Showing posts from September, 2013

Ten reasons why vegans should visit Manchester's Northern Quarter


I've been making the case why I think Manchester's Northern Quarter is one of the UK's best vegan destinations. I've finished my 20 Vegan Mofo posts and there's even more places with vegan offers that I've not managed to fit in! So, here's a shout out to places I've blogged about before - Earth Cafe, Oklahoma, Simple and Odd who are all well worth a visit too if you're in the area. To finish up Vegan Mofo 2013 here are my top ten reasons why the NQ is amazing for vegans.

10. Soya milk is everywhere
Loads of cafes in the Northern Quarter have soya milk so no matter where you are you can pop in for a brew. Or treat yourself to an incredibly good soya latte at places like Eastern Bloc or Icelandic coffee shop Taak.

9. Fab fast food
Even the dreaded fast food places are vegan friendly! Get a mexican treat at Barburrito or Panchos or visit the 100% vegan Go Falafel. And every knows chips are better up North.

8. Arts and crafts
It's not all abo…

V Revolution

If you've been following my Mofo posts where I've been blogging about vegan eats in Manchester's Northern Quarter you'll have noticed one name that keeps cropping up again and again. All of the people I interviewed picked out this place and it's dear to my heart so I wanted to save it for my final Mofo post. V Revolution initially opened as a record shop selling some vegan groceries. As time has gone on the shop has evolved and become a cafe too. It can be found right at the end of Oldham Street. Alongside the vinyl, zines and t-shirts you can pick up all manner of vegan cheeses, faux meats, snack bars, icecream, chocolate, marshmallows etc. And the burgers, oh my, the burgers......How about a mini mac?

Or a jack fruit based pulled pork sandwich with home made coleslaw.

Or a Schnitzel Royale with extra bacon.

This one is the Towering Inferno.

There's even a loyalty card for their specials.

In their unwavering dedication to produce the finest vegan junk food th…

Bonbon Chocolate Boutique

I'm going to let you into a secret. The BEST hot chocolate in the world isn't in Paris or Oaxaca or Barcelona though I've had pretty good ones in all those places. It's to be found in a tiny shop on John Street in Manchester's Northern Quarter and the best news of all is that it's naturally vegan. Bonbon Chocolate Boutique is a magical place and has to be seen to be experienced. It originally opened as a pop up shop last Christmas and luckily for us Mancunians it's stayed around.

The shop both smells amazing and is also beautiful to look at. There's a big cauldron of hot chocolate which is made from Valrhona Chocolate, cocoa, spring water and a little muscovado sugar. It is completely dairy free and you can get flavourings such as orange or chilli added to it most of which are vegan too. They also serve icecream, cakes and chocolates that are made on the premises. I can highly recommend the raspberry beer ones!

Bonbon also sells that finest of vegan tr…

Mofo Interview : Nathan from ONSIND

When I was at Glastonbury festival this year, I met two lovely vegans from the North East called Nathan and Daniel. They were playing on the Leftfield stage with their band ONSIND and Nathan was sporting a "I love Vegan Junk Food" sticker on his guitar. With the band due to play in Manchester's Northern Quarter in a few weeks time, I caught up with Nathan for a special Vegan Mofo interview.

Tell us a little about the history of ONSIND and the sort of things you guys write about?

Onsind is a punk duo from Pity Me, Durham! We've been really good friends most of our lives, and have been in this band together for about seven years. In that time we've toured all over the UK, Germany and USA, and have released three albums, as well as several EPs and other releases. We write about all kinds of things, but I think everything we do is imbued with politics, in the sense that we are a DIY, vegan band and so even when we're singing about personal stuff like depression, …


Ning is a Malaysian restaurant and cookery school that has been in the Northern Quarter since 2006. They must be doing something right as they've recently opened branches in York and London. and in 2012 they won Best Malaysian Restaurant at the Asian Curry Awards.

Ning is right next door to V Revolution and has the vegan 'V' symbol proudly displayed as part of it's branding. But how does that translate to the food? Well the menu is very clearly marked as vegan. It also makes it clear what is gluten free and what is nut free. It's a brilliantly clear system which offers quite a good choice for vegans.

