Category: Review

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know I’m on a mission to eat as many different kinds of mushrooms as possible. 2015 saw me consume quite a few! My husband, being the all round sweetheart that he is, decided to increase my mushroom numbers for Christmas.

He sent me 3 huge bags of dried mushrooms – Morels (which we first foraged from the wild on our honeymoon), Chanterelles (which I first tried at Rowena’s dinner) and Candy Caps which I’ve never tried.
Candy Caps are extremely weird – the aroma from the SEALED bag was almost overwhelming – they smell and taste exactly like maple syrup. Some people also believe they have a slightly cinnamon like taste. I’m a huge maple syrup fan – I would pour it on anything, I no longer consume honey and frankly I don’t need it when my girl maple is around!

Coincidentally it’s my husband’s birthday this month and I sent him a giant box full of goodies that he likes (like decent British tea!) and I decided he really should get to try the Candy Caps. One of the things he really loves is granola, so this is for him!

If you can’t find whole Dried Candy Caps or the mushroom powder, reduce the olive oil by 2 tbsps and sub for maple syrup.

Sometimes on this blog I’ll include a product that I’ve used in a recipe. When Camano Island Coffee Roasters contacted me about using some of their coffee I was really interested (because I’m a total freak for coffee) – I’ve decided to pair the Papua New Guinea (medium roast) coffee they sent me with this granola. Perfect for a snappy morning pick-up! The maple sweetness of the granola contrasts perfectly with the chocolaty light acidity of the coffee I think.

Camano Island Coffee is roasted in Washington, it’s shade-grown, organic and ethically traded. I really liked the idea of the coffee being ethical! Being vegan I think we need to be aware of our human friends as well as our animal friends when it comes to being mistreated or abused!

If you’re lucky enough to own a Chemex the guys over at Camano have sent me a brew guide to help you get the most out of it. I brewed my Camano beans in a Hario V60 – a beautifully smooth cup with a low acidity, a very good cup of coffee. You can find Camano on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as well as online.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free certified if needed)
  • 1 cup puffed quinoa
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dried candy cap mushroom powder
  • 1/2 cup light soft brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350f. If using whole candy cap mushrooms, grind them in a spice or coffee grinder until they become a fine powder.
  2. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, mixing well to combine.
  3. Spread the granola on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven when golden brown and allow to cool completely before storing. Serve with your favourite nut milk.
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One of the things I love about Twitter is it’s vegan community. More often than not it helps me to discover new vegan products, restaurants and all sorts of interesting things.

One of these things is Sgaia’s Mheat! Sgaia’s mheat is a seitan product, something I haven’t really seen marketed on a mass scale over here in the UK. The US has the brilliant Upton’s Naturals, it was about time we got some! Seitan is one of my absolute favourite vegan substitutes. In my opinion it has a meaty texture and deep flavour that surpasses any of the others!

So obviously I inquired about where I could get my hands on some. Hillary at Sgaia was kind enough to offer to send me some to try!

I’m happy to say it’s damn delicious. It has a really good firm texture and slices very well!

You can find Sgaia online here and on Twitter here.

I’ve always wanted to make a stroganoff and I thought the mheat would be a perfect replacement for the usual meat component! I served mine with pasta, feel free to use whatever accompaniment you like. If you can’t find any mheat, feel free to sub with any seitan your choice! If you eat gluten-free you could try subbing with firm tofu.

INGREDIENTS

For the the seitan and vegetables

  • 150g of mheat
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 50ml white wine
  • Salt and pepper

For the cashew cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 3/4-1 cup water

  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over a medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add bay leaf and the red onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until turning translucent.
  2. Cut the mheat into chunks and add to the pan. Brown the mheat for 3-4 minutes then reduce the heat to low.
  3. Make the cashew cream – drain and rinse the cashews. Add them to a blender with 3/4 cup of water. Blend on high until smooth, adding the other 1/4 cup of water if it needs thinning out. Set aside.
  4. Crumble the vegetable stock cube into the seitan, add the garlic and the mushrooms. Cook for another 4 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften.
  5. Add the white wine and oregano. Add the cashew cream and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
  6. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper. Serve over pasta, rice or grain of your choice. Optional: garnish with nutritional yeast (the yellow powder!)

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This week I went to visit my good friend Nelly in her new home town of Hastings. We did a little bit of research on HappyCow beforehand about vegan eats and I’m happy to say there’s lots of choice!

I was only there for a day trip but scoped out a lot of potential eats for another trip. One cafe, Bullet Coffee house was only open on Saturday but looked really promising!

