Vegan Mofo: The Hideaway, Urmston

Hideaway Breakfast (3)

Day Thirty:  Fusion Challenge

You don’t really get much fusion at the breakfast table, but there is a touch of chilli in this Full English, so why not shoehorn it in here?

I went to The Hideaway back in February for an afternoon tea and always planned to return for their big vegan breakfast.  I finally made it, and it was a pretty good start to a Sunday!

Hideaway Breakfast (1)

I had a really nice soy chai latte, which actually lasted me for the whole breakfast meal – there are few things more annoying than running out of liquid mid-meal.  And the breakfast itself arrived not far behind it.  I was immediately struck by the presentation:  beans in a separate ramekin.  YES!  At last, people who understand that it’s a very personal choice where to put the beans on your breakfast plate.  For my part, I kept them neatly in that pot, but anyone so inclined could upend them over the plate.

I was quite excited at the prospect of a sweet chilli tofu scramble.  Alas, this was just tofu mixed with some sweet chilli sauce, and I found it almost cloyingly sweet.  It wasn’t a hit for me.  The potato cake was lacking in seasoning, whereas the mushrooms (we asked for extra, in place of the ubiquitous roasted tomato) were seasoned to absolute perfection – I could have eaten twice as many still.  Just one slice of toast, as usual, which makes me suspect we are rather piggish in serving ourselves two slices at home.  And then the most intriguing element, the falafel patties.  They were a pleasant alternative to sausages, and were really tasty and nicely flavoured.  My only complaint is that they were very soft and mushy.  A little extra bite to the outside would have been heavenly!

Hideaway Breakfast (2)

Speed of service:  we were the only customers and got our food very promptly – we’d barely made a start on our drinks when the food arrived.  5/5

Value for money:  it was £5.50 each, and I felt like we had quite a lot.  A solid 4/5

Quality of cooking:  the potato cake was crying out for some salt and pepper, and the falafel patties were lacking a bit of crunch, but otherwise, spot on.  3/5

Creativity:  The falafel patties were an interesting substitution, I really enjoyed them.  It was a nice idea to give the tofu a sweet chilli twist, although it didn’t appeal to my personal tastes.  A nice balance between traditional breakfast elements and originality.  3/5

Total:  15/20

And so this is the end of Vegan MoFo!  This means that the winner of the Ultimate Full English Championship is…

Fuel!  Everybody hurry to Manchester now to give it a try.  Dr HH suggested that I compile a list of the best individual components, so here we go:

This month of blogging has been harder work than I’d expected, but I’ve really enjoyed the challenge.  The best thing of all is the number of vegan blogs I’ve discovered.  After reading the same people’s thoughts for thirty days, I feel like I know my fellow vegan bloggers pretty well and I’m going to be sad not to check in on them every day any more.

Are there any great vegan breakfasts that I’ve missed?  Send any tips my way!

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Vegan Mofo: Breakfast Muffins

Chocolate Courgette Muffins (12)

Day Twenty-Nine:  What Would you Bring on a Vegan Road Trip?

I love travelling, in the sense of exploring new places.  I hate travelling in the sense of actually getting from A to B.  I wish I could just click my fingers and be in an exciting new destination without the stressful and sometimes nauseating business of using transport.  I’m terrified of flying. I get seasick and coachsick, and I’m an extremely anxious car passenger.  (My dad was a very cautious driver and used to think the speed limit was for people who were in some kind of emergency; Dr HH thinks it’s a guideline.  Also, due to living in Asia for years, I went a long time without travelling on a motorway.  I spend most of our time in the car saying:  “Should we slow down a bit?”  He loves it, obviously.)  Trains are probably the only mode of transport that I’m actually comfortable with, and even then there’s the delays to worry about.

The only way to make the ‘A to B’ part of travelling bearable, then, is to take food.  And if you’re travelling in the early hours, what better to take than a nice bit of breakfast cake?  Here are some of the tasty vegan breakfast muffins I’ve made.

