New Products

I love seeing vegans share exciting new products on social media, from great accidentally-vegan supermarket finds in the UK to exciting new Field Roast goods in the US. Unfortunately the Czech Republic doesn’t seem to have such an active community when it comes to flagging up new products (or I’m yet to find it, anyway), and most of the great vegan products I find are imported from Germany or further afield. Although we have Tescos aplenty here in Prague, they don’t seem to stock their British own-brand products so much (I’m thinking of puff pastry, hot cross buns and various chocolates that are all vegan in the UK). Occasionally Marks and Spencer comes through, as you’re about to see -here are some of my recent vegan finds:


1.Kapt’n Tofu’s Crispy Sticks

I was so excited to see these fish finger-esque products in local vegan shop/cafe Puro – but the fact that the box doesn’t show the inside of the product should have been a warning sign. Despite pretty clearly nautical branding, these were just regular veggie fingers containing rice and veg and not even a hint of the sea. Very misleading and disappointing. You’ve let me down, Captain Tofu.


2. Gardein Golden Fishless Fillets

Undeterred, I picked up another fishy product in Puro, and I’m happy to report that they were much better. They even smelled quite fishy when I removed them from the oven! The texture and taste were great. They’re too pricey to be a regular purchase, but if you can afford to treat yourself now and again, definitely look out for them. I’ve never seen in these in the UK, but the Gardein range is popping up in Prague inconsistently, and I like everything I’ve tried so far.


3. Marks and Spencer Gianduja Bar

I was very excited when I started seeing this pop up on social media as accidentally vegan. One day I forgot to take my usual sweet snack into work, and headed to the nearby M&S for a little pick-me-up – I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw these in stock! And it’s so delicious, just like Vego. Of course, it’s a bit steep, but it’s a lovely option to have. As a bonus, the whole bar only consists of two (gigantic) squares of chocolate, so you get to say things like, “I don’t know why I’m so full, I only had two squares.” Nobody will ever know that you scoffed the whole bar.


4. Marks and Spencer Sweet & Smoky Chickpea Puffs

I always pride myself on not falling for it when supermarkets line their queuing area with tempting snacks and treats – even though it’s largely just because none of the products are suitable for me. But if I see something that might be vegan, what choice do I have?! I feel like I’ll probably end up picking these up every time I go in – they’ve got that lovely Wotsit-like texture, and they taste deliciously sweet and smoky. Well played, M&S.


5. Marks and Spencer Raspberry, Cranberry and Orange Dark Chocolate Buttons

The next time I popped into M&S for some tea bags, I resolutely looked away from the crisp stand by the queue. Alas, I found myself face to face with these chocolate buttons, and had to try them! They were so good. I don’t think of dark chocolate as a particular treat, but it was sweetened up nicely by the fruity additions – the buttons were textured from actual chunks of fruit as well, it wasn’t all just flavourings. I’m now a huge fan of these.


What is your top new vegan find? Any other vegan M&S products I should keep an eye out for?


Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Vegan in Prague: Satsang

I’m currently in the middle of a Parks and Recreation rewatch, which is leading me to (a) wonder who is truly the worst between Tom and April (current thoughts: Tom might edge it, but at least he actually suffers consequences for his awfulness), and (b) constantly crave breakfast food. Breakfast food truly is the greatest, and Prague caters very well to any vegan who agrees. Satsang is yet another vegan-friendly brunch spot.

Satsang is a charming vegetarian bistro that serves a brunch menu daily from 9am-3pm. The menu is quite egg-based, but they do have a few vegan offerings, including vegan pancakes, which I’m powerless to resist. They also have a tofu scramble listed amongst their scrambled egg dishes, and this is what Dr HH had his eye on. But when we ordered these dishes, things didn’t exactly go smoothly. When I asked for the vegan pancakes, the waiter said he wasn’t sure if they were available and he had to check with the chef – after a brief discussion, he confirmed that I could have them.  When Dr HH asked for the tofu scramble, he was also told that it might not be available. This time a much longer discussion took place between the chef and waiter, during which we felt concerned -they were the only two vegan options we were interested in (I think there may have been just one more vegan option as well), and no vegan likes to hear whispered discussions when they order – we can be a bit paranoid about that kind of conferring.

