Thursday, 20 July 2017

Eighth Day Co-operative Oxford Road Manchester 19th July 2017

Eighth Day Co-Operative was established in the 1970's by a group of friends, looking to change the way goods were traded and the rest, as they say, is history.   The iconic Eighth Day is located near Manchester University and incorporates a cosy café downstairs and a shop upstairs.

There are plenty vegan options on offer and if had been any later, I would have stopped for lunch, but I was clock watching.

I had coffee and cake, prior to a hospital appointment and was sorely tempted by all the cakes on display, made by Black Cat Bakery, with flapjacks by Tyler and Hall.

I love the cakes were all clearly labelled with allergens, so it was an easy choice to pick a soya free sticky ginger cake, with a decaf coffee.

The cake was delicious with a light dusting of icing sugar, a good smack of ginger and true to its name was sticky, a perfect snack.

I can spend a fortune in the shop and on this occasion I did, as I pushed one of the quaint mini shopping trolleys, which are perfectly sized to fit behind the counter, when you want to check out.

They stock everything including supplements, hair and beauty products, teas and coffees, dried and tinned good, oils, vinegars, nut butters and a good selection of chilled products and lots more.   A bonus is their competitive pricing, the bottle of organic olive oil I bought was £4 cheaper than my usual oil and the organic odourless coconut oil was way cheaper than any others I have seen.   I do not live near Eighth Day, but if I did I would be there every week, as others must do, as a constant stream of customers flowed in and out the front door.   What a wonderful place.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Enzo Fountain Street Manchester - 19th July 2017

Enzo is a pizza and coffee shop, focusing on quality pizza, coffee and cakes.   Their pizza dough, pasta and sauces are made fresh each day and they clearly label vegan options on the menu, with vegan melty cheese available   They hosted a vegan night on the 12th July, which sadly I could not attend, but apparently it was popular, so they are looking to host more, hope I can make it next time.

I love Enzo's kerb appeal, bright and colourful frontage, with loads of outdoor seating, perfect in the lovely sunny weather we have been having and inside is modern, warm and welcoming.

When I visited they had a meal deal on, with a 12" pizza and either a Peroni or Coke for £10, which is excellent value for money.

We both chose pizza,  a Capra Oscar for me and Veggie Feast for Steven,  both with vegan cheese and although Steven is not vegan, he is ditching dairy and loves trying new vegan cheeses.   Chef John came over to double check my order and when I asked which vegan cheese they used, he very kindly brought the packet over to show me and I was happy to see it was soya free too.

We ordered some olives to nibble on first (anyone reading this blog will know how in love I am with my namesake) and they were delicious.

Our pizzas arrived and we knew immediately we had made good choices, the pizzas looked and smelled awesome.   We are both pizza fanatics and the bases were thin and crispy, with just the right amount of tomato sauce and perfect toppings.

Capra Oscar

Capra Oscar

Veggie Feast

I rarely eat a whole pizza, but in this instance I demolished the lot, there was nothing left on either of our plates.

Enzo is proud of their coffee and although I am avoiding caffeine, I caved in for a Long Black (a double espresso topped with hot water) and although I will probably have a sleepless night, all I can say is, it will be worth it.

There was a vegan Marathon slice at the checkout and I know Enzo are looking at adding a vegan dessert to their menu, as well as labelling their vegan wines and drinks.   I love their attitude of catering for their vegan customers, they could teach other places a thing or two.

We were impressed by the fabulous food, in a relaxing casual atmosphere and must mention John, Gary and Taia who looked after us, a happy team means happy customers and we certainly left happy. Here's to our next visit.

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Precious Pod Organic Houmous

I was wandering around Booths Supermarket, when I spotted The Precious Pod organic houmous in the chiller cabinet, being a sucker for houmous I bought the plain and turmeric flavours.

The Precious Pod is based in Tunley near Bath, run by partners Ayleen and Mark who make organic houmous in small batches, with no less than 61.5% chickpeas in the mix, so no skimping on the main ingredient.   Their obsession with houmous,  means they only make it three days a week, to ensure consistency and for taste testing of the batches made that week.  Ayleen kindly sent me all six flavours, plain, turmeric, smoked, harissa, red pepper and kalamata to try.

