London: As Nature Intended & more

Hi again! Sorry it’s taking me so long to post all of this London stuff – I promise I’m almost done now! This post is a bit of a mishmash of different London-related things, so apologies if it’s slightly long.

Anyway, one evening after a long day of walking from place to place all the time, we wanted nothing more than to sit down and enjoy a simple bag of chips, preferably with mushy peas (because I’ve never had those, and they sound fun. they are vegan, right?). However, we couldn’t find a single (fish and) chip shop! Well, we found one in the end, but that one wasn’t open for dinner. I mean, there was plenty of other food, but we really wanted that yummy deep-fried potato-y goodness. Luckily, we finally found a restaurant not far from our B&B that did serve simple, delicious and cheap food, including this generous portion of chips:

Chips & Stuffed Vine leaves

These hit the spot.  These were really tasty, and the condiments on the side were excellent as well (not pictured, but we got little bowls with three different dips, two of them vegan). Just what we wanted! I also ordered a portion of stuffed vine leaves in tomato salsa, and they were even better than I’d expected. I’ve only ever had dolmades served cold, but these were warm and soft and creamy and utterly delicious.

So while I loved eating at all the amazing vegetarian restaurants in London, this simple meal was very satisfying as well. And we were starting to become kind of broke at this point, so we were happy to have a cheaper meal this time, too.

The next morning (our last day! boo), we made a little trip to an awesome health food store in Ealing. Amy, one of the wonderful people at the B&B, had recommended this place to us, and I’m so glad she did! This store, called As Nature Intended, was packed with awesome vegan goodies. I kind of wish we’d checked it out a few days earlier, because they had loads of products I wanted to try. I still left with a bunch of great treats, though, so I’m definitely not complaining. Here’s a quick list of what we got:

Soyade soy yoghurts

  • Sojade soy yoghurts! I’d seen the Sojade brand once before in the Netherlands, but I hadn’t tried any of their products yet. These tiny packages of soy yoghurt were the perfect opportunity to sample some flavours! We had cherry, raspberry, and lemon, and the lemon flavour was definitely our favourite. Mmm.

  • A Tofu Spinach Pancake by Laura’s Idea: Unlike other things I’ve bought to eat on the go, I think this product was actually best enjoyed served cold! This was great, as I had no way of heating it anyway. I loved the texture and flavour of the pancake and I liked the tofu spinach mixture too, but I could only eat about half of it before I kind of got bored with the filling. It was also a bit messy to eat. I think I would buy this again as I did enjoy it, but I would probably try to divide it into separate portions and not eat the entire wrap at once.
  • A Fresh! sandwich: “organic vegetarian sausage with onion marmelade, cucumber & baby salad leaves on malthouse”. I really wanted to try this because I like discovering new kinds of vegan sausage, and I really enjoyed the sausage and salad on this, but the onion marmalade made the whole sandwich kind of gross for me. I found the sweet flavour way too overpowering, so I tried to eat around it and enjoy the rest of the sandwich, which I did like.
  • A Falafel Wrap, also by Fresh!: Definitely not the best falafel I’ve ever had, but it was okay. I put this in the fridge at the B&B so I could enjoy it on our way home the next day, but maybe it would be better eaten right away? In any case, I thought it was a little dry and I didn’t like the bread/wrap very much, but the fillings weren’t too bad.
  • Plamil Egg Free Mayonnaise: whoo! I was glad to find a jar of this stuff, as my boyfriend mentioned how much he liked the mayo at Ha Ha Veggie Bar, and I think this is the brand they use. I haven’t opened the jar yet, but I’m looking forward to trying it! Maybe we can do a little mayonnaise tasting to compare different brands…
  • A Granose burger mix: These just-add-water burger mixes are always good to have on hand, so I was excited to be able to try a new kind. I already made a few burgers with this, and they’re really tasty! I’ll post more about them later.
  • Essence of rosewater and organic vanilla extract: I always see recipes that use rosewater, but I never had the stuff around. Now I do! I haven’t tried it yet, but I should look up some of those recipes. I’m not sure how different the natural vanilla extract is from the Dr Oetker aroma stuff I usually buy, but it will be fun to try it out!

