Booze & Beverages, Veg*n London

Veg*n London: Inspiral Lounge, Camden.

I’m so into InSpiral Lounge in Camden you guys. I’ve just found out my friend Georg is coming to London soon, and that means I’ll be spending at least a couple of eyes kicking it with a black coffee on the canalside decking.

I have plenty of fond memories of chilling with Georg in that café (usually but not exclusively a bit rough around the edges and in need of wholesome vitamins and gentle music). These gorgeous hot days that we are all desperately clawing onto at the moment are perfect for dropping by to hang out languidly by the canal, coconut water in hand like the hipster I’m not.

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The menu includes exciting vegan breakfasts, including a <£5 range of “stuff on toast” like home made baked beans, fried mushrooms or scrambled tofu. Or you can really go to town and order the vegan full monty (but frankly if it doesn’t include fried bread and a strong Bloody Mary to quell the hangover I don’t see the point in fried breakfasts).

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Spanakopita is my favourite lunch: I think it’s the creaminess of the tofu filling with the sassy bite of black olive tapenade. Plus spinach is brilliant and who doesn’t love buttery (vegan) pastry?

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InSpiral is also open really late: I love sitting by the canal late into the night with a bowl of marinated olives and a beer or two (or five).

Expect some more InSpiral Lounge posts when Georg drops into town!

Booze & Beverages, Gossip, London's Best Boozers, Veg*n Events, Veg*n London

Veg*n Events: London Vegan Beerfest 2013

beerfest

So, I just bought my tickets for the London Vegan Beerfest, which is happening on Saturday July 13th in Bethnal Green.

Hosted by Fat Gay Vegan, it’s bound to be a giggle. Tickets are only £7.50 per head, and the London Vegan Beerfest promises lashings of vegan beer, a vegan BBQ, slammin’ choons (my phrasing) and, quoth Fat Gay Vegan, “fun times” (which I assume means some kind of vegan dance off).

See you there, pals.

Buy Tickets.

Cookbook Reviews, Gossip, Veg*n Events, Veg*n London

Veg*n Events: MsCupcake Book Launch


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Last week I went to the launch of Ms Cupcake’s new book, The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town!
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The launch was basically a bustling street party in front of the shop with vegan DJs, vegan canapes, cosmopolitans, vegan cookies and wine in bright pink plastic cups.

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And obviously… there was a helluva lot of cake with that signature just-stiff-enough-buttercream that makes me go weak at the knees. Oh Ms Cupcake, everyone wants to marry you. Mostly but not entirely for your baking skills and your hats.

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Obviously I picked up a copy of the book – it was far too pretty to ignore. Also, ever since I started following My Boyfriend’s Kitchen and In Vegetables We Trust I’ve wanted to up my baking ante, and this seemed like a good excuse to start.


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Ohoh yes, Ms Cupcake signed my book for me and I got to gush about how wonderful the event was. The food was amazing, with platters of vegan sushi and things-on-sticks and fake chicken nuggets circulating between trays of chocolate chip cookies and cocktails. I also left with a pair of cupcakes for Brendan and I to share, but I was too giddy on sugar and booze to take photos. I can tell you that a) one was rose flavour b) one was piña colada flavour and c) both were awesome.

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A week later, and we were itching for another fix of that creamy sweet stuff. I don’t have suitable deep cupcake trays, but luckily the book also has loads of tray bakes, loaves and cookies. I decided to make the blueberry lemon loaf cake because not only did I have everything bar the fresh fruit in my cupboard,  I also had a vaguely suitable loaf tin. I know. Gripping shit going down over here.

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Anyway it turned out awesome because the recipe was straight forward and easy to follow, with both cups and weights to adapt to either cooking style. So basically go forth, purchase Ms Cupcake’s new book and EAT CAKE.

Big kisses to Brendan, Mel and Christina for the photos.

Veg*n London, Veggie Friendly London

Veg*n London: Ms Cupcake, Brixton (Take Two).

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P1020535I live on one end of the Victoria line and Ms Cupcake, this amazing vegan bakery, lives on the other. This is the closest I’ve ever come to a long distance relationship and it’s pretty tough, but we’re making it work.

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My boyfriend and I ventured to Brixton the other day for a cupcake date. On the tube there I reread a rather significant chunk of Anna Stothard’s The Pink Hotel, which is one of my favourite books. It’s like Rebecca if the nameless narrator was a klepto, with the sleazy bars and hazy heat of Venice Beach as an alternative backdrop to Cornwall. This isn’t relevant at all to Ms Cupcake, it’s just an amazing book and I think you should read it.

Anyway, I had a New Yorker sandwich, which basically tasted like the kind of sandwich a carnivore might grab from a Manhattan deli: lovely chewy seitan beef, red onion, iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, pickles, mustard and vegan mayo. Important to note: Ms Cupcake occasionally stock bags of vital wheat gluten so you can make your own seitan. I still have a bag from my last trip which I haven’t used yet because it intimidates me. Every time I open my kitchen cupboard, I feel it leering at me in the darkness, judging me for my kitchen cowardice.

