brilliantly – they rose the right amount and tasted amazing.

Tips/notes:

  • Use a cupcake recipe rather than a cake recipe for the batter.
  • Don’t be conservative – fill the pods to the top.
  • The holes in the top half of the silicone tray are for releasing steam. Don’t try and poke your sticks through there.
  • Place the silicone tray on a metal tray or it’ll flop around and you’ll make a mess with your batter.
  • After cooking, leave to cool for a couple of minutes before peeling off the top half of the silicone tray.
  • Leave to cool a little longer before removing the spheres and popping onto a cooling rack. If you’re having trouble removing the balls, poke a sharp toothpick into the sides to help loosen them.

DS Cake Pop Insert Stick

Right. Next! I was told by more than one person that the best way to get your stick to stay in there comfortably is to freeze the balls, melt some chocolate, dip the stick in melted chocolate and insert into frozen balls. The freezing probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it helps. Trust me. It means your cake won’t fall apart in your hands when you’re trying to push the stick in and the cold temperature will set the chocolate fairly quickly.

Death Star Cake Pop Cut Out

Now that the sticks are in, it’s time to cut out the “dish”. You can skip this step if you’re making regular cake pops, but who would want regular cake pops when they could have DEATH STAR CAKE POPS. Am I right?

Whether you want to freeze these for a little while again or not is totally up to you. If it’s a hot day, I’d recommend it. If not, grab your paring knife and get started. I hope this part is fairly self explanatory, as I didn’t take any photos or video of me doing it. But basically a small, sharp, pointy knife will go a long way in making this easy for you.

Time to put these back in the freezer (yes, again). At this point, you’re probably thinking I’m a little insane, so I’m just going to point out two things. 1/ I really really love Mr. AA and 2/ I worked on these 3 nights in a row after work. They didn’t come together in a few hours… So yes, they will require some love, time and effort.

DS Chocolate Coating

The next step is to melt some chocolate. You don’t need a special pot for this – I used a small pot with some water in it and a ceramic bowl on top. The golden rule is: don’t let the boiling water touch the bowl. If it does, your chocolate will over heat and be ruined to the point of no return.

You’ll need a chunk of polystyrene for this – I recommend making a series of holes in it in advance with a skewer or screw driver. Leave it in the freezer.

Cover each cake pop with melted chocolate by dipping it into the bowl and twirling it around. Tap on the edges of the bowl until all the excess chocolate drips off, then stand it in the polystyrene in the freezer. Repeat for each individual cake pop. This process is a little slow and painful, but worth it.

Tips/notes:

  • If you’re using dark chocolate, you won’t have any issues. If you use white, chocolate, however, you’ll find that it doesn’t melt down quite as thin. In fact, it’ll still be fairly thick and difficult to work with. Whisk in a little canola oil to help thin it out. If you don’t, your bowl will be full of cake that has been torn off by the thick chocolate. It might make you cry. Or swear. Or both.

You’re nearly there…

Death Star Cake Pop Fleet

I painted these guys with some cheap paint brushes, as I don’t have air brushing tools. It worked fine, but you’ll need to leave the base coat to dry for a few hours before painting on the smaller details.

Tips/notes:

  • Don’t take these out of the freezer and try to paint them on a really hot day. Condensation will keep building up on the chocolate making it near impossible to paint – especially since the paint is water soluble.

Death Star Silver Food Paint

I used this silver food paint, which claims to be both vegetarian and gluten free. As far as I could tell, it’s also vegan – however ingredient E110 states “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. Probably not the best thing to be putting into your body, but I made an exception for this special occassion.

There wasn’t enough difference between the light & dark shades of silver paint, so I mixed some black food colouring into the dark silver which made it show up a lot better against the light silver, but it also reduced the colourfast-ness of the paint and resulted in silver lips while eating. Oh well. It’s ok to look like a space man once in a while!

So there you have it – a lengthy tutorial on a special Star Wars dessert.

Death Star Cake Pop - Vader 2

*This is not an official endorsement; I’m just being silly.

