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  1. Trippy Taco

    November 4, 2013 by The E.A.T. Team

    trippy taco-11

    ON THE MENU 
    Black Bean Tacos
    ON THE GLOBE
    Melbourne, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Simon Fisher, Trippy Taco Owner
    “It all started with a love of tacos!” answered Simon. The friendly and mellow owner of Melbourne’s beloved taco joint sat down with us to explain how his passion for fresh tortillas and tacos grew into the bustling business it is today. His shop is nested in Fitzroy, one of the hippest areas of Melbourne, and beacons hungry taco-goers with a bright orange sign set with black lettering. Trippy Taco filled our tummies and our hearts.

    What started out as a one-time taco party turned into a booming business, which has grown in popularity over the last 7 years. Read on to hear about the Trippy Taco’s background in festival life, hippies, and peace. It’s pretty radical, if we do say so ourselves.

     To see how it’s evolved over time and how it’s managed to maintain the essence of what it was when it first started, I’m pretty happy about that.

    collage - trippy taco

    Could you tell us a bit about Trippy Taco and how it started?
    I guess if you go way back, Trippy Taco started in about 2000. I had already been living in California and Mexico for a few years and I was addicted to tacos. When I came home there was nothing like them around but there was a central American community living in Australia who had the flour to make the tortillas. I had leant how to make them when I was living in Mexico and California and just kept making them when I got home. I gave them to friends and they liked them, my dinner parties kept getting bigger. One time, we were up in Byron Bay and my friend, who lived in a bus with loads of hippy types on a caravan park, suggested that we have a party. So we had a day party and I made tacos, from then on it was called Trippy Taco. We put out flyers and everything, it was a real fun party. We had Djs and I had tacos. About 50 to 100 people turned up and from that, me and a couple of mates thought that we should keep doing it. We started to look at festivals that were coming up and that’s when we did our first event. I don’t think we made any money for about 3 years but we just loved doing it. We travelled around to all of the festivals and paid for ourselves to keep going. I did that for 5 or 6 years until we gradually got more popular. It was also getting more exhausting so I thought about getting a shop and making it a bit more stable, that’s when I bought the shop around the corner. We ran the business from there for about 5 years and then moved here 7 months ago. That’s it in a nutshell really. It all started with a love of tacos!

    So the idea originated in Byron Bay?
    Kind of, yeah. It just grew organically.

    What were you doing in California and Mexico?
    I was pretty much surfing and snowboarding. I was doing photographs for surf and snowboard magazines and also working at sporting events. In between events I would go surfing. I had a truck in Mexico and would go camping on the beach. I basically had a surf board and a gas stove, it was good fun. I met loads of people and just loved the food. I love all kinds of street food. I’m addicted to Vietnamese food too. These days there’s a lot of it around, you can even buy tortillas in the supermarkets. It’s pretty interesting to see all of these taco shops popping up everywhere. It’s good because it’s more tacos to eat!

    Do you go out to restaurants and order tacos?
    I don’t have much time. I make my own a lot at home. My place is vegetarian, but I’m not vegetarian.

    Why is Trippy Taco vegetarian but you’re not?
    I was just easier as we were doing a lot of festivals where people didn’t really want to buy meat. It seemed to work better that way so I kept doing it. There’s a different market for it. In some ways it’s kind of limiting but in other ways it works really well.

    What’s the best selling taco that you make at Trippy Taco?
    The black bean one. That’s probably the most popular. We also do a char-grilled Tofu taco and that seems to sell well. I love the breakfast taco with scrambled eggs and salsa. I just like the fresh tortillas! We’ve always made our own and you can’t beat it.

    Is it a Melbourne twist on traditional taco recipes?
    I guess so. I would say there’s traditional elements to it but I never really call it Mexican. I just learnt it while I was travelling and wanted to keep making it.

    Did you grow up in Australia?
    I grew up on the Gold Coast. I’ve lived in Melbourne now since about 1990. For most of my 20′s I was travelling around but would always come back to Melbourne. The Gold Coast is like Miami or something, it’s very American.