I will say straight off that Ning isn't budget eating. Obviously the vegan dishes are cheaper than the fish and meat offerings but even so it's in the region of £5-6 for a starter and £10-14 for a main course once you add in rice or noodles. However there is a special deal on the menu where you get two courses for £14.95.

It's really good value and I'…

Mofo Interview : Poet Dominic Berry

Dominic Berry is a poet who has just completed a run at the Edinburgh Festival with his show "The Dragon who hated poetry". He's also well known as a vegan poet, not just a poet who happens to be a vegan but someone who writes poetry about issues connected to veganism. Dominic lives and works in Manchester's Northern Quarter so he was a perfect choice for this years Mofo theme!
How long have you been vegan and what brought you to make that decision?
I was a real jonny-come-lately to being vegan. In 2008 I 'came out' proud as vegan to the world (that was a not-so-subtle self reference to my 'hit' poem, 'I'm Coming Out as Vegan'. Us poets gotta plug our 'hits' whenever we can. I say 'hit' with inverted commas cos I'm not sure poets really have 'hits', but if they do, that is mine. If I was Lulu then that would be my 'To Sir With Love'. Or my 'Independence', depending on your age and depth of unders…


Bakerie is situated on Lever Street in the Northern Quarter. Since it opened a couple of years ago it has had great food and wine options for vegans (one of the owners is vegan). The menu changes every few months and currently there's a Superfood salad, puy lentil and vegetable stew, a falafel and humous sandwich and a fancy beans on toast. All of these come with bread made by the Bakerie chefs and things are clearly labelled as vegan. For my most recent visit my friend Siobhan and I went for a glass of white wine and one of the famous Bakerie boards. Apologies for the quality of the i-phone photos, as it's a bar the lighting is quite low.

All of the vegan boards come with a pot of home made hummus, a pot of beetroot puree and some green leaves. You then get to choose three other small dishes. There are six to choose from in total so we went for all six to share. Usually as a vegan tapas style eating is a no-no with there being very little for us on the menus at Spanish restau…

Nexus Art Cafe

Nexus Art Cafe can be found in a basement at number 2 Dale Street. It was started by the Methodist Church and is mainly staffed by volunteers. They say of the space 'Nexus Art Cafe is a non profit organisation working towards building community and celebrating creativity in Manchester's Northern Quarter'.

There's a focus on Fairtrade products, free wi-fi and changing art exhibits as well as a selection of locally made craft products for sale at very reasonable prices. There's soya milk available for drinks and they also take part in the Suspended Coffee initiative where you can buy a coffee in advance for someone who really needs it. Foodwise there's things like falafel, humus and roasted vegetables available in sandwiches, as salad, or with jacket potatoes.

I've always found Nexus to have a really relaxed feel and it's the sort of place where you could quite comfortably sit and relax on your own with a good book or using their free wi-fi. My friend Ste…

Appeal - please read .......

I'm interupting my Mofo blogging with a completely unrelated post but one that is really important to me. The woman in this photo is my friend Jan. If you read the blog regularly you'll know that the organisation I work for has just had a big restructure. Jan was one of the people who took redundancy. She used her money to go out to Uganda. She has a son who lives there who she goes to visit as often as she can and she's also started making connections with artists and musicians out there with a view to setting up exchanges with artists in Manchester. Jan is a photographer and artist and has done great work over the years in our local community and is very supportive of other artists.

Just over a week ago Jan was in a really bad road traffic accident where the motorcycle taxi she was travelling in was hit by a car. It was a hit and run and both Jan and the driver were very badly injured. She has a shattered pelvis and it looks likely she'll need a hip replacement. At …

This 'n' That Café

The Northern Quarter is famous for it's 'rice n three' cafes. This is Indian food but not as you know it. These are basic, no frills, cafe type establishments that serve up a selection of different currries for a cheap price - usually in the region of £3-5 for a big plate of food. They cater for a lunchtime crowd and most don't stay open past 6pm. These curry cafes are huddled around Thomas Street and High Street but the one that everybody raves about is This n That, hidden away down a dingy back alley called Soap Street.

