Vegan MoFo day 16: An outing

It’s mid-way through Vegan MoFo, and a justifiable time for a brief break in the street food theme. What better reason than the Living Green Festival? The Living Green Festival is Canberra’s first festival celebrating compassionate, ethical lifestyles. In a small town like this, it’s easy to feel like the only vegan around, but this festival was a great reminder that there are others out there, and that for a small town in the middle of nowhere, we don’t have it so bad after all.

There were stalls held by a number of animal welfare organisations, vegan stores, political parties and restaurants- and of course, it was the food that was the big drawcard for us.

Ethiopian plate

Ethiopian food is one of the best things about Canberra. Our hometown, Adelaide, only has a couple of Ethiopian restaurants. But Canberra, while a fraction of the size, has at least four or five, all of which are very vegan-friendly. This Ethiopian plate of injera, kik alicha (yellow split peas), kidney beans and samosas came from Global Ethiopian. We haven’t been there before, but this was great so we’ll definitely check it out. Bonus points for the staff being so friendly- though this might have been because I seemed to be the only patron who knew what injera was.

Chadwiko also picked up some satay skewers and spring rolls from Kingsland Vegetarian, but being not-so-great at blogging, he ate it all while I was in line for my Ethiopian food and neglected to take a photo. His verdit- satay was a hit, spring rolls a miss. We’ll probably stick to our favourite restaurant, Au Lac, a few doors down from Kingsland.

But of course, it’s not a vegan festival without a sugar overdose.

Chocolate swirl cheesecake

First up- chocolate swirl cheesecake from Rubyfruit Bakery. This was the highlight of my day. Super creamy and delicious. Rubyfruit is currently a wholesale and commission bakery only, but they let us know that a physical store is on the cards in the future. The downside- they’re based in the Blue Mountains, about three hours away. But who am I kidding? We’ll make the trip for more cheesecake.

Chadwiko ponders the glory of vegan cheesecake

Chadwiko liked it so much that he saved some for later.

Pecan tart and jaffa fudge cupcake

This jaffa fudge cupcake was also from Rubyfruit. Not only is it adorable, but it’s also the lightest, most delicate cake that I can remember trying- vegan or otherwise. The pecan tart came from the volunteers running the festival. This was definitely the maple pecan pie recipe from Isa and Terry’s newly released pie book (also available online!), but this remains one of my favourite pies from testing so there are no complaints from me.

Vegan Online at the Living Green Festival

The other best part of the day was poring over all the treats available at Vegan Online‘s stall. I can’t say enough good things about Vegan Online- I order from them all the time, and they’ve always been awesome. The range is great, and they’re super nice- they even sent me some free Sheese when a dodgy courier held my delivery hostage. Today we picked up some Jokerz bars (my favourite) and some Food for Lovers’ vegan queso. I’ve been waiting for so long to try this stuff, and it definitely lives up to the hype. A couple of stalls down, I also grabbed some vegan condensed milk which will hopefully feature in a street food treat later this week.

All in all, a great day. And a great turnout- hopefully this means more similar events for Canberra’s vegan population to come out of hiding.

Vegan MoFo day 15: Bánh mì and a birthday

I’ve never entirely understood the phenomenon of the complicated sandwich. Sure, sandwiches are nice. But if I’m putting in a lot of effort to make something to eat, I want something a little more rewarding than a sandwich. Chadwiko disagrees, proclaiming sandwiches to be amongst the most perfect foods ever created. It’s a sore subject in the Wiko house.

But despite my sandwich-related reservations, I had to pause when I came across Bryanna Clark Grogan’s recipe for bánh mì in World Vegan Feast. I never did try the classic street food sandwich during my too-brief time in Vietnam, and I did have some leftover seitan waiting to be used in the fridge… and admittedly, it did sound delicious.

Bánh mì chay

And it was. More surprisingly, though, this was nowhere near as much effort as expected- for a sandwich containing four separate recipes. The nuoc cham sauce and carrot pickle came together in a matter of minutes, while the marinated seitan was grilling. The fresh herbs here (I used basil and mint) were what set this apart and helped to make the sandwich simultaneously hearty and light-tasting. I may have to rethink my stance on sandwiches.

While sandwiches are terribly exciting, there was another notable event in the Wiko house today- the first birthday of our beloved mutt, Hank Scorpio. This might not technically be Hank’s birthday- he was a rescue dog of age ‘around three months’ when he joined us (on January 15th- we chose to take the ‘around three months’ literally)- he still deserved a celebration. And what’s a celebration without cake?

I halved this recipe for apple-peanut butter cake (for dogs!) and baked it in a mini-springform pan. A quick glance at the ingredients could lead you to believe that this is a healthy recipe for humans, and at first Hank wasn’t so sure that the cake was for him either.

