19th December 2010

Komala Villas

12-14 Buffalo St, Singapore (Little India MTR)

This vegetarian restaurant, the offshoot of a famous establishment just around the corner in Serangoon Rd, offers a range of light meals which, despite the unexpected appearance on the menu of mini chocolate dosas, described as a kids’ special, is basically traditional. The long dosas come with small dishes of dahl, a coconut paste and a tomato and chilli paste, which compliment them perfectly. They are also available with various fillings, but you don’t really need to order one, as the waiters prowl about asking diners whether they’d like refills of the accompaniments.  There is a range of fruit drinks available, and you end up with a satisfying and very cheap meal which, if you’re as lucky as I was, you will enjoy in charming company. Little India is the headquarters of the Indian community in Singapore, and should be on any visitor’s list of places to check out.

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7th November 2010

Massala Hut Indian Restaurant

161 Drummond St, London NW1, UK

While this well-appointed restaurant caters for omnivores, its vegetarian selection is extensive and excellent. I recommend the bright yellow, gently textured mulligatawny, and another yellowish dish, the tarka dahl which, despite coming with thin slices of garlic, is subtle rather than aggressive in its taste. From there you can go on to a very pleasing dish hitherto unknown to me, aloo jerra, in which soft potatoes swim in a sauce of tomato and spices in which cumin bulks large. The aloo saag is similarly good. This is one of those Indian restaurants where the cooks, while happy to throw chillis into the mix on request, produce very tasty and satisfying food without relying on heat.  It should be on everyone’s short-list of places to visit in Drummond St!

This completes a series of reviews of Indian restaurants in Drummond St…I had hoped to review a sixth, but it was closed at the time of visit. This street is not as well known as Brick Lane in the East End, but seems to me preferable for those seeking Indian food: there are no touts hassling passers-by, on balance the food is better, and being immediately to the west of Euston Station it is easier of access. The restaurants have been reviewed in the order in which you will encounter them walking away from the station.

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1st October 2010

Highlighted Campaign for October 2010

International Veg Week Challenge October 1 – 7

“Vegetarian as a general concept is a brilliant thing… We’ve got to stop eating so much meat. We are eating too much meat.” — Jamie Oliver

Can we encourage our non-vegie friends to save the lives of two animals in the next week by taking the challenge of being meat free for at least one week??

International Vegetarian Week celebrates a compassionate choice for a kinder world.  If all Australians went meat-free for just one week, we could spare almost 10 million animals from the horrors of factory farms.

Check out the campaign at: http://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/veg-week/ 


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25th September 2010

Konaki Greek Restaurant

5 Coptic St, London WC1, UK

Tucked away in one of the small streets to the south of the British Museum, this very attractive restaurant was a wonderful place to share a meal with some dear English friends. We began with a bowl of black olives, slices of carrot and pickles accompanied by warm pitta bread. One of our number ordered the moussaka, a nice mix of baked aubergine, courgette and mushrooms standing on a potato base, over which a rich dressing had been poured; a crunchy salad accompanied it. And it’s not being disparaging to the restaurant to say that the dish of gigandes, ‘giant’ white beans in a tomato and herb sauce, had all the virtues of home cooking at its best, being uncomplicatedly straightforward, immensely hearty and satisfying, yet tasty. We shared a tomato and red onion salad, and washed the meal down with a bottle of  Kritikos Topikos Oinos, a chilled dry white which complimented the food perfectly. Eucharisto Konaki for a very happy dinner!

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12th September 2010

Safadi Lebanese Express

113 High Holborn, London WC1, UK

One sometimes finds authenticity in unexpected places, and despite its air of efficient modernity one eats very well at the Safadi. The favva beans in the ful are cooked to the point of disintegrating, the pieces of soft falafel, of the kind shaped like cupcakes,  come with lemony tahini, pickles, tomato and shredded lettuce, and the parsley in the tabouleh is so fresh it seems to have come straight from the garden. But the outstanding dish is the fattoush, in which a large plate of tomatoes, lettuce, green capsicum, cucumber and bread has had poured over it a brown liquid that turns out to be pomegranate juice, which gives the dish an unexpected but utterly appealing sweet edge. The supply of bread is plentiful, the complementary olives are welcome, and while there is no alcohol the still lemonade and freshly squeezed orange juice complement the strong tastes of the food superbly. The speed of the service fully accords with the name of the restaurant, and the vegetarian dishes on the menu are very reasonably priced. I recommend the Safadi without hesitation!

