Cookbook of the Month: Street Vegan

Street Vegan Almond Milk French Toast (1)

Street Vegan really reminded me of Vegan Secret Supper, in that it looked just a bit too fancy to be an everyday cookbook. But, like Vegan Secret Supper, it pleasantly surprised me.  Some of the recipes and ingredients lists are much simpler than I would have guessed, and a lot of them include additional components that are easily left out.  All in all, it provided me with a wonderful month of food.  The breafkast and soup sections were particularly good.

Street Food Brazil Nut Granola 002

Starting with breakfast, the cranberry Brazil nut granola was beautiful.  It tasted like Christmas, thanks to the orange, cinnamon and cranberries.  I’ll definitely make it again during the festive season.  It was a great start to the day.

Street Vegan White Chocolate Macadamia Granola (4)

The other granola recipe is equally decadent:  White Chocolate Macadamia Granola. I wouldn’t even know where to start looking for chocolate essence, so I left that out and didn’t really feel its absence.  Similarly, dried cherries are not something I’ve spotted yet here, so I used cranberries again instead.  It was sweet and luxurious, and I really enjoyed it.  As it uses macadamia nuts and cocoa butter, it’s too pricey to join the regular rotation, but it’ll be good for a treat.

Street Vegan Almond Milk French Toast (1)

The almond milk French toast was a fantastic breakfast-time treat.  This was one of the occasions where I made all three components: the toast itself, the raspberry coulis and the sugary almonds.  Serving coulis for breakfast feels pretty fancy, I’m not going to lie.  I used orange instead of grapefruit for that, and made it the day before, along with the nuts.  That meant all I had to do in the morning was whip up the batter and fry the bread, so it was a deceptively simple effort in the kitchen, and Dr HH was suitably impressed.  It was really good.  I was worried the coulis wouldn’t work, but everything tasted fantastic together.

Street Vegan Bourbon Hazelnut Pancakes (1)

I made the bourbon hazelnut pancakes without the bourbon (easy to do, as it’s not in the batter, only with the nuts).  Once again, this featured sugary sweet nuts, hazelnuts this time.  They were scattered on top of the batter as the pancake cooked, and added a nice sweetness and texture to the pancake.  I also made the cardamom butter, only I used cinnamon instead of cardamom.  I wasn’t bold enough to try it on my pancakes, as I thought the savoury flavours were a little too strong (rice vinegar and olive oil).  Dr HH thought the coconut and cinnamon shone through, so he went for it and really enjoyed it.  With the butter or with golden syrup, these were delicious.

Street Vegan Maple Mustard Breakfast Seitan Strips

And I even made a savoury breakfast too:  these maple mustard breakfast seitan strips.  There’s no reason to limit these to the breakfast table, though.  I cheated and bought ready-made seitan, and baked it rather than frying.  They were delicious!  Usually I don’t like to mix sweet and savoury flavours, but it worked really well here, the balance was just right.

Street Vegan Chocolate Milkshake

From the beverage section, the supreme raw fudge brownie milkshake was amazing!  As a standalone chocolate milkshake, it was pretty good (I used oat milk rather than water and ice).  But the addition of the fudge chunks really elevated it.  The fudge was so good (admittedly it’s hard to go wrong with cocoa powder, peanut butter and coconut oil), we ate the leftovers while watching The Hunger Games.  (Interesting Hunger Games trivia: according to the Czech subtitles, Gale is called Hurricane.  Quite the promotion.)

Street Food Cauliflower Almond Soup

The creamy roasted almond cauliflower soup was quite easy to make, and I liked the idea of roasting the veg and nuts first.  The final result had plenty of flavour, and a good thick texture.

Street Vegan 001

I thought the maple butternut squash soup was a wee bit too sweet.  A bit more spice would have balanced it out nicely.  Dr HH disagreed and thought it was already well-balanced, which is an unusual reversal of our roles in the sweet tooth stakes.  It’s a lovely autumnal soup:  the same colour as the leaves falling from the trees.

Street Vegan Ginger Laphing

Dr HH has a strict no-noodle-soups-for-packed-lunch rule, which I always adhere to (for some reason he thinks slurping noodles and splashing soup over his beard would make his colleagues look down on him), so I made the ginger laphing soup one weekend.  It had some very exciting flavours:  ginger, soy sauce, chilli, salty peanuts.  It was just crying out for a squeeze of lime juice to complete it.  This was great for winter, when you want something spicy and warm if you’re a bit bunged up.

Street Vegan French Lentil Soup (1)

The French lentil soup was another good one.  I love a soup with a tomato base, and this one had some good textures as well from the carrots and lentils.  You can’t go wrong with this kind of soup.

Street Vegan Spinach Potato Mushroom Soup (1)

The wild mushroom, spinach and potato soup was not quite as exciting.  It was fine, but not as exciting as the others from this book, probably partly because I couldn’t get hold of any exciting mushrooms.

Street Vegan Thai Coconut Curry Soup (1)

I wasn’t 100% convinced by the Thai coconut curry soup when I made it.  It has some autumnal/wintry veg in a rather exotic broth, and I was worried it would be a bit confusing.  But it was delicious!  Spicy food is great in colder weather anyway, and it all combined beautifully.  I loved the chickpeas in there too.  I made this with green curry paste, because that was the only vegan Thai curry paste I could find.  I made this soup twice in November as it was such a hit.

Street Vegan Jalapeno Corn Chowdah (2)

The Jalapeno corn chowdah was possibly a bit less exciting, but it was good.  I wasn’t convinced by the consistency, and it isn’t the best chowder recipe I’ve got up my sleeve, but it was tasty and enjoyable.

