Vegan in Prague: Moment (Again!)

I never want to be one of those people who struggles to comprehend the passage of time, but honestly, I can’t believe I’ve been living in Prague for over 3.5 years. Part of the reason I can’t believe it is simply because there are many things I dislike about living in the Czech Republic: the terrible politics, the casual racism, the fact that local people are really quite surly and mean. And yet here I am, still. This is the longest I’ve ever lived in one city (or even country) as an adult, so clearly this place is doing something right. And perhaps it is Moment Cafe that is keeping me here…

I’ve written about Moment on this blog many times before (most notably in the ‘year in cake‘ opus), because Dr HH and I go there almost every weekend for brunch, and occasionally we throw in a midweek evening meal as well. We love it. It’s a cosy, friendly place, which always has a lovely array of dogs snuffling around and great staff who serve us with a smile. The menu has stayed reliably small over the years, though there are occasional small changes. In the last couple of months they’ve shaken things up a bit, so it seems like a good time for my billionth post on this place to see what the changes are.

First of all: more baked goods for brunch! This can only be a good thing. Nowadays there are usually some cinnamon rolls on the counter…

…and occasionally even gigantic ones like the lemon and coconut one pictured up top here. Moment are renowned for their great bakes, so these rolls have certainly been a welcome addition. Best of all, in my opinion, is the savoury bake in the bottom left here.

This is a pagáče. We have been reliably informed by the staff that this is a traditional Slovakian bake, and we’d describe it as somewhere between a savoury scones and a pastry – it has an incredible, kind of flaky texture. It’s speckled with bits of smoky tofu, which are of course delicious. I believe these are only available on Saturdays, so we always pick up a couple to takeaway for an afternoon snack.

Other important brunch developments: you can now pay 20czk extra to add kimchi or cheese to the omelette! This omelette is perhaps my favourite dish in Prague, so I’m delighted to now have the option to make it cheesy as well.

And speaking of cheese – fried cheese is a traditional Czech dish, and you can now get a vegan version of this in Moment every Sunday. I’m not sure there are many things more exciting than fried cheese, it’s simply sublime.

Recently, the most famous Czech dish of all, svickova, also made it onto the menu. It’s a weird concoction to an outsider, but I’ve become accustomed to it over the years: a root vegetable sauce, hearty dumplings, slabs of mock meat, and a dollop of cranberry sauce. Dr HH says this is one of the best versions he’s had, due to (a) the lack of whipped cream, which sometimes makes a perplexing appearance, and (b) the excellent quality of the seitan. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m certainly keen to.

And also on the evening menu, there’s this new kebab. As always, Moment really delivers on the mock meat front, and this is beautifully seasoned. The bread is especially good as well.

Despite all these changes and updates, the staff have not started slacking in other departments: the cake is as good as ever! Behold perhaps the best cake I’ve ever had: the salted caramel cheesecake. And the selection is still as tempting as it was the first time I went in, and has now expanded to include cupcakes and brownies as well as the standard cheesecakes and layer cakes. In short, I could comfortably manage another ‘year in cake’ post this year!

If you ever visit Prague, Moment remains my absolute top tip. Go for brunch, go for coffee and cake, go for the daily lunch special, or go for a glass of wine and an evening meal: just make sure you go!

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New Products

There’s no shortage of new vegan products these days, with so many supermarkets and companies jumping on the bandwagon and delivering exciting new options. Lately it seems that a lot of my new discoveries have been dairy substitutes (milk and butter), but they’ve been very excited indeed. Here are five new products I’ve tried recently.

1.Rebel Mylk – Whole

I spotted this carton on the shelves in a local vegan shop and almost swooned with excitement: whole milk! When I grew up we always drank semi-skimmed dairy milk, and knew that whole milk was only for very special, indulgent occasions. I was very excited to try this in a hot chocolate, and let me tell you, it was everything I’d hoped for. (It’s possible that it’s all in my head and I’m just convinced it must be that bit more special, but I don’t care. It was magnificent!

2.Rebel Mylk – Semi-Skimmed

The semi-skimmed variety (which I only got because I’d apparently cleaned them out of the whole milk) also made a solid hot chocolate and cup of tea. I wouldn’t go out of my way to get this one again, though it was perfectly good – it’s more expensive than other neutral milks, and not as fancy as whole milk in my mind.

