Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's harder -diabetes or coeliac's disease?

what do you think is harder? Considering that I'm vegan of course.

I'm being tested for both and have been thinking about this a lot, even though I probably don't have either. I really really really heart sugar and live for over the top sugary desserts. Diabetes does run in my family, but I was tested not that long ago. But I do really love bread and am yet to find a gluten free bread that I like. But lots of things that are vegan tend to be gluten free too, right? What do you think?

It's amazing the things I think about to procrastinate from my thesis. But please indulge my curiosity.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

London part 2 - The Amazing, The Good and The Average

This has taken a while since there is so much to write about, but finally all of the rest of the London stuff in one place:

The amazing

* Pogo was probably my favourite place in London, it's all vegan and is actually run as a co-op. I especially loved one of their desserts called the knickerbocker glory, it had cream, ice cream, biscuits, cashews, some sort of fruit or jelly, choc buttons and was like a mystery box in dessert form. Their breakfast which I think they only serve on a Sunday was also delicious and included pancakes, the best tasting homemade veg sausages, scrambled smoked tofu and lots more. We went there twice. Here's the knickerbocker glory:

"Cheese" and "Bacon" burger:

Their nutloaf with mashed potato and gravy:Their awesome breakfast, minus one "sausage":

* Inspiral Lounge was a very close second. Toby thinks this is his fav though. We went there three times. They had a whole range of vegan ice cream flavours, like lavender and lucuma. I enjoyed both of those flavours and the raw chocolate ice cream but the one that I had each time was the mint choc chip, it actually contained spirulina but you couldn't taste it and reminded me a lot of the mint choc chip that I grew up eating. Their mains were quite good too. And I loved their tiramisu but wasn't a fan of their raw chocolates and truffles. They also had a range of organic vegan drinks, like Toby's favourite organic perry cider. See how many vegan ice cream flavours there were:

You order one main and 3 sides, Toby and I always tended to go for the same sides: broccoli, roasted potato, and roasted mixed veg with soy mayo, here is the hemp millet patty:

The shiitake tart:
Toby was a big fan of the shiitake tart and the tarragon tofu parcel. The lasagna was probably my fav, I don't know what the green stuff was that they poured over my dish, it didn''t really affect the flavour:

*Peking Palace is a chinese mockplace that we loved, the only downside was there was not really any vegan dessert options, but they did say that they are were going to start making and selling vegan cakes. We shared an entree platter with our friends Scott and Trina. It contained crispy seaweed (that was like crack, I kid you not and I don't even like seaweed), spring rolls, spare "ribs", sesame toast, and curry puffs. This was so large, the photo doesn't really do it justice:

We also shared a mock" fish" dish, a "steak" dish
stuffed mushrooms

and my favourite "duck" pancakes, which you could make up yourself:

The Good

* Rootmaster is a restaurant on an old double decker bus. We went there with vegan from brighton and lots of the PPkers that were in town for the Bust craftacular. It was good but a tad pricey and whilst the service was great I found the dishes a tiny bit disappointing but maybe that was all just the hype and over excitement beforehand. I had the lasagna but I all I could taste was rosemary and I hate rosemary, and Toby who loved rosemary didn't heart it either:

Toby had the flamegrilled burger which was quite good and Toby was impressed by the flamegrilled part:
I was super excited about trying their fondant, but unfortunately there was no ooze in the middle like a proper fondant:
Toby had the cannoli which I was really excited about, but the filling was a little too sour for me:
*Rainforest creatures is a Caribbean food stall at spitafields market. They specialised in raw dishes and we had one of their amazing wraps. It contained sprouted hummous, salads and all sorts of things that I didn't recognise and it was surprisingly delicious, the bread was soft and tasty enough on it own. I wish I could have gone back to get another one. They also sold homemade ultra-gingery Ginger Beer.

They had raw cakes, we had a mango banana cake but neither of us liked it, it just tasted too much like eating dried fruit.

* Saf could almost go in the amazing category, and I think the main reason I have put it here is price and the dish sizes. It was quiet expensive compared with the others and the quality albeit great didn't warrant the price in my opinion. I had the scrambled tofu which contained caramelised onions on crispy toast, it was very tasty but not quite what I would expect from an upmarket restaurant:

Toby had the frittata with lots of thinly sliced mushrooms and artichokes. He enjoyed both the texture and the taste.
We shared the cashew cheese with pesto, dehydrated tomatoes, and balsamic glaze for an entree. It was fantastic but way too small.

was a smallish restaurant that had been suggested to us by a few people. We tried the fried plantains, it was the first time we have tried them, they looked like bananas but kind of tasted a bit like a sweet potato:

I had the burger which come with vegan garlic aioli and a tomato based sauce on the side. The garlic aioli was great, and the burger was good.Toby had the stroganoff which he though was a little bland but much better than vita organic (see below):

I didn't enjoy the chocolate cake at all:

but the pancakes were beautiful and delicious and was served with vegan ice cream:

* Neals Yard salad bar is an omni place that sells vegan soft serve ice cream. We had both their mango and chocolate flavours swirled together, it was so tasty that I didn't mind eating ice cream outside in London's winter.

