Friday, September 19, 2014

HealThy Self Co., Yarraville

Do you know what a "crunchy mama" is?  In Australia, we might say "hippie mum", but it doesn't really translate.  Like GMO canola seeds drifting on the wind, crunchy mamas have taken up residence in every nook and cranny of the inner west.  You can spy them being trees at creative dance workshops, burning up Facebook in various bulk-buying food co-ops, and carrying a baby on the back while gestating one on the front.

Don't come after me with handmade pitchforks.  I speak with love because I am a crunchy mama too.  Not nearly as crunchy as when I had my first baby (no cot, no pram, made my own ring sling, made my own cloth nappies AND MADE MY OWN BABY BUTT WIPES) but I'd still consider myself somewhere on the crunchy scale.

Image by Amber Dusick from the blog Crappy Pictures. Used with thanks per FAQ terms.

Speaking of which, you HAVE to check out Crappy Pictures' "Scale of Crunchy Mamas".  It goes from level 1 ("Plans to breastfeed, owns a Baby Bjorn") to level 9 ("Can sew an entire quilt in one night by the light of handmade beeswax candles while sipping tea made from homegrown chamomile in a mug that was hand formed from clay mined from her backyard. While nursing").  Ba ha haaaa!


So I'm probably somewhere in the middle of that scale.  But I think I just got a whole lot more crunchy after discovering Heal.Thy Self Co.


This is a new cafe in Yarraville which is basically like stepping into an Instagram feed.  The menu is radiant with superfoods.  We're talking kombucha tea, kale smoothies and raw vegan cheesecake.  It's a little slice of San Fran in Ballarat Street.


I have been hearing a lot about kale (and if you haven't either, you must live under a rock) but I still don't really "get" it.  I've tried to cook with it but it tastes like horse feed.  Finally I get a crunchy gold star, though, as I tried Heal.Thy Self's kale smoothie ($9) - and loved it!


This 'un has greens, banana and a whole host of ingredients I had to google after the fact.  There's "super greens powder", raw vanilla protein powder and maca powder in the mix (maca powder is a dried, powdered form of a root from Peru, purported to have fertility, antidepressant and bone-strengthening qualities).  Actually, I just realised it doesn't actually say it has kale!  But surely I still get a gold star for drinking something that shade of emerald.  It was really nice - sweet but with an earthy, vegetal undertone.


My friend A decided to "be kind" to herself with the eponymous "be kind" smoothie ($9), with mixed berries, banana, lucuma powder (a dried powdered Peruvian "superfood" fruit), coconut, filtered H20 and "raw wild berry fermented super protein powder".  Yum - and it matched her handbag!  Instagram-approved.


Heal.Thy Self do a brunchy-lunchy menu of things like a raw choc chia parfait (chia mousse, activated buckinis and coconut yoghurt) or toasted sandwiches with roast veg and cashew cheese.  If that all sounds too Jesus sandal, there is a smashed avo option or a good old ham and cheese toastie (with grass-fed butter, of course).


We went the choc-ana bread ($12.50) which was pretty awesome.  Loved the "choc nut & seed butter", which was sweet without being cloying, and went perfectly with bananas and honey.


But we LOVED the raw vegan raspberry cheesecake.  I'm assuming it was made with silken tofu.  It had a fabulous mousse-like texture, wasn't too sweet and was bursting with real raspberry flavour.  I would have loved it if the base was more crunchy to add some contrast, but it was still delicious.


Detoxifying dandelion tea (actually a blend of dandelion, wattleseed & cinnamon, $4.50) - the staff had a timer behind the counter to register when it had brewed sufficiently before serving.


I had the same thing but in latte form ($5) with the recommended oat milk.  This was delicious - spicy, slightly (and not unpleasantly) bitter and creamy all at once.


I really like this place.  I only have one teeny grumble.  Most of the staff were lovely and sunny, but there was one who was a bit stern/business-like when we first walked in and were dithering about wondering where to sit, how to order etc.  It's probably not something I'd care about in any other cafe, but given how the concept and the menu just radiate health and happiness, I think it's really important for everyone to be on board with big welcoming smiles and attitudes.


Heal.Thy Self Co. is a great thing for Yarraville, which has been eclipsed by Seddon in the last few years as the cool place to be in the inner west.


Going back to Amber Dusick's "Scale of Crunchy Mamas", she talks about how "people attempt to self-righteously out crunch one another...  How we awkwardly fumbled around subjects like vaccinations or circumcision or extended breastfeeding and tried to fish out each other’s stance on it. Back in those early months, every decision felt like it defined us".

I first mentioned nine levels in the "Scale of Crunchy Mamas", but there are actually 10.  A level 10 crunchy mama "does most or all or some assortment of the above levels but they don’t give a crap about what anyone thinks.  They aren’t keeping track and they’ve outgrown the labels.  They certainly don’t preach to others or judge people about their choices.  They’re just doing their own thing".

Image by Amber Dusick from the blog Crappy Pictures. Used with thanks per FAQ terms.

A level 10 crunchy mama is a diamond.  To my friends A and A - and anyone out there expecting a child, or parenting little ones - may you be strong, confident diamond mamas.

Healthy Self Co on Urbanspoon

26 Ballarat St, Yarraville
Phone: 9687 3330
Hours: Mon-Fri 6.30am-4pm, Sat-Sun 7.30am-4pm

Monday, September 15, 2014

Snow Tree, Footscray

So someone was talking on Twitter about the new frozen yoghurt place opening in Seddon, and someone else directed them to the blog, "...and now it's a fucking froyo place".  Go check it out, but it's basically before-and-after shots of places that were "business X" and are now frozen yoghurt joints.  What rancour! I thought.  Who could get grumpy with frozen yoghurt?  So swirly, sweet and studded with delicious toppings - why, if unicorns poo, they must poo frozen yoghurt.

But seriously, as far as I can gather, the blog "[tracks] New York's downfall" by tracing the closure of diverse small businesses in favour of corporate frozen yoghurt chains.  There may be more frozen yoghurt joints around Melbourne than ever before, but I don't think we're at quite the same level of small biz displacement.

Indeed, Footscray seems to have been a particularly hostile environment for species froyus yoghurtus.  Yogurt House gave it a crack but didn't succeed.  And then came Snow Tree, who did waffles and frozen yoghurt.


I have no idea how successful the sweet offerings were, but for whatever reason, Snow Tree have decided to turn their attention to a new menu of savoury Korean food.


It's not the best location - right next to a noisy bus stop - but inside it's surprisingly quiet and peaceful.  The slightly whimsical, mismatched decor is endearing if a bit odd.


The lunch specials are total bargains.  This bibimbap was $12 and came with three side dishes, salad, miso and Korean chilli sauce.


Bibambap is kinda the equivalent of Korean meat and three - or rather, seven - veg.  The meat n' veg in question are all really simply seasoned with maybe some sesame oil, salt and pepper, and it's served on white rice in a searing-hot stone bowl, which is meant to crisp up the rice around the edges.


This was my meal, but I have such massive food envy of the bibimbap that I have forgotten what it was called.  I think it was only ten dollars, so at least I could revel in my gold coin savings!


As well as miso, side dishes and salad, mine was a "bit of everything" with tempura vegies, crumbed prawn, spring roll, coleslaw, beef stir-fry of sorts and lots of nice rice.


'Twas all good, cheap and satisfying.  A good little option to have in Footscray when you're tired of pho for lunch.  And there was no room for dessert - froyo or otherwise!


Snow Tree
12/119 Hopkins Street (entrance on Leeds St), Footscray
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