3.Nemleko Gingerbread Almond Milk

Speaking of fancy…I’m a big fan of this Czech company, which produces vegan milk, yoghurt, and butter. Everything comes in glass bottles or jars, which I’m a big fan of, though it does make everything that bit more expensive, so we usually only rarely splash out on one of their products. We were powerless to resist the gingerbread milk though, and it was really delicious, especially served warm.

4.Nemleko Butter

And we finally caved in and tried the butter, after struggling for a while to justify the price when we usually make our own spread. This is really nice, and very spreadable. Also, butter from a glass jar is just so fancy! Dr HH prefers the additional flavour of our homemade variety, and he makes a good point – this is very neutral. Imagine if they brought out a salted version!

5.Candy Kittens – Blueberry Bliss

I try to avoid single use plastic, but sometimes I just can’t resist. I discovered these delightfully fizzy jelly sweets at Heathrow last year and now I’m always on the lookout for them. There’s something so comforting about tucking into a bag of sugary jellies while watching a film. I have one more packet which I’m trying to save until the weekend as the perfect accompaniment to Captain Marvel…let’s see if they survive that long!

 

What new products are on your wishlist? What should I be looking out for? Let me know!

 

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Cookbook of the Month: BOSH! (Part Two)

I was very pleased with the dishes I tried in January for Part One of my BOSH! review, and happily February has been an equally delicious month! Without further ado, here’s what we made this month (with thanks to Dr HH for doing the bulk of the cooking this time around).

Big Eats

The pasta caponata was a simple but flavoursome dish, with some delicious roasted aubergine chunks and various tasty elements (capers, olives, pine nuts). It’s always nice to have a slightly fancier pasta dish to throw together for emergencies, and I wholeheartedly approve of this one!

Showpieces

I was a bit taken aback to see a chilli recipe listed in the Showpieces section, even if it was named ultimate chilli. I maintain that it has no place in that section – it was a solid chilli recipe, but pretty standard. Hyping it up by putting it in this section was not a great move.

The big BOSH! burger also suffered from being placed in the wrong section. It was a decent burger primarily made of sweet potato, brown rice, and kidney beans, but it wasn’t a particularly mind-blowing burger. It was tasty, but I won’t be going out of my way to try this recipe again.

The rich and creamy lasagne is more what I was expecting to find in this section. There are few things I love more these days than spending a few hours labouring over a lasagne of a weekend, and this one was just as much fun to eat. The chunks of butternut squash and aubergine were delicious, and I enjoyed the bechamel too. I’d sooner remake the pesto lasagne recipe from this book (see last month’s post), because it’s hard to argue against the exciting addition of pesto.

Greens & BOSH! Bowls

This was delicious! It’s the satay sweet potato BOSH! bowl, and it was a masterpiece: roasted sweet potato and broccoli, quinoa, fresh avo, a dollop of homemade hummus, and most importantly a sensational dressing. I like bowls (except for all the washing up they entail), but their success really hinges on the dressing. I would drink this one straight from the blender if Dr HH would let me! This was a sublime dish of food.

Small Plates & Sharers

I’m not sure we’ve ever had homemade cauliflower buffalo wings more tender than these ones: they were delicious. However, we encountered that classic issue that the coating went quite soggy due to the hot sauce, so we’d go back to our usual technique of serving the sauce on the side. The ranch dressing was nice and cool as well, though still not our favourite (that honour still goes to a creamy blue cheese dip).

We baked rather than fried the popcorn falafel, and I’m not sure this was the best plan – they turned out quite dry. They were still tasty though, and there were plenty of them!

We had these for packed lunches with both the classic hummus and the olive tapenade hummus. I was worried about the latter being a bit too strongly flavoured (and too heavy on the parsley), but actually it was delicious. We enjoyed all four hummus recipes we tried from this book.

The garlic and herb cashew cheese was not a total success – we added a bit too much water and ended up with a sloppier cheese that could be spread but not sliced. It was still really creamy and tasty though, and cheese-making is definitely an area where I want to experiment more.

Desserts

These gooey PBJ brownies are amongst the best brownies I’ve ever eaten, never mind personally baked. The texture was perfect: so dense and gooey. And I don’t even like jam, and I thought the raspberry swirls were an absolute delight. I’m planning on making these again with speculoos spread soon.

Breakfast

When I order a full English breakfast in any eatery I always judge it on whether or not the beans are homemade. There’s nothing like some excitingly-flavoured beans! This may have been our first time making our own, and I was definitely a fan. The smoky BBQ beans on toast had loads of flavour (though Dr HH thought they could have been a bit smokier), and were nice and easy to make.

