Vegan in London: Temple of Camden

Despite being in the Czech Republic for almost three years, I am still yet to discover much of a vegan community here. In the UK there are millions of social media feeds sharing accidentally-vegan finds, new products hitting supermarkets, and sharing top tips and new eateries. All of these things make me yearn to be back in the UK, and ensure that I always have a massive to-do list (or rather, to-eat list) whenever I pop back.

Hence Temple of Camden has been on my radar for a while, and I was very excited to finally get to visit in June. I assume it’s like a vegan KFC, but I’ve never been to a KFC, so I’m not entirely sure if that’s a fair comparison. Basically, the menu is heavy on fried (mock) chicken – burger, wings, and so on. I ordered the popcorn chicken, and got a lot more than I was expecting! The texture of these little bites was perfect, and the coating was beautifully seasoned and really crispy. I can’t even remember the last time I had anything like this, and would certainly recommend it.

Despite the chicken focus, it was actually the mac and cheese I was most excited about (it’s an all vegan establishment, so nothing to worry about). Sure enough, it was even better than the chicken! The cheese sauce was delicious, and whatever that white sauce is, it was also very much appreciated. The crumbly bits on top were flavoursome and added a wonderful crunchy texture. You simply must try it!

I was so stuffed, I couldn’t even manage one of the baked goods from the extremely tempting cake counter. But fear not, I got a couple to take away! The pain au chocolat was actually a little disappointing -it was quite tough to chomp through, and wasn’t that great eaten cold. I’m sure a little heating would have helped the chocolate to melt a bit and made the whole thing better.

No complaints about the brownie though! It’s kind of misshapen in this picture because it basically melted in my bag (my bag still smells deliciously chocolatey, so I’m not complaining). It is the most intensely chocolatey and gooiest brownie I have ever had. Also, it’s insanely filling – I had this for elevenses, and didn’t eat for the rest of the day. That could be a good thing if you’re trying to save pennies, but terrible if, like me, your goal is to cram as much food as possible in during a trip to London!

So, thank you to the UK vegan community for keeping me posted on this exciting new place! I’m back in London in a couple of weeks, and have a growing list of more places to try!

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Vegan in London: Breakfast Around Brick Lane

I once overheard some terrible American backpackers on the tram in Prague discussing their recent European adventures thus:

A: I’m still mad we didn’t go to McDonald’s in London.

B: Hey, I wanted to go! Nobody goes to London for the food.

Well, let me tell you that every vegan goes to London for the food! I always agonise over how to squeeze as much food as possible into a short stay in the capital, and I have to say that I was very pleased with my most recent effort.

In May, Dr HH and I popped over to London to see the wonderful Trevor Noah on one of his few European dates. We filled in the rest of our time with food! We were staying near Brick Lane, which is a great area for vegans, and we found plenty of culinary delights there – including these two convenient spots for breakfast.

Regular readers will not be surprised to see this picture. Of course I found vegan donuts! These were from Crosstown Doughnuts, which has several locations in the city. This one was a nice little cafe with a reasonable amount of seating. The vegan options were clearly labelled, and there were some very exciting flavours. I love donuts with a custardy, creamy centre, so I was delighted with this coconut and lime with spirulina dough. The tropical flavours were lovely, and I enjoyed the texture of the crumb on top.

Dr HH was also impressed with his lemon-thyme with beetroot dough. Again, it was a great flavour combination, and the coloured dough was a fun twist. There are quite a few other flavours, so we’re keen to get back  and try some more – the dark chocolate truffle sounds right up my street!

Another breakfast option is Canvas Cafe, an all-vegan cafe and community centre which is apparently famous for its freakshakes, but we didn’t have chance to indulge in those. Not that it was an indulgence-free visit, though: I’m powerless to resist a French toast, and this one certainly exceeded my expectations! The slabs of homemade sourdough were about ten times bigger than I was expecting, and they  were sweet and delicious.

Dr HH kept it savoury, as is his wont, with the Full English. As you can see, he was also treated to some sourdough. He found two elements of the breakfast quite bland and disappointing: the scramble, which needed seasoning, and the spinach, which had just been wilted – he would have preferred it sauteed with garlic. However, he raved about the sage sausages, well-seasoned, spicy beans, and especially the roast potatoes.

This is another place we’d be happy to return to – ideally, with enough room for a freakshake too! I’ve never had one, but I assume they’re an acceptable breakfast dish?

