Review: KFC Original Recipe Vegan Burger

I actually tried this on the day it came out but it’s taken me a while to write it up. Why? Well my thoughts about it are complicated. KFC is obviously responsible for the death of a lot of chickens. If I spend money there am I supporting that slaughter? If I buy the vegan burger will I be encouraging them towards a plant-based business model? Or are they just going to use my money to increase their reach and sell meat to more people?

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Honestly I can’t answer any of those questions. Spending money with KFC is probably not the most ethical choice to make but there are upsides. A big one for me is that I can just go out and eat like a normal person. Or, rather, that I can be seen to eat like a normal person. When I’m out with my little cousins and they want KFC I can eat with them. That’s a huge positive for both me as a person and the reputation of veganism. I’m not sneaking off to the far corner of the food court any more to get that one vegan option. I can eat something that looks like what they are eating. When they grow up and are choosing their own diet things like the KFC vegan burger will make veganism seem not just possible, but easy. Something you can do while hanging around with your mates.

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Ethical questions aside, how is the taste? It is shockingly good. I was expecting something like a supermarket chicken burger but this is far beyond that. It’s honestly the closest thing to a chicken I’ve eaten since… well, chicken. The texture is something else. It’s got a moist, tenderness to it that is spot on. Not soggy or wet like bad mock meats can get. Perfect. The coating is its famous fabulous self and I can’t fault it. My only minor quibble is that it comes with vegan mayo and sad iceberg. In my KFC eating days I was a big fan of the zinger tower and I’d love to see a vegan version of that. I’d also like to see vegan fries; at the moment they’re cooked in the same oil as the popcorn chicken. My solution to this would be to make the popcorn chicken vegan. A girl can dream.

Review: Plant Kitchen, again

A year ago we ate a bunch of food from the Plant Kitchen range at Marks and Spencer. This January they released a bunch more into their vegan range. And we got a few bits to try. More than a few. Okay.

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Both a no tuna sandwich and a no egg sandwich have been added to the range. The tuna sandwich has sweetcorn in it so I went for the egg instead. There was really no other taste but pepper. File this one under edible but disappointing.

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Speaking of disappointing, we were originally excited to find a plain cheese and tomato pizza. Kate likes things plain. But this was very disappointing. It tastes like one of those mini, 50p, basics range pizzas. All biscuit base and ketchup tasting sauce. The cheese made it a little more exciting but not much. We wouldn’t buy this one again.

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Kate tried the Shepard’s Pie. She was delighted by the piped mashed potato but thought the filling had too much mushroom. There were also several whole chestnuts in there which textually is just odd.

rolls

Okay so what’s good? These No-Pork Sausage rolls are a great little snack option wrapped in a delicious flaky pastry.

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I enjoyed these spring rolls, filled with a gorgeous shredded duck. Perhaps the hoisin sauce was a touch too sweet or perhaps you’re not meant to eat them all in one go. Either way, I’d do it again.

kieve

Now onto our favourite, and perhaps the entire internet’s favourite: No-Chicken Kiev. It is perfect. Perfectly chickeny, crisp bread crumbs, and that amazing, rich, garlicy, herby beautiful butter sauce. We loved it. I want more.

Book Review: Sushi Modoki

I’ve bought a few Japanese cookbooks recently. I’ve been making udon, tofu, and a lot of curry. Sushi Modoki is the only 100% vegan book in the pile of acquisitions and the only sushi book, so I knew I was going to have fun with it. Sushi Modoki is plant-based sushi that mimics the look and flavour of traditional sushi. There are three different ways to mimic tuna. It’s all very exciting but do they taste as good as they look?

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My nigiri making skills are still in their infancy so I figured I’d start there to get some practice in. I made the Marinated Tuna Modoki Nigiri and the Salmon Modoki Nigiri. The salmon was nice — you can’t really go wrong with carrot — but the marinated ‘tuna’ was fabulous. The marinade made the red pepper slice taste amazing and the texture had that perfect touch of fattiness.

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I moved quickly onto the inari chapter. Inari might just be my favourite food. I opted to make the Open Inari with egg modoki and pickled cucumber. As plain inari is already my favourite food I didn’t expect there would be much room for improvement. Thankfully I was wrong.  I’m pretty sure the Japanese invented scrambled tofu for eggs, so that’s just perfect, and the pickled cucumber stuffing in this has quickly become one of my favourite quick pickles. The condiment section at the back of the book is worth the price of the whole thing alone.

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I then turned my attention to the rolls. I started with some circular ones to get my confidence up and made the a batch of Veggie Tempura Roll. I’ve been making tempura quite a bit recently in an attempt to eat more vegetables by deep frying them first. This is my new favourite batter. In there are green beans and corn. It is deeply satisfying.

There is also a recipe for mock shrimp, but I can’t get konnyaku locally. It will have to wait until my next visit to Japan Centre. It is written by a Japanese author living in Japan and thus uses ingredients that aren’t necessarily available in supermarkets in the South West of England (and if they are they’re often of inferior quality). I hunt down the more hard-to-find stuff online.

squares

Then I may have got a bit overconfident. I thought It would be just as easy to  roll a square as a circle. It was not. But once dipped in soy sauce who really cares about a few wonky edges. Other than Instagram.

Sushi Modoki is more than a gimmick. iina has created recipes that taste and look amazing with enough extra tips and hints in here to keep you full and happy for a long time. Any vegan with an interest in sushi or Japanese cooking will enjoy having this on their shelves.

