Vegan Scrambled Tofu: the Healthy & Cruelty-Free Alternative

For those who follow me on social media, you would have seen that I completed the Veganuary challenge in January. It was really a interesting challenge that completely opened my eyes to new possibilities in the kitchen.

One new recipe I tried was scrambled tofu. I already liked the taste of tofu and occasionally ordered it when eating out. But I never knew how to cook it properly.

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Winter Dinner at Rubicon Restaurant Canberra

We recently decided to have a last minute dinner at one of our favourite fine dining restaurants in Canberra: Rubicon.

Rubicon is a restaurant tucked away at the Griffith shops, near another favourite restaurant of mine, Aubergine. Like Aubergine, we like to go to Rubicon for special occasions, and have only been there a handful of times.

Click here for a review on Aubergine Restuarant

This time it was a double date night and the spot chosen was Rubicon. This wouldn’t be my usual spot for just any night out for dinner, because it is not a budget friendly dining experience, especially if you add a couple of bottles of wine onto the bill!

But it had been a while since we had gone out to a fancy dinner, so I was happy to go to this somewhat random double date dinner at Rubicon.

The Atmosphere

Rubicon is a small restaurant with intimate, dim lighting and pretty fairy lights in the back to give it a relaxed “starry night” feel. The tables a covered with white table clothes and many of the group tables (4 or more people) are placed closer to the back of the restaurant. This actually makes sense – the more talkative groups can be placed away from the intimate dining for couples.

There are no windows to look out of, and therefore no view to muse over when you run out of conversation with your date. But the relaxed feeling of the lighting makes it a beautiful place for an intimate or romantic dinner.

This was the first time that we went to Rubicon with more than just myself and my partner, so

The Service

The service is always fantastic at Rubicon. It’s not quite fine dining but fairly close to it. The service is a little more on the casual side, but they really know how to multi task being attentive to all tables, even when the restuarant is full.

I’ve never noticed any staff member looking stressed or like they didn’t want to be there. They also have exceptional knowledge of the wines on their menu – which is one of the reasons we like to go there.

The Food

We were given complimentary appetisers which unfortunately were not gluten free. The were some kind of pork bite on a mini toast crust. Everyone on the table enjoyed their little appetiser. When the waiter realised that I needed a gluten free option, he kindly brought me out some delicious marinated olives for an appetiser.

My man chose the cheese souffle for his entree and I chose the pork belly. The souffle was the size of a muffin and came with a small salad of baked sliced tomatoes, warm tomato wedges, and a quinnel of herbed sour cream. Tristan liked the taste of the souffle, but decided to let me eat the tomato salad. The sour cream seemed to be a bit much but the tomatoes were nicely seasoned and have a good combination of herbs and spices. I think that the combination would have would have gone nicely with the souffle.
The pork belly had a few small cubes of prom belly with a delicious combination of sweet sauce, shaved apple and sautéed onions. The pork belly was cooked to perfection as it melted in the mouth with each bite. However there were no crunchy crackling parts of the pork belly. I always expect a bit of crunch when it comes to pork belly, so I was slightly disappointed with this one. Other than that, the dish was perfect.
My main was a gnocchi style dish. This was quite exciting for me as I more often than people realise, I can’t eat gnocchi, especially if the potato is incased in pasta. This kind of gnocchi was so delicious and creamy, and it was complimented perfectly with the zucchini. There was also a creamy sauce. The zucchini balanced out the creaminess of the sauce and the heaviness of the gnocchi. It was very filling though and I only managed to get through about half of the dish.
My partners dish was a beef dish (no surprise, he always gets steak or beef of some kind). This dish had sautéed onions and a rich jus on the side. I had a small bite and the beef so very tender and juicy. It’s a fairly predictable combination to have sautéed onions, but if it works you may as well stick with it. And they were cooked perfectly.
Most of the meals seemed like very “safe” kind of dishes, with not too many surprises in the flavours or combinations of flavours. However they were done very well and we were all satisfied at the end of our meals.

