February 2014 trip to Brighton

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I love Brighton. Although it’s under an hour and a half’s drive or train ride away, I don’t visit enough! Last month, however, we were able to go for the night as my parents had got a free night in a hotel with their home insurance that they didn’t want and we were able to book a Friday night at The Old Ship hotel with it. I tried to book Terre a Terre for the Friday evening but couldn’t get a reservation so instead booked Food for Friends which was a stone’s throw from the hotel.

Food for Friends, 17 Prince Albert St, The Lanes, Brighton

Official Website: http://www.foodforfriends.com

No photos as we were too busy enjoying our meal.

I started with the soup which was some kind of root vegetable medley with a hint of ginger and was very tasty. R went for the cracked black peppered fried tofu with spring onions and saffron dashi, served with kombu seaweed, pickled cucumber and Chinese cabbage. I think this was a stand out dish- so many flavours on the plate, quite peppery tofu, awesome pickles and definitely something that would be hard to recreate but I’d order next time!

For main R had something that wasn’t vegan- a potato cake with a poached egg on top. I think he enjoyed it, especially the sesame onion rings!! They do a vegan version without the egg.

I had another dish that was a vegan-option. It was the Halloumi salad with mango, avocado, wasabi nuts and a mango dressing. I got crispy tofu instead of halloumi which was lovely, as were the leaves, nuts, avocado and slices of mango. However, the mango dressing was far too sweet and overpowering so this one wasn’t a winner!!

For pudding I had to try the coconut arancini with a trio of mango (which works much better in a sweet dish!) The sorbet was lovely, as were the sweet coconut rice balls so I really enjoyed this. We also shared the espresso and truffles for 2 to finish off the meal and had a nice bottle of vegan red wine with our meal too. Service was good and it was reasonably priced (I think mine fell into the 3 courses for £20 category!) so we will be back!

On the Saturday morning, I was a bit annoyed that R had organised for a meeting with our plumbers at 2pm so we didn’t have time to stick around for lunch/afternoon tea. We had a light breakfast in the hotel (I just had fruit and coffee, although there was toast, bread, baked beans etc.) and wandered up the pier,

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bought some treats in Vbites, bought more treats in Infinity Foods and at about 11 settled in Rock’ola café bar for brunch.

Rock Ola, 29 Tidy Street, Brighton, BN1 4EL

Official website: http://www.rockolacoffeebar.com/

I loved this place! It’s like a cool 50s American diner and they have a separate vegan menu but also serve meat and lacto-ovo dishes.

I got the most awesome chocolate milkshake:

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And a vegan breakfast-in-a-bun: Mushrooms, vegan bacon, sausage and a hash brown type patty- which was lovely.

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Simple but hit the spot and I must find out how to make that milkshake. It was gloopy and ice-creamy and exactly how a milkshake should be.

Rock Ola was right near the station so we could just hop on a train back to London and our Brighton trip was over until next time!!!!

The Jumping Bean Cafe in Durham

I went up to Durham on Saturday for lunch with a friend. I really haven’t visited the city enough since I graduated in 2009 and do love to have a wander round to see what has changed. The day started beautifully with clear skies and sunshine and a wander around the cathedral. Both the cathedral and the castle on the other side of Palace Green looked lovely in the sunshine.

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castle

For lunch, we went to find the jumping bean cafe. I had seen their stall at the North East Vegan Festival, where the nice young northern man had plied my mother with lemon cake that she declared the ‘best cake of the festival’. It was slightly off my normal beaten track in Durham but was easy to find especially with a blackboard sign directing you towards their soup and sandwich offers and vegan and gluten free options.

The Jumping Bean cafe, 5 Neville Street, Durham, DH1 4EY

Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/jumpingbeancafedurham

The cafe has been open about a year and was quite busy when we dropped in. It was a bit bigger than I expected but still only around 7 tables inside and 3-4 outside (although a bit cold for that at the moment!) The drinks menu is up on a blackboard and the paper menu included a few lunch and some breakfast items- all vegetarian and most vegan, including options of vegan cheese. I was tempted by the Spanish stew but instead chose to try the pine nut and spinach falafel and tomato chutney sandwich on brown bread, with the soup of the day which was carrot and parsnip. I also had a soya cappuccino.

