Review: Wulf & Lamb (London)

After the confusion over eggs at breakfast, it was a relief to have a fully vegan place on the itinerary for lunch. We had spent the morning in The Science Museum where they have three (!) vegan options in their cafe. Unfortunately we had already been tempted by Wulf & Lamb’s menu, and besides we wanted to see if the positive or negative reviews had it right.

Wulfandlamb

We arrived at the middle of lunch on a Saturday. It was busy, but not slammed. You make your order at the counter and sit down with a number. When your food is ready it’s brought over to you. Simple. The staff were friendly and on-hand to explain anything to you. When you sit down you have lovely table that is properly set with actual cutlery (this will become important when Kate reviews By Chloe in a couple of days).

wulfandlambburger

Just before you order your food you walk past a temptation counter of all the doughnuts, cakes, wraps, and sandwiches. I managed to resist and ordered myself what I’d decided on before I’d even left Devon: the Wulf Burger. It is by far the best looking burger I’ve ever had with bonus points for that lovely glossy bun. It is by far the meatiest burger I’ve had since going vegan. The dish is completed with wedges (huge wedges!) of tender potato and sweet potato and a small, very welcome dish of sauerkraut.

wulfpie

Kate opted for the Wulf pie. It’s not overly clear from the menu but it’s a take on shepherd’s pie with a filling of lentils and jackfruit. From the second that it arrived on the table with its adorably piped mashed potato I could see that Kate was in love. That she practically cleaned the generously-sized bowl confirmed it. Between the pie and the burger we’d had the best meal of our trip.

macandcheese

There was, however, one misstep. We couldn’t resist sharing a portion of the mac and cheese. This is the one point where we have to agree with Grace Dent’s review. She says it was ‘dry and welded to its bowl’; I would like to add that it was tasteless, bizarrely grainy and just bloody awful. I’ve made better vegan mac from a powdered mix. That sounds harsh but it’s true. And it’s disappointing. It’s the best vegan burger, it’s an amazing lentil shepherd’s pie, the hot chocolate was great, the juice was perfect and then… disappointment.

But that can’t be the last word in this review. It can’t be. The rest of the food was too good for that. So we’d recommenced that you go and enjoy the food. Just stay away from that mac.

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Review: Brunch at The Gate (London)

The Gate is the best vegetarian restaurant in London. It says so on the website. So as we woke up on Saturday we knew we had to go. Also the Marylebone location was close to our hotel and serves a brunch menu from nine on Saturday. With convenience like that who can argue?

the gate outside

We had the entire beautifully decorated, not-a-hair-out-of-place restaurant to ourselves which kind of makes what happens next really embarrassing. I ordered the shakshuka (or rather Kate ordered it because my lisp won’t let me say that many ‘sh’ sounds in a row). Its description in the menu begins with ‘scrambled tofu seasoned with turmeric’ and ends with ‘replace tofu with poached organic egg – not vegan’ in parentheses.

no egg

You can tell what happened right? I thought that the dish made with tofu was standard, the waiter thought the dish made with egg was standard and so I ended up with poached eggs. I apologised, he took it back, and eventually a second, tofu topped dish appeared. It was delicious, if somewhat ruined by awkwardness.

pancakes

Kate, meanwhile, was enjoying a lovely stack of banana and berry pancakes. Which probably had enough fruit to count as one of her five a day (right?). Kate liked her pancakes but she loved her almond hot chocolate. She took one sip and basically swooned. It was rich, thick, creamy, and decadently dessert-like.

P1060384

Do we recommend going to The Gate for brunch? Well it is pretty poor that my order got messed up when we were the only ones in there but mistakes happen and they did correct it. The food was good, the hot chocolate great and it was still cheaper than the (not remotely vegan) continental breakfast at our hotel. So yeah, why not?

Review: Woodlands Restaurant (London)

Kate and I had to go to London so we figured that we could combine obligation with a little bit of sightseeing, some shopping, and a lot of eating. We stayed close to Paddington Station so I spent a lot of time Googling and Happy Cowing (well, it should be a thing) vegan eateries in the area. Strangely thin on the ground once you rule out menus full of raw food or other dishes Kate wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. Kate does like one thing however, and that is South Indian food. So off we went to  vegetarian India restaurant Woodlands. We rocked up to the Marylebone location on Friday night and prepared for a feast.

chatt
Happy Chatt

At this point I’d like to apologise for the pictures. The lighting was bad and so is my camera. I really wanted to talk about this place though because I loved the food. We ordered from a few places around the vegan menu (PDF) and started with the incredible Chatt Bombs. Tangy, tasty and full of tamarind. Sev is always welcome on my plate and pomegranate seeds added a welcome burst of freshness.

