Wednesday 28 May 2014

Vegan in Japan: Four Days in Kyoto

After our overnight stay in Nagoya our train journey continued but this time it was only a short hop to Kyoto. With food on our minds our first stop was the all vegan Cafe Matsuontoko which is located right in the centre of Kyoto just off of the Shin Kyogoku shopping arcade.

I had to order the Teriyaki Burger and Fries after spotting it on the menu because how great does that sound?!

The burger was soy based and delicious and the chips were perfectly crisp, no sogginess in sight. Nick also had a burger which he enjoyed but he was too hungry to let me photograph it!

For dessert Nick picked the dessert of the day which was a chocolate torte which came paired with ice cream, berry compote, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

I cannot deal with vanilla ice cream so I'm glad I didn't pick this but the cake was great and I loved the little taste of whipped cream I tried. I can never resist doughnuts and Cafe Matsuontoko had a selection of five to choose from. I had no idea what any of them were though so through the power of guesswork and pointing I ended up with matcha and vanilla. I also ordered a scoop of matcha ice cream because I wanted to keep on getting my matcha fix wherever I could!

The doughnuts were baked, light and fluffy. As baked doughnuts are my favourite I enjoyed them both but of course the matcha was the best. I ate the vanilla doughnut with the matcha ice cream which was pretty spectacular, if you visit I'd strongly recommend that combo.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the Heian Shrine and it's beautiful Japanese garden. If these next pictures look familiar it's probably because these are two of the places Charlotte visits in Lost in Translation.

As Cafe Matsuontoko was one of the few places open in the evening, until 12 which seemed unusual for veggie spots in Japan, we headed there for dinner too. We ordered a couple of things to share, one Pizza Margherita...

...and one Fried Wheat Gluten Cutlet.

We both really enjoyed the pizza, it was flatbread style but if you put melted cheese onto any kind of carb we'll probably be into it. If this had been Italy we might have felt differently about it's pizza status but we were excited to have it as an option in this scenario. The cutlets were the real standout though and we very carefully divided the plate in half. The mashed potatoes were super creamy and the tartar sauce complimented everything perfectly. For dessert we split the pancakes which came with two perfectly formed scoops of ice cream, one chocolate and one vanilla, as well as berry compote, whipped cream, delicious albeit slightly odd fried cracker things, and chocolate sauce.

Obviously these pancakes were the bomb, just look at them! They were puffy and pillow like and I was very happy that my one of my fave' ice cream flavours was represented here. If we'd had more space we definitely would have ordered a plate each!

The next day we got up early and travelled north from out apart-hotel to Arashiyama to check out Sagano Bamboo Forest.

I'd seen a million pictures of this spot in travel magazines and online over the years but they don't do it justice, the atmosphere is amazing and because we were early we beat the tourist hoards who arrived just as we were moving on to the Tenryū-ji Temple. Iwatayama monkey park is also located near here and whilst I would love, love, love to see a monkey in the wild we decided to give this place a miss. Whilst the monkeys are technically wild you do have to pay to go and check them out and visitors are then sold food to feed the monkeys which creates a human dependent monkey population. After some conversations via e-mail with monkey experts Wild Futures we decided not to support this popular spot for the reasons Brooke, a Wild Futures campaigner, explains:

Pretty much any place that encourages/allows wild monkeys to be fed by the public winds up experiencing pretty serious problems with the monkeys - they come to associate people with food and become sort of like "thugs" - people start to want to do something about the monkey "problem" - then some of them are "culled" (killed) or persecuted, or rounded up and shipped somewhere else. Also, it is unlikely that the food people are feeding them is good for them and you will probably see a lot of really obese, unhealthy monkeys as a result.

I think it's always important to do your own research and seek out experts opinions when considering interacting with animals at home or abroad, it is often challenging but it's definitely worth the extra effort to ensure you aren't inadvertently involved in any kind of animal exploitation.