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The bread was lovely and fresh and soft and the soup was clearly home-made. I could detect plenty of ginger and pepper (maybe even some cayenne) in the soup and the tomato chutney in my sandwich was quite spicy too. It was all very tasty but maybe a bit strongly seasoned/spicy for some people (I’m thinking of my mother here, and would have to order wisely if i brought her)

My cappuccino was lovely and hot (which my mother would be very happy about!) and Cathy went for a pot of tea which you can see in the picture was nice and big!

The guy I’d met at the festival was icing the lemon cake just as we were about to leave so I got a slice to take away- with still-sticky icing expertly packaged so the icing stayed on the cake !!!

cakeThis was really excellent lemon cake!!! It’s lucky I no longer live in Durham or I would definitely have too much lemon cake!

I really hope this vegan venture continues its success and I look forward to visiting again next time I’m in Durham!

What I ate this week

I have enlisted the help of a personal trainer and he asked me to keep a food diary for a week so he knows what my diet is like before he makes any nutritional suggestions. I thought I’d share this as I always find it interesting to see what other people eat on a typical day. I tried to take photos of most of my food. I haven’t included drink but generally will have a couple of diet cokes when I’m out, several pints of water, tea and coffee during the day.

I started on the Saturday after seeing the PT first thing.

Saturday

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Saturday Breakfast

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Saturday dinner-Sainsburys Taste the difference Tabbouleh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu with 2 veggie ‘bacon rashers’ and brown sauce. Soy latte.

Snack: Montezuma dark chocolate buttons

Then I went to a cycling lesson to learn how to cycle in London traffic! I was really hungry when I got back so made a very quick meal of

Lunch: Noodles with curry powder and a black cherry soya yoghurt.

We headed into London and met my parents and had a look around a couple of ‘open’ buildings (it was London Open Houses weekend) including the royal courts of justice which was cool. Then back to the parents’ hotel room for:

Snack: Black coffee, a few original pringles and 3 nairns stem ginger oatcakes.

We had to head off to Jurassic Park: The Musical (which was pretty funny!) in Little Venice so picked up some food from Sainsburys.

Dinner: Sainsburys taste the difference Tabbouleh salad and roasted salted pistachios.

I was hungry by the time we got home so had some toast and marmalade.

Sunday

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Sunday Breakfast

Mushroom risotto on toast

Mushroom risotto on toast

Chocolate chia pudding

Chocolate chia pudding

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu on toast with 1 veggie ‘bacon rasher’ and brown sauce. Soy latte.

Snacks: Chocolate chia pudding (chia seeds soaked overnight in chocolate soy milk), roasted and salted pistachios, small bar of dark chocolate.

Lunch: 3 slices of toast

Dinner: Mushroom risotto on toast followed by another (espresso cup of) chocolate chia pudding.

Snack: Black pepper popcorn

Monday

Overnight oats (weekday breakfast)

Overnight oats (weekday breakfast)

Monday lunch

Monday lunch

Monday dinner

Monday dinner

Neapolitan Swedish Glace

Neapolitan Swedish Glace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Overnight oats- oats, chia seeds and cinnamon soaked in light soya milk overnight

Snacks: Apple, nectarine and small (30g) bar dark chocolate

Lunch: leftover mushroom risotto and a bag of wasabi glaze popcorn.

Dinner: courgette and carrot ‘noodles’ with arabiata tomato sauce (carrots and courgette spiralized in tomato sauce and arabiata seasoning from vegan food swap parcel) with 2 slices of toast with pure. Followed by a bowl of Neapolitan Swedish Glace.

Snacks: another small bar of chocolate and a sherbet fountain 

Tuesday

Tuesday Lunch

Tuesday Lunch

Tuesday dinner

Tuesday dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Overnight oats

Snacks: Apple, nectarine and small (30g) bar dark chocolate

Lunch: leftover courgette and carrot ‘noodles’ with arabiata tomato sauce

Dinner: Ratatouille with raw cauliflower rice, 2 slices toast and pure.