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Vegan in Nuremberg: The Green

I don’t think I ever feel fancier than when I’m eating an acai bowl for breakfast. I do it rarely (because truthfully, I’m much happier eating a gigantic baked good for breakfast), but this weekend was one of those occasions. It sounds terribly sophisticated (to my unsophisticated ears) to say that I went for a weekend away and had an acai bowl for breakfast.

Nuremberg is just three and a half hours and €15 away from Prague by coach, so we decided to give it a whirl rather than heading to Berlin for the squillionth time. As well as some interesting historical sites and some charming, picturesque sights, Nuremberg also has some solid vegan options. As soon as I perused the options on Happy Cow, I singled out The Green as our number one breakfast spot.

It’s an all vegan cafe that specialises in smoothies. It’s simply and stylishly decorated, and the menu is quite healthy. They serve a few sandwiches and lunch options later in the day, but the breakfasts appear to be the star of the show. Alongside a savoury or sweet breakfast plate (breads, spreads, and accompaniments), there are a few other options like banana toast, muesli, and, of course, acai bowls.

We forked out €10.50 each for a premium acai bowl. This takes the regular acai bowl (which is topped with fresh fruit, chia seeds, and coconut) and adds granola, plus one addition to the smoothie element (I went for baobab) and three additional toppings (I chose mixed nuts, goji berries, and dried apricots). As you can see, they were quite stingy with the nuts, which is a shame because the crunchy nuts and granola were my favourite parts. It was a tasty and fresh bowl, and set me up nicely for the day…but it wasn’t cold at all. All the acai bowls I’ve had in the past have been cold, presumably from frozen bananas, but this was room temp, which was quite surprising. I’m still quite the acai bowl novice though, so maybe this is the done thing. We didn’t say anything for fear we’d look like someone complaining that their gazpacho soup is too cold.

The hot drinks were definitely the right temperature, though! Dr HH got the cashew cappuccino, to keep the fanciness going. And I could hardly let him outdo me, so I paid the premium (again) and got my chai latte with cashew milk as well. I loved the fact that my drink came with a strainer, and the little jug was packed full of cloves and cardamom – the flavours really came through. I love a cashew milk hot chocolate, but we didn’t find the milk as noticeable in these drinks, which is a shame, given the price.

Overall it was a nice breakfast, and we loved the fanciness that it encompassed, but it was very steep for, essentially, a bowl of fruit. Perhaps it’s only for those who feel that dropping almost €30 on breakfast is the height of sophistication!

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Cookbook of the Month: Appetite for Reduction Part One

Appetite for Reduction was one of the first vegan cookbooks I bought, so why on earth has it taken me this long to review?! I used it quite a lot when I first went vegan, and decided to revisit it in May and see what I could get out of it.

It’s essentially a healthy eating book, ideal for anyone trying to lose a bit of weight. It’s Isa though, so she’s not making any sacrifices on the flavour front. Every recipe gives you a full break down of calories, proteins, fat, sugar, etc, so if you’re tracking any of those things it will definitely make life easier for you.

It wouldn’t be a healthy eating book without a salad section, would it? I started with the first recipe in the book: the everyday chickpea-quinoa salad, which also contains the balsamic vinaigrette and basic baked tofu. As you may have spotted, I used red quinoa, as we had a bit left in the cupboard, and it never hurts to prevent a dish from being totally beige! It wasn’t the most exciting of salads- the vinaigrette wasn’t that exciting, and we were really relying on the tofu to bring some fun and flavour to it.

The trattoria pasta salad with white beans was very much my kind of salad. The sun-dried tomato walnut dressing was just spectacular – so flavoursome. We used spinach instead of rocket, because rocket is the leaf of the devil.

And the goddess nicoise was even better. It was my first ever nicoise salad, so I’m not entirely sure what I was aiming for. Despite the instructions to keep all the components separate and the green goddess garlic dressing on the side, I just mixed everything up – it was in our lunch boxes, so it was getting mixed up either way. It was so delicious, though the dressing was very potent and may not have made me too popular in the office. The chickpea/tuna concoction was especially flavoursome.