I had the plain houmous for lunch, with a huge salad and homegrown Charlotte potatoes, it is not too smooth, nor too chunky and the balance of flavours is spot on, the best houmous I have eaten.

The kalamata houmous was fantastic on a wholemeal wrap, with carrot and cauliflower tabbouleh and roast piquillo peppers.   I love olives, so this combination was a classic in my opinion and a fabulous taste sensation.

The red pepper houmous, was delicious on sesame rice cakes for a light lunch, again great flavours and texture.

I had been told how fantastic the smoked houmous was, by The Allotment Vegan Restaurant, they were not kidding,

A deep smokey flavour, not too much, not too little, which was delicious on pan fried mushrooms on toast, for Sunday breakfast.   The fact Steven and I ate the whole pot between us, says it all.

The harissa houmous made with sun dried tomatoes and chilli flakes, would be great dolloped on top of a tagine.  However I ate it for lunch, on a massive salad, but enjoyed it so much, I forgot to take the photo.

I have yet to try the turmeric flavour (as Steven polished off the first one I bought), I bet it would be brilliant with poppadums or spread on chapatis, so will update this review, when I have.   My favourites up to now, are the plain and smoked, I could not choose between them, I could easily eat a pot of each anytime.

I like supporting smaller companies, instead of the big guys and I love the ethos behind The Precious Pod and their quality products, so let us hope Booths retain this on the shelf, so I can keep feeding my addiction.

Thursday, 13 July 2017


I love risotto, so making Arancini (rice balls) was a no brainer and although in Italy they are filled with cheese or meat, I filled mine with roast piquillo peppers.   However you can fill them with whatever you fancy like vegan cheese or cooked sausage, chopped olives or garlic mushrooms.   I like to make bulk portions so I have things ready in the freezer, but you can halve or quarter the recipe to suit.

300 g Arborio rice
2 onions finely chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
25 g Parmesan (I used Good Carma Foods Original Parmesan alternative)
2 x 400 g can cannellini beans
2 garlic cloves crushed
200 g roast piquillo peppers (I used Spanish Passion)
2 handfuls of basil
Breadcrumbs (I used Clearspring gluten free)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Makes 27-30

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for 15 mins, until really soft and browned.

Add the rice to the pan and stir well to coat the rice with the oil, then add some of the stock, stir and allow the rice to soak up the liquid.

Meanwhile blitz one can of beans and their liquid, with a stick blender and drain the other can.

Add the blitzed bean mixture to the pan, with more stock, so the rice starts to plump up and soften.

Add the cheese, drained beans and plenty salt and pepper to the pan, combine well and continue cooking, making sure it does not stick to the pan.

The mixture needs to be quite thick, so it can be formed into balls, so when the rice is al dente (meaning to the tooth) soft but still with a bite, it is ready.   Rip the basil up into pieces and add to the pan and stir through.

Scrape into a bowl and allow to cool, which makes the mixture coagulate slightly, making it easier to handle.

Sprinkle a thin layer of breadcrumbs into a dish, to coat the balls as you make them.

Weigh the mixture into 60 g portions, flatten slightly and make a small hollow in the middle, then add a few pieces of the roast pepper.   Mould the rice around the pepper, so it is completely concealed and shape into a round ball.   This is easiest using the palm of your hand to hold the risotto mixture and form with the other hand, but for photograph purposes I had to put the rice ball down, to take the pic.

Roll the rice balls in the breadcrumbs so they are evenly coated and place on a baking tray.

The Arancini freeze really well, so at this stage put them in the freezer, until solid and then bag up.

The traditional way of cooking, is to deep fry the Arancini, but I have no deep fat fryer, so you can either gently shallow fry in oil, turning frequently or bake in the oven at 180º for 25-30 mins, until browned and crisp on the outside.

I served with a warm roast vegetable salad and some basil pesto.