Vegan Easter Haul

I haven’t been buying as many chocolate bars or sweets since moving towards the zero waste lifestyle, but sometimes I really need a little something chocolatey. Easter is one of those occasions, and Mama HH was good enough to send over a few treats from The Vegan Kind. (Interestingly, when we were children she only allowed my brother and me a bar of chocolate, nothing in a fun shape. Nowadays she’s always asking what kind of special themed, novelty shapes I’d like. It’s weird.)

We had a couple of Considerit vegan creme eggs, which we also tried last year (and reviewed here). Like last year, I was disappointed by the fact that it was two separate halves, but it still tasted good.

These peanut butter cups are my greatest weakness! I’ve tried at least one other brand before, but I think these are probably still my favourites because they’re made with a milkier chocolate. Dr HH and I keep talking about making our own peanut butter cups – I suspect it should be pretty easy.

It saddens me that there’s still no vegan version of Mini Eggs, but at least these little truffle eggs exist. They have a good creamy centre and are milky and delicious – and perfect size for snacking.

Most excitingly, we got these Walnut Whirls! Dr HH had never tried a classic Walnut Whip before and I can only remember trying it once or twice, but there’s no denying that it’s an exciting sweet. There are a few flavours available, but I asked for this one, assuming it would be closest to the original. For the uninitiated (are Walnut Whips universal?), it’s basically a dark chocolate cone with a flattened tip, topped with a walnut and filled with a sweet and delicious truffley cream of sorts. They were so good, I’m already planning on placing another order! The best thing about them was probably the thick layer of chocolate on the bottom – very generous indeed.

So it was quite the exciting Easter haul. There should really be more holidays that we celebrate by eating lots of chocolate…

Did you get any delicious Easter treats that I need to know about?

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Vegan in Berlin: Brammibal’s Donuts (Again!)

The fact that I love donuts has probably not escaped your attention. They are exquisite! In Prague we have two solid options for vegan donuts, but they’re not quite in the same league as Brammibal’s Donuts in Berlin. The donuts there are so soft  that, as I commented to Dr HH, “It’s like eating a cloud!”

And over the last year the number of Brammibal’s branches in Berlin has tripled – especially good news as I found it tricky to get a table at the original one. On our recent trip to Berlin, Dr HH and I treated ourselves to a trip to Brammibal’s every day, and we regret nothing!

The maple smoked coconut balanced the sweet and smoky flavours really nicely, but the coconut was all loosely piled on top which meant that it all started tumbling off as soon as I picked up the donut. So points for flavour, but not for construction!

The banana peanut fudge was a flavour explosion – in fact, it was possibly even a bit too banana-y for my tastes. But if that’s a combo you like, this is a great option.

The Boston cream was sublime! We didn’t want to both order the same donut, but we both really wanted to try it and I refused to share (because it would be messy, and because cream isn’t always evenly distributed so one of us would probably end up losing – I stand by this decision, but Dr HH seemed to think I was insane). Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t share. It was delicious! The chocolate was still a little glossy and not-quite-set, which made for messy eating. The cream filling was exquisite, the chocolate was dark and delicious, it was the perfect combo.

We shared the pink hibiscus because it sounded exciting and looked like a proper Homer Simpson donut. Neither of us knew what hibiscus was, and to be honest we’re still none the wiser – it was a generic sweet donut!

And finally, a couple of donuts for the road! These were actually the best of the weekend. Yes, even better than the Boston cream! The cashew and cacao nib donut on the left was super chocolatey and exactly my kind of donut. And Dr HH loved the texture and flavour of the nougat one on the right.

So once again, it was a great, donut-filled trip to Berlin! I was quite alarmed to see a fellow diner at Brammibal’s tucking into their donut with a knife and fork. Is this the norm where you are? I can see a certain kind of sense to it, considering how sticky our hands got with some of them, but surely there’s a line that should never be crossed?

