New Products

It’s been a long time since I did a post about new vegan products I’ve tried. This is partly because we’re trying to use as little plastic as possible, so we’ve been a lot more conscious of what we’re buying and wary of just trying every new thing we see. But occasionally we do still pick up the odd treat in single-use plastic, and apparently it’s quite often ice cream or chocolate. Here are ten new products we’ve discovered this year.

1.Marks and Spencer Iced & Spiced Soft Bun

I’d had my eye on these buns for a while on social media, but they never made it to the Prague branches of M&S. I finally got my hands on them in Dublin in April, when Dr HH and I picked them up for an early breakfast en route to the airport. They were like hot cross buns, but with lots of delicious icing! Definitely worth the wait.

2.MooFree Baking Drops

Vegan chocolate chips don’t seem to be readily available in Prague, so I picked up a bag of these in the UK in April – they were just sitting on the shelf in a regular old Morrisons. I love MooFree chocolate, so I thought these were delicious, and very convenient for baking.

3. Super Fudgio Chocolate Coconut Milk Bar

There are always lots of exciting vegan chocolate bars available in Prague, and both the packaging and the name of this one appealed to me. The chocolate is super creamy and delicious, and there are a few different flavours. The coconut here was quite subtle and very pleasant.

4. dm Bio Jackfruit

Aha, there is a savoury item on this list! In the UK it’s become a bit easier to get tinned jackfruit (I think?), but in Prague I’ve only ever seen it like this, in a plastic packet inside a cardboard box. Due to the plastic, we won’t be buying this regularly, but it was exciting to test it out. I just love that shredded jackfruit texture!

5. Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss – Vanilla Island

In the summer we picked up this carton of vanilla ice cream, and it’s hard to get excited about vanilla ice cream, but it was really good and creamy. We also decided to kick things up a notch and try this…

6. Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss – Salted Caramel & Chocolate

Yes, it is as good as it sounds! Perhaps the perfect ice cream!

7. Magnum – Vegan Classic and Vegan Almond

More ice cream! I was shocked to see someone on Instagram posting about finding the vegan Magnums in a regular supermarket in Prague. Our local supermarket no longer sells loose onions, potatoes, or garlic, so imagine my astonishment on finding a freezer full of these! (And credit to Dr HH for urging me to look when I was too pessimistic to even consider it.) They are both sublime, the almond one probably more so.

8. Pret Cookie

It seems like all of the chain cafes in the UK have been really upping their vegan game this year, perhaps none more so than Pret. When they introduced this vegan chocolate and almond butter cookie, I booked flights back home to try it immediately! (This is not entirely true, but it was a very exciting time.) It’s a really, really good cookie. It’s quite intensely chocolatey, and has the perfect texture. Well done, Pret.

9. Costa Cookie

Not to be outdone, Costa have also introduced a vegan cookie now. This one has an extremely soft texture, which is a little disappointing (I like a cookie that’s soft in the centre but still has some bite around the edges), but it is filled with sticky, gooey toffee. How exciting! Overall, I probably prefer the Pret one, but I’m happy to do some more research in order to confirm that.

10. Boots Parsnip Fritter & Butternut Squash Sandwich

And another savoury product! I was in London at the beginning of October, which is apparently exactly when the shops introduce their festive sandwiches. Boots was the only place open when I arrived, so I grabbed their vegan option. Fritters sound like a very exciting sandwich filling, but actually I always find them a little dry. Also the veg made this a little sweeter than I might have liked. Good for an emergency, but not worth making an effort to track down, in my opinion.

 

So there you have it! Which product would you most like to try? UK vegans, what should be top of my list when I’m home for the holiday?

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Vegan in Prague: Forky’s

Forky’s is a difficult place to classify. On the one hand it’s got glorious, slightly greasy fast food, and on the other it’s got build-your-own buddha bowls. I’d like to say it’s the latter that lure me in, but you probably know me by now. If it  doesn’t come with a side of chips, I’m not interested! At least there’s something for everyone, but this will be a fairly one-sided review.

