Thursday, 3 July 2014

Bistro 1847 Manchester

Tonight after work I popped along to the relaunch party for Manchester veggie restaurant Bistro 1847. The restaurant has been established for a few years and also has a sister restaurant in Birmingham. I've eaten here before and blogged about it. The Manchester venue has had a refit and was launching it's summer menu. I was surprised by the refit which gives the restaurant more of a cafe bar feel with fresh Scandinavian style design and has a back section that can be hired out for large groups - perfect for celebrating birthdays or leaving do's.

It was a really pleasant evening. The organic wine was free flowing and we got to sample some delicious canapes which give a flavour of what the restaurant is all about. The first picture is rye crackers topped with hummus, pomegranate and edible flowers. I could have eaten a whole plate of these. The rye crackers in particular were outstanding.

These bites are a mini version of one of the restaurants signature dishes. It's beer battered halloumi with pea puree with the halloumi subbed for tofu for vegans. The chef explained that the green leaves are locally soured oyster leaves, something I'd never heard of before.

This final super sized canape was a little nan bread topped with a mini bhajji, pickled pear, yoghurt and foraged yarrow. The presentation on all of the food was superb and I loved the attention to detail with the garnishes. The restaurant also runs cookery classes and has events such as jazz evenings and tasting menu nights. I'm looking forward to visiting again soon.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Violife for Pizza

When I popped into V Revolution the other day the guys there were raving about the new Violife for pizza hard block of vegan cheese. On their recommendation I decided to try it out and I have to say I was impressed. It's also the cheapest vegan cheese I've come across at £2.25 a block. It melted really well and had a pleasant taste. I used most of it on a Cheatin Ham and Pineapple pizza. I blogged a while ago about my forays into pizza making and I've progressed even further to using 00 flour and getting my bases nice and thin. I've been using this recipe which does most of the work in a food processor.

We had enough of the cheese left over to try it with beans on toast and to mix in with mushrooms and pesto in a pasta dish.

Whilst I don't eat masses of vegan cheese I'll definitely buy this brand again and look forward to trying it in a cheese and tomato toasted sandwich.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Pret Goodies

Now that I get a train into work Pret A Manger is on my radar as there is a branch in the station. My first encounter was with a Supergreens sandwich and I must say it nearly put me off trying anything else. The avocado was unripe and the dressing was mouth puckering with way too much lemon. However, I was much more impressed the second time round. I'm a massive fan of coconut water and was pleased to see it on sale here alongside delicious veggie crisps. Their kale crisps are pretty good too although I think the Inspiral ones just have the edge and I can get them from the juice bar in Piccadilly station along with Inspiral desserts. I  do have to recommend the dark chocolate covered rice cakes in the picture though. There was three in the packet and I rationed them out over the course of a day.

The sandwich is the new Dukkah wrap. I'm a big fan of Dukkah ever since I got to review it for Can I Eat It?  and one of my favourite ways to use this spice blend is sprinkled on roasted vegetables towards the end of cooking. It was great in this wrap.

I've also discovered that Pret do a really nice salad called Greens, Grains and No Bread which is just the sort of thing I like to eat at home. What other favourites have people discovered from here? I know they do quite a few vegan soups too. It's really heartening to see more vegans options like this appearing in mainstream places. There's an M and S food in the station too so I've got a pretty decent choice of lunches if I've not been able to bring stuff in from home.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Outside Cafe - Hathersage

We've recently got a car which has opened up a world of travel around the Peak District and neighbouring Yorkshire! Our first weekend tip out was to the Outside Cafe in Hathersage. Outside is a big outdoors shop which has a cafe upstairs. It's popular with walkers, climbers and the odd tourist like us. They do simple dishes like breakfasts, sandwiches and baked potatoes and vegan options are cleared marked on the menu boards.

We went for a cafitiere of fresh coffee and the five and seven piece breakfast. You choose your items from the list on the board. We had the same with Matt getting extras of tomato and toast. The rest of the breakfast was a sausage, beans, mushrooms, hash browns and fried bread. I've not had fried bread since I've been vegan and I have to say it was the stand out of the meal, really tasty!

