Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Swan Valley Cafe - revisited

I recently celebrated my birthday with an all vegan dinner at Swan Valley Cafe with some friends. I had been there before, but only for breakfast. This time, I had a special menu arranged, consisting of vegan/raw vegan entree and vegan/raw vegan main.
I opted for the gazpacho for the entree, as I have never had it before and being a hot summer's night, I thought a cold soup would go down well. For some, the idea of eating a cold soup might not appeal but I have to say it was refreshing,  and despite my general aversion to garlic, was very tasty, indeed.

The other entree option was the spicy black bean soup which, although I had not tasted, was a popular choice with my friends. My partner, who had it, assured me that it was delicious.
Next up was the vegan main. Again, I opted for the raw vegan lasagna.  I have never had one of these before and so was not sure as to what I would be getting. I am only just now starting to learn more about raw vegan cooking. What I have learnt was that it takes a fair amount of preparation. One look at the plate set down before me showed that. There were many layers and much slicing of vegetables involved. I was intrigued by the thickish yellow sauce in between some of the layers. My guess was that it was cashew cream based. The raw lasagna was lovely and I certainly appreciated the work that went into creating it. The salad served on the side was fresh. No wilted lettuce in sight. I was so excited by the event and having so many of my friends present that I found I could not eat very much, so the cafe manager asked if I would like to take the remainder home. I took her up on her offer and lets just saw that that dish tasted just as good the next day, cold from the fridge!

The other main option was the Morrocan simmer with polenta. Again, I had not tasted this but was told that it was very good.

My guests then had the option of having a vegan dessert. Some opted for chocolate mousse, others for cheesecake. As you can see by the photos, the presentation was lovely.

All in all, I was happy that I was able to have my birthday at a vegan friendly venue, with an all vegan menu. My guests ranged from vegan, to vegetarians, to omnivores - and they all seemed to have enjoyed the experience.

The Swan Valley Cafe staff were friendly and the service was prompt.
They do special events/functions by special request. For my event, we had the venue to ourselves in the evening which was great. The one stipulation is that you must have 20+ people attending. If you are interested in having your own function here, just call the cafe and discuss dates, times and menu items.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Recipe: Quinoa Minestrone Soup

I love minestrone soup and I love quinoa, so when I came across this recipe in the book "Quinoa 365" by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming, I knew I had to try it. The book's recipe is vegetarian but veganizing it was very simple to do.

It is a an easy recipe and the results are unbelievably tasty! In fact,  I would suggest doubling all the ingredients to make enough for leftovers, as it tasted just as good the next day, reheated. The amounts given below will serve two very hungry people or perhaps 3-4 entree sizes.

What you will need:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onion (optional)
1 medium carrot, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
half tsp salt
1 can diced tomatoes, including liquid
half cup quinoa
2 tsp minced fresh garlic (optional)
1 small to medium zucchini, diced
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1 cup thinly sliced spinach
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
3 cups vegetable stock ( I use Marigold Swiss Vegan Vegetable Bouillon powder)


Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion (if using), carrot, potato and salt for about 7 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and their liquid, vegetable stock, quinoa and garlic (if using).
Cook for approx. 18 minutes, until quinoa and vegetables are tender. Add zucchini and nutritional yeast, and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Stir in the spinach and parsley and cook for 1 minute.

Store: Organic on Charles

Organic on Charles is situated in North Perth, on Charles Street, and is open Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm. Saturday opening hours are 9am - 5pm.

I popped down there after a vegan co-worker told me about the store. I was rather pleased to see they stocked a lot of brands that I favour, like Amy's soups,  and lollies by Yummy Earth. They even had varieties of these brands' products that I have not seen elsewhere, which was an added bonus.

The store also had a decent selection of organic fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. Although not exclusively a vegan store, there is plenty of stock at Organic at Charles to warrant a visit every now and then to stock up.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Store: Organic Selection

My partner accidentally stumbled across this store recently, at the new shopping area of Coventry Square Markets at 243 Walter Road, Morley.

A neat little store packed full of organic products ranging from decadent organic chocolate to biodegradable rubbish bags. Not all the products are vegan but there is a fair amount to make me want to shop here again. There are also products in the store to keep raw food vegans happy too. Infact, I found the exact 3-in-1 slicer I have been looking everywhere for (with no luck), at this store!

