Friday, 5 December 2014

The Alto Lounge, Caversham

So I talked before about this ace fella that I've fallen for, well when we first met and he was trying to impress me, he found this little place, not too far from where he lives that does vegan food. In fact, it has a whole vegan menu.

I don't live in a particularly vegan friendly part of the UK and although the supermarkets / health food stores are making it easier and easier for us these days, cafes generally don't. This is the only place within about an hour or so's drive of my house that does a purposely vegan breakfast.

So yeah I was excited to discover the Alto Lounge.  It's a funky little place in Caversham, a village just outside of Reading in Berkshire.  It does fab coffee, has a nice atmosphere, super friendly staff and it's always busy.  And yeah, caters for vegans!  When you're in there, ask the staff for the vegan menu if you don't see one:

I haven't actually tried the breakfast yet but one day I'll get around to it. We've been 3 times now and it's become our fave little place for a Sunday brunch! The fella can get his meaty burger on and I can get something vegan and ace.
So here's what I've tried so far:

Hazelnut Latte 
Perfect! I really like the coffee here. I'm no connoisseur but the fella sort of is and he is a fan too!

Crispy panini with hummus, spinach and red pepper chutney in. I loved this and it came with fries, so that's an extra win!  The house slaw, vegan style is basically grated veg! 

Falafel Burger
Oh. Em. GEE!!  I LOOOVE this burger.  It's so effing tasty and the texture of it is just perfect. I've had it twice now, it's so good.  It has the same red pepper chutney and roasted peppers in.  I added extra jalapenos and some hummus the first time I had it.  We also ordered bread and it was FAR too much food.  So the next time I just went for it as it was.  I wish I'd remembered to add jalapenos though because that was an ace addition.

oh yeah and it comes with fries too. Yay!

So if you're anywhere near Reading, I'd definitely recommend checking this place out.

As we're in Reading in this post, I also tried out Tampopo with Jojo last weekend.  The vegan options are marked on the menu and I picked a curry, that's actually a fish curry! Weird, but I guess the sauce is fish-sauce less because there's a vegan option that has tofu and veggies in. And it is very lovely.

We also had pudding. We had the sticky coconut rice with fresh mango. I liked this a lot. It's not as claggy as rice pudding (although I LOVE rice pudding) and the mango goes well with it. I was too full to eat it all though.

So there you go, a couple of options for if you ever find yourself in Reading!


Monday, 1 December 2014

Fancy pants dining @ Heston's place!

So in the not too distant past, I met a fella, a lovely one that I am pretty smitten with. Well, the other weekend it was his birthday. He already had long-standing plans to visit Heston Blumethal's gastro pub, the Hinds Head.  I was a bit worried because fancy chefs like Heston are not generally known for their vegan friendliness. But after several emails between the fella and the staff, they said it would all be ok.

Now I know if you are a long time reader of this blog, you don't come here for the arty, well-shot food photos but I should warn you, these kind of suck. The lighting was shite! 

For the starter, they veganised the pea & ham soup for me. I love peas, this was pretty good, if not that inventive.

The main: they were babbling on about salads that could be made vegan (le sigh!) but thankfully my lovely man had emails from the staff saying they would do me a veggie hotpot.  This is what came out and I was concerned because it just looked like a salad to me, with some cooked veg underneath.

Essentially, that's what it was. But it was really tasty, there was some veggie puree at the bottom, that you can't see and all together, it made for a very nice meal. 

crap flash shot!

But yeah, tasty as it was, it was SMALL!  So I'm glad we ordered some of Heston's famous triple cooked chips to 'share'*.  These were AWESOME!  (*he is learning that when he orders things for us to share, he gets short measures! SAL DOESN'T SHARE FOOD! haha)

They couldn't do vegan pudding except fruit.  I repeat, Heston's fancypants gastro pub COULDN'T DO VEGAN PUDDING EXCEPT FRUIT.  Seriously. Luckily I was too full for that anyway.

In summary, if you're not vegan and you are a foodie, it's worth a visit to this place, even if it is pretty expensive.  If you're vegan, I'd say, only go if you're tagging along with said non-vegan foodies because although it was good (and the staff were super nice and knowledgable), it's not really inventive enough vegan food for what you'll pay for it.  Oh and make sure you warn them in advance!  

Good cocktails though! :)

 Bonus shot, some cupcakes I made for the birthday boy! Chocolate, with orange icing and awesome edible lego star wars cupcake toppers that I found on amazon!


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Holiday food: Greece

Every year. Every. Freakin. Year. This happens.  It's MoFo, it's all going swimmingly, I'm in the swing of blogging then MoFo ends and suddenly it's almost December and I haven't blogged since. I suck, sorry.