Eventually, we were told that the vegan scramble was on! Presumably the reason for the indecision was that they didn’t actually have any tofu – it turned out to be a chickpea scramble. Every topping costs more, and as you can see, he went to town with tempeh (I think the menu said it would be smoked – it wasn’t) and mushrooms. And it was a hefty portion already, with all those potatoes and a bit of toast as well! He enjoyed it, though a tofu scramble might have been preferable.

You also have to pay for extras on the pancakes – the maple syrup was included (butter should also be included, but I wasn’t given any vegan spread), but I paid extra for the strawberries and was pleased to get a generous helping. There were two pancakes, and it was quite a big portion, which pleased me. (The other great vegan brunch spot, Moment, serves really small pancakes with Leslie Knope-approved amounts of cream, but I quite liked the more pancakes, less cream approach here. They each have their time and place, though.)

So, we both enjoyed our dishes, but were a little concerned that they weren’t entirely geared towards vegan diners.  I think it would be a great spot for vegetarians, but perhaps not a must-visit for vegans, as I wasn’t entirely confident they knew what they were doing and they clearly weren’t well-stocked with ingredients – they didn’t even have tofu. For balance though, Dr HH went once before on his own and the staff were really on it and knowledgeable about the vegan options, so it’s possible that we were just unlucky.  Moment will remain my personal JJ’s Diner, but Satsang is a good backup choice if I ever fancy a change.

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Vegan in Rome: Sweet Treats

Is there anything worse than being sick while you’re on holiday? Poor old Dr HH was coughing and wheezing the whole time we were in Rome, meaning that we had to cut back on our adventuring a little and eat our evening meals in the comfort of our accommodation. I didn’t mind too much skipping some of the evening spots I’d been eyeing up, but when it comes to sweet treats, I refuse to compromise! However dire the circumstances, there will be baked goods and creamy gelato!

Our first stop when we arrived was Wani, an all-vegan bakery. The name stands for ‘We are not ingredients’, which is obviously a sentiment I can get behind. It’s a lovely little place with a few seats and a steady stream of customers, with good reason!

We arrived at around 11am when they were just selling out of breakfast pastries and introducing a couple of savoury options.  There were some cakes that looked incredibly elegant and delicious, but we didn’t have room for everything we wanted, more’s the pity.

This slice of quiche was delicious!  (The savoury food was out the back, so you might have to ask – the staff were really friendly and talked us through everything in perfect English.) It was a potato, leek and chard quiche with a really cheesy flavour and a very soft pastry fold at the edge -sometimes those bits can be quite tough.  It was a thing of beauty. Speaking of which…


Yes, these so-called chocolate bombs were exactly as good as they look.  They were essentially sugary little donuts filled with the best vegan nutella I’ve ever had – I genuinely think it could just be melted Vegolino, it was that good.  We had one each and would have got more had they not sold out while we were scoffing.

But we could still get a few things for the next day. (The light in our accommodation left a lot to be desired, but you can still get the idea.) It was carnivale weekend when we visited, so they were stocking this frappe, which is some kind of fried dough. It was sweet and crispy, and I approved!

And we got some regular old croissants too. One was filled with lemon cream, and the other was originally empty, but we were given the option of having it filled with chocolate or pistachio cream. We went for the latter.

Both were extremely well-filled, as you can see, though breadier than the traditional croissant. The lemon one was more delicious, as it was so zesty! These were a great start to the day.  I heartily recommend a trip to Wani, either to eat in if you can grab a seat (they also have hot drinks) or to get some takeaway treats.  It’s not in the city centre, but is easily accessible by metro and is on the same line as Rome’s Non-Catholic Cemetery…

…which is the resting place of Shelley and Keats, and also houses a giant pyramid!