On my first visit I got the kebab (it’s an all vegan establishment, so you can take your pick from the menu). I never ate a kebab when I was a meat eater, and possibly never even tried a veggie version when I was a vegetarian. But now I’m a vegan (and living in Europe may also be a factor), I can’t get enough of kebabs. I judge a kebab on the texture of the mock meat, and the seasoning. In my opinion the best vegan kebab in Prague can be found at Paprika, but this is a solid runner up – it might even have nicked the top spot were it not for the abundance of red cabbage rolled up in there.

That first time I was a little disappointed to find that the chips were a mixture of regular and sweet potato fries. Don’t get me wrong, the sweet potato has its place. But I find myself becoming increasingly impatient with places that offer chips and they turn out to be orange instead of yellow. Sweet potato chips just don’t have that perfect texture, do they? They’re like slightly soggy, off-brand chips.

So imagine my delight when I returned recently and found that proper potato chips were now the order of the day! What a step up. The menu had generally been jazzed up as well, so that it now included fish and chips, which no Brit living abroad can reasonably be expected to resist.

My poor eyesight led me to believe that the picture behind the counter was showing battered tofu for the fish – alas, that was not the case. The tofu was extremely nicely flavoured and it was a very delicious meal, but it was lacking a little in the texture department. The gigantic portion of chips did make up for it though, and I really enjoyed this dish.

And Dr HH loved his French burger. The caramelised red onions were delicious, and the mustard was good and warming. The patty itself had a good texture and flavour, and overall he was a very satisfied customer.

I’ve only ever seen one dessert at Forky’s, and fortunately it’s a good ‘un. I love a good brownie, and this one is certainly chocolatey enough for me and is quite fudgy in the centre, but can be a wee bit crumbly elsewhere. Also, it’s served on a ridiculously small plate, especially if you’re planning on sharing. That said, maybe they’re trying to discourage splitting desserts, which is certainly a policy I can get on board with.

And just imagine there’s a review of all the nourishing, balanced buddha bowls here! All in all, I like the food at Forky’s but go rarely because it’s close to the city centre which is always crowded with tourists. So if you’re sightseeing, you should definitely go! It’s a casual, canteen-style eatery where you order at the counter and wait for your number to be called out. It’s not fancy, but it’s filling and tasty, and sometimes that’s just what you need.

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Vegan in Brighton: Iydea (Again)

I often find myself stuck in the classic dilemma: should I revisit an eatery I know and love, or try somewhere new? Stick with my favourite dish, or gamble on another? When we were in Brighton this summer, we couldn’t resist – we just had to revisit the two breakfast spots we’d been to before, because they’re just that good. And I ordered the same dish as last time as well, because I knew I was in for a top notch breakfast. I’ve already mentioned our return to Wai Kika Moo Kau, and here we were back at Iydea as well.

Iydea’s a lovely little veggie cafe on a charming street in Brighton full of independent shops and cafes. Just like last time, Dr HH and I both got the vegan full English, and had no regrets at all. We had a really flavoursome tofu scramble with red onions, two delicious sage sausages, two crispy hash browns, an avocado, tomato, and mushroom hash, homemade beans, toast, and a little pot of spread (not pictured). It was an absolute feast, and there wasn’t really a weak element (though I was unlucky and only got 1 piece of avo in my hash – Dr HH was good enough to even things out though). So, how does it compare to our first visit? Well…

For one thing, clearing the lighting has improved! My complaints the first time around were about the tomato halves (one of my least favourite things on a breakfast plate, now mercifully removed), the sausages being a bit bland (now they’re super tasty), and there being no tofu scramble to replace the eggs that vegetarians got (and now there is a scramble!). I also grumbled about only getting one slice of toast, but this time I felt that was plenty.

So now I feel totally justified in revisiting old favourites to see what changes they’ve made – they might just have become even better!

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Cookbook of the Month: Vegan Christmas (Part One)

Eyeing up Christmas recipes is one of my favourite activities, so as soon as I heard about this book by Gaz Oakley, I knew that I needed it. But truthfully, I don’t really approve of changes to my Christmas meals. I know what I like, and I’m a bit wary of any radical additions or extractions from our festive traditions. So I’m not sure how many of these dishes I’ll make actually at Christmas, but I was very excited to try them! Here’s what I’ve made so far from the different sections of the book.