    How was it seeing your initial idea materialise in to a shop?
    It’s funny, isn’t it? It’s grown so organically! Basically it came from me borrowing things from my friends for festivals. I’d borrow cookers and all sorts. To see how it’s evolved over time and how it’s managed to maintain the essence of what it was when it first started, I’m pretty happy about that. On both shops, my Dad and I did the whole fit out so my parents are really proud to see how it’s grown too.

    Have you got a hospitality background?
    I’ve worked in a lot of kitchens and I love cooking. I’m not a chef, I just cook a lot. I haven’t got a huge repertoire, just tacos and burritos!

    That’s all you need huh?
    Yep!

    In Asia we noticed that street sellers would only have one item on the menu but they’d do it really well…
    Yeah, that was my idea for Trippy Taco I guess. In Melbourne we didn’t have the concept of ‘street food’. Even when I first opened the shop, everyone would eat their taco with a knife and fork. I gave up after while of saying they didn’t have to.

    Did you advertise the shop at all?
    I hadn’t ever advertised until very recently when I was approached by a couple of people. Before then it was always word of mouth. Back when I had the other shop it was just me in there cooking, people would have to come and wake me up! I would literally fall asleep reading at the back of the shop and people would come in for a taco and be like, ‘Excuse me, are you making food?’ and I’d say, ‘Yeah! What would you like?’. Now I’ve got about 25 staff so it’s totally different.

    Before I die I want to find true peace.

    Do you still cook?
    Sometimes. Not much, only when I’m training people. I like the food to be a certain way so I’m trying to get in there and train people.

    How do you make an authentic tortilla?
    Tortillas are pretty easy. I think the trick is to get to know how the flour behaves. It’s like anything, if you make it enough you just get to know that once you’ve finished mixing the dough it should be wetter than what I need it as it’ll keep soaking up water. It has to be a good thickness and the pan has to be a good temperature. They’re best when they bubble up and separate. When you see them puff up on the grill, that’s when you know you’ve got a good one. We make them everyday and stack them up.

    How many do you make a day?
    I don’t know. It’d be 100 or so.

    How did you go from making no profit at festivals to funding the shop?
    Just gradually I guess. It was made possible through borrowing money from my parents. They don’t have much money and I couldn’t get money from banks as I don’t have any assets. Even when I moved to this place and my books were looking really good they didn’t lend me anything, so I had to ask my parents. In some ways it’s better to self-fund it although it takes longer. If you get other people to invest you can do things more quickly but you’d have to make more compromises.

    Has it been hard work?
    Yes!

    Has it been worth it?
    Yes! At festivals, even though we didn’t make so much money, at one point we did a few weekends of festivals in a row and got a bunch of cash. That’s when I realised that I could make money from it. The next season I got a bit more serious and my friends thought it was too much like hard work. I got other people in to help but it’s always been fun.

    Do you still do festivals?
    No. Now, the hardest thing is managing people. There’s so many elements to keeping it all going.

    Where do you get your ingredients from?
    From different places. There’s Casa Iberica (http://casaibericadeli.com.au/) near here and another place called Aztec Products (http://www.aztecmexican.com.au/). Casa Iberica is a little Spanish deli and they’ve got lots of really good ingredients, they do really big sandwiches for about $5 so it’s great for lunch. You can choose whatever you want on it, they’ve got so many hams and salamis. I get a lot of my hot sauces from there too. That was another thing; nobody put free condiments on the table, it just didn’t happen. You always had to pay 20c for a sauce but I want people to be able to splash around hot sauce all over their stuff. At Trippy Taco I put different hot sauces out.

    Surely it’s a big decision to accompany your food with someone else’s product, how do you choose which sauces to offer?
    I just put my favourite ones out. There’s Tapatio, a chipotle sauce and a couple of others. A couple are hot but won’t kill you like some hot sauces, you can still taste it.