The total bill was around £16 including the drinks. They also had nice organic soya milk. I'm looking forward to more trips out like this to check out other breakfasts in the area!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Egg Revisited

It's quite a long time since I've been to The Egg Cafe. I've not been to Liverpool for a while and the last few times I'd been to my new favourite cafe - Mello Mello. The Egg is a well established veggie cafe high up in the attic of a building. It's a really nice space, the food is well priced and home made but the menu seems to have been the same for years and a lot of the dishes are too spicy for my palate. Matt had a gig though recently and we stayed overnight. We popped into The Egg which is near Lime Street station for a quick breakfast with friends before catching the train home.

I'd only had the vegan breakfast on one previous occasion and I don't remember it as anything special. I was really impressed by it this time though. The thing that especially stood out was the tofu scramble. I don't know about anyone else but I find the tofu scrambles in cafes to be very bland. This offering from The Egg though was packed with flavour and generous amounts of parsley and peppers. Top marks from me.

I grabbed a couple of cakes for the train journey home. On the right was a chocolate tiffin type slice that was suitably sticky with nice big chunks of biscuit. The lovely looking cake on the left was a chocolate and beetroot gluten free muffin that was studded with big chunks of chocolate. Sadly, whilst the flavours were great it was completely undercooked with the inside like uncooked cake batter, It was so bad I couldn't finish it. Whoever baked it definitely needed to invest in a cake skewer for testing the middles!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Isa Dinners

As I've been living without most of my cookbooks bar three by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, her recipes have been featuring widely on the dinner table recently. This one is an old favourite that we had for the last Bank Holiday weekend. It's not the most photogenic of meals but it tastes amazing. The green stuff is Cavolo Nero and the orange stuff is mashed sweet potato with apple from Appetite For Reduction. This is topped by tofu baked in BBQ Pomegranate sauce from Vegan With A Vengeance. This sauce has been nicknamed Elvis BBQ sauce after the generous amounts of Peanut Butter it contains!

This was an previously untried recipe from Appetite For Reduction that Matt whipped up on a day off. The 'meatballs' are made from tempeh and beans and baked in the oven.

They were served in a classic home made tomato sauce with broccoli and lots of nooch. They were lovely, really nutty tasting.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Nice Eats

Here's a mini round up of some recent nice eats. Since I've moved I now have a thirty minute train journey into Manchester. I'm enjoying the time to read but I've found getting up earlier means I'm not that hungry first thing. I've been having my breakfast once I get to work at 8. I spotted the other day that M and S had some new granolas. Out of the three in the range, one was sweetened with honey, one with sugar and the one that I chose with agave. It's really different from other granolas I've had. There's loads of crunchy seeds in it and I've been loving the flavour as well as the texture. It tastes delicious with M and S soya drink which is much sweeter and creamier than other brands and which is fab in coffee and hot chocolate too.

I've been aware of Isa's recipe for Chickpea Picatta for a long time and remember bloggers raving about it when Appetite For Reduction first came out. Somehow it had just never appealed to me though after finally making it the other day I can see that was my mistake! Wow, what a fantastic quick and easy dinner. I loved the flavours and how easily it came together. I served it as suggested with caulipots also from Appetite For Reduction over a bed of rocket. Caulipots are basically boiled and then mashed and seasoned potatoes and cauliflower. This was a Monday night dinner but it was so good I would definitely serve it to guests.

We are still in the rented house at the moment waiting for our house purchase to go through. The oven is terrible so most of the cooking goes on via the hob. Matt had two friends up to stay for an active weekend of bike rides and hill walking. I made a huge pan of this old favourite, the Morrocan Tagine from Vegan with a Vengeance to fill everyone up on Saturday night. We had it with couscous, salad, pitta bread, fancy olives and avocado hummus. I made the tagine the night before to give all the different herbs and spices the chance to blend. I've not made this for ages and I'd forgotten how lovely it is.

I can't wait to move and get my hands on this little beauty which comes with the house! It will be quite strange not to be working with a temperamental oven!