Our next breakfast came from a different all vegan bakery (there are three in Rome – yes, you read that correctly), Dharma’s Vegan Cakes. Again, they had a sumptuous cake corner, and served hot drinks as well, but we were only there for a few takeaway pastries. They had some plain croissants, but we wanted something more exciting, hence the flaky cinnamon roll and sweet, sugary knot.  Wani was the better option overall, but this was still pretty exciting, and I’d have loved to sit down and enjoy one of their decadent-looking cakes. Unfortunately I didn’t find any fun tourist spots in the vicinity of this bakery.

And no trip to Italy is complete without gelato! As it wasn’t quite so tropical on this visit, we had to settle for just the one, from Cremeria Monteforte. It had the fairly standard vegan options – various fruits, plus dark chocolate. I was delighted with my forest fruits and chocolate combo.

There are a few all-vegan gelaterias in Rome, but as they’re not located right next to the Pantheon like this one, we didn’t manage to see them.

And you know you’re in a vegan-friendly city when they have vegan baked goods in the budget airport. Yes, Moka Cafe in Ciampino airport had vegan croissants, sandwiches and carrot cake, plus soya milk for hot drinks. We were at the airport at 7am, so this was sublime news. The croissants looked rather well done, so I opted for the carrot cake – even the wrapper had the word “vegan” printed on it!  It was a good, flavoursome sponge, and made flying a bit more bearable, so let’s be thankful for that!

After a tremendously successful summer trip to Italy, I was really pleased to find another vegan-friendly Italian city to add to the list. So, when in Rome, eat all the vegan sweet treats!

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Vegan in Rome: Dall’Albero

When planning our Italian adventure last summer, Dr HH and I agreed to skip Rome and Florence because they’re the kind of cities you can hop to quite easily for a weekend. Last weekend, it turned out, was the weekend for the hop to Rome.

Alas, Dr HH was struck down with the plague (aka a bad cold), so we didn’t attack the city with our usual vigour, and opted to stay in and cook in our airbnb most nights.  But there was one plan we just could not cancel.  Brace yourselves: we went to a vegan cheese lab! Yes, you read that correctly. No, it’s not just a cheese restaurant – if you go downstairs, you walk right by an actual lab with people wearing white coats and everything. I was very excited that Dr HH, a chemist by trade, got to witness some real, important science for once.

The menu is, unsurprisingly, all cheese.  They sell some hard and soft cheeses to take home, as well as a cheese plate, a variety of bruschette, some stuffed pizza breads, salads and some raw pumpkin spaghetti dishes. We decided to make this the main meal of the day, and got three different dishes to share.

This was the pizza ripiena from Trapani – stuffed pizza bread with black olives, Trapanese pesto (tomato and almond pesto from Sicily), and Anastracchino (the lab-made cream cheese). Let’s just go ahead and call it a pizza sandwich.  It was fantastic – the cheese was so creamy, the pesto tasted delicious, and the bread was incredible.  I’m no fan of sandwiches, but I would happily eat this every day.

We couldn’t resist the mac and cheese, or “casciu’ e pepe.” It was a cashew and black pepper sauce with shards of peppery hard cheese on top – we considered buying some of that cheese to bring home just to jazz up our homemade mac and cheese dishes!  It was so delicious, but it has to be said that it would be better with pasta, good and warm. Mac and cheese is such a comforting dish, I feel like making it raw is denying it some of its charm. I’d still recommend ordering this though. There are a few other raw spaghetti dishes on the menu, including with pesto, which I’m sure would be delicious.

And of course we got the cheese plate.  It came with small chunks of bread, along with carrot and fennel sticks. Personally, I felt the fennel was too strongly-flavoured to pair well with the cheese, and I’d have preferred crackers to any kind of vegetable. The bread was good though, and the cheese was excellent!

