Bendigo Craft Beer Festival 2013

Bendigo Craft Beer Festival 2013 - Flyers
Bendigo Craft Beer Festival
Saturday 30th November, 2013

I’m not going to sugar coat it – I had a lot to drink at this event. And there wasn’t any opportunity for palate cleansing between drinks. So about all I’m going to be useful for is my “top picks” and a heap of photos. Sorry in advance for literally not remembering most people’s names (thank Christ I came home with a heap of business cards) – I did a lot of hand shaking but there wasn’t much that sunk in… Because I was there primarily to have a good time with friends. Enjoy! Continue reading

I’m still alive!

Hi Everyone,

Just wanted you all to know I’m still alive! I’ve taken a bit of a break from blogging to tackle some other things in my life but I’m still here and I’ll be back more regularly later this year. In the meantime, you may only see a handful of personal-ish updates from me.

Winston

We’ve welcomed a new bunny into our home – that’s Winston on the right. He’s a 6 month old dwarf that we adopted from my friend Leigh at AAPS. He’s a little sweetheart, and is a little too clever for his own good! He immediately knew what his litter tray was for and by day 2 he’d figured out how to open the fly screen door on his room.

Vegan Bake Sale

I contributed a whole lot of [my own variation of these] Snickers inspired cupcakes to a local vegan bake sale. Over $1,140 was raised for Edgar’s Mission. I felt so proud to be part of this.

Cupcakes

I kinda sorta saved the “reject” cupcakes and turned them into mini Snickers-inspired parfaits in plastic cups for our niece’s 4th birthday the following day. They were amazing.

Bearded dragon

Here’s me with a bearded dragon lizard that we found while working in the garden at home. I was pretty chuffed about getting a photo with this little guy! We relocated him to a different pile of foliage so he wouldn’t get run over my the earthmoving equipment. The veggie garden isn’t worth photographing/showing off yet, but I’ll definitely keep you posted on progress. We’ll hopefully have some things planted within a couple of weeks.

Caravan1

This is our other current project – a 60’s aluminium caravan. I love it so much that I’ve enthusiastically polished all the bits I could reach by hand. It has been a long but rewarding task!

Caravan3

This is the last section I had left to polish… Pretty exciting! You can really see the difference.

Caravan2

Here’s a little snippet of the fairly original interior. When I saw the turquoise seats and mint curtains, I whispered to Mr. AA that it was “dreamy”, and I still feel that way!

Cheer Up Sign

And just because I can, here’s a photo of a sign that makes me smile every time I drive past it.

Broccoli Enthusiast? That’s Me!

Yesterday, I took the afternoon off work to attend a local event – “Grow Share Cook Source” – which was hosted by Healthy Together Bendigo. It was a forum for foodies from a variety of backgrounds to connect with each other and discuss what they’re passionate about. Topics ranged from composting & community gardens to food/health education and everything you can think of in between! The conference room was set up with 9 round tables of rotating people and topics. Six panel members and some council staff were distributed between the tables to help drive discussion and write notes, though I think most of them were stuck frantically trying to keep up – the room was exploding with excitement.

Representing
People have told me I’m intimidating, so I wore this silly (but true!) badge which was an excellent ice-breaker. Nothing relaxes people more than a sense of humour.

Continue reading

My Big Announcement

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I’d have some exciting news to share… Well, here it is!

Blendtec HP3A

If you’ve been snooping around my website in the past few days, you might have noticed a “shop” tab appear along the top. That’s because I’ve been working with Blendtec Australia to become an affiliated blogger & authorised dealer. Continue reading

Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes at Mister Nice Guy!

Mister Nice Guy held an Easter inspired cupcake flavour competition last week and my choc-caramel suggestion was the winner! The prize was a $50 hamper from Radical Grocery, and the cupcakes are being made & sold over the Easter period. Yay!

MNG Easter Competition

The new (possibly limited edition) gluten free flavour will be available from Thursday until Sunday. Store locations and opening hours are below.

Mister Nice Guy’s Bakeshop
151 Union Rd, Ascot Vale

Good Fri: 8am-4pm
Easter Sat: 8am-6pm
Easter Sun: 8am-1pm
Easter Mon: Closed

Mister Nice Guy Cupcakes
Prahran Market, Aisle one, Stall 98
163 Commercial Rd, Sth Yarra

Good Fri: Closed
Easter Sat: 8.30-5.30
Easter Sun: Closed
Easter Mon: Closed

RGS Prize

My prize from The Radical Grocery Store in Melbourne.