The average

It is worth mentioning all the average meals we ate in London. Many of the meals we ate weren't bad as such just weren't particularly good and tended to be quite similar bain- maree style food with options like baked potatoes, dhal, tofu stir fry etc.

First up there was Beatroot which I have to mention was one that Toby and I disagree on, he enjoyed the sausage rolls and said they were almost as good as Cindy and Michael's sausage rolls. In fairness, I didn't get to try their desserts but I did try the quinoa salad which was too lemony, and I love lemon flavoured dishes.

We also went to one of the many vegan chinese buffet places, which is all you can eat, but the food seriously sucked, they tended to use tvp to make mock dishes rather than gluten and the regular soy mock dishes that you normally find at vegetarian restuarants, neither of us wanted to eat lots because we didn't really enjoy the options.

We went to vita organic, and I had an amazing juice, however neither of us enjoyed any of the svaoury dishes that we had which included salads, brocoli, and stroganoff. I'm a little dissapointed that we didn't get to try their raw desserts though which looked pretty good. I'm suprised by this place because everyone seemed to enjoy it except for us.

Toby and I also went to a music festival in England called All tomorrow's parties. And practically starved, we survived on chips, crisps and two minute noodles and the highlight food wise for the 3 days we were there was pizza hut pizza without cheese which really is saying something. We had fries from two places and they both sucked, I'm not sure how one manages to screw up fries, but they were disgusting, I couldn't even finish them, I hated them so much. I'm not sure if the potatoes had gone bad or the oil or what but they were far the worst tasting fries I have even eaten. Toby said he went to get vegie sausages everytime he needed food betweensshows. He thought he has eaten more than 30 of them but I couldn't even finish one and their veganess was questionable. In the end we had a bit of a don't ask and don't tell policy since we had pretty limited options. I was so cranky from not having decent food by the end of it and hanging for anything other than potatoes.

Products and other stores

I loved a store called B Never too Busy to be Beautiful on oxford st which I think is owned by lush and sells makeup and perfume most of which are clearly labelled as vegan, and tend to use natural ingreidents. I picked up some bright red lipstick and a perfume and am already wishing that I got more.

We also got to try quite a fair few vegan products too including:
* Linda McCartney's pies, which were sooooo good, the pastry was light, and contained an actual gravy as you can see oozing out, it was probably the best tasting vegan pie I have ever had:

* Provamel flavoured soy milks, I managed to try all 4 flavours (vanilla, choc, strawberry and banana) and enjoyed them all but loved the banana flavoured one.
* Raspberry ruffles: vegan from Brighton introduced me to them, and I wished I would have bought more. They tasted a lot of like tiny cherry ripes and were sold at a 99pence or 1 pound stores
*Booja booja ice cream: we had the chocolate flavour and it only contained 4 ingredients: water, cashews, agave and cocoa. The cashew base meant it was far creamier than other dairy free ice creams.
*Booja Booja fresh truffles: they sold them in packs of two in a healthfood store that we went to and they were rich and amazing and even better than the regular booja truffles.
* Swedish glace: is a dairy free ice cream, we had the vanilla flavour which you can actually find in many supermarkets. It was good, but I wish I could have tried their other flavours.
* We also had the delicious Provamel custard and soy yogurt which come in a variety of flavours, and were super creamy. Why can't we have vegan soy yogurt like that here?

In summary, London had lots and lots of vegan options, and while some were awesome, there are some pretty mediocore options.

Monday, December 21, 2009

London part 1

Hi everyone, we are finally back and blogging. Still needs lots to do to though to the site, like get the previous posts under Toby's name not mine, so please bare with us.

I'm going backwards in order of destination that we visited but thought I would start with London.

The first day we arrived in London, we had been flying for 13 hours and I struggle to sleep on planes so was completely exhausted, starving so bad that I was shaking, and it was raining, freezing cold and dark AT 4PM. We also got lost trying to find Itadaki Zen restaurant. And I learnt the hard way that people in London can be frigging rude, Toby and I tried to ask 3 different people for help with directions and each person did this wave of the hand thing and kept walking.

Needless to say we were so relieved when we finally found this place. And one of the owners was friendly and passionate and explained that it is the first vegan organic Japanese restaurant in Europe. He also explained that it had only recently opened and that it was connected to organic sustainable farming projects in Japan. He also gave me directions and showed me where on the map the nearest organic supermarket was, It's one of the few places in London that I wish we could have returned to but didn't get the chance to. And Mr T wished we could have returned to try a dish called Neba Neba.

Anyway on to the food:

I can't comment too much on the sushi since I practically inhaled it, but Toby reported that it was fresh and delicate:

Next up we had the tempura which the staff explained is seasonal, it was served with sea salt on the side and was crunchy and delicious:

We shared this yu tofu dish which had a light broth which Toby thought was a bit bland, but I thought was healthy and just what the doctor ordered:

I had one of the smooth tofu desserts, I forget the name but it was smooth, contained sesame paste and a sweet syrup and we both loved it.

And look how cute the place is:

Itadaki Zen Restaurant
139 King's Cross Road
London, WC1X 9BJ
020 7278 3573