The chocolate granola was also a hit. It was quite a simple granola, with plenty of good stuff in it: coconut, chocolate, and a squillion different kinds of nuts. Usually I don’t eat granola for breakfast in February as I need nice warm porridge, but it’s been so Spring-like that I was happy to try this instead.

We also sprinkled some of the granola on top of the choconana protein shake, which was nice but generally an unremarkable shake. Nice, but not groundbreaking.

 

All in all, I’m a big fan of this book and could probably get another month out of it if I were so inclined. There are a lot of recipes, most of them very tempting, and I enjoyed everything I made. I stand by the grievance I mentioned last time, that the recipes aren’t that nicely set out and can be a little confusing to follow, but overall it’s still worth the effort to muddle through it and produce something delicious.

If you’re planning to delve into this book, I’d recommend starting with the gooey PBJ brownies, the satay sweet potato bowl, pesto lasagne, and both kinds of sushi rolls. And probably the chocolate fudge cake too! Have I tempted you to try BOSH!?

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Vegan in Manchester: GRUB

People often ask me if I eventually plan to ditch Prague and move back to Manchester, and I always tell them that I hope so. When pressed, my reasons are 40% to get all my old stuff back from my mum’s attic (clothes, books, KITCHEN STUFF), 10% to be closer to my loved ones, and 50% for the vegan scene. GRUB is a large part of that – it’s a food fair that takes place every weekend with an all-vegan day every Sunday. And there’s free entry too! Whenever I’m home I try to squeeze in a visit, and I can only imagine how exciting it would be to go there every week.

In the winter it’s held in an old warehouse in a slightly rundown area near the train station – the first time we went, we wondered where on earth we were heading to, but it’s actually delightfully cosy inside with twinkling lights, an assortment of armchairs, long picnic tables, a bar, and several vendors. It is absolutely dreadful for  taking photos of your food, though. The outdoor summer location is much better in that regard, and is similarly close to the train station and with plenty of seating.

My first visit was in December 2017, when I basically just wanted to visit the Hip Hop Chip Shop stand. As always, there were four different vendors there each with a different focus (burgers, Italian food, and doughnuts rounding it out on this occasion), but I only had eyes for the battered goods.  This was one of the wisest decisions I ever made: it was phenomenal.

As an omnivorous child, there was nothing I loved more than a battered sausage from the chippy. I hadn’t had one since I was eleven, so it was a real treat to see it on a vegan menu. It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, and not just due to the nostalgia. Dr HH went for the more traditional “fish” and chips (mushy peas on the side of both meals) and also loved it, though perhaps not as much as he loved the deep-fried onion rings and gherkins we ordered as a side. This was a lot of fried food, and my mother and I didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day after this lunch – though let the record state that Dr HH got a takeaway calzone to have for his supper.

On my subsequent visits I’ve been more open to seeing what other options they have, rather than arriving with my heart set on one particular vendor. I was very excited in my July visit to try Vork Pies, which had been popping up all over my social media for a while.

What’s not to love about a veganised pork pie? As you can see, the pastry was spectacular and the filling was solid and meaty – and also really tasty. Again, this was a good nostalgic, childhood dish recreated.

And last Christmas we were very excited to try some poutine from The Gravy Train. I’m not a big fan of mixing my food, or soggy chips, so I had always been quite resistant to the idea of poutine. But Dr HH made some a while ago with homemade chips, gravy, and mozzarella, and I found it to be a surprisingly pleasant combination. Those Canadians clearly know what they’re doing!

Dr HH and I both enjoyed these concoctions. It was nice to try something we’ve never seen on a menu in Prague – and it fitted in nicely with my goal of trying to eat as many chips as possible whenever I’m back in the UK (nobody makes proper chips like the Brits).

This time Mother HH bucked the trend by getting a burger from Wholesome Junkies, which she really enjoyed, despite being a bit sceptical about vegan cheese.

And finally this time we had room for dessert! Chou Choux had an extremely tempting array of desserts, and it was a real challenge to narrow it down. In the end I had a date, chocolate, and caramelised pecan slice, Dr HH got a rich chocolate raspberry tart, and Mother HH got the lemon meringue tart.

The latter was the clear winner – it was light, zingy, and marshmallowy. My mum had never tried vegan meringue before, and was very impressed.

I’m still torturing myself by looking at their weekly vendors even though I have no plans to return to Manchester anytime soon – I just can’t help myself! I really wish Prague had something like this event, happening so frequently. Even when there are vegan festivals here, it tends to be the same vendors every time and most of them are from local restaurants that I could go to any day of the week. It’s really exciting at GRUB to try out these smaller, newer eateries who are just trying to establish their customer bases.

