Saturday, 27 May 2017

Aagrah Coach Street Skipton - 26th May 2017

I have been visiting Aagrah Skipton for over 25 years, when it was on Devonshire Place, run by a true gentleman Mr Sabir.   At the time Aagrah was in the Cobra Good Curry Guide, Top 100 UK Indian Restaurants and I wrote a letter to Cobra, saying how fantastic, not only the food was, but how vegan friendly, under the management of Mr Sabir.   Imagine my surprise, that on our next visit, a framed copy of my letter was proudly displayed in the front window, which Cobra had sent Mr Sabir.

Fast forward over two decades and Aagrah is now located in larger premises, which we have only visited once, as neither the food or service was brilliant, bigger is not always better.  This recent visit, was to meet up with friends for dinner, as they will moor their new canal boat in Skipton, so they will be regular visitors to the town.   I have virtually stopped eating Indian food, it does not agree with me, which I can only put down to the many seeds they use, mustard being one I think affects me badly, but our friends wanted to go, so I thought I would be careful in my selection.

We got a warm welcome and were shown to our table and then I had a word with the Manager, so I could make a decision what to have.   I had checked their wine list prior to our visit and found a very nice vegan wine, Jean Marc Brocard Chablis, it was the only one on the list, I recognised.

I opted not to have poppadum, which I love, but the lentils they are made with, do not like me.   I knew the onion bhajis were vegan, so I chose those to start.

When they arrived, the onion bhaji were nothing like I have had before, I would describe them as Indian onion rings.   They were absolutely delicious, with a lovely batter, not a drop of grease, but crisp and dry.

I scrutinised the menu for a mustard seed free main course and side dish, very difficult, as mustard was in nearly all the dishes.   I chose balti chilli mushrooms (extra hot), boiled rice and bhindi bhaji, otherwise known as ladies fingers or okra.

The food was excellent, each dish had its own individual spicing and flavour, unlike some places who just use a base sauce and add more chilli to make it hotter.   The bhindi can be a really slimy and gloopy vegetable when cooked, but there was no slime at all, must be an Aagrah secret.

The food was not your every day Indian cuisine and I could not fault it, but it has made me realise that Indian food is no longer for me.   I was up all night with all the allergic symptoms I suffer from and the following morning felt worse, so sadly I will have to refrain from curry in the future.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Food By Breda Murphy Station Road Whalley 24th May 2017

Food By Breda Murphy had a major refurbishment earlier this year, creating more covers, a private dining room and Reilly's Gin Bar.   They serve breakfast and lunch, are open for dinner Friday and Saturday evenings and there is a delicatessen offering take away or eat in food, separate to the restaurant.

The refurbishment is fantastic, light and modern, but warm and welcoming, although I did not take photos of the interior, as it was so busy and would be a little intrusive on other diners.   I visited for lunch as they offer a vegan menu, which makes life so much easier, than having to pre-arrange a menu.

I chose salt baked beetroot, with pickled carrots to start, which was a picture on a plate and loving beetroot, was spot on.   The beetroot was delicious, especially the beetroot gel and the whole dish was elevated, with the crunchy cashew granola and the apple and fennel salad.

Main course was leek and spinach gratin, with smoked potatoes, which was not what I was expecting, rather on the small side and for me needed a protein element, like cannellini or borlotti beans or chickpeas.   The smoked potato puffs were a novel idea, with a smoky punch, but I would prefer just simple smoked potatoes on the side, however the dish was very tasty and I polished it off.

I chose Granny Smith compote for dessert, though they must have run out of Granny Smiths, so I was served rhubarb compote instead, with Granny Smith sorbet.   The dessert was delicious and the warm rhubarb complimented the cold of the sorbet perfectly.

I cannot deny the food was well cooked, perfectly seasoned and of a very high quality, but if you are looking for huge piled up plates of food, it is not the place for you.   The main course was a little shy on portion size, but having seen some of the side dishes, other diners ordered, I would order extras next visit.   I was charged £22.50 for three courses, which for Ribble Valley prices, is not bad, especially when taking into account the provenance and sourcing of ingredients.