Local 6 Course Degustation – Vegan & Gluten Free

Last night we attended a fancy degustation event with a couple of friends which was part of the Melbourne food & wine festival. It’s rare for a culinary opportunity to come along that suits my diet so perfectly, so passing this up wasn’t an option.

Goldmines Hotel Bendigo

The event was held in the beer garden at the Goldmines Hotel in Bendigo at 49-57 Marong Rd. The under cover area comfortably seated 60 people and beyond that, there was literally a garden. Continue reading

Dig it. Dejustation.

This Saturday, the 16th of March, the Goldmines Hotel in Bendigo is hosting an official Melbourne Food & Wine festival event – a 6 course degustation that’s completely vegan & gluten free! I’m so excited about attending and can’t wait to virtually share my experience with you all.

Dejustation

Local foodie Justin McPhail & chef Lee Bryant have teamed up to bring central Victoria an exciting 6 course meal showcasing forest-foraged ingredients from the area, matched with local wines and craft beers. You can read more here.

Tickets are $99 and there’s literally only a few left. You can book online or call Justin on 0422 161 445.

www.dejustation.com

Jerry’s Vegifix

Mr. AA & I spent our 6 year anniversary weekend away at Chopped Rod & Custom festival – it’s a weekend of camping, old cars and music. It’s not a food-oriented event by any means, so I was caught off guard (food-wise) and ended up taking some impromptu photos with my phone – which, as you can see, are fairly questionable in quality.

Chopped Rod & Custom 2012

For the first time ever (we’ve been a few times!), Chopped had some vegan food on offer: Jerry’s Vegi Burgers.

Veg food @ Chopped Rod & Custom 2012

I was excited and impressed – I’d prepared enough food to get me through the weekend (including a raw lemon cheesecake!), but to show my support for a veg-friendly caterer and encourage the organisers to make this option available again, I bought dinner at this stall on Saturday. I’d heard from a very reliable source that the crispy noodle salad on offer was pretty good – better than the veggie burgers – so I placed my order. Continue reading

World Vegan Day (Melb 2011) & My Food Prude Confession

A celebration for World Vegan Day was held in Melbourne on Sunday at the Abbottsford Convent, home of one of Melbourne’s famous vegetarian restaurants – Lentil as Anything.

I have a lot to say about the event but will stick to food related highlights for now and have my little rant later.

As we entered the event, Lentil as Anything was buzzing and rightfully so – their food has been well worth the trip every time I’ve visited. If you haven’t been there before, I highly recommend it!

WVD Lentil

There was interviews happening and show bags being handed out; none of which I seemed to have the patience for at the time. It was hot and I was hungry – and when I get hungry, I get a little crazy.

WVD Interviews

One of the first things I spotted was a Lord of the Fries banner which instantly brightened me up… Then I realised it was *just* a sponsorship banner and I wasn’t going to be getting any fries. Drat.

WVD LOTF

I decided to wander into the first building which had a variety of stalls in it. I was quickly drawn to some free chocolate samples – a table that was seemingly being mauled by women with sharp elbows. Ok, I’m totally exaggerating. But if those kind of women had been there, that’s what they would have been doing. Heck, I would have joined in and probably wouldn’t have been shy about stomping on some toes! Anyway, I managed to butt in and introduce myself and get a photo with the lovely people from Conscious Chocolate.

WVD Conscious Chocolate
Can you tell how freakin’ hot it was in there by the look on my shiny, red face?

I bought two blocks of their chocolate. They’re not big blocks (45g, more like the size of a regular chocolate bar) and they’re $5 a pop, but OH MY LORD, they are unbelievably delicious! The samples were pretty soft which I assumed was a result of the temperature in there but after getting them home and refrigerating them for 24 hours, I ate some more and it turns out that it’s supposed to be soft and fudgy and delicious in my belly. What impressed me even more about this stuff is that when I ate it, I didn’t actually pick it as being raw chocolate. Honestly. Raw chocolate is often hard and bitter (in my experience) but this was soft and smooth and VERY more-ish. I’m a serious chocolate lover and self proclaimed chocolate snob – and this stuff won me over before I even knew anything about it.

