Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Camping, Infinity Cafe, Pompoko and a PPK meet up.

My boyfriend and I went camping again we only went for a couple of days this time and we went to a campsite that was only about half an hour away from our house but we just fancied being out in the countryside. Unfortunately it rained almost the whole time we were there so we spent most of the time hanging out in the tent eating.

We took a package of chreesy mash that I'd bought back from my trip to America with us, perfect camping food when served up with hot dogs!


We also made an awesome stir fry with Cauldron marinated tofu pieces, veggies and Sharwoods straight to wok noodles.


This weekend we had an awesome PPK meet up and I got to hang out with awesome bloggers Alien on Toast and The Messy Vegetarian Cook as well as three other lovely PPKers. We had a potluck in the park and there was so much food.

I made the Vegan Brunch quiche again, it's quickly becoming one of my favourites. I also adapted the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World recipe for mint chocolate cupcakes and turned it into a layer cake filled and topped with mint Newman O's, mint icing, quick melty ganache and some mint chocolate skulls. I also couldn't resist making some Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World peanut butter cupcakes so I could use my super cute cupcake toppers from Bake It Pretty.


Everyone brought amazing food and below are The Messy Vegetarian Cook's Arabic mezze foods, holylopez's tempeh bacon and Alien on Toast's seitan sausages and peanut noodles, she also brought some delicious cookies which I didn't get a picture of.


Below are The Messy Vegetarian Cook's home baked pittas, holylopez's chocolate brownies, my Veganomicon Brooklyn Deli Macaroni Salad, interrobang?!'s quinoa salad and VCTOW jelly donut cupcakes and the_purple_peril's fruit.


It was loads of fun meeting all these awesome veggie ladies, hopefully we can do it again soon. I was lucky enough to have one PPKer Interrobang?! to stay for the whole weekend so there was time for more fun and food.

We went for dinner at The George on Saturday evening but it was too dark to take any pictures, we both had yummy George burgers though which I've blogged about before.

Sunday morning I made some tofu scramble which we had on toasted whole wheat English muffins with sausages on the side.


I used the vegan mom tofu scramble recipe from the Vegan Dad blog, I love this recipe because it's really creamy and I made it even eggyer by adding a 1/4 tsp of black salt.

We went to the Infinity Cafe for cake once we'd walked off the brunch strolling along the pier. I went for the coffee and walnut cake and it was totally delicious, really moist with a great coffee flavour.


Interrobang?! had the chocolate gateaux which also looked pretty yummy.

Then for dinner we met up with Nick and went to Pompoko where we all ordered my favourites from the time I went there with my friend Tabitha. The Yubamaki...


...and the Sesame Tofu Don.

All in all it was a great weekend and it's made me even more excited to meet up with old and new friends when I go on my next adventure to Vienna in October.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Aloka, Pompoko and more Vegan Brunch.

Just a heads up, Aloka is now closed and VBites is open in the same location.

This week started badly as I found out that vegan certified shower gel made by Original Source isn't as cruelty free as one would think. Having been vegan for years I foolishly thought I knew everything about which companies suck and which don't. I know that whilst Tom's of Maine look great they're actually owned by Colgate Palmolive and that although some companies may write 'product not tested on animals' on their toiletries all that really means is that they paid someone else to test the ingredients for them. Unfortunately it hadn't clicked that Original Source are owned by PZ Cussons who test on animals. Well that's the end of my lime shower gel love affair! Once I stopped being annoyed at myself I got down to my local and very cruelty free Lush and bought myself some grapefruit scented Happy Hippy shower gel.

If you're interested in making sure you're buying cruelty free products check out this list here Uncaged.

After our shopping trip to Lush Nick and I decided to try out Brighton's new vegi restaurant Aloka which is conveniently located on the same street as Lush! Aloka is a buffet style restaurant where you pay for the food by weight, most of the food is vegan and a lot of it is also raw. If you go between 3 and 4 and get takeaway then it's half price so of course that's what we did. I decided to try a bit of almost everything...


...and we took it to Pavilion Gardens for a picnic. I think the best bit of this was the Lentil Bake, it was so awesome, I don't think I've ever enjoyed lentils so much. The salted potato wedges were for once not spicy and they went really well with the avocado hummus. There was a roasted tomato pasta salad, quinoa salad, green salad and a tomato, avocado and cucumber salad, these were all delicious.

I'm already looking forward to going back to Aloka to try their raw nut cheese and crackers (£3.50) and some of their raw desserts (priced around £3). The only thing I would say about this place is that if it hadn't been half price this would have been a bit of an expensive lunch and their prices go up at dinner and up more if you eat in so try to get there for 3ish!

Yesterday I met up with my lovely friend Tabitha for lunch at local Japanese restaurant Pompoko. This place is always full of Japanese students which is a great sign that the food's good, it's pretty cheap and they have a few vegan options that came highly recommended by my vegan work mates.

I went for the Sesame Tofu Don, a rice bowl with a sesame infused BBQ sauce.


And Tabitha went for the Tofu Chilli Don a rice bowl with tofu in a spicy tangy sauce. She also ordered a side of Yubamaki to share.


I really enjoyed the sesame BBQ tofu dish and this meal was so filling I almost didn't want to eat any dinner that evening. I tried Tabitha's Chilli tofu dish but it was way too spicy for me, she did tell me that it was pretty mild really but as I'm sure I've mentioned before I'm a huge spice wuss. The Yubamaki was amazing, I'd assumed it was a spring roll style dish with tofu and veggies inside but it was actually a tofu package filled with veggies - delicious. I'll definitely be going back here soon.

I'm still working my way through Vegan Brunch, this week the banana flapjacks.

