Thursday, 7 November 2013

Monk Bodhi Dharma's Introduction to Summer

Sorry I've been M.I.A everyone! While I wish I could tell you that Iv'e been sitting front row at the Autumn/Winter Paris fashion shows and becoming besties with the likes of Rosie Huntington Whiteley and Kate Moss, the reality is that Iv'e only just recently emerged from my Winter hibernation that consisted of salted caramelle ice-cream  and Sex and the City marathons. Safe to say I'm now more ready than ever for sun, sandals, sun baking, sand and any other Summer-related alliterations you can think of. Though I did eat an entire football team's weight in ice-cream, my last two months weren't spent in a complete comatose...that is to say, I broke up my Winter-long sleep with bouts of shopping that were necessary to keep my style-obssesed brain functioning at optimum potential. Needless to say, my new 268 purchases will be featured on the pages of this blog in the weeks to come, so stay tuned! 

On one particularly warm Spring day I also found myself, rather bleary-eyed, in the sunny suburb of St Kilda (ok, technically it was Balaclava, but that just sounds way less cool), making my way to a cafe Iv'e been intrigued by ever since hearing about it's, err, how shall we say, hippy-esque ways. I know that nowadays everyone's obsessed with quinoa, activated almonds and green smoothies, but Monk Bodhi Dharma was serving up healthy soul food before gluten-free was the new black. 
Opening in 2010, this tiny little warehouse cafe is nestled in a car park and can be a little tricky to locate, but don't give up hope because it's well worth the search. Originally a bakehouse in the 1920's, Monk Bodhi Dharma has transformed into an all vegetarian cafe with a focus on good coffee, healing teas and a menu that will feed your soul as well as your stomach. I was half-expecting to walk in on a group of dreadlocked activists who would hiss at me as I walked past in my leather boots, but instead I was met by smiling staff and a tiny space filled with families, friends and gym-goers. Not a dreaded lock in sight I am happy to report. The cafe has been stripped back  to it's raw-industrial state with exposed bricks and light globes hanging from dark wooden beams, giving the place a trendy but very homely and care-free feel. 
I have to say, when I heard that eggs weren't on the menu I almost gave up hope...let's be honest, the perfect poached egg is to brunch what Beyonce is to pop culture. Necessary and wonderfully saucy. Nonetheless, I was so pleasantly surprised when I viewed a menu with fresh and interesting options, such as the Bodhi bircher with cinnamon and roast almonds and the slow-roasted umami mushrooms on house made pumpkin bread with goats cheese and chilli oil, that I forgot about eggs all together. After much umming and ahhing over the daily specials (and much patience from my lovely bearded waiter) I finally decided upon the Mexican bean stew packed with black beans, brown rice, corn and a wonderfully flavoured tomato sauce all topped with avocado and house made chilli jam. I gotta say, if there's one thing Monk Bodhi does well, it's flavour. This dish was an explosion of spices, herbs and textures that can often be hard to find in traditional cafe food. The cheap-skate in me was even more happy that this whole dish only cost a measly 14 dollars, proving that good food doesn't have to cost you your first born child...or even worse, lots of money. I guess they make it affordable so the hippies can return to the  hairdressers every week to get the peanut butter re-applied to their dreadlocks...or whatever it is they do. My somewhat cynical-of-health-food friend selected the umami mushrooms which also went down a treat with the perfect balance of creamy goats cheese, crumbly pumpkin bread and umaminess. The meal was topped off perfectly by our delicious coffees with the in house roasted beans.
All in all, Monk Bodhi is well worth the hike over to Balaclava and totally helped to rouse me from my Sex and the City stupor. Sometimes simplicity is key, and this tiny little cafe seems to specialise in simple, healthy and hearty food that will get you regrouped, rebalanced and re-energised in no time.

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