    Are you familiar with Byron Bay Chilli Company in Byron Bay? John the owner is so passionate about chillies!
    That’s how I was about tacos. I was trying to educate people, they had so may questions. People know now, through me and other people pushing it.

    So you’re job is done?
    Yeah! Which is good because it took a lot of energy. Just having to explain over and over. When Mad Mex (http://www.madmex.com.au/) first started, they put up a ‘How to eat a burrito’ guide! People just didn’t know but now they’re street food savvy.

    Why do you think Mexican food has become so popular here?
    It’s a fun thing and Mexican food suits our climate and way of life, it’s appealing. We’ve always liked beer and beers like Corona go hand-in-hand. We’ve got a good beach and surf culture. It’s fresh and has got wide appeal. Even when we were growing up here, our Mum’s would make us tacos from the hard shell packs. We all knew what tacos were but didn’t know what a fresh tortilla was.

    People in Melbourne seem very supportive of independent businesses, do you think that has been a factor in the success of Trippy Taco?
    Yeah, and that’s the reason why Melbourne is such a vibrant place, it’s not exclusive. In Sydney real estate was really expensive in the 90′s and for someone like me to go and start a shop, you just couldn’t! Down here the licencing laws were more relaxed. You could have a little bar, like a few people could get together and open it. I guess a lot of people had ideas, wanted to do them, and it was easy here. That’s the good thing about Melbourne and what makes it really interesting. One area seems to get a bit tired and then another little area will pop up, it’s real hard to keep track of as there’s a new place popping up everyday.

    If you were going out for food, where would you go?
    Last night I went to Izakaya Den (http://www.izakayaden.com.au/index.html) I love it there. There’s so many places, I don’t even know where to start!

    Is that what you do in your spare time?
    I don’t have much. When I do we go out to different places for dinner. We do a lot of cooking ourselves. I go through phases, so I’ll find somewhere that I really like and stick to it. At the moment I’ll have Pho from I Love Pho (https://www.facebook.com/ILovePho264richmond) everyday, it’s real nice. Ahh, Pizza! I love pizza as well. I Carusi (http://www.icarusipizza.com.au/) do the best pizzas.

    What do you cook at home?
    My girlfriend is Chinese so she cooks a lot of Cantonese, but she does anything really. She can get a recipe, cook it and it’ll be awesome! She cooks different stuff all of the time, so that’s amazing. I cook a lot of breakfasts, tacos, sometimes pancakes – I’m the breakfast guy.

    What do you want to do before you die?
    That’s a good question. Before I die I want to find true peace.

    Do you get stressed out?
    I guess I get stressed out as much as everyone else. I’ve been in to Buddhism for years now and they say that the moment of death is the moment of truth. Two things matter when you die; how you’ve lived your life and the state of your mind at the moment of death. They believe in reincarnation, so how your mind is and how you’ve lived will effect your re-birth. I guess my goal is to work towards that and learn to be peaceful.

    You seem pretty peaceful!
    Yeah, I’m doing all right but there’s always room for improvement.

    Do you hope that Trippy Taco gets kept in the family?
    In some way or other, yes definitely. It’s only been me really but I’d like to keep growing it. It’s just a project but I would like to see it keep evolving, like a Pokémon.

    ———————————————————

    http://trippytaco.com.au/

    234 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Melbourne 3065
    03 9415 7711

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  2. Byron Bay Farmer’s Market

    August 14, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE MENU 
    Handmade Ravioli, Australian Honey, Rainbow Fruit Flats
    ON THE GLOBE
    Byron Bay, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Byron Bay Farmers’ Market

    Rainbow fruit and vegetables as far as the eye can see, soulful folk music filling our ears, the scent of chargrilled sausage happily wafting into the ‘ole olfactory and artisan food stalls lined back to back.. in other words, the Byron Bay Farmers’ Market is like Disneyland for foodies. It’s one of the most talked about farmers’ markets in Australia, and for good reason.