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Vegan in Berlin: Ataya Caffe

Berlin is just a few hours away from Prague and reasonably priced via bus or train, so Dr HH and I have been there enough times now that we don’t even have to pretend to be going to experience the culture or history anymore. Now we can just straight up admit that we’re going to for the vegan food, and TK Maxx. Part of the vegan food draw is the brunch scene. There’s nowhere in Prague that does the same all-you-can-eat, all-vegan buffet brunch that is prevalent in Berlin. We’ve already ticked off a few places, and this time we tried another one: Ataya Caffe.

Ataya Caffe is owned by an African/Italian couple, and so every Sunday they serve a brunch buffet with a mixture of both cuisines. This sounded super exciting, and we were very happy that they could squeeze us in for a last minute reservation.

There were quite a lot of dishes to choose from, including two different kinds of hummus, an assortment of salads, some fluffy bread and crispy crackers, one aubergine antipasti dish, and a collection of African stews. There was a peanutty one that was very good indeed, and the hummus was also top notch. A pasta dish appeared at one point, but Dr HH reported that it was a pretty unexciting sauce. There was some falafel as well, briefly -that was good.

There were lots of things to try, and everything looked colourful and fresh, but the peanut stew and the anitpasti were the only properly remarkable dishes, and so we weren’t too fussed about going back for seconds and thirds as we usually would.

Alas, there was only one sweet dish – these little bites of chocolate cake were good and intense, but it would have been nice to have more options.

My main complaint about this is that it wasn’t really a brunch buffet so much as a lunch buffet – we couldn’t think of anything about it that seemed particularly breakfasty. And we were also expecting more fusion cuisine, whereas there wasn’t really much of an Italian flavour running through it at all.

All in all, it was a nice idea and solid food if you’re looking for a good lunch. But not the best of Berlin’s brunch options.

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Vegan in Berlin: Lily Burger

I think a case can be made that certain trendy foods are designed more with social media in mind than actual feasting. That’s probably the case for freak shakes, and I suspect also for the burgers that are stacked up taller than a toddler. So while I was lured in by the social media snaps of the massive burgers at Lily Burger in Berlin, I wasn’t really expecting to be able to eat my entire meal. And it’s just as well I went in with that expectation, because the amount of food was insane!

Lily’s reminded me somewhat of the great Annie’s in Nottingham, because it too has an extensive burger menu where every option is available meaty, vegetarian, or vegan. It didn’t have quite the same atmosphere though: when we were in on Friday evening they were playing loud dance music and it was a bit more of a dive than I’d like. But the food was good!

There’s only one vegan patty, a good crispy seitan one, so we started with that and then chose which concoction we’d like. Mine came with vegan cheddar, bacon, halloumi, BBQ sauce, and an onion ring. It was the tallest burger I’d ever tackled, and it was presented on a sturdy metal skewer. Obviously it had to be eaten with a knife and fork, which is never my favourite approach, but there was no alternative here.

The patty was top notch, and I loved both cheeses. I think it was my first time trying vegan halloumi, and I enjoyed it – it even had that classic halloumi squeak! The bacon was pretty standard European vegan bacon: not massively bacony, but significantly better than veggie bacon was back in the nineties. And the onion ring was delicious! I managed about two thirds of this before accepting that continuing would have been unwise. I was stuffed!

Dr HH, of course, put me to shame and devoured this monstrosity in its entirety. Imagine! His came with cheddar, bacon, honey mustard sauce, chilli mac and cheese, and a bacon onion ring. The bacon onion ring was inspired! Why don’t more places add rashers of bacon inside their onion rings?! The mac and cheese was a little rubbery and cold, which was a disappointment, but otherwise he loved it. And he tucked it all away somehow as well – clearly for some people these burgers aren’t just for social media!