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We couldn’t pick just two flavours, and as Ms Cupcake is an epic jaunt across the city we decided to buy four flavours and had cupcakes two days in a row like absolute heroes. Clockwise L-R: Chocolate Vanilla, Orange Creamsicle, Peanut Butter and Bacon (srsly) and Jaffa Cake.

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Brendan’s serious cupcake face is serious for serious cupcake seriousness.

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Ms Cupcake cupcakes are semi-spiritual: as I bit into that pillow of orange creamsicle frosting, I experienced a kind of zen similar to the expression my cat pulls when he catches a fly (something that happens basically never).

No photos of the bacon cupcake because it was eaten late at night like a dirty snack except it was cholesterol free because it was vegan. The cake itself had a deep smoky flavour, the way clothes smell after bonfire night. The peanut butter icing was thick and er… peanutty, and it was topped with vegan baco bits. Okay, it was a bit on the weird side but it works, and we must always salute vegan businesses that are doing exciting flavour experiments because what’s life without whimsy? Trust me when I say, Ms Cupcake is the kind of really special joint that’s worth a pilgrimage to Brixton*.

Whilst I was there, I also picked up Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry from the bountiful selection of vegan cookbooks on sale, and I got another bottle of Uncle Roy’s natural essence (cherry flavour!) from their awesome baking supplies.

Ms Cupcake Website | Ms Cupcake on HappyCow

*Disclaimer: distances may have been exaggerated to justify double cupcake expenditure.

Veg*n London

Veg*n London: The Ha Ha Veggie Bar, Camden.


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P1020087Words can’t adequately describe how many crap photos I have of veggie burgers from the Ha Ha Veggie Bar in Camden on my phone. I’ve been trying to capture it’s subtle beauty but it’s literally impossible. It’s a little shack of fun serving up cheap superseed vegan burgers slathered in veganaise and fried onions. My pal Richard pulls this mad happy 😀 expression every time we make it there before it shuts. I can’t believe I used to eat those aluminium cartons of greasy gristly noodles from the nearby market when the Ha Ha Veggie Bar was right there, all this time. Totally cheap, really simple, each burger is like a stuffing patty fried on a griddle and slapped into a soft brown bun.

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Located just past Oddballs, near the mouth of Camden Lock, the Ha Ha Veggie Bar is a stone’s throw from Cookies & Scream, the vegan bakery. I love to grab an avocado burger and sit at the powder blue metal tables inside the covered part of the market, with a cup of Tea Pigs tea and a warm cookie or award winning brownie from Cookies & Scream.

Veg*n London, Veg*n UK

Veg*n London: Ms. Cupcake, Brixton.

My friend Christina and I decided to have lunch at Ms. Cupcake around a week in advance. As a food blogger, I thought it best not to bother charging my camera so I could capture our first meal at the new vegan bakery, because why the fuck would I do that? So thank you to Christina for letting me borrow her fancy-pants camera.

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Christina had told me about Ms. Cupcake before, but it wasn’t until I saw Fat Gay Vegan’s post about the new range of sandwiches that I realised the inexplicable draw to Brixton that I felt in my loins was actually the siren’s song from the small fridge of Ms. Cupcake.

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We had the choice between coronation chicken, ham or cheese – not as exciting as I was expecting following the FGV post that mentioned hoisin duck and Thai green chicken sandwiches. We both rocked with coronation chicken, and weren’t disappointed. Vegan pre-packed sandwiches: highlight of my week.

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The sandwich was pretty filling, but half an hour of natter and I was ready to take on my cupcake. The icing was just thick, creamy, sugary joy piped onto a moist yellow cupcake. It tasted of strawberry with a hint of coconut and it was easily the best vegan cupcake I’ve ever had. Whilst we ate, I watched one of the bakers icing a cake and it reminded me of watching ice skating on the TV because she make it look so easy yet I knew if I tried it at that speed I’d probably break my face.

I’m going to post my top five joints for vegan desert in London on Monday, so hold onto your hats chaps.

Veg*n London, Veg*n UK, Veggie Friendly London

Veg*n London: Mildreds, Soho.

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Located on seedy lookin’ Lexington Street, Mildreds is a bustling veggie restaurant in the heart of Soho. Mildreds was the first veggie restaurant I ever dined in, around five years ago now, so it holds a special place in my heart … even though if I’m totally honest I don’t think the food can look the hype in the eye without breaking out in a cold sweat

Mildreds don’t take reservations, so we were lucky to get seats one busy weekday lunchtime. We were perched on high chairs on a shelf-style table by the door, our backs to the queue waiting to be seated. The lighting sucked, hence the weirdly bright neon colours of the food. My pal Sian (aka Bramble Granville, a guest star on Cake Theory) ordered some kind of mad risotto cake afloat on a sea of tomatoey-orangey sauce. We ate this meal months ago, but you may or may not recall my laptop had a meeting of minds with a cup of squash a few months ago. I have now rescued all the old photos from the hard drive so expect lots of vaguely terrible blogging for the next few weeks. You’re welcome.