Carrot and Maple Muffins (8)

Ms Cupcake’s carrot and maple muffins are lovely, especially with that sticky, sweet glaze on top.  (Let’s not pretend it’s a healthy breakfast, even with the carrots.)

Cherry Almond Muffins (12)

Bakewell muffins are always a winner, with the right balance of cherries and almonds.  I do find that a bit tricky to get right though.

Lemon and Poppyseed Muffins (12)

Probably still my favourte are the first vegan muffins I ever made – lemon poppyseed.  Light, zingy, delicious, everyone would enjoy these on a road trip.

Vegan Banana Muffins (13)

Banana muffins are a breakfast classic, though I probably prefer to eat this batter in loaf cake form.

Vegan Chocolate Muffins (12)

My first attempt at vegan chocolate muffins.  I remember how delighted I was that they worked!

Chocolate Courgette Muffins (16)

And my current preferred chocolate muffin recipe:  the Oh She Glows chocolate courgette muffins.  The courgette keeps the sponge nice and moist, and the flavour was great.

So for a vegan road trip, I think I’d take the lemon and poppyseed muffins, perhaps with a few chocolate courgette ones as well (for breakfast dessert, of course).  And commuting to work counts as a road trip, doesn’t it?!

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Vegan Mofo: Radost FX (Take Two)

Radost Tacos 001

Day Twenty-Eight:  Tacos vs Burritos

You thought I was going to write about a breakfast burrito, didn’t you?  Well actually, I’ve never had one.  Imagine my delight on seeing tacos on a brunch menu here in Prague.  Everyone has heard of the breakfast burrito, but breakfast tacos were a new one for me.  New, and delicious!

I kicked off MoFo with a post about Radost FX, and it was too good not to return to.  This time we went back for a savoury Mexican breakfast.  It has to be said that service here is not the fastest, as it’s such a busy place, but at the same times the servers are really friendly and helpful and speak great English.

All savoury brunch items come with potatoes and bread, as you can see here.  The potatoes are gorgeous roasted chunks with so much flavour – they were actually my favourite part of the dish.  We weren’t sure what to do with the dry bread, so we dunked it in the guacamole, which was beautifully smooth and creamy.  And then the tacos, oh, the tacos!  It was just one crispy taco, which had gone a bit soggy in the middle, but was fine eaten with a knife and fork.  It was topped with good old refried beans, delicious smoky tofu flakes and a tasty, zingy salsa on top.  Delicious!

I’m not sure how breakfasty these tacos were, unlike breakfast burritos which seem to just roll up the normal full English.  But they were great for brunch, and I might even experiment with my own version at home!

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Vegan Mofo: Odd Bar, Manchester


Day Twenty-Seven:  Favourite Herb or Spice

My favourite spice is cinnamon, my favourite herb is basil, but I would have taken pretty much anything in this, the blandest tofu scramble of all time.

Odd Bar in Manchester used to boast three venues:  Odd, Odder and Oddest.  Unfortunately, Odder closed down last year, and I don’t think the names work quite as well without the comparative form in the middle.  Odder held a special place in my heart, as my fellow and I had our first date there (and he even had the vegan breakfast), but fortunately the menu is the same in all of them so I’m not missing out on anything.  It’s a very popular bar with a smallish food menu, but a couple of vegan options that are clearly marked.  It really is insanely popular, considering it’s in a highly competitive area surrounded by similar bars and eateries.  On a Sunday lunchtime we struggled to get a table and had a bit of a wait for our breakfasts.

Was it worth the wait?  Well…yes and no.  Let’s start with the toast:  it was dry.  No spread, nothing.  I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t serve dry toast with the vegetarian/meaty breakfast, and I think if they put vegan food on the menu it should be up to the same standard.  Then the tofu.  It must have been made by someone who has never eaten tofu in their life.  It was just scrambled tofu without a drop of seasoning – I don’t think there was even any salt and pepper, nevermind anything more adventurous.  I love tofu, but this makes me understand those people who say it’s bland.  I had to pretty heavy-handed with the salt and pepper pots to make this edible.

