Thursday, 24 March 2016

Road Trip Number 2 - Preston, Morecambe and Ramsbottom

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about a little road trip Matt and I took to Oswestry and Chester. A week after we did a second one for Matt's birthday. Our overnight destination was Morecambe with a stop off in Preston for lunch.

We've visited the Whaletail Cafe a few times before and always enjoyed the food and this time was no exception. Matt went for the salad platter about that came with a serving of home made hummus and some lovely olives. It was a cold wintery day and I felt that I needed something hot to eat so I picked this mushroom and grilled tofu roll. This really hit the spot and is something I need to recreate at home. It would be a perfect Sunday morning breakfast roll.

Underneath the Whaletail is a lovely old school wholefoods co-operative called Single Step. I was excited to find some turmeric root there as I've been wanting to try making turmeric spiced milk for a while as a bedtime drink. Once in Morecambe we headed to a Toby Carvery for Matt's birthday tea. Unusually for a chain carvery this one has three vegan options. We tried the butternut squash crumble and the lentil cottage pie and piled on the veggies and gravy. We were impressed and it was great value for £6.29. We were so full we had no room for pudding even though they have a vegan dessert too. I'm afraid I forgot to take any pictures but would definitely eat a one again. I wish our carvery in Glossop did some vegan options but it's a Crown Carvery and they don't at the moment.

Matt came up with the great idea of driving back home via Ramsbottom. I've been hearing amazing things about Lolo's Vegan and Raw Restaurant and Store on social media ever since it opened at the end of last year. Guys, it did not disappoint and it is so worth making the trip out here. For starters I loved the decor. It's done in an Art Deco style and done really well. We were there at mid-day so chose from the lunch menu (there is a separate menu for evenings).

After years of hearing about this sandwich on Amercian blogs I was very excited to try this yummy Philly Cheese Steak Sub with mixed peppers. It's a rubbish  photo but it was a brilliant sandwich and it was so nice to be offered some different vegan sandwich ideas other than the usual ones. Matt opted for a Lolo's Club Sandwich which was loaded with bacon, turkey, cheese, avocado and salad on a whole wheat sub.

There were also lots of delicious sounding salad options and we split a portion of this Creole Potato Salad made up of creole mayo, spring onion, brazil nuts and sweet, purple and red potatoes. This was something else! I'd never have thought of putting brazil nuts in a potato salad but they were a fabulous addition.

Another thing that Lolo's do really well is cake. They had an amazing selections of cakes, cookies and scones including lots of raw options. And not only do they do cakes so well, they also have a home made icecream bar! We opted for a scoop of each flavour made into a sundae to share.

Ramsbottom has a bit of reputation as a foodie town. Just last weekend was their annual Chocolate Festival. After finishing our lunch we picked up a few things from the Lolo's store and they we nipped across the road to The Chocolate Cafe. The downstairs of the cafe is actually a chocolate shop and the space where they make the chocolate. All their vegan options are clearly marked and their chocolate reminded me of the kind of things Hotel Chocolat offer. I picked up a bar of dark chocolate studded with orange pieces for my mum for mother's day. Before heading home we popped into the newly opened The House of Beer which is owned by Clint, an old pal of Matt's They have an amazing selection of interesting beers and we treated ourselves to several bottles each. There's lots of craft beers and it's easy to check if they're vegan using the Barnivore App. It was my first visit to Ramsbottom and I can't wait to go back and visit Lolo's again. The evening menu sounds amazing and they also have a brunch menu at the weekends that serves such delights as American Pancakes and a Three Potato Hash. How good does that sound!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

One 17 Bakery - Glossop

I am lucky to live in a small town that caters really well for vegans. We have Pico Lounge which is part of the Loungers chain and offers a vegan menu, Ayubowan Sri Lankan restaurant that has clearly labelled tasty vegan dishes and fab coffee shops like Twig in the station that offers plant milks and sells Ten Acre crisps. We also have a great independent health food shop in Peak Of Health and of course not forgetting the Globe pub where all the food is vegan and they even make a range of icecream! And now there is a new addition to the vegan offer.