As well as wanting to explore the beautiful Tenryū-ji Temple grounds and gardens we had something else on our minds, food! As a pretty heavily tattooed vegan I knew that I'd have to skip some of the traditional tourist experiences whilst we were travelling in Japan. Onsen were out (no tattoos allowed) and despite excessive googling there are no vegan friendly izakayas (well, not unless you can do some seriously badass communicating in Japanese) so I was very excited about experiencing a traditional Zen Buddhist Shōjin Ryōri meal. Shōjin Ryōri includes soy, grains and vegetables but shuns garlic, onion and other strong flavours. It's always entirely vegan. We decided to try out Shigetsu, located in the Tenryu-ji temples grounds, as I'd read about wonderful experiences other vegan bloggers had had there.

After purchasing our ¥500 ticket to gain entry to the gardens we walked a while until hunger struck. The huge coy filled pond is seriously beautiful and we loved exploring the landscaped gardens. Shigetsu wasn't hard to find and after covering my shoulders and as many tattoos as I could we wandered inside. It was a very quiet space and we felt almost guilty for ringing the bell at the desk and disturbing the peace! They were only serving the 9 course ¥3000 meal that day so that's what we both went with. I totally would have been tempted by the ¥7000 11 course meal but really this was quite enough food so I'm quite glad that option wasn't in front of me.

I'm not going to pretend that I knew what everything in front of me was but I do have some idea. Steamed white rice is obvious and then above that there was a plate of steamed vegetables and a super interesting dark coloured gelatinous cube which I was unable to identify but really enjoyed (if anyone had any ideas here I would love some insight into what it was!), next to that was a small bowl of broccoli with super pungent horseradish sauce and next to that was gomadofu, otherwise known as sesame tofu which is similar in texture to silken tofu but with a deeper flavour. Below that was a little plate of pickles and then a soy milk soup. There were more delicious veggies in the centre and to the right was the most unusual dish of all which consisted of rice wrapped in a leaf served in a sort of gelatinous cold soup. Lastly we enjoyed some fruit. Of course there was also tea which I forgot to photograph but actually really enjoyed despite my previous feelings on tea.

This was a beautiful experience and I feel super lucky to have been able to visit, it was definitely an unforgettable part of our trip.

One more modern Japanese experience I was unsure about taking part in was a visit to a cat cafe. Of course the idea appealed, I love kitties, but where do they come from? I disagree with breeding any animals and am firmly in the adopt don't shop camp when it comes to finding an animal friend. So, is there an ethical way to take part in the cat cafe experience? After a lot of googling we discovered Cat Cafe Nekokaigi a Kyoto based cat cafe who rescue abandoned cats. In a country with a small but growing animal activist community we knew this was something we wanted to support.

Unsure of what to expect we rang the bell and were greeted at the door by one of the volunteers who asked us to remove our shoes and thoroughly wash our hands. We were then ushered through a secondary door to the kitty filled room where we were shown the drinks menu. To spend an hour with the cats you pay a flat fee of ¥900 and have to buy one drink. We both went for juice and our glasses came with a cat proof lid for two reasons, you probably don't want little paws in your drink and the people running the cafe don't want the kitties drinking your human beverages. We loved the book at each table that laid out the rules for interacting with the kitties, no feeding the cats, no disturbing a sleeping cat, no picking up the cats etc etc. There were also profiles for each of the cats so that you could read about their personalities and histories. The cafe also does't allow children under 13 which we thought seemed sensible as it's often challenging to keep young children under control and screaming, shouting or running around could scare the kitties.

I connected most deeply with a little cat called Moka, she has a problem with over grooming and wears a little set of pyjamas to help her keep it to a minimum. She was just the cutest friendliest little cat, I let her sit on my legs until they went numb and I couldn't feel my feet.

I am aware that cat cafes are a somewhat contentious issue among vegans but as someone who has been actively boycotting and protesting against using animals for entertainment including in zoos, aquariums and circuses for over 12 years this seemed very different to me than those exploitative practices. I definitely do not think that this is the case with all cat cafes, as the people running Cat Cafe Nekokaigi say most cat cafes in Japan are filled with pedigree or rare cats which supports breeding.

