Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Villa Whalley Road Clitheroe 21st April 2017

The Villa is an Italian restaurant on the outskirts of the market town of Clitheroe, offering Italian cuisine and Mediterranean dishes.   I have not been to The Villa for two years, when the pizza I had was absolutely awful, so not visited since, so hoped things had improved.

There is a large beautiful terrace to the rear, a perfect spot on a warm summer evening, to enjoy an Aperitivo, but sadly on my visit, the weather was not being kind.

I asked for the allergen list, which was quickly brought, although I think it needs updating, there were dishes on the menu, that were not included on it.

I ordered rosemary garlic bread, to share with the table, which was delicious, with loads of fresh rosemary on the top.

Next I asked if they could make garlic mushrooms, as a vegan option, made with olive oil, which they were more than happy to do, the mushrooms were really tasty, with loads of garlic.

Main course was a peperonata pizza, replacing the two cheeses with spinach and chillies.

The pizza was delicious, well cooked, plenty topping and tomato sauce, but not too much and although I did not manage to eat it all, I made a good attempt.

I ordered a Giovanni Puiatti Puiatinno Pinot Grigio white wine, to accompany my dinner, which was a vegan wine, I recognised on the list.

The front of house team, were only young, but did a great job, very professional and friendly, I would certainly revisit.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Boundary Mill Vivary Way Colne 21st April 2017

Boundary Mill is the UK's largest mill store retailer with five stores and I met up with friends, at their Colne Store, to have a browse and have lunch.   Boundary Mill has a massive choice of men and ladies wear, shoes, lingerie, luggage, accessories, home furnishings and cookware, with three dining options, including Bannisters Restaurant.

I emailed Boundary Mill, well before our visit and had really positive dialogue with Valerie the Manager of Bannisters Restaurant, who offered a vegan shepherds pie or a chickpea and vegetable curry with rice.

By the time the day of our visit came around, I had dinner out at night planned, so only wanted a light lunch.   I therefore chose tempura vegetables with chilli dipping sauce and some salad, although they gave me a couscous salad, with an olive oil dressing.

The tempura vegetables were really good, light, crisp, not greasy and no thick doughy batter either.   The couscous salad was rather bland, but drizzled with chilli sauce, was okay.   In all honesty if I went again,  I would order two portion of the tempura, they were that good, or ask for the curry.

This was my first visit to Boundary Mill, but its not somewhere I normally visit,  but I found the team there very accommodating and Lisa our waitress was very helpful.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Just Gluten Free Bakery Brioche Rolls

I initially found out about Just Gluten Free Bakery from TeenVGN on Twitter and was delighted to find their brioche rolls in Waitrose, whilst shopping this week.

They are a Scottish bakery based in Motherwell, who believe that gluten free bread, should be as good, if not better than wheat products, so they use traditional methods to produce them.

The brioche rolls are not only gluten free, but vegan and registered with The Vegan Society and contain no artificial preservatives.

The appearance is amazing, light and squidgy, with a lovely open texture and a yellow hue, with a fabulous aroma, like real bread.

I have never eaten a brioche roll, so for dinner tonight I made a Quorn vegan burger, with fried onions and spinach, avocado, tomato, chilli sauce and chips.

The brioche rolls are awesome, I do not know how Just Bakery have created them, but it is very clever.   The memory of inedible gluten free bread, is a distant history, for those who remember and although I am not gluten free, I would happily eat these every day.   They are highly recommended.

Just Gluten Free Bakery sell other products like white and seeded loaves and rolls and are currently working on muffins and pizza bases for their customers.  

Available online or from Waitrose, Wholefoods Market, Ken & Co and McGhee & Sons, let us hope they become available nationwide very soon.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Sanctuary of Healing Dewhurst Road Langho 19th April 2017

The Sanctuary of Healing describes their ethos on their website:-

"The Sanctuary of Healing is a spiritual home and exists to provide opportunities for the personal advancement of spiritual awareness and healing on all levels to those who come here."

They offer treatments including acupuncture, massage and psychotherapy and classes like yoga, pilates and meditation and have an on site organic café, which is where I went for lunch today.

The café is light, bright and airy, with a huge wood burning fire, for the colder months and a lovely walled courtyard to sit out on sunny days.

The food is all made on site with a wide and varied menu and specials board, clearly labelled as to vegan and gluten free options.   I love they state all breads (except the gluten free) dressings and mayonnaise are all vegan friendly.   There are jugs of water available, to help yourself too and you order at the counter.