Street Vegan Tomato Sage Bisque (1)

I made a few changes to the tomato sage bisque, using tinned tomatoes, bulghur wheat and dried sage.  I thought it had quite a lot of different flavours competing and was a bit confusing, but Dr HH was a fan.  It had a really good, creamy texture anyway.

Street Vegan Red Wine Minestrone (4)

I was quite anxious when making the red wine minestrone because it had two cups of wine in it.  That’s a lot of alcohol!  I felt like I was getting drunk on the fumes while it was cooking.  But happily, it was not boozy by the time it was cooked.  I really loved the flavour from the wine and thought this was a good hearty stew rather than a soup.  It could definitely be an evening meal.  I loved everything:  the beans, the teeny tiny pasta shells, the veg.  This was one of the highlights of the book for me.

Street Vegan 006

The seitan asado and ancho red bean chilli was in the soup section, but I served it for dinner.  Most of the flavour is packed in the seitan, and it’s a good balance of sweet and spicy.  I don’t have any other chilli recipes with a meat substitute, so this was a different take on chilli for me and one I would happily revisit.

Street Vegan Crab Cakes (1)

From the appetiser section, I made these New England-style chickpea “crab” cakes, which were rather fiddly and time consuming, but worth the effort.  Top tip when making the crab cakes:  add the flour after blitzing the rest of the ingredients, otherwise it may be impossible to work with.  I had to add water, then add more flour, and chill it to get it to hold…it was quite the palaver.  But the flavour was really good!  Rather than splashing out on other sea vegetables, I just used a sheet of nori for the salty sea flavour, and it worked a treat.  Likewise, normal breadcrumbs rather than panko are fine.

Street Vegan Flaky Spinach Pie (1)

Street Vegan Flaky Spinach Pie (3)

And from the same section, this flaky spinach pie.  I was very happy to discover vegan filo pastry in Marks and Spencer is Prague, considering all of their other pastry and biscuits seem to have the words “All butter” in the title.  According to the book, this pie is served practically every day at the Cinnamon Snail food truck.  I was expecting something a bit more special.  It was nice, but the filling was so predominantly spinach that it was actually a bit boring.  It needed something else:  some mushrooms, or potato, just something to bulk it out and give it a bit more variety.  It tasted much better the next day, but still needed a little something more.

Street Food Tempeh Sage Sliders (2)

Street Food Tempeh Sage Sliders (3)

The sage tempeh sausage sliders were magnificent.  I made them into four great big burgers, and, much to my astonishment, they did not just crumble or remain soft like most of my burgers.  No, these were crispy on the outside, smooth and soft on the inside.  And they were tasty!  Great combinations of tempeh, sage, fennel seeds and onion.  I was absolutely giddy at their success.

Street Vegan Rosemary Hemp Seed-Crusted Tofu (6)

Dr HH and I usually go out for tea on a Friday night, but one week I decided to surprise him by cooking something a little fancier than usual on a workday.  The rosemary hemp seed-crusted tofu with tarragon garlic bread pudding was fairly time-intensive as we only have one shelf in our oven (it’s ridiculous, but a lot of flats we looked at had no oven at all, so we’re still winning technically) and both elements needed to be cooked.  But the recipe was surprisingly easy to follow.  The tofu tasted great, I loved the herbs in the crust.  The bread pudding also had some excellent flavours.  I think this would be a nice festive meal and am considering making it again for Christmas dinner.

Street Vegan Pecan Crusted Seitan (1)

The pecan crusted seitan was similarly impressive and festive.  The seitan retained its nice, tender texture and the crust was nutty and delicious.  It was nice for a classic “meat and veg” style plate of food.

Street Vegan Raw Chocolate Pudding (2)

From the dessert section, the raw chocolate pudding was a simple and effective way to impress.  The only ingredients were cocoa powder, maple syrup, water and cashews, so it was very easy to throw together and had a good texture and taste (though there was a touch too much maple syrup for my liking).  The recipe suggests topping it with cocoa nibs, but I had some sugary almonds leftover from the almond milk French toast, so I crushed them onto the top instead.  They were a great addition!

I definitely got a lot of use out of this book.  The soup section, as you can see, was pretty extensive, making it perfect for me:  we have soup for packed lunches every day.  I made most of the soups in there and was only disappointed by one, so for any fellow soup-lovers, this book is a great purchase.  It also had plenty going on in the breakfast section, including a good balance of sweet and savoury options.  However, I thought the mains were a bit lacking.  There wasn’t really anything that looked easy to throw together after work, nor any big pots of stew that could be made in advance and stored in the fridge.  The appetiser section looked amazing, and there’s also a whole chapter on doughnuts.  Alas, I’m a bit wary of deep-frying anything on an electric hob that takes a lifetime to respond to temperature changes on the dials, so I’m waiting till I’m home over Christmas to try a few of them.  This is definitely a book I will go back to again and again.

I’m taking a break from cookbook of the month in December, as I’m going to be on the move and it’s more of a time for old classics rather than trialling new recipes.  Hopefully Father Christmas will be good enough to provide a book for January!

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Midweek Munchies

Midweek Munchies (6)

I have never before posted my midweek munchies along with the Vegan MoFo off-season community, simply because I seldom buy any new products.  But this week I made an exception, so I can join in at last.

Midweek Munchies (1)

Midweek Munchies (7)

I used to eat a Nakd bar on my break every day in Manchester, but now I make Glo Bars from Oh She Glows as my daily snack, as cheap snack bars are hard to come by here in Prague.  But for a treat, and because I was starving and didn’t have a snack in my bag, I thought I’d try one of these Chimpanzee bars.  There are a few flavours, and I think I chose wisely with oat and raisin.  It was good and flapjacky, and felt suitably filling.  A good purchase.