After our relaxing cat filled afternoon we went bowling as the weather wasn't nice enough to be outside and clearly we love to be confused whilst trying to enter our names into machines that we don't understand. We needed a lot of help from the group of young Japanese kids in the next lane! Also, they didn't have Nick's shoe size which, on reflection, may have given me an unfair advantage and perhaps helps explain why I beat him three times in a row breaking my ten year loosing streak!

Dinner was a quick one at Cafe Matsuontoko because bed was calling, we didn't even get dessert!

I ordered the fried soy meat burger this time around and thought it was delicious, I think if you can only order one thing there you should totally pick a soy meat burger!

The next day it was time for more exploring, this time The Golden Temple and the Inari Shrine. This was another one of the standout days of the trip. The temple was so beautiful and once you tuned out the other tourists it felt like such a peaceful place. The shrine was quieter than the temple because we walked all the way up and explored areas off of the main path, it was really beautiful and we found and befriended a little cat.

We worked up some serious hunger here but thankfully Vegans Cafe and Restaurant was our next stop. I knew I wanted a pizza as soon as I saw it on the menu because if you don't know already I really, really love pizza! I ordered the Margherita...

...and Nick ordered the special which was BBQ Soy Meat.

As you can see the margherita was so much more than that, there were potatoes and spinach on there alongside the tomato base and creamy homemade soy cheese. Nick's barbeque soy meat pizza also came with mushrooms, spinach and what looked and tasted like a whole lot of saffron...maybe saffron's cheaper out there because that looked like around £10's worth of strands to me! Are there other spices out there that look like saffron? Anyway, saffron aside, if you like your pizza's hot this one's for you. We struggled slightly and Nick doesn't sit anywhere near as far into the spice wuss category as I do! The Margarita was one of the best pizzas either of us have ever eaten, potato on a pizza is so great...I mean, it should be, it's carbs on carbs! This was truly excellent, their pizza bases are off the chart!

We contemplated skipping dessert because those pizzas were damn filling but then we saw someone at the next table getting this parfait delivered and we couldn't resist, it was exactly as epic as it looks.

Chocolate soft serve ice cream, chocolate and banana muffins, banana, apple, raspberry sauce and chocolate sauce. This has to be one of the best desserts I've ever eaten, it goes in my Top 10 Desserts list for sure. In fact, I think I'd put Vegans Cafe in my Top 10 Restaurants list. Everything we ate was fantastic, they get a tonne of extra points for making their own vegan cheeses and they were one of very few vegan places we visited that was promoting an animal rights message. Of course I couldn't understand most of the pamphlets but you can get the general gist from the photographs!

We actually returned to Vegans Cafe the next day after exploring Gion, Kyoto's famous entertainment and geisha district. Shimbasi is just off of Shijō-dōri and whilst I am unsure if Lonely Planet's description of it as "arguably the most beautiful street in all of Asia" is in fact correct it was certainly a gorgeous place for an afternoon wander.

Obviously we ordered the Margherita again, when something's that great you can't let it slip by uneaten!

Sticking with the pizza theme we also ordered the Soy White. I've wanted to try a white pizza for a while and I figured if anyone can do it justice it'll be these guys.

Unsurprisingly it was delicious, super garlicky and both the white sauce and the homemade cheese were super creamy. It also came with potatoes and sweetcorn which, given that they are probably my oldest and newest favourite pizza toppings, was just perfect.

Dessert wise we got another of their delicious parfaits as well as a slice of the lightest most perfect chocolate matcha cake.

As I'm no vanilla ice cream fan I traded my side of soft serve for half of a muffin and some of the chocolate ice cream from Nick's parfait which was a trade I clearly won, y'know, if everything is some kinda eating competition (which it is).

