Monday 21 March 2011

Here are a few of my (new) favourite things!

Nick was away for work last week and he came back with these tasty new treats he found in Marks & Spencer.

These Apple & Cinnamon Mini Popcorn Cakes come in packs of six and they're really, really good. They're not overly sweet or covered in too much cinnamon and they make a great after dinner snack. I've mentioned M&S on the blog before as they're often at airports and train & service stations in the UK meaning that they're a great place to grab a vegan snack whilst travelling.

Whilst Nick was away my friend came over to hang out & she brought desserts... friends know the way to my heart right? She brought us a slices of Key Lime Cheesecake and Chocolate Almond Torte. These delicious raw desserts came from Infinity Foods. Their shop is on the same road as their cafe so the desserts are made daily and if the shop's sold out it's easy to pop to the cafe to track some down.

The Key Lime Cheesecake is the only thing described as a cheesecake that I've ever liked. There's something about the taste of something cheese flavoured being in cake that I find really repulsive. Thankfully this raw dessert is made creamy with blended cashews & it's full of lime juice which is always a winner in my book. The Chocolate Almond Torte was so rich that I was almost glad that we were sharing the slice, it had a faint alcoholic taste to it too which was great but confusing as there was no alcohol on the ingredient list. I would definitely buy both of these again, in fact it was whilst hunting for another slice of Raw Key Lime Cheesecake that I discovered this...

...Living Food Kitchen Raw Chocolate Mousse. I can't resist trying out new vegan food & this looked great. It's hard to find vegan chocolate mousse (pudding is not the same people!) and this one looked great. I was impressed with the bubbles as soon as I removed the lid and after one taste I discovered that it was as light & airy as it looked. Perfect! I can't wait to try more of their range of sweet and savoury raw foods and if you want to try them too just head to Infinity or to one of the many other stockists dotted around the South East.

Next time Nick's going to be taking over my blog with a guest post on vegan eating in Norwich.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Brighton Veg Fest 2011

Today was Brighton Veg Fest & it was awesome! They've held this event here before but sadly their previous venue, The Brighton Centre, refused to let any outside caterers make food & insisted on doing it themselves. Sadly this resulted in such horrors as mashed un-seasoned silken tofu salad sandwiches which clearly have no place in the world let alone at a vegan fair!

I was actually working at the fair this time around. I've always been a fan of Ms Cupcake's delicious cakes & having met her in person, I'm a fan of Ms Cupcake herself. So when she asked me to help out on her stall at this year's fair I was super excited.

We got there early to set up the stall & I was extra excited to be able to choose my cupcake from any of the 12 flavours of the day.

Alongside the cupcakes (which include gluten free options) Ms Cupcake also had a selection of bakery style cookies, Cuppa Cupcakes & homemade lemon curd on the stall.

The cookies were perfectly soft in the centre & crispy around the edge & they were available in both Choc Chip & Walnut Choc Chip. I was very excited too see Ms Cupcake's Lemon Curd, as far as I know nobody else in the UK makes a vegan lemon curd & it's great to be able to just pick up a jar rather than stirring your own for hours over a hot stove.

Cuppa Cupcakes are a genius idea, they're a layered cake & frosting concoction which can be eaten with a spoon - perfect for munching on whilst wandering around a busy vegan fair or for snacking on on the train home without smearing frosting all over your face. This picture of the cuppa cupcake doesn't quite do it justice - they're brilliant!

I've said it before & I'll say it again, the lighting in my house is shit!

Of course I got some breaks during the day & I spent my time hunting down the best vegan food! First off I had to head over to the Wheaty stall as soon as I spotted this...

...vegan doner kebab! I'd tried this at Paris Vegan Day but sadly I left it too late there & they were running low on kebab & they were completely out of salad, there was no way that was happening again. I practically ran there!

This thing was much larger than it looks in the picture, in fact, I couldn't finish it in one go. I can confirm that once I'd removed the lettuce this was just as delicious microwaved 7 hours later!

I ended up taking another break when I saw someone walk past the stall holding a slice of pizza & I realised I had to have one too. Thankfully Ms Cupcake understands the need to hunt down food & didn't mind me running off in search of the cheese covered slice.

This was made with a decent amount of Cheezly & a not so decent amount of sausage. In my opinion though pizza is all about the tomato sauce & the cheese so I was very happy with it, especially because it was only £1.50. The base was quite soft in the middle but it had a great crispy crust - yum.

I've been relaxing on the sofa for a couple of hours now & my day is about to be complete because I'm going to eat this delicious cupcake.

I carefully carried this lovely looking Ferrero Rocher cupcake home in my cup-a-cake carrier (these are available on Ms Cupcakes stall at Greenwich Market now or soon at the new shop) & I'm very excited to be getting to eat my favourite cupcake again.