Snacks: Some Montezuma dark chocolate buttons

 

Wednesday

Wednesday lunch

Wednesday lunch

Toast snack

Toast snack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Overnight oats

Snacks: Apple and nectarine

Lunch: leftover ratatouille with raw cauliflower rice, most of a box of orgran amaretti biscotti, Starbucks soy coffee frapuccino

Dinner: Bento box from somewhere in South Kensington with tofu, rice, root veg salad and seaweed salad. A glass of white wine.

Snacks: Black pepper crisps, 2 slices of toast with pure when I got home.

 

Thursday

Thursday lunch

Thursday lunch

Breakfast: Overnight oats

Snacks: Apple and nectarine

Lunch: bulgar wheat with chopped tofu and raw mushrooms, dressed in sushi vinegar and soy sauce

(I made this late on Thursday night and I think I did an alright job!)

Dinner: Curry Buffet from

Indian Veg Bhelpoori House

Official website: http://theindianveg.wordpress.com/

Address: 92-93 Chapel Market, N1 9EX

Nearest tube: Angel

I always love the food here and have brought a lot of non-vegetarian friends who have enjoyed it too. There are usually at least 2 kinds of curry plus a dal, plain basmati rice, brown rice, or pilau, a salad bar, pakora, poppadum, and awesome poori that taste a bit like vegan Yorkshire puddings. As much food as you like for £5.50 a head. Also it’s BYOB for no extra charge so I had a nice Aspall’s cider from waitrose plus a couple of glasses of red wine.

The décor in this restaurant is also really interesting with facts, articles and statistics about nutrition, mainly along the lines of meat, dairy and alcohol are bad for you, vegans feel healthier. Some might describe this as “vegan propaganda” but I quite like it, as did some of the friends I took this time!

 

Friday

I was a bit ill overnight and was feeling super rough on Friday morning after no sleep. I was inclined to blame the buffet but I think everyone else was fine after the same food so I guess I picked up some kind of bug from using the underground or a cashpoint or something. Anyway, at least it meant I didn’t eat as much as I normally would!

Lunch:  one and a half warburtons sandwich wraps spread with pure (I was in that state of being really hungry but still feeling quite sick so nice plain wheaty food felt like the right way to go)

Snacks: Some strawberries and coconut water, the remains of my Neapolitan Swedish glace.

Neapolitan Swedish Glace

Neapolitan Swedish Glace

Dinner: Pearl barley with summer vegetables.

Friday dinner

Friday dinner

I was out for dinner at the Hawksmoore, Spitalfields celebrating my father-in-law’s 60th. They always make me a nice vegan dish and look after me well, and normally offer an adapted starter and sorbet for pudding too. It’s a very nice place. They also serve amazing cocktails but I still felt too ill for alcohol so just had a few sips of whatever R had (whisky, old-fashioned, red wine, dessert wine) and a diet coke and lots of tap water for me!

So there’s my week of food. I think I definitely have too much sugar but otherwise I think I do ok as a vegan!

Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Another August, another trip to Edinburgh. This year’s recommendations are: James Bran (@ajamesbran)- funny haiku man, Jay Foreman- twee, comedy songs, Luke Wright (@lukewrightpoet) always amazing poetry and Claudia O’Doherty (@ClaudiaODoherty)- I LOVE THIS WOMAN- SEE HER SHOW!

Onto food…

The Auld Hoose, 33-35 St Leonard’s Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9QN

Official Website: http://www.theauldhoose.co.uk/

No photos but this student pub was a winner with me and my parents! Loads of vegan options as well as the standard pub fare, I wish we’d had room to share some vegan nachos! Vegan options on the menu are clearly marked and range from cheesy chips to Burritos, Chilli and a falafel burger.

What I did have, at about 3pm, was the all day veggie breakfast. To make it vegan you substitute the egg in the normal breakfast for one of the other items. R was ordering for me so he doubled up my haggis. Sausages which weren’t a kind I’d had before but were nice crispy mealy ones, awesome veggie haggis patties, mushrooms, hash browns and baked beans. A big plateful and I was stuffed after it!

My mother went for another vegan option, haggis neeps and tatties. Another huge plats with the haggis a bit more broken up than on my breakfast and a good pile of mashed potato and another of mashed turnip, she really enjoyed it too.