Midweek Munchies (2)

I spotted this Christmas Tea in Vienna in October, and was delighted to see that Puro had started selling it here in Prague.  I love Yogi Yea, especially the choco and sweet chilli varieties, so I had high hopes for this.  Truthfully, it’s not as Christmassy as I’d like, but it tasted like an ayurvedic rainy day tea I used to have all the time in Manchester, so I love it.  Also, it gives me an excuse to talk and think about Christmas, so it’s definitely a winner.

Midweek Munchies (3)

Rice milk chocolate is the vegan dream, so I was excited to see this Hazelnut Brittle variety that was new to me.  It was as good as I’d hoped, studded with little hazelnut chips.  There is a similar Moo Free bar which is sublime, though I haven’t managed to find it in the Czech Republic.  (I always take a bar of that when I’m flying (a)to calm my nerves, and (b)so that if the plane crashes at least the last thing I eat will be amazing.  I’d like to think that would comfort me.)

Midweek Munchies (4)


And finally:  sausages!  Usually I fork out on Field Roast sausages for a treat, but this time I decided to go for the marginally cheaper Tofurky version and made them into a sausage casserole.  Nothing will ever be as good as Field Roast, but they were a close second in flavour.  And also, they were huge.  I’ll definitely get some again.  Tofurky isn’t that big in the UK, but my local vegan shop in Prague has quite a few of their products, and it’s nice to be able to see what savoury food the American vegans get.  And my conclusion is that they, along with the Europeans, get much better sausages and mock meat than we do in the UK.  However, they don’t get vegan black pudding, so perhaps we win after all?

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Vegan Afternoon Tea: Gillam’s Tearoom, The Lake District

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Before moving to Prague in the summer, I visited two places I’d never seen before, at opposite ends of the country:  Cornwall and the Lake District.  Initially I’d been a little worried that the Lakes wouldn’t be very vegan friendly, but I had nothing to worry about.  Not only did we stay at an all-vegan B&B, but we even found somewhere to go for afternoon tea.  Gillam’s is a vegetarian cafe, and it’s very popular – it was completely full when we visited, and we were glad to have reserved a table.  I’ve had a few modern twists on the afternoon tea this year, but this one was good and traditional.

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For the sandwiches, there was a choice of any vegan sandwich from the lunch menu – three or four options.  We weren’t exactly sure how it was all going to work, so we both ordered the olive tapenade.  It was delicious, but very intense with the olive flavour and saltiness, so it would have been better to order another filling as well and switch between the two.

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Lake District Day Three 030

The scones were beautiful – big, easy to halve, and tasty.  They were still warm from the oven, and served with whipped soya cream and jam.

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We were allowed to order any two vegan cakes we wanted from the menu board (vegan options are clearly marked), and they were served in two neat little halves for sharing – so make sure you collaborate with your companion!  The chocolate tiffin was recommended by our host at Fox Hall B&B, so we had to go for that – and it was excellent!  It was very rich, so half a slice was plenty.  The top layer of chocolate was very thick, and the bottom layer was moist and juicy from the raisins.  Oh, it was good!

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We also had the banana and date cake – it didn’t really taste of banana, to my surprise, but it was a lovely moist, sticky cake with icing that was creamy and smooth rather than gritty, as it sometimes can be.

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This was such a great place to visit, and it was nice to have a traditional afternoon tea.  The owner, Doug, is a vegan too and was really helpful when we were booking.  If you’re in the Lakes, make sure to take a break from hiking and fill up on some good food here!

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Vegan in Vienna (Part Two)

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A week in Vienna is plenty of time to see the sights and, more importantly, find the good vegan food!  This is what I ate in the second half of my holiday, continuing from last week’s installment.

Maran Supermarket (3)

Maran Supermarket (5)

Before heading over to Bratislava for the day on Thursday, we tucked into these croissants from Maran supermarket.  Like the chocolate and raspberry croissant the day before, it was more of a bread bun than a pastry, but it was delicious warmed up and slathered with this Nutella-like spread.

Delicious Vegan Bistro

We got back to the city quite late and wanted to find somewhere to eat that wasn’t too far away from the main station.  The Happy Cow app obliged and we made our way to Delicious Vegan Bistro, a tiny little place just opposite the Naschmarkt.  There were just two two-person tables (bright pink, as you can see!), so I suspect they might do more takeaway business.  There were a few staples on the menu, along with daily specials.  This chilli was one of the staples.  It was made with mince, sweetcorn and kidney beans, and accompanied by tortilla crisps and guacamole.  It was nice, and the presentation was excellent, but I would have loved a bit more flavour:  maybe some onion in the chilli or a bit more spice.  The owner was really welcoming and passionate about veganism, so this is a great little place to support.  I’d love to try some of their desserts too!

Blueorange (2)

Ah, another breakfast disaster.  On their website, Fruhstuck und Mittag bei mir claimed to serve breakfast, including vegan dosas, until 10:30am.  We arrived about an hour before that, and were told breakfast had finished and they could only offer us bread.  We declined.  Fortunately, Blueorange was not too far away.  They serve bagels, including plenty of veggie and a few vegan ones, all clearly marked on the menu, and even a couple of vegan baked treats as well.  I had the avocado bagel, which was so humongous it made my jaw ache.  But it was worth it!  You can’t really go wrong with cool, creamy avocado and a bit of salad, can you?  This was an excellent emergency find.