If there are beans on a breakfast plate, the roasted tomato is entirely superfluous in my opinion.  As Dr HH always says, a grilled tomato is just a pocket of napalm, burning your mouth and not really adding to the dish.  I’d lose the tomato and double the mushrooms, because that’s the good stuff.

The rest of the dish was much nicer:  the hash brown was very big and crispy, and the three bean patty was a surprising addition to a breakfast, again crispy and tasty.  The highlight was the sausage.  Look at the size of them, for one thing!  And they’re homemade, falafel sausages, so they stand out from the crowd of Linda Mac’s and so on:  they had all the flavour and specialness that was lacking from some of the other elements.

If I have this breakfast again, I’ll switch the tomato for extra mushrooms…and possibly take my own spread for the toast.  They were also out of soya milk as well, which seems a bit careless.  I love and support anywhere that goes to the trouble of marking vegan items on the menu, but come on – treat us as you treat the other customers!  Nip out to Tesco for some Pure spread and Alpro milk, and you’re back in business!

Speed of service:  it was busy in there, and we waited half an hour.  The problem is, of course, that you want your drink and your food at the same time:  this was one of those unfortunate occasions when it was a struggle to eke out the drink long enough for the food to arrive.  2/5

Value for money:  it was £6.95 for a generous portion, and the size of the sausages alone makes it worthwhile.  We were definitely full afterwards.  4/5

Quality of cooking:  points deducted for the dry toast and plain tofu.  2/5

Creativity:  the sausages were very special and the patty was a really nice touch as well.  4.5/5

Total:  12.5/20

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Vegan Mofo: Fox Hall B&B, Lake District

Lake District Day Two 001

Day Twenty-Six:  It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients you have?

Cold, rainy and snowy weather is not much fun, but it’s infinitely better if you’re barricaded indoors, snug and safe, looking out at a wild, wintry landscape.  So, in this imaginary scenario, I would be staying at Fox Hall B&B in the Lake District, and I would let the good people there do the cooking for me.  I was there in summer, but I can just imagine how cosy it would be in the winter.

The breakfast spread was very impressive.  First of all, an exciting array of cereals.  Because I am at heart still a greedy child at the breakfast table, I went straight for the chocolate stars.  Yum!  But I may also have been sensible and had some fruit as well.

Lake District Day Two 003

It’s the breakfast menu where things really get exciting though, from a simple rack of toast to some more exciting options.  Unsurprisingly, I went straight for the lemon and sultana pancakes.  They were really zingy and light, and lovely with some golden syrup drizzled on.  There were 12 little pancakes in the serving, which even I thought were too many for 1 person.

Lake District Day Two 002

Dr HH tried the cooked breakfast, but I was never quite hungry enough, so it won’t take part in the rankings.  It was a good hearty plate, though heavy on the beans.  He was a big fan of the nut rissoles and found them an exciting addition to the breakfast table, though the tofu needed a bit more seasoning.

Lake District Day Three 001

The next day I had that same tofu and mushroom scramble on toast and, with a bit of extra salt and pepper, I thought it delicious.  Usually when I have a scramble, it’s very scrambled in its texture.  This was different as the tofu stayed firm, but it was really nice.

Lake District Day Three 003

Hopefully we’ll be back in Fox Hall next year, sampling some more of their breakfast options.  It was my first time in all-vegan accommodation, and I loved it.  It was nice to get my money’s worth at the breakfast buffet again!

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Vegan Mofo: Teatime Collective, Manchester


Day Twenty-Five:  Share your Favourite Cuisine

So, British cuisine probably isn’t my favourite, but it’s got a pretty good breakfast in its favour (and it’s not nearly as bad as foreigners seem to think!).  Also, see how beautifully it ties into my MoFo theme?  Let’s look at another full English.

