Tuesday 29 March 2022

PachaMama Wholefoods and Kitchen, Brunswick

PachaMama has seen a few changes over the years since it replaced Aunt Maggies as the wholefoods store-cum-cafe on the corner near Barkly Square in Brunswick.  It originally was endless shelves of tempting groceries with a little cafe area at the back.  But during the pandemic the array of groceries dwindled.  At the end of last year I noticed it had a new menu and the cafe area had taken over a lot of the warehouse.  So when Faye and I were looking for a place to eat just after Christmas, we mt there for lunch.

The decor is very welcoming with lots of wooden furniture and some comfy ottomans by the bookshelf.  I loved the spacious feel which was enhanced by all the light coming in from the big windows onto Sydney Road and Barkly Street.  It feels much lighter than when it was filled with grocery shelves, though there are still some at the back.

I ordered the Pyramid Bowl ($19).  The menu describes it as herby green falafels, pickled turmeric cauliflower, hummus, cucumber and seasoned leafy greens on a base of basmati rice topped with sundried tomatoes, roasted pistachios, parsley and vegan dill coconut yoghurt dressing.  But when I checked back to photo I can see carrots and olives as well.  It was delicious and such a nice change from the usual falafel bowls with, hummus, cucumber, tomato and pita bread.  The hummus was quite thick but I really liked the dressing.

Faye had the Breakfast Bowl ($21).  She had the vegan option with extra beans, mushrooms and vegan feta instead of eggs and goats feta. It was a generous bowl of spiced black beans, mushrooms, roasted tomato salsa, and smashed avocado on a bed of leafy greens topped with vegan feta, pickled onions, sundried tomatoes, black sesame seeds and vegan chipotle mayonnaise.  I think I would have liked the option to add hash browns but it looked pretty good.

I was curious about their sandwiches and returned there recently when I needed a quick lunch before a swim.  It was too late to get a Mama Mia toastie with roasted vegies, sundried tomatoes and vegan feta.  However there was a toastie in the display cabinet.  While I waited for it, I had some of the Good Brew Kombucha on tap.  I chose the chlorophyll, sencha mint and apple kombucha which was really refreshing.

The I'm Vegan Toastie ($13) was delicious with vegan cheese, pesto, sweet potato, capsicum, eggplant, sundried tomato, nutritional yeast and rocket.  Unfortunately when I have visited for lunch recently I have not perused the grocery shelves.  Maybe next time.

Pachamama Wholefoods and Kitchen
74-78 Sydney Road, Brunswick, 3056

Saturday 12 March 2022

In My Kitchen - March 2022

Life continues to be crazy.  The start of March has seen astounding news - Russia invading Ukraine, terrible floods in Queensland and NSW, our Prime Minister has Covid, and what is it with sports people dying: John Landy, Dean Woods, Rod Marsh and Shane Warne!  [I started writing this post a week ago but these are still major events affecting the world].  I managed my second day in the office last week but am still feeling very tired.  I would love a bit more cooking and blogging energy but it is just not often coming my way.  Instead it is has been Degrassi the next generation and tofu bacon and some deep kitchen cleaning.  And a birthday!  Dates have been great fun this year.  So far we have had 22/1/22,  2/2/22, 22/02/2022 and 3/3/22.

The above pumpkin galette was baked by my mum.  It was absolutely delicious - buttery soft pastry and melting roasted pumpkin and creamy ricotta.  It was a lovely meal for her to bring over.

With cooking less, we have eaten more ready meals.  I really loved this Nature's Kitchen Plant based eats cheesy cauliflower pies.  It had a lovely creamy sauce.  There seem to be more and more vegan or vegetarian products that have mock meat and this was a really nice vegetable filled pie to find.  I did have another vegetable pie I liked from the supermarket but have not seen it lately - and in fact did not see this one the last time I was there.  In fact, while it is lovely to have lots of meat free meals to choose from, they come and go at such speed it is hard to keep up!

Dairylea Burger Slices is Sylvia's cheese of choice lately.  For a while they disappeared from the supermarkets and then suddenly they were there again.  Not sure why.  Supermarket stocks have been a bit less reliable the last couple of months with covid numbers affecting transportation.  However now it has shifted to predictions of price rises as the Ukraine invasion pushing up the cost of petrol and food imports.  And we haven't even talked about how the floods up north will affect food availability.

Much as I try, I am a sucker for a gimmick or a fun package.  Cadbury Australia celebrated 100 years making chocolate in Tasmania.  (I was so surprised when I first visited the UK to find that the Cadbury chocolate there tastes different and it took me a while to adjust!)  I really loved these dairy milk block packaging celebrating all the decades of development since the 1920s.  However I found it interesting that the four decades since the 1970s all had pictures relating to sport.  I loved the groovy tape decks of the 1970s and the decades before this has more interesting pictures of war, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, television, and space travel.  You would think there were no huge changes since 1970s apart from sport (such as September 11, computers, mobile phones, social media, covid)!

