25th April 2010

On Reviewing Restaurants

There must be worse gigs than reviewing restaurants for the VVOC site! In case any readers of these pages have been wondering, every review is based on at least one meal in the restaurant, and if there’s a generally affirming tone this reflects a desire to be positive rather than negative and a decision not to comment on places where I’ve been disappointed; there are a few such places, but why share gloomy experiences? There is no restaurant reviewed on this site at which I wouldn’t be happy to eat tonight.

Naturally I hope that the curiosity of readers will be piqued and that some will decide to try the places I’ve recommended. But a deeper motive lies behind these reviews, which I hope will make them relevant to readers far from where they’re being written. Every veg*n has been confronted with the question from omnivores, often asked with friendly exasperation, ‘Well, what do you eat?’ It’s a sensible question if they assume that we eat what’s left on the plate after the animals have been removed, the empty spaces being filled with double helpings of, say, carrots and spinach. But its implications are false. There is a vast range of veg*n main meals in existence, most of them of non-Western origin, that are extremely tasty, nutritious, and cheap. I hope that these reviews indicate something of the limitless possibilities of such food and will encourage people, whatever their current dietary practice, to widen the range of what they eat. And while it’s true that we cannot eat out every night, the restaurants reviewed here are not particularly up-market, and many of the dishes they serve aren’t all that difficult to prepare at home from easily available ingredients.

This site is maintained by members of the Orthodox Church. Of course you can be a better Orthodox than we are without being veggie, just as you can be a morally informed veggie without being Orthodox. But in our experience the two areas of practice sit well together and reinforce each other: an Orthodox attitude to the world (or perhaps better the Creation) easily finds expression in veg*nism. The early pages of the Bible describe an initial injunction for a vegan diet and its replacement by one for an omnivorous diet (Gen 1:29, 9:3), a change associated with a move from humans exercising dominion over animals (Gen 1:28) to their having dread and fear of us (Gen 9:2, strong language!). The examples of the Saints encourage us to think of a restitution of the former state, as does the language of Hebrew prophecy, which envisages peaceful relations among creatures (Is 65:25), and a time when the gentiles beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks (Is 2:4), their weapons being turned into tools for the production of veg*n foods.

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18th April 2010

China Kitchen Restaurant

58 High St, Toowong Qld

This is a restaurant where you have to stand outside waiting for a table to become available, but I doubt whether anyone has ever begrudged the delay. The starters at the China Kitchen include peanuts in vinegar, floppy dark fungus with mustard sauce, and an old favourite, cucumber with garlic…I’m always surprised how in this dish, one of the few uncooked ones in the Chinese repertoire, the sharpness of the garlic doesn’t overpower the blandness of the cucumber; here it comes in a slightly sweet sauce. Our main courses emerged after some discussion with the waiter, for not all the vegetable dishes on the menu are vegetarian, but we ended up enjoying tofu in chilli sauce, bak choi with garlic (but without the mushrooms we had thought were coming; perhaps the cook prepares them in a non-veggie manner) , and a dish of shredded potatoes with green capsicum and chillies. The food here, beautifully presented, is innovative rather than traditional, and fully realises its ambitions. While more expensive than most of the restaurants reviewed on this site, the China Kitchen is very strongly recommended.

China Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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13th April 2010

VVOC Meeting Minutes 10 April 2010

Members present:

Jacki, Melissa, John, Vasilios and Helen

1. We enjoyed a beautiful lunch prepared by John – Thank You! Dishes included Gazpacho soup; guacamole; carrot dip; tahini dip; chick peas and spinach with potatoes and red onions; green beans with tomatoes, onions and zucchini in olive oil.

2. Thank you to John for all your restaurant reviews.

3. Thank you to Jacki for her latest campaign and the article from Father Themi.

4. Raised the idea of starting another resource section to contain books. This may include reviews or lists of Orthodox books, Vegan/Vegetarian books and children’s stories about animals rights etc.

5. Must follow up on t-shirt and bag photos for website. Need to also follow up on link to Dewey’s website as Jacki has reported that it had disappeared.

