Review: Where The Monster Sat (Stanmore)

Once again the man who’s eaten everywhere (Simon) posted a photo that made me go “I want to eat that… now!”. It was a gluten-free meal and within my (and my friends’) walking radius so we organised a brunch date (“té de tías”, according to my husband) and braved the weather on a rainy Saturday.

The cafe is located right opposite the Stanmore train station. From memory, it used to be a pastry shop when lived in the area.

Where the Monster Sat

Where the Monster Sat

They have a variety of baked stuff at the counter, where you order and pay. It was good to see a couple of gluten-free options there, although I didn’t try them due to my exercise restriction-induced expanding abdominal adiposity.

Baked stuff

Baked stuff

Three of us went for the breakfast that prompted the visit, the gluten-free Benedict (potato rosti topped with double smoked ham, poached eggs and Hollandaise). Nice potato rosti and perfectly poached eggs were the highlights. The Hollandaise was too sweet for my taste.

Gluten free Benedict

Gluten free Benedict

Gluten free Benedict ($14)

The other two meals ordered at the table were the monster breakfast (2 eggs, bacon, chorizo, tomato, mushrooms and toast) and the hot breakfast (bacon, eggs and toast, with optional sides). They have GF toast available on request.

Monster breakfast

Monster breakfast ($16)

Hot breakfast

Hot breakfast ($10) + mushroom ($2.5)

Beverages included a long black (mine, which was good), a capuccino and a hot chocolate that didn’t hit the spot.

Hot chocolate, long black

Hot chocolate ($4), long black ($3.50)

Service was good and the place is comfortable. They have the blanket craze going on when it’s cold.

Where The Monster Sat
16 Douglas Street
Stanmore NSW 2048
(02) 9560 1077
On Facebook

Where the Monster Sat Cafe on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Lúcuma coconut mousse v2.0

This is a revamped version of the lúcuma coconut mousse I posted a while ago, this time with the added benefit of the probiotic cultures in CO YO and the collagen in gelatin.

Lúcuma coconut mousse v2.0
Yield: 4-6 servings

Lúcuma coconut mousse



  • 1 cup (100g) almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 50g salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup


  • 1 400g tub plain CO YO
  • 2 tablespoons lúcuma powder
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 4 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon gelatin (grass-fed recommended)

To serve

  • a few squares of dark chocolate (85% recommended)



  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Melt the butter and mix with the rest of ingredients.
  3. Line a small loaf pan with wax paper, spread the mix and bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Let cool down.


  1. Sprinkle gelatin on water and let hydrate. Melt over a pot of boiling water and let cool a bit.
  2. Mix coconut yoghurt, lúcuma powder and maple syrup with a whisk or mixer. Add hydrated gelatin and mix well.

To serve

  1. Line glasses or ramekins with pieces of the base, spoon mousse and top with grated chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Review: Saigon Belle (Newtown)

There are a couple new Vietnamese restaurants in town. We visited Saigon Belle first because they had a 20% discount on their first week of operations and, as we say back home, “ahorro es progreso”.

Saigon Belle

We were welcomed by a very attentive waitress who offered us a complimentary snack: sweet roasted peanuts with fried dried fish. It was a first for me so I gave it a go and couldn’t stop eating (crunchy + sweet + salty = zero willpower).

Complimentary peanuts & fried fish

My sister and I ordered two dishes to share: sizzling seafood (braised seafood with onion, capsicum, shallots and vegetables in Mongolian sauce served in hot plate) and lemongrass & chilli pork. Both dishes were generous and pleasant, although leaning more towards Chinese-style Vietnamese (e.g. heavier sauces) than “Vietnamese-style Vietnamese” if that makes sense.

Sizzling seafood

Sizzling seafood ($20.90)

Lemongrass & chilli pork

Lemongrass & chilli pork ($16.90)

The highlight of our visit was warm, outstanding service, which fortunately seems to be a staple in Vietnamese restaurants. I’m very keen on visiting again to try their pho before the cold weather leaves us.

Saigon Belle
121a King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9516 5998

Saigon Belle on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Dairy-free mango lassi

Love mango lassi but have a hard time digesting dairy? Fear no more, here’s a friendly recipe for you, featuring CO YO.

Dairy-free mango lassi
Yield: 2 servings

Dairy-free mango lassi


  • 1 250g tub mango CO YO
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Process all ingredients in a blender and enjoy.