The dollop in the middle of the plate is the Sicilian almond ricotta, which was very nice but not the most exciting – that honour went to the three hard cheeses: cashew classic, cashew pepper and cashew spicy (left to right). The spicy one was, unsurprisingly, a bit too spicy for me, but the pepper was perfectly balanced.  The plain one was absolutely sublime, and the texture was the best of any vegan cheese I’ve had.

There were also five dollops of cashew cream cheese: chives, sun-dried tomato, basil, curry and classic (left to right).  The chive one reminded me of classic sour cream and chive dip, and was really good – I haven’t had anything like it since going vegan. The curry one was quite strange, but the basil and tomato ones were exceptional. I actually favoured the classic one though, because it really allowed the creaminess to shine through.  The texture was just amazing.

We were the only customers in by mid-afternoon, and one of the cheese scientists offered us the chance to be their guinea pigs by trying the camembert they’re working on. That is not the kind of offer I can turn down!  I’ve only had one vegan version, which was shop-bought and a good approximation of camembert.  But this was a whole different level. It was insanely good, with that melty ooze that you want.  If a fire had broken out, I might have saved the camembert before grabbing Dr HH.

After all this food we probably didn’t need dessert, but how often do you get to go to a cheese lab? That’s right, there were desserts too. We were hoping to try the cannoli filled with ricotta, but they were all out, so we got the daily cheesecake instead – strawberry and lemon. The base was good and nutty and the cake was soft, creamy and subtly flavoured. It was a top notch cheesecake.  This place also serves wine, if you want to be fancy with your cheese plate and wine – and who wouldn’t want that?

Honestly, it’s worth going to Rome just to go to this place. It’s only open 10am-4pm Monday to Friday, so plan your trip accordingly. I felt like it wasn’t too expensive for a cheese place either – the cheese plate was €9 per person (ours was a 1-person portion), and it was €6 for the sandwich and €4.50 for the mac and cheese.  It was our main meal of the day, and we left feeling well-fed.

Now I’m desperately hoping for more vegan cheese restaurants to open up – and for Dr HH to finally trade his chemistry lab in for a cheese lab!

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

MiniMoFo: Donut Shop, Prague

February’s MiniMoFo theme is Food is Love, and as far as I’m concerned the only surefire way to prove you love someone is to bring them vegan donuts, preferably in bed. Last summer, Donut Shop opened up about five minutes down the road from me, and I was delighted to see that they had vegan options. They’re open most days from 8am until they sell out, which isn’t very helpful when Dr HH and I work pretty far away and too late to have a chance at picking any up.  So occasionally one of us will spring out of bed bright and early on a Saturday to provide a delicious donut breakfast in bed for the other. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!

Back in the summer they had my all-time favourite variety: lavender.  The accompanying peanut butter one has remained on the menu throughout all the seasonal revamps, though to be honest I think it’s the least exciting flavour. Solid, dependable, but never first choice.  There’s usually some kind of fruit-filled offering – this one was raspberry and blueberry, and there was a festive apple and cranberry kind.

In the new year they’ve made their vegan flavours a bit more creative – we recently tried this chocolate ganache and pretzel donut for the first time, and it was a real winner (albeit insanely messy).

And there’s a lovely sticky chai one, which I’ve somehow never photographed on its own – it’s the right half in this picture.  It’s sweet, nutty and delicious!

And I live in eternal hope that this chocolate-filled one will someday make it back onto the menu!  Look at that ooze!

Yes, donuts are truly the way to my heart.  It’s just as well the vegan donut scene is thriving these days!



Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Vegan in Prague: Forrest Bistro

When a new vegan bistro arises on the site of a former Loving Hut, it seems to be a great sign.  Forrest Bistro just popped up last year and has been a welcome addition to Prague’s already thriving vegan scene.  Although the entrance is below street level, as you can kind of tell from this picture, it’s a really bright place and quite a charming little bistro – I worried that it might just be a new name slapped on the Loving Hut, but it’s all new decor and style – and it has much better food!