    They’re the real deal–all the produce, as well as value added products are sourced locally (and checked on a regular basis), they’re highly organized, and have a very strong community following. Anybody and everybody in Byron was at the market that blustery Sunday morning, and despite the unfortunate weather, bright eyes and laughter were out in full force.

    We chatted to the pasta maker, the beekeeper, food writer Victoria Cosford, and a man who makes rainbow fruit leathers. Here are their stories.

    ” Anyone that has had my pasta says it’s different to anything else out there.”


    1. Despina’s Kitchen handmade pasta

    Do you make the pasta by hand?
    It passes through my hands and nobody else’s, that way I can control the finished product. I have a lot of machinery but my hands do most of the work. Once you go to the next level it becomes much more manufactured and you lose touch with the product. Anyone that has had my pasta says it’s different to anything else out there because I really take care of the finished product. It has to stand out because it has to be better than the supermarkets, who sell it for a fraction of the cost, it has to be special. Each of the raviolis has a colour on it so my customers know which one their favourite flavour is just by looking at it.

    How long have you been selling at the Byron Bay Farmers Market?
    We’ve been doing this for about 3 years now. We have very separate roles; he does the sales, book work and accounting stuff, I just deal with making it. I don’t like selling because I tend to give it away and then we come home with no money! I’d be a very poor artist if he didn’t manage the front. It’s a good team.

    Do you grow the ingredients yourself?
    We grow some of the ingredients and whatever we don’t have we buy here at the market. We get some things in obviously, like the wheat. We use as much organic as we can. The eggs are ours and we organically feed the chickens.

    Do you cook it and then freeze it?
    No. It’s completely raw when I freeze it so you take it home and cook it.

    How would you recommend that people eat it, would they put their own sauce on it?
    With a lot of the raviolis, they’re really nice without a sauce. They’re nice just with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of cheese. I don’t recommend putting sauces with ravioli because you want to taste the filling. I would advise people who want to make a sauce to use really fresh tomatoes and don’t make it to heavy. Some people do a pesto, but the ravioli are best on their own.

    2.The Bee to You honey stall

    Why is there such a range of colour in your honey?
    Usually, the lighter the honey is the milder it tastes. The darker ones are stronger.

    What makes them lighter or darker?
    It’s if it comes from different trees. I’ve got bee sites all over the place, about 40 odd sites in this area. I take the bees to the tree. I know when they’re flowering, and they all flower at different times. Even if there’s 2 trees flowering together I can tell the difference in the honey.

    Are they different prices?
    Nope, all the same. The only one that’s a bit dearer is this yellow box because it’s got a unique flavour. We get it from over the gorge, from the western slopes of the great divide, but the rest are local.

    So you have to travel with your bees?
    Any commercial bee keeper has to as you don’t get the trees flowering all year round.

    How do you make sure that other people don’t pinch your honey?
    No one is daft enough to go to the bee hive to get the honey! I haven’t had it happen but if it did, it would be another bee keeper. We’re all respectful of each other. A little bit goes on in the metropolitan areas. You get some one wanting to get into the industry quick and easy, so it does happen but not so much around here.

    Do you do anything to it once it’s collected?
    I don’t interfere with it, no. I don’t heat it or do anything.

    So it turns crystallized?
    Yeah. Some of them, especially if they’ve got more sugars, turn very quickly. If they turn I make creamed honey, which I just whip until it turns white. It takes quite a while but it turns white with the air going through it. I’ve only just sold the last one, otherwise I could show you!

    3. Rainbow Fruit Flats dehydrated fruit stall

    How are Rainbow Fruit Flats made?
    We grow the fruit, we purée it and pour it on to dehydrating trays and leave it for 15 hours. It’s 100% fruit. I’ve been making them for 10 years.

    There’s nothing added at all?
    Only a plastic bag and a sticky label. It’s pure fruit.