The weather was fiiinally getting a bit better, so we decided to spend our day in Hyde Park. We had a wonderful day! I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures, but I did manage to get a few shots of the adorable squirrels we met – some of them were shy, but we were patient, and eventually they came closer! I had some organic sunflower seeds I’d bought at a health food store and they seemed to love those… I’d never seen a squirrel up close before, so I was super excited! They are so so so cute.

<3

<3 <3 <3

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/kippelina/4922656549/&#8221; title=”Untitled by Bonnie &lt;3, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4093/4922656549_57c4b73fbd.jpg&#8221; width=”375″ height=”500″ alt=”” /></a>
Advertisements

London: Vx – an all vegan shop!

Vx Storefront

After our delicious lunch at the Gallery Cafe, we filled our afternoon with sight seeing and shopping at fun shops, including Vx (pronounced v-cross), a completely vegan store in King’s Cross! Vx is the home of the Secret Society of Vegans, so the store carries all of their clothing and accessories, but they sell lots of other awesome products as well. I really wanted to check out this place because it’s just so much fun to shop at a store completely packed with vegan goodies!

Vx!

They sell everything from shoes to cupcakes and I was especially excited to try some of the vegan baked good and other treats. Here’s a little list of what I got:

A cupcake by Ms Cupcake: I think the one I got was a Triple Chocolate Cupcake, but whatever it was, it was perfect! I took it with me in a little box so it got a bit squashed on the way to the B&B and I couldn’t get a pretty picture of it. Definitely have a look at Ms Cupcake’s website, though, because there are some gorgeous pictures over there! I’d love to try more of her cupcakes if I ever get the chance.

An SSOV hoodie and mug: The hoodie is super warm and soft and comfy! Thankfully the weather currently isn’t so cold that I need such a warm sweater, but I’m sure going to be glad to have it when winter comes around. Plus I love buying my clothing from vegan companies, so that is great as well. The mug is a bit silly but I couldn’t resist. Ha.

Treats!

Mexican-style Creamy Sheese: Sheese is a brand of vegan cheese that I’ve been looking forward to trying. Vx only had one of their products, which was this Mexican-spiced cream cheese. I only tried it once so far (on a slice of bread), and I thought it was tasty but not super impressive. It’s good, but I guess I really wanted to try something new, and apart from the spices, this didn’t seem to be all that different from the Tofutti cream cheese I usually get over here. I would really like to try the solid blocks of Sheese someday, because those look really interesting and different from vegan cheeses available over here. I still have most of the tub of Creamy Sheese to finish, though. I’m just not sure how to serve it. Just spread on a bagel with veggies and avocado maybe? Any suggestions?

Organica Vegan Hazelnut Nougat & Dark Chocolate bar: Yum! The bar was tasty, but nothing outstanding so I probably wouldn’t buy it very often even if I had access to it.

Trios Fudge Filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies: Score! At least, I expect I’ll love these – I haven’t opened the package yet! I’m thinking I could make some of those enticing Oreo Cupcakes with them… that would be amazing. I just haven’t tried one yet because I’m afraid I won’t be able to eat them all before they go bad, and that would be a terrible waste! So I’m just going to hang on to these and hopefully I’ll be able to make something delicious with them someday.

A Whole Earth Sparkling Elderflower Drink: Woooh! Remember how I said I love the Whole Earth drink we had at Rootmaster and the Elderberry drink I had at the Gallery Cafe? (I know you don’t, but bear with me here) Well, combine the two and you get this! It’s a delicious elderflower softdrink sweetened with agave AND I recently found out can get this near my home, too! Excellent.

I think that’s all I bought at Vx – all such lovely vegan products! And because they were so packed with goodies, I kind of wish I could’ve tried even more. For instance, I saw these huge (and I mean huge) cookies that looked delicious and they had a few types of vegan ice cream, too, but we just weren’t able to buy (and eat) all of those at the same time. I’m really happy I got to try out all these wonderful treats, though!