Watermelon Keg

After seeing this link via Facebook, I simply couldn’t resist trying to make my own watermelon keg.

I don’t drink alcohol often, so when I do, you know it’s a special occassion – and I don’t do special occassions by halves. I invited a few girlfriends over for a catch up the other week so that I could try and impress someone with this exciting project.

Watermelon Keg
Mr. AA and I successfully made our own watermelon keg!

This is really not as hard as it looks – the worst part is trying to hunt down a tap for it. I tried various hardware stores but had no luck and the local home brew store only had fancy beer taps for $50+ – in the end, I used a tap that was a spare part for our ceramic water filter which cost me $20. The type of tap you’re looking for is called a “spigot” and will have a grommet and nut of some sort on the back to hold it in place. The watermelon was pretty heavy – that came in at just under $10.

Watermelon Keg

After cutting a flat spot on the bottom and making a “lid” out of the top, we proceeded to scoop out all the flesh and install the tap. I juiced the flesh on a low setting on my juicer, then blended the juice with ice, vodka & lime juice, stirring in some lemonade after I’d poured the cocktail into the keg. I figured if I put the lemonade in the blender, it’d create a fizzy explosion. Make sure your drink is a thin liquid – be careful of using a smoothie in this keg, as the smallest lump will block your tap.

In regards to offering advice from my own experience… I’d recommend trying to find a watermelon that isn’t too curved around the bottom. Mine was fairly spherical, which meant that installing the tap near the bottom made it point downwards on a strange angle. The only other thing I would change for next time would be to cut the top (lid) off in a bit of a zig zag pattern so that the lid stays on without slipping and it keeps the drink cold – we had to use a few toothpicks to hold this smooth lid place.

OM Vegetarian

OM Veg sign

OM Vegetarian
Level 1, 28 Elizabeth St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Open: 11am – 9pm, 7 days a week. This place is a few doors down from Lord of the Fries, you’ll see that yellow sign hanging outside.

OM Veg Inside

OM Vegetarian is in a quiet, relaxed room above the bustling Melbourne CBD. While not a Krishna establishment, it holds the same peaceful values: meditation, spirituality, charity, simplicity. None of this is pushed into your face, however there’s some flyers on the window sills which you can help yourself to if you feel so inclined.

OM Veg meal

The offerings are fairly basic – two curries, rice, something pickled and naan bread. You can go back for as many helpings as you like for a mere $6.50! The food is earthy and comforting – definitely in the “soul food” category. When I visited, I was lucky enough that both curries on offer were vegan, though I’m not sure if this is always the case. On the up side, they knew what vegan meant when I asked about the menu – so it was nice to skip the painful step of having to explain it.

We had an aloo ghobi (potato & cauliflower) curry and a kidney & mung bean curry. Both really blew me away – they were outstanding for what they were. How is it, that no matter how tasty my home made curries are, they’re never *this great*? I’m sure India is keeping a secret ingredient from me.

The naan bread was incredible – the one on offer had butter on it, but they’ll serve you vegan naan on request. I was even offered seconds and couldn’t resist. It was the softest, fluffiest, dreamy-cloud-like naan I’ve ever eaten and I’d go back for that alone.

The pickled chili wasn’t really my thing, so I left most of it on my plate. It was far too sour for me, but Mr. AA suggested eating it with some naan, which helped mute the flavour a little.

For an extra $2, you can buy a glass of lassi (not vegan), bottled water or soft drink. There was also a couple of other items in the bain marie that I didn’t ask about simply because I was too full – samosas and gulab jaman.

OM Veg Training

The whole time I was sitting in there, I kept wondering how on earth they can afford their rent when they only charge $6.50 for all-you-can-eat meals… then on the way out, we saw this sign next to the elevator and a sign over the kitchen door that said “training kitchen”. After realising that the meals were cooked by people in training/not yet qualified, my experience felt a little more impressive.

Cindy & Michael from where’s the beef? have also been here and posted some photos and a small write up – it looks as though they were as impressed by the naan as I was!