I like my protein. Preferably animal sourced. But from time to time enough is enough and I get a hankering for meat-free dishes. Indeed, last night I tried my hand at a meat-free bolognese sauce to serve with jacket potatoes at a dinner party. Neither is it unusual for me to have a light dinner; toast, sardines, salad, etc…. An all time favourite weekend starter at home is left over savoury mince on toast. But again, that’s animal based. I’m often asked how on earth can I have protein for breakfast…? Bacon and eggs, anyone?
Recently I was in the mood for a fresh, simple, vegetarian breakfast – which is how I found myself to be at King’s Wholefood Artisans, nestled within the Charles Darwin University Palmerston Campus. For those unfamiliar with the cafe, the large dining area has a mixture of zones in an open plan. There are group tables, small intimate tables, lounges and armchairs with coffee tables, a play area for children, and even smaller tables for children to eat at complete with their own table number. Tables and chairs outside the cafe – either in the sun or under the buildings foyer, you choose where – complete the entire seating plan. The cafe joinery is a tremendous and eclectic mix of interior decorating influences – 70’s tropical, Scandi, cottage, etc. An area large enough to provide space between everything to avoid a clash of style. Interestingly, the menu itself is as diverse as the seating area.
The menu presents a mind boggling selection of vegan and vegetarian meals. Items that seem on one level familiar, you think you know what to expect; but yet on another level altogether a twist to catch you unawares is also suggested. Reading through the menu selection I keep saying to myself “I want to try that; and this, and that, and ….” However, on this visit I constrained myself to thier Chocolate Peanut Butter Bowl, accompanied by a flat white coffee made with lactose free skim milk.
The menu promised vegan chocolate protein, raw cacao, peanut butter, maple, banana and coconut water combined and served with granola and fresh fruit. This sounded like a great combination, if not a bit like a smoothie. Yet surely they wouldn’t serve a smoothie for breakfast? After a very short wait I received the coffee. As I glanced at the cup set before me somewhere in the back of my mind I heard Crocodile Dundee tell Sue Charlton “that’s not a knife… that’s a knife…!” Either I got a coffee mug by mistake, or the generous cup was a foreboding of what was to come…
Sure enough – a luscious smoothie served up in a generous sized bowl topped with banana, strawberries, blueberries, shaved coconut sitting alongside crunchy granola. I wondered how I was going to get through it all.
The smoothie was perfect; chilled and icy, sweet, thick and decadent. I wish I had a thick straw. There was a wonderful balance of flavour between the peanut butter and chocolate / cacao. Additionally, the fruit was wonderfully fresh and a perfect combination to go with the smoothie and granola. There was crunch. There was sweetness. There was soft. You get the picture… The balance of flavours continued; the flavour of the smoothie itself wasn’t too strong as to overpower the flavours of the fruit. If there was a downside, I would have preferred more granola and less smoothie. After quite some time of working through the smoothie it got rather tiresome as I had run out of fruit and granola to add to each spoonful of smoothie. Eating, or scooping, had simply become a monotonous chore, even though not much later I had to admit that the meal had me beat – there was just too much served up and I couldn’t finish it all.
As for the coffee – it couldn’t be beaten. Rich and robust, with the lactose free milk giving it a somewhat creamier than usual taste, yet light enough to let the flavour burst through. Quite a generous serve of coffee – a brilliant way to start the day.
All in all, a great start to the day. My experience at King’s proved to me that rich, tasty, wholesome food can be delivered at a fair and reasonable price.