 

My rating of Rubicon

Atmosphere: 4.5/5 | Customer Service: 5/5 | Speed of Service: 4/5 | Presentation of Food: 4.5/5 | Taste: 4.5/5 | Value for Money: 4.5/5

Total: 27/30

Overall thoughts: Rubicon is a great fine dining restaurant with excellent attentive customer service. I will definitely be back to experience the delicious food and wine. 

For more info on Rubicon Restaurant click here

Have you been to Rubicon Restaurant? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments section!

Bye for now,

Photo-20160418172013943.jpg

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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Friday Lunch at Treehouse Bar Canberra

It seems that I have been treating myself to a sit down lunch at least once a fortnight, normally the day after pay day. While it is good to save money, I work pretty hard so it’s nice to treat myself and properly get away from work for a hour.

Recently I went for lunch with a friend from work and we decided to try the $9 lunches at Treehouse. This little place used to be a dingy bar full of people in black clothes only, sticky floors and barely any lighting. It had an alternative type of crowd and it was sometimes fun to go on uni-night. A few years ago it was done up with the front windows opening up, a funky upstairs area, and a beautiful fairylight tree. It’s still a little dark inside, but definitely not dingy anymore!

I like the welcoming atmosphere of Treehouse and its a nice place to come for cocktails or a bite to eat when having Friday drinks. But lunch at Treehouse is definitely something new to me. I have walked past the $9 lunches sign so often, I would think that I would have dined here plenty of times!

When we came in for lunch, we were escorted to the bar-like-seating around the walls of the establishment. Once seated, two tall glasses of iced water were quickly brought over to us. This is something I hadn’t experienced before and was great to see that they already had the initiative to give us water – I hate having to ask for something as simple as a glass of water!

Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the lunch menu, but there were approximately 5 dishes on there for the $9 deal. My friend chose the linguini and I chose the chicken tenders. I forgot to ask if the tenders were gluten free but nothing stood out as containing gluten and I didn’t get sick afterwards so I am fairly certain they were gluten free.

The food also came out so quickly. The staff apologised for the wait but we were surprised at how quick it was! We actually finished our lunch with 15 minutes to spare before we had to return to work… Pretty sure the food was cooked in less than 10 minutes!

The linguini was a good lunch size – probably around an entree size. If I was eating this I would be pretty happy with this size because you don’t want to feel weighed down and sluggish when having to return to work later.

Mine dish had three smallish tenders of chicken breast and a few large pieces of Cos Lettuce. I’m glad there was the coconut rice with it to help fill my hungry tummy. There was also a generous serving of sauce next to the rice, and I didn’t get to eat all of it so there was definitely enough. There was also lots of herbs over the rice which gave the dish a fresh taste.

The combination of all the ingredients was like a fresh Asian inspired taste. The chicken was cooked well. It was still slightly juicy and definitely not dry. I really enjoyed this lunch, but just wish there was more. Unfortunately I left still hungry. I understand that it is lunch, but for someone like me who prefers to eat lots for lunch and less for dinner, I was a little disappointed with the amount of food on my plate.

I thought the presentation of the food was great, and I suppose more food would make the plate look crowed and messy. It is quite possible that the pretty presentation is the reason for smaller sized chicken tenders.

The service was great. The staff were friendly and I particularly liked that they allowed us to split the bill. I think we may have been talking to the owner about this – he was saying that he will often not go back to a restaurant if they don’t allow groups to split the bill. I think that is very true, and in today’s society were hardly anyone carries cash on them, so we need to cater for that and splitting bills should be a must.

My Rating of Lunch at Treehouse Bar

Atmosphere: 4/5 | Customer Service: 4/5 | Speed of Service: 5/5 | Presentation of Food: 4/5 | Taste: 4/5 | Value for Money: 4/5

Total Score: 25/30

Overall thoughts: I would definitely go back to Treehouse for lunch, but I might have to order a side of chips to keep me from leaving hungry!