I am not sure how popular the vegan menu is proving, perhaps they are testing the water and will extend it in future.   I like to support somewhere offering a vegan menu and with the train station right across the road, there is no need to drive, so next visit will be for dinner, so I can explore their wine list.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Los Moros Shambles Market York 18th May 2017

Los Moros is a stall on Shambles market, serving African and Moroccan food, with clearly marked vegan options.

I chose butternut squash and chickpea tagine, with couscous and Steven had the falafel wrap, with tahini sauce and houmous.   The photos look slightly orange, as we sat eating our lunch at communal tables, which were under an orange gazebo.  

The tagine was fresh, delicious with a perfect touch of spice and once the couscous soaked up all the sauce, I devoured the lot, it was excellent.   Steven was equally impressed with his wrap, plenty filling, some of the best falafels he has had and lovely and moist with the tahini sauce and houmous.

I would definitely recommend Los Moros and would revisit if ever back in York.

Filmore & Union Platform 8 York Station York 19th May 2017

Filmore and Union Platform 8 was a perfect stop for something to eat, before getting the train home and is vegan heaven, with so many options to choose from.

I love the vegan options are all clearly marked, no having to pick things up to check, the 'I Am Vegan' label jumps out at you.

I chose a Thai houmous and falafel wrap, which was packed with filling, delicious, moist and perfect with a decaf Americano coffee.

I was impressed, more so after my disappointing recent visit to Skipton branch (see here), but the food on offer in York station is excellent, not cheap by any means, but on a par with other outlets.

Double Dutch Pancake House Church Street York 18th May 2017

Double Dutch Pancake House was the perfect stop for breakfast, as they had a good vegan menu and I was starving.

I chose the Vegan Mex pancake, served with salsa and guacamole and I was dying for a coffee, but they had no decaf coffee or tea, apart from Rooibos, which I do not like, so had a sparkling water instead.

The pancake was a good size, really light and perfectly cooked and with the guacamole and salsa, was a perfect morning after the night before reviver.

I love they have a good range of vegan options, using products like vegan pesto, Swedish
Glace ice-cream and soya milk.   I would definitely revisit when next in York.

Source Castlegate York 17th May 2017

On a recent visit to York with friends, it was left to me to find somewhere to dine, that would cater for all of us and Source had to be the place, as they had a vegan menu.

Inside Source is modern and contemporary, but cosy and I liked its open style kitchen and all the wood used throughout.

I loved the creative vegan options, far removed from the run of the mill dishes, sometimes offered, with the special of the day, proudly chalked on the blackboard.

I really wanted to have the vegan 'fried chicken' made from seitan,but was concerned it may contain soya, our waitress confirmed that it was soya free, with chef.   I have had disasters making homemade seitan, which was so rubbery, it was impossible to chew, so I was looking forward to lunch.

The seitan was a triumph, it was light, had a fantastic texture, was delicious, but not oily in the least and with the dipping sauce, fries and red cabbage, was a spot on lunch.

I had a chat with chef, to compliment him on the seitan, explaining my own disasters and he took the time, to give me some tips, so I will definitely have another go.

I love how vegan friendly Source is, I hope other vegans fully support their commitment, I would certainly love to return and sample other dishes on the menu.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Alla Norma Pasta Sauce

I love all the ingredients of this sauce, aubergines, chilli, capers and tomato, it is my perfect accompaniment to pasta.

1 aubergine finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes
½ tsp oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
Chilli powder to taste
1 tbsp capers chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper
1-2 tsp sugar

Serves 4

Put the onion, garlic and oil in a pan and fry for 10 mins, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the aubergine and cook for 15 mins, until the aubergine is well cooked, nothing worse than undercooked aubergine, add the tomato puree and cook for another 5 mins.

Add the tomatoes, oregano, chilli, capers and a good grind of salt and pepper and cook for 15-20 mins.   Add the sugar a little at a time, until the acidity of the tomatoes mellows, this is to individual preference, so keep tasting.  Cook for another 5 mins.

Serve over your pasta of choice and your favourite vegan cheese and a good grind of black pepper.