The staff/owner was very friendly and invited comments and suggestions for stock, which was great.
After having a look around, we walked away with several items and the decision to come back for more in the near future.

I am not sure of the opening hours, but you can get in touch with the store via their Facebook page for more information or email them :

Cafe: Veggie Mama

On my birthday, my partner and I headed down to Veggie Mama for lunch. I had heard lots of good things about this place by other vegans and it was not very far from where I live. We were glad we went, as the food was delicious and the staff friendly and helpful. I found that I actually had trouble choosing what to have, as there were so many options that were suitable for vegans - not something I am use to when eating out in Perth!

I ended up opting for a salad that contained coconut and cranberries. I usually do not favour salads with fruit in them but I thought I would break out of old habits and try something different. I am glad I did. Yes, it had a sweetness to it, but it wasn't overpowering and the other elements of the salad to counter balanced it.
With the salad, I had a mushroom, walnut and quinoa patty which was unbelievably flavoursome! Hands down the best patty I have had in ages, with a great texture, to boot.

 My partner had a rice and lentil patty with a rice salad which I of course, had to sample. And because he was so hungry, he also ordered a Mexican Bean Filo Parcel which was very tasty, indeed. me thinks next time we go in, I shall be ordering that for myself!

My one little suggestion for this cafe concerns their labeling. Their menu marks out which dishes are gluten free, which is great, and which do not contain egg and dairy. My suggestion would be to mark which items are suitable for vegans. Although 'egg and dairy free' covers most of it, there is the issue of honey.

For a full menu, you can check out their Facebook page.

They are located at the corner of Beaufort and Vincent Streets, Mount Lawley.
Their opening hours are Monday - Friday : 7am to 7pm, Saturday - Sunday 8am-5pm

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Animal Actionist - Perth animal rescue

Animal Actionist is run by a lovely Perth vegan who helps to rehome and foster animals ranging from cats and dogs, to goats and sheep - and beyond. Animal Actionist also helps to get the word out about locally lost and found animals.

AA's mission statement:
To help spread the word for animals needing rescue via temporary or permanent placement into new homes. 

To support West Australian rescue groups in their advertising efforts to bring awareness to the general community about the plight of surrendered/abused/exploited animals. 

To raise community awareness about the connection between lifestyle choices and the direct detrimental impact these choices have on the quality of life for animals. 

To educate that consumer choices have the power to change industry and thus encourage a more compassionate interaction with animals, and to embrace green living and healthful lifestyle choices.
Compassion and harmony, it's a lovely concept.
You can check out AA's Facebook page here. AA is also on Twitter.
The blog is here, where you will find information on adopting and fostering animals in need, 'happy ending' stories, lost and found alerts, plus information on vegan products and vegan recipes.
You can even subscribe to Animal Action Email Alerts.

Recently, I was able to visit 'Animal Actionist Central' and meet some of the animals rescued, adopted, or fostered by AA. I enjoyed interacting with the sheep, chickens, ducks, miniature horses, etc, but I have to say my favourites were the two goats - Thurman and Rupert. These two were an absolute delight, making me laugh with their antics and friendly personalities.

For photos of the wonderful creatures taken in by Animal Actionist, please visit my Flickr account.

Please check out this worthy, local non-profit organization and share, share, share!

Product: LifeStyle Bakery - Gluten Free

I have not much of a bread eater. I guess, being gluten intolerant, I weaned myself off bread a long time ago. I tried various gluten free breads and found them too 'cakey' in their texture, or they just didn't really taste all that great. After going vegan, I found it even harder to find suitable bread.
Just recently, however, I came across an award winning, Australian company that does great tasting gluten free, vegan breads, rolls and related products.