For more information on Treehouse Bar, click here

Have you been to Treehouse? Post your thoughts, comments and links to your reviews in the comments of this post 🙂

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie xoxo

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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Rustic Rocky Road

I love taking my baked goods into work to share with everyone. I love trying out new recipes at home, but sometimes I don’t want to eat the whole batch for myself. The alternative is to take the treats into work, which is always nice for my work colleagues. 🙂

I have been wanting to make rocky road for a while, so I figured that making it for my work colleagues would be a good idea. I tried out one batch but decided it didn’t work out – I used too much coconut, and no where near enough chocolate… no one should ever have to hear the words “not enough chocolate”!

I decided that this previous recipe wasn’t good enough for work. Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed (although my partner and my sister seemed to enjoy it!)

So I tried the recipe again over the weekend. This time I used plenty of chocolate. I used a lot less coconut too. I also decided to mix it up a bit and use a pack of four flavour/colours of marshmallows as well as some soft jubes. Looks like it turned out well because everyone came back for a second (or third) piece of this batch of rocky road!

My recipe uses a lot of chocolate – half a kilo to be exact. And whilst this sounds like a lot at first, remember that you mix it in with other ingredients, so it’s a good idea to have a lot of chocolate so the taste chocolate isn’t lost in all the other ingredients.

When I mixed in my marshmallows, I let them sit on top of the chocolate as I was taking photos… In the meantime they melted slightly… When I mixed them into the chocolate they were a little gooey but I think this actually worked in my favour as they were mixed in just right.

The best part about this recipe (other than the chocolate and sugar hit) is that it’s super easy to make – just melt, mix, set, cut and eat! It really is that simple!

Ingredients

500g milk cooking chocolate – you could also use a mixture of milk and dark cooking chocolate

250g salted butter

2 cups of marshmallows – I chose a four flavour mix

1 cup soft jube lollies

1/2 cup glacé cherries – optional but recommended to use anyway

1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts – You could also buy whole and roughly chop up

1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Method

1. Cut the marshmallows in half and set aside. Roughly chop the macadamias if using whole macadamia nuts. Measure out all other ingredients and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat.

3. Break up the chocolate and allow it to melt in with the melted butter. Mix butter and chocolate around with a wooden spoon (or large plastic ladell if you don’t have a wooden spoon). Ensure chocolate is fully melted.

4. Poor in the remaining ingredients. Mix around until all ingredients are completely covered in chocolate.

5. Grease a small baking tray with butter or oil and line it with baking paper – the butter or oil will help the paper stay in place. Poor in mixture. Ensure mixture is evenly distributed in tray.

6. Place in fridge for a minimum of four hours. I recommend leaving it in there overnight.

7. When mixture is set, remove from baking tray and remove baking paper. Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut strips of the mixture. Then cut the strips into bite sized pieces.

Store in a plastic container in the fridge.

Optional: you can sprinkle with icing sugar before serving

Do you have a rocky road recipe?

Don’t forget to tag me in your pics if you make this recipe!

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NAIDOC Week Function at Canberra Convention Centre

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a function at the Canberra National Convention Centre. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Aboriginal Hostels Limited NAIDOC Week luncheon. I was invited to go through the work organised tickets and went along with 5 other people from work.

It was a terrible, cold winter day outside, and it was definitely no fun walking in the wind and rain over to the Convention Centre from my work.

Once we were there we realised that this was quite a big luncheon. There were fifty tables of 10 – yep that’s right – 500 people were at this function. The funny thing was that the Grand Hall that we were in wasn’t even full!

It felt like forever before we were served our meals. There was the starter bread, but of course I couldn’t eat it.

A waiter came over and asked me if anyone had any dietary requirements. I told him that I am gluten intolerant and one of the girls is a vegetarian. I assume he forgot about this entirely, or didn’t tell anyone – when the mains came out they tried to give the vegetarian a steak, not just once, but twice!