Review: Working Boat (Falmouth)

The earliest date for the Green Bank Hotel is 1640. I know this because it said so in the ladies’. Round the back is Working Boat, a busy bar and dining room with hearty options and a view to die for. I kept noticing that my Dad and Watson were disappearing mid-afternoon. Turns out they were going for sneaky cider walkies. Eventually they took me with them.

flatbread

The first night I ordered the vegan flat bread which comes with seasonal toppings. On season when I visited were olives, artichokes and very large tomatoes. Personally I would have preferred it with something like sun dried tomatoes: stick to the jar theme, it’s January after all. As it was, the tomatoes were a bit too watery. It didn’t ruin the flatbread, I’d still recommend it, but it would have been better without them.

burgerburgerburger The second time we stopped by I went for the burger. It’s beetroot red with beans inside, it’s also a hell of a mouthful. The burger is very loosely held together so each bite leaves you with a splatter on your plate. Although the taste is good it’s very irritating to eat. I’d give this one a miss in future and stick with the flat bread. Because with the food, the views, the warm atmosphere, and a generous welcome for Watson (and probably other dogs) we’ll be back.

Review: Fuel (Falmouth)

We spent a few days in Falmouth recently, which allowed us to try out a few different breakfast places. We really like breakfast. Good Vibes remains a fantastic option but it was time to broaden our horizons. We went into Fuel because it offered both meaty (Clare’s Dad and Watson the dog) and vegan (Clare and Kate) options.

fuel outside

We walked into a warm greeting. All of the staff were friendly and ready for a chat. Watson was fussed over. In fact when we went in for a return visit Watson was greeted by name and welcomed back. Inside it’s warm, spacious, and inviting. And we were ready to settle in and eat breakfast.

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This is the Vegan Full Cornish Breakfast (vegan pancakes are also available). It comes with tomato, spinach, mushrooms, bubble and squeak, falafel, hash browns, and baked beans. Filling without stuffing you too full and cooked absolutely perfectly.

Review: Caffè Nero Vegan Options

We’ve been down with matching viruses but when Saturday rolled around we were sick of being sick. Armed with a small amount of energy but lacking the brain power to cook we went fourth to find some of the new vegan options that Veganuary had promised. We went to Caffè Nero.

Caffè Nero has always been my favourite out of the three main coffee chains but that’s mostly because I preferred their hot chocolate as a teen. Certainly the Torquay branch isn’t a pleasant or relaxing experience. The second-hand stress of people waiting for the single toilet cubicle, trying to remember the code and then being underwhelmed by the facilities is enough to drive you mad. But what of the food?

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We had a pair of vegan meatball paninis. I’m not sure paninis are the best way to serve meatballs as it flattens them out and doesn’t really warm them all the way through. I’m also sceptical about the mayo. Does it really need mayo? Probably not. Overall though it’s a solid sandwich. The tomato sauce was a highlight, strong and flavourful. The meatballs herby and satisfying. It’s no Meatball Mania from Samphire but it’s also a third of the price.

nerocake

Because why not, we also tried the cheesecake. Salted Caramel and Chocolate Vegan Cheesecake. Its hard to nail down what we thought about it. Kate first tried all the individual layers and loved them only to be disappointed by them in combination. Something about it just doesn’t work. If you ask me it’s that the base is overwhelmingly salted and that swirl of caramel on top is aggressively sweet. It’s like they’ve nailed the hard part. They’ve made a creamy, decadent, vegan cheesecake but they failed when it came to the easy thing. They couldn’t make salted caramel and chocolate taste good together.

nerorc

Our last bite to eat was bought to go. Vegan Raspberry Croissant. And honestly I think these might be the surprise winner of Veganuary. The last vegan croissant I had was overpriced, came from Selfridges, and tasted of disappointment. Assuming disappointment tastes like a stale croissant. These were crisp, have just the right amount of raspberry jam, look adorable, and are available on Torquay high street. Surprise winner of Veganuary.

We can recommend a quick stop at Caffè Nero for a breakfast croissant or a lunchtime meatball panini. But not the cheesecake.

2019: The Coastal Vegans’ Review of The Year

2019: It’s been a year of heartbreak, of disappointment, of stress-eating Vegan Food. Here’s the best and the worst of 2019. From our very biased perspectives.

Best Chain Eats of 2019

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Wagamama’s Vegatsu has become a bit of a tradition in our household. If Kate’s out for the day I go out to Exeter to meet her train and, as Rabbit is closed in the evenings, we pop into Wagamama’s for the Vegatsu. I would eat anything draped in a good Japanese curry sauce but the seitan cutlet is something special.

Worst Attempt, by a Large Company, of jumping the Bandwagon

pups

I love you Sainsbury’s, I do. I mean you’re the only place that stocks Daiya, so it’s more like Stockholm Syndrome than actual love, but there’s some vague affection there. Nevertheless your Christmas offerings sucked. The Shroompups were especially awful.

Absolute Worst Veganised Mac and Cheese 

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After spending a small fortune on it, the Truffle Mac and Cheese at Farmacy was quite possibly one of the worst things we’ve ever eaten, tasting overpoweringly of truffle to the exclusion of everything else.

Absolute Best Veganised Bubble Waffle 

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Noda’s has quickly become a legend in the Exeter vegan scene. The staff are so nice and the food… you just have to!

The Copper Spoon Award For Best Coffee Shop That Isn’t The Copper Spoon Because they won last year.

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We still love the Copper Spoon (Clare was there this morning) but we’d also like to give a little love to a peaceful little place where you can hide once you’ve overdosed on shopping in London: Chai by Mira.

Kate’s Favourite Snack of 2019

greggs

I cant believe we haven’t mentioned Greggs Vegan Sausages Rolls on the blog before but I think they’d already reached meme status by the time we’d tried one for the first time. Kate never grew up with Greggs like I did, but she’s taken to it like a duck to water.