Thursday, 16 February 2012

Vegan in Reading

A couple of weekends ago I went to Reading to visit my oldest bestest friend Jude. Jude's brilliant and I was super sad when she moved away from Brighton last year. In one of her many jobs she works at The Reading International Solidarity Centre which coincidentally serves great vegan Ethiopian food at their Global Cafe. The kitchen at The Global is rented out by Tutu's Ethiopian Table every day except Sunday & Monday & they have a vegetarian section on their menu where everything is 100% vegan. Unfortunately we drank quite a lot of cider & sloe gin before going out to eat which meant that I forgot my camera & my phone. I'm a real winner! You'll just have to trust that it's well worth the trip.

I ordered the special vegetarian platter which comes with injera or rice & any three vegetarian dishes. I went for the Injera with Ater Wot, Difen Misr Wot and Tikel Gomen and Jude ordered Injera with three other veggie dishes so that I could try all of the vegan stuff, this is one of the many reasons she's a great bff! Everything was flavourful and delicious (although a little on the spicy side for me!) and I think the Ater Wot was my favourite.

We visited The Global again over the weekend to play Jenga & drink coffee. I remembered my camera that time!

I like everything about the global, it has a great community atmosphere, lovely people, great food, good booze & fun board games. Perfect.

The next day we went for lunch at Tampopo, a small chain of East Asian restaurants. The set up at Tampopo is very similar to both Wagamama and Pho which I like but Tampopo also label vegan options right there on the menu.

As soon as I saw the menu I decided that I had to have the Vegetable Tempura. I see tempura on a lot of menus but it's never usually vegan so I was pretty excited.

This was delicious, I really loved the shiitake mushrooms & the broccoli and the batter was perfectly light and crisp. It came with a side of plum sauce which went perfectly with the crispy fried vegetables.

To stick with the Japanese theme I went with the Yaki Udon for my main course.

This tasty dish is described on the menu as 'Chunky udon noodles with leek & red pepper, wok fried in soy & rice wine', I was pretty surprised when the dish arrived and also contained mange tout, mushrooms, bean sprouts and shredded nori. For me these were definitely pleasant surprises & it was even better than I'd expected.

Other dishes I spotted that sounded pretty great were the Vietnamese Com Hué, Korean Chap Chae & Indonesian Tahu Goreng.

Tampopo have a pretty great vegan friendly dessert section which is quite surprising for a chain place.


I really don't like ricey creamy desserts or bananas though so I got the mango sorbet!

This was a great sorbet, full of real mango and no horrible ice crystals.

Another great surprise was vegan LUSH soap in the bathroom, I love touches like this, it's so much nicer than the usual nasty hand soap.

Tampopo have locations in Manchester, Leeds, Reading & Bristol and I would love it if they'd come to Brighton. Hopefully I'll be able to eat at Tampopo again soon, I've been wanting to go to Manchester for ages so perhaps I should hurry up & make that trip.

On my way to the station on Monday morning I decided that a burrito was clearly an amazing breakfast option so I stopped off at Mission Burrito. Mission Burrito are a sponsor of Bristol Veg Fest so I thought they'd have some vegan options & I wasn't wrong.

I chose a burrito with rice, black beans (the pinto beans contain meat), the vegetarian filling which consisted of sautéed mixed peppers and red onions, guacamole & salsa verde. The staff were super friendly and helpful when I explained that I was vegan and I really liked that they had all of the salsas on the counter with chips to dip so that you could test them.

I did take a picture of my burrito but burrito's always look terrible in photos so I'll just let you imagine! Mission Burrito have locations in Bristol, Bath, Oxford & Reading and are currently looking into places to open their next location, Brighton please!

One other place I stopped off at in Reading was a little cafe called Picnic, they do a great soya latte & it was super cosy inside. I'd never realised how vegan friendly Reading was & I'll definitely be heading back there soon.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

iHerb

I have a new obsession! iHerb.com! This US mail order site has a huge range of fun vegan products. The most exciting thing about them is that their international shipping costs are ridiculously low & the packages arrive fast. Really fast. I ordered this box of goodies at around 10pm on Friday the 3rd & they arrived bright & early this morning, it's Thursday the 9th! That's 3 working days! I don't know how they do it, I suspect it's magic!

The only thing you need to do for your shipping to be uber cheap is to keep the weight of your box under or around 4lbs. The website lists the weight of each product & your cart adds up the weights and also the shipping cost without you having to fill in ALL of your details first. It's definitely cheaper to order two 4lb boxes than one 8lb box so I can order in small amounts more regularly rather than having to justify the cost of say, Vegan Essentials shipping, once or twice a year. This box of goodies cost me £10 in total which is an amount I can totally work into my bi-monthly food budget.

Eco Planet Cheddar Crackers are probably the one product that you can't buy in the UK that I can't live without. I can just about deal with a life without Oreo's or Tofurky slice but tell me I can't have these cheesy salty little crackers & I kinda want to pack my bags & move across the ocean immediately! Yeah, I know I'm being melodramatic but that's how much I love them!

The first time I ordered from iHerb I bought 4 boxes of Eco Planet Cheddar Crackers & some Edward & Son's Not Chick'n Bouillon Cubes. This time I squeezed in 3 boxes of crackers, a box of Peanut Butter Caramel Brown Rice Marshmallow Treats & a box of Late July Vanilla & Green Tea Sandwich Cookies.

On my list of things I haven't ordered yet but would like to buy are...

-Peanut Butter or/and Dark Chocolate Late July Sandwich Cookies
-Crazy Rumours & Hurraw lip balms
-Chocolove raspberry dark chocolate, cherries & almonds in dark chocolate, almonds & sea salt dark chocolate and orange peel dark chocolate bars
-The Vanilla or Chocolate rice crispy treat bars

There are many more exciting vegan products on there as this search for vegan food shows!

If you're going to order from iHerb (get the crackers!) you can get $5 off of your first order by using the coupon code JOJ321. Whenever people order using my code it seems to give me money off my next order (win!) but also you save $5, awesome! What are you going to order?!