WVD Conscious Chocolate 2
Also – how freakin’ cute is the squirrel on the packaging?

The next lot of samples I found were stuffed into a corner and thus, Mr. AA & I didn’t have to fight anyone to get to them! Gluten free goodies – yay! this was Saf Patisserie‘s stall. According to their flyer, their specialty is allergy free delights. They make vegan, gluten free, nut free and raw sweets. (OK, the raw stuff is “coming soon” – a good sign. They’re keeping up with health food trends!)

WVD GF Brownies

For gluten free brownies, they were pretty good! In fact, I wouldn’t have picked them as being gluten free at all. There was quite a few things in their case, all desserts. I opted for a slice of rocky road, as it’s been YEARS since I had the stuff!

WVD Saf Patisserie 2

WVD Saf Patisserie

I was never much of a rocky road eater even before being vegan and I’ve always thought marshmallows were pretty disgusting – but that’s probably because I’d only ever eaten the cheap, nasty, gelatine laden marshmallows you get at the supermarket that are kinda chewy and a little powdery on the outside. (Sorry, tangent.) Anyway… Inside these was this beautiful, aerated, cloudy, fluffy goodness that I almost couldn’t believe! The ratio of chocolate to marshmallow to pistachios and other goodies in there was just PERFECT. I saved this for the day after I got home and ate it in a matter of seconds… And was pretty tempted to scoff Mr. AA’s slice, too. I behaved though; his piece is still in the fridge.

WVD Saf GF Rocky Road

Next I dropped past the Vegan Online stall – they’re an online grocery store with just about everything and REALLY reasonable postage rates. I’ve ordered from them before and the experience was totally hassle free! Kym and her daughter Kelly were SO lovely. I scored a photo with them as well but am too embarrassed about how much more red my face was by that stage, so I’m not going to post it! (Yep, I’m that vain, haha.)

After leaving that building I was well and truly ready for some real food and something to drink. I contemplated the hot food area… It was a little odd. There was a smoothie stand where you had to ride a bike to power the blender to make your smoothie. Great in theory but honestly guys, I went there to stuff myself silly, not to exercise! Also, I make smoothies almost every morning for breakfast, so I found this rather unexciting.

WVD Lunch Menu

A lot of the options were heavily processed food. There was a stand of Asian food that just screamed FRIED and MOCK MEAT which was a huge turn off… There was pizzas and calzones… I was actually starting to feel a little panicked at this stage because all I wanted was a fricken salad. We ended up making a quick decision to stop at the Indian Belly stand, which wasn’t too crowded/anxiety inducing.

WVD Indian Belly

Mr. AA & I grabbed a $3 samosa each. I’m not fond of anything deep fried because it generally will cause a serious belly ache for me, but these weren’t too greasy and because they were so big, they were more stuffing than pastry. They were perfectly spiced (with some kick but not enough to make my nose run) and a nice lemony flavour to balance it out.

WVD Indian Belly Samosa

We were also talked into trying the Bombay style sammies which were the perfect, cooling complement to the samosas. The only thing that REALLY disappointed me about these was that they were made with white bread. I hardly ever eat white bread and would choose wholegrain over it ANY day; that aside though, these were pretty excellent. They had cucumber, tomato, chutney and some other tangy good things in there. Sorry – I was too busy stuffing it in my face to dissect it and actually check what was inside it. Hahah. It was really refreshing though!

WVD Indian Belly Club Sammie

After having recharged with a bite to eat, I decided to explore the second building. I didn’t pick up any samples here but I took a couple of photos. I desperately tried to say hello to Karen from Radical Rabbit, Anikee from Radical Grocery & Jeremy from Vegan Perfection on more than one occassion but all of their stalls were pretty busy and I got bored with waiting in lines!

WVD Raw Cakes

WVD Pet Treats

WVD Raw Choc Kit

My final hoorah was to visit a sweet tooth’s wet dream and top off my day with a serious sugar overdose. I’d been looking forward to bringing home some Mister Nice Guy‘s vegan cupcakes ALL WEEK. Unfortunately they didn’t have any peppermint patty flavoured cupcakes with them (they’re my favourite and the only flavour I’d tried before this occassion), so I made a dramatic sad face, then asked the girl for “one of each please!”.

