Tuesday 30 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 30 - Paris Vegan Day

I've just been in Paris for Paris Vegan Day which was amazing but I am glad to be back home in time to write a proper final MoFo Post. There's no way I can write about everything we did (& by that I mean ate!) in one blog post but that just means I'll be back blogging sooner rather than later!

Paris Vegan Day is organised by an non-profit organisation made up from people in the local vegan community including people from The Gentle Gourmet B&B & VG-Zone. As soon as I arrived I was impressed by the size of it, in the basement there were stands with information on animal rights issues, the ground floor had cooking demo's, debates & stalls selling food & on the upper lever were talks, free samples & stalls selling clothes, cosmetics, beauty products & of course, more food.

The first thing we did was head upstairs towards the area where you could buy and sample exciting vegan products. I immediately honed in on the Vegusto stall as I've tried their No-Muh-Chas melty cheese before and it's seriously good. They had a huge selection & I came home with some fondue, 2 tubes of melty cheese, parmesan snack cheese & 2 blocks of cheese, Walnut & Mildly Aromatic.

I also picked up some of their seitan which I can't wait to try.

I ate some of both block cheeses for lunch today & they were really good - the closest thing I've tried to a real hard cheese. I think the Walnut is my favourite.

I was also really excited to see the Roots of Compassion stand, they have a great range of products including Go Max Bars & Vantastic Foods chocolate, I was a bit sad to see that they didn't have any of their t-shirts or hoodies for sale as I really like their stuff but I managed to keep myself happy with this selection of chocolatey snacks.

2 Jokers bars, 1 Buccaneer bar, Carte Blanche biscuits & a bar of Fruit & Nut chocolate.

Next we headed over to the Wheaty stand, I can get their products in the UK but there are a lot that I hadn't tried.

We munched on many sausage samples before I decided to buy the Hot Dogs & the Grill Sausages. We also spotted this seitan kebab & decided we'd HAVE to head back there later for lunch.

Next up was Isa's cooking demo, we headed down there a bit early to get good seats & whilst we were waiting we found a stall selling delicious vegan cupcakes...

...I went for chocolate mint. I love the little V on top of the cake!

Isa had Terry up there with her & they were both super cute & really funny AND Isa managed to make blini's look easy - I'll definitely be making them round Christmas time now. We saw Terry's demo later on in the afternoon but I sadly didn't get any decent photos - she made empinadas which smelt delicious and they're another recipe I'll be making soon. I had no idea that with both of these recipes can actually be made in advance & re-heated when you want to eat them - awesome!

Smelling all this delicious food made us hungry so we headed upstairs for the previously mentioned Wheaty kebab!

Unfortunately by the time we got to the stand they'd run outa salad stuff but that was okay because they still had the best bits - seitan & bread!

I then decided it was time for something sweet & headed over to The Gentle Gourmet table where I picked up this crazy delicious brownie to munch on whilst watching my friend Melisser do her talk about vegan travel & her book The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life.

It was more cakey than fudgey & it pretty much melted in my mouth, delicious.

After watching Melisser's talk & then Terry's cooking demo I decided it was time for more dessert & I'd just spotted The Gentle Gourmet people selling waffles so I headed straight over, unfortunately they'd just sold out but they were perfectly happy to make us another 5 for our group.

These came with whipped cream which everyone else loved but as a cream hater I had mine plain, it was delicious but it would've been even more awesome if they'd had chocolate spread!

We had a fantastic day, everyone we met was super friendly & the food was great. The event seemed really well organised & after tasting their food I can't wait to go & stay at The Gentle Gourmet B&B. I was also so excited that something like this was happening in a city famous for it's love of fur & foie gras - I hope Paris will be famous one day for it's amazing vegan friendliness instead. Next time I'll be writing about our non vegan day eats!

Monday 29 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 29 - Redwood Foods.

I'll be posting all of my delicious Parisienne eats tomorrow (the last day of MoFo!) because there's been a serious lack of WiFi in Paris but for now here's one I prepared earlier...