We ended up grabbing some lunch at Flavours of India, an Indian restaurant with tonnes of vegan options.

The thali at lunch is only £7.95 – you pick 3 dishes from the set menu and it comes with rice and bread. I had the chana masala, saag aloo and vegetarian samosa. Everything was delicious and really set us up for what ended up being a 6 mile walk around Hastings!

7 Castle Hill Road,
Hastings, East Sussex TN34 3QZ

You can find the menu for Flavours of India here.

Later on after trooping around Hastings (which is beautiful!) we stopped at Penbuckle’s Delicatessen. 

50 High Street
Hastings, TN34 3EN.

Now that I’m a coffee snob I got really excited by the big sign outside that said they served Monmouth Coffee. I wasn’t too sure if they would have soya milk but they did! Checking the cake cabinet I saw they had a vegan cake but it was all gone…so I asked if they had more. Turned out two of the flapjacks were vegan! So I ended up with a big slice of apricot flapjack. The coffee was delicious as was the flapjack.The deli has a really lovely, cosy room at the back with seating and a fire place. It was a welcome rest for us after all of our walking!

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About a fortnight ago the kind folks over at Frill contacted me to see if I’d like to try their range of frozen smoothies. Obviously I said yes because 1) smoothies 2) it’s frozen so ICE CREAM 3) it’s vegan! 4) the packaging has a hella cute bear on it.
Frill were really great in getting the products to me (considering they are frozen!) in a little bag complete with Frill sticker. I looked seriously cool on the tube home that night.

At the moment Frill comes in three flavours: Intense chocolate, Bursting Berries and Refreshing Green. Crunchy Nuts and Fresh Strawberry are coming soon!
As well as being completely vegan and gluten-free,Frill has the added bonuses of having 10 x the fibre of regular ice cream and half of the sugar. All the sweetness in Frill comes from the sugars in fruit – so there’s no added sugar!

You can eat Frill straight from the freezer or leave it in the fridge to soften it up. It also tastes great blended with juice or nut milk to make a smoothie!

I’ve really enjoyed trying Frill. I kicked off with the Intense Chocolate which was definitely intense! I’m a huge dark chocolate fan and this had a really distinct and rich chocolate taste. My mum loved it too and said you couldn’t tell it wasn’t dairy ice cream. I don’t think this flavour will last long in the house.

The Bursting Berries is equally delicious albeit not as rich tasting as the chocolate! I feel like it would make a great post-extravagant dinner treat where you want something sweet but don’t want to feel bloated or sad!

Chocolate  and berries aside, Refreshing Green is probably my favourite. It’s packed with fruit and vegetables including spinach, celery, avocado, basil, dates, apple, pineapple and mango. It has a really bright, fresh taste. I’ve whipped up a quick smoothie bowl using Refreshing Green which I will post below!

One of the things I really love about Frill is the convenience. I get jealous of a lot of people who have time to make elaborate smoothies and “nice creams” and all that jazz before work. With Frill all I have to do is scrape it out of the container into a bowl and I know I’m getting a whole bunch of fruits and veggies into my diet.

Would I buy Frill again? I can say with confidence I definitely would! I just need to remember to carry that Frill freezer bag with me!

If you like what you’ve seen here, you can find Frill on sale in Waitrose and Wholefoods stores in London. You can follow Frill on their social media at:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

FRILL BOWL (Refreshing Green Smoothie Bowl)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Refreshing Green
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Toppings of your choice: fresh fruit, hemp seeds, nut butter, granola etc.

  1. In a blender, add the Frill and almond milk. Blend on low for 20-30 seconds until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with your favourite smoothie bowl toppings!

 

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Afternoon tea is a British institution and Fortnums does it extremely well. Imagine my delight when they did a vegan selection! They also do dairy and gluten free, gluten free and a bunch of other special diet options. It’s always great to see vegans and other special diets represented in main stream places.

I went to Fortnums with a very good friend of mine who had the classic version so you will see some of her food in the photos as well.

Dikom Golden Butterfly

I’m a bit of a tea snob and the tea menu at Fortnums is fantastically long. I went for a Single Estate Assam called Dikom Golden Butterfly. It was beautifully smooth tasting with a slight hint of caramel. I ended up drinking two teapots worth during our time in the restaurant.

Obviously, eating afternoon tea at somewhere like Fortnums is not going to be cheap (£40 for their own classic blends and £44 for a single estate tea like mine) But I’m happy to report that they will refresh any of the plates for you as many times as you like. We had extra sandwiches and scones and left feeling completely stuffed!

