Monday, February 27, 2012

Vegan and Gluten Free Eating in Macau

We went to Macau for a few days with Toby's parents. Macau is such an interesting place. It's an hour away from Hong Kong by ferry. It used to be a Portuguese colony so there is a combination of Chinese and Portuguese signs everywhere which is such as unique mix. There is also lots of pebbled walkways and people driving on vespas. Its well known for its casinos, a little like the las vegas of Asia. It's a little confusing to get around though so be prepared to take some snacks. We couldn't find a couple of restuarants on Happy Cow so ended up eating rice cakes with tartex for breakfast.

We started at Venetian hotel and casino which is super fancy and has a gondola ride in the middle of it. We saw an amazing cirque du soleil show called Zaia at the Venetian. I was in a constant state of awe during the performances.

This is on the 1st floor of the highrise building, so there was a painted ceiling above.

Our first meal was at the food court, look how it is decorated! Another fake sky painted on the ceiling. I can't believe there was also a boost juice place there too.

I got some dhal with rice. It was slightly creamy but dairyfree and gf.

Food Court
Venetican Casino (take free bus from ferry)
Estrada da Baia de, North Senhora da Esperanca

 Look at this hotel/casino opposite:

For dinner we couldn't resist going to one of wynn hotel/casino restaurants. The owner Steve Wynn went vegan and as a result all of the restaurants/cafes in both the Macau and Las Vegan wynn hotel/casinos have vegan menus. We chose Cafe Encore. We had emailed them in advance to warn them I was coming. They explained that almost all of the vegan options could made gluten free.

I ordered a strawberry juice which come with my choice of sweetener: sugar syrup, agave or some sort of artificial sugar. I chose sugar syrup. It was refreshing and I loved that I could control how sweet it was.
I was most impressed that I had my own bread basket which had gf white bread and these awesome blueberry bread rolls. They were served warm too and pretty good for gf bread. I've dined in a few fancy restaurants in Melb but none of them have offered me gf bread.

We shared the braised bean curd roll with mushrooms and asparagus. They left out the sauce to make it gf, but you really didn't notice as these tiny mushrooms which are called willow/tea tree mushrooms left such a strong flavour which I loved. I'm not the biggest fan of mushrooms but this was so tasty and I loved how delicate the bean curd basket was.

We also shared a bean salad which come with three different dressings. I can't remember two of the dressings though because my standout favourite was the lemon-garlic.

The service was amazing too. If we had more time and more money would have tried a few more of their restaurants.

Cafe Encore
Wynn Macau
Rua Cidade De Sintra

The following day we explored the 'old' macau and visited the ruins of St Pauls.

Not far from there is a small vegetarian restaurant

I had some steamed greens with ginger and some fried rice with pine nuts and seaweed. Sadly I forgot to take a photo of it but it was my fave fried rice of the trip (I had fried rice three times).
   Rua do Monte, 2
We also picked up some addictive peanut candy which I forgot to take a pic of. I used to enjoy almond cookies from Macau which were vegan but unfortunately I could only find vegan ones or gluten free ones not both.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hong Kong Day 4 and 6

On Day 4 we went to visit Toby's deceased relatives at a crematorium and honour them with incense. It's a beautiful place on top of a hill in Sheung Wan. We couldn't take photos inside of course, but here a couple from downstairs.

Then it was off to yum chan at a omni place with Toby's family on his father side. It was nice to meet his cousins and uncles/aunts but there was limited food options for me. I focused on trying all the different types of green tea. I had some choy sum and plain rice and added my own soy sauce. I also had some red bean soup.

Then we met Toby's uncle at a dessert place and I had some doufuhua  which is a traditional chinese dessert with silken tofu on the bottom, sweet syrup on top. You can choose different flavours, I got a mango one with mango puree and mango chunks. It was so sweet and filling after my small yum cha lunch. Many chinese desserts are thankfully naturally vegan and gluten free!

Toby got durian with black sticky rice which he loved and I hated because I hate durian.

聰嫂私房甜品 (no english name)

Shop 28, G/F, Metro City Plaza Phase One, 1 Wan Hang Road
Tseung Kwan

For dinner we went to Liza Veggies. Toby used to frequent the owners old restuarant when he lived in Hong Kong. They have english menus and this was perhaps my fave meal out. I had some plain rice which contained red rice and millet.

Then some gai lan. I love Chinese greens and they can often be made g/f if asked with no soy sauce.
And finally some salt and pepper tofu. This was super exciting since I had been missing out on many tofu dishes in hong kong because the sauces tend to contain wheat. It was just simple and tasty fried tofu with salt and plenty of white pepper.

However, g/f folks be careful! We returned on our last meal and I had some fried rice. Toby checked all of the ingredients with the wait staff and had 2 small bowls before I realised that there was barley in the rice. Yes unfortunately got glutened for last meal. In their defence he didn't ask for no barley, only no soy sauce and no one seems to be aware or understand gluten free or coeliac disease in Hong Kong.

Room A-D, 2/F, Harvard House, 105-111 Thomson Road,  
Wan Chai

After returning from Macau (will get to that next) we caugh up with some friends for dinner at Branto, an indian vegetarian place.  We shared some dhal.