Review: Proteini Cafe (Darlinghurst)

A new paleo-friendly cafe has opened in Sydney! Under the slogan “love your guts”, Proteini Cafe ticks all the boxes, their ingredients are locally sourced and their food is free of gluten, wheat, dairy and added sugar.

Proteini Cafe

Proteini Cafe

Although the cafe’s name might imply it’s all about the meat, it’s not. This place is vego-friendly and, as a matter of fact, not heavy on the meats if you choose to have some. The meal components are pre-prepared and put together on demand, so food is on the table relatively fast but also cold (not true for the soups, I guess). Not that is a bad thing per se, but keep that in mind. They also do great-looking smoothies and eye-catching sweets.

Baked stuff



You can pick one of their ready-to-go trail mixes that sit next to the register if you’re in a hurry.

Trail mix

Check out the smoothies on offer. We didn’t try any because it was freezing cold that day, but will do soon. Instead, my sister had a latte with homemade almond milk and I my usual long black.

Drinks menu

Homemade almond milk latte, long black

Homemade almond milk latte ($4), long black ($3)

Coffee is by Will & Co, not my fave brew but pretty good, actually.


On to the food! We shared the Caveman’s bowl and a mix-n-match salad + meat.

Food menu

For the salad we chose sweeet fennel and roasted vegetables and for the meat, rosemary & garlic chicken skewers. The dressing could be turmeric or basil pesto; we chose the pesto. The dish was pretty filling and the flavours were wonderful, although we would have enjoyed it more if served warm. Also, kale is served raw, which can be harsh on the gut and decreases nutrient absorption.

Salad + meat

Salad + meat ($15)

The caveman’s bowl comes with roasted pumpkin, kale toss, 2 meatballs, protein bread, beetroot relish and turmeric dressing. Again, the flavours were great but serving it warm and cooking the kale would make it better IMO.

Caveman's bowl

Caveman’s bowl ($16)

We couldn’t leave the cafe without trying one of the sweet treats. It was hard to choose just one and we were very happy with our decision: the top deck mousse surprise, featuring a delicious macadamia-coconut crunchy base topped with a creamy chocolate mousse and dessicated coconut. It had the perfect sweetness and half per head was enough to call it a meal.

Top deck mousse surprise

Top deck mousse surprise ($7)

Proteini Cafe
1/256 Crown Street
Darlinghurst NSW
On Facebook

Proteini Cafe on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Two dips with CO YO

As promised, here’s a recipe featuring the wonderful coconut yoghurt CO YO. Serve with cucumber slices, on top of salad greens, or however you prefer.

Trout and tuna dips
Yield: about 1 cup each

Trout and tuna dips with CO YO


Trout & beetroot dip

  • 100g beetroot
  • 100g smoked trout fillet
  • 4 tablespoons natural CO YO
  • 1 gherkin, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon gherkin liquid
  • 1 tablespoon minced dill

Curried tuna dip

  • 185g can tuna in springwater
  • 8 tablespoons natural CO YO
  • 2 gherkins, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard


Trout & beetroot dip

  1. Cut beetroot in chunks and steam until soft (20-30 minutes).
  2. Mash beetroot and trout with a fork, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Curried tuna dip

  1. Drain tuna and mash with a fork, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Review: Smoked meats at The Erko (Erskineville)

Smoking (meats, not ciggies) is in the rise. In all honesty I couldn’t care less about cronuts being available in every single cafe but I do get excited when I see a sexy sign announcing smoked meats. Especially when it’s a stone’s throw away from home, in the good old Erko.

Erskineville Hotel

Erskineville Hotel

The smoker works Fridays 3-6 and while the menu is basically smoked meats in soft rolls, they told me the rubs and marinades are gluten free, and they are happy to serve the meat on a plate.

Smoking Hot Friday menu

We tried the smoked beef brisked (it came on top of coleslaw and topped with BBQ sauce) and more coleslaw on the side. Both had nice flavour and the combo was more filling than what it looked.

Smoked brisket, coleslaw

Smoked brisket ($7), coleslaw ($4)

To read about previous visits to the Erko click here and here.

Erskineville Hotel
102 Erskineville Road
Erskineville NSW 2043
(02) 9565 1608

Erskineville Hotel on Urbanspoon

Product review: CO YO coconut yoghurt

CO YO, the wonderful company making coconut yoghurt available for those who can’t tolerate dairy (or choose not to have it), has been around for a while but has been recently trying to expand their reach. Their yoghurts are vegan and free of dairy, soy, gluten, lactose, and added sugar. They have quite a few varieties that come in tubs from 250g up to 1k.


