Vegan Review: Purezza (Brighton and London)

When we decided to head to Brighton we asked our friends for recommendations for a place that didn’t just serve ice cream. She told us to head to Purezza and we ended up doing that twice because they also have a Camden branch and we needed more pizza.

In Brighton Kate ordered herself the Couch Potato without the aubergine. It had the stunning smoked mozzarella, shaved seitan, and smooth, creamy garlicky mayo. Thumbs up from us.

I went for the cheese steak calzone with more of that amazing seitan, onion chutney and mozzarella. It also had red and orange peppers when I think it would have been a little better with green. Still I loved it.

We rolled up to the Camden branch the next evening. Dark by the time we got there but thankfully with one table left for us. It was busy. We had to wait a little while for the food. We ordered a cheese board to start. I was expecting a couple of different textures but it was more like the same cheese with four different flavours. One was super garlicky and Kate gobbled it down, another full of chilli and that was my favourite. But I don’t think we’d order this one again.

For the main course Kate had the margarita. We were disappointed with the margarita (I say we because I have never refused a bite of anything): the tomato sauce was a little too sweet. And she regretted not paying extra for the smoked cheese.

Speaking of extra stuff I ordered the green supreme with extra salami on top. I wish I’d asked for the salami instead of the sausage crumbles. I found the sausage crumbles to taste a bit too much like stuffing. I enjoyed the greens and the smoked mozzarella so much. The chillies a little less. They broke my tolerance.

We enjoyed both our visits to Purezza and I’d recommend both, but Brighton was the better one for us. Though it could just be because it was less busy. Whichever one you visit though I recommend the smoked mozzarella. That stuff is amazing.

Vegan Review: Artbox ✕ Pusheen (Brighton)

I wasn’t originally going to post this review because the day after our visit the cafe closed for re-theming, but we actually had such a positive experience that we’re going to recommend you go even if you can’t get giant ice cream sundaes any more. It reopens tomorrow (Saturday 9th) with a Winter Wonderland Theme.

Everything in the cafe comes decorated with Pusheen and pals. At least Stormy and Pugsheen. I didn’t see any Bo, which is slightly disappointing. Bo is my fave. Anyway. All your food and drinks come decorated with little Pusheen bits for you to take home. If you’re like me you’ll be impressed by this regardless of the quality of the food and drink in question. A little Pusheen on my Summer Sunrise (£4)? Yes please.

A Pusheen stencilled into Kate’s hot chocolate (£3.50)? Also yes. But they were also pretty good drinks and the staff aren’t shy with the marshmallows.

Then came or sundaes. Most of the sundaes and the waffles on the menu could be made vegan and we hope this continues. Kate had lavender, rose, and vanilla ice cream on hers (Flower Garden, £9). Each of them richly flavoured and looking gorgeous with sugar flowers and Pusheen on top.

Mine was kiwi, apple, and coconut (Pusheenosaurus, £9). The apple was my favourite, so fresh and bright. As we were eating we couldn’t help but reflect that the quality of these sundaes was miles above the dessert we had at Farmacy the night before. For one thing they tasted of something, they weren’t melted, and the flowers and the apple flavours would have easily fit in with Farmacy’s seasonal/home grown ethos.

As well as all the Pusheen bits that come with your ice cream there’s also a boutique downstairs for all you Pusheen merchandise needs. And we did take a little Plusheen home with us and well as three cards, some stickers, and a necklace. Food and merch combined cost much less than the entire meal we had the night before at Farmacy. For cuteness, quality of food, and the price it wins hands down. And we really can’t wait to see the Winter Wonderland menu.

Vegan Restaurant Review: Farmacy (London)

Farmacy has restaurants in London and New York but we don’t go to New York all that often (ever) so we went to the Notting Hill branch. It’s as fancy as its postcode with a very well designed interior. It’s the typical exposed wood, metal and cunningly placed plants, but perfectly done. The menu too is fairly typical but less well executed.

We split the Mac and Cheese (£11) for the starter. It’s got truffled cheese in it so I took the first bite just to check that Kate would like it. “It’s aggressively truffley” I said. And honestly that the only opinion either of us had about it. All you taste is that truffle. No cheese, none of the sage in the breadcrumbs, nothing but truffle. We ate about at third each. It was just too much.

For her main Kate ordered the Garden Green Pesto (£12) which comes on spelt pasta with almond ricotta on top. I was expecting the freshest, most basil-filled pesto. It basically tasted like a jar pesto. Far too ordinary for the price tag. When you stir the ricotta in it gets lovely and rich but it’s just a dollop on the top and not exactly easy to stir into spaghetti in a graceful manner at the table.

I had the Pad Thai (£14.50) which was was helped texturally by the large serving of peanuts, but tasted overwhelming of citrus.

And so we went on to dessert. Kate ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding (£9) which she reported as having a very dry sponge, without much of a toffee taste.

I had the sundae (£11) which came with seasonal fruits. Like raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. The taste was good but the ice cream was mostly melted and it was more like eating whipped cream.

