I went vegetarian a couple of years ago while reading a book. Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals to be precise. In fact, I went vego after chapter 3, such were his powers of verbal persuasion. Foer is unique in his ability to lay out the truth, and to add even more truth – that is to say, humanity – to stories of the way in which we connote emotional attachment and sentimentality with food (but not – is so often the case – with our treatment of animals).
I went vegan this year while reading a book. The gorgeous, Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr. It’s a NYTimes best-selling “advice & misc.” tome – a magazine-style antidote to the bloated, wheat-sugar-meat fuelled, fast-fed western diet. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kris Carr’s work, she hosts a dynamic health-focused blog, Crazy Sexy Life which was inspired by her journey from finding out she had one of the rarest forms of cancer known to humankind, to becoming a green-foods-fuelled, happy, minxy and purpose-driven cancer survivor. Pretty yummy stuff.
Books. Vegetables. Two of my greatest passions.
They’re both utterly indispensable in my life – I rely on them equally for sustenance of varying kinds… They just – well, they just go together.
I discovered that the café at Dymocks in Melbourne’s CBD via the Mister Nice Guy Vegan Cupcakes website (more on them anon). Dymocks were the only stockist of these sweet wonders in my local area, so feeling somewhat sugar-deprived, I put on my skates and popped down.
Lust & ecstasy in baked goods.
Oh, honey. Not only do they do Mister Nice Guy Vegan Cupcakes, but their entire menu is very sympathetic to both vegan and gluten-free diners. “What!? This strange wing off the back of a chain bookstore who attracts (it would seem) mostly senior citizens in search of a quiet, hipster-free afternoon tea, and book-launchees for young adults’ literary vampire franchises!? Something’s a bit amazing-slash-weird here.”
I started to poke around, and I found that the book store itself (the last remaining general bookstore in the Melbourne CBD, I might add) has a phenomenally diverse and exhaustive vegetarian-vegan-raw-food-wholefood-gluten-free-and-allergies cookbook section. Yes, my darling hearts – Dymocks Melbourne is pure book+veggie heaven. (I now get lost for hours browsing the aisles of green recipe wonder-loveliness, and have to wrench myself away with all my Popeye strength so as not to blow the budget.)
So, being the intrepid Superéthiquers that we are, Cassie (the sympathetic non-vego) and I decided that we owed Dymock’s CBD (the book+veggie paradise) a proper lunchtime visit.
We were greeted by Café owner, the-lovely-Joanna who told us that the awesome-diet-friendly approach to the food & drink business was inspired by one of their former staff being coeliac, and struggling to find decent food in the city that met her needs. So, they started bringing a few gluten-free options to the menu, and it grew from there.
Joanna also grows an abundant and diverse vegetable patch at home out of which she began experimenting with different plant-based dishes for her family. While she’s not vegan herself, she strongly believes it’s important for us all to eat a truckload more veggies, and fewer animal proteins, and doesn’t see what the big fuss is about. “It’s really easy,” she explains, “I don’t understand why people think it’s hard to have really amazing, yet simply created vegan and gluten free food. It’s not hard at all.” Well, exactly.
The bookshop itself is a different business. The owners, according to Joanna, “aren’t actually vegetarian themselves – they’re just very interested in promoting healthier ways of eating.” Hence the incredible range of green-friendly cookbooks. My kind of people.
We ordered enough lunch for three (my hubby, Nick came and joined us), and Joanne came and surprised us with bonus bits and pieces of vegan-delights, just so we got a taste of the full range.
- Cassie & I tuck in. (We were being polite and neat in this photo.)
The Café carries Funky Pies (100% plant-based pies – yes, it’s possible, and yes, they’re freakin’ amazing), as well as making their own patties and nut balls that sit alongside a diverse range of mostly-raw and freshly prepared salad.
Funky Chunky pie, beetroot salad & lentil salad. Miam.
We very much enjoyed the following:
- Sweet potato pattie with an incredible white bean & lemon curd dip (no, seriously – it was great): vegan & gluten-free;
- The Funky Chunky pie: shiitake mushroom in a to-die-for gravy and flaky, flaky pastry shell (not gluten-free, but totally vegan) with a homemade chutney;
- A nut ball (I didn’t catch it’s actual name, I’m afraid). This contained egg and I believe wheat, but was very much vego;
- Quinoa & zucchini salad (V, GF)
- Quinoa, burghul & chickpea salad (V)
- Beetroot salad with walnuts (V, GF)
- Carrot salad (V, GF)
- Coleslaw (V, GF)
- Lentil salad (V, GF)
The Nut Ball
The beetroot was definitely my pick of the salads, followed hot on its heels by the straight quinoa & zucch, and lentil & carrot. Cass loved her nut ball and the kumera pattie; I died a little orgasmic death over the Funky Chunky shiitake pie.
We then rounded the whole trip off with a good hour of Superéthical philosophising over coffee and Mr. Nice Guy Vegan Cupcakes. One chocolate and one orange (to match our respective hair colour, yo). And their soy coffee? Not too shabby either, muchacha.
The Orange Mister Nice Guy
The Dymocks Café does not do a truckload of marketing. They don’t trumpet themselves via supa-megaphone as a vegan and gluten-free haven. They go quietly about their business, they make good food and they change a few people’s eating habits along the way.
We did however after visiting there properly, want very much for you to get to know this place for yourself if you’re at all vegetabley inclined. It’s tucked snugly out of the way in the basement of Collins 234 (this link will take you to the listing on Google Maps), on Collins Street in Melbourne’s CBD. Oh, and honeys – don’t expect the seventh wonder of the interior design world. This place, decor-wise is about as anti-cool as it gets. Which is kind of why we like it. A delicious secret shared by the Superéthicals & arvo-tea nonnas of the healthy eating world. Enjoy.
Stop Press: Mister Nice Guy Vegan Cupcakes are having the Grand Opening of their brand new cupcakerie in Prahran this Saturday 24th September 2011 at 163 Commercial Road (Prahran Market). They’re giving away free cupcakes on the day, dear sweet-toothed ones (from 9am – 5pm) and the 100th person to get a free cupcake wins a box of 6 cupcakes. Which is kind of like free awesomeness for free awesomeness. We’ll be there & will chow-down on Mister Nice Guy in-delicious-depth in the very, very near future.
- Ming-Zhu. x