idli
Idli

We also split an order of Idli. Kate couldn’t decide if the pillow like texture was a good thing or a bad thing. I’m firmly on the side of good thing. Undeniably the sambar is a good thing. I can see why they have extra portions on the menu. I could have drunk it down. I restrained myself though. Gotta have your best manners on when you are in the nation’s capital.

dosa
Dosa

On to mains then. We needed dosas; who doesn’t, right? We split an order of the masala dosa with rice and lentil batter. Classic. I thought it was a little underdone in the middle but the taste was good and it came with more sambar. So can’t complain too much.

saggaloJPG

Considering we were trying a few we things we thought we’d order our old standby of Sagg Aloo. Just in case. As it turned out that was a bad idea. Kate, as we’ve mentioned before, is not a chilli fan. She can tolerate a little heat but it was rather hot. It was right in the middle of my comfort zone. I loved it in fact. Kate was a little overheated though.

Mixed review then. Me, I recommend Woodlands on the strength of the chatt and sambar. Kate doesn’t recommend it because of the strength of the chillies.

Recipe: Vegan Scones

scone
Scones, anyone?

Vegan food is constantly changing and evolving. New products are launched all the time, creative cooks are coming up with new methods, and an entire community is buzzing with fresh new ideas. One product that’s been a huge game changer for us is oat milk. I’m not just saying that because I work in a coffee shop: oat milk is also a fantastic addition to the vegan baker’s arsenal. I first read about the effect of oat milk in baked goods in the America’s Test Kitchen book Vegan For Everybody. They take advantage of the sugars in oat milk to give baked goods a lovely brown colour. These scones use oat milk both in the dough and brushed on top to make them look golden brown and delicious. This is another recipe updated and brought across from our old blog.

Ingredients

(for about 12 medium sized scones)

450g plain flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
100g margarine (we use Vitalite)
200ml oat milk + a few tablespoons more for brushing the tops
50g sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and line a tray with baking parchment.

Mix the plain flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Break up the margarine into teaspoon sized amounts and place in the bowl. Rub into the flour until you get a loose, crumb-like consistency.

crumblike
Crumb-like

Mix in the sugar and 200ml of milk, stirring together until it forms a dough.

Tip the dough onto your work surface and pat down until a couple of inches thick. Use a circular cutter (or the top of a glass) to cut out the scones. Keep going until you have used up all of your remaining dough.

cutting out
Cutting out

Pop the scones on the baking tray and brush over the remaining oat milk.

Cook for 20 minutes, until golden on top.

 

 

Review: Vegan 100

Gaz Oakley’s Vegan 100 has been hanging around my kitchen for the past couple of weeks. And honestly I’m not sure what to make of it. We got off on the wrong foot I think. The first thing I tried to make was the Fancy Baked Doughnuts, that seduced me with their chocolate glaze. First I had to buy a doughnut pan. Then I had to make two other recipes from the book: vegan butter and egg replacement. I love a good cooking project, especially if I get to buy new equipment. Only then I made the doughnuts. And they did not work. The lovely delicate doughnuts fell apart. So. On the wrong foot.

Onwards to Valentine’s Day! I thought I’d treat Kate to some lovely home cooked food so I picked two of the recipes that attracted us in the bookshop. Tofu Tikka Kebabs and Carrot and Red Onion Bhajis. The bhajis are super easy to knock up and there are instructions for both baking and frying. I baked ours. And loved them. The bhajis got two thumbs up. The kebab… maybe half a thumb. I thought it needed a lot more in the way of seasoning.

Fortunately the next recipe I tried, the Moroccan Chickpea “Omelette”, was perfectly spiced and so very easy to make. It’s in the Breakfast and Brunch section but this works at any time of day. Finally we sampled the Potato and Leek Croquettes. Again there are instructions for both baking and frying. Again I’m still not trusted to deep fat fry. They were simple to make and they taste… okay. And I think that is the sentence that sums up the book. The recipes are clear, they’re easy, the concept is great but when I follow them the end product is just okay. If I didn’t have a shelf full of other cookbooks I’d be okay with that, especially with that omelette recipe in there. But I do have a shelf full of other cookbooks and that means I don’t know what to make of this one.