The Vegan afternoon tea menu

The sandwiches

 

I started with my sandwiches. The char grilled pepper with salsa verdi was easily my favourite and asked for a refresh! I’m not a huge fan of cucumber but I actually enjoyed the sandwich very much. The bread was light and fluffy and not at all dry – previously when I’ve had afternoon tea you could tell the sandwiches were not fresh due to the bread being dry.

The scones with dairy-free butter

Next the scones! Slightly warm and pillow-y soft. I’m completely aware that many people are scared of vegan baking and I was so happy to see I got scones! A lot of the time vegan baking can be dense and cake-y but these scones were super light. The dairy-free butter was great as well. I had some of the scones with Fortnums strawberry jam – which you can’t really go wrong on!

The final tier – seasonal fruits

I know many people would be unhappy with a fruit salad to top off their afternoon tea but for me it was lovely. After eating all the carbs during the rest of the tea it was great to have something light to finish on.  There was also a lot of fruit I’d never tried before like starfruit and dragon fruit. I’m not a big fan of melon usually but I really enjoyed it here and made my husband proud!

Enjoying our tea!

At the end of our tea we were offered more cake – sadly none of it was vegan but I took a slice of Victoria sandwich home for my mum. We also got to take home the jam and lemon curd.

The service throughout was impeccable, we were offered numerous refreshes on our tea and food. The only thing that bothered us was the tea room was FREEZING so we had to keep our cardigans on the whole time! I would definitely come back!

You can book afternoon tea at Fortnums online here and follow them online on Twitter @fortnums

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I’m putting these two places together because they are both in BoxPark in Shoreditch!
I’ve been wanting to go to BoxPark for ages, mostly because all the photos of the food I’ve seen from there have been jaw droppingly delicious looking.

First we stopped by Cook Daily for lunch (upstairs in BoxPark, unit 55). I had the Full English and my friend Ratha had the Rainbow. Each bowl is £8. My bowl came with a free cup of tea and Ratha got an iced pea flower tea! The pea flower tea is purple and tastes delicious! The man behind the counter also told us it was a natural anti-depressant. Our food was ready in 3 minutes – my kind of fast food!


A sign inside that made me smile!

The bowls are all posted up on the wall – you just pick the one you want! 

Full English Bowl

The Full English comes with tofu “egg”, vegan sausage, mushroom, tomatoes, spinach and homemade brown sauce on rice. It is ridiculous. Easily the best tofu scramble I’ve ever had. The portion size is great too – I was completely stuffed. I’ve never actually eaten brown sauce before but if that’s what it tastes like I’m now a convert. I can see why everyone was raving about Cook Daily. I’ve already decided I’m going back to try all the other bowls.

Ratha’s Rainbow Bowl – stir fried veggies and tofu on rice and the pea flour tea with lime!

After we stuffed ourselves at Cook Daily we went downstairs to East London Juice Co (unit 35) who I have been Instagram stalking for a while. I’m a big fan of juice and smoothies and all those magical nut milks that people make so I’m on a personal quest to go to as many London juice places as possible. I also wanted to see if they had any of their nut milks in the fridge but they only had their Killer Sunrise juice & the charcoal lemonade. I’m not a fan of pineapple so I gave it a miss!

Update!

The lovely folks at East London Juice Co recently contacted me by email to let me know that they’ve moved from Boxpark!

Their new location is at 100 Shoreditch High Street, Ace Hotel. You can find them online at www.eastlondonjuice.com

I ended up getting one of their Lux smoothies, the Chocolate Acai which was wild Balinese cacao, acai berry, date, banana, coconut, chia seeds + activated house mylk. Absolutely delicious! It was my healthy dessert after Cook Daily. East London Juice Co had a nice relaxed vibe about it that I really liked – I’ll be back – hopefully to get some of their nut milk and bottled juice!

You can find Boxpark at
2-10 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6GY

Find Cook Daily online
@kingcookdaily on Instagram

Find East London Juice Co
@eastlondonjuiceco on Instagram

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Most of my family is from Oxfordshire but the last time I went to Oxford was a good ten or even more years ago. Obviously, at that point I wasn’t a vegan. I spent the day there today and only ate once but I loved the food so much I wanted to write a short post here.

I’m also really happy to say that I found this place using Google maps and didn’t have to use HappyCow! It ended up being about a 10 minute walk from the Ashmolean Museum! I don’t drink but they also have vegan alcohol on offer.