One 17 Bakery closed in January and we were all worried that they might have closed down. I'd always liked their bread and Frank and Jane the owners are lovely. Luckily for us they had decided to take a few weeks off and were plotting the introduction of lots of new lines to the bakery. What they have done is something unique. As well as the standard range you'd expect from a bakery they now have a focus on low calorie, gluten free and vegan treats!

Behold the beauty of this vegan meat pie. It have to say that it was the nicest one I've ever tried. The pastry was absolutely superb. Look at how gorgeously flaky that pastry is, definitely perfect comfort food.

They are trying new things all the time. The other week I picked up something I'd never come across before, a popcorn cake! This chocolate topped confection was made from popcorn in a toffee brittle. It was a really unusual and fun treat.

I've been hearing good things on social media about their vegan Victoria Sponge which I've yet to try but I have tried a lovely piece of lemon sponge and we've bought the coffee cake below several times. This photo does not do it justice. I've tried a LOT of vegan cake in the last ten years and you don't often find any with such a good crumb!

In fact we like the coffee cake so much that we ordered one for Matt's birthday when we had both our families over. It went down well with vegans and non vegans alike. I've never seen my five year old nephew wolf down a cake so quickly and he wanted seconds.

And finally how gorgeous are these gluten free and vegan linzer style cookies. I woke up to a box of these on Valentines Day and yep we did have them for breakfast!

The vegan treats at One 17 are an amazing addition to our High Street and I highly recommend them if you want to order a birthday cake. Frank is a fantastic, experienced baker and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

EDIT - 5 July 2016
One 17 is currently closed whilst having a refit. They will be reopening under new management hopefully still with great vegan options!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Road trip 1 - Oswestry and VBites Chester

I'm afraid I'm currently back to having no computer, hence the lack of blogging recently. The laptop I bought about a month ago broke almost immediately and I ended up returning it and getting a refund. I've finally decided to go for a refurbished model through someone we've met locally who runs a computer business and hopefully I'll have that soon. As an added bonus he is also going to get us started on kombucha brewing! Does anyone make their own kombucha and do you have any tips or ideas for flavours? And talking of brewing check out these vegan beers.

We've had a couple of little road trips in the last few weeks. Our first one was to Oswestry on the Welsh border. We came across a great family run wine and beer shop called Twelve Green Bottles. As someone who used to work in a wine shop I was really impressed with this place. It was really nicely set out AND they had marked products as vegan on their price labels which is not something you see very often!

On our way back to Glossop we passed through the town of Chester. Chester is a town I know really well as I spent three years studying there. Most excitingly Chester has a VBites counter within it's huge Holland and Barrett store. For anyone reading outside of the UK, V Bites are a major producer of mock meats, mock fish, vegan cheese etc and are owned by Heather Mills.

It was fantastic to be able to choose anything from the menu. Although it was lunchtime as I'd had a cooked breakfast back at the B and B in Oswestry I didn't fancy fast food and I opted for porridge. It was made with steel cut oats and sweetened with Sweet Freedom before being topped with tried fruit and nuts. On a cold day it hit the spot and was a generous portion. I was impressed that it was also made in a pan on the stove rather than in a microwave.

Matt decided not to have a second breakfast and went for a classic beef style burger instead. He also polished off a cheese and ham pasty before we remembered to photgraph it and it was a thumbs up for both.

We also picked up some V bites sandwiches to take home for our tea. They were smoked salmon with cream cheese and watercress on a malted bread. I love their smoked salmon but it's so difficult to find. I would have bought a packet of it but they didn't even have it for sale there just on sandwiches. I love it on a bagel with some tofutti cream cheese. The stand out of the two sandwiches for me was the baguette at the front of the plate. This was tuna and mayonaise and it was sooo good.

There was also a selection of cakes. We went for these home made peanut butter cups.

At a pound each they were great value and really tasty.

My only criticism of VBites is that there is no seating. We ended up sitting on a bench in the street to eat our lunch. It was a really cold day but the sun was out, I'm not sure what we would have done if it was raining. Not having anywhere comfortable to sit meant that we didn't buy drinks. I would definitely visit again though and I was impressed by the food offer and the customer service.