Friday, 30 September 2011

Alllllmost Vegan MoFo time!

It's almost MoFo time! Yay! Vegan Month of Food starts tomorrow and people from all over the world will be cooking, eating & blogging about vegan food as much as they can all month. The challenge is to aim to blog at least 5 days a week but last year I blogged every day & will be aiming to do that again this year.

Last year was my first Vegan MoFo and I really enjoyed participating in such a positive event. Last time I was away in Edinburgh for the first week of the month & in Paris for Paris Vegan Day at the end of the month; I have no trips planned this time around so it should be a little easier because I won't be attempting to write any of my blog posts on my phone!

Last year my most popular posts were during Cookbook Challenge week where I picked the name of a cookbook out of a metaphorical hat & used a random number generator to pick the recipes I'd be cooking that day. I discovered some great recipes this way so I'll be doing the same challenge this month on Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays. This year I even have an actual hat! Here are some of last years highlights...

Learning to make stock from scratch. I'd never attempted this before last years MoFo & now it's something I do regularly.


Sparkled Ginger Cookies from Vegan With A Vengeance. I LOVE these cookies & they make fantastic Christmas gifts.


Apple Crumble from The Joy of Vegan Baking. This has become my go to crumble recipe! I would have passed this recipe by if it hadn't have been for the challenge.


When cookie recipes go wrong you can ask the PPK for help & them turn them into cake.


I really really enjoyed doing the cookbook challenge last year, I have far too many underused cookbooks & this is a really fun way to try some new recipes.

Here's my MoFo plan for this year...

Saturday - Random! Eating out, favourite products...whatever I'm feeling like that day!

Sunday - Football Foods. Cooking up some traditional North American cuisine & watching 'the game'!

Monday - Cookbook Challenge

Tuesday - Cookbook Challenge

Wednesday - Cookbook Challenge

Thursday - Random! Eating out, favourite products...whatever I'm feeling like that day!

Friday - New Foods. Foods I've been wanting to make for a while but that I've been too intimidated to try! Including Paella, Tamales, Bread & Pierogi.

Will you be taking part in the Vegan Month of Food this time around? What do you think of my plan? See you tomorrow!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Eating out in Mallorca.

Before travelling to Mallorca I did some googling & searched Happy Cow to see which places near where we were staying might have vegan options. We were staying near Port de Pollenca & I discovered that there is a vegetarian cafe there called Bellaverde.


Bellaverde is situated on a little side street just off the main promenade & is actually part of a bed & breakfast. It's described as vegan friendly on Happy Cow so we were pretty optimistic. We were also excited to find that they have sections of their menu written not only in Spanish but also French, German & English. The vegan items weren't marked on the menu & it was quite cheese centric but it was quite easy to spot the vegan options. We sat in the beautiful garden...

...and whilst we were deciding what to order they brought us some bread, oil & olives.


The oil was filled with an olive tapenade & was covered in toasted sesame seeds. It was so delicious, I could've just eaten that for lunch & been happy!

We decided to order a couple of things to share & went for the the Hummus & Bread & a selection of tapas.


The Hummus & Bread usually comes with cheese but they gave us double the amount of hummus instead. One hummus was traditional & the other olive. They were both delicious but I think we both preferred the traditional flavour.

There was so much tapas that I was really glad we were sharing. These three dishes are seitan ham, tofu with blueberry compote and pepper, tomato and onion salad.


Then there was a dish of marinated mushrooms with a crushed tomato sauce & one of figs with caramelised onions...

...and tomato & nori salad.

Everything here was excellent & we were pretty stuffed by the end of our meal. I really really loved the tomato nori salad, it's definitely something I'll be throwing together at home because it's so simple but really lifts the flavour of the tomatoes. My favourite things were definitely the figs & caramelised onions closely followed by the tofu with blueberry compote. The figs & caramelised onions were really sweet & I'd love to know how to recreate the dish at home.

We decided to take a walk around the small town after lunch to see if we could find somewhere for dinner one night that would keep the entire family happy. We stumbled upon a restaurant called Los Zarzales that had a Vegetable Paella on the menu. I recalled my best GCSE Spanish & was ready to ask someone about the stock used in this dish when a waiter came over & started to speak to us in English. We continued the conversation in English as his was far better than my Spanish. He assured us that the dish didn't contain any animal products & he even told us that one of the owners of the restaurant was vegetarian. We booked a table then & there & went to eat there the next night.

This perfectly coked paella was filled with delicious vegetables and chunks of seitan. It was fantastic & I was really surprised that we'd found such a great vegan dish in an omnivorous restaurant especially when Spain isn't exactly renowned for being vegan friendly. My guide book pretty much said not to even bother trying to eat out which is just ridiculous!

I'll be back tomorrow with my Vegan MoFo plan & then again on Saturday with the first of my MoFo posts! I can't wait!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Mallorca.

