My Leb-Veg epiphany

September 12, 2010 — Leave a comment

Two significant things have happened to me in the past 2 days that I wanted to share, both of which were introduced to me by my Leb-Veg (Lebanese vegan) housemate. Being of Lebanese decent she’s got her finger on the pulse as far as Lebanese food is concerned. Secondly, being one of the main players in the Australian animal activist scene, she knows where all the good Vegan places are.

Mankoushé Me
Yesterday she took me to this new funky Lebanese bakery, that has just opened up a block from our house, introducing me to mankoushé (prounounced: Man-oo-shee) for the first time. The self titled bakery serves these bread-based treats with an assortment of different fillings and toppings, made to order and fresh out of the oven. Like my previous blog on types of Mexican foods, mankoushé seem to be just different varieties of the same thing; bread base, different fillings, folded differently. For example, zatar was an open faced dough base (just like pizza) spread with oregano, oil, sumac and sesame seed and popped into a large stone based oven. We opted for the “Zatar Extra” and for a tiny $3.50 got all that and once cooked, topped with fresh tomato, cucumber, onion, olives and mint leaves. The whole thing was then rolled up and eaten like a souvlaki. This was my breakfast and I can’t think of a more unique, healthy and delicious way to start my day. It was enormously filling and my “Sbanikh” (spinach leaves, onion, lemon and sumac, folded into a triangle) had to wait for lunch.

Sbanikh mankoushe

Prices start at $1.50 for the zatar and range to $7.50 for the Mama’s falafel. To be sure, I will be working my way through this super-cheap, healthy and satisfying menu. You can visit Mankoushé at 325 Lygon Street, East Brunswick.

McDonalds for Vegans
So that’s the Lebanese genre covered, now for the Vegan one. Today, Shatha introduced me to vegetarian bakery, La Panella, describing it as the McDonalds for vegans. Most Melbourne-based vegans out there already know of La Panella, but it is a newbie for me. No side-stepping facts here, it’s not the healthiest of foods, but don’t let that put you off trying it because we all like a little junk every now and again. I got up early went for a jog and did my yoga routine and still ate a mushroom pie for breakfast! This was truly amazing, it was exactly like eating a regular bakery meat pie but suitable for Vegans. I actually bit into it and exclaimed ‘It’s got meat!’ which pleased the shop assistant on how “authentic” it is.

Vegan mushroom pie

The filling is a mix of soy beans, peas, corn and mushrooms. It has a very similar rich gravy like regular meat pies (maybe not so runny, but that just made it easier to eat) and the consistency was like that of minced meat minus the gristle. Awesome. Shatha got a “sausage” roll that was the same deal – consistency and taste very closely matching that of its meat counterparts.

Shatha really enjoys the vegan sausage roll from La Panella

Oh and one more thing, they do vegan doughnuts! You can get 4 cinnamon doughnuts for $1.

Afternoon tea with Penzo and vegan cinnamon doughnuts from La Panella

So where can you get your cheap-as Vegan junk-food fix? Head to La Panella, 465 High Street, Preston. Buy in bulk to keep a stash in your freezer.

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