Sunday 21 June 2009

Pet Fest.

Yesterday I put on a punk show to raise money for two great charities The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Raystede Animal Sanctuary, these are both awesome causes. The crew of Sea Shepherd have been on the front line fighting against animal cruelty since 1977, I wish I had the guts to volunteer to go on one of their ships...maybe one day. Raystede animal sanctuary never put a healthy animal down and provide a service fostering animals belonging to people fleeing domestic violence.

Beanies Health Foods donated some burgers for our all vegan barbecue and they kindly let us buy the rest at the wholesale price - thanks Beanies.

All the bands played for free which was amazing and we donated our 9% of the bar takings to the charities. In total we made a profit of £330 to be split equally between the two charities, yay!

Thursday 18 June 2009

London - Part 1

As I mentioned at the end of my last post my boyfriend and I were about to go to London to see Black President and The Bouncing Souls. The show was amazing, Black President have so much energy and it was awesome when The Bouncing Souls played an acoustic encore once the venue had unplugged the PA system!

We stayed at The Hoxton hotel as we often do when visiting London because they sometimes do cheap rooms if you book way in advance. They also have vegan Aveda toiletries in the bathrooms and Vegan Pasta on the room service and bar menus, see...'s pretty expensive but I like knowing it's there.

The boy and I have to compromise restaurant wise when we go away, I'd have loved to visit Saf but he loves his pizza and I can't drag him to all vegan places for every meal so this time we went to the vegan friendly Pizza Express.

I started as always with their dough balls.

These usually come with garlic butter but if you're vegan you can get olive oil & balsamic vinegar instead. All their pizza bases and sauce are vegan so you can get any combination of vegetables you fancy. I always go for double mushroom, artichoke and capers...this one came with a random black olive too!

I do really like Pizza Express, there's one in most towns and it's good to have that vegan option available.

My choice of eatery for this trip was tibits, an all veggie buffet style restaurant where the food is paid for by weight. I really liked this restaurant, the staff were super friendly, the atmosphere was really relaxed and all the vegan options are clearly labeled. I'd say that over 60% of the food was vegan leaving me with plenty of choices.

As you can see from the next picture I decided that for the purposes of this review I should try almost everything. On the plate, below the free bread roll, we have (clockwise from the top) lentil salad with vegetable cubes and chives, white quinoa with curry and cranberries, tomato & tofu salad, orecchiette pasta salad with olives and sun dried tomatoes, Asian noodle salad, mushroom antipasti, aubergine antipasti, falafel and then right there in the centre is the courgette linguine.

I think my favourite bit was probably the falafel which surprised me as I don't usually like falafel, they were really lightly spiced and had a delicious crispy coating. I love pasta so it's no surprise that the courgette linguine and orecchiette pasta salad were up there with the mushroom antipasti as some of the best bits. I wasn't so into the noodle salad and whilst I think this would make a great hot dish I didn't think it worked so well cold. The tomato & tofu salad was really simple and the flavours worked perfectly together whilst the quinoa salad was pretty full of complex flavours, none of which overpowered each other, making this dish work equally well.

Nick also tried one of the vegan options, the country style potato wedges. I'm glad I didn't get these because although they were apparently really good he said they were spicier than the one's at the monkey sanctuary that I couldn't handle! There were also a number of hot options at the buffet, about a quarter of these were vegan, but they were all too spicy for me to try.

I spent about £10 on lunch but as you can see I did really go for it & pasta isn't exactly light, in comparison Nick only spent £6 and had plenty of food to keep him happy until dinner time. This place is definitely great value for money and they do take away which is cheaper. The service is super fast once you've put your food on your plate and you can go to their tap water station for refills whenever you want. I'll definitely be visiting tibits again.

Tuesday 16 June 2009


It was my birthday last week so I hit the road with my boyfriend and two of our friends to celebrate in a tent at the Ruthern Valley campsite near Bodmin in Cornwall. The campsite is incredibly eco friendly and full of wildlife, I saw loads of squirrels, cute tiny birds and even frogs. Before we left I'd decided that I had to have birthday pancakes so I packed the ingredients to just mix together on the day.

