Saturday, 27 June 2015

Salut Wines Cooper Street Manchester 26th June 2015

I found Salut Wines via Manchester Eat and Drink on Twitter and most appealing were their vegan dishes and the wine list highlights vegan wines, with the wines stored in a Enomatic wine machine, which keeps the wine in optimum drinking condition.   You top a "wine card" up with money and then purchase the wines, available in different sizes from the machine, which is good if you want to sample a few wines.   If you do not use all the money on the card you can save it for another visit.

I ordered the bread and dipping oils, crisps and olives which was shared between four and then I had the vegan board consisting of houmous, sundried tomatoes, stuffed vine leaves, olives and pitta bread which was spot on for a light lunch, I had no complaints.

I think the wine selections change on a daily basis with some interesting choices so I sampled excellent wines including a Spanish Rias Baixas Albarino, an Hungarian Chateau Dereszla Dry Tokaji and a French Seresin Sauvignon Blanc and they were all vegan!    I will definitely be revisiting Salut Wines on my next trip to Manchester.

Monday, 1 June 2015

P&O Cruise D510 On Adonia 9th - 29th May 2015

I have done more than 28 cruises with P&O Cruises all as a vegan passenger and although there have been a few hiccups along the way over the years, in the main the experience has been good, very good and this time excellent, so I thought it was about time I wrote a review.

When you book the cruise you are asked about dietary requirements, as P&O cater for every type of diet, with a dedicated diet chef on board, who prepares everything from scratch for each passenger.   This is pretty impressive as on this cruise diet chef Ezle was catering for 80 passengers on his own, on first and second sitting.

A Head Waiter, in my case Shilish,  looks after you the entire cruise and each evening gives you both the lunch and dinner menus for the following day, alongwith the vegetarian menu (there are a couple of vegetarian menus rotated throughout the cruise).  You can choose or adapt dishes from any of the menus and in some instances I just made up a dish and Ezle kindly made it for me.

Breakfasts on board are easy, there is a wide choice of fresh and dried fruits, cereals, bread rolls, toast and they also carry soya yogurts onboard for those that want them.   Satya looking after us in our cabin liased with Ezle, who made to order mushrooms and tomatoes as a hot breakfast option for me, on many mornings.   I am not a big eater at lunchtime because I like to be hungry for my dinner, but lunches can also be organised with Shilish to eat in the restaurant or you can ask any of the staff, what lunch options available in the buffet are vegan.   I did sometimes have a baked potato with ratatouille and salad for lunch or vegetarian paella and many a time I could not resist good old french fries and made chip butties.

We also wanted to dine in the alternative Italian dining venue Sorrento, so after perusing the menus, Satya had a word with the Restaurant Manager there and they organised a vegan menu for me on two occasions.

I have included photos of some of the starters and main courses I had throughout the cruise, which show the variety and selection available.

Tofu fish fingers & chips

Harissa couscous aubergine caviar palm hearts

Bean hotpot

Cabbage cannelloni with mint pea puree

Potato & aubergine timbale with rasaman sauce

Spicy tofu stir fry

Smoky butterbean cassoulet

Vegan sushi

Avocado bruschetta

Aubergine croquettes with guacamole

Polenta cakes with tomato sauce

Chargrilled courgettes with cannellini bean houmous

Vegetable curry

I also had many different soups like chilled potato, gazpacho, sweet potato all made specially, some lovely starter salads and sometimes melon, if I felt like something light.  I am not a big dessert fan and chef would have been happy to make me anything if possible,  but even so I still managed caramelised pineapple, poached fruits, Swedish Glace ice-cream or sorbet. 

Many of the vegetarian menu dishes I have had many times, but Ezle's versions were some of the best and his interpretation of dishes I asked for off the main menus, like the tofu fish and chips were absolutely spot on.

I met Ezle just before we came home, it was only his second cruise as diet chef and I was his first vegan passenger, so he did a stunning job.   He obviously has a good knowledge of what a vegan diet is and I was very impressed and look forward to cruising with P&O again as a vegan dietary passenger.

Torteria Da Gagarin Via del Cardinale Livorno Italy 21st May 2015

Torteria Da Gagarin is renowned for its "Cinque e Cinque" or Five and Five which is a pancake made from chickpea flour, water and olive oil sandwiched between two pieces of bread, either focaccia or Italian baguette.   Its name originates from when focaccia bread and chickpeas cost 5 liras each

We had read the reviews on Tripadvisor which were excellent, so on a recent visit to Livorno one of the ports of call on a cruise, we had to pay this place a visit.   From the outside, I have to say, it is not impressive, in fact we would normally walk right on past, the only clue to it being the right place is the name "Viva Gagarin" written in red graffiti on the wall outside but peeking through the fly-screen we could see the place was packed, so in we went.

They only serve two types of "Cinque e Cinque" with or without "Melanzane" chargrilled aubergine.  The place is quite small with a counter top round the outside of the room with a few high stools for seating, with a serving counter at the far end and a big wood burning oven in the wall behind.   A lady was taking orders and a chap was making the pancakes in huge round pans.   We ordered two made with focaccia and aubergine with the only other accompaniment being black pepper.   Luckily we managed to get a seat inside and sat down with anticipation.   The "Cinque e Cinque" did not disappoint it was awesome.   The pancake was so moist with tons of olive oil and the aubergine was delicious soaked in garlic, olive oil, red chillies and herbs.   The place was a hive of activity with people coming and going, finally queuing outside the door, a sure sign of good food.   We are still talking about our visit even though a week has gone by, this place is definitely on the revisit list if we ever return to Livorno.