A bakery crawl, like a pub crawl, is just that; no regrets. A friend of mine and I took it upon ourselves to visit two vegan bakeries in Melbourne. Our first stop was at ‘Mr Nice Guys’ down on Union St, Ascot Vale. They say when finding a good place to eat, always go where there are lots of people. Mr Nice Guys was no exception. The place was packed! Walking in here was like walking into a playground of vegan awesomeness. Every awesome, crazy and almost unbelievable creation in this place is vegan.
In their glistening cake cabinet they have vegan cakes and cupcakes such as the ‘unicorn milkshake’, the ‘coffee and doughnuts’ cupcake, the ‘popcorn mudslide’ and the to-die-for ‘bronut’ (brownie-doughnut!). Closer to the counter they have an array of vegan pastries, such as their ‘potato, rosemary and bechamel danish’ and their ‘choc chip custard danish’ pastries. They have vegan biscuits and pies, they do amazing milkshakes and good coffee. My friend and I shared a vegan croissant and a pretzel ‘hotdog’ (also vegan). The croissant was soft and flaky and the pretzel dog was everything a pretezel should be; ‘tasty, salty goodness!’. The shop has cute tables and chairs both inside and out, with teapots as sugar bowls and a bowl of water by their sign out front for doggo. Mr Nice Guys is allergy friendly and stocks gluten free and soy free options as well. Well worth the trip, much recommended and would do again! Good brunch spot!
After that we took the hour long drive from Ascotvale, down to Daniel’s Doughnuts, in Springvale. Daniel’s does both vegan and non vegan doughnuts. Again, the place was packed. The line inside the shop itself was at least three people deep and outside it was at least 10 meters out the door! It was well worth the wait though. I got a vegan jam doughnut and a vegan Oreo doughnut. My friend got the salted caramel and a cinnamon. Once you’ve eaten there, you can see why people flock to it. Their doughnuts are so light, fluffy and indulgent. We sat in the sun at their tables outside and devoured them. They were so good, I was tempted to line up in that epic line again. They’re open 24 hours (unbelievable right?). While Spring Vale is a fair hike for most of us (unless you’re lucky enough to live close by) Daniel’s Doughnuts would make for the perfect, late-night drive.
I tried out Sorrento’s craft brew Broo Lager last night. It was on special at the local bottle-o and I’d heard good things. I spent the rest of the night chilling out, streaming episodes of Ugly Americans and 2 Broke Girls, (a guilty pleasure) on YouTube and drinking said brew. You know when you have something that just epitomizes what it’s supposed to be? This beer does this. You drink it and and you think, ‘I don’t know how, in words, to pin down what beer is, but this is what beer is’. Craft beers at the moment seem to be becoming increasingly more complicated, experimental and brewers are crossing over styles, sometimes multiple times. While I applaud this, think this expansion of beer and its palate is truly wonderful and some stellar beers have been created as a result, it’s also refreshing to know that true classics are still valued, appreciated and are being made. Their website, Broo Beer (click on that if you want to find out more) proudly states that this beer is Australian owned, which I think is pretty good, especially on the back of the recent announcement that yet another Australian brew – Mountain Goat – has just been sold to an international company, in this case, Asahi Breweries. But enough of this ramble. I woke up to find I’d fallen asleep with three quarters of a beer left. Rather than let good beer go to waste I decided to make a beer batter seafood basket (also to procrastinate and put off doing planning for work next term…). So here’s the recipe.
3/4 bottle of Broo Lager (or any good quality beer, about 280-285mL)
a good handful or two of plain flour in a bowl seasoned with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (I used Lauke Crusty White Bread Flour, but all purpose plain flour will do)
1/2 tsp mustard
Using a whisk, gradually add beer to flour until you have a batter the consistency of a pancake batter. Beat in mustard and leave to rest.
1 clean squid tube cut into rings
1 fillet of Trevalley fish or any other firm white fish (e.g. Flake, Whiting e.c.t.) cut into roughly 5 by 3cm chunks.
Heat 2 cm depth of vegetable oil in a deep pan until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds or a wooden skewer bubbles when dipped in.
dredge the squid and fish in batter, shake off excess and fry in batches, turning over after each side goes golden and crisp. (Squid takes maybe 2 minutes, fish about 3 – 4 minutes – I didn’t really time it, but keep a careful eye as the hot oil will cook the pieces through very quickly. 2- 3 minutes will leave you with lovely, tender fish)
drain on paper towel and place on a bed of fresh bok choy leaves.
Serve with Guacamole
Season a mashed avocado with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, mustard, lime juice, 1/2 chili pounded together with a garlic clove and a pinch of salt, sweet chili sauce and some chopped coriander
My mate and I went for a random road trip down the coast the other day. I’ve been wanting to check out Bellarine Estate Wines on the Bellarine Peninsula for a while now. They have superb wines and incredible beer. We got there about half an hour to forty five minutes before closing, ordered a tasting paddle of their brews and sat out in the sun under their big umbrellas that overlook Port Phillip Bay on one side and their vineyard on the other. We both got fixated on their Two Wives Ginga Beer. It was sweet, spicy, not overly carbonated, creamy yet still really light and summery, unlike any ginger beer my friend and I had ever had. I asked the guy behind the bar what to put it with, food wise and after some thought he said Asian and seafood, which is where I came up with the idea to pair this with salt and pepper, ginger, chili calamari. This brew comes in 500mL long necks. Good Bottle-O’s around Victoria will stock it. The Duncan’s around the corner from me regularly has them in. Alternatively, go out there and pick up some for yourself. It’s a stunning winery and worth the drive. They do lunches, wine and beer tastings and live music on Sundays. Their Ginga Beer goes for $8 a bottle at the cellar door and is a stellar drop. Bottoms up.
This is a super easy lunch or tea. Perfect for weekend drinking.
2 (or more) tubes, cleaned and cut into thin rings or strips (you can find good quality, pre-cleaned calamari tubes in any good fish mongers – saves you stuffing around with removing beaks and heads and backbones and all that messy stuff)
a handful of flour in a bowl mixed with a generous sprinkle of salt and cracked pepper
1 chopped chili, a piece of fresh, grated ginger and a clove or 2 of garlic (if garlic is starting to shoot, remove shoot and use the rest, as the shoot will make your mix taste bitter) pounded in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt
cleaned and separated bok choy leaves to serve
vegetable oil for frying
make a bed of bok choy leaves in a large serving bowl
heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat
dredge squid in salt-pepper flour
Turn heat up to high and drop squid pieces into hot oil and fry for a few minutes until flesh no longer looks translucent. (3 minutes or so – taste test a piece – it should be whitish inside but still tender)
place squid over bok choy and mix a tsp or two of your chili mix. The residual heat will wilt the leaves and make the whole dish sweet and tasty.
serve with a bottle of cold Two Wives Ginga Beer ( a bottle per person).
Simply put, this is about local produce around Victoria; what there is, where to find it and what to do with it.