Friday 14 December 2012

Duke's at Komedia

The newly opened Duke's at Komedia cinema, bar, and cafe on Gardner Street has quickly jumped into the top three on my list of Best Places in Brighton. Not only does this brand spanking new cinema have two screens showing documentaries, indie films and their pick of the best of the blockbusters but they also have two bars, one spilling out onto the street which will be extra amazing in summer, one cosy lounge style bar upstairs, and, the icing on the cake, kick ass vegan food. Yep, that's right, Brighton is catching up with Austin, Texas in the awesome stakes with this double hitter - movies and hot dogs in the same place! Hell yeah!

Upon hearing that Duke's at Komedia were going to be slinging tofu dogs I dropped them an e-mail to get the lowdown on shared equipment, veganness of their dressings and possible future vegan options. I met with their lovely head chef who assured me that the dogs themselves are cooked separately to meat, they have a totally vegan fryer and the toppers, sauces and sides are now labelled as vegan on the menu just to make things that little bit easier.

I dove straight into the food with a Back To The Old School dog, no veganising necessary, just ask for the tofu dog option.

This bloody enormous tofu dog comes in a mini baguette with tonnes of fried onions, American mustard and Heinz ketchup. Delicious. That's not all though, for your £9 there are also sides of fries, nacho chips and barbecue sauce.

The dog itself was absolutely spot on, I love that it's served in a proper sized roll making this a real meal and the toppings were ample. The homemade Smokey Barbecue Sauce is sweet & infused with delicious figs, apricots and apples. The fries were crisp, cooked perfectly & I thought the portion size was spot on.

As you can see the vegan options are clearly labelled with a (v) and there are a tonne of them. The jalapeños labelled (v) in this picture are actually a chilli lime jalapeño pesto which shows just how hard these guys are working to come up with inventive & exciting options.

The other really cool thing about these is the way that they're served, the tins mean that they can now be taken into the screens! If you're not into eating something as substantial as a hot dog in the theatre itself both the sweet and salty popcorn's are vegan and there are cakes, really good cakes! When we visited we tried a slice of this delicious Lemon Polenta cake...

...which was perfectly moist and had a beautiful juniper and lemon glaze on top. Quite lovely. The other vegan desserts you can expect to see popping up here are a Spiced Carrot Cake with Orange Cardamom Frosting, Chocolate Fudge Cake with Chocolate Orange Frosting and, wait for it, Churros with Dark Chocolate Dip. Seriously, this chef knows her shit and is serious about feeding vegans decent food.

Another awesome thing about Duke's at Komedia is that they've worked with Boho Gelato to offer five ice creams and sorbets that you can't get anywhere else. These flavours will rotate seasonally and the current vegan options are Mud In Your Eye Figgy Pudding Pie which is a delicious fig infused chocolate sorbet and Mulled Cider Apple Pie Sorbet which I cannot wait to try next time I visit. Just in case the bar staff aren't 100% sure which one's are vegan when the flavours change they're helpfully labelled vegan right on the bottom of the tub.

The bars also serve vegan drinks including two of my favourites, Brooklyn Lager and Rekorderling, they make a great decaf soya latte (sorry real coffee drinkers - I have no clue!), the hot chocolate is vegan and after chatting with them they're also looking into labelling the wine list.

I foresee myself hanging out here a lot (by tomorrow I'll be on my third movie this week), it's essentially what I've been dreaming of for years, a cafe with vegan options that's open 'till late - currently 9pm for hot food and 11pm for cakes and drinks. If the kitchen gets busy enough they'll stay open serving hot food until closing so get down there are make these guys as busy as you can, I want the tofu dogs to out-sell their meaty counterparts and I want this place to be busy and crammed full of vegans stuffing their faces with tofu dogs!

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Vegan Eats World

I have a new love in my life and it's hard backed! Terry Hope Romero's latest cookbook Vegan Eats World is pretty much the only thing I've been cooking from recently and every single thing I've made has been an unmitigated success. In case you haven't laid eyes on this cookbook yet let me tell you a little about it. Firstly, it's beautiful, I love both the layout and the style of this cookbook. Secondly, it's stuffed full of exciting recipes from all around the globe. I've found the Kitchen Cartography section immensely useful, a lot of the cuisines in the book are not ones I've tackled before meaning that I needed to restock my pantry and learn some new techniques. 

The first recipes I tried were the Barbecued Seitan Strips (Char Siu Seitan) and the Sesame Wow Greens which I served alongside lightly sautéed broccoli (using the method from the Udon Noodle recipe in Appetite For Reduction) and white rice. 