But once he realised that yes, it was his cake, there was no looking back.

If Hank had thumbs, I’m sure he’d be using them to give his cake a thumbs up. Luckily for him, we made him pace himself and not eat the whole thing at once. There’s plenty left for tomorrow, though he’d best not get too used to this- I need time to make cakes for me, too.

But for now, he deserves to be a little bit spoiled. Here’s to many more happy years together, Hank.

Vegan MoFo day 14: Home away from home

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have made a number of trips to Europe to visit my family in Germany. One thing I never considered fortunate, however, was typical German food. Even as an omnivorous child, I found the meat-heavy diet favoured in Germany to be offputting at best. I’ve since discovered that German cuisine doesn’t necessarily have to be the meat-stuffed-with-meat-in-meat-sauce that I’d come across- it can actually be vegan, and delicious too.

Street food, though, is a bigger challenge. When I texted my German-born mother to let her know that the Berlin  favourite, currywurst, was on the menu tonight, she expressed some disbelief (or rather, I surmised as much from her response of ‘whaaaaaaaat?’). But it can be done, and the vegan version is not nearly as bad as child-me would have anticipated.


Like most German street food, currywurst is all about sausage. In this case, it’s smothered with a curry-powder spiked tomato sauce, and usually served with either fries or bread rolls. I went with both- that is, if you replace fries with potato wedges and a bread roll with a hotdog bun- and topped it all with caramelised onions.

I used Vegan Dad’s recipe for bratwurst with a pinch of caraway added, and it worked beautifully. As soon as the spices were added, a familiar smell filled the kitchen and I knew that we had a winner. This recipe for currywurst sauce also couldn’t have been easier or more delicious. Despite the lack of meat, this was surprisingly authentic-tasting alongside a cold beer… and it came with the very authentic uncomfortable fullness that comes after a German meal.

But in true German fashion, the feeding didn’t stop there.

Soft peanut butter pretzels

Because what’s a beer without a pretzel? This unapologetically inauthentic recipe comes from the decadent Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites. The peanut butter in these isn’t that prominent, but they’re so soft and comforting that I don’t mind at all. As a bonus, they’re fancy-looking without a whole lot of effort. These actually came together a lot quicker than I’d expected, and the boiling before baking is just good fun.

So it would seem that I’m now prepared for Christmas in my not-so-vegan-friendly hometown-away-from-home in Germany this year… as long as pretzels are an acceptable choice for the family Christmas meal.

Vegan MoFo day 13: Viva Mexico

On our trip to North America last year, Chadwiko and I decided that the US and Canada wasn’t enough for us- we wanted to cross both US borders. High on ambition and short on time, we took the logical route of catching a bus from San Diego to Tijuana (much to the horror of several fellow travellers). The reason for our visit, according to US Customs’ records? ‘Lunch’.

Chadwiko enjoying lunch at the restaurant/bar/tattoo shop.

I’ll be the first to admit that our brief trip to Mexico was anything but authentic. We ate at a restaurant, bar and tattoo shop rolled into one, where the owner wandered around seemingly trying to drown patrons in tequila. We bought wrestling masks and were hassled to buy Emiliano Zapata t-shirts (I kind of regret not buying one). I was yelled at and chased by a man who demanded money from me because he had painted a donkey to look like a zebra (I was suitably unimpressed). But the big thing that was missing in our short time was the street food.

Still a little bit sad about the missed opportunity, I decided to semi-rectify it with a street food recipe from the state of Baja California.

Baja-style tempeh tacos

This recipe for Baja tempeh tacos with pineapple and red pepper-chipotle salsa is another winner from World Vegan Feast. The tempeh is marinated in a super delicious, coconut milk-based marinade, then coated in panko and baked. This is the perfect substitute for the fish normally found in these tacos, and it’s so good that we couldn’t stop ourselves from eating it straight from the baking tray. Perfect. This was also the first time I’d made a pineapple salsa- it’s definitely something different, but I loved it. It’s hard to mess up fresh pineapple, and this recipe does it so right. Next time I’d just give myself a bit more time to make the salsa in advance and let the sweet, spicy and smoky flavours meld- this time aronud I barely had enough time to let the main ingredients cool after roasting.

Tacos in Australia are usually nothing to write home- or to the internet- about, so this fancy take on tacos was a great change, and something I can see going on our regular dinner rotation. And just quietly, this made me fall in love with World Vegan Feast a little bit (okay, a lot) more.

I can’t wait to visit Mexico again, and give it the attention that it deserves- our brief one afternoon stand was not nearly enough. But there’s no bus from Canberra (¡qué pena!), so for now these tacos will have to tide me over.