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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Cookbook of the Month: VeganMoFo18

As you may be aware, VeganMoFo can be somewhat exhausting – but I’m never too exhausted for my annual cookalong! I’ve taken a break from my usual cookbook of the month review to trial some of the recipes shared by my VeganMoFo comrades over the course of September. You probably won’t be shocked to hear that there were some real gems to be found!

We’re suckers for cinnamon snails, so we couldn’t resist Ms. Pam’s Cinnamon Rolls, a recipe shared over at Mo Betta Vegan. This is a blog I just discovered through this year’s MoFo, and I’m glad I did – she’s posted some delicious looking recipes, and the posts about her nearest and dearest during Inspiration Week were really moving, as you’ll see from this post about her mother. As for the rolls, well, they were just delicious! Dr HH is the bread baker in our house, and he reported that the recipe was easy to follow. And as a skilled cinnamon roll devourer, I can report that they were delicious! Apparently the dough was a little thicker than Dr HH usually rolls it out (based on the dimensions in the recipe), so he was a little worried about the texture, but I thought this was the best thing about them – so pillowy and soft!

There’s nothing like a good soup for packed lunches, and I was extremely tempted by the baked potato soup over at Vegan in Your City. I had to improvise on the bacon grease, and I used more nooch instead of grated cheese, so it can’t have been as flavoursome as the original, but still, it was a tasty soup. Next time I’ll go all in with the cheese and some bacon crumbles too.

Sticking with soup, here’s the autumn sunshine soup from Vegan Ha Ha. It was basically a roasted butternut squash and lentil soup, featuring rosemary, thyme, and sage – usually when I make a squash soup, I go for spicier seasonings, so this was a bit of a change. And it’s a change I’ll stick with! The herbs gave it such a lovely, comforting aroma and taste. When I opened my Thermos at lunchtime, it really was like a blast of autumn sunshine!

I’m always happy to see Emma from Walks, Talks & Eats posting VeganMoFo recipes because I know I can rely on the ingredients being relatively easy to get hold of and the flavours being delicious. As usual, she did not disappoint this year! This spicy pasta soup sounded suitably hearty for two hungry people like Dr HH and me. It’s rare to find a spicy dish that Dr HH and I agree is perfectly seasoned (they’re usually too spicy for me and too bland for him), but we both enjoyed this one.

The storecupboard meal prompt was one I was looking forward to, as I find shopping and meal planning a bit draining sometimes. Over at The Opposite of Indifference I read about this tomato and lentil soup and knew I had to try it. Simple, filling tomato soups are a lifesaver in our house! This one was indeed simple and delicious. I jazzed it up by chucking in half a jar of pesto leftover in the fridge, but it would have been flavoursome without that too.

I’m a huge fan of AfroVeganChick, and I was very excited about her MoFo theme of veganised African dishes. She has posted a lot of amazing things, including this Sudanese lentil soup. I really loved the simplicity of it: lentils, water, garlic, and spices. It was really warming, and ideal for the changing seasons.

AfroVeganChick‘s day 1 post was also particularly tempting: groundnut stew with chickpea cutlets. We are perhaps the only vegans who have never made chickpea cutlets before, and I can now confirm that there’s a reason everyone is doing it. They were good! A couple of them crumbled a bit during cooking, but they were very tasty. And the sauce was spectacular, quite similar to mafe. We had leftover sauce with tempeh after we ran out of cutlets, and that was also a treat.

And I’m not the kind of person who can just say no to a fish balls recipe! Yes, it’s AfroVeganChick again – I have bookmarked almost all of her recipes to return to. We tweaked these slightly, because we weren’t sure where the fishy flavour would come from – Dr HH threw a sheet of nori and some dill into the mix, and everything worked splendidly. The mix was quite sticky and needed some flour adding to make it workable, but we were very happy with the end result.

Amber from This Vegan Lyfe shared a lot of tempting recipes this month, including her No Fail Pot Pie on the food flops day. Her flop was dropping this entire pie on the floor…I couldn’t get any kale or spinach, so I threw in some mushrooms instead…and added some tempeh just for fun as well! It was just as you’d expect: really flavoursome and delicious. I can only imagine the devastation of dropping this concoction on the floor!

Over at Vegan or Not, I was extremely taken by this Ohio-style shredded chicken sandwich. I’d never seen this kind of sloppy chicken sandwich before, in the UK I feel like it would always be quite dry. We recently discovered jackfruit in Prague and had been looking for an opportunity to use it: now here it was! Dr HH thought the flavour was a littl mild, but I loved it, and we were both crazy about the texture. A definite winner, and not as messy to eat as I’d feared!

And here’s another recipe from Walks, Talks & Eats! I have a lot of Emma’s recipes bookmarked, but this creamy vegan mac and cheese was the first one I tried. It was for the nut-free prompt, so the creamy sauce was made with silken tofu. We both loved this – it was easy to make (with the added bonus of not needing to remember to soak the cashews in the morning!), and very tasty. We’ll make it again, and throw in some tempeh bacon crumbles for good measure!

