Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Otto Ristorante, Sydney

In doing some research on vegan dining in Sydney, I kept coming across mentions of the omnivorous Otto Ristorante, as they have a separate vegan menu on hand every night. Since it was walking distance from our hotel (a lovely stroll through the Botanic Gardens) we decided to check it out, and boy am I glad we did.

I started with this refreshing salad of arugula, peaches, and pine nuts in a slightly sweet vinaigrette that had a perfect sweet/tangy balance. Can you tell it is summer in Sydney? Such a lovely way to start a meal... and we were sitting outside in the sun too. So nice!

The husband started his meal with this dish of beautiful fried squash blossoms, which he happily shared, lucky me. For being fried, these were light and crispy, not to mention mouth watering. The acid of the tomato/roasted pepper/olive salad was a nice contrast too.

For my main dish I had the pea risotto. This verdant bowl of goodness was chock full of pea flavor without being overly starchy. Nicely seasoned and deeply hued, it was feel good food on a summer evening. Loved it.

For a delightfully sweet, but not too heavy, ending, we enjoyed some lemon sorbet and summer fruit compote. It was bursting with the flavors of the season... but it was the one dish I expected more out of. I mean, Otto, if you're already going out of your way to have a separate vegan menu, why are you giving me a dessert I could get at any omni restaurant? Oh well, it was still tasty, and the meal as a whole was a winner. I can still feel the sun on my face as we sat along the wharf and enjoyed our evening. Ahh, vacation.

Next up, we make our way across the country and discover some 'outback' eats worth writing home about!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Casual Dining in Sydney

We were lucky enough to have had some fantastic high-end meals in Australia, but we also enjoyed some tasty and cheap (well, relatively, considering Australia is hella expensive!) food as we wandered around Sydney. For example, as we strolled along Bondi Beach, we came across the Beach Burrito Company, which advertised "San Francisco Style Burritos." Of course we had to check it out.

Chips, salsa, and guacamole were gobbled up while we waited (a lot longer than we would have in SF) for our burritos. The guac had red pepper flakes on it. Still not sure how I feel about that. In any case.....The burritos finally arrived. To be fair, the place was packed on a sunny Saturday and we were content to relax and let the ocean breeze swirl around us, so no big deal that they took a while.

The burritos themselves were not quite SF quality, but they were tasty enough. My "garden" version was chock full of crunchy veggies, and not nearly enough guacamole, rice, and beans, for my liking. However, the burrito craving I'd been having was satisfied, and the atmosphere was great, so win.

Back down town, we found the best burger place, aptly named Burgerlicious. They have 4 veggie burgers, all of which can be veganized by taking off cheese, if it even comes with any. My inherently vegan "Big Veg" (above) was dressed up with mushrooms, roasted red pepper, avocado, hummus, and beetroot. It was, in fact, this burger that started my love affair with beetroot dip. You can find it all over Australia and it is a mouth watering combination of beets, vinegar, and spices. But I digress.... this burger was so awesome, and the fries (advertised as cooked in 100% vegan cottonseed oil!) were crispy perfection. I wish we had made it back to Burgerlicious so I could have tried the other offerings. Next trip, I suppose.

Up next, some fancy eats in Sydney and beyond. Stay tuned... and have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Balinese Bites

I'm back! We had an amazing trip to Bali and Australia and I can't wait to share with you some of the delicious eats we had on our journey. Join me as we find ourselves in Seminyak, Bali. Most of the eateries in this town have some vegan offering, but there is a real gem among them all: Zula Vegetarian Paradise. This all-vegan eatery served up some of the best food we ate on our whole trip. While in Seminyak for 4 days, we actually went there 4 times, enjoying breakfast, lunch, and dinner! For proof, here's a photo of each:

Up first, a breakfast of scrambled tofu, steamed greens, and baked pumpkin. That's sage on that pumpkin and it was delicious! So was the tofu. It appeared to be devoid of seasoning but I assure you that was not the case. Seasoned with magic. The perfect way to start the day.

Up next was lunch. This huge salad was topped with some of the tastiest tempeh I ever did have. We heard rumors on our trip that tempeh was invented in Indonesia and while I'm not sure, I believe it. I have never had tempeh as firm and flavorful as I had in Bali, and this salad was no exception. Wish I had some now....

For dinner we split this feast of savory and filling sweet potato soup and I had a Mediterranean plate of falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, tabouleh, pickled vegetables, and this red pepper relish thing that was so insanely good I asked for gobs more. This alone was as good, if not better, than all the Mediterranean places in SF, PLUS the pita was to die for. Light and fluffy and warm. Best pita ever.

Other than a chef who came to cook for me and my 16 friends in Uluwatu, Bali, the rest of our meals here were just sort of meh. Good eats awaited us in Australia though.... so stay tuned!