Reveiw: Zizzi

By the time I’d rejoined Kate in London it was late so we threw ourselves on the mercy of a chain pizza place near our hotel. We went to try the vegan options of Zizzi.

Zizzi use mozzarisella which is totally my favourite vegan pizza cheese. One of the specials was a pizza combining four of their flavours: original, smoked, blue, and cheddar. It was great and you probably think that’s useless information considering it was a special but not so. Now you know to go out and try the all the flavours on pizza. Especially the blue. I’ve tried it before and it doesn’t really work as an eating cheese but I didn’t think to cook with it. Melted it’s amazing.

Kate ordered pizza that contained actual vegetables. She had the vegan zucca with roasted butternut squash and spinach. This is on the regular menu so you’ll be happy to know that it’s a good pizza too.

For desert we ordered the vegan cheesecake. It was on the winter special menu but it’s back on the menu for spring. I hope it stays forever. It’s delicious. The server raved about it when they brought it to the table, a huge recommendation for a vegan dessert in a non-vegan restaurant.

We were expecting a decent meal and the pizzas were good, solid pizzas. The cheese cake though? Amazing.

Leon (Birmingham New Street and Strensham Services)

Because we live in Torquay it takes a while for us to try out chains. To give any city-dwelling readers an idea: we do have a Pizza Express but we don’t have a Nando’s. It’s basically the late 90’s. We have however managed to leave the bay recently and we’ve been enjoying visits to Leon.

For town-and-country mice like us, let me fill you in. Leon is a fast food place that serves a variety of good quick meals. And thankfully for us there is one in the train station at Birmingham New Street and one on Strensham Services, off the M4. This is what we’ve been eating on our Christmas journeys.

Christmas Eve Lunch

Kate choose a lentil masala served over brown rice. Even though she’s a bit of a lentil sceptic she really enjoyed it.

I fancied a bit of hummus so I went for the Lebanese Mezze. It was really good, especially with a portion of waffle fries to dip in the hummus.

Boxing Day Breakfast

Having breakfast in a service station isn’t massively festive but Kate loved this banana and cinnamon porridge which can be made, like all of the porridges, with cashew milk. I didn’t really go for something that healthy…

I got a doughnut! It’s chai-spiced in the middle and chocolate on top. Rather dense and cakey but still delicious.

So it looks like we’ve got a new favourite place to eat when we’re travelling. And least when we’re travelling to, and through, larger settlements than Torquay…

Review: Hubbox Exeter

I was hanging about Exeter waiting for Kate to finish an appointment when lunchtime rolled around. I wanted to try someplace new to me, someplace Kate wouldn’t necessarily enjoy. Which usually means something extra spicy or fast food loaded with toppings. I went to Hubbox.

Hubbox is another chain across the glorious South West. This one serving burgers in dining rooms decorated in a vaguely post-industrial hipster style with a bit of Caribbean flair. There is a good selection of vegan options. I went for the Fakin’ Bacon. It’s a black bean burger with vegan cheese. Where does the bacon come into it? Well it’s topped with bacon jam which is kinda sweet and a tiny bit smoky but also one of the least bacon-y things I’ve had since going vegan. It was a good burger, don’t get me wrong, but order it based on the lovely black bean patty, not the promise of bacon.

I couldn’t resist adding in a portion of dirty fries. I went for the jackfruit fries, given a kick with a topping of red chilli. They were everything fries should be. Vegan burger lovers should check this place out.

Review: Stable, Plymouth Location, New Menu Options

Once in a blue moon we manage to coordinate things so that Kate and I have the same day off. Unfortunately this day off happened on Monday so our original plan to go to Samphire was ruined — they don’t open for lunch on Mondays. Instead we went down to the Barbican and into the Plymouth branch of Stable.

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We reviewed the Exeter branch before but as they’ve changed up the menu, and as we managed to take better pictures I thought you wouldn’t mind me talking about them again. Kate likes plain things so she was happy that a plain, ordinary vegan margarita was on the menu. The cheese melts a little liquidy but they use a good amount and  like every good margarita it comes with fresh basil leaves.

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I felt like veggies so I went for the Good Life. There’s courgette, peppers and onions which I love and aubergine which I love in theory but in practise the slices were a bit thick and tended to plummet off the pizza as I was about to get it in my mouth. Vegan cheese just doesn’t have the adhesive properties of its dairy counterpart. Structural problems aside it was a great pizza.

You know we love Stable. So what it special about the Plymouth branch? Well the highlight is definitely the view and the gorgeous patio opens right onto the harbour. It’s also dog-friendly so perfect for every member of the family.

Pizza Express

Kate and I have been together for ten years and as I was a) working that day and b) very tired this week we decided to stay in Torquay and find a menu we could both agree on. As has been the case for most of our marriage the only food we could agree on was that we both like eating pizza and in Torquay that means Pizza Express.

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As its a national chain there isn’t much of a surprise in the offerings. Having limited diets and anxiety problems they’ve saved us from hunger in many parts of the UK. The website brags that we can get a three course vegan meal. Lets be honest here though: Dough Balls without butter is just balls in oil. And tomatoes and olives don’t really count as a starter. So we went straight on to pizza. Kate went for a Margarita, with vegan cheese obviously, and I had the Vegan Giardiniera.

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I don’t really have much to say about the pizza. It’s not mind-blowing. Its good solid pizza, I wouldn’t say no to it. The vegan cheese is one of my favourites, and they don’t massively overdo it. It’s just good solid pizza. And I like it. I like that I can order one in most large towns in the UK without much fuss.

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Desert was sorbet, simple and rather typical but incredibly gorgeous. Vegans can choose from two whole flavours: coconut and raspberry. We took one of each and they were both lovely. Just sweet enough to stop your lips from puckering, smooth ice and tastes fab.

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Last year the idea of getting three whole courses at a non-vegan restaurant was impressive, as was vegan pizza at a chain place but since then I’ve got spoiled. I’m used to vegan menus, having choices, and not having to customise things to make it vegan. I liked what I had but, well, cake would be amazing.

Review: vegan fudge from Roly’s

Before we went vegan I loved fudge. Not the sickly sweet, strangely smooth substance made by Cadbury and the other confectionery giants, but the crumbly stuff the Scots call tablet. I learnt how to make it one summer, and treated my workmates to a different flavour each week. I’ve experimented with different oils to try to make vegan fudge: coconut oil fudge was too brittle and greasy, while cocoa butter fudge showed promise but needs works. Fortunately you don’t have to wait for me to perfect the recipe: Roly’s Fudge have beaten me to it.

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As they describe on their blog, it’s made from coconut oil, soy milk, and cashew butter, and comes in two flavours: maple and cashew, and salted maple and pecan. The pecan one has pieces of pecan in it, while the cashew one is just fudge. They have same crumbly texture I remember from their non-vegan fudge, and the price is the same too. Clare picked up a bag of each in Dartmouth, and as she doesn’t like fudge I had the whole lot to myself; they lasted almost a day, as I alternated between them trying to work out which was more delicious. I think I might need another couple of bags before deciding. If there’s a Roly’s near you then pop in for some (tip: they also do vegan ice cream), and if not you can order online.