One of the biggest problems I’ve had since ‘going vego’ has been eating out. It’s not that there is a lack of amazing vego food out there, it’s just that every now and then I find myself faced with a long, sometimes awkward conversation with a waiter (‘I’m, um, really sorry but, ah, I don’t eat meat? Is there, um, anything you can do for me?’) a side dish (garden salad and chips anyone?) or what I like to call the ‘token vego dish’ a la ‘pasta with tomato sauce’. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those snarky ‘how can you eat the flesh of a living animal and still sleep at night’ kind of vegos who insists on being catered to because of my life choices (scoff), after all my partner, most of my friends and family eat meat which, I am acutely aware, makes me the annoying odd one out more often than not. Ragging on those who choose to eat meat does not earn me any points in this game of life but still, if I have to choose between the pasta with ‘tomato sauce’ or a bowl of chips and a garden salad when we’re out to dinner, you might find me looking a little pouty when your slow-roasted beef cheeks with a red wine jus make their way to the table. It seems to me that if you can create art with a piece of beef then it stands to reason you could probably have a good whack at some kind of amazing vego dish, amirite? At the very least, could you maybe add some pine nuts and a handful of chopped parsley to my pasta? *awkward grin*
I suppose my reason for this long-winded sigh of discontent is not just about my grumbling tummy but it’s also because, well, there are so many amazing ways to play around with vegies and protein that vegetarian food need not be laborious or boring. This brings me, albeit rather awkwardly, to lunch. Not just any lunch, but a long and lovely ‘lush lunch’ I took on a sunny winter afternoon in a bistro in North Adelaide. When I sidled up to a sunny table at The Store on Melbourne street, I was quietly relieved to find an array of vegetarian options on the menu. I was dining out courtesy of the Mushroom Growers Association today as part of Mushroom Mania month so duty called (yes, hard-life) and I ordered the delectable sounding mushroom risotto garnished with truffled pecorino.
Now you may be scratching your head wondering at this point why I’m writing about eating someone else’s food. I cook, I garden – I… eat out and tell you about it? I’m not going to lie, this is not something I’m used to but when the opportunity to take part in Mushroom Mania presented itself I decided it was time to try something new. Mushrooms are a staple for us vegos, they are high in B & D vitamins and a fantastic source of protein, they also boost the flavour profile of just about any dish you add them to. So yes, fair reader, here I am writing about a bistro in North Adelaide, that serves an amazing risotto. Not just any risotto, a mushroom risotto.
I was seated by the lovely Sondra, who has a smile the size of the sun. She was warm, friendly and attentive. When she noticed me fiddling with a camera she asked what I was taking photos for, I fumbled out something about it being a hobby, not really sure about this whole ‘I’m a food blogger’ thing just yet. She smiled and went about her business and when she delivered my risotto and the much needed glass of Riesling she wished me the best of luck in capturing what she described as a ‘tricky dish to photograph’. There before me sat a masterpiece. Truffled pecorino and big, juicy mushrooms, captured in a gorgeous glossy risotto on a sparkling white plate. I quickly snapped a few photos while the little voice in my head scolded me for letting it get cold. With the business out of the way, I could concentrate fully on what lay in front of me.
There were a couple of different types of mushrooms in this dish some smaller buttons and some big beefy browns, the buttons were left whole while the larger mushrooms were trimmed into bite-sized pieces. The variety of textures worked well with the wonderfully fragrant stock and a scattering of fresh herbs. The risotto was brimming with an umami flavour explosion that mushrooms so elegantly provide and each mouthful brought new bursts of flavour and joy. The truffled pecorino was the cherry on my mushroom pie and I practically cried when I realised I’d eaten the last bit. I sat, I sipped my wine, I took in the sunshine and then I scarfed the lot. Perfect.
If you’re vego or if you like to eat vego food then I’d hazard a guess you are going to be pleased with the offerings at The Store. If you hate vegetables or just enjoy a good-sized steak then fear not, you will also find something you like, I’m sure. The food is fabulous, the location superb and the staff are lovely. I am told they serve a mean breakfast, which many diners around me were still ordering at lunchtime, and they offer dinner til late most nights of the week.
157 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide
I dined with the compliments of Mushroom Growers Australia as part of Mushroom Mania month.