Himalaya Bakery & Café – Third Time Lucky!

Do you guys remember my last visit to Himalaya Bakery & Café? When I wrote about it, I wasn’t kind – but I stand by what I said. Their scrambled tofu is rubbish. Their pies, on the other hand, are delectable!

We passed through Daylesford a couple of days ago, and I decided to give the café one last chance. I grabbed a couple of pies to go and a mini orange cake to share with Mr. AA. Much to my delight, the pies were a pleasure to eat.

Mexi Bean Pie 1
Mexican Bean Pie

The first thing I noticed and loved was the pastry. Not only was it wholemeal, but it was also very bread-like, and not the typical greasy, flaky mess you’d expect. It was sort of like a calzone, but fluffy. I’ve never eaten a pizza pocket before, but I imagine this just about sums it up!

Mexi Bean Pie 2
Mexican Bean Pie – Inside

They were a little stingy on the filling, but what it lacked in volume it made up for in taste. It was not unlike burrito filling and corn stuffed into warm bread. How could that possibly be bad? It can’t. And wasn’t.

Tofu Veg Pie 1
Smoked Tofu & Veg Pie

The pastry on this was the same as the Mexican bean pie and had a lone cashew pushed into the top.

Tofu Veg Pie 2
Smoked Tofu & Veg Pie – Inside

The filling in this was much like what I remember veggie pasties being like (though I could be way off the mark here, as it’s been a loooong time since I had one). The first thing to hit my senses was the smoky flavour, but it subsided after a few bites. If the girl behind the counter hadn’t told me it was vegan, I would have gone back and insisted that it had egg in it. The filling held together really well and was the perfect consistency. Whatever they used to bind it works a charm.

Orange Cake
Orange Cake

I made a careful choice with this, knowing that the apple scroll on offer was far too big and the chocolate cake was going to be more rich than what I was in the mood for – so I settled on the only option in the cabinet that was both vegan for me and sugar free for Mr. AA – the orange cake. The zest in it gives off a slightly bitter flavour, but it’s otherwise excellent. It melted in my mouth and reminded me of the Greek cake “revani” that my great aunty makes every Christmas. I’m not sure if it’s a typically Greek tradition or just something my family does, but every year my great aunty Sophia bakes the cake with a coin wrapped in aluminium foil in it. Whoever happens to get the piece of cake with the coin in it is supposed to have good luck. My middle sister and I fought over it every year as kids – not for the good luck, but for the fact that it was $2 with no strings (chores) attached.

Anyway – family memories aside, at the very least Himalaya Bakery & Café is worth it for the pies. I’ll be insisting on stopping by every time we pass through Daylesford in future!

Note: For those of you concerned, there’s gluten free options on the menu & in the sweets cabinet.

Taking Chances in Regional Victoria: You Win Some, You Lose Some

Mr. AA & I recently made day trips to nearby towns – to get out of the house and look at old junk. We love old junk and the only thing that trumps early morning garage sales is second hand stores & markets. We rarely buy anything; we just love to look and in a sense, feel like we pushed the “random” button on a time machine.

Himalaya 1

Himalaya Bakery & Café
73 Vincent St
Daylesford, VIC 3460
P: (03) 5348 1267
Himalaya Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

The bad news first: We went to Himalaya Bakery & Café in Daylesford and it proved to be terribly overrated.

We hadn’t planned to go there. We’d been there once before, and, after being loudly humiliated in front of other customers by the venomous shrew behind the counter (for simply requesting a side salad, mind you), I was disgruntled enough to vow never to return.

Himalaya 2
I thought the fair trade, organic, carbon neutral sugar was a nice touch.

Since then, I’ve heard other vegans rave about how much they love the place, so I finally decided to give it a second chance. I’m not sure whether it has changed hands since I was last there, but the old so-and-so wasn’t around, which immediately gave me hope.

Then this happened:

Himalaya 4
Scrambled tofu with tomato, capsicum & onion.

My initial reaction: “did someone just eat my meal and regurgitate it back onto the plate?”

Now, I know that ugly food can be delicious. Curries are a prime example of out-of-this-world tasty but generally not at all sexy. But this… Was pretty horrifying. And sloppy. And bland. The thing is, it didn’t need much to lift it – salt, pepper & some fresh coriander would have been perfect to fix the flavour (I added S+P which at least made it sort of edible), but believe me when I say I hesitated to even try it. The tomatoes were too watery and the tofu was too soft/the wrong type, so the whole thing just ended up being a very disappointing slush.

Himalaya 3

The coffee was alright, but nothing to write home about.

Himalaya 6

The sweets looked beautiful – so I tried not to let my brunch discourage me. I ordered a vegan cupcake to go (vegan items were clearly labeled), only to realise half an hour later when I was about to eat it that I was actually given the wrong cake — one which wasn’t vegan. Cue intense pouting.

Daylesford Mill Market Vegan Cake 2

Daylesford Mill Market / Peppermill Café

We ended up at the Peppermill Café later, which is part of the Daylesford Mill Market building. While the vegan food options were scarce, they DID have a lonely little vegan cake in the bottom corner of their display cabinet so I grabbed a slice. It was sweet, rich and very more-ish! I was also pretty pleased that they had a big brew of iced fruit tea up on the counter (it was a Tea Tonic one) – I can’t remember what variety it was, but it was sugar free, a deep pink-red in colour and absolutely divine. The tea & cake saved the day!

In other winning news, we went to Geelong a couple of days later – again with only a very loose plan of what we were going to do. We stopped at the closest café to where we parked because, quite frankly, I was being lazy.

Cravings Geelong 1

Cravings Without the Guilt Café
24 Malop St
Geelong, VIC 3220
P: (03) 5222 8877
Cravings Without the Guilt Cafe on Urbanspoon

It was a gorgeous day and outdoor seating was available, so we decided to roll with it.

Cravings Geelong 4

I loved the colour coded menu that showed gluten free, diabetic friendly, vegetarian and other options. Unfortunately vegan wasn’t listed, but of the two vegetarian items I spotted, one of them was definitely vegan and the other could have been made vegan.

Cravings Geelong 2

I went with the Mediterranean salad which was lush with bright spinach and roasted veg. It was served cold with toasted walnuts and you guys, THE WALNUTS TOTALLY MADE IT. I didn’t think I was really *that* into walnuts, but this converted me. I’ve had some in the fridge ever since! (In the fridge because it’s been morbidly hot here. We just experienced 5 days straight of 41-44C weather.)

The only down side was that this was the “large” serving and it wasn’t quite enough to sustain me for a big day of walking/looking at old crap. If I’d had it for lunch on a day at the office, it totally would have been enough. But on this occassion, I ended up grabbing a fruit & nut bar a couple of hours later.

Cravings Geelong 3

The café was very clean and quaint and the staff were extremely familiar with the customers, which led me to believe that people get sucked into being regulars here – and I could see why. If I were a local I’d want to kick back there on a nice day, too, despite the busy road.

Leaf Tea Geelong

Leaf Tea
124 Ryrie St
Geelong, VIC 3220
P: (03) 5223 1750

We came across a happy accident between lunch and one of the stores we were heading to – Geelong’s own tea company, Leaf Tea. After doing a miniature happy dance in this tiny store, I sampled a couple of teas, then spent what felt like forever feeling completely overwhelmed and sniffing jar after jar of infusions. The woman in the store was super helpful and explained the cleverly colour coded labels, which made the experience seem a lot less daunting. We ended up walking away with Samurai Lime, Earl Grey Blue & Glo-Skin Tonic. To be honest, they all smelled amazing – I would have happily gone home with any/all of them!