Some aloo palak or spinach potato curry for those of you not familar with Indian menus. Also a curried potato dish but I can't remember the name. The nameless potato curry was one my faves but it did come with bread.

Then we had some papadums with salad on top. I've never had a dish like this in an indian restaurant before it was such a simple idea but kept my mouth feeling slightly cooler.

We also ordered channa masala or (chickea curry) and two types of biryani rice, the only difference we could taste or notice was that one had cashews in it.

Basically we ordered every single dairy free curry (with the exception of spinach-pea curry). The food was delicious but so so so spicy. Spicer than I've ever had in Melbourne. Toby was sweating like crazy and my nose was running throughout the meal. If you want a mild dish, I would recommend the plain potato one.  Otherwise you have been warned!

Branto Pure Veg Indian Food
1/F., 9 -11 Lock Road
 Tsim Sha Tsui

Afterwards we met up with friends for dessert which also helped cool our burning mouths. I had mango doufuhua again. This was my fave of the two, it has a better mango to tofu ratio and was slightly tangy as well as sweet.

G/ F Humphrey's Builiding
10A Humphrey's Avenue
Tsim Sha Tsui

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hong Kong Days 2-3

Ok so maybe I lied about posting every couple of days but I really underestimated how busy we would be, seeing Toby's family, friends, shopping, among other things. My friend Ari actually summarised HK perfectly with his recent facebook status: "When you're bored with Hong Kong, you're bored with life". Ok so maybe its originally a famous quote referring to London, but think it applies perfectly well.

Day 2 we went to Soland, a vegan restaurant down this alley and up the stairs. There is a focus on healthy vegan food with a sign inside saying no mock meat, no msg etc.

They have a set menu which changes daily and they said there was no issue doing gluten free we had beetroot soup which was delicious with a slightly earthy flavour.

Then veggies, pumpkin, sweet potato, greens, rice with a slightly creamy cauliflower sauce. They bought out a plate with barley on it too first but then we asked gave me a new plate without that side. It was so healthy but a little bland.

My favourite part however was this mango banana soft serve parfait with dragonfruit. I could have easily eaten a massive big bowl.
3/F, 6 Gilman's Bazaar, Central District, Hong Kong

For dinner, I got another masala dosa from a Curry in a Hurry this time the time square branch in causeway bay because I was starving.

Day 2 we met up with Toby's friend Kitty for lunch at Life again. They have a slightly different lunch menu. Toby and I shared the tofu skewers with cashew sauce. The tofu was super spongy and the sauce was addictive.

The burger consists of smoked tofu, mostly rice based patty with sweet potatoes and salad on the side. It was awesome.

We also got a sweet potato stew which was served with tofu, broccoli and quinoa. The stew was made with g/f beer which had quite a strong beer flavour.

Also did I mention that my low sugar thing was put on hold while on holiday? I had the gf vegan chocolate mousse cake which is made from tofu, it was rich and could have used a but more berry sauce to break up the flavour. But I still managed to finish it all with a little help from Toby.

After lunch we went to  Dr Sun Yat-Sen Museum. It was interesting learning about how his efforts in setting up republic of china during the Qing era. Besides it only cost $10 HK dollars (roughly $1.2 Au dollars).

For dinner we went to Kung Tak Lam. Toby ordered some greens without soy sauce and fried rice without soy sauce, mock meat etc. I was thankful Toby could explain my requirements in Cantonese because even in Cantonese there was a bit of confusion with the waitress saying that soy sauce doesn't contain wheat but she eventually got it.

The fried rice was delicious thanks to pine nuts and seaweed. I did add a bit of my own soy sauce but that's because I'm addicted to salt. Toby had a gluteny mock eel dish, which frankly sounded gross to me so I didn't mind missing out but he liked it.

Kung Tak Lam
10 F, World Trade Centre, 280 Gloucester Road, Hong Kong

This pack of mini soy sauce packets was a life saver throughout the trip. I got it from an allergy store in Causeway Bay called Little Giant. They had actually just expired but I didn't mind.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hong Kong Day 1

We have arrived in Hong Kong. It's so exciting to be back. I have to admit I am a bit biased about this city. I mean Toby is from here, it is where we met and where we first started dating and it was once my home for about 12 months.

It's a crazy city, with excess lights, shops, high rises. It's a little like visiting New York in that energises me. I also find it kind of refreshing to be a city where I can't understand most of the voices speaking Cantonese around me. Although I can understand a few of the more common phrases every now and then as I try to improve my cantonese. The underground train system is the best, so clean, so efficent, and if you miss one train, you only have to wait a few minutes to the next. There is also lots of smart ideas like this umbrella vending machines at train stations, which I sadly got kind of excited about:

The food can be amazing for vegans,  so many Chinese vegetarian restaurants, so many yum cha opportunities and so much gluteny mock meat. However, this is my first time eating gluten free here and I have to admit that I suspect it is going to be a big challenge. Chinese Food is difficult since there is wheat in soy sauce and most sauces and almost no awareness about coeliac disease is. I'm prepared for some boring meals of plain rice and eating rice cakes at home. I will try to blog every couple of days to show you what I can eat.