London: The Gallery Cafe

On our fourth day in London, we stopped at Holland & Barrett again for some breakfast on the go. We bought another package of mini Provamel soya yoghurts (raspberry this time), and I got this “Italiano” by Veg.Out:

Veg.Out pastry and Provamel soy yoghurt

The label describes this as a “Vegetable Lattice Slice”; “Pasta & Fresh Vegetables in a Bolognese Sauce”, and it was basically puff pastry filled with wheat pasta and sauce. It seems strange to put pasta in a pastry, but I actually really liked this! The textures went well together and the sauce was pretty tasty. As with all puff pastry foods, though, this would probably have been much better served warm.

The Gallery Cafe, London

Not long after our breakfast (we got up a bit late that morning), we wandered over to The Gallery Cafe for some lunch. This cafe is a lovely little place (I wish I’d taken more pictures of the interior!) that offers vegetarian and vegan dishes for a decent price. There’s a blackboard with the daily menu behind the counter where you order your food, and the friendly staff are also quite happy to inform you of specials and vegan options. We picked out a table right by the window, so we had a nice view of the garden right behind the restaurant.

My boyfriend ordered a spaghetti bolognese, which is vegan if you leave off the cheese, but I didn’t get a good picture of that. I did get one of my equally delicious meal, which was the daily special:

Daily special at the Gallery Cafe in London

That day, the special consisted of penne with cauliflower and courgette in a creamy vegan cheese sauce. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this was really good! I don’t think I’d ever had anything like this in a restaurant before, and now I’d like to try making this myself some time. I wonder what they put in the cheezy sauce… In any case, I really enjoyed this. It was quite filling, too.

Organic Elderflower Drink at the Gallery Cafe in London

To go with my meal, I ordered this wonderful organic elderflower soft drink. I had no idea what an elderflower drink would taste like, but I really love this! I’m going to try to buy it more often. I think we also have an elderflower flavoured syrup at home, so maybe I could make my own…

Gallery Cafe Menu

Here’s a picture of the menu outside the restaurant, to give you an idea. Just make sure to check the blackboard inside the restaurant, too, because the menu changes daily. They told us they didn’t have any vegan cakes on offer that particular day, but on other days they might, so make sure you ask the staff about vegan options as well! Everyone seemed super friendly there, and I’d love to go back some day. I know I say this about pretty much every place I visited in London but well… it’s true. I’ll be back with more vegan London pictures later!

London: Rootmaster!

This was the place I most looked forward to visiting in London…

Rootmaster Vegan Bustaurant

Rootmaster Vegan Bustaurant! Yes, that’s a vegan restaurant in a bus and yes, that is indeed as awesome as it sounds. At first I was worried we might not be able to find the bus since I had trouble locating the street (Ely’s Yard) on Google Earth, but we walked there from Liverpool Street and it turned out to be much easier than I’d thought (here‘s a map).

Inside Rootmaster Bustaurant

It had started to rain when we got there, so we were happy to step inside and have a seat. Looks so comfy, doesn’t it? The bus was quiet when we arrived, so we had that whole table to ourselves.

Organic Sparkling Apple & Raspberry drink

We both ordered a Whole Earth Apple & Raspberry drink, which was lovely! I wish I could get these where I live, but I’ve never seen them. Next time I find a store that has them, I’ll be sure to try some other flavours, too (edit: ha! I found them in a local health food store right after writing this…).

Tomato Lentil Soup with Bus Baked Bread

We were there around one o’ clock, so we were able to order from the lunch menu. My boyfriend went for the Soup of the Moment, pictured above, which was tomato lentil (with bus baked bread!). He quite enjoyed his soup, although he did mention that it was rather thick, and might be more suitable for serving during winter. Then again, the weather that day wasn’t very summery at all…

Rainy view from inside Rootmaster Bustaurant

Oh well, the rain just made the inside of the bus even cosier!