Another gimmick that we fell for was this box of "Mystery Pops" cereal.  It is like coco pops but has a mystery flavour that you are meant to send in for a chance to win.  Sylvia was so curious we bought a box but it was really hard to pick the flavour - we had lots of guesses such as orange, marshmallow, and vanilla.  Just shows how close the artificial flavours are to the true flavours!

Sylvia had her birthday recently and now is officially a teenager.  We has takeaway pizza and I made Nigella's Nutella Cheesecake.  Sylvia enjoyed decorating it much more than eating it, but her special treat were two bottles of squirty whipped cream.  They are my nemisis so I don't usually let them in the house.  She really wanted to decorate the cheesecake with them.  We also used caramel popcorn, chocolate wafer sticks, and popcorn flavoured Maltesers.  I really liked the cheesecake - it was simple to make, no-bake, kept its shape.  But the base was a bit of disaster because it was too thick and too crumbly.  I don't blame Nigella because I didn't use hazelnuts and I didn't do it in the food process with the butter and nutella as directed.  I would like to try it again with a different base, perhaps even of oreos.

Sylvia cleaned out my pantry.  When she gets the urge, she is very good at tidying up and I really appreciated it.  This jumbled photo of my spices and a few other bits and pieces shows the clutter and mess she was up against.  She was horrified at some best before dates that were as old as her.  My spices have desperately needed a clean out.  When I started blogging I bought things like garam masala, cardamom, dukkah, beetroot powder and almond essence, that got lost in the business of life and the cupboard.  

I put out a lot of jars but kept those that I really love - mixed spice, cumin, curry powder, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, turmeric, mustard seeds and nutmegs.  I also kept some that were out of date that I don't use much but I know I will end up buying them and leaving them for ages if I get rid of them as I do love to have nigella seed, rose petals and black salt when I need them.  I also refused to part with cinnamon sticks and dried seaweed that had been there years because it is so useful and lasts foreever no matter what the use by dates say.

This is my pantry after Sylvia has tidied it up.  It looks so much neater and there is so much more room.  We have managed to keep it in a better state since it was tidied.  Much easier when I am cooking and baking less than usual.  The blue papers on the inside of the doors are cut from a book (I know, I know) with conversions between metric and imperial and some common measures.  I love having it on hand).

The cleaning of the pantry was partly inspired by cleaning out the fridge with my mum a few weeks ago.  It really needed it.  I noticed a smell every time I opened it and it just had lots of neglected foods and spills at the back that needed attention.  It is great to have lots of space now.

We have been in the habit of getting takeaway pizza on Fridays and have tried a few different places.  One week my choice was Green Acre Pizza. I tried the Grass is Greener Pizza which had Dairy Free Mozzarella, Roast Zucchini, Spinach, Chopped Chilli, Smashed Peas, Vegan Feta & Italian Glaze.  I asked them to hold the chilli and add some vegan sausage.  The Italian glaze was not really my sort of thing.  It made the pizza topping too wet and intense but I still loved the pizza name and the peas and feta idea.

I really loved the fried cauliflower florets that I ordered from Green Acres with my pizza.  It was so tasty and so moreish.  But I kept some over as I knew it would make good leftovers.  Firstly I served it with some quinoa and 222 stew that a friend brought over.  The stew had tomato, zucchini and eggplant with lots of crispy cheese on top.  So delicious.  I also had some yoghurt and avocado with it.

I used quinoa that I made in the microwave.  It was 1 cup dried quinoa (I think I rinsed it first) with 2 cups water, cooked for 10 minutes in the microwave.  It was some of the nicest quinoa I have cooked of late.  I had lots of leftover from the meal above so I mixed in some peas, shredded baby spinach, chopped fried cauliflower, celery and dried cranberries.  It made a really lovely salad.  I was so glad I had some of this salad for lunch when I went into work as it has suddenly got a lot busier and there were queues at nearby cafes.

I don't often get to browse kitchen shops lately nor do I have the need for much for the kitchen.  But we use these little bowls quite a lot and they are probably the thing that gets broken the most.  Don't ask why!  So when I got into the city recently I was pleased to find these small bowls in Myer department store.

One favourite in our house that both Sylvia and I love is ready made cheese and spinach ravioli.  It cooks up quickly and then I drizzle in some garlic olive oil and seasoning, add some vegies and grated parmesan cheese.  On this night it had peas and spinach from the freezer and some tofu bacon.

Sylvia has been making choc chip cookies.  Sometimes she has one in a mug in the microwave and other days she makes a small batch that she can experiment with different types.  On this day she had a couple with M&Ms, a couple with choc chips, one with 100s and 1000s.  The couple she made with chocolate stuffed inside aren't in the photo.  And did I mention she made these without a recipe!

I have had more indulgence in ice cream than biscuits.  I was not quite so keen on the cookie butter swirl in these ice creams but I loved the packaging.  Actually I tried the New York cheese cake magnums and they were much nicer.  Now that we are into March the days are cooler and the ice creams are less necessary without the humid heat.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to visit more kitchens and her wonderful hand drawn header.