Like most Czech places, alongside its regular menu it also has a couple of daily specials served from lunchtime until they run out.  We’ve been three times and ordered from the regular menu twice (dinner and breakfast) and from the specials menu once.

The menu contains about 5 dishes, including stuffed sweet potatoes, curry and a big ole burger! As you can see, the patty was huge, and topped with tempeh – I assume it was meant to be tempeh bacon, but it just seemed like regular tempeh (I love tempeh, so it’s not really a complaint, but there’s definitely room to improve it).  With all the accompaniments, it was too big a beast to tackle – you have to either scrape out some of the salad, or take a knife and fork to it.  It was a good burger, although lacking a nice crisp outer shell, but the sweet potato wedges were far too soft.

The breakfast menu is also quite tempting – there are about five items written up on the chalkboard, though when we went two of them weren’t available. Fortunately I already had my heart set on the pandan pancakes, which turned out to be one of the most visually appealing dishes I’ve ever been served!

The little green pancakes both looked and tasted fantastic! There were generous dollops of whipped cream and plenty of delicious soft fruits piled up on top.  This was a really exciting breakfast, and totally unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere in Prague.

The hot drinks we got with our pancakes were a little disappointing though.  Dr HH was quite excited to get on the pumpkin spice bandwagon, but found the latte a bit too sweet. I was dazzled by the pictures of red velvet chocolate on their social media, and disappointed to see a regular hot chocolate instead – it was almost sickly sweet, which was a shame.  On the plus side, there’s a carafe of free tap water on every table. Quite the treat in Europe!

On our most recent visit, despite arriving in the evening we were able to get the daily specials before they sold out.  They were serving a Hungarian dish of sausage, a peppery sauce and a langos, basically a giant fried bread.  The sauce was a touch too sweet, but the sausage was great and, unsurprisingly, the langos was the star of the show.  Again, this is something I’ve never seen on another menu in Prague.

So, Forrest has a charming interior, friendly staff and a creative menu.  As if that weren’t enough, they also have a pretty decent cake counter too!  As well as some very attractive layer cakes, they offer smaller bites like this cinnamon roll.  Truthfully, I’m really glad that the Loving Hut here has been replaced by something more exciting and delicious – though last week we spotted a new Loving Hut branch opening up about five minutes away. There’s no escaping them!

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Cookbook of the Month: Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen (Part One)

As soon as I flicked through Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen on Christmas morning, I spotted lots of recipes I wanted to try. We celebrate two special occasions in January (Dr HH’s birthday and our anniversary), and I immediately identified the dishes I wanted to cook for our fancy meals. And then…January turned into a bit of a culinary failure.

For one thing, our oven broke halfway through the month, scuppering all my plans for birthday cake and pizza night. And for another, I just lost a bit of my enthusiasm for meal-planning and cooking. Work has been sapping my energy, and the last thing I want to do is spend my free time hurrying to the supermarket and slaving away in the kitchen.  So about two weeks into January, I gave up – we’ve been living off some quick and easy staples, but not experimenting with anything further from this book.

This is absolutely no reflection on the book, which I’ve loved so far. I will definitely be returning to it for Part Two of this review, once we’ve got a functioning oven and a bit more enthusiasm again!

In the meantime, here’s what we’ve tried so far.

The book contains recipes for a number of aptly-titled awesome sauces, which can be used in several different dishes.  I love this approach! I used the tikka masala sauce to make the tikka masala chickpeas, which were very easy to throw together (or so Dr HH tells me – I can’t claim credit for this one!).  It was a really creamy dish, with a nice bite to the chickpeas. There were lots of delicious spices, but on the heat front it was quite mild – exactly as I like it! I’d happily have this again!

I used some tinga sauce to make the tinga black bean soup, using kidney instead of black beans.  Dr HH found it a bit too sweet, while I thought the spiciness was positively fiery!  Still, we agreed it was filling and tasty – there was plenty of sweetcorn, peppers and beans, making it good and substantial too.