Burger with potato wedges

As my lunch, I chose to try the Rootmaster Burger. It was delicious bean burger on wholemeal bread with bus made mayonnaise and potato wedges on the side – yum! It was really hard to choose a dish here, because there were so many delicious options (and… everything’s vegan!). I was really happy with this burger, though, and I’d love to go back for their other dishes.

Dessert - ice cream!

Naturally, we left room for dessert. We both went for the Ice Cream Platter, which was different from what I’d expected, but oh so delicious. The website describes this as a “selection of ice cream with seasonal berries”, which also sounds wonderful, but our dessert was served with a biscuit, two types of chocolates and three orange slices. The chocolate and biscuit were good (although they did make the dish quite filling), but the ice cream was what made me really love this. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever tried ice cream this good! The brand is Swedish Glace, which I’d heard of before and really wanted to try.

Still pretty

And I wasn’t disappointed. It turns out Swedish Glace makes some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. The vanilla flavour actually tasted like vanilla, unlike others I’ve tried, and it was absolutely delicious. The scoops of chocolate and berry ice cream were nice as well, but the vanilla was my favourite by far. I kind of regret not buying more of that flavour when I saw it in a supermarket, because even though I probably wouldn’t have been able to eat the entire tub, at least I could’ve tried…

Rootmaster postcard

So yeah, if you’re ever in London, I definitely recommend checking this place out – not just because it’s a vegan restaurant in a bus and that’s awesome, but they offer such a good variety of delicious foods as well! Have a look at their menus (in the sidebar)… you’ll wish you were there right now.

This way

London: Pizza Express!

As I mentioned earlier, we only had breakfast at the B&B in London once. For the remaining days, we decided to take the opportunity to shop at health food stores and try out some new products. We stopped by Holland & Barrett a few times because there’s a store right on Ealing Broadway (close to where we stayed). Here’s what we got on our second morning:

breakfast!

A package of Provamel cherry flavoured yoghurts (which, sure, I can get in the Netherlands too, but I don’t usually get this flavour… and I just love these little yoghurt cups!), and a “Supreme Sos Roll”, a puff pastry roll with vegan sausage-y filling. The store sold a bunch of different puff pastry rolls of the same brand, and I’d like to try more of them some day. This Sos Roll was pretty tasty, but I think it would’ve been so much better if I’d had the opportunity to heat it in the oven first. The filling was nice cold, but puff pastry is just at its best when it’s freshly baked and crispy, in my opinion.

For lunch, we went to an all vegan restaurant! More on that later.

We wanted to take a walk around a park after lunch, but due to the ever fickle weather we decided to wander around the city a bit and do some shopping until the rain would stop. I got the chance to stock up on some Lush goodies (which are a bit cheaper in the UK than in the Netherlands), so now I have two delicious smelling shampoo bars, a bottle of conditioner, and a tub of body cream to last me for a good while.

Anyway – after a few hours, we decided to head for Battersea Park to have a walk and relax a bit. We were getting hungry by the time we got there, though, so we walked over to the local Pizza Express to have dinner first.

Rustica Tomatoes &amp; Sicilian Lemonade

Now, Pizza Express is a large chain of restaurants and it is definitely not completely vegetarian, but the offer decent vegan options and we both love pizza, so this seemed like just the place for us. The above picture shows one of the appetisers we got, the “Rustica Tomatoes”. I’d expected them to be different, to be honest – these were just like sun-dried tomatoes, and I’d expected juicier, fresher tomatoes. They were pretty tasty though, just not for my boyfriend who’s not a fan of dried fruits/veggies.

The glass on the side is Pizza Express’s Sicilian Lemonade, which sounded interesting, but oh my goodness this was way too sweet for me. I kind of wanted to get a glass of water and add the two together to dilute the incredible sugariness… I’m almost sure something must’ve gone wrong, because I’m sure this could taste great, if only they’d use less sugar and more water. Oh well, on to the good stuff:

Bread &amp; Garlic oil

Bread! I asked for the garlic bread with garlic oil instead of butter, and it was just what we wanted – soft chewy/crispy bread with some olive oil for dipping. I think I would just skip the marinated tomatoes next time and get two portions of this bread.