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17th August 2010

Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes

I saw this recipe on Taste.com.au for vegan strawberry cupcakes. http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/17461/dairy+free+strawberry+and+vanilla+cupcakes

I don’t like to use artificial colours, so when I want pink icing, I cook a beetroot in water for about 20 minutes. Then I use the pink coloured water to colour my pink icing.

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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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13th March 2010

To fast or not to fast – to love or not to love – to forgive or not to forgive – A Lenten Message from Fr Themi

Please find following a message from Fr Themi (Orthodox Mission to Sierra Leone) which discusses fasting in the context of poverty, and gives us all some perspective on our lives.  I found it a very interesting and thought provoking commentary and hope that you find the sharing of it relevant, particularly since we have been discussing fasting at recent meetings.

“We have reached the season of Lent and all over the world Christians have started fasting and observing certain elements of self-denial. I tell that here in Sierra Leone the reality of fasting and self-denial go on quite naturally without even the church insisting on it. It is simply part of the daily reality of life.
 For example, part of the principles of fasting during this period includes the abstinence from meat and dairy products. However here who can afford to eat meat anyway? It is only the rich and the whites who can afford to eat meat on a daily basis. Furthermore fasting requires the abstinence from dairy products (e.g. cheese, yogurt etc.) But who can afford cheese here?
So basically the rules of fasting apply to the vast majority of the population on a daily basis throughout the year as part of the economic reality of third world nations such as Sierra Leone.
Perhaps then the only meaningful fast here would be for an individual to deny himself / herself a food which they can afford and which they like as long as it does not affect their health – given the limited choice of food variety that the poor can choose from.

When fasting we are instructed to deny ourselves certain pleasures in life. Unfortunately pleasures in Freetown are scarce.
We are have just entered our third year and when I think I have seen it all. Here in Freetown we have over 20 large slums, each one worse than the other – with hundreds of thousands of people living without toilets, water, regular food, inadequate shelter, heavily polluted environments, with a plethora of diseases and a very high child mortality rate.

The other day I visited Susan’s Bay; the name sound beautiful but in fact is one of the most horrific slums in Freetown and certainly the worst I have ever seen. It was as if I had fallen into Hades, the lowest pit of misery in terms of human existence. Words cannot describe the misery and human suffering I saw. Suffice it to say that on the day we visited already five children died by midday.  And this is simply a daily reality. No clinic is available to serve these people and the sick die while being carried by hand to the nearest hospital.  So this is certainly life in self denial, and daily fasting.. no wonder God loves the poor.

We have applied to build a clinic to serve them and we have been promised an ambulance from Germany. Praise God!
 While for rich nations fasting and self denial are seen as difficult and for the vast majority of westerners as an unnecessary religious custom (even though it has a very strong spiritual result), it shows us the way to Love our neighbors, forgive our brothers and sisters and thank God that we were born in nations of peace and prosperity where our families can grow and live long healthy lives. But the poor of the world face this practice of denial and face their own mortality as a daily event even when very young. 
Imagine that five children die in one day, because there was no clinic to help them.

I am told by my friend Tony Sklavos of Sydney who recently witnessed a suicide that an inquest is being held; doctors, psychiatrists barristers and police were called to provide information on this sad case of the suicide. Thousands of dollars were spent on the inquiry (and rightly so) newspaper reporters gathered in great numbers to hear the witnesses; because the death of one young person is one too many in any world.
And here scores of children die every day even before they reach the age of five (25% of children here do not reach 5) – no inquests, no barristers, no doctors’ reports, no psychiatrists appear, no reporters print the news and no police will investigate the deaths; just a hand full of NGO’s and Church organizations, undermanned, under staffed and under funded.

This is why the work of the church with the support of organizations like PK4A and Light Of The World here, are so important in Africa.

Our mission is undoubtedly one drop in the ocean in the overall scale of things – but it is a drop that God requires us to produce. I am thanking you all for your help and asking for your help to continue so our mission here can continue effectively, especially during this time of Lent, this time of fasting and self denial.

Remember we can fast or not – it is our choice. We can deny ourselves or not. It depends on the level of our faith. But the people I am seeing here do not have that choice. They fast and deny themselves every day.
Respectfully in Christ
Rev. Themi”

(Rev Themistocles Adamopolou
Orthodox Mission to Sierra Leone)

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