Friday 25 February 2011

The Gentle Gourmet Bed and Breakfast

* Sadly The Gentle Gourmet B&B is now closed. The people behind this fabulous B&B are now running a The Gentle Gourmet Cafe which I've heard wonderful things about and hope to visit soon*

Last weekend was mine & Nick's first wedding anniversary & we decided to mark the occasion (I'll find any excuse for a holiday!) by spending the weekend in Paris.

After trying some of their delicious food at Paris Vegan Day I decided that I really wanted to spend the weekend at The Gentle Gourmet B&B.

For those of you who haven't heard about this place yet here's the lowdown! The Gentle Gourmet B&B is a vegan owned & operated business located in central Paris. It's only a short walk from the Champs Elysees, Arc du Triomphe & Eiffel Tower.

We took a lovely walk down the Champs Elysees to the Arc du Triomphe & back to the B&B after dinner one night.

The owners Deborah, Caroline, Alex & Paul (who are also the people behind Paris Vegan Day) have two apartments in the building, one with a double room & it's own bathroom situated in the apartment where breakfast is served and one with two double bedrooms & a shared bathroom which can either be rented separately or as one private apartment for 2 - 5 travellers. The Gentle Gourmet also offers Bistrot & Gourmet dinners, cooking classes, picnic baskets & tours of local kitchen gardens.

We chose to stay in the double room with it's own bathroom & we thought our room was lovely, light, bright & airy. We also loved the incredibly warm welcome we received from our hosts Deborah & Paul, it felt more like we were arriving at an old friends place rather than at a faceless hotel.

As far as I'm concerned breakfast is the most important meal of the day (Neither Nick or I are fun people to be around if we haven't eaten in the morning) & I often find that a good breakfast is one of the hardest things to find as a travelling vegan.

On our first morning we opted to have breakfast quite late and we were excited to see the table was all laid out with breads, spreads, yoghurts, granola & juice. The french bread was delicious so we were even more excited when the lovely B&B owner & head chef Deborah brought us out a huge plate of French toast with baked apples to share. In fact I was so excited that I didn't manage to take any pictures of it, it looked great though & it tasted pretty spectacular too. I liked that it wasn't overly sweet, most of the sweetness came from the apples & the maple syrup I drenched mine in.

On our second morning Deborah and Paul whipped us up a batch of pancakes...

...and some little traditional French chocolate chip breads alongside some fruit salad & yoghurts.

This was another fantastic breakfast, what a great way to start the day!

I will be recommending the Gentle Gourmet B&B to all of my vegan friends (in fact, one friend has already booked themselves into the B&B for their next holiday!) and I would definitely love to stay there again next time I'm in Paris.

Friday 18 February 2011

Aloka, again!

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

I'm going to write about Aloka again because every time I go there the food seems to get even better. It's so good that I've been three times in the last month and it's my new top suggestion for people when they ask me where to get a bite to eat in Brighton. Aloka used to be a vegetarian cafe with vegan options making up about 65% of the food but now it seems that everything is vegan apart from the option to have cows milk in your coffee or tea.

Aloka has a pay by weight buffet which I think must be cheaper than it used to be as my last two plates of food have only been around £4 at lunch time. It's more expensive in the evening but even cheaper if you get takeaway. The food changes every day & is as organic, seasonal and locally sourced as possible. Last time I visited they had a sweet potato curry, brown rice, a decent selection of raw foods and this delicious selection.

I went for the roasted vegetable & vegan mozzarella stack, mixed kale salad, cashew cheese lasagne and a white bean & rocket salad with cauliflower & pesto. The lasagne was my favourite part of the meal, it was full of lentils & mushrooms and their homemade cashew cheese was delicious as always.

On a previous visit I also went for the buffet option & filled my plate with a roast vegetable stuffed baked squash, tabouleh, white bean salad, a piece of creamy mushroom filo pastry bake & some green salad.

The creamy mushroom bake was SO damn good, I keep hoping it will be there again! I really enjoyed the baked squash too and I like that their green salad always has some interesting leaves.