Christmas morning:

The eagle-eyed among you may notice that I transformed the sweet potato waffles with sauteed mushrooms into pancakes, as I don’t have a waffle iron. No tweaks were needed to the recipe, the batter was already perfect pancake consistency. I omitted the maple syrup as I was worried it would turn out too sweet, and I think I made the right choice – I also added some garlic to the mushrooms to keep it good and savoury. The recipe should have made 2 waffles, but I got six fat little pancakes out of it, and they were delicious! We actually had this for dinner rather than breakfast, and I think they would work either way – though it was a pretty hearty meal, and I try not to go too big for Christmas breakfast, so I wouldn’t serve them on the day itself. Definitely tasty though!

Party food and light bites:

The parsnip and vanilla soup proved a little divisive. I used vanilla essence instead of the recommended paste, and though I added just a splash the soup ended up a bit too sweet for Dr HH. I was expecting to have a similar response, but actually I didn’t think the sweetness was a problem, but the flavours weren’t quite balanced correctly. Either way, we won’t be revisiting this one.

I’m a big fan of Welsh rarebit, aka fancy cheese on toast. The cheese sauce was easy to make and really flavoursome, and the caramelised onions were a nice touch. I’ll definitely revisit this recipe.

The recipe for fish finger sliders also includes bread buns and mayo, but I stuck to just the fish fingers themselves due to laziness. They were nice and simple to make, and the texture was great, but they didn’t taste particularly fishy, despite the nori placed on the tofu. Next time I’d pulse some dill and possibly even more nori into the breadcrumbs to up the ante a bit.

I believe this was the first vegan quiche I’ve ever made, and it was the biggest success of the book! First of all, there was nooch in the pastry – what a brilliant idea! And secondly, the filling was just delicious too. I used smoked tempeh instead of the recommended homemade bacon, and I’m happy with that shortcut. I thought this was going to be a really stressful ordeal, but it was actually really easy and I’ll certainly be making it again. It was so good!

Centre pieces:

Well, this is obviously the most important section of the book, but I haven’t had a chance to get stuck into it yet – I’ve been trying to get my hands on some of the ingredients. This section will feature more heavily in Part Two of this review.

All the trimmings:

Is there any better side dish than cauliflower cheese? Well, truthfully I made this herb-crusted cauliflower and leek cheese as a main instead of a side, and it was autumnal perfection. There are leeks as well as cauliflower, the cheese sauce is delicious, and the crumbs on top give it a great texture. I don’t really like tampering with our classic Christmas sides, but I would certainly make an exception for this delightful concoction.

Leftovers:

I almost never make curries, because why make curry for a man who was raised on it? But I gave this Christmas korma a go, and I’m glad of it – even Dr HH didn’t have a bad word to say about it. We used a really weird shop bought seitan rather than homemade leftovers, and it had a very strange texture, but otherwise the curry was lovely.

Afters:

Terry’s Chocolate Oranges are probably the only thing I really miss since going vegan, and they are inherently Christmassy, so I was very excited to try the chocolate orange raw cheesecake. It was easier to make than I expected, though I was very concerned that both layers were extremely thin and liquid when I added them to the cake. It firmed up just fine though, if a bit creamier than a cheesecake usually is. The nutty base was absolutely delicious, and the orange layer was lovely, but the chocolate was really lost – I’d recommend adding a good bit more cocoa powder than the recipe called for.

Edible gifts:

We don’t have many cookie cutters with us in Prague, so the Christmas cookies had to be either Star Wars or dinosaur themed. Dino it was! Even with these fiddly and quite delicate shapes, the biscuits held really well – I think only one of them broke in transit. They were tasty and crisp, and really really good.

Dr HH has recently become a homemade Bounty bar enthusiast, so he took the helm for these coconut Bounties. He reported that this recipe was better than the one he was using before, and made for a creamier filling. The chocolate didn’t end up very smooth, but we’ve put that down to human error rather than the recipe.

 

It’s been a very exciting book thus far! One thing I wasn’t very keen on was that the writer repeatedly uses quotation marks to show that these are definitely veganised dishes: “fish” fingers, chocolate “cheesecake”, etc. Personally I don’t think that’s necessary. I like a bit more patter before each recipe as well, especially in something like a Christmas book where he could have really personalised it. But the recipes have been great, and I’m excited to see how I get on with the centre pieces in November – wish me luck making seitan for the first time ever!