Not only that, but he also put away more than his fair share of these curly fries! There were a few different kinds of potato sides, and additional sauces unavailable, but we only had eyes for the curly fries because they’re not really a thing in Prague. Oh, they were beautiful, and seasoned to perfection!

The menu was really extensive and also had veganisable waffles and pancakes with numerous toppings (it’s open 24 hours), plus milkshakes and desserts. Who would ever have room for any dessert though?!

This place is definitely not cheap. Alongside these three dishes, we also ordered two Sprites and it all came to €56. It was worth the splurge though as a one off. Who knows when I’ll have the chance for such an Instagrammable meal again?!

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Vegan in Prague: Waf-Waf

I’ve been stuck in a rut lately, food-wise. There are new eateries popping up all the time on Happy Cow, but I can’t seem to tear myself away from my familiar old favourites. The far more adventurous Dr HH finally convinced me to visit a spot with new vegan options lately, and I’m glad he did…though when it comes to vegan pancakes and waffles, I don’t need too much persuading.

Waf-Waf rivals Wafflin on the Prague brunch scene, but there are some differences. I have to say that I prefer the Waf-Waf aesthetic: it’s a pretty place. But on the downside, there’s no table service – you have to order at the counter and listen out for them calling your order so you can go and pick up your tray. Also, it seems to be more popular with the younger crowd than Wafflin, and if you’re an old lady like me there are few things worse than spending your Saturday morning sitting next to a bunch of teens.

The vegan menu seems fairly new, and features two specials: a sweet vegan pancake, and a savoury vegan waffle. Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that Dr HH went savoury and I went sweet. There were two waffles, which is always a good sign, and Dr HH reported that they were very good and flavoursome. The toppings left a bit to be desired though: red cabbage, mayo, sweet corn, and, rather mysteriously, a solitary kidney bean. Not too inspired. He would definitely get the savoury waffles again, but would go for a build-your-own approach instead (the vegan waffle isn’t listed on the build-your-own menu yet, but we assume it would be a possibility, and there were some good vegan options on there, both sweet and savoury – not as extensive or as well-labelled as at Wafflin though).

I was much more satisfied with my choice. A vegan crepe is quite rare in Prague – the chunky American-style pancakes are far more common. The crepe itself was lovely, if a little thicker than I was expecting, and I enjoyed the additions of raspberries, banana, chocolate sauce, and Lotus crumbs. Actually, the crumbs were the best part, adding a lovely crunchy texture. I would happily order this again every day!

As a bonus, they were playing some great ’80s hits when we were in there. Take that, teens!

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Vegan Products: M&S Plant Kitchen Range

If you are a vegan who does not live under a rock, you may have noticed that Marks & Spencer has released a new line of vegan ready meals, known as their Plant Kitchen range. This has inspired the usual comments from the online vegan community: they’re too unhealthy, inspire laziness, use too much plastic. Personally, I think anything that  makes veganism more accessible must be a good thing, and even the most well-intentioned home cook/zero-waster has the occasional day when they just need a quick fix. As such, I was very pleased to see these products start popping up at the M&S branches in Prague.

The mushroom pie is my favourite discovery, because vegan pastry is virtually unheard of here. This pastry in particular is so buttery that the first time I had it I went and double checked the box just in case it wasn’t really vegan. It is delicious! So far I’ve only found it in one location in Prague (Wenceslas Square, for anyone trying to track it down), but it’s always worth the detour.

The dirty fries are more readily available, and also pretty good – proper, thickly cut chips are hard to come by in these parts, to I definitely appreciate that.

The chips are doused in a tomatoey sauce and bechamel. Generally, I like a dry chip, but I can’t deny that these are tasty. Both sauces are really nice, and there’s good coverage on the chips as well. There’s something quite decadent about chips like these!

We paired the fries with the cauliflower popcorn for a lazy night in, kicking off our long overdue great Buffy rewatch (six episodes in I have to say that Xander’s creepy obsession with Buffy has not aged well). It is perfect in-front-of-the-TV junk food!