Nick & I recently went to Mallorca for a week with his family. We stayed in a villa near Port de Pollenca & it was one of the most relaxing weeks I've ever had. Normally I plan my travels around delicious vegan food meaning that I spend a lot of time in cities, which I love, but it was great to spend a week lazing by the pool & going to the beach.


The first thing Nick & I did after picking up our hire car was to head to the large Carrefour supermarket right by the airport to stock up on food for the week. We knew that there was a small supermarket nearer to where we were staying but we suspected that it was unlikely to have some of the things we wanted.

Caffefour had loads of fantastic seitan & tofu products. Nick loved both of these seitans & spent the week frying them up to eat on baguettes.



These Filetes de Tofu came in their own sauce & took minutes to cook. We had them for dinner one night with the Savoury Orange Rice from Viva Vegan.


I was incredibly excited when we spotted these Seitan Albóndigas. Albóndigas are a Spanish meatball that I remembered enjoying back in my pre-vegan days.


We snapped up two packets & one night we used them in a simple tomato pasta dish which we served with a side of homemade garlic bread.


Before we left I looked online to see what brand of dairy free margarine I should be looking out for at the supermarket. I saw Artura Corn margarine on a few vegan blogs & we were happy to find it in Carrefour. I ate it at breakfast time almost every day with jam, fruit & freshly baked baguettes that were delivered to the villa every morning.


The best surprise on this trip was the avocado tree that we discovered in the garden of the villa. I used the fruit from the tree to make some delicious salads like this one with salad leaves, tomato, cucumber, apple & avocado with a side of roasted aubergine.


After a couple of days we realised that we'd forgotten to pick up any chocolate on our Carrefour trip so we headed to the local Eroski supermarket where we picked up this great selection.


My favourite chocolate was definitely the Eroski brand almond chocolate whereas Nick much preferred the plain Lindt 52% chocolate. Neither of us really enjoyed the Eroski basic plain chocolate & a scary warning on the back of the Valor almond chocolate put me off eating it. The Valor chocolate was actually a sugar free diabetic chocolate that warned you not to eat too much of it in one go because it would cause diarrhoea! I am not a person who can only eat one or two squares on chocolate at a time so whilst this tasted nice I decided to pass on finishing the whole bar!

We also grabbed a couple of bags of peanut crisps at the store. You can find these kinds of crisps made by different companies all over Europe & I've never seen a non-vegan version. Be warned though that you will probably polish off the whole bag in one go.


We also stocked up on Corona because I'd managed to drink all of the beers we'd bought on the first shopping trip! If you are planning to visit Mallorca I'd recommend a trip to Carrefour to stock up on essentials, whilst the Eroski supermarket (apparently the second largest shop on the island) had great snacks there was no dairy free margarine, tofu or seitan.

On our last night I decided to make Nick & I some tapas, I'd have made it for everyone but nobody seemed to want to try the "scary vegan food"!

I made Garlic Mushrooms, Albondigas in tomato sauce...


...Mojo Oven Roasted Seitan from Viva Vegan & a tomato tofu salad.


We ate all of this with copious amounts of bread which was especially great to soak up all of the garlic oil from the mushrooms.


We also went to a couple of restaurants whilst we were in Mallorca & I'll be back with those reviews very soon!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Terre a Terre & WaiKikaMooKau.

I know I said I'd be blogging about Mallorca next but as I mentioned in my last blog post it was mine & Nick's 7 year anniversary this week & we ate so much delicious food that I couldn't hold off on blogging about it any longer. We often use our anniversary as an excuse to travel to another city but this year we decided to spend the day hanging out in Brighton.

We started the day off with breakfast at WaikikaMooKau. I'd heard they'd added a new vegan dish to the menu so we had to try it out; Pancakes with Cinnamon Baked Apples, Bananas & Golden Syrup.


I'm ridiculously excited that you can fiiiiinally get vegan pancakes in Brighton! I really enjoyed this breakfast, the baked apples were especially delicious, but I wasn't a fan of the random mint that was sprinkled all over it. It seemed like an odd choice. Aside from that though I thought everything else went together really well. Also whilst I am a huge fan of golden syrup I'd be interested to know why they chose that to accompany the dish rather than the traditional maple syrup that comes with the non-vegan pancakes. I'll have to ask them next time!

After breakfast we went for a walk & spent some time on the Pier.


We payed A LOT of Skeeball & shot some hoops! The pier's awesome because you get to play the games which is fun but then you also get tickets to claim prizes which makes it doubly awesome!


After the fun of the pier we went for lunch at one of our favourite places, Terre a Terre. We decided to share a starter so that we could be sure to fit in dessert & we went for the classy option of a bowl of chips with a side of Smokey Mayonnaise.



