Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Pizza Pizza

I sit opposite someone at work who makes pizza every Friday. He made some lovely pizza for our Christmas work buffet including a vegan one and it's got me interested in making pizza again. I've now got two things to help me on my pizza journey. 

The first is a pizza stone. These vary in price but Matt found me one for a tenner in TK Maxx and we've been impressed with it. The other thing is a copy of Vegan Pizza by Julie Hassan. For my first attempts I used this very quick and easy pizza base recipe from the BBC website but I'm looking forward to trying some of the different base recipes from the book. The pizza in the picture below has a cheezy cashew sauce from the book which was lovely.

I'm pleased to see that Pizza Express have listened to demand and finally launched a vegan pizza. I've yet to try the new Pianta Pizza but it sounds good! Has anyone tried it yet and was the arrabiata sauce very spicy? I tend to avoid chillies so I may need to order it with the standard sauce.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Morrison's Squash and Nut Roasts

We don't have a Morrison's anywhere near where we live so it was good to check one out on a recent visit to Nottingham. The highlights were a bar of own brand dark chocolate with cranberries and raspberries and this two pack of frozen Butternut Squash and Nut Roasts.

Sainsbury's used to sell something similar a few years ago which came with a sauce which I used to love. I was pleased to discover these as they are a nice addition to a Sunday dinner. We had them on Easter Sunday with loads of veggies and lashings of gravy.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Vegan Cream Cakes

A few weeks ago we went to a birthday party in Harrow. This meant that we were passing back through Euston to get our train back to Manchester. We had a little bit of time to spare so we popped across to VX to pick up some treats. I was after some Field Roast sausages to try but sadly they had none in stock. What they did have were some cream cakes. 

I'd seen pictures of this vegan patisserie from JP Turner Foods on several blogs following their appearances at Vegan Fairs so was delighted to get my hands on some. I have to admit I've never missed cream since becoming a vegan. If I had to choose something from a cake shop in the past I'd always go with an egg custard or vanilla slice rather than an eclair or cream bun. I really enjoyed my half of this massive eclair though and will definitely be hoping they've got them in stock on my next visit to London.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Pico Lounge

One of Glossop's latest cafe bars to open is Pico Lounge and it's the first place to serve a vegan breakfast. We left it a few months to settle in but seeing as I've now been a Glossop resident for a week, this morning we made our first visit. We'd read mixed reviews in the past, some excellent and some that mentioned long wait times so we made sure we got there early. In fact we were the first customers athough by the time we left it was nicely full.

Our wait time was around 18 minutes and the service was good. The staff were friendly and checked back with us to see if everything was ok and empty plates were swiftly cleared. From the outside Pico Lounge is really unassuming. It's a large unit on a new retail park housed next to the likes of M and S Food, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and a Wetherspoons. Once inside though the back windows face out onto a lovely riverside setting.

The exterior does not at all prepare you for the interior! Although Pico Lounge is part of the Lounges chain it's not your typical type of chain and they've deliberately gone for a vintage, eclectic look for the decor and it's done really well. The place is crammed with vintage and upcycled decor and furniture. Check out this wall of paintings that anyone who lived through the 70's will be familiar with. I fell in love with this painted table.

We'd seen on the website that they served vegan food and were a bit alarmed when there didn't seem to be anything on the menu. Never fear, the vegan and gluten free menus are kept at the bar.

We went for the vegan breakfast for our first visit as it always feels like the breakfast should be a good benchmark of a place. For drinks, Matt had coffee which he declared good and I went for a pot of tea which I got around three cups out of. Soya milk is also available.

Onto the breakfast, I was a little alarmed when it was brought out as for £6.95 it looked small compared to the vegan breakfasts I'm used to from the likes of Mod's Cafe and Fuel. However, it was on a very large plate and I must add that it did keep me going until lunchtime. Fair play to Pico for also trying something different. The purists may not agree me with but I'm not the biggest fan of veggie sausages and was quite pleased to try something different. The protein in this breakfast comes from humus served alongside spinach, fried potatoes, tomato, baked beans and a slice of unbuttered toast. The humus was just the style I like, home made and slightly grainy with lemon rather than garlic being the dominant flavour. It was great spread on the toast topped with the spinach. The only thing I wasn't keen on was the mushrooms that were a bit watery and tasteless. We didn't have a lot of time today but I can see us coming back for breakfast and spending a good couple of hours there with the papers. There's quite a few other vegan choices on the menu including the holy grail of a vegan dessert that isn't fruit in the form of a chocolate torte and also a selection of vegan friendly tapas. Tuesday are Tapas Tuesday where you can get 3 tapas and a glass of house wine for £9.95 so we'll definitely be back to try that out.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Pudding Club

Last night I attended my first ever Pudding Club event. It was organised by Manchester LGBT Centre and held in their Sidney Street Cafe. If you're not aware of Sidney Street, the cafe is just behind The Eighth Day. It's a great space and manages to combine really reasonable prices with high quality ingredients in the food that they sell. This was their second pudding club event and the puddings on offer were exclusively vegan.

We started off the evening with a bowl of Manchester Trifle. What made this a Manchester Trifle was that the jelly in it was made up with Vimto! If you're not familiar with Vimto, it's a fruity cordial that originates from Manchester and is especially good served as a hot drink!

I had arrived with a tupperware in my bag and a promise to Matt that I would bring him some samples back to try. I didn't think the trifle would survive the train journey so I ate all of that but he fared better with some chocolate torte. This was excellent with a crunchy base, and a rich dark chocolate filling set off with a garnish of mixed berries and raspberry coulis. A classic textbook vegan chocolate torte.

The next course was one of the surprises of the evening for me as I'm not a big ice cream person. The centre has an allotment and the sorbet was made with home grown rhubarb accompanied by custard ice cream. This was truly a perfect match, I would love an unlimited access to this pudding! My photo of the final pudding of the night turned out too dark to print and do it justice but it was probably the best Sticky Toffee Pudding I've ever tasted. The sponge was delightfully light with lashings of rich, sweet, creamy caramelly sauce. We were all sent home with copies of the recipes so I hope to be able to make some of them again. All in all it was a lovely evening and I really hope they hold another vegan version of the Pudding Club in the future.