Service was pleasant, there was an extensive bar and it was a sweet little pub. I can’t believe I hadn’t been before but it’s up there as a new favourite!

Bonsai, 46 Richmond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DZ

Official Website http://www.bonsaibarbistro.co.uk/

I know, another review of a non-vegetarian restaurant but they do great vegan options and were happy to go and check things with the chef like whether or not the tempura batter had egg in (it didn’t: score!)

I had edamame beans, some nice avocado and red pepper maki rolls, a shitake mushroom hand cone and vegetable tempura:

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Lots to eat and easy to go with friends/family. I always find the waiting staff friendly and they know the food and give recommendations. Also the toilets are really interesting.

The Piemaker, 33 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1LL

Official Website: http://www.thepiemaker.co.uk/

I’m a big fan of this place. On the way to the train station to go home I insisted that we stopped off so I could get a vegan pastie. They normally have at least 2 vegan options on savoury pasties, although I’ve only had fruit ones from there before. I was pretty excited and chose a thai vegetable pastie over the Mediterranean vegetable option.

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Unfortunately, once I started eating this on the train it became apparent that I’d actually been given a garlic mushroom pastie (which were next to the thai veg ones on the shelf) and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t vegan, so R ate it for me and I ate my cake from…

The Baked Potato Shop, 56 Cockburn* Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1PB

*note this is pronounced “Co’burn”, to save your embarrassment…

Official website: https://www.facebook.com/thebakedpotatoshop

I just dropped in at about 10:15am so no baked potato for me but they had a lovely carrot cake labelled vegan and it was indeed awesome. Moist with a slightly lemony creamy topping.

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I’m a massive fan of the baked potato shop. They give huge portions (I think standard is TWO potatoes) have loads of toppings, many vegan including their home-made vegan haggis. Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of this haggis as it has DRIED FRUIT in it and I have some issues with dried fruit in savoury food (I am working on it) but anyway, vegan cake and awesome potatoes and good value. Go there!

Hopefully I will have even more exciting places to eat in Edinburgh in 2014!

222 Veggie Vegan- Restaurant review

 Official Website: http://www.222veggievegan.com/

Address: 222 North End Road, West Kensington, London, W14 9NU

Tube station: West Brompton

I came here with a friend who’s thinking of moving to Putney. I’d read a few nice reviews and I was keen to try the ice cream pancake for pudding!

I made a reservation, the place is quite small but pleasant enough with a café vibe and I think all the tables were in use so I’m glad we booked.

I wasn’t going to have a starter as I was saving myself for the pancake but Alex ordered the raw chilled avocado soup and it was such a big portion I helped him out. I had thought that it might taste strongly of raw garlic but no, it was an amazing smooth, creamy avocado soup with some nuttiness and a hint of garlic but not too much. It was super tasty and I probably had half the bowl. My mouth waters at the thought of it and it was such a good choice.

Alex had the burger for main which I was quite jealous of but I rarely order a burger (even though I love them) as I like to be adventurous! It came with loads of chips (which I shared) and some salad and looked yummy.

I went for seitan straganoff which was really nice too- creamy and well seasoned in a nice savoury way and a good sized portion.

We both had the famous ice cream pancake for pudding. I think I’d built it up a bit too much in my head- I found the chocolate and vanilla sauces a little too sweet and the pancake itself a bit mealy and stodgy (it was made with wholemeal flour- I would have made more of a crepe personally) but it was still pretty awesome and compared favourably with many vegan pudding options!

It was good value for money and we also shared a nice organic wine. I will be returning.

A very treaty vegan pizza day

I meant to blog this ON THE DAY (Vegan pizza day- 29th June) but with laptop issues and getting-photos-off-my-phone issues it has been somewhat delayed…

All week I’d been really craving a sweet treat so my lovely husband took me out to get some from Vx.

Official Website: http://www.vegancross.com

Address: 73 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9BT 

Tube station: Kings Cross

We picked up field roast sausages, vegourmet herbario cheese (still my favourite), freedom mallows and lots of biscuits! I also got a slice of cat and the cream blueberry and vanilla cake!

Next we headed to Borough market and R got some coffee beans from Monmouth and we had a couple of espresso samples. We would have bought some take away coffees too but they didn’t do non-dairy milk!