I had a whole lot of fun today & I loved working with the cupcake crew! I'm also really excited for Ms C & the gang as their first real bakery storefront is opening in just under two weeks, I'm already looking forward to visiting.

Thursday 10 March 2011

Paris - The Snacks.

I love a good picnic & Paris is certainly a great place to have one what with their abundance of natural food stores, parks and boulangeries. Sadly the last two times I've visited the temperature's been either below or close to freezing so the only chance for a picnic has been on the train home.

I always carry my trusty knife when I'm travelling & there was no problem getting it through security to get onto the Eurostar. Obviously if you're travelling by plane & not checking a bag a knife is not a good option! I love my Kuhn Rikon knives, they come with a blade cover & they're really sharp making cutting through bread or fruit an easy task. Also, they come in pretty colours!

We spoke to our hosts at the Gentle Gourmet B&B about buying bread in Paris & they confirmed that French baguettes would not contain any animal ingredients or be coated in an egg wash which left us free to choose our loaf from any of the many boulangeries we passed whilst wandering around Paris.

Our hosts also brought our attention to some great vegan margarine. We tried it at breakfast one day & we knew we'd be picking some up to take home. It came in very handy on our train picnic!

This spread is available in normal supermarkets, Carrefour & Monoprix are the two you'll see most often.

We were very impressed with the abundance of Naturalia food stores in Paris, they are not completely vegetarian but they stock many vegan & gluten free products. There seemed to be one around almost every corner in the centre of the city and a quick look at the helpful map on their website will show you where they are. We found the Sojami Garlic & Herb spread & the Wheaty slices for our train picnic there. There were loads of different seitan's, sausages & spreads to choose from & we picked up this Seitan to take home.

We're going to make a 'steak & chips' style meal from it soon. This seitan comes in two individually wrapped portions each with their own sauce...I'm only a bit tempted to keep them both to myself!

Friday 4 March 2011

Paris Part III

I wrote about how much I loved Tien Hiang on my last visit to Paris & I was super excited to take Nick there on this trip.

We decided to order a whole load of food to share as we couldn't decide what we wanted to try. To start we went for the grilled dumplings, I'd tried the steamed ones last time but this time we wanted to try the chicken & vegetable filling.

We also chose the Salt & Pepper Chicken...

Mmmm deep fried chickeney awesomeness! These both came with a hoi sin dipping sauce, my favourite!

Next up we ordered Nems, now we had no idea what these were going to be but we were intrigued so we had to get them!

We certainly weren't disappointed with our choice, Nems turned out to be deep fried spring rolls - awesome!

I also insisted we order the Radish Cake, a few years ago I went to New York & met up with some PPKers at a restaurant in China Town. I let everyone else do the ordering as they'd been before & they insisted that I try the Turnip Cake. It looked creepy & I wasn't sure that putting it in my mouth was going to be a good idea but now, two years later, I still think about that turnip cake so it must've been good!

This version apparently came with grated carrot but I couldn't detect any. Man, just looking at this makes me want to learn how to make it!

I knew I had to have the Cashew Chicken Bamboo again, Nick loves chicken style mock meat & cashews too so it was a good choice.

This came with big chunks of tofu alongside the chicken & we chose to have plain boiled rice to go with it.

Next up we went for one of the 'Marmites' which I think translates (probably very roughly) as cooking pot.

We chose the Satay Beef Marmite & were slightly worried when it arrived as it looked like it had a lot of chilli in it. Neither of us are great with spice but this was perfect, slightly spicy but not burney & there were loads thick noodles, chunks of beef and, as with the Cashew Chicken Bamboo, tofu. Yum.

I really love Tien Hiang, I often wish that I could hop on the Eurostar & just go there for dinner...but that would be ridiculous & incredibly expensive so I won't!

One thing Paris definitely does well is Falafel, we stopped off at Maoz after a morning spent wandering around the Musee d'Orsay.

It was a little hard to find because our map didn't really have a clear representation of the area we were looking in but the streets surrounding it are interesting and fun to wander around so we didn't mind getting a little lost!

I went for the small falafel sandwich in preparation for gorging myself on ice cream at Berthillon the famous Parisienne ice cream store on the Ile St Louis but sadly they were closed for refurbishment so I'll have to try to go there again next time.

We also shared some delicious frites.

These usually come with mayo & ketchup so you need to make sure that the person making them understands that you want neither or just ketchup.

The next day after a day of sightseeing by boat we headed to L'as du Falafel, again this is somewhere I visited on my last trip but I wasn't going to deny my falafel loving husband the chance to try this monster sandwich.

It was just as good if not better than I remembered, their falafel balls are deep fried to perfection & it makes me happy that the salad isn't just lettuce cucumber & tomato but also crunchy cabbage & aubergine - yum.

Hopefully I'll end up in Paris again some time in the not too distant future because I don't know how long I'll be able to last without my Tien Hiang fix!