So I thought I'd get back on track with a few pics from my holiday to Greece at the beginning of October.  I haven't got many, the reason is that the hotel I stayed at, the evening meal was included in the price and although the owners really really tried, they didn't really 'get' my diet. So there a few things that I was unsure of (they insisted were animal product free) and a few things that went back to the kitchen as they were blatantly an omelette! haha.

Starting with the first thing consumed in Kos, the house wine. Pretty gross!  The rose was better. Much better!

Cocktails were on special one night. I have no idea what the heck was in this, but it was strong and so that night is kinda blurry!
 We mooched into town one day and found a nice little cafe.  I ordered hummus and some butter beans, not knowing that both came with a generous serving of pitta bread.  It was way too much food for just me but it was excellent.  The hummus was fantastic and the pitta was light and fluffy.

The butter beans had a light tomato sauce on they were excellent too.  We went back to this cafe and I ordered the beans again, as I knew this would be enough food for lunch and I enjoyed them so much.

OK so remember those hotel owners I mentioned, well 2 of the nicest people you'll ever meet. But seriously, some odd food combos came my way.  When the meat eaters got smoked salmon on toast I got....

Bread, with a piece of lettuce topped with a melon wedge and a pineapple slice. Possibly the oddest thing I've ever eaten? Once I stopped laughing I took a photo.

One night, my dinner was a pizza, with a pile of chips in the middle. I can't complain about this... pizza: good! Chips: good! Double carbs: GOOD!! Mr George's pizza base was excellent and the sauce was great. There was pineapple on it and I believe pineapple on pizza is an abomination. But you'll see that pineapple ended up being a bit of a theme with my food that week.

One night I got this, a jacket spud with some sort of mushroom sauce. and ? Yep, you guessed it... PINEAPPLE! The promised me the sauce had no dairy in it. I dunno!

I got a lot of salads that looked like this:

That salad above was my starter on the Greek night excursion we went on. For the main the did me some stuffed peppers and potatoes. Those potatoes - I wish I knew how they did those because they're magical!!  The stuffed peppers were pretty good too.

I got stuffed peppers again on one of the day time excursions too. Not as good as the Greek night's efforts but still tasty.

I had a fab week, despite the food haha.  I met some great people and made a friend that I've met up with a couple of times since so all in all I call it a win! :)

I've got a tonne of pics on my camera and a couple of reviews to do so stay tuned. :)


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Vegan MoFo Day 30: We Did It!! And Veganising Jamie too!

HELLOOOO and welcome to my last MoFo post for 2014! I can't believe we're done already, it's gone so quick. Also, this is the first ever time I've managed to blog every. single. day! I'm pretty happy about that.  

So my last post of MoFo is also my last veganising Jamie Oliver's 15 minute meals.  I've enjoyed these posts.  It's been fun to veganise the stuff I see being made on a non-vegan tv show. The main reason I wanted to do this was so that anyone looking for easy vegan recipes to make their vegan friends or family if they are not vegan themselves, will see that you can use the cookbooks you already have and just make a few simple swaps.  Obviously if you're not vegan I would't expect you to spend 2 days making almond feta but you get the idea.

I've had a few favourites, the one that springs to mind was THIS awesome dish, those buns!! Swoon! Can't wait to make that again soon.  There's been a few damp squibs but on the whole, most have been great.  To browse all of my Jamie posts, CLICK HERE! :)

So today I made the Winter Squash Penne and Mint & Avocado Chopped Salad.

Well kinda.  I didn't have penne so I used macaroni and my avo was mouldy :( so I left that out.  I also totally effed up the timing but I worked out by process of elimination (reading the time of a text I sent rigth before I set the timer off) that it took me just under 16 minutes, so I guess that is a 15 minute meal - win!!

Also, I forgot I was halving the recipe and made basically the full amount of sauce so there was WAY too much sauce for half the pasta, it's quite a liquidy sauce.  So I'm currently turning the leftover sauce into soup! (I added a bit more water, a few slack handfuls of red lentils and some curry paste - tomorrow's lunch sorted!)

Recipe Link: Not on Jamie's site, but the recipe can be found HERE.

Actual Time Taken: about 15 minutes

My Substitutions:
I subbed vegusto for both the cheeses
I left out the avocado cuz mine was mouldy
I used dried sage as I couldn't find fresh
I subbed macaroni for the penne

Overal Verdict: I thought this was tasty! It was nice change up to usual pasta sauces and a medium BN squash goes really far, so I still have 3/4 of the thing left!!  I added a bit of the stock to the processor when I was chopping the onions and squash and I'm glad I did because it helped get the squash finer. It still didn't feel totally cooked to me but it was good.

Also, if I were to make again, I might add the chickpeas after blitzing the sauce (or add half before half after) as I would've liked the squash fully pureed but not all the chickpeas.