The winter mushroom soup with spinach and chickpeas was a flavour explosion!  There was quite the range of textures and flavours, as it was kind of spicy and kind of sweet. It had a really good kick to it, and was perfect for wintry packed lunches.  It’s a shame there aren’t more soups in the book, because these were were really impressive.

Dr HH made the baked vegetable pakoras, and found them lacking in seasoning. He increased the seasoning once the first batch were out of the oven, and that was an improvement. The texture was lovely – I wasn’t sure how well they would work baked rather than fried, but they were delicious.  He served them up with tart and sticky tamarind chutney.

I laboured over the berbere tofu bowl with couscous for packed lunches. Every stage of the recipe was easy, but there were various elements and numerous pots created.  I made the berbere paste, which worked really well, but was pretty potent – and that was after I’d halved the chilli powder/cayenne measurements!  The marinated tofu was crispy and delicious, and the couscous was a simple, light accompaniment.  I also added the recommended tahini garlic sauce, which was so delicious I was tempted to just drink it all up!

I whipped up a double batch of flavoursome samosa potatoes and used them in two different recipes.

I made these samosa sliders (served with tamarind chutney again).  As you can see, I used red quinoa,so they perhaps don’t look as attractive as the ones in the book.  The quinoa gave them a nice texture, and the burgers were delicious thanks to the potatoes.  The tamarind chutney was a great partner.  We were a little worried about what to serve alongside them – is it acceptable to serve potato wedges alongside potato burgers?  We threw caution to the wind and did it anyway!

I also used the potatoes to make the samosa-stuffed French toast, which proved quite challenging.  When I hollowed out the end pieces of the loaf and stuffed the potatoes in as you see here, it was quite delicious.  When I tried to stuff the potatoes into thick slices from the middle of the loaf, it was a no-go. With the leftovers, Dr HH thickened up the batter and made pancakes which we topped with the remaining potato – much more successful!

I also made the mint-cilantro herb sauce to serve with the French toast, and it was a nice refreshing accompaniment.

I’m a huge fan of mac and cheese, so I indulged in the smoky mac bake.  The smoky cheese sauce was incredible, but I think the paprika I used was a touch too spicy (Dr HH approved though).  The bake was really nice, but it would be easy enough to make this as regular, non-baked mac and cheese too in a hurry.

I also tried the vegetable lasagna, using the red pizza sauce and white garlic sauce, both of which were really easy to whip up.  I find making lasagna a bit stressful as there are always so many elements to work on (and, again, so much washing up generated), so I always expect a lot from the end result.  I found Richa’s assembly method a little crazy (all the mushrooms in one layer?!  So many layers of pasta?), so if I made it again I’d freestyle that.  No complaints about the flavour, though!  I crumbled in some smoked tempeh, because I do that to every lasagna I make.

The almond butter snickerdoodles didn’t taste particularly almond buttery, but they were fantastic snickerdoodles.  The texture was perfect, they smacked of cinnamon, and they were easy to make.

My nut butter blondies turned out a little browner than they should have, because I used brown sugar.  It was my first time making blondies, and I’m really glad I gave them a go.  You could definitely taste the nut butter. I took a slice to work for my lunchtime dessert and spent the whole morning looking at my watch wishing it was time to eat already just so I could sink my teeth in.

I actually made the gluten-free chocolate chip cookies with gluten in – half chickpea flour, half plain flour – and, as you may have spotted, some marshmallows for added fun!  The texture was perfect, but I had to add a lot of flour after the chilling stage to get it to resemble a cookie dough.  These cookies reminded me of Ms Cupcake’s recipe, and there is no higher praise from me on the cookie front.

At least the first couple of weeks of January were full of delicious, flavoursome dishes!  I already feel quite confident recommending this book, but I should have an even heartier endorsement next month when I’ve (hopefully) got my culinary groove back!

Posted in Cookbooks | Tagged , | 4 Comments