The Gardeners Arms

39 Plantation Road, Oxford, OX2 6JE
Find them online here
O
n Twitter @gardenersarms

The Gardeners Arms is a vegetarian and vegan pub! It’s on a delightful little side street and full of that English pub charm.

 I went for the Medley Mushroom Pie but switched out the Italian style potatoes for chips because I was craving them! Happy to see it came with some substantial vegetables and not a sad bit of iceberg lettuce.The mushroom pie was rich with gravy and I was glad to see lots of different mushrooms in the sauce (continuing my quest this year to eat lots of different varieties of mushrooms!) The meal really hit the spot and gave me the fuel for the almost 9 miles of walking I did around Oxford during the day!

Whilst I was in the pub some other people on a different table ordered burgers and they looked INSANE.There was a vegan sticky toffee pudding that I was VERY tempted by but we wanted to get moving on so I will have to go back for that sometime!

I’m always so encouraged to find food that is cooked by people who have considered the needs of vegetarians and vegans. We like to go to pubs too! The Gardeners Arms is ticking all the boxes. Next time I’m visiting family I may have to make a detour.

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If you’re also a vegan or even just someone with special dietary needs going out to a high street chain restaurant can be a total pain in the back side.

One thing I’m always on the look out for is whether dishes can be veganised at restaurants. I’m always reading those nutritional info PDFs. A lot of the time there’s only one thing to eat and it’s usually chips or potatoes. Sometimes restaurants can totally surprise me and  have a special separate menu for vegans!

Carluccio’s was one of those restaurants! (They also have a separate gluten-free menu)

The vegan menu. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were multiple starters and side dishes available. Obviously there’s only one main course – the spaghetti – however, in a restaurant that’s basically a homage to the cheese, meat rich Italian cuisine I wasn’t too surprised.

For my starter I had Caponata, a Sicilian sweet and sour aubergine stew served with grilled focaccia. The stew had an incredibly rich tomato taste, dotted with pine nuts. Sometimes aubergine can be tough and chewy but this was melt in the mouth soft. I loved this dish!

For my main I had the only main dish available – the Spaghetti Al Pomodoro e Basilico. Spaghetti with tomato and basil for us non-Italians. This dish was inoffensive but there’s not too much you can say about pasta with tomato sauce. After I was brought this dish the waitress offered me parmesan cheese, assuring me it was “vegetarian!” which I politely declined. Slightly awkward.

For my side dish I had Verdura Fritta which was courgette, peppers and aubergine in a crispy batter. Think Italian tempura. I really liked the fritta, it was crispy and salty.

Overall my experience was positive. I only have one vegan friend and frequently go out with people who don’t have dietary requirements. Having a mainstream restaurant where everyone can eat what they want is great!

You can find Carluccio’s online here and on Twitter here

I visited the Muswell Hill branch. 

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I was invited along with my friend Eleeshia to a vegan bloggers dinner by Millie from La Belle Assiette. The premise of La Belle Assiette is simple – you choose and book a chef, they come to your house, work their chef magic for you and then clear up and disappear! To me it sounded like a really great way to relax during a dinner party. For someone with a vegan or plant based diet it would be a godsend – I often think there’s a need to prove to others that vegan food can be delicious and sometimes after work you really do not want to put the effort in. For more information on La Belle Assiette you can go here.



Our location for the dinner was a flat in Hoxton, in a sort of industrial looking, behind the train tracks area. When we arrived there was a little rave with a bonfire going on next door, so Hoxton chic! Thank you to Jerome for allowing us into your home!

Our chef was the lovely Rowena Humphreys. Before we were served an amouse bouche she explained to us when she became a vegan, her influences in food and what she was going to be serving us! Later on I got to chat with Rowena properly and she’s lovely – she runs a stall at Alexandra Palace market which I am going to go feast at soon. If you want more information on Rowena, you can find her Facebook page here.

Our first course was an amuse bouche called Rowena’s Surprise! It was grapes in a cashew coconut cream cheese covered in nuts. I’ve made a lot of cashew cheese before but never thought of adding coconut to it. It made it a lot sweeter and creamier and I think it went so well with the grape!



For our starter we had a Chanterelle ceviche served with a pineapple and avocado salsa. Since my husband and I found the morel mushrooms in Yosemite I’ve been on a personal quest to try any kind of unusual mushroom I can. I’ve managed oysters, enoki, shiitake and most recently chicken of the woods so I was so pleased to see this on the menu! Rowena had marinated them in citrus juice and with the pineapple avocado salsa (which tasted like a green smoothie!) it was delicious! I don’t normally enjoy pineapple so when I whatsapped my husband to tell him I had had pineapple he was really pleased, haha! Definitely going chanterelle hunting soon!