Given that burgers and pizzas are two of my favourite foods we had a pretty epic time in Kyoto and I would definitely like to go back and spend more time there. Four days is nowhere near enough time to see all of the wonderful sights in and around Kyoto and that potato covered margherita pizza is calling my name.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Vegan in Japan: Nikko to Nagoya with some stops in-between!

After the hustle and bustle of Tokyo taking the Shinkansen followed by a slower local train was a perfect way to ease us into the total change of pace we were about to experience. The destination - Nikko.

After stashing our backpacks in the super convenient station lockers we headed in the direction of Nikko's UNESCO World Heritage shrines and temples in search of food. The first place listed on Happy Cow that we came by was Hippari Dako and we decided to stop at this busy traveller spot and wait for a table.

The inside of this place is pretty rad, there are notes and mementos from travellers from all over the world stuck on the walls and ceiling. 

Hippari Dako have a vegetarian menu on which almost everything was vegan but a couple of things did contain egg. Our little vegan card came in really handy here. We each picked something different, I went for the Sosu Yakisoba and Nick opted to go with the Yaki Udon.

We also ordered fresh yuba which in my excitement I forgot to photograph but it was my favourite part of the meal. I am unsure if the soy based dipping sauce it was served with was vegan as a lot of soy sauce in Japan contains fish but we had a tiny bottle of Kikkoman in our backpack in case situations like this arose. I'm sure that our main courses were decent because this was a popular spot and it was also reasonably priced but both of our dishes were so overpoweringly peppery that I couldn't really tell you what else they tasted of. I wish I could have tasted the various mushrooms scattered throughout Nick's dish or the pickles topping mine but all could could taste was pepper. The service was lovely though and we enjoyed the vibe of the place. It was also a super filling meal as we spent the rest of the afternoon walking and didn't get hungry again for a good 6 or 7 hours, almost unheard of for me!

Our walk to Hippari Dako took us most of the way to the Shinkyō bridge where we stopped to take a few obligatory tourist snaps.

From there it was only a short walk uphill to the main temple complex. Sadly the main building in the Rinnoji Temple complex, Sanbutsudo Hall, was closed for refurbishments and it will stay that way until works are scheduled to finish in 2021. We did manage a sneaky walk around the Shoyoen Garden though and we loved walking around the 42 buildings that make up the Tōshō-gū shrine as well as the Futarasan Shrine which the bridge above is part of.

After an exhausting but super fun and fulfilling day we crashed out at the Nikko Mountainside Lodge for the evening. It seemed like a super cool place but we arrived just as it was getting dark and left pretty early the next morning so I didn't get too much of a feel for it. The walk there really wasn't too long and although a good portion of it was uphill it was totally manageable even with our backpacks. Our room had a lovely deep bath and whilst the bed was super solid I slept well. I'll also say that this spot was a personal recommendation from a friend who loved her experience there so if you're in the area looking for a place to stay it's definitely a well loved spot. On our walk back to the station in the morning I picked up some more yuba, I love this stuff and I wish I could buy it here...I know I probably could make it but I'm not going to so don't try to make me!

We headed back to Tokyo for the afternoon and evening as the next spot we were heading to would have made for a hellish travel day and we like to chill and enjoy each day as much as possible especially on a short trip like this. Pure Cafe was our second stop in the city, after dropping off our bags, and we arrived just after they'd finished serving lunch. Thankfully they hadn't sold out of sandwiches so I ordered the Mr Mustard and Nick opted for Peanut Butter & Banana. We also got desserts, Nick picked the cheesecake and I plumped for an Orange and Carob Chip Muffin. We also shared an Italian blood orange soda.