LifeStyle Bakery produce a range of breads, sweet breads (fruit and nut mixes), hot cross buns, rolls and breadcrumbs - all vegan!
So far, I have tried their GF Chia Seed  loaf and GF Multigrain loaf. Both tasty, with a good texture and taste great toasted or as is.
I get my loaves from Woolworths but some IGA stores also stock this brand. I would love to see more of  range, especially at Woolworths, where there have only been a few loaf varieties. (I am keen to try the GF fruit loaf!)
Check out Lifestyle Bakery's website for information on the full range. You are able to search for products under 'Dietary Needs' - just pick 'Vegan'.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Event: Look Twice - the animals of Bali as never seen before

When: Friday, 8th June
Time: 6.30-9.30pm
Where: Tompkins on Swan

Houndstooth Studio invites you to "Look Twice - the animals of Bali as never seen before" a one night only photographic exhibition & fundraiser.

The "Look Twice" exhibition showcases the animals of Bali as never seen before. These uplifting and poignantly beautiful image
s reveal their strength and spirit, and are a testament to the valuable work undertaken to save their lives. You will fall in love with every one.

Just like our animal comapnions at home, Bali animals deserve to be loved, cared for and nourished. Yet thousands of street dogs, cats and other domestic animals in Bali endure starvation, disease and neglect. Left unattended these animals suffer enormously. Tourists in Bali can be overwhelmed by the distressing sight of animals in pain and often don’t know how to help.

The Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) is dedicated to reducing the suffering of Bali's street dogs and other animals by running a 24 hour animal ambulance rescue service, a mobile sterilisation clinic for population control and rabies eradication, a fully staffed veterinary clinic and rescue centre in Ubud, an animal adoption program, and a continually expanding range of community education programs to improve the health and welfare of Bali animals…

…but it is increasingly difficult for BAWA to continue this amazing work without the desperately needed funds to support these operations. BAWA is funded entirely by individual donations, fundraising projects and the kind efforts of volunteers. They don't receive government support and urgently need our help!

In January 2012 Houndstooth flew to Bali and photographed more than 50 rescued street dogs, cats, puppies, kittens and other species including rabbits, piglets, ducks, lizards, turtles, snakes, roosters, ducks and monkeys in temporarily constructed studios around Ubud. This is the first time Bali street animals have been photographed in the clarity of a studio environment and the results are deeply moving.

Sixty exhibited images will be available for purchase in two sizes and fabulous silent auction items, generously donated by compassionate businesses, are up for grabs. Entry is free and bar facilities are available.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Cafe: Daily Planet, Mt Lawley

My partner and I heard that this newly opened cafe on Beaufort Street, did an all day vegan breakfast, so we decided to head down on the weekend and check it out.

We first popped into Planet Books where I purchased two vegan cookbooks (they usually have a good little selection of vegan cookbooks - some pricey, others reasonable) and then headed into Daily Planet next door.

I didn't realize that I was entering into a local controversial hotspot, which was just s well, as it left me unbiased and open to just experience the cafe and what it had to offer, via a 'clean slate' approach.

We waited a minute and then were seated and given menus. We noticed that not only was the full breakfast marked as 'vegan option available', so were the Ranchero Beans, so my partner ordered those. A minute later, the waiter came  back and told us that it was an error and that the beans contained bacon. Urgh. So, two full vegan breakfasts for us, then.

When the food came, I noted that it was nicely presented. (Forgot to take a photo of it for this review though. Doh!) The asparagus was cooked just right, as was the tomato and mushroom. I passed the toast to my partner as I was pretty sure it wasn't gluten free. The spinach, unfortunately, was very oily and the scrambled tofu was pretty lack luster. Infact, it looked like no effort was put into it - it was merely scrambled. No herbs and no turmeric to give it a nice colour.

The full vegan breakfast cost us $22 each which felt overpriced considering the amount that was on our plates.

The service was fine and I did note that they offered a few vegan desserts behind the counter. Decor was okay except for the cow's skull on the wall, in the corner. Thankfully, we could not see it from where we were sitting and eating. We noticed it as we were paying and leaving. I do wish they would remove it. It is in poor taste and does not fit in with the general look of the place.

It wasn't until later that I read reviews online, about this cafe. Seems that people were quite worked up over the service (or lack of it), rudeness of the staff, orders being messed up, and long waits. I am assuming that could be put down to teething problems, as we saw none of that whilst we were there.

I do hope their 'vegan options' are expanded on and unless prices are reviewed, I doubt I would go there again regularly or semi-regularly for a meal.

Daily Planet
634 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley
9328 7560

Open 7days a week. Check with cafe for the opening times.