Easy Going Bakery (2)

Easy Going Bakery (3)

We broke up the day with some cake, of course.  The Easy Going Bakery was a great spot to recharge and refuel.  It’s all vegan and has five chairs if you want to eat in.  There is a very tempting counter offering numerous kinds of cupcakes – in this case, many of them with Halloween decorations.  Everything looked and sounded amazing!  There were also cake pops, cookies, raw cakes and cinnamon swirls.  I went for a Halloween brownie, and feared it was a boring choice in face of all the cupcakes.  But it was one of the best brownies I’ve ever had:  a great crust on top, and a dense, fudgy, moist cake underneath.  So good!  Dr HH was even more boring and got this undecorated nougat muffin, which he said was well-baked but needed more nougat.

Formosa (1)

Formosa (2)

Formosa (3)

That evening we ate at Formosa which is a bit of an odd place:  kind of Asian, kind of fast food, a bit difficult to pin down.  It’s quite a small place, and the tables are in the middle of a pretty impressive veggie shop:  some excellent chocolate bars, all the vegan cream cheese in the world and a lot of mock meats.  The staff told me that everything was vegan, though that doesn’t match with the comments on Happy Cow.  We decided to split two mains because we couldn’t decide what we wanted.  We knew we had to try the goose with dumplings and red cabbage, because who has seen vegan goose on a menu before?  Neither of us knew what real goose tasted like, so I can’t comment on the authenticity.  I can say it was a bit tougher than over mock meat I’ve had, and it tasted good.  The dumplings weren’t as dense as I’d have liked, but the gravy has really flavoursome:  all in all, a good dish.  We also had the BBQ duck with rice and veg.  There wasn’t as much duck as I would have liked, but the sauce tasted fantastic (full of ginger and soy sauce), and the fresh vegetables were good.

Formosa (4)

Formosa (6)

We also shared some dumplings, because we can never say no to them.  Alas, the filling was pretty bland, but the dipping sauce brought them alive.  Rather unusually, the desserts were all microwave mug cakes.  Once again, we shared.  We got this vanilla chocolate crumb cake, which was a vanilla sponge dotted with chocolate chips and topped with creamy chocolate ice cream.  It was cooked right to the bottom, and was really enjoyable.  Formosa isn’t the fanciest of places, but it’s pretty solid and I liked seeing some unusual options, such as goose and mug cake.

Veganz (2)

The next day started with cinnamon swirls, purchased in advance from Veganz supermarket.  It is an extremely well-stocked little supermarket, with fresh food from Pirata Sushi and baked goods from other local eateries.  These swirls included raisins and nuts, and they were gooey and soft and delicious.

Dr Falafel (4)

Dr Falafel (5)

I mentioned in part one that we found some long-awaited, excellent falafel.  Well, we found some more that I think was even better, courtesy of Dr Falafel at the Naschmarkt.  There are signs proclaiming the falafel wrap to be vegan, and the hundreds of hummus varieties are all clearly labelled so you know which ones are safe to eat.  It was a cold day and the market was packed, so we decided it was worth paying more money to sit inside and eat.  There were three giant falafel in there, flecked with green herbs, crispy and toasty warm.  I wasn’t a fan of the huge tomato slices, but the hummus was slathered on so thickly, it was beautiful.  Beautiful!  I’m now counting down until the Christmas holidays to get some good falafel in Manchester again.  You can also buy a bag of falafel to take away and enjoy later.  Definitely a good option if you’re on a budget.

Veganista (2)

Even if it’s Halloween and pretty cold, the law states that if you find a place with vegan ice cream, you must buy some.  And so we stopped by Veganista, which has two shops in the city and an impressive array of flavours, including some seasonal ones which cost a wee bit more.  Dr HH was bold and went for pumpkin spice and toffee apple, both of which he enjoyed, especially the big chunks of apple.  I was equally pleased with my less adventurous choice of oat-cinnamon and peanut butter.  Both were creamy and full of flavour.  There’s a row of five seats in the Margaretenstrasse branch, so we stayed in the warmth while we ate.  It’s a fantastic little place, and I really recommend it, whatever the season.

Yamm! (1)

For our last evening meal, we’d booked a table at Yamm! (their exclamation mark, not mine).  I love a good buffet, even if it’s pay by weight rather than all-you-can-eat, but things did not go swimmingly.  First of all, despite being all vegan and vegetarian, they didn’t label on the menu which wines were vegan – one of my biggest hates in meat-free restaurants.  And then it turned out that vegan wines were only available by the bottle or as part of a spritzer, but not in a glass alone.  How inflexible and bizarre.  And then the buffet itself.  Dr HH (who is vegetarian) had, amongst other things:  pizza, polenta lasagne, a dumpling, tortellini, arancini and deep-fried broccoli.  None of those things were labelled as vegan, so I had gumbo as my only “main” dish, and lots of little salady sides.  Quite disappointing when you compare the options for the two of us.  The gumbo was delicious, but this was an expensive plate of sides.

Yamm! (2)

Fortunately, the dessert counter had a better proportion of vegan options.  We split this lebkuchentortchen, which had a biscuit base, layers of sponge and chocolate and vanilla cream and apple jelly on top.  It was divine and ensured that I actually left in a good mood.

Yamm! (3)

Despite being underwhelmed by the evening buffet, we went back to Yamm! for breakfast on our last day in Vienna.  Well, we’d already booked, and the menu promised “two pastries” in the vegan breakfast.  Thus we experienced the Great Pastry Debacle of 2015.  Yes, those pastries turned out to be bread buns.  Once again, I was devastated.  It meant that the vegan breakfast was all savoury, and I’d have preferred just going back to Blueorange for another excellent bagel than eating this rather underwhelming, overpriced plate.  The carrot and orange juice was really nice, but a very small glass.  The sausage from the menu turned out to be a few slices of salami.  It was all a bit disappointing.  Still, it filled me up and kept me going on the train home.