I think we went on to order these sandwiches three or four times each which says a lot about how great they were. I was so surprised by the Mr Mustard, it sounded unassuming bordering on boring and too veggie filled for my tastes but it was a revelation. Stuffed with onion, sliced potato, broccoli rabe, lettuce, tomato and a cream cheese-esque tofu spread combined with excellent bread made this one of the best sandwiches I've ever eaten. Nick loved his Peanut Butter and Banana, a favourite combo of mine whilst at home that he has always been slightly unsure of. I think the toasted bread made it into a concept he enjoyed. Normally I shun carob but in the Orange Chip muffin it complimented the super orangey flavour... I am quite aware that that is a ridiculous description of an orange muffin but seriously this was just the most orangey thing I've ever tasted, more orangey than an orange even! It was like the orange flavour was concentrated but yet totally natural. I loved it!

After dinner we headed to an early evening baseball game where I enjoyed some vegan Asahi beer before we got a massively early night ahead of the long day we had planned starting early the following morning.

After a swift 7am breakfast at T's Tantan, the only place open at that time of day and our reason for picking the previous nights hotel, we hopped on the train. Our final destination for the day was to be Nagoya for an overnight stop on our way to Kyoto but we decided we'd like to spend that day exploring Tsumago a well preserved edo-era post town in the Kiso Valley four hours from Tokyo. Obviously we packed train snacks as this was going to be a long one.

We each ate pickled plum onigiri from Family Mart, Pure Cafe banana bread and some apple from 7/11. I imagine Nick also had one of his eight thousand Clif builders bars because he's bigger than me and needs more food. Most of the fruit we ate on this trip was pre-cut and packaged like the apple in the picture, it was pretty much the only affordable way we saw fruit being sold and even bananas came individually wrapped in a plastic sheath.

Tsumago was a super enjoyable day trip and we managed to escape the large tourist groups who'd been bussed in and arrived just as we did by just going the opposite way to them when we arrived! It was a beautiful looking village with not much to do apart from wander so that's what we did, it helped that it was probably the warmest day of the trip thus far and I'll take any opportunity to soak up some vitamin D.

After another (thankfully shorter!) train journey we arrived in Nagoya early evening and headed straight for dinner at LOVE Pacific Cafe which is situated underneath a fitness club. We enjoyed one of my favourite meals of the entire trip here, I love bowls and this one was outstanding.

The bowl consisted of brown rice, lettuce, barbecued soy meat, pumpkin, lotus root, cherry tomatoes and cress and it was just bowl perfection. The barbecued soy meat had been fried until crisp on the outside but it was still tender and the choice of veg was spot on for me. I would love to recreate this one at home.

When we were paying we grabbed a couple of these Happy Dates bars, one chocolate and one berry, as we were 99% sure after doing some hand signals and whipping out the laminated vegan card that they were vegan. I confirmed the ingredients with my new pal from the Vegan Japan Instagram account and as well as being vegan we were surprised to discover that they contained a fun and unexpected ingredient, miso!

I was a big fan of the Chocolate variety and a not so huge fan of the berry but that is an ongoing thing with me! I should have known myself better and grabbed two chocolate ones. I also hadn't really noted the price of these Happy Dates bars until now but ¥108 translates to around 65p or $1.05 in American money which is a ridiculous bargain for a delicious date bar (especially by Japanese standards) and I now I'm wishing I'd grabbed a handful especially as we never saw them again!

I hope you're still enjoying reading my posts about Japan! Next stop Kyoto!

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Amy's Kitchen Product Review & Giveaway

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (no Facebook here!) you'll know that one of my favourite go-to easy peasy lunches is Amy's vegan rice mac & cheese so when the people representing Amy's Kitchen got in touch to see if I'd like to try and review two of their products free of charge I couldn't resist picking up a box of the yellow stuff.

This creamy delicious mac is made with Daiya cheese, something I know a lot of UK vegans are eager to get their paws on, and because it's sold at Infinity Foods I eat it pretty regularly. I'm also partial to the new Amy's Vegetable Lasagne on occasion. 

You can pick this up at Infinity Foods too and whilst it isn't the prettiest (and photographing it at night against a black background hasn't helped any!) it tastes great...not as good as a carefully crafted homemade lasagne full of cashew ricotta and fresh basil obviously but it's a microwave meal! It takes four minutes! This is the kinda thing I missed when I first went vegan and it's great to have this option back in my life again.