Here’s another recipe from Vegan HaHa…and another mac and cheese! The nut free creamy sauce worked an absolute treat, largely because it was very similar to the Isa recipe we love, but using beans instead of cashews for the creaminess. You can’t beat miso in a cheese sauce, that’s what I’ve found! And you can see that this time we had our bacon crumbles on hand.

Budget week was quite an exciting one, and I especially enjoyed this $4 for 4 people burrito bowl from Adventures in Veganism. We usually avoid bowls because the multiple components are not really ideal after work – but this one was quite straightforward and the washing up did not spiral out of control. Everything was really flavoursome from all the seasonings, and we found it a very tasty and filling dinner.

The World According to Plumes was one of the new blogs I discovered this VeganMoFo, and I’m already a huge fan! I threw together this coconut black bean stew yesterday, and haven’t actually had a portion yet, but I can tell you from my taste-testing that it will be good! I love the flavour hit from the coconut milk. Black beans are difficult to find in Prague, and even kidney beans are impossible to find in the zero waste shop, so I settled for pinto beans.

The chocolate hazlenut oat bites from Food for Dissertating were really simple to eat, and really delicious – not surprising, given that chocolate-hazelnut spread is the main agreement! I’ll definitely be making these again for a quick and easy bite.

Over on Instagram, I was powerless to resist this banana bread posted by @nomeatandthreeveg. I didn’t add the banana on top, and threw some chocolate chips into the batter, and I was delighted with this. Really easy, really tasty!

One Raw Bite is one of my favourite blogs, and I was happy to see Jennifer following another cake theme. There were a few things that tempted me, but I went for this cinnamon flop, mostly because I loved the name so much! I followed the recipe precisely, except that I used coconut sugar instead of granulated, hence my cake looks a bit different from the original. It’s really delicious though, and made the kitchen smell quite festive!

What a year for great VeganMoFo recipes! Thanks to all my fellow MoFo participants for all the inspiration!

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VeganMoFo 2018: Itadaki Zen, London

Cuisine: Japanese

There’s a special reason I’ve saved the Japanese post till last. Almost since we met, Dr HH and I have been fantasising about our dream trip to Japan, but every time we consider it we get cold feet because of how stupidly expensive everything is. But this time we have fully committed to going there next summer (we’ve booked our flights already!)…and devouring this Japanese feast at Itadaki Zen in London really got me in the mood for more planning/daydreaming about this distant adventure.

I’d already been to this little restaurant near King’s Cross once before, and had always been waiting for a chance to return. In July I persuaded an omni friend to join me, and I believe we were both impressed with what we got.

(Full disclosure: I had been to a concert in Prague the night before and didn’t get home till midnight; then I was up at 4:30am to get the early flight to London, so I was exhausted and my eating schedule was completely off. This is an important explanation for why I couldn’t finish my meal.)

I got the same as last time: the tempura set. It started with these five little vegetable dishes: noodles, seaweed, beans in some greyish sauce, and the real highlights of peanutty green beans, and delicious tofu. I love getting to try lots of little dishes like this, there were a lot of fun things going on.

This was followed by six pieces of sushi: inari (the little tofu pocket, which is always my favourite), and others topped with cucumber and a weird tangy sauce, asparagus, pepper, and tofu. Whenever I’m served sushi I think I’m getting a light dish, but of course, it always turns out to be surprisingly hearty, and this was no exception.

And so when I got to the tempura stage of the tempura set, I was already too full to go on! I think I managed one or two in the restaurant, and got the rest to takeaway. Anyway, I can report that they were crisp, oily, and delicious. There was some potato and broccoli, amongst other less exciting veg, and some with bits of seaweed in them. Perhaps it was just the seaweed, but they were really salty too (which was a good thing, in my opinion).

Unsurprisingly, I also had to get my dessert to takeaway. There was a choice of desserts, and I went for the chocolate and berry cheesecake. I let Dr HH take care of this back in our hotel, and he reported that though there was a non-biscuity base it was still a good cheesecake, quite rich and chocolatey.

My friend went for the noddle set, which kicked off with the three starters above (the same as three of the ones I had, and also involved the same six pieces of sushi.

For her main, she got a couple of pieces of tempura the same as me, and some plain noodles. While she raved about the tempura, she found the noodles to be a bit of a disappointment. Overall though, exciting Japanese fare all round!

And so it seems apt to finish this year’s VeganMoFo with Japanese cuisine, because I’m already planning that next year’s theme will be my trip to Japan! Hopefully this is just a taste of all the delicious things to come!

Thank you to everyone who has read/liked/commented – it means a lot to me. I hope you’ve all enjoyed VeganMoFo 2018 as much as I have! There were times when I didn’t think I’d be able to find thirty different cuisines, but the fact that I managed it says a lot about the current vegan scene and how amazing it is.