WVD Cupcakes Box

I took the box out onto the grass and sampled half of ONE cupcake, then took the rest home to sample over the next few days.

WVD cupcakes

The flavours I scored, from left to right.
Jem: This one was REALLY tasty and I suspect that the frosting actually had real strawberries in it, which I thought was impressive! It didn’t have that foul, predictable, strawberry essence smell about it. It was really down to earth and unpretentious.
Count Chocula: I can’t argue with a chocolate cupcake. It’s just not polite. I loved this one.
Cherry B-Bomb (gluten free): The cupcake was perfect and I never would have picked it as gluten free. I loved the cherry on top. The icing was great flavour-wise, but texture-wise it was a little grainy… Though not grainy enough to stop me from eating it – I’d definitely have this flavour again!
Betty White: This one was so gorgeous/well presented! I loved the flavours, but the coconut flakes were a little chewy for me.
Lazy Way Lane: I’m actually guessing this flavour from the menu on their website. It looks like it’s this one, but I’m sure the one I was eating had a lime tang to it?? The cupcake was a little more dense than the others but still delicious. The tang *made* it for me.
French Toast: This was, hands down, my favourite out of all six. It was sweet but not sickly. The spices were subtle but noticable. It was seriously one of the most perfect cupcakes I’ve ever had in my life. I’m going to be having wet dreams about this one.

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OK! So that’s all the important stuff re-capped with accompanying photographs. Now time for my overall thoughts of the event.

Raw-food wise, most of what I saw was dessert based. This frustrated me. I get that it’s easier to convert people to raw food with sweets (as opposed to green smoothies) and they’re a lot easier to sell to people as a special product than leafy greens, but I don’t think the category was fairly represented. In addition to the numerous dessert stands, there was a huge stand of Loving Earth products – which are great for a beginner, but they’re fairly pricey and with a bit of know-how and a dehydrator, you could make their special products at home. (I’m not trying to be nasty in ANY way, I’m just very realistic and practical when it comes to this stuff. Sorry guys.)

There was a lot of different animal welfare/rights stands spread across the place. At first I was pretty weary and thinking that the stalls were pointless and “preaching to the converted” but as Mr. AA pointed out, most of the people there probably weren’t even vegan so it would have been a good way to spread the word about their causes and get more people on board. Thankfully none of them were pushy and in your face about it – they were all very relaxed and friendly. I did not ONCE feel like I had to run away because someone was shoving flyers in my face. It just wasn’t that kind of environment and I’m really grateful for it.

As far as savoury foods go, you can tell I didn’t want to touch them with a ten foot pole. This is where I confess to you that I’m a total food prude. I try really hard to have a wholefoods diet and avoid as much processed food as possible. In this situation I was confronted with just about everything pre-packaged (bar some nut butters and a handful of other things) being processed. Vegan cheese, jelly crystals, marshmallow mix, various condiments… It was a wee bit of a nightmare. That, however, is my cross to bear. It’s clear to me that not every vegan eats the way I do and each to their own, right?

There was food demonstrations that I didn’t quite get to and a speed dating area that was advertising a “cuddle party” from 3.30pm-5pm. I don’t know what a cuddle party is exactly, but I was definitely going to stay away from it. Sounds to me like a creepy excuse to feel up strangers. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!

In regards to the event itself, I commend the organisers and think they did a great job of putting it together. There was a good mix of stands – food, animal rights, beauty products, shoes & bags and then other things that I wouldn’t even know how to categorise like lawyers for animals and cruelty free superannuation. I only discovered a few new things that I hadn’t heard of before; and the familliar faces made me feel a little less intimidated.

In future, I think the event would benefit from being a little more spread out, with some form of cooling/air circulation available in the buildings. I also think that, while I *LOVE* Lentil as Anything, having the event at the Abbottsford convent is really impractical in regards to parking, crowds etc. I wouldn’t mind seeing it set up as a weekend event outside of Melbourne. Whether it’s on a property where people can camp if they like or a town with lots of accommodation… Or even just a place that’s easily accessible as a “day trip” for people from Melbourne. Maybe when it’s a bigger event, it could be moved closer to central Victoria 😉