We're a little late for 2016 retrospectives, but it's taken us all of January to cover our last (and often best!) eats of last year. And it's been almost two years since we properly updated our where's the best? page, so we've taken the week to do it right.
Let's begin with a moment's silence for past faves now departed: veg Chinese institutions Enlightened Cuisine and White Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant, plus those amazing mock chicken wings out at Springvale; the Aussie-as why-in-South-Yarra Sweetwater Inn; the feelin'-just-a-bit-fancy Bayte and Otsumami; for sweet little Helados Jauja.
RIP Enlightened Cuisine prawn toast,
and that one time Michael ate a second serving for dessert.
Thankfully we've been blessed with numerous new haunts. Our local 'hood has welcomed Good Days and Very Good Falafel, and we love the Tamil Feasts project. Brunswick St is still booming, with omni spots Mukka and Rue de Creperie giving the local all-veg businesses serious competition. We've found amazing vegan foods in places we daren't dream of, like Italian restaurants (Small Axe Kitchen, Maccaroni Osteria Italiana) and Irish pubs (The Snug, in both Brunswick and St Kilda).
Some great eateries have had babies! Smith & Daughters begat Smith & Deli; Moroccan Soup Bar begat Moroccan Deli-Cacy; Fina's begat Fina's
In our home kitchen, Ottolenghi and Isa still reign supreme. Our O-club favourites included sweet potatoes with orange bitters, pumpkin with chilli yoghurt & coriander sauce, roasted cauliflower, grape & cheddar salad and eggplant cheesecake. Isa gave us chipotle sausage hash and that was enough. We're getting good use from other cookbooks, too, with wins from Community (char-grilled broccoli with chickpeas, almonds, lemon & chilli, ginger-peanut kale with tofu and quinoa), Vegan Soul Kitchen (spicy Cajun-Creole tempeh with creamy cashew grits), the Moroccan Soup Bar cookbook (basbousa) and the Smith & Daughters cookbook (hot cheddar & pickled jalapeno dip).
Pumpkin with chilli yoghurt & coriander sauce
Our repertoire of easy-peasy weeknight cooking has expanded to pan-fried gnocchi & kale, orange baked tofu and Trailwalker macaroni; if they were a little more nutritious I'd wrangle roasted jackfruit rolls and sweet'n'sour mock pork in there too. On the other end of the scale, gochujang fried cauliflower and PB potatohead icecream were outstanding weekend projects (I'm still on the fence about that waffled tofu & rice...).
In my world almost every dessert is a good dessert, but the ones we've already made multiple times are these macadamia & lemon myrtle biscuits, this peanut butter & blueberry pie, and Michael's perfected Nigella's winter plum cake. Not only are these recipes delicious, but they conjure happy memories of the the occasions they were made for and the people we shared them with.
Peanut butter & blueberry pie