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I can’t recommend Vienna enough as a tourist destination.  It’s so great for vegans – there were loads of other places I wanted to try, but we just didn’t have time.  And it’s also a jaw-droppingly beautiful city, with lots of things to do.  One of our highlights was attending a performance at the opera.  The building was gigantic, we actually gaped at it from outside, and the interior was extremely fancy.  It was so fancy we weren’t even allowed to take coats in with us, they had to be left in a cloakroom (which makes a quick escape at the end virtually impossible) – thus exposing Dr HH’s Optimus Prime t-shirt to our company.  It’s safe to say we were among the more casually-dressed visitors.  We paid under 50 euros for our seats, but you can also queue up on the day and get a standing ticket for just a few euros.

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We were underwhelmed by Mumok and the Secession, besides the excellent Beethoven Frieze, so instead, I would recommend the Albertina for an art fix.  They had some great impressionist work, and also an Edvard Munch exhibition.  I was really excited when we saw The Scream in black and white, but to be honest I found the full exhibition really depressing and gloomy.  In the Augarten park near our airbnb, there was quite a fun little art gallery called Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary.  We had to take our shoes off and leave our bags in lockers before we could enjoy the temporary exhibition.  One room was like a soft play area with lots of maracas to rattle, the next had some kind of large crochet tent, and the final one had hammocks.  Any tourist welcomes the chance to rest their feet, so we enjoyed a good lounging session.  This looks like a great gallery to keep an eye on.

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Schoenbrunn Palace looked very impressive, though we merely enjoyed it from the grounds.  Walking around the city centre can take up loads of time, not because everything is spread out but because you have to stop every thirty seconds to gape at something else.  St Stephen’s cathedral is really impressive from the outside, with its jazzy roof, and inside, with its doom and gloom.  It’s a proper, imposing old church!  We climbed the tower, which is 343 stairs high, spiralling all the way.  You will get dizzy.  Unlike most towers we’ve climbed, once you get to the top you do not emerge into the open air but into a gift shop with windows for enjoying the view.  For me, this was perfect:  usually I spend my time on church towers clutching the wall with one hand and Dr HH’s coat with the other, beseeching him not to lean too far over the edge.  He was pretty disappointed not to be in the open air, daredevil that he is.

The only way Vienna could be better is if it actually provided me with the advertised vegan waffles and pastries.  If you know where to get them, let me know!

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Vegan in Vienna (Part One)

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Central Europe is the best place to live.  From Prague it’s only four hours and not much money to travel to Berlin or Vienna.  When we decided to move here, we thought excitedly about travelling every weekend and popping up to Berlin any time we craved a delicious cake from Oh La La.  Of course, life does not allow for such things, but we managed to make it to Vienna within a few months of arriving in Prague, and stayed for a whole week as well.  It was a magical holiday.  Prague has some incredible architecture, and walking down an average street can be part of the sight-seeing experience.  But Vienna is something else, especially the city centre, where within about 10 minutes you can walk from the state opera to a palace, to the town hall, to the university, to parliament, to a million museums, and each building is grander than the last.  And it has an advantage over Prague, where the main sights are on narrow, twisted little cobbled streets and you can’t take two steps without crashing into someone wielding a selfie-stick and wearing their backpack on their front.  Vienna has wide avenues and minimal contact with other pedestrians or tourists:  perfection.

Swing Kitchen (2)

On arrival in Vienna, we checked in to our airbnb and had a very slow spin on the big wheel at Prater (not really recommended), then went for burgers at Schillinger’s Swing Kitchen.  I’d heard rave reviews about this place on other blogs and forums, so I was very excited.  In the end though, it didn’t really live up to the hype.  I thought it was essentially an up-scale, meat-free McDonalds:  fast food, but not the best quality or tastiest burgers.  The interior at least was nicer than McDonalds; it’s a big spacious place, though there aren’t that many seats and it was a bit of a struggle to get somewhere to sit.

Swing Kitchen (3)

Dr HH and I both ordered the Vienna burger.  The patty was a big schnitzel topped with mayo and salad in a toasted bun.  It was nice, but there wasn’t much flavour in there (alas, there was a tabasco station that we didn’t spot until too late).  The portion of chips was pretty small, but it was nice to get proper chips rather than French fries.  We also shared a portion of onion rings, which were nice but didn’t have the proper batter.

Swing Kitchen (4)

There were three regular desserts and a daily special, and we agonised a little before agreeing to share the sachermuffin.  It was a good choice!  The sponge was excellent, really moist and not too rich.  The perfect balance.  If you’re staying in Vienna for a while and like fast food, it’s worth popping along, but I wouldn’t call this place a must-visit.

Deli Bluem (1)

Deli Bluem (3)

Deli Bluem (2)

In my Easter holiday this year I was disappointed to find that Paris and Ghent had virtually no good vegan breakfast options.  Well, Vienna has hundreds, so we started exploring them the very next morning at Deli Bluem.  This all-vegan restaurant has some individual breakfast items you can order, as well as some set meals with a common theme.  We both chose the Marrakech, which consisted of two aubergine halves cooked to melty perfection and topped with saffron yoghurt, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and basil.  They were amazing!  These were accompanied by a quinoa and red cabbage salad, which was also really good, though I’m not convinced it included the mint and dates promised.  On the side, we got some sourdough bread spread with freshly-made hummus, and two drinks:  mint tea and a banana date smoothie.  Everything was delicious, and I say that as someone who usually prefers a sweet breakfast.  The cafe itself is lovely too, really spacious and light, and featuring test tube chandeliers that my science teacher beau was crazy about.  The only downside:  this breakfast cost us 14 euros, and it was pretty small.