I love Redwood Foods, they brought us Cheezly, Vegi bacon, delicious sausages & loads of deli slices and now they're coming out with loads of new products.

Their new Southern Style range consists of burgers & chicken style pieces & Nick & I gave them both a go.

We enjoyed the chicken pieces the most, probably because we eat burgers fairly often so these were more of a novelty. We served them with corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, green beans & gravy - southern style....I think!

I spotted this selection of new Christmassy party foods in the North Street Holland & Barrett the other day. First a Cheezly style selection box with a 3 types of cheese, Pepperjack, Smoked & Blue.

This huge box of 'Party Bites' with a selection of pork style, hot dog style & chorizo style sausages.

I also found these three new 'Party Bites' products, Mini Cranberry Falafel's, Breaded Pepperjack Style Cheezly Bites & Kofta Style Bites.

Everything looked really exciting & I picked up a packet of the Breaded Pepperjack Style Cheezly Bites to try. As they're meant to be a party bite I decided to enjoy them party style, served on a fancy plate with some Sheese & pineapple on sticks!

This made an awesome lunch but (& I shoulda guessed this by the name) the party bites are too pepper filled for me & I could only manage one before my mouth was on fire but Nick was on hand & happy to finish the other 6 (odd number for a pack 7!)

I'll definitely buy these again for when we have guests though because the cheese got all nice & melty & they held together pretty well during frying. I would love them to make these with the blue or smoked cheese though, I'd happily munch on a whole box then.

I'm looking forward to trying the mini cranberry falafel's & I'm definitely going to be giving that Cheezly Style selection box a whirl sometime soon.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 28 - The Real China

Another day in Paris, another pre-prepared post...

The Real China is a little Chinese restaurant located in Thames Ditton, Surrey. It doesn't have a website but it certainly does have vegan options!

My husband's family live in Thames Ditton & this has become our go to place for dinner when we're visiting because they do delicious food & the owners are ridiculously nice.

Nick & I always order the same thing, to start we go for the vegetable gyoza dumplings...

...and seaweed without the bonito flakes.

The seaweed is always perfectly crispy & the dumplings are amazing, we always wish there were 6 so we didn't have to share that last one!

Next up we order two tofu dishes & rice to share. Braised Tofu which comes with peppers, onions & carrots.

Then tofu in yellow bean sauce with cashews (this dish is not actually on the menu but if you ask about it & tell them that you know Jojo, Nick & Bob they'll definitely make it for you!)

Both of these dishes are super delicious & I'm always wishing there was a place that did vegan Chinese food this good in Brighton - maybe there is, we'll just have to keep looking!

Saturday 27 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 27 - Infinity Foods

Well, if you're reading this it means I have failed in my attempts to find a WiFi connection in Paris, thankfully I pre wrote you guys some posts before I left!

There's an all vegetarian food co-op in Brighton called Infinity Foods & it's awesome! They have a wholesale business & a cafe as well as the shop and they all stock a vast array of delicious vegan goodies. I've praised their awesomeness before but they've recently started selling some new goodies so I thought it was about time I mentioned them again.

My eyes almost popped out of my head when I first saw Toffuti Cuties in Infinity, I'd heard about them from people on the PPK but I'd never actually seen any in real life.

If you've never had one they're really good! Infinity usually stock vanilla, chocolate & cookies 'n' cream, they also sell them individually as well as in the boxes of 8 which is great if you're in town on your own & don't want your bag to be covered in melted ice cream by the end of the day!

They've also recently added bakewell tart slices to their selection of chilled goodies.

This is a really good bakewell tart too, perfectly almondey with just the right hint of cherry flavour - yum.

I'm always popping into Infinity for bread & veggies & it's been really exciting recently to see these new items pop up. Sadly they have stopped selling Go Max Go bars but us Brit's can get them online here so I can't complain too much.

Friday 26 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 26 - Maoz, Ms Cupcake & Mildred's.

I'm heading up to London today to stay with my friend Holley as we're going to be getting up bright & early tomorrow to catch the train to Paris, it's almost time for Paris Vegan Day - yay! I thought this'd be a good chance to write about a foodie day out I had in London recently.

