Melbourne: Vegan Foodie Paradise…

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The chocolate chip cookie of dreams, seriously I dream about it.

Invita was a chance find by my friend Kate on our first stroll through the Queen Victoria Market. A little cafe on the outskirts of the food court hosting vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and Paleo foods. The majority were in fact vegan and I tried a whole bunch of sweet treats and yummy wraps over the three days. My favourite was this cookie above and also the almond milk latte I had! The staff are lovely and were patient with all of my vegan enquiries.

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The menu at Sisters of Soul was a dream, so many Asian inspired flavours (which are my most favourite) and though not every option was vegan, about 90% were. I went for stir fried veggies with a satay sauce and rice, it was so good. Not too oily, not too heavy. The only gripe me and my friends had was with the service from the floor staff, they weren’t entirely friendly or helpful, didn’t really go out of their way to make us feel welcome. Usually I wouldn’t complain about bad service, I work in customer service and I get it, but we weren’t causing any trouble and it just seemed unnecessary. The kitchen staff however, who we could see cooking away, seemed to be having a blast. Despite the service I would recommend this to anyone, even my none vegan friends were delighted.

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Take one hangry girl on a long walk from the centre of the city and a road of half closed, half not up to scratch restaurants and a consequently fed up attitude and you might just stumble into one of your favourite restaurants ever. We had no clue it was all vegan, though it advertised vegan eats, we assumed there were just a couple options. Turns out the whole menu is vegan. I went for chips and dip, the chips were the perfect amount of salt and crunch, a beautiful ode to the tortilla chip and the dip was cashew cheese and black beans and I am not getting carried away when I use the term ‘foodgasm’ I actually think my mate Amy said it once or twice over her bruschetta. It tasted, to me and my two year vegan tastebuds, like any of the insane nacho cheeses I’ve ever tried. Love is what it is, love. And this is one of the main reasons that I have to live in Melbourne.

I am always open to vegan food suggestions, so if you have any for anywhere up the East Coast of Australia be sure to let me know!

A Day At Coogee Beach…

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Coogee happened by accident. Mardi Gras weekend in Sydney hit too soon, Base (our home) was overpriced and soon full, the city was over run with people, the overpriced beds were all taken and unless we wanted to pay for a night in a hotel, hostel world told us we were homeless. So we booked beds at Surfside Coogee beach, hopped on a bus with all of our stuff and were there in half an hour. The first noticeable factor of our hostel, after the initial pleasure of seeing it was on the beach, was that it was upstairs from McDonalds, hilarious. The second factor was the harsh smell of weed and loud music emanating from up the stairs. At first it was exciting, the adventure I’d always anticipated from hostel living, but after we realised there were no safe’s in our room and that the room actually didn’t lock at all, we realised we probably shouldn’t risk staying there.

In the morning Coogee was a different world entirely. The stretch of beach was clean and illuminated in the sunshine, the ocean a blue wistful haze. Walking along I pass a guy and his guitar, singing more to himself then to the passers by. So I grab myself a latte (soy of course!) and a vegan treat (a fig and nut vegan brownie) and sit outside, watching the steadily busying beach and the waves rolling in. With the soulful humming floating around, the scattered, muted voices of the few early beach goers and the warm zing of caffeine in my veins I’m blissed, completely bewildered by how I got there but also extremely grateful.

Later in the day we grab lunch at a place called The Courtyard on Coogee road. It’s a pretty spot with wooden picnic benches, plant pots and awesome acai bowls. It’s serene and takes you off the otherwise characterless street. The watermelon juice was heaven, the best thing on a hot beach day and the acai bowl yummy, fruity and fresh. I’ve since developed a wee acai addiction, opting for one whenever they’re on the menu.

Taking ourselves to the beach we choose the grass over the sand and head to a hilly patch with great beach views. Coogee is a lot smaller than Bondi and Manly beach but just as bustling, if not a little more welcoming in that its easier to walk around and find a good tanning spot. There aren’t great surfing waves so we missed out on that (not actually surfing ourselves, but rather watching the pros). Though watching the locals drinking and partying on the grassland before the beach was entertaining. Coogee is the only beach in Sydney where alcohol is semi legal, though only on the lawn, not actually on the sand. Seeing as it was a Saturday and Mardi Gras too, there was a lively vibe about, people drinking and dancing, smiling and laughing.

Overall it was an odd little segment of our adventure but also a pleasant one. I guess when people think of Sydney they often associate it with Bondi and that’s great. But there are so many beaches here and I think this day at Coogee made me realise what I was missing out on. I need a different beach every day!

Doing Brunch in Darlinghurst…

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It’s not all vegan sadly but they make a darn good go at it. I’ve tried my fair share of fake croissants, all of which have left me a tad disheartened, but this one was scrummy and didn’t taste like “special” food. The jam was super too, very sweet. My travel buddies are not vegan (though thankfully they are open minded) and were able to choose from a few diary and even meat rich options (these options are paleo too if thats your kinda vibe). There was a lot of egg and green stuff on their plates and nothing but crumbs by the end of the meal. Everything on the menu looked to be flavoursome and full of healthiness, with big bowls of salad stuffs and a pretty hefty selection of smoothies. My smoothie was like a chocolate desserty paradise with cocoa, banana, dates, coconut milk and chia seeds but there were fruity ones too as well as some quirky speciality coffees (which I sadly did not get to try) one of which included coconut ice cream. Overall it was a well needed break from asking for salads with no cheese, meat or dressing. I’d love to go again and try some falafel and vegan ice cream.

Ooo and there may have been a raw bounty bite for afters too, rich dark chocolate covered, sweet coconut bliss. Mmmmmmm…