Pizza Veneziana

And then, of course, the pizza. I got the Veneziana, which features onions, raisins, capers, pine nuts, and olives – they just left off the cheese for me. The toppings were tasty though not super impressive, but I really loved the crust! It’s this soft and chewy texture that I want in my pizza dough, but I haven’t been able to get it like that myself. If I ever go back, I’d like to try one of their pizzas with more fresh vegetables, but this was a good combination of toppings as well. Mmmm pizza…

If you’d like to find out more about the vegan options at Pizza Express, by the way, I suggest checking out this page of the Vegan London website – it has excellent information on which menu items are vegan and which can be made so on request.

After dinner, we had a lovely evening walk around Battersea park, quite close to the pizza restaurant. It was fun! I’d love to go back to that park on a sunny day sometime, and have a nice picnic or something. Here’s me trying to take a picture of the baby ducklings we saw at the pond:

Yeah, not the best pictures… but they were quick, and my battery was empty. Anyway, so cute <3 <3 <3

London: Veg Buffet, Inspiral

On our way to Camden market, we passed by Inspiral vegan cafe, one of the restaurants I really looked forward to visiting. They offer a large variety of dishes – delicious looking mains, cooked as well as raw, cakes (including tiramisu cake, chocolate mousse cake, and a raw key lime pie), raw chocolates and truffels, and vegan ice cream.

I was especially excited about the range of interesting ice cream flavours they list on their website, although they didn’t have all of those in the restaurant when we got there. After contemplating the different flavours they did have, we ordered a scoop of Raw Chocolate Chunk ice cream, pictured below.

Inspiral Chocolate Ice Cream

We both liked it, but it’s definitely not the best ice cream I’ve had – I gues I would’ve liked it to have a stronger, more distinct chocolatey flavour. Or maybe I don’t love chocolate and cashews together (their ice creams are cashew based). In any case, I didn’t think it was bad, but I think my boyfriend liked it more than I did. I’d still love to try their other ice cream flavours…

I also would’ve liked to try some of Inspiral’s main dishes, but the menu they had that day didn’t appeal to my boyfriend very much, and we wanted to explore more of Camden, so we decided to look for another restaurant for our dinner. We quickly encountered a man holding a sign that advertised an all-vegetarian buffet, which sounded like just the place for us. I had heard of these restaurants before – there’s a chain of Chinese/Thai buffet restaurants in London where you can get a small lunch takeout box for £3,50 and eat in for £6,50 or so. I’d read mixed reviews on this chain, but we were willing to try them out.

Unfortunately, neither of us was very impressed. Sure, this was a relatively cheap meal, everything in the restaurant was vegan, and the staff were quite friendly, but there wasn’t a single thing in the buffet that I really loved. There were a couple of mock meat dishes that weren’t as good as I hoped, and the veggies they had seemed a bit plain and were sometimes overly salty. I think I would’ve liked the food more if they’d done a better job at keeping everything warm, too – most things were cold by the time we got to eat them.

Veg Buffet in London

Still, it wasn’t too bad for such an inexpensive meal, and we filled our plates with the foods we liked best – in my case, that was fruit salad, potatoes, spring rolls, and some veggies. So I did have some tasty food and I don’t really regret trying this restaurant, but we both would’ve liked to have had a more exciting dinner this evening – after all, I know it’s possible to get amazing vegan meals in London.

So for dessert, we headed back to Inspiral for some cake!

Tiramisu Cake at Inspiral!

I looove tiramisu, but it can take so long to make yourself – I’d never  pass up the opportunity to get vegan version in a restaurant! Okay, so this is is tiramisu cake, which is slightly different from actual layered dessert, but it was still wonderful. Not as boozy as I’ve come to expect of tiramisu, but it was much creamier, especially with the dollop of Soyatoo on the side.

I hope someday I’ll get the chance to go back to Inspiral and try their lasagne or their mushroom pastie. And if I do, I’ll definitely get another slice of that cake, as well!

