Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hellenic Republic

This year 2 women at my work who have been there for 30+ years decided to retire at the end of the year so we had a big celebration at the Hellenic Republic.  Our group of 18 booked the spartan table at the front of the restaurant in a semi private area and had a 4 course banquet.  My boss had given them a heads up that I was vegan (and there were a couple vegetarians and pescetarians too). The confirmed all dietary restrictions and allergies before we began.  One of the servers came out to confirm whether honey was ok with me.  I was impressed that I was asked and obviously they have a good understanding of vegan (I'm assuming that people who eat plant based diets for environmental or health reasons would just say "vegan" in a restaurant and would then say honey was ok with them).  I was brought my own separate dishes when necessary.
To start with we had flat bread and I had my own hummus (we assume the other hummus had some sort of cheese that normally wouldn't be in a hummus in it).  The next course I had 2 tomatoes stuffed with rice and herbs.  I don't care for parsley (which was very strong in this dish) but I still liked them.  I also got a small Greek salad (made vegan) in lieu of on of the other dishes.  There was also an amazing salad with lentils, pomegranate and coriander (I had my own with no yogurt on top).  By the time the main course arrived we were all very full.  Mine was eggplant with tomato and some amazing flavours.  I was so full I couldn't finish the last couple bits.  A server came to confirm with me that I'd had enough food to eat during the night at this point.  Dessert was amazing. It had a long Greek name and was basically 2 small plates of preserved fruit- I think one was citrus and the other was watermelon.  The watermelon was amazing.  It looked nothing like watermelon.  It was 2 orange/clear, jelly looking blocks on a plate.  They did not have jelly texture at all though- it was a very firm watermelon like texture.  They were amazingly sweet but so good. 
I was very impressed with the service and the food.  I'd heard good things about the vegan food there (but for some reason I can't find the posts to link to them now....) so I was excited when we were told that's where the end of year/retirement dinner would be.  We all left completely overfull but the food was amazing and it was great having a semi private area where we were all at one table and could move around to chat to each other between courses.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

simple gift

 I wanted to give my co-workers a little something without spending much money and something that wasn't a baked good (we get so many of those from families and several co-workers are pretty health conscious so the amount of sweets is already a bit overwhelming).  I decided on cinnamon sugar-- probably the simplest thing possible to make but a nice treat (and it'll keep for a long time so it can just sit in their cupboard til they want a nice treat in a few months).  Basically it's a ratio of about 1 cup of sugar to 1 tablespoon of cinnamon mixed together.  I got some cheap spice jars from a $2 shop but decided to fix them up a bit so the scratched, painted silver plastic lids don't show.  Fortunately I've been collecting bigger size scraps of fabric from work and I hadn't come up with anything to do with them so I cut a bunch into circles to cover the lids.  Simple, easy and nice small gift (and it will come with a small photo card of Wombat in a santa hat).  I'm thinking next year I wanna make little bottles of vanilla extract (from this recipe).  It takes 6 weeks though so I'd have to get on to it early (I was going to get onto making gifts early this year but that never happened).
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