Cupcakes Wien (2)

Cupcakes Wien (3)

That said, we still didn’t need much of a lunch.  So we went for cake!  The best thing about the Mumok (modern art museum) was the CupCakes Wien cafe inside it, with its three vegan cupcake options.  We split the chocolate one and the orange nougat, both of which were delicious.  The sponge was perfect and, most importantly, the icing was neither too smooth nor too gritty.  Lovely!

Pirata Sushi (1)

Pirata Sushi (2)

In the evening we were pretty peckish and wanted to fill up before going to the opera, so we’d reserved a table at Pirata Sushi.  It’s a small place, so if you want to eat in (takeaway also available) it might be worth booking.  We started off with the mixed plate at the top:  4 nigiri with smoked tofu, 6 uramaki and 4 maki.  After a little break, we wanted more, so got the second plate with four more aramaki and 6 maki.  This meant we got to try pretty much everything on offer, and they were all fresh and delicious.  Special mentions to the black avocado maki, nigiri (obviously) and the exciting pink salad bomb.

Brass Monkey (1)

The next morning started with The Great Waffle Debacle of 2015, as it has come to be known.  Yes, it was as bleak as it sounds.  During my extensive holiday research, I had found a photo from the Brass Monkey Facebook page with a picture of the most mouthwatering waffles alongside the caption, and I quote “new vegan breakfast starting from Monday.”  When we arrived, a few weeks after the Monday in question, I hopefully asked the waitress, “What about the vegan waffles?”  “We don’t make them till the afternoon,” she replied, “around 1pm.”  Nooooo!  Why?!  Why lie on Facebook, and why serve waffles but not at breakfast time?  I was devastated and starving, so we stayed for some emergency breakfast.  Dr HH got a nice pastry, but the only vegan option was the sacher cake.  So I had to have it.  The ganache was not glossy, but it was very tasty.  But it wasn’t a waffle.

Maran Supermarket (1)

Maran Supermarket (2)

Fortunately, Maran Vegan Supermarket is not far away and alongside the well-stocked shop there is a little bakery/canteen.  We shared this chocolate and raspberry croissant and nougat heart, which was a sandwich biscuit.  The biscuit was lovely, and the croissant was very tasty, though it was more doughy like a bread bun than having the pastry layers of a traditional croissant.  Not the healthiest of breakfasts, but this is what I was driven to.

Falafeleria (1)

I finally got something from a non-cakey food group when we had a late lunch at Falaferia in the Praterstern Metro station.  I have missed good falafel.  Anyone following the immigration crisis will know that the Czech Republic government is not exactly pro-refugees, and it has been very strange for me to move to a non-multicultural society (besides a Vietnamese community, Prague is extremely white).  A lack of these other communities means a lack of their delicious cuisines, and as such we are yet to discover good falafel in Prague.  I genuinely believe if Czech politicians/people tried falafel, they would be much more receptive of the refugees.  Fortunately, Vienna is as multicultural as it gets, and they have the falafel to show for it.  This was the best falafel we’d had since our last trip to Go Falafel in Manchester.  It’s hard to get a good photo of a falafel wrap, so you’ll have to take my word for it that this one was incredible.  The falafel was flecked with green, which is always reassuring.  My understanding was that all the cooked food was vegan (most things are labelled as such), and it was only some of the dressings that were not, so we asked for all the vegan options on the wrap.  There was some good salad, including an amazing aubergine spread.  You can choose how spicy you want it, which is always a bonus.  This is such a great stop if you just want a quick, tasty, reasonably-priced bite.

Vienna 2015 050

And after a busy day of sightseeing, we finished up with a huge feast at Rupp’s, an Irish pub.  I know there is nothing worse than being a British tourist in an Irish pub, but Rupp’s is not typical of its kind:  there’s no TV, so definitely no sport; we were the only Brits in there; it’s small and cosy; and the food is all vegan and vegetarian (reviews on Happy Cow say that the alcohol is not all veggie though, so beer drinkers beware – I was pleased to see the vegan wines marked on the menu).  It’s a really atmospheric little place, decked out with old TV sets, books and board games.  We reserved a table, and I think it’s just as well:  it was packed by 7:30pm!  There was only one barman, so service was a little frantic, but he still found time to be smiley and helpful.  Another bonus:  there’s an English translation at the back of the menu.  Hurrah!

Rupp's (1)

Rupp's (2)

Dr HH, rather surprisingly, opted for one of the smaller plates and just got this bratwurst.  A slightly troubling sausage:bread ratio, but he fashioned it into a hot dog with some ketchup and mustard and said the sausage was really well-flavoured.  As he still had bread to spare, I gave him a schnitzel and he said that also made for a good sandwich, with some potato on the side.  Yes, I got some traditional schnitzel, and chose roast potatoes as the accompaniment and was pretty pleased when they turned out to be hash browns.  Some people might think this looked dry, but it was my idea of heaven!

Rupp's (3)

Apologies for the bad photo here, my hands must have been shaking with excitement.  There were two vegan desserts on the menu, and we chose the chocolate nougat crepes over the apple strudel.  We really, really should have shared one plate.  The barman asked us if we’d like vanilla sauce (custard, basically) with them, and I asked what he’d recommend.  He told us that with the custard “they’re really nasty…but I mean that in a good way!”  We took his word for it, and they were indeed decadent and delicious:  two big, thick crepes filled with vegan Nutella and smothered in custard.  Generally, I’d call this good pub grub with an exceptional dessert.  I think it’s a better choice than Swing Kitchen if you’re looking for that kind of fix.