First we headed to Maoz & I have no idea why I'd never been there before this visit. I'd heard of it, I'd certainly been hungry & in that part of London before & it's all vegetarian! Maoz are a chain of falafel joints with locations in Europe (England, France, Spain & The Netherlands) & the US. Their falafel, pittas & most of the salads & fillings are vegan and they have a handy allergens list on their website. They also do delicious Belgian fries & freshly made lemonades.

When I went I choose the wholewheat pita Maoz sandwich...

...topped with fried Aubergine, salad & tahini sauce. It was damn good, the falafel was perfectly crispy & the fried aubergine was amazing. I'll definitely be going back here because there are loads of other toppings I want to try, in fact there's a Maoz located in the touristy area in Paris so if I'm starving after climbing the Eiffel Tower I may have to re fuel with some tasty falafel.

After our main course we headed to Greenwich Market on the DLR to get ourselves some delicious Ms Cupcake cupcakes for dessert. I've had these before so I was super excited to be getting my paws on more of her delicious cakes.

These are the Lemon & Ferrero Rocher cupcakes. The Ferrero Rocher was SO good, chocolate cake with chocolate hazelnut spread & nutty chocolate icing rolled in chopped hazelnuts. As a big chocolate & nut fan this probably replaced her mint chocolate cupcake as my all time favourite!

After wandering around for a while we were in need of more food & we headed to Mildred's for dinner, I was amazed they managed to find us a table because it was super busy!

I ordered the mixed mushroom, porcini & ale pie served with fries & mushy peas.

I thought the pie was pretty good & I loved the huge chunky chips but it turns out that I don't like mushy peas, at all. I love peas, I love stuff with peas in or pea puree but mushy peas, hell no! I'd definitely go back to Mildred's though because they have a few more vegan dishes I'd like to try.

If I can get WiFi tomorrow you'll be seeing pictures of my Paris eat's but if not don't worry I have some backup posts ready and raring to go! Au revoir!

Thursday 25 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 25 - Pho

As I mentioned yesterday a couple of nights ago Nick & I went out for dinner at a new restaurant in Brighton, Pho. I'd had a look at the menu online & there were definitely things that sounded vegan so we were pretty optimistic.

The restaurant is located in a building which used to be an office block which also happens to be the building where Nick & I first met so it was super fun to be able to go back there over 6 years later for a meal & to laugh at the silly (& probably very obvious) cross-office flirting we used to do.

We both started by ordering some juice to sip whilst we perused the menu, I went for apple, lime & mint.

This was obviously freshly squeezed & I loved the combo of lime & apple with the slightly minty after taste - yum.

We, as vegans, obviously had a few questions for our waitress when she came back to take our orders & she was SO awesome. As soon as I said we were vegan she said that they they don't use any egg or dairy (except for the coffees & desserts) and that we had the option to choose vegetable stock for any of the soups. It was so nice to see someone in a non-veggie chain restaurant who seemed to understand veganism.

To start we decided to share the Summer Rolls.

As a vegan you have the choice of two dipping sauces, peanut or sweet chilli & we went with the peanut. These were really light, fresh & delicious & there wasn't too much basil which was good as I sometimes find that it overwhelms the other flavours.

We couldn't decide what we wanted to order as a main so we just picked two things & shared them. Firstly the Bun Chay, rice noodles topped with stir fried vegetables, fresh herbs, peanuts, a spring roll and our choice of mushrooms & tofu.

As is traditional in Vietnam the noodles in this dish are served cold whilst the rest of the meal is warm, I wasn't sure I'd like this but of course it worked really well. The tofu was delicious & there were a huge amount of mushrooms but I think the star of this choice was the spring roll, we'll definitely be ordering a whole plate of these each next time - yum. This dish usually comes with a side of nuoc cham sauce but as stated on the menu this contains fish sauce so to make it vegan you just need to let them know & they'll bring you a ginger soy sauce instead.

Secondly the Pho Chay, a Pho noodle soup with tofu & mushrooms.

