Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tenth Muse is deeply disappointing, or: I don't finish

I often leave meals languishing in my iPhoto for months before blogging them. This one's really fresh; just hours old and driven by my deep and desperate disappointment. 

The Tenth Muse boasts wide range of omni, vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.  I love ordering a vegan meal directly off the menu without going through all the 'no dairy' specifics. This morning I ordered the big vegan fry-up with beans and avocados. 

Coffee (watery) came and went. I read the paper cover to cover. We were the only customers. The music alternated between ear-bleeding and silent. 

Breakfast came. It was big. 

It was the worst cooked breakfast I can recall.

The Turkish bread was doused in what must have been at least two tablespoons of Nuttelex. The tomatoes were barely cooked. The scrambled tofu was soggy and bland. Every single thing on my plate was drowning in oil.

The avocado was black and brown all the way through.  The picture above doesn't do it credit. I cannot believe anyone had the cheek to plate it, let alone charge money for it. 

If I want baked beans from a tin I'll go home and open one of the little tins I keep which cost $5 for 8 at Coles. If I want a McDonald's hash brown I'll go there (I won't. But if I want a hash brown like the one here I'll go to the supermarket and buy a plastic bag full of frozen ones). 

Not a single thing tasted of anything but oil. If I had ordered this at Fat Eddy's Route 66 Side-of-the-Highway Cafe on Wheels at 3 in the morning, I would have been pleased. In a cafe situated in the heart of Melbourne's coffee'n'cafe streets, which has obviously taken great care to create a menu to suit all dietary preferences, this was incredibly disappointing. 

This disappointing: this is what I ate. 

I have rarely not finished a meal, and I've never chosen not to continue one after a couple of bites.  Especially when I'm paying for it. I just couldn't bear to eat this one at all. 

And when our harried waiter collected my virtually-intact plate, there was no checking if the meal was ok. Clearly it wasn't. 

We didn't get charged for our coffees because of the wait. It was the small positive (along with all the same-sex marriage rally pictures on the wall. I liked them).

I left deeply disappointed and feeling ripped off. There was nothing special, nothing even passable, about this breakfast. Much as I want to support any cafe that offers vegan options, I won't be back. I went home and ate toast.

Friday, March 19, 2010

An abuser is an abuser, or: the US starts seeing animal abuse for what it is (and isn't)

I'm pleased that more and more US States are passing legislation that bar convicted animal abusers from owning or coming into contact with pets. I think it's great that further attention is being paid by authorities to animal hoarders, even though I think that the level of abuse usually perpetrated by hoarders - chronic neglect, lack of health care, inadequate care and shelter, leaving dead animals' bodies where they fall - would seem to stem from a place of more benign intentions than animal torture does. Nonetheless, animal hoarders do need to be identified and helped (or prosecuted) and the animals they hoard need to be removed. An abuser is an abuser.

I am especially pleased that eight states now require child or spousal abuse officers and animal control officers to share information and report to each other when they find something wrong. This acknowledges the chilling statistic (reported in the article) that in 88% of homes where children were abused, animals were abused too, and that women who have been abused by their intimate partner were 10 times more likely to report that their partner had also hurt or killed a pet. It helps place animal abuse in the same sphere as child or intimate partner violence and it reflects the seriousness of any abuse of the defenceless. An abuser is an abuser.

Although I see that these changes place animal abuse firmly in the real of abuse-response services, which is appropriate, and that it is widely acknowledged that the abuse of animals is a leading indicator of the abuse of humans, I still feel a little sad that the article implies that some of these laws are only here to identify and prosecute animal abusers as a means to identify and prosecute human abusers. It's an important link and one which has been instrumental in raising the profile of animal abuse as something to be acted upon, but we must also recognise that abusing animals is wrong because it is ... abusing animals. An abuser is an abuser.

This bit doesn't please me either: "Some states are bucking the trend. In Idaho, which is one of the states without a felony cruelty penalty, farmers and ranchers are pushing a bill that would more clearly distinguish livestock from pets and would exempt livestock from the protections afforded pets". Because the standard treatment of livestock amounts to abuse? Or because no one cares about a nameless faceless cow as long as Fluffy the Cat and Rex the Dog are safe at home? An abuser is an abuser. 

