Tag Archive for comfort food

smith & deli


Smith & Deli is finally here.  It has been worth the wait. I didn’t think it was possible to love something more than Smith & Daughters, but I do.

I turned up at 8.15 am on the opening day thinking I might be able to dash in and grab something for breakfast. An Egg McMartinez perhaps? The place was buzzing, with a queue snaking its way to the door. I had to leave to do some volunteering so I headed out again, postponing my visit until 1.30pm.

When I arrived back there was a queue snaking its way out the door…

I joined it and spent my waiting time productively, collecting various goodies as I passed them on the way to the till. Like lollies at the checkout, I grabbed some shallot sourdough from Noisette bakery, some tortillas, a frozen chicken curry pie and spent a long time cruising the cakes and deli items for future reference. To my disappointment, the last vanilla slice disappeared before my eyes. Oh well, something to look forward to.

I also had lots of time to admire the cute retro decor, perfect right down to the gingham shirts worn by the staff and Patsy Cline on the stereo.

At the ordering station, staffed by the ever lovely Mo, I settled on a Home Alone sandwich. This might have been made for me, stuffed as it was with all the kinds of foods I love. Turkey, stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potato and gravy. Utter, utter heaven. There were a couple of substitutions for my sandwich because they had run out of rolls and turkey. They subbed in turkish bread (fine by me, I love it) and chicken salad for the turkey. I don’t know what the original is like but this was fantastic. I cannot imagine a better sandwich. I got a bit teary as I ate it.

I love sandwiches, but frankly our options are often limited at non vegan places to hummus and salad. The sandwich list here is 32 varieties long and runs over two blackboards and every damn one sounds fabulous.  I plan to blog the entire sandwich list as part of Vegan MoFo 2015.

As an unreformed pastry addict I also ordered a beef bourguignon pie. I confess I ate that as well as the sandwich. I am now very full.

I had intended to take the pie home to eat, but I scoffed half on the drive home. It was great, a rich buttery shortcrust pastry bottom with a flaky top,  packed full of intense red wine, mushroom and beefy flavours. Even allowing for the fact that I think anything wrapped in pastry is special, this was a great pie.

The sandwich, I did manage to wait until I got home. I can’t begin to describe how happy it made me. Just let me say that any sandwich that leaves you tearing up is special.

But the joy doesn’t stop with sandwiches, cakes and pies. You can pick up take away meals, soups, pies, pizza, deli meats, cheeses and salads as well as dips, bread and all kinds of staples.

Any other shop where you had to wait for food might make people a bit grumpy, but the vibe was so nice, people in the queue laughing and talking to each other. The cheerful staff keep the queue snaking around in an orderly fashion to get people in from out in the cold and they give helpful advice as to what items are available quickly if you are in a hurry. By day three (yes I went the first three days in a row) they had improved the wait time by taking sandwich orders in the queue so they are made (or almost made) by the time you reach the cash register.

While I was waiting I had one man tell me he was so happy because he hadn’t had food like this for almost 20 years since becoming a vegan. We were almost a bit weepy.

Thanks S&D for making my day so happy (and gluttonous).

Note: I went again the next day and had a custard and quince danish. Crunchy, flaky, delicious. And the day after, another sandwich, the Temple of Doom. I’m stopping for a day or two now.

Smith & Deli
111 Moor St
Fitzroy, 3065
9042 4117

best macaroni cheese ever – really!

How many times have you read another recipe promising the “Best Mac Cheese Ever!”, rushed to make it and ended up with another disappointment?

I have, countless times. I’ve tried them all, nutritional yeast, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, cauliflower. All of them either wrong or awful. Most of them I tried giving as leftovers to my dog Jess, but she sensibly rejected them.

I used to make dairy macaroni cheese using a variation of a recipe by Heston Blumenthal, that used no milk just a mixture of cheese in a wine reduction and stock.  It was great then, not at all gluggy, sharp and adult in flavour. I think of it as macaroni and cheese for grown ups.

So I gave it another go recently using a mixture of vegusto piquant, daiya cheddar and tofutti cream cheese. I’ve tinkered with it, veganising it obviously, but also simplifying it a bit and using less wine as the original is pretty sharp.

I think it is a winner. Jess isn’t getting any leftovers from this one, even though she’d probably love it.

It also works wonderfully as a cheese sauce for cauliflower and broccoli.


best macaroni cheese ever - really! 🙂
prep time
cook time
total time
serves: 4
  • 200 g macaroni
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200 ml dry white wine
  • 300 ml hot vegetable stock (I used Massel)
  • 60 g vegan melting style grated cheese (I've used both Daiya Cheddar and Mozzarella successfully)
  • 20 g vegan hard parmesan style cheese ( I use Vegusto Piquant)
  • 10 g cornflour
  • 80 g Tofutti cream cheese
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp truffle oil (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C.
  2. Cook the pasta in salted water until done. Drain.
  3. Mix in the truffle oil.
  4. In a saucepan, reduce the white wine over a high heat to 30 ml.
  5. Add the hot stock to the reduced wine.
  6. Mix the grated cheeses with the cornflour and add to the saucepan.
  7. Stir until the cheese has been melted and incorporated into the sauce, then stir through the pasta.
  8. Cook over a medium heat until the pasta is warmed through.
  9. Stir in the cream cheese.
  10. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  11. Place into an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven until nice brown spots start to appear.


vegan comfort food around town


Last week I went to the Aztecs exhibition at the Museum and when I left I was hungry and craving Mexican food… 🙂

I headed off to Trippy Taco to get my fill, only to find that they were closed that day! By then I was beyond hungry, so I headed around the corner to Las Vegan. Luckily they have a couple of Tex-Mex items on the menu as I was nursing a serious Mexican food obsession by this point.  I settled on the quesadilla. Black beans, salsa, cheese, sour cream and guacamole in a tortilla. All vegan. Yum.  I was starving and it really hit the spot. Las Vegan does a range of other home style comfort foods as well as good range of cakes. All their food is vegan.

Later that week I decided to check out the Northcote branch of Loving Hut. I have to say I like this branch much better than the Richmond one, as there is no grand master TV beaming from the wall. Based on what I ate that day, I think the food is better too.  Like all Loving Hut cafes the food is all vegan as well.

I chose some spring rolls which were beautifully crunchy, followed by a good curry laksa packed with fried eggplant, “prawns” and fried tofu. Also good.

Neither of these places is ever going to scale great heights for fine dining, but they do decent home-style comfort food at a reasonable price and I love that they exist. Not having to interrogate the waiter about what is and isn’t vegan, makes dining very relaxing.

The food equivalent of a comfy chair.


Las Vegan Cafe
22 Smith St,
Collingwood, 3066

Loving Hut Northcote
377-379 High St,
Northcote, 3070

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