This comes with a side plate of beansprouts & different herbs which you can use to flavour the dish just the way you want it, I'm not going to pretend to know which herb I chose to flavour my dish but it smelled great & tasted even better. The soup was full of little button mushrooms & the tofu was light & airy, it was really great & this is definitely what I'll be ordering next time.

Dessert is usually something vegan's have to skip when dining in a chain restaurant but not here, we were really impressed when they told us that not only were the sorbet's vegan but so were the banana fritters, amazing. It was taking them a long time to bring over our desserts & we were wondering what was going on when our first waitress came over to tell us that the waitress who'd taken our dessert order had got it wrong & that the banana fritters were not actually vegan - the batter contains a mix of dairy & coconut milks. We were fine with that & glad that they were being honest but what we weren't expecting was that the reason it was taking so long was because the chef was busy in the kitchen making this dish vegan - how nice is that? So if you're dining at Pho, try asking if they can make you a vegan version of their banana fritters, it can be done & they were certainly delicious.

The batter was light & airy and our lovely waitress said that they did in fact look better than the usual one's!

I choose the mango sorbet because the menu said that it had over 55% real fruit & I was sure that it would actually be a decent sorbet not some tasteless chunk of freezer burnt ice.

It was really good, it was hard to keep Nicks spoon away from it. I'm really looking forward to trying either their Pear or Strawberry and Fresh Basil sorbet next time.

As a vegan eating out at a chain restaurant I have to say this has been the best experience I've ever had, the staff were amazing, the food was top notch & it was so cool that they went out of their way to veganise a dessert just for us. Thanks guys!

Pho currently has four London locations as well as the one in Brighton & hopefully there'll be more soon because this place deserves to be bigger than Wagamama!

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 24

Today I was planning to write about the amazing meal Nick & I had at Pho last night but I'm tired & it was awesome enough that I want to be able to write a decent review so it'll have to wait until tomorrow!

Today my friend Kip & I headed to Ikea, I needed to buy some shelf inserts (fun!) & Kip wanted to test out some mattresses so off we went. Of course we had to find a way to make it all about the food & we detoured to Wing Yip, a huge Chinese superstore in Croydon.

They had so much awesome vegan food! Sadly most of it was frozen & I'm not one to go re-freezing things once they've defrosted so I only picked up a couple of things, the vegetable spring rolls which I'm about to devour & the Vegetarian Style Chicken Pieces which are in the fridge & can be cooked just fine from chilled rather than frozen. I really wanted a huge bag of gyoza dumplings which were £1.49 but sadly it wasn't to be - this time. I am definitely taking Nick, our car & a cool box there soon!

Also pictured are plum sauce which I know is delicious, noodles which surely will be delicious & Hawthorn sweets which are not very delicious. We bought these because the packaging was cute & because a bit of googling told us that hawthorn is a fruit that grows on bushes rather than some kind of pork! If anyone's a fan of Hawthorn sweets leave me a comment & I'll send ya some!

After spending aaaages wandering around this huge superstore we headed to Ikea only to find more awesome vegan food!

I was looking for the delicious Singoalla biscuits...

...but sadly they were nowhere to be seen. If you stumble across these buy them, I promise you wont be disappointed! It was all okay though because thanks to vegan blogger Phoenix Dreaming I knew to look out for these chocolate, coconut balls of awesomeness, Delicatoboll. These are melt in your mouth amazing & I'm so glad I bought two boxes!

Whilst nosing around the food area I also found organic elk shaped pasta - I don't think I need to explain why that's cool & if I do I don't think you should be reading my blog - and a build your own gingerbread house. Thankfully the house doesn't come with any of the icing or smartie style decals you see on the box so it's totally vegan! I can't wait to build this - I had big plans to make one of my own this year but I know deep down that I don't have the patience to craft a house of of gingerbread, sticking this one together might be enough of a challenge!

I'll be back with more MoFoing fun tomorrow, see you then!

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 23 - Iydea

Iydea is really close to my house so I find myself there quite often either to eat lunch (or to grab some take out if it's too busy to find a seat!) or even just for some juice & a slice of cake. I blogged about them a while ago here but they have a menu that changes pretty frequently so I thought it was about time I recommended them again.