In the next installment:  you thought the Great Waffle Debacle of 2015 was bad?  Imagine the Great Pastry Debacle!  Also:  more cake, more falafel.

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Cookbook of the Month: Vegan Eats World

VEW Mafe (3)

Terry Hope Romero and Isa Chandra Moskowitz get a lot of love on this blog, and with good reason:  they are the queens of the vegan cooking world.  Last month I cooked from Veganomicon, their first cookbook together, and concluded that it was good for the basics but they’ve both produced better recipes since then.  And I uncovered further proof of that this month when I worked my way through Terry’s (oh yes, we’re on first name terms) Vegan Eats World.  As the name suggests, it’s a collection of vegan recipes from all around the world.  It has a good balance of cuisines, and even a little sweet treat section, though I didn’t venture into it, and it has introduced me to the wonder that is mafe.  Read on!

VEW Andean Aji Bean Stew

The Andean Aji Bean Stew had to be improvised, largely because my local supermarket doesn’t sell chillies.  Maybe spicy food just isn’t that popular here?  So, I ended up just using chilli flakes instead of Aji.  It was nice and hearty with the quinoa and beans, and partially blitzing gave it a great texture.  It was packed with smoky flavours.

VEW Ginger peanut squash soup

The ginger peanut squash soup was probably my favourite, because I love a good peanutty stew-y soup.  I added spinach and chickpeas to give it some colour and extra protein.  It’s really hearty and flavoursome, perfect for winter.

VEW Red Lentil Dahl With Tomatoes

Unfortunately the red lentil and tomato dahl was a bit uninspiring:  nice, but not very exciting.

VEW White Bean Farro Soup

The white bean farro soup was much better.  I couldn’t get hold of farro, so I used bulghur wheat instead.  There were some lovely herby flavours in here.

VEW Black Bean Soup (2)

I love a good spicy soup as well, of course, and the Mexican black bean soup was solid.  Soups like this are so easy to make:  tins of beans and tomatoes, a good spice selection, and you’re away.  Black beans have eluded me so far since I arrived, so it was kidney beans again.


The Greek creamy lemon rice soup was not quite as special as some of the others (I tend to prefer African and Asian flavours to Mediterranean in soups), but I loved the flavour and creaminess from the pureed canellini beans, along with the nice lemon and herb aromas.  I only used the arborio rice without any additional orzo, because I didn’t know where to find it.

VEW Pumpkin Blackbean Posole Stew (2)

I served the pumpkin black bean posole stew as a soup, and it was perfect for the cold weather we’ve been suffering.  The broth was really spicy and warming, and the veg and beans felt like they were protecting me from the wild outdoors.  I used chickpeas instead of hominy, and of course, kidney beans.

VEW Quinoa Pistachio Salad (2)

And I ventured into the salad section for one packed lunch:  the pistachio date quinoa salad.  I didn’t have any quinoa in so switched it for couscous.  I loved it!  It was quite a sweet salad due to the dates, but I have a sweet tooth so I didn’t mind.  It was lovely, and I’ll definitely make it again for a quick and easy lunch.

VEW Tofu and potato adobo stew (1)

And so to the mains.  I started rather boldly, with the tofu and potato adobo stew – I wasn’t brave enough to add the vinegar, especially as I didn’t fancy my chances of finding coconut vinegar in Prague.  I added a tin of chopped tomatoes and it was really nice.  The flavour from the soy sauce was fantastic.

VEW Aubergine Shakshuka (3)

The aubergine shakshuka was also delicious!  A lovely bit of heat, and lots of well cooked vegetables (aubergine chunks, strips of colourful peppers).  Fresh coriander is hard to find here, so I didn’t make the green tahini sauce to serve, instead drizzling on a bit of tahini straight from the jar.  It was good!

VEW Aubergine Parmigiana (1)

VEW Aubergine Parmigiana (7)

My aubergine parmigiano looked nothing like the one in the book, but I loved it!  I was worried the tomato sauce would be too thin, but it was fine with the layers of aubergine.  The ricotto-style layer was beautifully creamy from the tofu and cashews, and formed a nice thick topping – I’ll definitely use that again in other dishes.

VEW Seitan Almond and Sesame Tagine (3)

The seitan, almond and sesame tagine was great – anything with seitan is a winner for me!  I really enjoyed the sweetness of it, and the meaty texture.

VEW Pumpkin Coconut Curry (2)

After being underwhelmed by the curries in Veganomicon, I was a little hesitant to try one for Vegan Eats World.  But I decided to brave the pumpkin coconut curry, and I’m glad I did – it had much more flavour than the Veganomicon ones, and I loved the texture:  the pumpkin was cooked until it was just starting to fall about, which made the sauce a bit thicker and creamier.  Delicious!

VEW Jerk Roasted Seitan Strips (1)

The jerk roasted seitan strips were excellent!  They smelled so good as they cooked and were so juicy and flavoursome.  I served them with the island brown rice and peas.  Dr HH happily referred to this meal as “steak and rice” and absolutely loved it.

VEW Moussaka Stew

The Lebanese moussaka stew was nicely flavoured – I love cinnamon, and this tasted beautiful.  The aubergine chunks were melting, the chickpeas were good and chunky:  both the texture and flavour were spot on.