With Indian food there is often a question of whether it is vegan. Many indian resturants use butter ghee to fry with and often add yoghurt or cream. The food in the curry cafe's is different to the sauce based dishes you see in restuarants. It's simpler, less rich, less sauce and more veg. They almost all use vegetable ghee, although it's good to check first. But you are unlikely to find cream or yoghurt added.

I have to confess that due…

Pie and Ale

I am tormented by Pie and Ale on a daily basis. The bar is directly behind my office and I sit near a window. The said window has been open a lot this summer and my colleagues and I have had our senses assaulted on a daily basis by the wonderful aromas of freshly baked breads and pies drifting upwards and into our workspace! We even have an office tradition of Pay Day Pie Day. I've yet to indulge on a pay day but I did manage to make my first visit to Pie and Ale a few Fridays ago after work. 

Pie and Ale is owned and run by the same people who started Bakerie which is just next door on Lever Street (Pie and Ale is set back from the road in the arcade behind the Hive building). The pies are served with mash and gravy with a changing daily menu. There are vegetarian and vegan pie options and I'm pleased to say that the pastry, mash and gravy for these is vegan friendly. On the Friday evening we visited the place was packed and they were even having to turn people away! We mana…

Mofo Interview : Singer/Songwriter Quiet Loner

The Northern Quarter (theme of my blog for this year's Mofo) is home to some of Manchester's best live music venues such as Band on the Wall, Night and Day, The Castle, The Roadhouse, Matt and Phreds and 2022NQ.
Someone who has played at all of the above venues is Quiet Loner aka singer songwriter Matt Hill.  Regular readers of the blog will know Matt is also my partner and a few of my blogs this year have featured some of the festivals and gigs Matt has played at. This summer we had an amazing experience when he was invited by Billy Bragg to perform on the Leftfield stage at Glastonbury Festival where he appeared in a songwriters circle alongside Billy,  Amanda Palmer and Sean MacGowan.

So you're a vegan?

I've been a veggie for almost 25 years, but I'm only recently back in the fold as an 'outed' vegan. Although it'd been a long time since I ate dairy, I didn't really want to tell anyone I was a vegan. I still feel a bit like it's no one else&…

Fig and Sparrow

Fig and Sparrow is one of the newest additions to the Northern Quarter. I walk past it every morning on Oldham Street before it opens but until yesterday I'd never been in.

This lunchtime my sister and I went out looking for a leaving present for a work colleague. This person likes tea so we went in to check out their organic tea selection.

I hadn't realised before that the stuff in the shop is sourced from local artists. I've bought lots of brilliant tea towels before for Christmas presents from Mr Ps. Check out the link, they're good enough to frame! The handprinted baby clothes on the right make lovely presents too and are from Nell who has a studio in the Manchester Craft Centre. This shop is full of beautiful things.

I couldn't be in there without checking out the cafe bit at the back, you know how you do if you're vegan, just in case there's anything you could eat. I was pleased to see from the tea menu on the wall that they offered soya milk.

I was g…

Interview with Helen Davies of Helen Makes

Today we're talking to Manchester based artist Helen Davies. I've known Helen for a few years and never cease to be amazed by the things she creates - from knitted pictures of dogs to wedding cake topper  monster versions of brides and grooms to knitted versions of Adam and Joe, Helen is an amazing talent.

You're a visual artist. Can you tell us a bit about your arts background and what sort of things you're currently working on?

I originally did a degree in Fine Art at Huddersfield, but afterwards I got really into textile crafts and in particular needlecrafts. I make crochet monsters based on real people, which you can see (and order!) at Helen Makes. I’m also currently working as part of Warp and Weft with my friend Jenny, making crochet masks of Mancunian women of achievement, to be exhibited at the Manchester Town Hall at some point in the future. Some works-in-progress are currently being exhibited at PS Mirabel.

 What's your vegan story. How long have you bee…