I swear by Isa’s mac and cheese sauce from Superfun Times, so I had high hopes for her mac & trees recipe, which uses the easy breezy cheezy sauce. It was the most yellow cheese sauce I have ever seen, but it wasn’t quite as flavoursome as I’d hoped. It was nice, but it won’t challenge my existing favourite mac and cheese recipe (from Superfun Times, also by Isa).

On a fancier pasta note,I tried the lasagna with roasted cauliflower ricotta and spinach…only without the spinach, as our supermarket was out of all green leaves. Instead, I added mushrooms and smoked tempeh to beef it up a bit. The roasted cauliflower ricotta was nice and easy to make – I blitzed all the ingredients together (Isa recommends mashing the cauliflower into the tofu ricotta with a potato masher, but I thought a nice smooth mixture would be preferable). The sauce isn’t pre-cooked, so there’s not too much more prep to do – though I fried the mushrooms, of course. And it makes an extremely delicious lasagna. This is perhaps my favourite lasagna recipe – it was that good.

I’ve made the Arabian lentil and rice soup before, and it was just as good as I remembered! It’s very easy to make, and the rice makes it quite a filling lunch. I liked the simple seasoning, but Dr HH found it a bit boring. He’s wrong, obviously, but I’ve included his foolish feedback here anyway.

I’m a big fan of a good broccoli soup, but I’d never order one when eating out, so the name of this bistro broccoli chowder was a bit baffling to me. The parsnip is a fun addition, and this was a really thick soup – perfect for a hearty lunch!

I don’t usually make too many curries, due to Dr HH’s incredibly high standards. But I couldn’t resist the eggplant-chickpea curry, even though aubergine curry is his speciality. The recipe cooks the aubergine to perfection, that sweet spot where it’s just melting away in your mouth. And the addition of chickpeas elevates everything, so this one is definitely a winner.

 

He got into the kitchen himself to make this lentil and eggplant chilli mole, which I found very well seasoned, but he found a little mild. He was a bit sceptical about essentially boiling the aubergine rather than frying it first, but was won over by the texture in the end.

Regular readers may have picked up on the fact that I’m crazy about tempeh. Most Czech supermarkets sell smoked tempeh, so I chucked some of that in this smoky tempeh and greens stew. It’s a classic stew – hearty, flavoursome, perfect for tucking into on an autumnal evening, but still good during summer in Prague.

This book is absolutely jam-packed with recipes, and, though it wasn’t my original intention, I’ve decided to continue using it for another month. There are a lot of one-pot recipes, which is very much my kind of cooking. And even though most of my recipe tweaks make the final dish somewhat less healthy than the original recipe, I still like to think it’s been a month of healthy eating, and more to come!

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Vegan in Manchester: Zad’s

Since Zad’s opened in Chorlton last summer, it has been the talk of Manchester’s vegan community. It’s one of those rare places that seems to be universally loved and not suffer any backlash (sometimes a vegan crowd can be a little hard to please). And it has truly earned its great reputation.

It serves pizzas, side dishes, and cupcakes, and has a few indoor and outdoor seats along with a delivery option if you’re fairly local. The pizza options are more exciting than just vegetables – this is definitely a menu created by and for vegans.

The Pig Save pizza is essentially a meat feast (smoky maple strips, hot dog, pepperoni,and smoked seitan), with some of the proceeds going to the Manchester Pig Save activist group. It is an astonishingly good pizza. The faux pepperoni slices and little hot dog chunks are really savoury and satisfying, and there’s no skimping on the cheese.

The hench herbivore comes with an extremely generous helping of veg, and plenty of olives for flavour. My mum doesn’t rate olives as a pizza topping and isn’t crazy about vegan cheese, yet she claims this is the best pizza she’s had this year.

This vegangains pizza is slightly less pleasing – the mushrooms and spinach are nice, but the tofu is a bit too bland. Some of the meatier, better seasoned toppings might jazz this up a bit.

The cheesy garlic bread is something else. It’s so cheesy. It’s so garlicky it will certainly keep the vampires at bay. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

The food at Zad’s is incredible, and it’s actually one of the few all-vegan establishments in Manchester. It’s not cheap, at £10 for a 12 inch pizza, but I definitely think it’s worth a splurge. And I can also confirm that cold leftovers the next day are still delicious, so go ahead and over-order.