    Do you have a dehydrating machine then?
    Yes, a dehydrator. We put the puréed fruit in there for 15 – 20 hours. The machine blows out air under 40 degrees.

    Is there as much nutrients as eating the fruit fresh?
    Yes, because it’s all done below 40 degrees so it’s not cooked.

    Do you make it at home?
    We’ve got an industrial kitchen. It’s all done at my farm.

    Is that where you grow the fruit too?
    That’s right.

    How long do they keep for?
    12 months. Same as anything dehydrated. Back in the old days they used to make dehydrated beef to take on the ships.

    Do you find that children prefer to eat fruit in this way?
    So long as you don’t tell them it’s not candy! They think they’re sweeties so we don’t tell them any different.

    —————————————————————————————-

    For more information:

    http://www.byronfarmersmarket.com.au/

    info@byronfarmersmarket.com.au

    If you like this post and The Eat Team, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  3. Why Do You Always Add Salt When Boiling Vegetables?

    July 30, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Imagine you’re soaking in a bath tub for an hour. What happens? Inevitably, your fingers and toes become all prune-y. That’s because you have a higher concentration of salt in your body and skin than what’s in the plain bath water. So the moisture is sucked out of your skin, and your skin becomes wrinkled.

    That’s why you add bath salt–it keeps the salt levels in equilibrium (creates an “isotonic solution”), meaning the moisture stays inside you.

    The same is true when cooking vegetables. It has nothing to do with flavor. Adding salt means that the moisture stays inside your potatoes and carrots, leaving them crunchier, crispier, and generally more palatable.

    So next time you’re boilin’ the goods, splash some salt in for good measure.

    Thanks to Waiheke Mike for this invaluable tip.


  4. The Raw Sisters

    July 17, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE GLOBE
    Melbourne, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Yui Yamashita of The Raw Sisters

    Yui got in touch with us about her new project, The Raw Sisters, after our friends at the Hungry Workshop letterpress told her about The Eat Team. We sat down to chat with her at Nothern Soul cafe in Thornbury, Melbourne. Yui and her partner in crime Missy started the Raw Sisters vegan and vegetarian pop-up and catering duo with a bang–they served over 100 folks at their first gig which only whet their appetite to serve the Melbourne community. They’re brand new and the future looks bright ahead. Check out their beautiful video (see below) from the event at St. Kilda Organic Food Co-op and read on for Yui’s insights on the Raw Sisters project, eating raw, and life as an occupational therapist.

    Raw SistersC from Yui Yamashita on Vimeo.

    How did the Raw Sisters start?
    We did a raw food demo at a vegan festival that my friend and her partner organised. We did raw sushi and raw avocado juice. Some guy came up to us and asked if we wanted to do a catering event. We had no idea that we wanted to do catering but thought it would be fun, so we said yes. He didn’t get back to us for ages and then a few weeks ago he said that the event is happening soon and asked if we were still interested. We quickly made up a business card and menu for our meeting with him. We bought everything and cooked for a whole day. We’d love to do more catering, or even cooking classes. We love food and want to share our passion.

    What was the event that you did the catering for?
    St Kilda Organic Food Co-op. Unfortunately they were closing and wanted to have a big ‘Thank you’ event for all of the people who had been involved. Everyone was invited so we had to cater for kids and adults. We did raw salads, hummus and beetroot dip, garlic bread, ‘mac and cheese’, home made wedges, roast veg, sweet potato soup, Moroccan stew, carrot pilaf, and for dessert we did chocolate brownie and caramel apple cake with banana ice cream.

    Do you, and your business partner Missy, both lead a raw lifestyle?
    Missy is maybe 80% raw. In winter I’m 50% raw. We’re both vegan and we try to eat organic.

    Have you ever eaten meat?
    I used to when I was in High School. I stopped after I turned 17 or so. I went on this school trip for a month and every meal was meat! After that I said to my parents that I didn’t want any more. These days my reasons have changed to environmental issues and how eating meat consumes a lot of energy and uses water.