Speaking of the timing for mains, it was very haphazard. One main was placed down at our table, then another one came five minutes later and ten minutes after the first dish was placed down was when they finally brought out the remaining dishes. I guess they probably shouldn’t have brought those dishes to our table as there were a few surrounding tables that seemed to have the same thing happen.

Good thing the food was good! The steak was juicy, moist and tender. It looked fairly pink – probably rare. The mash was creamy and smooth, but there was only about a tablespoon of it. I wish there was more! The mushroom sauce was also delicious, but it was very thin and watery.

It wasn’t until we were eating our mains that someone finally came to our table and asked us if we wanted any drinks. Well, he actually asked if we wanted any more drinks, but we hadn’t even been asked for our first round of drinks! Oh well…

When the desserts came out I tried to tell them that I’m gluten intolerant but the wait staff seemed to ignore this. Both desserts were not gluten free, but the Poached Pear at least had the least amount of gluten than the Chocolate Cake Mousse, so I chose to eat the pear. There were some kind of crumbs scattered all over the bottom of the plate, so I picked up my pear and scrapped the crumbs off to the side.

The pear itself was perfectly poached. It also had a tangy taste to it – like a mixture of cider and lemonade. I couldn’t quite out my finger on it, but I definitely enjoyed it. It was even more delicious when it was dunked in the sweet creamy angliase sauce on the side. I could eat this desert all day!

Overall, I enjoyed the experience at the National Convention Centre. But if I was having a wedding or another large important event, I probably wouldn’t pick this place because of the lack of organisation and attention to detail by waitstaff.

Friday Night Sharing Plates at Soju Girl

I remember when Soju Girl opened a few years ago. It was considered a hip new place to go. I went when it was still in its early days with a small group of people. Back then I enjoyed quite a few cocktails as well as the share style meals.

I was invited to go recently, and whilst there certainly were no cocktails involved, it was a lovely dining experience with a group of people from my work.

A Zucchini Flower, as well as trying a prawn and lychee from the Spicy Prawn Dish

The kind of eating at Soju Girl is described as “refined Asian sharing plates”. It’s a similar experience to going to a Chinese restaurant and each person on the table ordering a different dish to be shared with the group, alongside steamed or fried rice.

There are more choices than would usually be expected at this hipster-style restaurant. Surprisingly there are plenty of gluten free options – about 75% of the menu. I love that on the menu it says “the menu has been designed with gluten intolerance in mind” – hooray! I actually have a choice this time and not a forced choice!
The menu also caters for vegetarians and even vegan.

My table consisted of a variety of dietary requirements: gluten intolerant (me), vegetarian, vegan, and two people with shellfish allergies. With that many dietary requirements, eating out can be difficult, often with people feeling left out or feeling like they are that “annoying person”.

It’s good that there is finally a place that caters for all dietary requirements! And I love that it’s a pass-the-dish-around kind of setting. It gets people talking, breaks the ice between people that don’t know each other very well, and truly allows everyone to fill their bellies with delicious food.

The friendly staff always make sure that everyone knows how it works at Soju Girl before they let everyone properly look at the menu.

Essentially there are the large plates and the small plates. You choose a few plates to share around the table, and you can add some sides on as well. The dishes will usually be staggered throughout your time there, so you are not overloaded with too many choices at once, and so the dishes compliment one another.

Crispy Pork Belly

Food reviews

Zucchini Flowers: I’ve got two words for this dish: absolutely delicious. The fillng tasted like minced turkey or pork mince, although it was completely vegetarian (and gluten free!). It came with a ginger, soy sauce and capsicum dipping sauce. They didn’t even need the sauce though because they were so tasty! My dish of the night!

Pan Tossed Prawns with Crispy Noodle Salad: whilst this dish technically not gluten free I ate part of it anyway. The prawns had been mixed with lychees which gave it a nice sweet taste. The prawns themselves had a delicious slightly spicy taste to them. The only problem was that my prawn had not been entirely removed from its shell, causing me to have an uncomfortable chunchy bite into part of my prawn. But the meat of the prawn melted in your mouth. The sauce had a tomato-style-tang to it. It came with a crispy noodle salad, which I obviously didn’t have as it is not gluten free.