I woke up and had some sweet soup made by Toby's mum which I will post about seperately.I'm afraid we set out shopping on our first day and didn't bring any camera, so all of these pics are from my phone.

Our first meal out was actually kind of a happy accident, I was prepared to eat g/f cup of noodles at his parents place while he went some where more exciting. However, we were wandering around the shopping centre near Toby's parents house in Taikoo Shing when Toby remembered that the food court at a Japanese department store called Apita had a curry in the hurry with dosa.

Dosa are generally g.f since they are made with rice flour. I ordered a masala dosa which comes with coconut chutney and samba. It was fantastic. The samba was spicy but the coconut chutney was so cooling and the potato filling was amazing. It also comes with a choice of drink and the iced tea help to cool my mouth afterwards. Toby had a regular curry from there too with roti, pappadum etc. And the best thing about it was super cheap. I was a little worried that my enquiries about it being gluten free and dairy free was lost in translation but given that I wasn't sick I think it was safe.
Curry in a Hurry
Apita Uny Food Court (City Plaza MTR exit)
Taikoo Shing
City Plaza

For dinner, we went with Toby's family to Life Cafe. The one place in Hong Kong that I am confident can feed me. It's a western style vegetarian resuarant with plenty of gluten free marked meals and a few raw dishes. Toby and I shared the gluten free pizza with vegan goats cheese. It was fantastic, the pesto, caramelised onion, tomato and base was defintely one of the best gluten free pizzas I have had. 

Toby got the sesame tofu which is served with quinoa and veggies. It is served with a cashew type sauce. I thought was tasty and healthy but a bit average.

Life Cafe
10 Shelly St

Afterwards we went to a little cafe on the side of the road which I am told is famous for desserts.

I couldn't resist some red bean soup. My whole less sugar thing is on hold while i'm holiday, obviously! The mandarin peel released such a nice but not obvious flavour and it was super filling. Toby got some sweet sesame soup and I also tried some tong yuen (rice balls) which I'm not a huge fan of as its way too chewy for me.

Leaf Dessert
2 Elgin Street, SOHO, Central

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pepper Crusted Goats Cheese and Almond Feta

Around New Years Eve, I made two nut based cheeses. First the cashew goats cheese which I had already tried at Johannas house and loved. I used muslin because the woman at spotlight told me to and also had very little come out when wrapped in the cheesecloth.

Pepper Crusted Goats Cheese from Vegetarian Times

3/4 cup raw cashews
6 Tbs. canola oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbs. tahini
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper

1. Place cashews in large bowl; cover with 3 inches water. Soak overnight.
2. Drain liquid, rinse cashews under cold water, and drain again. Purée cashews, oil, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and 2 Tbs. water in food processor 6 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.
3. Place large strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon cashew mixture into cheesecloth. Fold sides of cloth over cheese, and form into 6-inch-long oval loaf. Twist ends of cloth and secure with rubber bands. Set in strainer over bowl, and let stand 12 hours at room temperature. Discard excess liquid. Chill.
4. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese, and scrape into 7-inch-long log on cheesecloth. Rewrap, and twist ends to secure. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes, or until cheese becomes set on outside but still soft, turning occasionally. Cool, and chill.
5. Unwrap cheese. Sprinkle with peppercorns, pressing to adhere.

I copied Johanna and used this in a quinoa salad. The salad itself was a bit boring but the 'goats cheese' made such a tasty addition. Its got a lovely tangy, salty flavour.

Next I made the:

Almond Feta but without the herb oil, also from vegetarian times
  • 1 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. plus 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves (left this out)
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves (also left this out)
  • 1. Place almonds in medium bowl, and cover with 3 inches cold water. Let soak 24 hours. Drain soaking liquid, rinse almonds under cold running water, and drain again.
    2. Purée almonds, lemon juice, 3 Tbs. oil, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup cold water in food processor 6 minutes, or until very smooth and creamy.
    3. Place large strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon almond mixture into cheesecloth. Bring corners and sides of cloth together, and twist around cheese, forming into orange-size ball and squeezing to help extract moisture. Secure with rubber band or kitchen twine. Chill 12 hours, or overnight. Discard excess liquid.
    4. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese (it will be soft), and transfer from cheesecloth to prepared baking sheet. Flatten to form 6-inch round about 3/4-inch thick. Bake 40 minutes, or until top is slightly firm. Cool, then chill. (Cheese can be made up to this point 2 days ahead; keep refrigerated.)
    5. Combine remaining 1/4 cup oil, thyme, and rosemary in small saucepan. Warm oil over medium-low heat 2 minutes, or until very hot but not simmering. Cool to room temperature. Drizzle herb oil over cheese just before serving. I skipped this part.

    I enjoyed the garlic in this one and thought it was tasty enough without the herb oil. However, I took half of it to a new years eve party and when paired with crackers with a lot of salt/flavour you could barely taste it. So I recommend adding the herb oil. I can't choose a favourite either, as they are both tasty in their own ways. I will certainly continue experimenting with more nut based cheeses. What are your favourite recipes?