    Are there any meals that you used to eat that you now miss?
    No. There’s a lot of fake meat products on the market now. I went to Gasometer at the weekend and had a chicken parma. Some of the products you can buy are really processed though, so I would rather eat beans, quinoa or grains.

    Is Missy your actual Sister?
    No. I met her through a mutual friend. She went to New Zealand for High School and then came over here for Uni. She’s a photographer. We got really close and started talking about food. As you know, food connects people.

    How did you think of the name ‘Raw Sisters’?
    At work we call all the girls ‘Sisters’ and thought that ‘Raw Sisters’ would be fitting.

    What’s your job?
    I work as a Community Mental Health Worker, I’m an Occupational Therapist. It’s a totally separate thing.

    It’s not just about chopping and eating a salad, it’s about dehydrating it or making it a smoothie or thinking up new combinations.

    How did you get in to raw foods?
    I’ve always been into health and healthy foods. I found out about raw food through blogs and I’ve been eating raw since spring of last year. This will be my first winter.

    Have you noticed a difference in your health?
    Definitely! I’ve got so much more energy and feel really good inside. The general idea of raw food is that because you don’t cook it, the enzymes aren’t broken down so it’s in it’s most natural form. You get the most benefits from all of the vitamins that way. There’s different views on it, some people find it easier to digest, and some harder because it’s so raw. It depends on how you prepare it. It’s not just about chopping and eating a salad, it’s about dehydrating it or making it a smoothie or thinking up new combinations. Personally I get a lot out of eating raw food. I find it works best for me if I eat a portion of raw food and then cooked food as well.

    What would you eat on an average day?
    This might sound weird but I don’t have breakfast. For lunch I’ll make a green smoothie to start my digestive system going. If I’m working I’ll have a sandwich of sourdough bread with lots of raw food on top, maybe sliced pumpkin, beetroot, kale, avocado, with a bit of hemp seed butter. For dinner would be a salad, lentil or bean soup, or quinoa patties or something.

    Is it hard to find restaurants that cater for your diet?
    Whenever I go out I do my research. I think Melbourne is quite good with vegan food and places seem happy to take the cheese out, or whatever you ask.

    What’s your favourite food to prepare or eat raw?
    I really like my kale salad with a nutty dressing and for dessert I love raw cheesecake.

    Are you hoping one day to have a cafe or a shop?
    Yeah, a cafe would be amazing. Missy and her partner are going to move house soon and hopefully open a cafe.

    Will this become a full-time thing then?
    I’m passionate about my work so this is good as a side project for now.

    Would you like to continue to do events?
    Yeah! They’re really fun. The event that we did last time, we got to meet a lot of people and they had so many compliments. To see them making that connection with food, and talking to them about it, was great.

    Have you converted anyone to the raw lifestyle?
    I have a massive influence at work. I’m really passionate about organic eating as well so I tell all of the girls. Organic farming is so much better for the environment too. Through the events we have a little blurb about how it’s so much better for us.

    Where do you get your ingredients from?
    I get a box delivered from Ceres. They do a fair food co-op. It’s not that they grow everything there but get it from local farmers. Also, Naturally on High on High Street . We got most of our catering ingredients from there, they’re really good.

    Did you have a foodie upbringing?
    Not really. My Mum is such a ordinary cook. That’s maybe why I’m about experimenting and making new things. I don’t like to cook two of the same things twice. I love baking as well.

    If someone was wanting to get involved in the raw food diet, what’s an easy recipe to start them off?
    I think the juices and smoothies are a really good place to start. You just throw everything in; vegetables and green leaves. Just give it a try!

    What’s the one thing you want to do before you die?
    Travel. Build my own house. I watch a lot of Grand Designs and England and France seem open to the ‘eco’ style of living. Somewhere in Europe would be nice.

    To get in touch with Yui or book The Raw Sisters, email rawsisters@live.com.au

    If you like this post and The Eat Team, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.