For the main dish Rowena served us Involtini di melanzane with salsa verde. A mandolined aubergine stuffed with cauliflower rice (what a great idea!), roasted asparagus, sultanas and other goodies. It was completely delicious. As someone who has used their mandolin about 3 times since using it I’ll definitely be getting it out some more now.

Finally for dessert Rowena served us a Coconut Cream Tiramisu. I only recently got into coffee and I can tell you it turns me into She-Hulk. Thankfully the coffee here wasn’t overpowering at all. The coconut cream was super light and fluffy and Rowena had told us earlier that she had made the ladyfinger biscuits herself. As someone who was a former dairy milk lover it was really refreshing to get a really creamy vegan dessert. The tiramisu was probably my favourite dish of the evening.

Overall my experience was great! I really liked the casual feel of the dinner and enjoyed getting to chat to some fellow vegan bloggers. A lot of the time blogging can feel quite lonely and I think a lot of us put pressure on ourselves to constantly be creating and putting stuff out there. It was nice for once not to be the one cooking!

You can read more about Rowena on her La Belle Assiette page here.

A big thank you to Millie for inviting us along to share in the delicious food and a huge thank you to Rowena for sharing your passion for vegan cooking with us!



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Last week I won a pair of tickets to Foodies Festival in Syon Park from the lovely people at Miso Tasty.

My friend Makeda who is a freelance photographer kindly offered to drive down there so on Sunday we set off for Brentford! It was really sunny and the festival was outside so that made for a really pleasant day.



I was obviously on the lookout for vegan goodies but was also aware that unlike my previous festival experiences there would be a lot I would have to decline or just not even look at. There was a lot of alcohol available – I don’t drink at all but if you were into beer, wine, gin and pimms it would definitely be a good event to go to! Even so I was pleasantly surprised and I’ll detail some of the goodies I found below as well as some general photographs I took! I’ll try to provide website or social media info for each company below the photos.


Makeda sampling some Cidre elderflower flavour.

Little Pimms teapot which I thought was so cute!

Vita CoCo
On Twitter @vitacoco
I’ve been on the search for a coconut water that I actually like. In the past I tried a flavoured version and just couldn’t get on with it. I tried the natural version and it was pretty good! They were also sampling their new coconut oil.

Me enjoying my coconut by Makeda!

After VitaCoCo we found a stand selling coconut water fresh from the coconut so Makeda bought one for us to share! I’m now a big fan of fresh coconut water. Later we brought our coconut back and had it split open so we could eat the flesh inside.

This next part was probably the most exciting part of the day for me. We stopped by Cocoa Feliz, a chocolate stall. Makeda asked the man if anything was “vegan proof” and we were told “EVERYTHING!”. So naturally I was like “whaaaaaaaaat?” and the man explained that they were both vegan! We had a lovely little chat and I bought a box of 12 chocolates. I was totally digging on their vegan milk chocolate Millennium Falcons too.

Cocoa Feliz are on Twitter @cocoafeliz

 I confess that I have no idea what this stall was called. I was just too excited to spot the vegan cake! I bought the vegan layer cake and Makeda got some Jamaican rum cake. Trying the cake later on…I can see why it was the only vegan cake. I only ate the buttercream in the end. Disappointing!

Truly Simple Foods
More vegan friendly food! Truly Simple Foods were selling a bunch of jarred sauces, spice rubs and concentrates. I tried their Coconut Curry and Spinach on a cracker and it tasted great. I will definitely be looking out for them in the future.

We obviously had to stop by Miso Tasty and say hello and thank you for our tickets! Makeda tried some miso soup and liked it so much she ended up buying a couple of boxes. Miso Tasty is a staple of my work lunches at the moment so it was nice to share how delicious they are with someone else!



You can find Miso Tasty on Twitter: @misotasty

Next we hit up Supernatural for some vegan juice and smoothie goodness. I went for the Fibre Boost, a smoothie of avocado, apple, lemon and spinach which was delicious. Green smoothies can sometimes be grainy or lumpy but this was beautifully smooth.

You can find Supernatural on Twitter: @sprntrlUK and in Canary Wharf underground station.

After lunch we decided to call it a day and head back home! We both really enjoyed our day in the sun.

 


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