London: The Organic B&B, Ha Ha Veggie Bar

Hi again! I have a bunch of things I want to post regarding my London trip, so I’ll split it up into several posts – otherwise it would probably be one maaaasssive read.

I had only been to London once before, and that was during a school trip, which meant most of our days were packed with sight seeing. I had loads of fun, and it was definitely great to be able to see so many different things each day. However, my boyfriend and I agreed that it’s also good to relax and enjoy your surroundings when you’re on holiday, so we made sure to include both of those things during our trip! We did some lovely sight seeing and shopping, but also enjoyed a few perfect sunny moments in London’s beautiful parks.

That school trip I mentioned also required all students to stay with host families, which was a great experience as my host family was incredibly friendly and helpful. They cooked vegan food for me, and made sure it was gluten free, too, to suit another student’s requirements. How awesome is that? Since it was a school trip and the family provided most of the meals, though, I didn’t get the opportunity to try much of the fabulous food that London restaurants have to offer. However… I think I made up for that during my latest holiday. We ate at six vegetarian restaurants, and four of them were all vegan!

Organic B&amp;B London

I’m happy to say that we also found the perfect place to stay. I spent some time searching for affordable accommodation online and finally stumbled upon this Organic Bed & Breakfast (I think it’s also called the Holly House, though they don’t mention that specifically) located in Ealing, West London. I’d figured we didn’t really need a vegan-friendly place specifically, as there would be plenty of places to get food, and I’d expected a B&B like this to be more expensive, but I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is this place affordable, but it is all organic, offers a vegan breakfast, and the house is just beautiful as well! I didn’t take many pictures during my stay there, but I encourage you to check out their website and look at the pictures there – it’s such a lovely place! The family living there was super friendly as well, and they were more than happy to give recommendations for vegan-friendly restaurants and shops in the neighbourhood.

You can see the few photos that I did take in the picture above – breakfast! I had soy yoghurt with muesli, tea, bagels, and fruit that morning. They also make pancakes, but we didn’t end up trying those (though I would’ve liked to, I’m sure they’d be delicious…). The breakfast was good and it was excellent to get a decent meal right at the B&B, but there were so many other places we wanted to try that we only ended up having breakfast there on the first day. It was fun, though, especially since we were able to enjoy our meal at one big table together with the other guests staying there at that moment.

Anyway, after enjoying our breakfast at the B&B, we took the tube to Camden and spent the day at the market. We had fun walking around and looking at all the different stalls, but we also found it was all mostly clothes and food, and we didn’t end up buying anything. Still, we really enjoyed ourselves, and I was especially thrilled when we happened to find this veggie bar just when we were thinking about having lunch!

Ha Ha Veggie Bar - Camden Lock, London

Ha Ha Veggie Bar is a small little take out restaurant in Camden Lock that sells vegan burgers, hot dogs, and falafel – in fact, everything they sell is vegan except the cheese, as you can see on their menu:

Menu at Ha Ha Veggie Bar

This place was such a little gem to discover! We got a burger and a hot dog, and while the food wasn’t anything spectacular, it was definitely tasty (and cheap!). The girl working there was very friendly and the location is so convenient, as well – I’d love to go back!

Original Burger from Ha Ha Veggie Bar

Here’s a picture of my boyfriend’s burger (the “Original” – a superseed patty on a bun with mayo, lettuce, and onion). The patty was soft and not as chewy as you might expect from a veggie burger – more like a bean patty. Still, it was very tasty, and my boyfriend mentioned that he really liked the mayo they used, too (I think it was Plamil egg free mayonnaise).

Hot dog from Ha Ha Veggie Bar

And here’s the hot dog I chose, with ketchup and mustard and sautéed onions. I really liked it, though I think I’ve had vegan sausages that were even tastier than this one (I have no idea what brand they used).

Mmm, thinking back about this place makes me hungry. There were more vegan eats we found in Camden, but those will have to wait for a future post – I’m off to have a quick dinner now before I go to the cinema.

located in Ealing, West London.