I also often grab a can of the vegetable barley soup but I haven't yet managed to take a decent picture of it because photographing soup's hard y'all.

With my second coupon I picked up a box of the new to me Manhattan Veggie Burgers. These are gluten free and full of quinoa, nuts and veggies. I grilled one up in eight minutes and popped it on top of lettuce and tomato in a lightly toasted Infinity Foods Bakery wholewheat bun with ketchup and mustard.

Because these are ridiculously low in calories for a burger I piled up some of my favourite dill flavoured lentil chips on the side.

I'm normally a die hard mock meat person when it comes to burgers but this was excellent despite the lack of the faux suff. The nuts and quinoa give the burger a nice crunch and loads of flavour. I think they'd also be really great broken up on top of a salad or in a really topping heavy burger with plenty of melty cheese. I can't wait to work my way through the rest of the box!

Now, here's the part I know you've all been waiting for! I couldn't just take the free products without trying to offer you guys something in return so together with Amy's I give to you, drumroll, the Amy's Vegan Hamper giveaway! 

If you win you'll receive a package containing:

Amy's Split Pea Soup
Amy's Lentil Vegetable Soup
Amy's Spanish Rice & Red Bean Soup
Amy's Rice Mac & Cheese
Amy's Thai Red Curry
Amy's Vegetable Lasagne
Amy's Manhattan Veggie Burgers

To enter you just need to leave a comment below by Tuesday May 27th telling me what your favourite vegan convenience product is. You also need to live in the UK (sorry far away friends), leave a way to contact you, be it your blog profile, e-mail address or Twitter account, and be able to arrange a time to be home for the delivery with the company sending out the prize. Feel free to spread the vegan love and tweet or do whatever other social media thang you do about the giveaway but that's not a requirement and you don't get extra points for spamming your followers twenty times a day! Good Luck!

The winner is @quietloner! This competition is now closed.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Adjusting to Being Home.

I always feel a little down after returning from a trip, adjusting to the reality of not getting to hang with Nick every day on top of having to do mundane tasks like laundry and cleaning the damn bathroom is tough for me and we always seem to arrive back during bouts of terrible weather which doesn't help. I am aware that I'm ridiculously lucky not to be having to go back to a soul destroying 9 to 5 right now which I think makes me feel more guilty for feeling down. Vicious circle! I do have a few tried and tested methods to pull me out of the post travel funk though - not being hard on myself when I just want to hide indoors, friends and food. Brighton, as you already know if you're a regular reader of my blog, is an amazing place to be vegan and I love exploring what the city has to offer. 

Over the bank holiday weekend at the beginning of the month VBites tweeted that they were making a triple burger special which was enough to pull me out from under my blanket especially as both Nick and my bff Tabitha were free to come and chow down with me. Marketed as 3Bites, Mini VBeefy, Hickory Chick & VFishy I was imagining something akin to sliders but these were definitely bigger than that.

Each burger came on its own perfectly soft hamburger bun, the VBeefy burger came with the classic burger toppings - lettuce, tomato, ketchup and a gherkin. The VFishy - a whole VBites Fishless Fish Steak - was served with rocket, tartar sauce and capers and my very favourite, the Hickory Chick, came atop delicious creamy crunchy coleslaw. This is definitely one of the best dishes I've tried at VBites and I'm pleased to announce that they'll be adding it to their permanent menu. I for one can't wait to eat it again.

Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day, I literally cannot function without it, and recently I've been loving The Vegg. It's so simple to blend it up with water in my mini food processor and after 30 seconds in the microwave you have the perfect egg yolky dip for your toast soldiers. Even I can manage this one in the morning!