The big breakfast at Teatime Collective is everything you would expect:  hearty, a bit greasy, and very satisfying.  Teatime Collective itself is a wonderful little place.  I first went when it was fairly new and only had a bare minimum of indoor seating:  a wee table for two, and a counter with three stools.  Everyone else was left to dine at the picnic tables outside, which is remarkably pleasant on a bright, sunny day – but in Manchester such days are few and far between.  Happily, sometime last year they picked up a freight container than has been cosily converted into a little seating area and even on a cold February morning it was warm and pleasant in there.


Situated in Hulme, Teatime Collective isn’t the kind of place I’ve ever been easily able to just pop into – it’s a bit out of the way.  And as it’s closed in evenings and on Sundays, I was always very limited as to when I could actually go.  On the rare occasions I did make the trip, though, it was certainly worth it, and it’s nice peace of mind to go somewhere that is 100% vegan (and staffed by some of the friendliest people imaginable).  It opens at 11am but only serves breakfast for one hour, so we were anxiously checking our watches as we made our way there.  Fortunately we made it with half an hour to spare and ordered our big breakfasts (there are a few other options, but my dining out breakfast policy is very much ‘go big or go home’, so we didn’t waste time pondering) and I got a hot chocolate, which always comes topped with cream.  Delicious!

Alas, even trying to eke it out, I could not make the hot chocolate last the thirty minutes it took for breakfast to arrive.  I don’t like giving waiters/chefs a hard time, least of all in a vegan place, but we were the first customers of the day, so it was a bit irksome.  When the breakfast plate finally arrived, though, our grumbles quickly disappeared.


Look at that plate!  (Although actually, one final grumble:  there should never be a situation in which beans touch anything vegetably or scrambled.  I had to do some pretty rapid scraping.)  The grilled tomato is surplus to requirements, in my opinion:  a bit of spinach on there might have been nice, but all my tomato needs are covered by the beans.  But the mushrooms were tasty good, and always have a place on a breakfast plate for me.  The sausages were nice but nothing special, and the beans a bit too numerous for my tastes (I like dry food too much to be impressed by beans), but I know that’s just personal preference.  The black pudding and the hash browns looked to have been deep fried, they were so crispy – definite plus points.  Hiding under the hash browns was a tasty little potato cake, something I’d never tried before but would definitely have again.  As a lot of this was likely ready-made rather than homemade (hash browns, sausages, beans, black pudding, bread), the tofu scramble added a nice unique touch.  It had a surprising spiciness and was closer to scrambled egg in appearance and texture than any I’ve had.  I’m somewhat spoiled by the fact that my fellow makes the best tofu scramble ever (though as he dutifully says, he learned from the best), but I still enjoyed this a lot.

In conclusion, this is exactly what I expect from a big breakfast and I left with a heavy belly feeling very satisfied, and a bit disappointed I’d eaten too much to have room for some of the chocolate tiffin on the counter.  Personally I prefer a little more creativity and flair, but Teatime Collective tends to save that for their burgers and cakes and just let a straightforward breakfast speak for itself.

Speed of service:  pretty poor.  I know the staff are busy, but a thirty minute wait is pretty long and it messes up the whole timing of the hot drink+food combo.  2/5

Value for money:  only £6.50 for this gigantic plate?  Yes please!  5/5

Quality of cooking:  everything was toasty hot, no burnt toast, nice crispy hash browns and black pudding:  no complaints.  5/5

Creativity:  hearty, but unimaginative, and not that different to what we cook up ourselves when we’re having a full breakfast in bed.  2.5/5

Total:  14.5

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Vegan Mofo: Vegan Afternoon Tea: Steel City Cakes, Sheffield