This was super easy and I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before. (In fact I didn't think of it this time I read about someone else doing it on the PPK!)

We ate them pancake day style with sugar and lemon - yum.

The birthday fun continued after breakfast with a trip to The Monkey Sanctuary . I knew I'd love this place and I was right! The all veggie cafe and the work they put into ending the primate pet trade accompanied with their anti vivisection stance makes them damned awesome, and that's before you even account for the amazing work they put into recreating natural habitats for the rescued monkeys to live in. I didn't take any monkey pictures as I didn't want to be invasive but I did manage to take pictures of the food served at the awesome Treetop cafe.

On The Monkey Sanctuary website they say that they have a vegetarian cafe but until I arrived I had no idea how vegan friendly they'd be, I was so excited when I saw the menu.

All the V's mean vegan and the ones with a star meant that the dish could be made vegan upon request. As I mentioned in a previous post if there's a burger that's what I'll always go for so here it is.

The burger was obviously homemade, it was packed full of nuts and seeds and came on a delicious wholemeal bun with fried onions and vegan mayo. As you can see it also came with two side salads covered in a yummy dressing, oven baked wedges and more of the vegan mayo. The only complaint I had with this was that I thought the wedges were too spicy but that's just because my pathetic palate can't handle spices, my dining companions said that they weren't actually the least bit spicy.

The cafe also sold the whole range of Whole Earth drinks alongside the local apple juices.

I was super surprised and excited to find out that all but one of their desserts were vegan and that they had gluten free bread and cakes available. I went for the chocolate cake and the boy went for the chocolate chip cookie so that we could try both. The chocolate cake was rich and moist with a fudgey icing, it was pretty perfect. I wasn't so impressed with the cookie, I found it to be a little dry and flavourless. In contrast to that cookie the vegan chocolate chip biscuits they sold in the gift shop were great.

The birthday fun continued after the sanctuary with a trip into Looe to hang out by the beach.

I even managed to get myself a vegan candyfloss. They're usually pink and made with E120 dye (which is made from crushed beetles - ewww) but this one was apple flavoured and made with green dyed sugar.

Look how happy I am, I get overexcited about birthdays and candyfloss so both together was a little too brilliant, especially after all the monkey and pancake fun earlier in the day. What a great day!

The next day we worked up an appetite on a walk in the countryside alongside a really beautiful river.

Afterwards we stopped off in a little town called Wadebridge to find some food, I was starving and a little worried as the day before my birthday we'd had a bit of a disastrous trip to a similar town where all I could eat was a bag of ready salted crisps whilst my friends munched on cheese sandwiches in a cafe where even the chips were cooked in the fryer with the meat, yuch.

As it turns out Wadebridge is pretty good for the vegan traveller. We stumbled upon an Elixir Health Foods store as soon as we got out of the car. They had a decent selection of Sheese, Panda liquorice, Redwood veggie bacon, Fry's products and vegan chocolate so I grabbed myself a raspberry panda liquorice to tide myself over. Everyone fancied getting food from somewhere we could sit down so we found Flo's cafe where they not only had Heinz baked beans but also yummy lemonade and they were happy do do me a jacket potato without the butter.

Granted it's not the most exciting meal but yummy none the less. Whilst we were there we also spotted a Co-op supermarket (the only supermarket whose toiletries are BUAV approved) so if you happen to be in Cornwall and need to find something to eat I'd recommend Wadebridge.

That evening back at the campsite I made some Sammy's italian pesto flavoured cous cous and roasted veggies.

Roasting veggies whilst camping is super easy and delicious, just pop the veggies in tin foil with a bit of olive oil and then stick it on the barbecue for about 15 minutes.

Amongst my super cool birthday gifts were some Dandies vegan marshmallows so for dessert we toasted these on our camping gas stove.

Dandies marshmallows are seriously great, my veggie friends were of course excited too as marshmallows are traditionally made with gelatin. I'm looking forward to cooking with these and I'm planning to make some marshmallow krispie squares. I'll be ordering more of these as soon as I can afford the postage to the UK.

I love camping, the boy & I are going again in July so hopefully I can think of some exciting new things you can make on 2 little gas burners and a disposable barbecue!