I ordered the avocado and houmous sandwich, with carrot and tarragon soup and a peppermint tea.

The sandwich was a hearty portion, on lovely homemade bread, with plenty of filling and a big bowl of soup, it was delicious and a perfect lunch.   I noticed they had vegan lemon shortbread on the counter, but I was far too full to partake, but they looked lovely.

I love The Sanctuary of Healing and although its not close enough, to make regular visits, it is certainly one to keep in mind, when in the vicinity.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Crispy Spaghetti Pie

This cracking recipe is courtesy of Thug Kitchen, published in the December edition of Vegan Food & Living magazine.

I tweaked the recipe slightly, as some ingredients I was missing, so I substituted them with others I like.   I halved the original recipe serving four, but still found it would have served four.

200 g tomato sauce
400 g can borlotti beans
200 g artichoke hearts
1 small onion chopped
1 garlic clove crushed
60 g vegan Parmesan cheese (I used Good Carma)
½ tsp dried thyme
225 g spaghetti cooked
2 tsp black olive tapenade
1 tbsp olive oil
50 g breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Serves 4

Heat the oven to 200° and grease an 8" loose bottom tin.  Put the tomato sauce, artichoke hearts, onion, garlic, cheese, thyme, tapenade and salt and pepper into a food processor and blitz until smooth.

Put the spaghetti, borlotti beans and sauce into a large bowl, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the tin and press down firmly to compact it, then drizzle with the olive oil.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 mins, until the top looks crisp and slightly burnt and the sides are starting to pull away from the tin.   Leave to cool for 10 mins and then remove from the tin and slice.

This made a great lunch dish the day after, served at room temperature, with a nice crisp dressed salad.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Pasta Factory Shudehill Street Manchester 12th April 2017

The Pasta Factory has been on my radar for ages, after hearing about the fabulous vegan pasta dishes they offer, even making their own vegan Parmesan.

The Pasta Factory, pride themselves on their handmade pasta, using the freshest ingredients, so their customers can enjoy a 'piatto di pasta' a plate of pasta, which is one of my top dishes of all time.

The Pasta Factory is lovely inside, light bright and airy, but was quiet on a Wednesday afternoon, at five o'clock, so I was able to take some great photos of the interior.

We sat down and were handed menus by Andy, who explained in great detail, about the vegan and gluten free options.   I was very impressed with the attention given to vegan options, unlike other Italian restaurants, where spaghetti with tomato sauce is the only choice.

I enquired which wines were vegan friendly, to my complete amazement, Andy said all the wines and beers were vegan, so I chose an excellent Luca Bosio Langhe Arneis, from Piedmont.   How fabulous to find somewhere that offers wines on their list, to appeal to all dietary requirements and top quality wines at that, it was gorgeous.

My starter was off the specials board, a cannellini bean and mushroom soup, liberally drizzled with olive oil, the aromas were fantastic, before I even tucked in.

The soup was velvety and smooth, and made me realise I need to improve my soup making techniques, to achieve such a creamy consistency, served with some bread, it made a delicious starter.

Another waiter David brought me two slices of homemade vegan cheese to try, made with almonds, cashews, water and lemon.   This was fantastic and would make a fabulous cheese course, with the dehydrated crackers, they serve for gluten free diners.

How could I not order their mushroom ravioli, in my thirty years as a vegan, vegan ravioli on a menu is a first for me, so it would be rude not to.

The pasta was light and delicate, packed with mushrooms and cashews, in a gorgeous porcini mushroom and black truffle sauce, pretty much my perfect pasta dish.   You can tell how much I loved it, by how many photos I have posted.

To accompany the pasta, I was offered homemade vegan Parmesan in a kilner jar, to serve as I wished.   Unfortunately I was unable to try it, as it had sunflower seeds in, which do not agree with me, but I did not want to appear rude, so Steven tried it for me and voted it spot on.

I was too full for dessert, I should have had a lighter option than soup to start, but there were several options, a blueberry cheesecake or chocolate sorbet on the specials board and chocolate ravioli, a permanent fixture on the dessert menu.

Overall I was immensely impressed with The Pasta Factory, the two guys looking after us Andy and David were so friendly and informative regarding ingredients and dishes.   I love their attitude of cooking authentic Italian cuisine, with a vegan twist, so that everyone can dine there.   Would I go back, of course, too many vegan pasta dishes I need to try.   The Pasta Factory is highly recommended, it certainly exceeded my expectations.