The coating on the cauliflower was good and well-seasoned, and the pieces were the perfect size for pecking at. The dip was also pleasant, though not spectacular.

I’d heard mixed reviews about the cashew mac from the rest of the vegan community, so I was expecting the worst. I needn’t have worried though!

The sauce was good and creamy, and the mushrooms and crumb topping were great additions. It might have needed a touch more seasoning, but honestly, for a ready meal I think this was really good.

And lastly, we’ve also tried the lasagne (ah, behold the yellow stickers – always a welcome sight!). This was the most underwhelming of the bunch – solid, but a bit bland and unremarkable. Fine for an emergency, but I won’t be rushing to purchase it again like I will with the others.

So there we have it – vegan life just got a little easier, and I’m definitely on board! The pie is already one of my favourite vegan products ever (yes, better than the Linda McCartney pie), and I hope it will spread to the other locations around Prague.

What other products from the range should I look out for? And is anyone else really disappointed that the sandwich from this range is essentially just hummus and avocado? I was expecting so much more!

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Vegan in Prague: Pastva (Take Two)

We all know that veganism is on the rise, and I’ve been very pleased to see the evidence of this in my own workplace. When I started there 18 months ago, I was the only vegan and it was a sad and lonely time with no options for me at the Christmas party. Now there are two other vegans in the office, plus four people who are mostly plant-based besides the odd bit of cheese: we’re taking over the world! I even managed to get us some delicious, labelled vegan options at our last Christmas party. Not only that, but I’ve successfully convinced two separate teams to schedule our team lunch at a nearby vegan restaurant, and set up a standing weekly lunch date there with one of my omnivorous colleagues. And that restaurant is the wonderful Pastva.

I’d been a good few times before I started working in the neighbourhood, but then it was mostly for the evening menu. Now I’m all about the lunch specials. Every day they have a different menu, generally with one soup and three mains (one of which is always a salad – yawn!). They keep things pretty creative and don’t repeat dishes that regularly, which means it’s always exciting to turn up and see what the daily options are. Best of all, the portions are insanely generous and do not skimp on the carbs: a lunch here sets me up so comfortably for the afternoon that I never need a snack (though I could often do with a post-lunch nap).

Another thing Pastva has going for it is that the chef is not afraid of spices. Quite a lot of their dishes are curries or involve spicy sauces, and they know how to hit the sweet spot of spiced but not too fiery. I wish this tofu curry would pop up on the menu again.

And if the spicy food has some deep-fried tofu on top, so much the better! They know how to prepare tofu in this place.

It’s not always curries though – the quesadilla (with homemade sour cream and guacamole, no less) is absolutely spectacular…

…and there are quite often French stews, or this magnificent concoction: French potatoes with ratatouille. The potatoes were just exquisite! (I also once had hasselback potatoes here, and felt like the fanciest person in the world.)

And occasionally something Czech pops up too, with the classic dumplings thrown in – they may look like slices of baguette, but they’re actually dumplings.

The only downside to Pastva is that it’s so popular! It’s always packed from 12-2pm, and they don’t take bookings for groups smaller than four, so it can be a gamble to see if you’ll get a table. If it pays off though, it’s definitely worth it.

And on days when I take a packed lunch to work, I’ve been known to pop out mid-afternoon for a tea and cake break at Pastva, which is also highly recommended. They do a mean chai latte, and some very exciting cakes (though usually only one or two to choose from – savoury is definitely their speciality).

They’ve got their presentation down – doesn’t this one look pretty?!

And this peanut butter cookie sandwich is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten – hopefully it’ll become a regular fixture.

Looking back over these delicious meals, and reminiscing about the ones I forgot to photograph, I feel incredibly lucky to work near this brilliant establishment and be able to go for a top notch vegan lunch whenever I like. And I feel extra lucky to have so many plant-based friends to share these treats with!

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