Many people will see animal abuse as sitting much much lower on the scale of wrongness than the abuse of humans. I'm not going to address that; it's a huge issue. But to me it is clear - people who like to hurt defenceless beings will do it to anyone they can. Abusers are abusers.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vancouver in the West, or: we roadtrip and discover a diamond in the rough

Honestly, I freakin' hate the blogger photo uploader. Just let me put thing where I want to put them!

Buzz and I recently took a road trip to Albany, WA for our friends Mr and Mrs P's wedding. After many many hours on the road from Perth, the discovery that most of WA shops - including the big supermarkety ones - close on Sundays was a bit of a bugger, compounded by our lack of cooking facilities. I morosely accepted a few days of supermaket hummus and plain chips for me. 

Thoughtfully Mr and Mrs P had already arranged vegan catering for me at their afternoon garden party - and it was inhaled swiftly. The lovely caterer was from a local cafe, Vancouver Cafe, and so post-wedding (mid-seediness), Buzz and I trouped down along with our friend Mr Stoff for breakfast. 

Not often do you get to discuss veganism with the staff, nor have the chef stick his head out of the kitchen hatch to tell you he can make your rosti without egg. Along with an arts'n'crafts, shabby boho interior, this ensured a return visit the day after, before our road trip back, which is photographed here. 

What a breakfast! That's local sourdough bread (guaranteed vegan and beautifully chewy), Nuttelex, avocado, homemade baked beans, rosti,, onion, mushroom, baby spinach, and tomatoes stuffed with homemade ... stuffing.

Each and every element was home made and home flavoured. Each thing on my plate had its own taste, texture and flavour rather than being just a heated up thing. This breakfast rated up there and firmly challenged the best of Smith St, not only for its mouthwateringness but also for the honest and earnest commitment to real food.

Vancouver Cafe was a little oasis in a town of roundabouts and Sunday closing. If you ever find yourself driving five hours south of Perth, rest assured that supermarket hummus is not the best you have to look forward to.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Catch me, catch me! or: I trawl the archives

More catch ups, while I'm da mood. 

As Buzz and I are still Champions of the Crystal Quest to End Same-Same Cookering, I'll be trying to upload pictures of some of our weekly cookering more regularly - but be warned! I cannot commit to giving a full run-down on each! You shall get quick snappy pithy descriptions and cutting insightful opinions! That is all, comrades!

Rice Queen, June 2009. Oh jeez...

Oh jeez just because of the delay. Rice Queen's staff were able to point out a couple of straight-up vegan dishes on their menu without pausing, and a quick consultation with the kitchen yielded still more. Yes, ladles and jellyspoons, there is more than one main and entree we can eat. Below is a Masala Dosa and a Plantain Curry with lovely little crispy papadums. I'm sure you'll understand that I don't recall specifics. It was good though, and good value. Thanks. 

Red Emperor, October 2009

Dislike. We thought Red Emperor was going to be upscale Chinese cuisine, but the interior is very grey-vinyl chairs, tubular metal fixtures and early 1990s furnishings. The service focusses on bringing you steaming towels, but not your beer. And when that beer is poured that it's half head, that beer is not replaced. 
So yes, I remember that the beer was poured badly. So sue me. 

I also remember that the food was expensive and sub-standard. Below is a cream of corn soup - adequate, and a plate which purported to be a mix of vegetables. They were mixed, but in oval shaped fried balls of ickiness. And that plate cost $32. Don't go. Just don't. Especially on your anniversary.

Prospect Park Potato Salad from Veganomicon, a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away

I'm pretty meh on potato salad. I'm very blergh on mayo. But I thought that this would be a great one to take along to a gathering of omnis because it's familiar and would probably lead to '" Oh, however did you make it without dairy you marvel you?!" comments. 
Actually I can't even remember if I took it anywhere and where that anywhere may have been. But I did enjoy the seeded mustard and the explicit instruction in the recipe to grate - and grate only! - the carrot into the salad.