Toast and soldiers brings back memories of my childhood but something I associate with my late teens and early twenties is pesto! Sacla pesto to be precise. Back when I was vegetarian I could only cook one thing, pasta. And I would eat pasta with pesto and cubed cheese for dinner almost every day. I was totally one of those "I can't give up cheese" vegetarians but the second I found out that my favourite pesto was made with animal rennet meaning that animals died in the making of the cheese I immediately went vegan. I remember being so upset that I hadn't really been eating vegetarian all along despite my good intentions and then I was almost that upset again when I realised that at the time there was no decent vegan pesto. The stuff I tried was horrible and I quickly moved on to eating homemade risotto with tonnes of Cheezly every day until I finally bought Vegan With a Vengeance and broadened my kitchen horizons! Thankfully my diet these days is much more varied but when I stumbled upon this pesto in Sainsbury's last week I squeaked with delight.

I found this in the free from aisle and I love that a mainstream brand like this is making a specifically vegan product, it even has tofu in it! Sacla have made a vegan aubergine pesto for a while and in the new wheat / gluten / dairy free range there's also a tomato pesto. Obviously I ate this with pasta and cubed Vegusto just like the good old days but vegan style!

Sal from alien on toast came over the other day for a full on girly sleepover, there was nail polish, we watched 27 Dresses, Pimm's got involved. It was awesome. We also got to chow down on the new Manomasa chips I was sent to review. There are two vegan flavours Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper and Chipotle Lime which I didn't eat too many of due to the chilli factor!

Sal, Nick and I ploughed through both of these bags with a tub of avocado hummus in about 20 minutes whilst our crepe batter was resting and they're great. I really enjoyed the salt and pepper variety although they weren't as salty or peppery as the Kettle Chips of the same flavour. Nick and Sal enjoyed the subtly limey chipotle chips which were't overly hot even for me although I only managed a small handful. Nick's not usually the biggest chip fan but he said he'd buy these if he saw them again. I feel bad that I don't have a giveaway to go with these but apparently you can pick them up in Whole Foods, Ocado and independent farm shops.

The morning after our awesome slumber party Sal and I woke up late and hurried to breakfast at Iydea as lunchtime was rapidly approaching. The reason for going all the way to I2 on Western Road when I have three wonderful breakfast spots within spitting distance of my front door? Tofu scramble! The UK is slowly but surely getting in on the tofu scram game and in Brighton you can now enjoy it at Iydea 2 as well as Infinity Cafe...which I'm 99% sure I forgot to blog about. It's coming soon I promise! You can only get I2's vegan scramble as part of the Big Breakfast so that's what we went for. This breakfast beast includes the scram, two huge sausages, two homemade hash browns, mushroom and avocado stir fry, two tomatoes, baked beans and toast.

Honestly this breakfast even defeated me and you guys know I can eat! Nick was pretty pleased with the sausage and hash brown I took home though and he crafted himself a wonderful breakfast sub with my leftovers and a whole lot of ketchup.

I surprised myself by enjoying the beans, I'm usually a canned beans all the way kinda girl but these were a wonderful homemade option, the stir fried part of the brekkie was unusual which I loved and it may have been my favourite part overall. The sausages were delish too and the scramble was decent - I would advise adding more nutritional yeast and more garlic as it was a little bland when held up next to the rest of Iydea's bold breakfast flavours.

One thing about Brighton that has changed for the worst whilst I've been travelling and focussing on other things is Duke's at Komedia, the vegan friendly cinema I blogged about here a while ago. It's become WAY less vegan friendly. Nick and I tried to go there for tofu dogs before catching The Wind Rises earlier and now they're served in a buttery brioche bun!! So ridiculous! Way to cut out half of your tofu dog market guys. The vegan cakes, sausage rolls and nacho casserole are also off the menu. I'm definitely sad about this change and I will be in contact to see if they can at least change that bun but with only 25 minutes until the movie started we were pleased to realise there were 6 places we could get a super fast vegan meal and be back in time not to even miss the trailers. One of my favourite things about Brighton is how close everything is And the place we ended up deserves it's own blog post so watch this space!