What was your favourite of the thirty cuisines I’ve tried for VeganMoFo? And do you have any tips for my big trip to Japan next summer?

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VeganMoFo2018: Wafflin, Prague

Cuisine: Belgian

Imagine the torture of going past a waffle place every day on your commute, knowing there was nothing you could have. Then imagine the delight of spotting them using #vegan online! Yes, it turns out that Wafflin is extremely vegan friendly.

It operates as a build-your-own-waffle spot, and also serves a set brunch. The build-your-own waffle option is incredibly exciting, largely because I love placing my order by ticking a list! Everything is in both Czech and English, and the vegan options are clearly marked (don’t forget to tick for vegan waffle at the top as well). There are so many vegan options – fruit, speculoos biscuits and spread, Oreos, chocolate chips, peanut butter, maple syrup…you can really go to town. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have any vegan whipped cream, but instead they offer Alpro vanilla pudding, which is a very pleasant alternative.

Basically, you can go big on these waffles. And if you fancy something savoury, well, look no further than the brunch menu.

Yes, there’s a vegan set brunch menu as well! I’m not crazy about having sweet and savoury things on the same plate, but I handled it well. We shared this between two of us, but you can get an extra waffle if you think you’ll need it. The savoury toppings were sun-dried tomatoes, salad, baked beans, olives, hummus, cheese, and ham – all solid options. And the sweet things were jam, strawberries, fruit, and speculoos spread. It was quite exciting, but I think I’d probably go for a crazy, indulgent, sweet waffle again next time. Which hopefully will be soon!

Sweet or savoury, what’s your favourite waffle topping?

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VeganMoFo 2018: Vegӧner, Nuremberg

Cuisine: Turkish

I was considering how dishes like falafel and kebabs might fit into my cuisine-fest, because I feared there might be some contention over where they originated. But it seems like doner definitely comes from Turkey, and this fast food, all-vegan place in Nuremberg pitches itself as a Turkish restaurant, so that’s good enough for me!

Vegoner serves a few different dishes, including a goulash and a stew of the day, but we only had eyes for the doner. It’s a gigantic serving of mock meat, salad, and a choice of yoghurt or “cocktail” sauce. We were a little daunted by the latter, so we stuck with yoghurt. I have no complaints about the portion size (it was insane!) nor the texture of the meat, which was just wonderful – but I found it very bland. It didn’t seem to be seasoned at all, so maybe we should have gambled on that cocktail sauce to bring the flavour.

I’m not sure how Turkish chips are, but what the heck, they just go with everything! They were fried to absolute perfection, and I could have eaten a million of them…if only I’d had room! Dr HH and I ordered a portion each, and I would urge you not to repeat our mistake unless you’ve worked up quite the appetite – we left about half of them because we were just so stuffed. We didn’t even have room for the baklava, which is always a sure sign that we’ve been fed too much!

Where’s your go-to vegan kebab spot?

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VeganMoFo 2018: Bundobust, Manchester

Cuisine: Indian

Ah, curry: the national dish of England! I never go to Indian restaurants in Prague (because they never label vegan options, and sometimes I just don’t trust restaurants to tell me the truth when they know they’ll lose my custom as a result), so I was looking forward to getting some good Indian grub while I was back in the UK. Enter Bundobust, a vegetarian street food place with lots of vegan options, clearly labelled. I’d heard great things about this place, and was surprised to find the restaurant itself quite unappealing: massive, loud, busy, and with signs in broken English (“Wait here to be seated thank you please”, “Welcome please”, “Too much spicy”).

Dr HH had been once before and had barely stopped talking since about the okra fries, so we ordered a pot to share with Mama HH. And goodness me, they were the most delicious thing ever! This might actually be the best dish in Manchester. The crispy okra was seasoned to perfection with mango powder and black salt. If you’re in Manchester, go and get some of these. And if you’re not in Manchester, head there now!

The three of us also shared the onion, kale, and broccoli bhaji, which were quite spicy but tasty. They really just suffered in comparison to the okra fries though.

Any time there’s a strange fusion dish on a menu, you can bet that Dr HH will order it. So it was with the raghda pethis, which promised a fusion of northern England and India in the form of mushy peas and potato cake. He was quite disappointed with the final dish. The promised potato cake was in broth, and the “mushy” peas were anything but (that could only be a good thing, in my opinion, considering that mushy peas are an abomination). The pot was topped with turmeric noodles, tomato, and tamarind chutney. He found it quite dull, with not much flavour besides the chutney.

Mama HH played it a bit safer with the tarka dhal, which she found very flavoursome, with an enjoyable texture.

I was probably the winner with my chole saag,  if only on the basis that it came with bread. Victory! Actually, the chickpea curry was a touch too spicy for my taste, but it was hearty and warming, and the bread was just wonderful.

But really, just go and order several portions of okra fries.

Which dish would you order? Have you ever had okra fries?

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