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Vegan in Dublin: The Rolling Donut

Newsflash: I love donuts! I used to plan my holidays around where to find a good vegan croissant, but now I’m all about donuts. There’s so much scope for exciting flavours and toppings. As soon as I googled “vegan donuts Dublin”, I decided that we’d pop along to Rolling Donut for breakfast all three mornings we were in the city. As it turned out, one morning I was too ill to eat so we didn’t hit our target of trying all the vegan options, but we did pretty well.

There are two branches in the city centre, with about 8 daily vegan options – there were some slight variations the two mornings we visited, but they were largely the same. The branch we visited was right by the river, and was quite busy on our visits (unsurprisingly, as the window display is extremely tempting, and there’s quite a steady stream of tourists passing by). There are just a few stools at the bar inside, and four chairs out on the street, so you might have to grab something to go if you’re unlucky. They also have non-dairy milk for hot drinks, so you can make a proper breakfast of it too.

Dr HH and I both agreed that this coconut chocolate one was a winner – the chocolate coating was delightful, and they were very generous indeed with the coconut sprinkling.

Yes, there is a donut under all those toasted flaked almonds! This was the almond and vanilla, which was very sweet and delicious, with great texture and crunch from the nuts. This was Dr HH’s favourite.

I’m a big fan of a good lemon and poppy seed dessert, and this was no exception. The sharp lemony hit was nicely balanced by the sticky sweet vanilla icing.

We suspect that the same vanilla icing is used for most of the vegan donuts and topped with various different things – and as such, this pistachio and vanilla one was also a treat! Everybody loves a flash of green pistachio on their baked goods.

And the basic chocolate one, while less exciting without its coconut topping, was still really enjoyable, and perhaps a bit less messy to eat, which can be a good thing when you’re eating in a prime tourist spot.

There was a coffee and walnut donut we didn’t get round to trying, along with a raspberry jam one and at least one more that we can’t remember. Their non-vegan flavours were quite a bit more exciting (custard-filled, cream-filled, various exciting toppings), so it would be good to see them go a bit bolder with the vegan options too. But for now, these will do very nicely indeed!

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Truffle Pig Easter Box

As a child, I never received an Easter egg from my parents. They thought them a waste of money, and instead bought me a generous bar every year (and a book, just because). I firmly believe that this has (a) caused lasting trauma, and (b) made me extremely susceptible to buying myself ridiculous Easter treats to make up for my earlier neglect. Enter the Truffle Pig Easter box!

I have already mentioned my deep love of Truffle Pig, and I think I’ve converted my family into fans as well, after buying them treats for Christmas/Mother’s Day too. I love supporting independent businesses, and I know that these chocolates are great quality. My birthday coincided with Easter this year, so I asked my mum to treat me to this box of goodies (apparently indulgent treats are fine when they’re for my birthday rather than Easter). (Also, this is not a sponsored post, I just want to rave about how good it was.)

I’ve already mentioned the creme egg, which was also sold separately, and was really delicious. But what other delicacies were included?

Hot cross bun tiffin! It’s hard to improve on tiffin anyway – chocolate with crunchy bits of biscuit is already a winner. But the hot cross bun spices and the festive cross on top made this even better.

The truffles were also a hit, so rich and indulgent. They came in a variety of flavours, including peanut butter, coffee, and definitely some fruity ones. I may have been too busy scoffing them to properly pay attention. I’ve given my mum boxes of these truffles for both Christmas and Mother’s Day, and she has given them a glowing recommendation too!

As soon as we finished this milk chocolate caramel bar, we looked at the online shop to check they weren’t just an Easter box exclusive. I’m relieved to say they all in general stock, and they are sublime! This is in fact one of the best chocolate bars I’ve ever had.

These caramel eggs were small and generously filled with very runny caramel. You can see it just oozing out in the second picture! They were lovely.

The milk chocolate coated cinder toffee was always going to be a winner – I got Dr HH and my brother a bag of this each for Christmas, and they were both impressed. It was indeed like little (or not so little) bits of Crunchie bars.

And some hot chocolate mix! I’m a keen drinker of hot chocolate, and I mixed this up with some Oatly Barista (my absolutely favourite milk). It’s the best chocolate mix I’ve had, probably because it’s not very dark, and therefore quite sweet.

I think it’s probably just as well I don’t live in the UK, because Truffle Pig has just started a monthly subscription box and I’m not sure I’d be able to resist it! If you’ve got a sweet tooth, or want to convince some of your non-vegan friends that vegan chocolate is amazing, you need to check out the shop!

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