I started prepping this a day in advance by making the 5-Spice Seitan which, like the seitan recipes in Terry's Viva Vegan, was incredibly easy to make. I'd go as far as to call Terry's seitan recipes no fail, I've honestly never had an issue with them and I find that some seitan recipes can be a little hit or miss. This whole meal was incredibly good, the seitan was deliciously sticky and infused with great flavours like hoisin and 5 spice powder. Whilst the Japanese flavours of the Sesame Wow Greens wouldn't traditionally be served with a Chinese-style seitan I thought that they worked really well together.

The second recipe I was drawn to was the Garlic Chive Seitan Potstickers. I had some 5-Spice Seitan leftover from the day I made the Char Siu Seitan and I'd picked up a package of vegan dumpling wrappers last time I was in Chinatown. For some reason the only ones I can find in Brighton contain egg so I always grab a package or two to stash in the freezer whenever I'm in London.

These were surprisingly easy to put together, we set up two workstations to make the prep go faster, and even easier to cook. The sesame soy dipping sauce was definitely worth making as it complimented the meaty dumplings perfectly.

We had some cabbage leftover from making the dumplings so the next day we made a version of the Takeout Stir-fry Noodles with Mushrooms & Greens. We threw some carrots and edamame in there and totally left out the mushrooms and lemme tell you somethin', this was still amazing! I think it's a great sign of a solid recipe when you can totally mess with it & it still turns out amazing.

I've made this next recipe three times already, in fact I have some in the oven right now! The Savory Baked Tofu was a recipe I knew I'd be trying as soon as I saw it. I love tofu and I love trying new baked tofu recipes, if a cookbook has one you'd better bet I've tried it!

This is probably the easiest baked tofu recipe I've ever tried due to the use of garlic powder rather than fresh minced garlic - lazy person win - and I love the sweet and salty flavours from the mixture of soy and agave. I've eaten this tofu in a bowl with rice, sautéed broccoli & sauce, out of a tuperware box from the fridge, and on a plate of random leftovers...

...tonight I'm going to be attempting to make the Pad See Ew from VEW using this tofu.

This next dish was massively out of season but yet perfect for winter and I couldn't resist a vegan version of a pre-vegan favourite, French Farmhouse Asparagus Bisque.

This was a beautiful soup, seriously fantastic. Creamy, earthy and delicately flavoured with chives and sea salt. I think that this soup would be delicious at any time of year.

We've also made the Sensei Tofu Hijiki Burgers which took a little longer than the book suggested and because we had to rush out we didn't get a chance to take a picture! They were super delicious although it was tough to get them to hold together in the oven. Next time I think I'd blend the tofu as I don't think my fork smooshing skills were up to the job!

We served these Japanese flavoured burgers with brown rice, salad, and both suggested sauces, the Ninja Carrot Ginger Dressing and the Tonkatsu Sauce. I was a little suspicious of the carrot and ginger dressing as I'm not the hugest ginger fan but it was delicious and really lifted the flavours of the simple salad I'd thrown together. The Tonkatsu Sauce was the real hit from this meal though, it went perfectly with the burgers and Nick's been smearing the leftovers all over everything!

The Seitan Gyro recipe was the first one that Nick honed in on as soon as he glanced at the book. We trekked across Berlin for Gyros on our honeymoon and every time we go to Veg Fest in Brighton the Wheaty stand is always the first place we head to get our gyro on. This recipe was absolutely perfect! We made the Seitan Coriander Cutlets the day before so that they'd have time to firm up properly and in the morning we popped to Taj to buy the flatbreads, veggies, yoghurt & dill.

The super garlicky yoghurt sauce blended up in minutes and roasting the seitan in the oven was totally hassle free. We can't wait to make these again, such a perfect Sunday lunch!

Unsurprisingly it's taken me so long to write this post that I already made and ate the Pad See Ew!

Of course it was delicious. Seriously, so damn good! I made a half recipe, subbing Pak Choy for the impossible-to-find-in-Brighton Chinese broccoli, it was a huge plate of food and I scoffed the lot! Pad See Ew is one of my favourite ever meals, I've ordered it every time I've been to Pukk in NYC and it's become the first place I'm dying to hit up as soon as I get off the plane just because of this dish. This wasn't exactly the same as Pukk's, perhaps less sweet, but I think that might've been due to me not being able to find one of the many soy sauces Terry calls for in the recipe! I can't wait to make this again and I'll be searching out the elusive Chinese broccoli so that I can give it a whirl as written.

If you haven't yet bought Vegan Eats World, buy it now & get cooking. If you have it already what's your favourite recipe so far? What should I make next?