It was 11:30 so time for brunch and we found our way to The Veggie Table

Official Website: http://www.theveggietable.co.uk

Address: Borough Market

Tube station: London Bridge

We picked up some of their vegan burgers in seeded buns. We headed down to the river to eat them.

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They were lovely. Although you can stick anything vegan in a bun with relishes for me, call it a burger and I’ll love it! It seemed to be mainly quinoa with a few vegetables, quite a soft texture but lots of flavour. The salad in the bun was a nice touch and I had red onion marmalade too! I really enjoyed this burger.

Then I had my slice of cake from earlier for pudding.

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It was as excellent as I have come to expect from the wonderful cat and the cream. Moist sponge and lovely icing.

We went to the whiskey exchange and picked up some spirits and bitters to make cocktails from later!

Once home I opened a few of my treats from Vx:

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This delinut dip was amazing! Little breadsticks with a neverending pot of nutty chocolate dip. I finished it with my finger.

Later that day, as it was Vegan Pizza Day, R took me to Surbiton to the Village pizza branch there to get a vegan pepperoni pizza.

Official Website: http://www.villagepizzauk.com/

Address: 7 Claremont Road, Surbiton, KT6 4QR

Station: Surbiton

It was my first visit to a village pizza and I really enjoyed it. It was properly greasy, like takeaway pizzas always used to be. The ‘cheese’ was nicely melted and it had a good taste. The pepperoni was a little bit spicy for me so I might go for mushrooms next time, or fake chicken which is an option!

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We then used our awesome kitchen aid blender to crush ice and make ourselves some cocktails to go with the pizza.

What a lovely day!

Vitao- Organic, Vegan, Raw in Soho

 

Official Website: http://www.vitao.co.uk1741_2

Address: 74 Wardour Street, London, W1F 0TE

Tube station: Piccadilly Circus

 

I’ve been to Vitao (previously known as Vita Organic) several times before, but not for a while. Previously, even on an evening, there had only ever been buffet food on offer. The buffet food was always fantastic and there was always an excellent selection of herbal teas, juices and dairy free milks. This is why my friend and I thought it would make an excellent choice for our non-alcoholic dinner out in wintry-spring. It is fully vegan and about 50% raw too.

When we arrived, we realised that it was now a la carte on an evening. The menu was wonderful so we didn’t mind not having the buffet selection. To drink, my friend Judi had a mango and mint lassi (made with vegan yoghurt) and I had a hot chocolate made with raw cacao and sweetened with coconut nectar and it was amazing!!! I am craving that drink again this morning.

As a starter I had hummus with raw crackers which was lovely and quite a good sized portion. Judi had a salad called something like “Green goddess” [Or maybe I made that up!] which was lots of different leaves in a slightly spicy guacamole dressing. Very tasty- maybe a bit too much chilli and garlic for my taste but I think it was another raw dish!

For my main meal I had a huge bowl of Laksa- which was what I’d fancied all day since a friend had it for lunch. It was warm and spicy without being too hot and had lots of lovely vegetables, pineapple, macadamia nuts and noodles in. Judi had a volcano curry which I didn’t try but she said was nice- it was served in half a cooked butternut squash which looked like a nice idea.

We were really full after big portions so the waitress suggested we ordered some teas to aid digestion- I had a herbal one specifically for digestion and Judi went for fresh mint. We then magically found room for pudding!!!! I had an amazing chocolate ganache tart with cocoa nibs which was creamy and rich and smooth and wonderful. Judi had an amazing mango ‘cheesecake’ I think it was made with nut cream and I really liked that too. I’m often disappointed with raw desserts but not with these!!!

The bill came to £60 for both of us, which is quite reasonable considering what we’d had, although I had remembered it as a ‘cheap’ place but found mains were ~£13 and starters and puddings ~£6 which isn’t as cheap as I remember but for the wonderful food I thought it was completely reasonable.

I would say this place is every bit as good as Saf, just lacking the cocktails and wine list!!! There was a great selection of dishes on the menu many of which I was tempted by, the décor and atmosphere is quite laid back and nice and I will be back soon for another amazing hot chocolate and pudding!!!