6. Discussed pet profiles. Need to create a separate page for this content. Perhaps to include content around the therapeutic nature of pets in people’s lives.

7. Discussion around animals and spirit. Vasilios presented the idea that animals have a spirit which is more of a fringe Orthodox idea. John presented the idea that animals don’t have a spirit in the same way as humans, which is the more traditional Orthodox view.

7. Planning a picnic for our next meeting – Sherwood Arboretum. Emails and updates regarding this to go on website soon.

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11th April 2010

The Big Little Book Of Happy Sadness

This is a lovely children’s story by Colin Thompson about a young boy who finds the friendship he needs while visiting an animal shelter on the way home from school.  It teaches children about love, caring and responsibility. It also teaches about the wonderful way animals can touch our lives.

SYNOPSIS

George lives with his grandmother and a big empty space where his mother and father should be.  One Friday on his way home from school, George visits the animal shelter. There, in the very last cage, is Jeremy, a sad dog who looks as lost and lonely as George feels.

When Jeremy comes home to live with George and his granny, their whole lives change, and they learn that when it comes to love, it’s quality not quantity that counts . . .

The Big Little Book_plcCVR

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness has won the Family Therapists Picture Book of the Year 2009 and Honour Book in the CBCA 2009 awards.

Details:
ISBN: 9781741662566
Format:Hardback
Imprint:Random House Austral
Published:01/04/08
Subject:Child Picture

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11th April 2010

No No’s Lebanese Restaurant

158 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill, Qld

One of the world’s great cuisines is that of Western Asia, and the vegetarian platter for two served at No No’s succeeds in touching the main bases with aplomb. It compises two of the standard dips, hummus and baba ghanoush, both of them beautifully textured, a dish of green beans, chick peas in a garlicky tomato sauce, tabouli, vine leaves stuffed with a rice mixture, and slices of omelette. If anything the portions we were served were too generous, and and left us unable to tackle the array of dairy-free pastries which would round off such a meal perfectly. This is a flavoursome and very healthy cuisine of  strong tastes that leaves the mouth feeling clean; a Lebanese cook is said to have commented that when she finished cooking a dish she always squeezed an extra lemon over it. While the surroundings at No No’s are not elegant, for food of such quality it is amazingly cheap, and the friendly staff, who obviously enjoy what they do, are happy to  serve the food as takeaways.

No No's on Urbanspoon

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9th April 2010

Highlighted Campaign for April 2010

Being the season of “Easter”, or as we Orthodox call it, “Pascha”, I thought it appropriate to highlight the plight of chickens.  This topic occuring to me because for many months in the lead up to the season, we see chocolate chickens and Easter eggs for sale in the shops, and on Pascha, it is the Orthodox tradition to have boiled eggs which are dyed red,  and play a game of smashing them at the table whilst saying “Christ is Risen”, seeing whose egg will be the strongest and not break.  The egg symbolising new life and the red the blood of Jesus. And while chicken dishes may not be the traditional food of Easter for many of our ominverous friends, why not take the opportunity to talk about the plight of both the laying chickens and the “broiler” chickens (those destined to be eaten).

Outlining the cruelties which occur in the farming of both these groups of chickens on this site would be “preaching to the converted”, so I won’t go in to it too much.  If you want to read further about the welfare issues in the farming of “broiler chickens” go to:
http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-are-the-welfare-issues-relating-to-meat-chicken-production_85.html

If you want to read something on the welfare issues of battery hens, go to:
http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-is-the-RSPCAs-position-on-battery-cages_103.html

 Check out this British campaign to get people to go free range: http://www.chickenout.tv

In Australia, approximately 80% of laying chickens are kept in cages.  But it seems that slowly the public is changing it’s mind and the demand for free range eggs is increasing.  Both Woolworths and McDonalds are talking about decreasing their use of cage eggs.  People argue that the demand for cage eggs will never cease as it is the most affordable option for the budget conscious shopper, but we can always hope that over time, with the increasing awareness of the public, that figure of 80% will at least drop.

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