Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Melbourne, Australia

As a vegetarian, you are never going to go hungry in Melbourne. As I strolled along I checked the menus of many of the restaurants in the city to see if they had a choice that would be suitable for vegetarians. With the exception of one pie shop, everywhere had at least one meat free option on the menu.

Breakfast is never a problem as most places do a pick and mix and most are happy if you want to substitute one item with another, but some do specific veggie breakfasts. For lunch or dinner you are literally spoiled for choice from the many cafes and restaurants that inhabit the city or the specialised areas, such as Lygon Street that offers a whole host of Italian restaurants.

One place we ate at was a restaurant called O'Connells in South Melbourne ( at which I had a fabulous linguini with fennel and goats cheese. There wasn't a huge choice for veggies on their menu, but it does go to show that even places that are away from the centre of the city can still produce some really tasty dishes.

Further afield, on the Mornington Peninsula, the Portsea Hotel ( served a rather tasty Asparagus and Rocket Risotto with truffle oil and they had two or three other meat free dishes on there menu.

The markets are fantastic. I don't think I've seen so many fresh vegetable, fruits and spices in one place before. Queen Victoria Market's ( food hall is magnificent. There are stalls selling a myriad of different versions of cheese, anti pasti and more different versions of tofu that you can shake a stick at! They also do specialised food nights which are well worth a visit. South Melbourne Market ( is smaller, but still has a huge selection of fresh produce. Organic and gluten free produce seems to be quite big over there at the moment so these add to the already large choice.

I also popped into one of the many Asian supermarkets that are in the city and was pleasantly surprised to find that they stocked most of the mock-meat products that you can get here plus many other kinds of tufu and sauces suitable for vegetarians.

The only things that I could not find in my travels were vegetable suet (which no-one seemed to have heard of), vegetable haggis and Quorn. I contacted Quorn and they told me that they have no plans at present to market their product in Australia which is a real shame, but with all of the other ingredients and produce that are available, I daresay one could live without it.

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