Steel City Cakes Afternoon Tea 002

Day Twenty-Four:  What Mary Berry Would Eat If She Were Vegan

Today’s prompt is a fun one, and I’ve chosen British national treasure Mary Berry so I can take a break from breakfast and tie this in to my usual afternoon tea posts.  For any Vegan MoFo newcomers to the blog, every month I write about an all-vegan afternoon tea I’ve had.  I must not be derailed from my mission, and this prompt is perfect:  Mary Berry spends a lot of time trying cake, she delights in all things quaint and “scrummy” and in free-from week on the Great British Bake-Off she seemed game to try anything.  And I think she’d be pretty impressed by the sheer scale of this operation.

When I set my ‘one afternoon tea per month’ goal for this year, I wasn’t expecting quite so much variety.  But so far, it’s been full of surprises and delights, little twists on the theme.  And when I walked into Steel City Cakes in Sheffield for my afternoon tea, my mouth actually fell open in surprise at the sight that awaited me.  What a spread!

Steel City Cakes Afternoon Tea 001

At £25 for two, with free refills, I thought this was a real bargain, and a lovely special occasion.  The cafe is in a nice part of Sheffield that reminded me of Chorlton in Manchester, with its abundance of nice independent eateries and vintage shops.  There weren’t many customers on a Saturday afternoon, but there was a vegan hot dog and burger grill going on outside, and service was perfect:  friendly, but unobtrusive.  I sent them a message on Facebook to see if they could do a vegan afternoon tea, and they said they just needed a few days’ notice.

Steel City Cakes Afternoon Tea 003

There were a lot of sandwiches, with two different fillings:  cucumber and cream cheese, or salad.  These were accompanied by some delicious sausage rolls, reminiscent of sage and onion stuffing, wrapped in lovely flaky pastry.  We even got a hot dog from the grill thrown in as well!  However, with so much food before us, we decided not to fill up on bread and only had a couple of sandwiches along with the pastry and hot dog.  Let’s face it, the sandwiches were never intended to be the highlight of this feast.

Steel City Cakes Afternoon Tea 004

The sight of this scone plate made me giddy.  There are two big scones per person, one with raisins and the other with cherries, both topped in sugar which just makes them extra delicious.  And then there are four tiny, non-sugary scones each as well – two cherry, the others a combination of chocolate, raisin and hazelnut.  The scones weren’t very high (this is also my problem when making scones), but they were really good.  They were served with spread and jam, though we only managed to eat the cherry ones in the cafe – the others were all taken home as leftovers.

Steel City Cakes Afternoon Tea 005

And then the petit fours.  The lemon tarts were a wee bit burnt, but were really zingy.  The florentine-style tarts were full of sticky caramel and nuts – it was the first time I’d had anything like that, and I loved it.  The lattice-topped tart was blueberry, and was also really delicious.  The flapjack was really syrupy and firm, I loved it (flapjack is one of my greatest weaknesses), and the brownie looked like it might be a bit dry, but wasn’t.  The real highlight was the millionaire’s shortbread, just because it’s such a novelty.  I might grumble that the proportions weren’t quite ideal (too much biscuit, not enough caramel and chocolate), but good lord, it was good!  There was a nice hint of coconut to it as well, which was unexpected.

Steel City Cakes Afternoon Tea 006

And finally, the cake plate.  The big one was vanilla, with really sweet icing on top of a layer of jam.  The sponge was light and moist.  It was delicious!  I took the other ones home, as I couldn’t manage another bite in the cafe:  there was raspberry, cherry, coffee and walnut, and chocolate.  All of them were scrumptious!

All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I can’t recommend it enough.  I’d never expected to get so much food, nor to have four boxes of treats to take home with me!  It’s very rare that I am bested by a sweet dish, but this was one of the few occasions.  My mum and I both loved it, and Dr HH was delighted when I returned home with a stack of leftovers.  I think Mary Berry would be similarly happy if she could try this feast.

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