If you haven't heard of Iydea before they're a local, north laine located, vegetarian, canteen style restaurant where you pick the size of plate or take out box you want, your main meal & either two sides with the small size or unlimited sides with the large size - this option's amazing if you're hungry!

This small take out box has falafel with a giant cous cous salad & roasted vegetables.

I had hummus as my topping and it certainly helped cool down the slightly-too-spicy-for-me falafel. The roasted veggies at Iydea are always delicious and usually include potatoes & some kind of squash, I'm a big fan of their giant cous cous salad's too & I always choose that as my side if they have it.

I remember this small take out box fondly because I went for the triple carb lunch - awesome! There's lasagne which is a new dish at Iydea that's so good they now have it on the menu almost every day. I had this with sides of pasta salad & roast potatoes.

This was an amazing lunch! Their lasagne is so good - in fact if I wasn't meeting Nick for dinner in two hours I'd be going out to get some of this right now!

The only bad thing about Iydea (& most other vegi places in this city!) is that they all close at 6pm (or sometime 5.30!) which just seems SO early & it doesn't leave you with that many options if you want to grab dinner after work or in the evening.

Monday 22 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 22 - Wagamama

It's eating out week! I've enjoyed cooking up a storm & trying new recipes for MoFo but I'm happy to be back to my usual restaurant reviewing ways this week especially as the week'll be ending with a trip to Paris Vegan Day. I'm SO excited, come & say hi if you're going to be there!

Wagamama is a chain of pan-asian inspired noodle restaurants & you can find one (or sometimes more!) in most major UK cities. They've just started popping up in mainland Europe, Australia, New Zealand, The Middle East & the USA too, so look out for them where you live. They aren't a vegan company but the staff in all the locations I've visited have been really knowledgeable and they even have a special vegan section on their website so you can check out all the options before you get there.

My favourite thing from the menu is probably the Saien Soba, all you need to do to make the dish vegan is to swap the soba noodles for udon or rice noodles because for some reason their soba noodles contain egg.

The menu describes this as noodles in a vegetable soup topped with fried tofu, beansprouts, courgettes, asparagus, red onions, leeks, mushrooms, mangetout & garlic, yum. This dish is ridiculously filling & I haven't managed to finish a whole bowl of it yet!

My second choice is probably the Yasai Cha Han, to veganise this one you just need to ask for it without the egg.

This is stir fried rice with fried tofu, mangetout, mushrooms, sweetcorn & spring onion, although you can't see the mushroom in this picture because that's Nick's Yasai Cha Han & he hates mushrooms - a lot. This dish comes with sides of miso soup & pickles, we never eat the pickles (ewww!) but the miso soup's delicious & full of tiny cubes of silken tofu.

If I fancy a change the Yasai Yaki Soba's another good vegan option although it needs a couple of changes to make it vegan. You need to change the noodles from wheat to udon (or rice but I don't think that's work so well here) & get them to leave out the egg.

These teppan fried noodles come with beansprouts, peppers, white & spring onions, mushrooms & garlic and are garnished with fried shallots, sesame seeds & coriander vinegar. It's pretty good but compared to the last two dishes I felt like it was missing something - I think I'll see if I can get this with tofu next time.

There are a couple of vegan options I haven't tried yet, there's a Raw Salad & the Yasai Chilli Men which is like my fried noodle dish but with chilli. The only side dish that's usually vegan is the edamame but at the moment they have a seasonal side of Asparagus & Shitake Mushroom Gyoza with a lemon and cracked black pepper sauce that's vegan, it sounds delicious & I'll be e-mailing trying to convince them to add it to their regular selection of sides. Wagamama also do great juices, the Fruit Juice which is a blend of apple, orange & passionfruit is great as is the Apple & Lime juice & they even do free Green Tea with your meal - not bad for a chain restaurant!

Sunday 21 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 21

Today Nick wanted to try his hand at lasagne making & the recipe he picked was the Spinach Lasagne from Yellow Rose Recipes. I was pretty surprised by this as Nick's not a fan of spinach but apparently he likes it in lasagne.