Is there anything like GRUB in your neck of the woods? What have been your best finds?

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Vegan Products: Tyne Chease

For the third year in a row, I was desperate to try the Tyne Chease selection box at Christmas – and for the first time ever,  I was successful! Both previous years I was unsuccessful because they had already sold out, so this time I was ready: I asked my mum to order it and pop it in the freezer before I’d even booked my flight home for Christmas. (Last year she’d managed to get me some cream cheeses, which were very nice indeed, but there’s no substitute for a proper cheese board.)

These ten cheeses are very small, and I hope it’s not absolute gluttony to have devoured the lot in one sitting. Dr HH and I shared these for cheese supper on Christmas Day, and it was perhaps the fanciest I have ever felt (and we were in our pyjamas and watching a superhero film, so that’s saying something).

For each flavour, we simply chopped the cheese in half and slathered it thickly on a cracker. There were ten flavours: Za’atar spice, pink peppercorn, dill, garlic, smoked, Ethiopian spice, chilli flakes, original, mustard, and sundried tomato.

I skipped the dill and mustard ones, because I don’t care for those flavours. Everything else was simply delicious! My favourites were the ones that were coated in a flavoured crust, like the za’atar one unwrapped above. It was so flavoursome! The peppercorn one also stood out, along with the smoked, though the chilli flakes were a bit spicy for me. The cheese was pleasantly creamy and spreadable, and I heartily enjoyed them.

My mum had been quite disappointed by the size when she received them, but I think it was perfectly sized if you’re planning on sharing with just a few people. And I would happily order this pack again, even with the dill and mustard cheeses in there.

What a time to be vegan – five years ago I never would have guessed I’d be tucking into a delicious cheese selection box!

What’s your favourite vegan cheese?

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Vegan in Brno: Vegan Sweet Bar

Brno is about 3 hours on the train from Prague, but lately I’ve been thinking that it might be worth doing a one-day round trip just so I could go back to Vegan Sweet Bar, one of the most exciting vegan cafes I’ve ever visited.

They’ve got cakes galore…

…and all the doughnuts! As you might guess from the name, everything here is both vegan and sweet, making it my ideal cafe. There was so much choice, and everything looked really tempting. Obviously there were plenty of hot drink options too, including hot chocolate with cream – always a winner.

Somehow, I limited myself to ordering just the one sweet thing: the salted caramel doughnut. I’m not sure anyone is fancy enough to eat a doughnut with cutlery, but there’s no denying it looks classy on the plate. However you eat it, it’s delicious: sticky, sweet, and salty. The dough itself was perhaps not quite as good as the doughnuts available at Donut Shop in Prague, but the array of flavours was much more exciting and creative.

My friend had the smaller, even stickier raspberry doughnut ball, and was very satisfied with it too, in terms of both taste and texture. So thumbs up all round!

Truthfully, this place was disappointingly quiet for a Saturday afternoon – we were the only customers when we arrived. Things picked up a bit, with a few more people sitting in and several getting takeaway, but I still think this place would have been significantly busier if it were in Prague. Hint hint!

Are you lucky enough to have an exclusively vegan dessert spot nearby? Tell me all about it!

 

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Cookbook of the Month: BOSH! (Part One)

I didn’t know too much about this book before I received it for Christmas, but as soon as I began flicking through it I knew it would be a great addition to my bookshelf. I immediately marked almost every recipe to try – everything sounded both delicious and logistically possible without taking hours out of my day or breaking the bank with extravagant ingredients.

Unsurprisingly, then, I’ve decided that this book definitely warrants two months of attention. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface so far, but here’s what I’ve made from each section (the Cocktail section is the only one as yet unexplored).

Quick Eats

I love recipes like this creamy carbonara, where there’s a really simple sauce to blitz and that’s basically the hard work done. The first night when we had this, we found the sauce far too bland – basically, the mushrooms were doing all the work, flavourwise. So on the second night we added some extra nooch, garlic, and salt to the sauce, along with the leftover mushroom marinade, and this time everything was properly delicious.

Dr HH and I got some stylish metal lunch boxes for Christmas, so we’ve been branching out from our usual lunch time soups to try to get the most out of them. This guacaroni was an obvious choice: pasta in a cool, creamy avocado sauce. Dr HH was a little underwhelmed by it, but I loved it and think it will become a packed lunch staple.