They were so so good, definitely the best pancakes I've ever made. Unlike some recipes I've tried there's no sugar in them, all the sweetness comes from the bananas and a little bit of maple syrup and I didn't need to buy any speciality ingredients. I'm going to be making these again very soon. If you haven't bought Vegan Brunch yet get it now!

With the very last of my Dandies vegan marshmallows I made some rocky road brownies.


These were gooey and cakey and full of Dandies and walnuts, yum. You could use any chocolate brownie recipe to make these, I used this one that someone once posted on the PPK forums.

VEGAN BROWNIES

Ingredients

1 cup organic sugar
1 cup organic flour
1 Tbs ground flax seed
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Mix together all the wet ingredients then dump in all the dry. Mix until ingredients are just combined.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or gas mark 4 for 20-25 mins.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Wai Kika Moo Kau & Vegan Brunch

I've been too broke to do much eating out this week but I did manage to meet up with some friends at my new favourite place Wai Kika Moo Kau for a smoothie and a piece of cake.


They had 4 vegan options to choose from and I picked the Lemon Drizzle cake. I mainly choose this because it's something I've had no success in trying to make at home, for some reason I can only make chocolate cakes rise, I have no idea why.

The cake was nice and moist and the icing had a stronger lemon flavour than the actual cake which is exactly how I remember traditional lemon cake being. Overall it was really good cake and at only £2.35 it was pretty cheap compared to most places in Brighton.

I also got the Very Berry smoothie which was good but nowhere near as good as the mango passion fruit smoothie I tried last week.

I recently got a copy of Isa Moskowitz's new cookbook Vegan Brunch. She's the author of Vegan With a Vengeance and co-author of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World and Veganomicon. Her recipes are always interesting, inspiring and reliable. I always pull out one of these books when I'm trying to impress people with my skills.

So far I've made the Broccoli Quiche.


It was amazing and totally like the egg based quiches I remember eating years ago. In fact I fed lots of this to my veggie boyfriend and he thought it was even better than the quiche's he's usually used to eating. That's a win for veganism right there!

I also finally managed to conquer the omelet recipe. I used to be a pretty big omelet fan as a kid and was really excited to try this recipe but my lack of cooking skills caused my first attempt to get *ahem* thrown at the wall. I can be a bit grumpy when cooking doesn't go so well but this time with the right sized pan, a little patience and a well oiled spatula I managed to get one very small (a bit broke off when I tried to flip it too early) but totally delicious omelet.


It doesn't look much like the picture in Vegan Brunch but it sure tasted good. I filled it with Melting Mozzarella Cheezly and it was amazing. I cannot wait to make more omelets and I'm sure they'll soon turn out looking prettier and once I can afford some bigger pans (flipping room is the key to mastering this recipe) I shall have normal sized omelets.

I also had a packet of Dandies vegan marshmallows leftover from my birthday camping trip and I realised that I'd never had a rice krispie treat, something I had to rectify immediately.


They were really really good and so simple to make, it's basically melted margarine and marshmallows mixed with brown rice cereal. Nick said they tasted just like the rice krispie treats he'd had before turning vegetarian. I gave away half of these to my friend Nick (not to be confused with boyfriend Nick) who's just left to go traveling around Europe, I'm really going to miss him & I figured they'd make good travel snacks.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

VBites & Wai Kika Moo Kau

Today was the opening day of Heather Mills new all vegan restaurant VBites. It's technically in Brighton but it's situated by Hove lagoon which is a 50 minute walk from The North Laines and directly in between Portslade and Aldrington stations. It is perhaps a little far to go if you're having a day out in Brighton but it is the areas first all vegan restaurant.

I was really excited about this place especially as I had a sneak peek at their menu online. It looks like they're offering simple tasty food for really reasonable prices but unfortunately we didn't actually get to try any of it!

We went there, we ordered, we were told it'd take a while and then eventually we were told there would be no more food. I'm going to put this bad experience down to first day teething problems but I'll just say that I wasn't overly impressed with the service...especially after the 1 1/2 hour walk to and from the cafe.

Hopefully one day if I'm at that end of town I'll be able to give them a better review, one with pictures of actual food!

The good thing that came out of this is that we decided that we were damn well going to eat out tonight and on our way to old favourite The George we spotted the awesomely named Wai Kika Moo Kau and remembered we'd never actually been there...so we went!

This place is all vegetarian and has loads of vegan options. They serve a good selection of filling comfort foods like sausage & mash and burgers to more healthy options like salads, soups and pitta pocket sandwiches.

I love a good smoothie so I had to get one of those to quench my thirst after our crazy long walk.


This was the crazily good and amazingly refreshing mango & passion fruit smoothie - yum. I love how light it is out at the moment, this was at about 9pm.

I was starving and for once I didn't go for the burger. In fact I managed to find an even more filling option, the all day breakfast. Sorry about the terrible photo, it'd gotten kinda dark by this point and I was too hungry to take more than 10 photos so this is the best I've got!


Just look at the awesomeness of that breakfast! For £6.75 you get sausages, loads of mushrooms, pesto topped tomatoes, baked beans, toast (with a side of vegan margarine) and chips - brilliant. It was a seriously great all day breakfast, everything was cooked perfectly and whilst it was a pretty simple traditional meal the little differences like the homemade bread and pesto topping on the tomatoes really made this one special.

I was super full after my ridiculous breakfast so I didn't order any but they also had a pretty impressive looking selection of vegan cakes. I'll just have to go back and review them another time.

I think we'd avoided this place because they perhaps used to have less vegan options or maybe they used to be more expensive? I can't remember but whatever they've done I hope they'll stick with it because it's working out really well...so well that I've decided this place might just be my new favourite Brighton restaurant. It has a really relaxed atmosphere and the staff were really friendly, the service was quick and they even warm the plates.