Aloka always have a soup of the day, which, as far as I've seen, is always vegan. I'm not usually into soup but last time I met up with a friend there I had a cold & was craving something warm and comforting, this huge bowl of creamy lentil soup really hit that spot.

At only £3 (or £3.50 with bread) this bowl of soup's definitely good value for money, it was huge and really delicious.

Aloka has a raw restaurant upstairs & there are a few raw treats on their cafe menu. I finally got around to trying the Raw Cashew Cheese & Flaxseed Crackers the other day...

...these dehydrated crackers are made from a combination of flaxseed & parsnip and they were pretty good, I was surprised at how crunchy they were and also that the cashew cheese was strongly flavoured enough for a little to go a long way - yum.

If I had to pick a favourite thing about Aloka I would have to pick the desserts, after a bit of trial and error last summer they've really perfected their raw ice creams and they even make my favourite flavour (joint favourite with Pistachio really!) Mint Chocolate Chip.

This is a beautifully smooth minty ice cream filled with chunks of cacao, I could go there & eat this every day!

Aloka always have a well stocked dessert cabinet & on valentines day they had some extra special treats.

Our dessert decision was a closely run thing between the Superfood Chocolate Mousse Cake & the Valentines Special Chocolate Lovers Torte (I feel I need to point out that we were only choosing because they cost £5.50 not because we wouldn't have happily eaten one each!) but the huge chocolate lovers that we are went for the Special Torte.

This was one seriously awesome dessert, it was, as described, really chocolatey & it was definitely worth it's £5.50 price tag when you consider the cost of the ingredients that would have gone into making it.

If you're in Brighton you should definitely head to Aloka for lunch, dinner or a dessert & a smoothie, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Paris Part II

Sadly we were only in Paris for a short amount of time meaning that we only got to try out a few of Paris' many eateries but I think we chose pretty well!

First off, Tien Hiang. We arrived at around 8.30pm on the night before Paris Vegan Day & we were so happy that they were able to find us a table considering how busy they were. We just had to wait an hour but there's a bar on the corner so we were fine with that!

I started off with salt & pepper tofu and prawn dumplings.

These were both SO good, I was surprised to get such a lot of tofu in a starter but I certainly wasn't complaining. The dumplings were perfectly steamed & contained a delicious mixture of minced 'prawn' carrot & mushroom.

For my main I went for the Cashew Chicken Bamboo.

I ate this delicious mixture of mock chicken, peppers, baby corn, carrots, courgette & cashews with a side of fried rice. I'd never had such delicious mock meat before & I'm a huge fake meat fan so that's saying something!

Excitingly I'm heading back to Paris with Nick for our first wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks so I'll be making sure to go back to Tien Hiang for dinner, and this time I'll remember to book a table!

After a long day cruising around the sites of Paris on a sightseeing boat my friend Holley & I headed to L'as du Fallafel to stuff ourselves with, well, falafel!

We'd heard about this place from a fellow PPKer who said it was the best falafel in Paris, thankfully she'd also told us which things were vegan as our French is pretty bad! We'd been advised to order the ''falafel special'' a large pitta filled with falafel, aubergine & salad and topped with tahini sauce so that is exactly what we did!

We certainly weren't disappointed with the size of the 'falafel special'', this thing was almost the size of my head! It was messy to eat but it really was the best falafel I've ever had, coming a close second is the falafel from Maoz in London & there is a Maoz in Paris too in case you are there needing falafel on a Saturday when this place is closed.

We also ordered a side of fries each to go with our pitta's which seemed to amuse the guys working there, they told us that the falafel special is VERY large & that there is no way we could possibly eat fries too, maybe we should share some fries? Uh, no sir, if there's something my friend & I are good at it is eating huge quantities of food & we were very pleased (smug even!) to give back our totally clean plates at the end of the meal!

L'as du Fallafel is another place I can't wait to go back to in a couple of weeks especially because Nick is in kinda love with falafel & I know he'll think this huge falafel sandwich is awesome!

We're going to be staying at The Gentle Gourmet B&B whilst we're in Paris, I was so impressed with the brownies & waffles I tried at Paris Vegan day that I am incredibly overexcited about getting to eat breakfast there during our stay. I will of course be taking pictures & blogging about it when I get back!