We modified the recipe a little to suit our tastes, firstly it calls for the the Yellow Rose Recipes Marinara but instead we used the pizza sauce from Vegan With a Vengeance. We really loved it on pizza last week & the Yellow Rose Recipes version calls for onion which Nick hates. We also added the Bechamel Sauce from The Urban Vegan to the top of the lasagne before topping it with Super Melting Mozzarella Cheezly & we layered it slightly differently.

It came out so well, I don't think I've ever actually seen Cheezly melt like this before & I use it quite a lot - maybe it's because the lasagne was baked whilst covered in foil?

I loved that the lasagne wasn't too sloppy, whenever I've made them before they've totally collapsed as soon as they were outa the oven dish - this one held it's shape really well.

It was so delicious & I'll definitely be making this again. I've been searching for the perfect lasagne recipe for quite a while & I think I've finally found it!

Saturday 20 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 20.

Nick had another day off work today and instead of being awesome and getting up to make him breakfast I lazed around in bed watching Pretty in Pink & he brought me breakfast in bed.

My usual breakfast, toast covered in Pure margarine, apple & mango juice & an Alpro peach & pear soya yoghurt - yum.

For lunch we'd planned to make the Seitan en Croute from 500 Vegan Recipes but it was getting late & we're going out for dinner so we decided to go for something a bit lighter. Nick choose the Lemon Garlic Pasta from Eat Drink & Be Vegan. In my mind this is more of a summer dish but hey, it's his week to choose so I wasn't going to argue - especially once I realised how easy the recipe is!

I just whisked together the ingredients...

I keep my salt in the little cupcake.

...and toasted the pine nuts whilst the spaghetti was boiling and then threw it all together!

I served this with a huge slab of tofu which I'd marinated in the lemon mixture & some olive oil & then pan fried, we also sprinkled on some nooch as the recipe suggested. This was delicious & I think we'll be making it again (in summer!), we loved the toasted pine nuts & I sprinkled some vegan parmesan on mine which made it even better.

Tonight we're going to my friend & fellow MoFo-er Kip's (from the totally awesome blog Messy Vegetarian Cook) house for a Thai feast, I can't wait! I won't lie it's partly because it means I get a night off from cooking but will still have delicious vegan food to MoFo about tomorrow!

Friday 19 November 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 19

It was a day off work for Nick today so we had a nice long lie in followed by a healthyish brunch. Nick loves tofu scramble & I have one recipe I always make, the Vegan Mom recipe from the Vegan Dad blog. This recipe's the most scrambled egg like recipe of any tofu scramble I've tried, probably because it has cream (vegan, of course!) in it to make it, well, creamy!

I always make this is two separate pans, Nick's straight up as the recipe suggests & then I add spinach & tomatoes to mine. I usually serve this with a side of steamed broccoli, for both of us. This is one of my favourite quick meals & it's perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

We decided today would be the day to break out our brand new deep fat fryer - hells yeah! We used to have a hand me down fryer from my parents but it was HUGE & we kept frying everything, seriously, everything! We decided that we're old enough to deal with the responsibility of this gadget these days so we bought ourselves a mini-deep fryer from John Lewis when we were up in Scotland - it was only £39, how could any sane person resist that?

After breaking it out of the packaging we turned it on to heat the oil whilst I chopped some potatoes into chip sized pieces. I saw an episode of Come Dine With Me the other day where the lady got 1 chip out of each potato because they just had to be the exact same size, what a waste of food! This definitely went nothing like that.

Next you just pop the chips into the basket, we did 1/2 at a time because you weren't meant to fill the basket even half full...

...after 8 minutes when they're almost done you pop them out...

...and put them onto a plate where you pat them dry with kitchen towel.

Apparently this method of twice frying the potatoes makes them crispier & more awesome. You then pop them back into slightly hotter oil for another two minutes, until they come out all golden and perfect like this.

Yum! I covered mine in gravy...

...and ate them in front of Gossip Girl. Perfect! See ya tomorrow MoFoers...