Review: Stable’s Vegan Pizza

Stable Pizza are slowly taking over the universe, or at least England. If you haven’t got a location in your town yet you probably will soon. They currently have 16 locations, most here in the South West. They focus on pizza, pies and cider, switching up ingredients in each location to keep it as local as possible. And they have a Vegan Menu which is why I’m talking about them today.

nothiswasmine
Bute Island Blazer

We used to eat at the Plymouth and Exeter Branches as dirty, rotten cheese eaters and we’ve always been impressed by the spectacular sourdough crust and the creative combination of toppings. Going back as vegans made us a little nervous but we’re always willing to try new pizza. You know, for the sake of the blog. So we tried the Exeter Branch.

garlicbread
Garlic Bread

When we arrived we were hungry, very hungry, and laden with bags. The Exeter Branch is in a fab location at the Guild Hall. It’s on the first floor so you can people watch the shoppers below while relaxing with the soft glow of the lights and the stylish chunky wood furniture. The staff were amazing. Though it was hard to figure out who our waiter was as a few had matching beards. When we asked about the vegan menu our waiter was quick to tell us about our drink options too. Not helpful for us, as we’re teetotal, but it’s great they’re on the ball. When it turned out our food was going to be late out they kept us updated the whole time. Things go wrong but when you know the staff are handling it, well that’s just good customer service.

my pizza
One Potato, Two Potato

On to the food then. We started with the vegan garlic bread. You can add cheese but we went without because between oily, garlicky goodness and that base you just can’t go wrong. It was amazing. Then the pizzas arrived. And we saw that it was good. I went for the Bute Island Blazer. Peppers, onion, chilli, mushrooms, and finished with Sheese. Sheese isn’t my favourite cheese but I’ve started to appreciate it on a pizza. All put together it was fantastic. The cheese complimented the other toppings nicely and you can never go wrong with a bit of chilli. Except if you are Kate so she had the One Potato, Two Potato instead. Kate gave it two thumbs up. So did I, because I stole a bite.

brownie
Brownies

Then we were asked if we want dessert.

‘Do you have anything vegan?’ Kate asked.

‘We have a Vegan brownie.’

‘Yes please!’ replied Care and Kate simultaneously.

‘One?’ asked the waiter who had obviously never met them before.

‘Two!’ Clare and Kate replied simultaneously again, this time more forcefully.

After gleefully stuffing ourselves full of brownie, Kate got up to pay. They didn’t let her. Because of the wait we had for our garlic bread, they let us have the meal for free. Our wait was around 45 minutes, not unheard of on a busy Saturday, and the staff kept us informed so we weren’t complaining or threatening bad Trip Advisor reviews or anything. We would have been perfectly happy to pay but it was a lovely gesture and we’re not going to argue. We’ll just have to go back and pay for our pizza another time.

MiniMoFo: Creating Warmth

January’s MiniMoFo theme is Creating Warmth. Good timing for me because one of my new obsessions involves doing just that. It all starts with a flashback. Christmas morning and we were opening gifts. Kate had ordered my presents from Amazon, complete with gift wrap. One was book shaped and the other was big and rattled and I was convinced it was one of the board games on my wish list. It wasn’t.

Instead I got three of these jars with Sterikap lids. Perfect for fermenting. I was instantly filled with warm fuzzies. You see Kate hates ferments, she hates the smell of ferments, but here she was, buying me these jars so I could do it in style. With less of a smell. I think that was one of her main considerations. Immediately I started wondering what I could ferment. And then it hit me. If Kate wasn’t going to eat what I was fermenting anyway why not use something I know she hates: chillies. A copy of Fiery Ferments by Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey was soon making its way towards me.

It’s a fabulous book. It’s friendly and approachable but still detailed and technical enough to give you good results. I really enjoyed the section ‘Hot and Spicy B.C. (Before Chillies)’ and the pre-chilli recipes. The discussion of all the different techniques humans have used to add heat to their food is both fascinating and mouthwatering. We’ll get back to that later. The first ferment I tried was the Basic Pico de Gallo Starter.

The idea here is that you ferment everything but the tomatoes. That way you have the base ready to go and only need to chop a few tomatoes to mix in when you need your salsa fix. Usually when I make Pico de Gallo it either goes off before I can eat it all myself or I end up with lots of odd half bunches of coriander and diced onions left in the fridge. Apart from a few tomatoes, everything is preserved in the ferment. So I can make my little single portion of salsa whenever I want.

I also made the green peppercorn mustard. I love mustard, especially the grainy kind and I was intrigued by the addition of green peppercorns. They really make it sing. It has a clear, fresh taste and a gentle heat that sits on the tongue. I think there will be sausages in my future, served on a baguette and draped with more mustard than is probably advisable.

As you can probably tell I’m having a lot of fun with my new jars and book. I have a dozen more recipes dog eared to try. Just need to find more chillies.