I also cannot wait to get back to The Monkey Sanctuary to try some more of their vegan options. If you're ever in the south west of England I highly recommend it as a great place for a day out. I'm hoping I can get enough time off work next year to fit in a few weeks voluntary work there.

I'm off to London tomorrow to see The Bouncing Souls and Black President and I'm intending on doing some eating so I'll be blogging about that when I get back.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

New York - Brooklyn & Rutherford, New Jersey.

I can't believe I stayed in Brooklyn for five nights and only managed to actually eat there three times...and out of these three times I only took pictures once - I'm a lame blogger!

Whilst in Brooklyn my PPK friends and I went to s'Nice where I had an awesome pasta salad and the vegan panini, I really liked this s'Nice location as they had an outdoor space perfectly located for a spot of people watching.

I also visited Pizza Plus with my friend and yet another PPKer Michelle but I was SO hungry I forgot to take a picture of the huge & yummy pizza we ordered. We got the soy cheese pizza with vegan sausage, mushrooms and peppers and it was great, it came with Follow Your Heart Mozzarella which melted really well but didn't stay too runny as the pizza cooled. My only issue with this place was that it sold veal - something I didn't realise before going there - I find the decision on whether to support businesses offering vegan food & also veal or foie gras a difficult one (somehow it is just worse than other meat / dairy) and usually opt out of visiting such a place. Next time I'm in New York I'll be on the look out for a different vegan friendly pizza place!

I really enjoyed visiting the all-vegan restaurant V-Spot for brunch, I love supporting vegan businesses especially when they're as good as this one. We both ordered the Steak which was a seitan steak which came with fried onions, a veggie filled tofu scramble & crispy fries.

The seitan steak was unbelievably meaty, if this hadn't been an all vegan restaurant I'd have been really worried I'd been served the carnivorous option! I wasn't so into the tofu scramble as I prefer them a little creamier but the fries were really really good. I'll definitely be going back here, it's great to have so many options on the one menu!

The Brooklyn section of this post is way shorter than it should have been. There were so many great places I didn't get the time to go to & I can't wait to get back there to check out Penny Licks, Boneshakers & Foodswings.

Whilst staying in Brooklyn I took a day trip to Rutherford, New Jersey to meet up with loads of PPKers for brunch at the Rutherford Pancake House. This place has only just started doing a separate vegan menu and from what I could see it's doing a great job. They had loads of options and I just had to go for the blueberry pancakes.

There were four massive pancakes which were heavy on the blueberries and they came with Earth Balance although you had to pay an extra $2 for real maple syrup, something I think should come included in the price of any pancake dish. Everyone who worked there was really friendly too and were able to handle our massive group of brunchers.

After brunch we strolled down to Sweet Avenue Bake Shop to get ourselves some cupcakes for dessert. Here's a picture of ''The PPKers'' that the guys at Sweet Avenue posted on their blog, look at our happy post-cupcake smiles!

I loved this place, it was SO cute and the fact that it was an all vegan establishment made me even more excited.

Everyone working there were awesome, they even gave me free cookies for coming all the way from England...probably also because I bought so many cupcakes! I found it pretty hard to decide what to go for so I went for Dark Side of the Moon, Jet Black, Lemon Raspberry, Strawberry Fields & the Little Cutie.

How awesome looking are they? As you can see I found it pretty hard to decide what to have first...

...look how confused I look! I think I went for the Dark Side of the Moon which was super yummy, there was a really sweet icing on top of a moist cupcake - yum! Whilst I was there I also picked up a gorgeous box of chocolates made by Rose City Chocolatiers , I wish I could get these in England, they were so good I ate the whole box in one go.

If you get the chance when visiting New York City take a trip to Rutherford, it was really quick to get there from the city - quicker than getting to some parts of Brooklyn and it was definitely worth the journey.

Well that's it from my trip across the pond hopefully I might get to blog a bit more about Brighton soon although that will probably have to wait until after my birthday camping trip to Cornwall next week. Expect some dandies vegan marshmallow pics as I think I spotted a Vegan Essentials package hidden ( well, not very well hidden... ) in my boyfriends study!