Crispy Pork Belly: Not the best pork belly I’ve ever had. It was not a melting in your mouth experience like I usually have with pork belly. The crackling was thin but not too salty. It had a pleasant taste but it isn’t something I would choose again.

Lamb Shoulder in Massaman Curry: This dish was a lot bigger than I expected! There was a very generous lamb shoulder in the middle of the curry dish. It had a medium spice to it, delicious aroma, and was well marinated. We ordered some steamed rice to have with this dish.

Sizzling Asian Mushrooms: The sizzling mushrooms came out like the sizzling lamb dish at Chinese restaurants – in the same kind of plate, with the dish still sizzling away. It was mixed with fried egg, tofu and Asian vegetables. It was another winner dish for me. It was great that this dish could be eaten by almost everyone at the table – it was gluten free and vegetarian, but not vegan. Although the it was not entirely vegan, the vegan diner at our table still ate some of the vegetables out of this dish and it seemed that she enjoyed the taste of this dish as well.

Lamb Shoulder Massaman Curry

I was totally shocked that after all that food it was only $26 per person! And that was even after everyone put in money for the person the dinner was in honour for.

I would definitely recommend going to Soju Girl and I am already thinking about planning another dinner there soon. It would be great for groups of friends or work colleagues to catch up over dinner and share delicious food.

I would say Soju Girl is one of my top restaurants in Canberra.

For the full menu please click here.

 

 

Breakfast at 5 Senses Tuggeranong

I love going out for breakfast. There's so many delicious and yummy things to try. And I love coffee. Oh do I love coffee…

In the last year, my partner and I often have a brunch dates. I feel that it's very much a responsible-grown-up-couple date: we don't go out drinking on Friday nights so we are up at 8am on Saturday morning. Plus it's nice to go have a little date together.

We recently decided to go have breakfast somewhere near our home. Often when people think of weekend breakfast in Canberra, they go to Kingston or Manuka. But we wanted to stay close to home so we decided to try something different.

Driving along the main street along the side of Tuggeranong Hyperdome we saw a few different cafés and coffee shops packed with people. We eventually saw a reasonable looking cafe called 5 Senses Gourmet Cafe. It looked like a good place to grab a bite to eat so we decided to done here for breakfast.

The first thing we noticed when looking at the menu was that it didnt have basic bacon and eggs with toast. Ummm… Ok…

This is basically all my partner would order for breakfast – simple, plain, good old fashioned bacon and eggs. He ended up asking the waitress if he could get this and she said that would be fine. I'm guessing that the owners wanted to keep the menu “gourmet” which is probably why this basic meal is omitted from the menu.

I ordered eggs benedict with salmon and gluten free bread. It's my favourite breakfast dish so I tend to always order it!

When it came out I was informed that the hollandaise sauce is not gluten free. I was pretty disappointed with this. The hollandaise sauce is an integral part to this dish. It was nice enough of them to put the sauce in a jug so I could “choose” if I wanted it on there. But it is annoying that they would offer the gluten free option for this dish, if it cannot be fully gluten free. Or the waitress should have told me when I placed my order and asked if I wanted a different gluten free dish.

Well it was a bit too late to change my mind when the food was already cooked and in front of me – I was so hungry so I just ate it anyway. I could have asked for something else but then I would have to sit and watch my partner eat his meal while my meal was re-prepared. Plus I hate being that annoying gluten free person. It's annoying enough for me, there's no need for me to be annoying for everyone else…

So I just started eating it anyway, minus the sauce. That's when I wish I said something. The bread was extremely dry and floury. Gluten free bread isn't the nicest tasting bread, but this was ridiculous. It tasted like I just ate a cup of grainy flour!