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Green olive and baby aubergine tagine. Green olives are brilliant: they’re like chowing down on little meaty salty flavour punches every few bites. These dishes were from the autumn menu – the winter menu looks a bit more exciting.

Travel, Veg*n London, Veg*n UK, Veggie Friendly London, We Are Adventuring: World Food

Veg*n London: Maoz, Soho.

“I think we need to have a serious conversation about Maoz.”

“I think we need to have a sers converzashion about Mawowz.”

“I thinkh we needteh havr srsh converzashen abuet Mawoshz.”

This is just a cross-section of the colourful circumstances in which I’ve found myself chowing down on a falafel pitta from Maoz over the years. There are twelve – twelve! – of these veggie “kebab” houses dotted around the globe, and I’ve found myself dining in three: Soho, drunk. Amsterdam, never you mind. And Paris, Paris totally fucked up after a week-long cheese crepe bender.

P1010811Every branch in every country in Europe is the same: an eclectic salad bar promising couscous, pickled carrots, fried cauliflower, dill-covered cucumber, green olives, red cabbage, sweetcorn and all sorts of other shit like gherkins and tahini and coriander salsa.

For around a fiver, patrons load up either a wholemeal pitta bread or a salad box with falafel and a choice of toppings, from buttery avocado and crumbled feta to melt-in-the-mouth hummus, baba ganoush or grilled aubergine. Choose from a wide range of sides – chips, chips with ketchup, chips with mayo, chips with ketchup and mayo, or minty lemonade – and enjoy. Can’t go wrong with Maoz – especially on New Year’s Day when you’re struggling to function and you accidentally made your friend “trudge” (her word) around Soho looking for a vegetarian pub that you may have just dreamed about.* For example.

(*Coach and Horses on Greek Street. Not a dream, just hard to find in the midst of a hangover).

Veg*n London, Veg*n UK, Veggie Friendly London

Veg*n London: Mama’s Jerk Station Pop Up Kitchen at the Black Heart, Camden.

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Now, between you and I, I do like the odd gin and tonic on a hot summer’s day. I also like binge drinking in Camden every Friday night and turning up hungover to my weekend retail job every Saturday morning. When my brother’s in town, he looks at me with his beard and Untapped app on his phone and judges my fondness for mass-produced, chemically flavoured faceless cider. He judges my ‘bow, he judges the way I can’t describe the kind of ale I dislike (“sort of orange and bitter like an orange but not as orange”), he judges the way I mispronounce Wychwood. But he loves me, so he perseveres in his quest to convert me to full time real ale drinking.

Camden, the alternative centre of London, is great for veggie food (five – FIVE!!! – vegan eateries – Manna, InSpiral Loungethe Ha Ha Veggie Bar, Cookies and Scream and a branch of Loving Hut – posts for latter three coming soon). It’s also great for ale, with a number of beer-friendly bars catering to the real ale and craft beer crowd. As well as a branch of Brewdog, which serves up unique craft beers in an industrial setting, there’s a great little bar called the Black Heart. There, my brother spent £27 on two bottles of ale that I described as “fizzy” and “brown”, and I got us some bar snacks.

The Black Heart used to serve pizzas from a local pizza place – a bit samey as local competition Brewdog, who also have a minimalist menu consisting of just pizzas and burgers served up three ways. Now, the Black Heart seems to be running a pop-up kitchen, with different businesses operating a simplified signature menu each month.

December plays host to Mama’s Jerk Station, Caribbean street food aficionados with a passion for all things jerk. We ordered two sides – Mama’s fried plantain and jerk sweet potato wedges, served with tropical mayo and mama’s homemade hot pepper sauce.

Jerk seasoning is brilliant: a hint of sweetness from ginger, fire from the chilli … and then the cooling non-vegan tropical mayo (spiked with lime? mango?) was the perfect antidote to sooth the burn. Although Mama’s Jerk Station is going to be replaced by Kimchi Cult – a Korean street food vendor – soon, Mama’s jerkin’ good grub can be found at several locations around London, including Camden Market. The menu includes several other veggie-friendly options, including a jerk veggie bean wrap, jerk veg and dumpling soup (not vegan) and salads. Jerkin’ brilliant. I’m going to try to check out as many of these pop-up kitchens as I can, so watch this space. Unfortunately, Kimchi Cult came to one of my locals and I don’t seem to recall feeling tempted by the veggie options, if indeed such options existed. Oh well, I’ll do some prowling.

Veg*n London, Veggie Friendly London

Veg*n London: La Gelatiera

If the words “vegan Christmas gelato” don’t bring you out in excitement hives then I’d like to congratulate your twitter feed for their sterling choice in following you: you clearly have more going on in your life than I do.

My buddies Christina and Mel took me to La Gelatiera for a lick of seasonal gelato before having a stroll around the Tim Walker: Story Teller exhibition at Somerset House. This little tub of Christmas cheer was a dense vegan chocolate gelato laced with spices and chewy jewels of fruit. Looking at this picture is making me feel sad thoughts because the Christmas gelato is no longer with me, but it’s memory lives on. La Gelatiera had three vegan gelato flavours on the go which isn’t too shabby.