VEW Red wine braised leeks and mushrooms (1)

The red wine braised leeks and mushrooms sound like they should be quite fancy but, as is my wont, I turned them into a stew and beefed it up with some seitan.  Seitan makes everything better.  I had high hopes for it, but to be honest it isn’t one I’ll be in a hurry to try again.

VEW Mafe (4)

And, finishing on a high, I made this deluxe tofu vegetable mafe.  I have no idea what a mafe is, and delighted in refusing to elaborate on it when Dr HH asked what was for tea.  I have learned that mafe is delicious.  Delicious!  I will reveal a little about it at least:  there’s marinated tofu, aubergine, pepper, cabbage, spices and good old peanut butter.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s African.  And, it bears repeating, delicious!

In conclusion, I loved this book!  I thought it was more adventurous than Veganomicon and more consistently successful – the dahl and leeks were the only things that underwhelmed me, and even they weren’t bad.  There are still more dishes I’d like to try, if I can work out how to get hold of some of the more difficult-to-acquire ingredients (not difficult for people in the UK, just for a rather bewildered person in central Europe).  And most of the dishes I tried were pretty easy to rustle up and didn’t require long hours in the kitchen, making it very accessible.  This one is highly recommended!

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Vegan in Brno

Brno Saturday (2)

Brno is the second city in the Czech Republic, but it is not favourably viewed by the people of Prague.  The day after we booked our train tickets and airbnb, I was teaching my students some language for making suggestions.  “Let’s practise,” I told them.  “I’m going to Brno at the weekend, give me some suggestions.”  They all exhaled loudly and exchanged bleak looks.

“I suggest staying in Prague.”

“How about visiting a more exciting city?”

Flawless use of the target language, but demoralising nevertheless.  I think their negativity was unwarranted, and probably largely due to a “friendly” rivalry between Bohemia and Moravia.  I really liked Brno!  It was small, but it was a lovely place to wander around for a weekend.  Granted, it’s not a place I’ll really need to return to.  But well worth a visit when I’m in the Czech Republic for such a long time.  And definitely worth a visit for the food!  Unfortunately, a lot of eateries in the Czech Republic tend to close at the weekend, or at least on Sundays, which often scuppers of our plans.  I had to do quite a bit of research to find places willing to feed us.

For most of Saturday we had provided our own fuel, with a very early breakfast and a picnic while we were out in the Moravian countryside.  We returned to the city tired and ready for some hearty food, which is exactly what we got at Junk Food Cafe.

Brno Saturday (76)

It was a lovely place!  It had board games, which is always a sign of quality in my opinion, lots of non-smoking seating (ditto), and ceiling-to-floor windows, which make everything so light.  And it was really spacious, and our waitress was just lovely.  It used to be vegetarian, but has now changed so it’s 100% vegan.  However, the only English menu is from the old vegetarian days, so we needed a bit of help cross-referencing the updated Czech menu with the old one we could understand, and the waitress couldn’t have been more helpful.  We started off with a couple of milkshakes, going for the full junk food experience.  They were raspberry shakes made with almond milk, and they were good!  Alcohol is also served, so I had a nice glass of wine to finish the meal later.

Brno Saturday (94)

We started with a plate of onion rings, that great vegan rarity.  I had some in Glasgow that we still reminisce about frequently, and don’t think any have popped up on a menu since then.  They were plentiful, and they were delicious.  The batter was fantastic, and there was a good, spicy sweet chilli dip.

Brno Saturday (98)

Dr HH had the broccoli burger.  It had a good crunchy exterior, but he reported that it was a pretty standard veggie burger besides that.

Brno Saturday (96)

When he had a bit of my tempeh burger, he declared, “Now that’s a burger!”  And indeed, it was.  It was also crispy on the outside, and it was really substantial and smoky.  The bun was toasted, which is always a bonus, and there were, as you can see, millions of chips.  We probably wouldn’t have ordered those onion rings had we known!  It was a struggle to finish everything, as delicious as it all was, and unsurprisingly we didn’t have dessert.

Brno Sunday 047

The next morning we didn’t need much breakfast, so we dined fairly lightly at the Tri Ocasci buffet.  And before we headed home on Sunday afternoon, we managed to find somewhere that was open and had a vegan option:  Fresh Freaks.  This is a gluten free bistro that is bright, airy and had a really nice atmosphere.  It was very quiet on Sunday, despite being one of the few eateries open.  It serves meat, and marks the vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.  The online menu said there would be a vegan hummus wrap and a vegan quiche – the latter is what I was going for.  However, the real menu just said to check what options there were on the day, and there was no vegan quiche on a Sunday apparently.  Fortunately, there is a separate menu for daily specials (this is a very Czech thing, most places do it), and there is one vegan option every day.

Brno Sunday 042

The daily special was a soup and a main.  I started with the vegetable soup, which was tasty.

Brno Sunday 046

This was followed by the pumpkin and pea curry, which I really enjoyed.  The curry itself was creamy, but there were delicious crunchy chickpeas for texture.  I really enjoyed it!

Brno Sunday 043

I also managed to get a chocolate, date, banana and soy milk shake, which was lovely and was served in a glass bottle, which makes everything taste better.

Brno Sunday 048

And to finish, we asked if there were any vegan desserts.  There was only one, and it was this apple pie.  The fruit filling was so light and refreshing, and the cinnamon dusting on top was beautiful.  The pastry was good, but if only it had covered the top too – never skimp on pastry!

So in conclusion, Brno was worth a visit, and I should never listen to my students.

I’m on my travels again this week, just about to board a train to Vienna.  This makes it a good time to check out my Facebook page for photos of all the good food I eat during the holiday.  There will be cupcakes!

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