Thank you to everyone who stayed with me throughout MoFo. I've been reading loads of blogs but not had the time to comment that much which is annoying.  But maybe I'll catch up with the posts soon. I'm going on holiday on Thursday (YAY) so if there's WiFi maybe I'll catch up then! haha.


Monday, 29 September 2014

Vegan MoFo Day 29: Roasty Soba Bowl

Tonight I made the roasty soba bowl from Isa Does It, well a version of it anyway.

I added franks hot sauce and nooch to the sauce, nixed the lentils for some tofu and roasted some asparagus along with the cauliflower. Yummers.

Can you believe it's the last day of MoFo tomorrow?? Yikes this month has gone quick.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Vegan MoFo Day 28

I know that today is supposed to be sandwich day but I felt crappy and just couldn't do it. I'll bust it out soon for you though cuz it really was gonna be a good gross one!

So here's a pic of my dinner instead ... an impromptu chickeny casserole and loads of mash. My dad makes the best mash.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Vegan MoFo Day 27: VegFest London 2014

Sooo, did anyone go to London VegFest today? I did and it was AWESOME!! 

I got the train there and met Jojo and her hubby Nick.  Jojo was doing a talk about vegan travel and I am super proud of her because she did so well!!  But before that, we ate SO much.

We started out healthily enough, with a juice from Soul Juices.  I got the 'detox' juice which was carrot, apple, ginger and maybe orange? I forget. The guy said to me, how much ginger? And I was like, go for it dude I like it HOT! and then he held up an entire massive hand of ginger to mock me and I was like, ok dude, don't take the piss!  But he still put a generous amount in for me and it was good.

Then I made my way to the Nakd stand.  As you'll notice if you've been reading my what I ate posts, I love me a nekkid bar! I eat them pretty much every day!


And they had new flavours, christmas pud and bakewell tart. Both amazing and they had a great offer on. 18 bars for £8. 18!!!!!!! They're normally about £4 for 5 so I obviously got 18 bars.

Then it was time for lunch, hurrah. Obviously I was going to vegusto (and not for the last time!) Vegusto do make THE best vegan sausages in my opinion. So dirty and delicious.
 oh hell yeah!

Then we paused to take an excellent photo. Obviously.

We stopped at the Considerit chocolate stand. I had read about these on the PPK and every sample I tried was seriously delicious. And the people running the stand were lovely too!

I bought a bar of the salted caramel chocolate - you will see that is kind of an unintentional theme of my food purchases today!

I took a photo of this super pretty choccy stand. I didn't buy anything because it was kind of pricey and I'm a bellend who didn't take enough cash. But look.... so pretty!!

The guys selling this water were super enthusiastic about their water in a box. I dug it too!

After some walking around, we needed snax. But not a full meal.  Unfortunately we managed to not do so well here.  The sausage rolls were pretty nice. But the savoury muffin thing, well I won't like it wasn't my favourite thing.  I was already disappointed when I got up to the stand and realised they weren't pies.  But yeah they were just odd.  So let's move on.

I needed sugar. So I risked going into a sugar coma and bought myself a Ms Cupcake Red Velvet cookie sandwich. I love her cookie sandwiches, I always get one over a cupcake. And she won a vegfest award - YAY Ms Cupcake.  I love it when super awesome, nice people win awards and Melissa is an awesome lady.  If you haven't ever been to her shop, get your butt to Brixton pronto and sort that out.  Oh and I recommend the cookie sandwiches, even if I've never been able to eat one in one sitting, cuz sugar!

I didn't take a photo of the name of this stand, but if I find a business card, I will edit this.  But they were selling loads of marshmallows, marshmallow mix and motherfuckingveganwagonwheels! Uh yeah wagon wheels, HELLO!!  Can't wait to crack these!

I obviously bought some Vegusto, because it's the best vegan cheese. Well it's tied for first with Violife.

I was SUPER excited to find these on the Vegan Tuck Box stand.  I bought some a couple of years ago in the Montezuma shop in Brighton and I've not been able to find them since in the shop. So I knew I had to get some. And I'm kind of kicking myself that I only bought one tub! They are amazing.

Lastly, I also bought a second cookie sandwich from Ms Cupcake, a salted caramel pecal one. See more, salted caramel. Can't wait to try this, it'll probably be tomorrow's breakfast. For some reason, blogger hates this pic and won't flip it! GAH! Still, you can see it's radness.

I also got a second hot dog from vegusto because I am a savage. A hungry one!

The other cool thing was getting to hang out with my friend Randi from the excellently funny Laughfrodisiac and her hubby today, they've just moved over here which I'm very excited about, cuz she's rad.

Also I met a couple of fellow MoFo bloggers at Jojo's talk, so hi to the lovely gals from Hasta La Vegan and Tea & Sympatico .... it was great to meet you!! :) Head over to Jojo's blog for a pic of us after Jojo's talk.

So if you went and I didn't meet you, did you have fun there?  What was your favourite stall?