Was there anything I did like? Well the drinks were brilliant. I had a great herbal tea and we had a couple of good juices. And honestly I wouldn’t have even minded the food. It wasn’t that bad, just a little simple. Our bill came to £77 and I was thinking: okay, it is Notting Hill, I loved the drinks, the food was okay and the service was amazing. Fantastic host and server. Can’t fault them. So £77 was fine. Then, of course, the service charge is added on. And £86.50 is just too much.

Vegan Review: Noda’s Waffles (Exeter)

Local social media has been blowing up with accounts of big, beautiful and entirely vegan bubble waffles. We first spotted them on Rooted Exeter and within 24 hours we were at Noda’s Waffles getting our own.

And we can recommend it! Vegans get their own menu and we can choose between at least three flavours of ice cream and a bunch of different toppings. All of it finished with whipped cream. I had chocolate with biscoff spread, nuts, pretzels, and chocolate sauce.

Kate had vanilla, biscoff spread, lotus biscuits, pecans, and toffee sauce. And she didn’t quite manage to finish. It was huge and it was glorious and we had a snack rather than a meal that night. You can of course get smaller snacks.

We recommend it. Go there now. Not only are the treats amazing but the staff are lovely too.

Recipe: Vegan Parkin

Parkin is a traditional cake for this time of year: it’s a bonfire night special. It also requires a baking technique that’s a little out of favour: you don’t eat the cake straight away. Traditionally you wait several days, but I’ve never managed to wait longer than four days. The wait develops the flavour and makes it moist and delicious. So I’m writing up this recipe today so you can have one for bonfire night. It was originally on my old blog but I’ve made a few adjustments.

6 tablespoons of vegetable oil
100g golden syrup
100g treacle
75ml of non-dairy milk
125g of light brown sugar

225g plain flour
125g oats
2 tablespoons of cornflour
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a square baking tin.

In a saucepan heat the oil, golden syrup, treacle, milk and sugar. Do this very gently, on a low heat, stirring fairly often until the mixture comes together, looking wonderfully glossy.

While that is happening mix the dry ingredients together.

Once the stuff in the saucepan is ready, pour it into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Pour into your prepared tin, spreading evenly. Cover the tin with kitchen foil and bake for 35 minutes.

Remove the foil and return to the oven for 15 minutes, or until a skewer pushed in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in the tin and store in an airtight container for at least 3 days, until moist.

Reveiw: An Opinionated Guide to Vegan London

We go to London a couple of times a year and we’ve never been short of places to eat when we get there. I’ve been know to make detailed maps showing the best routes between eateries, shops and our other appointments. And by ‘known too’ I mean each time, even if our visit is four hours long. Point is that I’ve never felt the need for a guide book before. But two things sold this book to me, sight unseen: the first is its title and the second is the author. It’s written by Sara Kiyo Popowa who wrote the brilliant Bento Power.

I was really excited when it came. Hoxton Mini Press wrapped it in the cutest paper and sent a little thank you card for ordering them straight from them. I recommend it. It’s a stunning little book filled with 53 restaurant recommendations, each one with at least one stunning photo. It’s almost pornographic.

As for the recommendations: well, I’m looking forward to trying a bunch of them on our upcoming trip. Some of them I’ve had on my radar for a while – I’m still bitter that La Fauxmagerie opened two days after our last visit – and some completely new to me. I couldn’t resist a little sneaky visit to one place though. I had an hour and a half’s wait between two trains coming back from Paris and I took the opportunity to jump on the underground and pick up some Crosstown Doughnuts.

I recommend both the doughnuts and the book. You can order Vegan London directly from Hoxton Mini Press.

Vegan Review: Viapino (Disneyland Paris)

Viapino is a chain and you can find them in the UK, so it’s not a great Disney tradition or anything, but it is the only place in Disneyland Paris that has marked vegan options, so that was good enough for me.

That said the vegan options aren’t massively inspiring. You can have the pasta without the cheese on top or the pizza without the cheese on top. You get the picture. I wanted the bruschetta to start so I went over to the station for that. There was only one man working the station and he wasn’t working terribly quickly. I was waiting behind two people and not going anywhere. So I switched to the pasta station, coming back for the bruschetta after I’d finished that. I waited ages again but finally got my bruschetta. It was good but hardly worth the line.

The pasta line was just as chaotic but with more people working it they managed to get me served pretty quickly. I got the arrabbiatta sauce and was asked if I wanted it spicy. Which I did. It was not spicy. In fact I found that everything that promised to be spicy in Disneyland Paris was barely touched by a chilli. It was delicious, but more as a tomato sauce.

I enjoyed the food. Simple but fresh and hearty. Getting everything was a little stressful though. I’d probably try to go back at a quieter time. That’s the Disneyland Paris location though. I wouldn’t go out of my way to go to any of the UK locations. Not when even places like Pizza Hut serve vegan cheese now. In fact that’s exactly where we stopped on the way home.