These aren't just any old chips though, oh no, these are Hand Cut Truffle Chips. They come with a fantastic Caesar dressing but their Smokey Mayonnaise is so delicious that we had to get that as well.

I decided to branch out (from my usual Rosti) to try out one of Terre a Terre's new dishes for my main course, the Mai Fun Salad.


This chilled noodle & raw vegetable salad comes with toasted cured tofu, pomegranate beads & wasabi cashews. I'm a huge fan of raw noodles & I love that they were mixed in with the black rice noodles. The white miso & mirin dressing surrounding the dish was also excellent. I'd definitely order this again, I actually loved not being uncomfortably stuffed after my starter & main for a change meaning that I had plenty of room for dessert.

And boy I was glad I'd left room for dessert! This was seriously the most beautifully presented dish anyone's ever put in front of me.


This dessert, described on the menu as a Jammy Dodger, Jelly and Ice Cream, was so much more beautiful than I was expecting. The almond milk vanilla custard was so delicious, it was more of a perfect light foam than what I think of when I imagine custard. The jelly was bursting at the seams with fresh raspberries & was thicker & smoother than any jelly I'd ever tried before. The Jammy Dodger, a gluten free biscuit, was, of course, homemade, and the strawberry ice cream was much more like a sorbet than an ice cream which I was very pleased about as I'm not really a fan of ice creams that are not either nut or chocolate based. Another delight on the plate was a fantastic basil syrup, it complemented every element of the dish perfectly & was fantastically sweet. I really hope that this is still on the menu next time I visit because I can't stop thinking about it!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Just hanging out in Brighton.

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

Today Nick & I had very boring plans to go shopping so he could buy a pair of jeans & a coat. I don't even like shopping for clothes for myself so I wasn't thrilled with this plan but we actually had a super fun day. After trying on every coat in Brighton we stopped for lunch at Aloka.


I was feeling pretty lightheaded after too small a breakfast & too much shopping so I dived headfirst into all of the carbs on offer at the buffet. I really enjoyed the potato salad, it had potatoes, peas and carrots & came coated in creamy Toffuti mayonnaise which had been seasoned with the usual salt & pepper but also nutmeg, yum. I also chose the beetroot & local apple salad, chickpea & sun dried tomato salad, and some brown rice pasta with roasted aubergines & leeks to accompany my lasagne. The lasagne was also made with brown rice pasta & came filled with pumpkin, lentils, red peppers, mushroom, leeks & onion. I think the chickpea dish & the apple & beetroot salad were my favourite parts of the meal which was a surprise as I'm not usually a fan of beetroot.

After lunch Nick "sneaked" off to a shop to buy "something secret", it's our 7 year anniversary tomorrow so I'm guessing he was picking up a card! I decided to use this time to do something useful so I popped around the corner to Italian ice cream store Boho Gelato to see if the rumours of vegan options were true.

As you can probably guess the rumours were indeed true! When I got there there was nobody in the store, there's a sign indicating that you should ring the bell because they're downstairs making the ice creams. I love that it's all made right there on the premises.

Boho Gelato always have a selection of vegan sorbets alongside their dairy ice creams & today there were four flavours to choose from.


Today's flavours were Pineapple, Pink Lemonade, Chocolate & Blood Orange, and Berry. Anyone who knows me or reads this blog regularly will know which flavour I chose...


...Chocolate & Blood Orange of course! This was a great sorbet, first you taste the rich chocolate and then you're hit with the aftertaste of sweet blood orange. I will definitely be paying Boho Gelato frequent visits especially as I've heard that they do a vegan Mojito sorbet! I was also really pleased that whilst the awesome girl working today was unsure whether the cones were vegan she happily got out the box so that we could check the ingredients. I really appreciate that kind of customer service as questions about vegan options are often met with a shrug & no further attempt to answer. Boho Gelato is located by the Pool Valley coach station & right around the corner from local veggie eateries Aloka & Terre a Terre. They have some seating inside so you should definitely pay them a visit even though summer's disappearing fast.

When we arrived home the day got even better because the post had arrived & there were packages. Nick laughs at me because I consider Ebay to be the best shopping experience ever. You get to buy things without having to get dressed which is really awesome. You often get to win things, I love winning! And then you get post & I really REALLY love getting post. Alongside a couple of Ebayed CD's (Sleater Kinney's The Hot Rock and Elastica's self titles album) there was this...


The Crazy Rumours Cola lip balm I had ordered from Super Smoocher. Obviously I was excited about the lip balm but it came wrapped in pink tissue paper & when I opened it pink glitter hearts fell out! Best. Thing. Ever! So if you're in the UK & you need vegan lip balm please order from Super Smoocher, they're lovely. I'd definitely recommend the Crazy Rumours cola too, they've got the flavour spot on & I've been reapplying it every 20 minutes because it smells so good!