The first observation we both had about the easy peasy pasta was that there was far too much oil. It was absolutely swimming in it! Besides the excessive oil, this is pretty much a bog standard pasta and veg dish, nothing to write home about.

Big Eats

I was never a fan of those potato-topped fish pies when I was a meat eater, but I was very excited about this creamy seaside pie. I could only get regular button mushrooms rather than the recommended Asian selection, so I didn’t get that nice texture and deeper taste that would have been preferable, but this was still good. There was plenty of nori to give it a taste of the sea, and I chucked some dill in as well for good measure.

I very rarely cook Indian food, because Dr HH believes nobody makes it better than his mother and I don’t relish criticism. But we had a load of leftover spinach, so I thought I should give this saag aloo a go – and I’m glad I did! It really packed a flavour punch, plus it was very vibrant too. Even Dr HH gave it the seal of approval!

No, your eyes do not deceive you – that is indeed a second Indian dish! I was worried the rogan Bosh would be too sweet from the coconut yoghurt, but it turned out very well-balanced and tasty.

Showpieces

The Showpieces section of the book was crucial to my plans for celebrating my fifth anniversary with Dr HH, and I eventually settled on the world’s best pesto lasagne. I’ve come to really enjoy spending a few hours at the weekend labouring over the various components of a lasagne and bringing it all together into a slap-up Sunday dinner, with leftovers to carry us through to midweek. This one was certainly worth the effort, and my only complaint was that I’d have liked double the amount of pesto! I’ll certainly make this again.

Greens & Bosh Bowls

Our lunch boxes got another outing for this falafel bowl. I actually found the falafel quite dry and heavy, but that was possibly due to some clumsy work and I’d like to give them another go. They had it going on in the flavour stakes, and I enjoyed the Greek salad on the side. While I took care of those two elements, Dr HH handled the hummus…

He made both the roasted garlic hummus and sun-dried tomato hummus. The latter needed thinning out, and the flavour might have shone through more with a plain bread accompaniment rather than the competing falafel – for this particular dish, the roasted garlic version was the definite winner. All in all, this was a majestic lunch.

Small Plates & Sharers

For another exciting packed lunch, I made us two kinds of sushi! The guaca maki rolls were mega tasty (and I followed the ultimate guacamole recipe too), but a little bit heavy and sloppy from the guac.

The satay maki rolls (made with the rich satay sauce) were somehow even tastier, and one of the more exciting kinds of sushi I’ve tried. The sauce was just  delicious.

Desserts

From the Desserts section, my chocolate chip cookies didn’t look much like the ones in the book, but they tasted sublime! My colleagues absolutely loved them – including the person who had initially scoffed at the very notion of vegan cookies (can’t wait to tell him about Oreos…) and then swiftly demanded my baking tips.

And for Dr HH’s birthday I made this beautiful beacon of decadence: the ultimate chocolate fudge cake. The cake was good, but the icing was something else altogether. I don’t think I’d ever made a chocolate fudge cake before, and this one was exactly as it  should be. We could only manage small slivers of this, because it was so intense.

Breakfasts

Dr HH whipped up the banana pancakes for me one morning, and don’t they look good? He found the batter a little thinner than his usual recipes, and therefore the pancakes themselves weren’t as pillowy, but it was still a lovely breakfast feast. This won’t become our go-to recipe, but no real complaints.

I like making cake in a loaf tin, because then I can call it bread or a loaf and imagine I’m being quite healthy. I  had to abandon that pretence when I made this banana bread because I only had half quantities of all the ingredients and didn’t really fancy a sad little loaf. So I made muffins instead, simply reducing the cooking time. These were really easy to make (just chuck it all in a bowl and mix, classic), and tasted very good indeed. I’ll certainly be revisiting this recipe.

 

So far, then, everything has been basically delicious and relatively easy to make, and I’m highly motivated to keep on cooking through February. One thing I love about this book is that there are plenty of pictures – a lot of books skimp on them, but this is gorgeous to flick through.

One thing I’m less keen on is that all ingredients are listed in their whole form in the list (eg. one onion), and the preparation of those ingredients are hidden away in the text of the method (eg. Next, chop the onion). Personally, I like to see all those preparatory steps separately so I can get them out of the way before I start. It’s no fun scanning the recipe trying to see if the onion was meant to be chopped or finely sliced when I’m already halfway through everything.

I will persevere though, because the end results are worth it! Have you already got your hands on this book? Which recipes should I definitely make in February?

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