All flavours contain organic coconut milk (88% in the fruit varieties, 98% in the plain and chocolate), starch (tapioca, pectin), stevia and live vegan cultures including Lactobacillus casei, L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, Bif. bifidum, Bif. lactis, and S. Thermophilus. Note: I’m not quite sure why live bacteria qualify as vegan-friendly.

The fruited varieties (mango, passion fruit and mixed berries) are perfect to grab and eat out of the tub. The recommended serving size is 100g but if you’re pretty active you can easily polish one 250g tub in one sitting.


We liked the chocolate yoghurt with frozen blueberries. The natural one is good by itself or pimped up. We enjoyed ours with Feed Me‘s grainless granola and thawed frozen mixed berries.

CO YO, Feed Me granola

CO YO with Feed Me granola and mixed berries

Here are a few more ideas to enjoy plain CO YO: spoon a dollop on a bowl of soup (borsch, for example) or hot chocolate (bonus: sprinkle with cinnamon!), serve alongside a slice of gluten-free cake, use instead of Greek yoghurt for tzatziki.

Keep your eyes peeled for a few recipes with CO YO.

Gaby @ lateraleating enjoyed a sample pack courtesy of CO YO.

CO YO Corporate Pty Ltd
52 Central Park Drive
Yandina, QLD 4561

Recipe: Triple mushroom soup

Three things happened: my naturopath suggested getting more mushrooms (particularly shiitakes) in my diet, I read this article entitled “Smart Fuel: Mushrooms” at Mark’s Daily Apple, and I found dried chanterelles and porcini powder at Dr Earth. As a result, this soup was born.


Triple mushroom soup
Yield: 6 servings

Triple mushroom soup


  • 30 g dried chanterelles (or other dried mushrooms)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 400 g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 5 cups bone broth (I used beef but any kind will do)
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt (or regular sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon porcini powder
  • salt and pepper
  • butter, to serve


  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water until fully rehydrated. Drain and keep the soaking water.
  2. Heat ghee in a pot and sautée the fresh and rehydrated mushrooms, garlic and onion powder for 10 minutes.
  3. Add wine, reserved soaking water (be careful as there may be dirt at the bottom of the container), set heat to max and let reduce for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add broth, tarragon, thyme and celery salt, heat through and process with a stick or regular blender.
  5. Add a teaspoon of porcini powder, adjust seasoning and serve with butter.

Review: Rising Sun Workshop (Newtown)

We finally got to try Rising Sun Workshop, the ramen pop-up we were so afraid to see disappear. I had contacted them a long time ago asking if they had something gluten sensitive-friendly, and they said they have rice noodles on hand for weirdos like us.

In case you don’t know, the cafe/ramen bar coexists with a motorcycle workshop opposite the Camperdown Memorial Park (a.k.a. “the poo park”).

Rising Sun Workshop

Rising Sun Workshop

They do 3 broths: the darkness (shoyu tonkotsu or pork style broth), the light (chicken, bonito and 3x salt broth) and the monk (miso based broth). So few options but that means they do them well.

I had “the light” and tried “the darkness”, both broths were flavourful and rich, as opposed to over-the-top MSG but “flat”. The egg comes with the perfect yolk, the pork is fatty and tender, the shiitake had an unusual and delicious sweet-and-sour pickled flavour and the pieces of gari, green onions and seaweed were there to bring the soup to perfect balance. I know the noodles are a big deal for most people but for us they’re just a filler. Having said that, please note that even when you can order rice noodles as we did, the pork and eggs are marinated in shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) and there’s more shoyu in “the darkness” broth so this is not for you if you’re very sensitive to gluten.

The light

The light

The darkness

The darkness

But wait! There can be more! Check their Facebook page for announcement of special toppings that you can add to your ramen by mentioning a password. In the past there’s been roasted bone marrow and that night we skipped the kara-age chicken (because it was coated in “corn flour” made with wheat flour).

We also enjoyed green tea that came in a very cool old-school heavy metal pot.

Green tea

Green tea ($4)

Rising Sun Workshop
Cnr Mary & Lennox Streets
Newtown NSW 2042
On Facebook

Rising Sun Workshop on Urbanspoon