I'll be back soon with a write up of the delicious food I found in Mallorca on a recent holiday & then it'll be Vegan MoFo time! Yay! I'm working on my MoFo plan at the moment & I'm getting really excited about all of the awesome things I'm going to be cooking, photographing & writing about.

Friday, 16 September 2011

London - Camden

I've been visiting Camden a few times a year for about 10 years, I used to go up there to to go to clubs but these days I'm all about the food! Well that & a trip to All Ages Records! Inspiral Lounge is always top of my list for Camden eats, this all vegan joint does a mean lasagne & they make my favourite mint chocolate chip ice cream.


Last time I was in London Nick & I headed there for breakfast. I'm never one to say no to a Full English Breakfast & this one was no disappointment.


It's not often you get an English breakfast in the UK that comes with tofu scramble, in fact this was the first non-homemade tofu scramble I'd ever eaten. The sausages that came with the breakfast were very similar to their meaty counterparts, they had a skin on them just like a meaty sausage but of course they were filled with more delicious things! The mushrooms & hash brown were very enjoyable & the tomatoes were cooked correctly, not too mushy & not almost raw. The only thing I didn't like about this breakfast was the beans, they were too tomatoey for my tastes & there were far far too many of them meaning that I had to leave some & I hate wasting food.

On this visit I discovered that InSpiral make a darn good juice. This is their apple, pear, carrot & orange juice.


I'm not usually a vegetables in juice kinda girl but this was sweet enough that it hid the carroteyness which was a definite bonus.

InSpiral Lounge also make Cookies. Really REALLY good cookies.


I still can't decide whether I prefer the Chocolate Chip or the Double Chocolate Chip so Nick & I usually buy both and split them.

Thanks to InSpiral I also have a new obsession, kale chips.


These Cheesie Purple Corn kale chips are awesomely noochy & crunchy. I never really thought I'd be into munching on dehydrated veggies but these are SO good that I've been getting through two or three tubs a week. Thankfully they sell them in Infinity Foods which means I don't have to travel up to North London for my fix!

I'd heard about new (to me) vegan & gluten free bakery Cookies & Scream on Twitter & their baked goods sounded so great that we had to pay them a visit.

It took us a while to find the stand in Camden market because we were looking in the wrong place but they were well worth the walk.


We both decided to go for a brownie which I can assure you was fantastic. I did take a picture but it was so bad that it really didn't do this delicious treat justice. I don't often eat gluten or refined sugar free baked goods, not because I have a bias against them but because they're not something I often see, perhaps I'm not looking hard enough?! I will definitely be heading to Camden to visit the Cookies & Scream stand again & I would urge any London visiting blog readers to do the same.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Vienna

I recently took a super short trip to Vienna to see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, a band I've wanted to see live for over 10 years. The show was SO amazing & the trip had the added bonus of getting to hang out with my awesome friends Carmen & Melanie & getting to eat some delicious vegan food.

It was ridiculously hot so we decided to meet up at Eissalon am Schwedenplatz, one of Vienna's famous ice cream houses.


They have 3 tubs of vegan ice cream to choose from, each has 2 flavours & they're all delicious. You can choose from almond/pistachio, raspberry/nougat or chocolate/hazelnut. I always go for the almond/pistachio, sometimes with a side of chocolate/hazelnut! Sadly I didn't get a picture of the the ice cream this time. It was so hot, I didn't want it to melt! Here's a pic from last year...


After our starter of ice cream we headed to new ice cream place Eis Greissler for our main course of more ice cream!


Eis Greissler is an organic & vegetarian ice cream store with a good selection of vegan flavours. As you can see by how melty this ice cream is it really was crazy hot in Vienna!

I managed to try something new at Formosa on this trip, I usually stick to my favourite Fish & Chips with a side of Calamari but after trying some of my friend Melanie's Pancake with Ham, Cheese & Fresh Herbs I made everyone head back there the next day so that I could have this dish all to myself.


It was so good! Just thinking about it now is making me wish that I was back there! The fresh herbs are cooked into the pancake & it's filled with sautéed carrots & cabbage alongside the vegan ham.

We also managed to squeeze in a visit to another ice cream place with a tonne of vegan sorbet options. Eissalon Armando is located in the 7th district & is definitely well worth a visit if only for their Mojito sorbet...


...Yep, that's right, Mojto sorbet!! The lime & fresh mint infused sorbet was out of this world & I loved having such an exciting flavour option. I had it alongside a scoop of Rhubarb & one of Lemon both of which I'd also order again. This was the perfect refreshing treat on a hot day. It's worth noting that the Mojito sorbet was in a freezer out the back on the day we visited so if you visit make sure to ask for it even if you don't see it.

I'm sure I'll be back in Vienna one day soon so if you've been let me know if there are any must eats that I've been missing out on!