This would have been fine if I had slightly runny eggs. In my experience, the poched eggs are made so the yolks are still slightly runny, and they ooze out when you cut into them. This was not the case for my eggs benedict. The eggs were hard and overlooked. So not only did I not have any sauce, I also didn't have my slightly runny eggs.

My partner was not impressed with his meal either. Firstly, they added baby spinach leaves to his bacon and eggs. As a simple man when it comes to food, he doesn't need any of the fancy extras. So he wasn't impressed with this addition.

Also, the bacon had a strange taste to it. This bacon was not your regular Aussie bacon. It was thick and tasted a bit like Spam!

At least my coffee was good. I have bought takeaway coffees from here before, so I knew they could at least do that. And my partners chocolate milkshake tasted nice as well.

But we weren't here for the drinks – we were here for a meal. And we were very disappointed. At the end of our brunch date we concluded that this place was the worst breakfast we had ever eaten at a cafe. And when you're paying $50 for breakfast, you expect good quality. Unfortunately I won't be going back to this cafe (even for coffee, out of principle) because it left a bad (flour) taste in my mouth…

 

 

Sunday Afternoon Tea at Adore Tea

I love Adore Tea. It is nestled in the pretty Gold Creek Village and is a favourite among many Canberrans. They offer a variety of sweet and savoury treats and meals, but most importantly, a huge selection of tea to try. Their tea menu is quite expansive and sometimes it is difficult trying to pick a tea.

I have been to Adore Tea many times before, both for the regular Saturday High Tea and for a lunchtime or afternoon catchup with friends.

It was a warm autumn afternoon that we decided to do a belated combined birthday celebration for myself and a friend. It was only a small gathering of seven ladies, but we quite enjoyed the company.

There was afternoon entertainment with a Jazz and Blues singer singing some classic songs. We were seated right next to this singer so it was a tad loud. One of my friends certainly did not enjoy this Amy-Winehouse-inspired singer, especially with the speaker right in her ears.

Nonetheless, we browsed the menu to try and find the treats we desired. We had enough difficulty picking out food, let alone trying to pick a tea from over 250 teas!

Three of us decided in the Potato and Chamomile Soup. Unfortunately, after ordering, we were told we would have to fight it out amongst ourselfs as there was only one soup left. It was decided that I should have the soup. I also ordered a Trio of Dips (gluten free of course). My sister ordered the Belgium Waffles and one friend ordered the Scones with Jam and Cream.

I had a White Peach tea and my sister ordered the Creme Brûlée Tea. One friend ordered a variety of the green tea, and unfortunately I cannot remember what tea the other people ordered. All I know is that each person had a different type of tea. There really are so many types of teas it would be difficult to try every single one!

My tea was delicious and I enjoyed every drop of it. The great thing is that the teas come out in these glass-scientific-beaker-looking pots, which are placed over the tea light candles. This keeps the tea nice and warm. The pot has a strainer with the tea in it, and you can take the tea out when you desire, depending on how weak or strong you want your tea.

The food was a little disappointing this time round. The soup tasted bland and clearly lacked seasoning. It was creative of the chef to place the salt, pepper and chamomile tea buds on the side of the plate, but this made it difficult to pinch and sprinkle the seasoning onto the soup. It was only when salt was added that the soup had any particular taste. I was very disappointed with this and would not order it again.

On the other hand, the trio of dips was fantastic. There was hommus, beetroot dip and spicy capsicum. These are my three favourite dips, so I was definitely going to be happy with that selection! But Im fairly certain these were store bought and not freshly made.

My friend who bought the scones said they were quite doughy and almost sticky. The scones were quite large, which would explain the doughy feeling – more jam and cream would be needed to compensate for the size of the scones.

My sister loved her waffles. And with cream and icecream she was definitely going to be happy with that meal!

I suspect that this may have been a bad food day for Adore Tea. As usual, the service was great, and the tea was delicious. I would definitely go back again to try as many more teas as I can as well as try some other food on the menu.

For more info on Adore Tea, check out their website: www.adoretea.com.au