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Vegan in Prague: Javanka & Co

Vegan-friendly Indonesian restaurants are, apparently, just like buses. I’d never seen one before, and then suddenly this year two of them popped up! I visited this one in Nuremberg in May, and then Javanka appeared in Prague not long after. It serves meat, but has lots of clearly labelled vegan options, and it’s honestly one of the lovelier restaurants in Prague – slightly shabby chic, really friendly service, and a very relaxed atmosphere.

I’ve been twice, and both times I ordered this tumis tempeh dish. Tempeh is one of my favourite things ever, and it turns out that it’s significantly better from Indonesian restaurants than the supermarket. Who would have guessed?! It’s cooked in dark, sweet, soy sauce and chilli, and it’s supremely flavoursome. The peanutty dressing on the gado-gado salad, complete with fried tofu, is also excellent- my omni friends have also happily devoured this.

Dr HH can always be counted on to go for a mixed plate when it’s available, which is very handy for reviewing! The javanka vegan plate also featured the same tempeh, rice, and gado-gado salad.  He also had some green bean sambal goreng and some seasoned rasped coconut Serundeng, and another unspecified vegetable dish. Basically, he loved everything! The tempeh and coconut were his favourites, but everything was flavoursome and we both had clean plates at the end.

My only complaint about Javanka is the lack of vegan desserts. Not that I really needed one, but it’s nice to have the option,isn’t it? Despite this, it has quickly risen up the ranks of my favourite places to eat in Prague. It’s great whether you’re eating with fellow vegans or omnis.

Here’s to more Indonesian restaurants for all!

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Vegan in Brighton: Belzeburger

I absolutely hate going to noisy pubs. Crowds of people, dim light, loud music: it’s my idea of hell. I will suffer through it in the name of greasy ole vegan junk food,though! Belzeburger in Brighton is quite a rowdy all-vegan pub, though it’s possible that we were just unlucky that there was a huge group of young people bellowing at each other across several tables when we arrived. It was worth it to get a good greasy fix though!

The menu was heavy on burgers and fried food, and you know what that means: onion rings! These were very good onion rings (something of a rarity, in my experience), with excellent light batter.

If an establishment has a signature dish, it’s probably worth a try. Hence Dr HH ordered the belzeburger, which featured a good seitan patty, topped with a crispy hash brown and excellent vegan cheese. He raved that the patty was really well-seasoned, and not properly spicy but with a nice heat. It was a good size as well (not always the case these days, are more places are creating massive burgers that must be shamefully tackled with a knife and fork), and he was very pleased that the lettuce was shredded rather than the usual leaf, making it much easier to handle and devour.

And for the first time in my life, I ordered a mac and cheese burger. Yes, the patty was just fried mac and cheese, and it was exactly like you’d imagine! It was topped with cheese and some tasty bacon with maple syrup, but in the end it was all a bit too sweet and sticky from the maple. It could have been a bit more savoury, or more balanced flavour-wise, but it was still tasty and very exciting.

If you’re looking for a proper greasy junk food experience, look no further than Belzeburger!

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Vegan in London: Crosstown Doughnuts

After an exhausting month of blogging about different international cuisines, it’s time to get back to my favourite food: doughnuts! As I have mentioned, there’s no shortage of vegan doughnuts in Prague (Exhibit A, Exhibit B), but I still always try to find some when I’m on the road as well. We’ve devoured excellent vegan donuts in Dublin, Rome, Berlin, Munich, and Barcelona, and London is doing us Brits proud.

There are now several vegan doughnut options in London, but I can’t seem to get away from Crosstown Doughnuts. This is partly because they’re really close to our preferred London hotel, and partly because they’re just really good! When we were back in London in July, we were very excited to see a couple of new options on the vegan menu.

Dr HH couldn’t resist this special 4th July flavour: key lime custard. He reported that it was generally lovely and zesty, if occasionally a bit too sharp – that’s the risk you run with lime, though. Still, it was a good filled doughnut.

 

Regular readers will be unsurprised to learn that I only had eyes for this chocolate truffle concoction. And oh, it was sublime! It had a thick, rich chocolate topping, plus a creamy nutella-esque filling inside. It was probably a bit indulgent for breakfast, if you want to abide by society’s rules…but I believe they don’t apply when you’re on holiday.

Be warned: you will end up with chocolate all around your face. Totally worth it though!

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