Thursday, 19 October 2017

Mackie Mayor Eagle Street Manchester 18th October 2017

Mackie Mayor is a Grade II listed market building built in 1858 and is the only intact building from the former Smithfield market.   Originally a meat market, later diversifying to sell fresh produce and fish, it has been empty since the early 1990's after failed attempts to revitalise it.

The Mackie Mayor's magnificent rise from the ashes, is all down to the team behind Altrincham Market and Market House, whose sympathetic renovation is in keeping with its heritage.   The venue is pretty awesome and has a great buzz, it so reminds me of Time Out market in Lisbon.   They had a soft opening only yesterday, so only the ground floor is open for business, but I am dying to know what the upper floor will be for, I am thinking a big bar area perhaps.

Sadly vegan friendly options are thin on the ground, in fact only Honest Crust pizza offered anything remotely vegan, their Marinara pizza, although you could tweak other pizzas to suit.  Honest Crust also told me more vegan pizzas will be introduced on the specials board.   Little Window had a side salad marked vegan on their menu and Bao Kitchen had avocado Bao, with side dishes at other vendors, you would have to check if they were vegan friendly.   I asked about vegan cake at Wolfhouse Kitchen, but my hopes were dashed and they charged 50 p for soya milk, with no other plant milks available.   Reserve Wines could not confirm definitively, which wines by the glass were vegan, although they could by the bottle, but I only wanted a glass, so I went  to Blackjack Brewery for a very nice pale ale.

I chose a Marinara pizza from Honest Crust to go with my pale ale, with some olives to nibble on, sat at the large communal tables, taking in the atmosphere.

My pizza was pretty spectacular, just like in Naples, with the classic leopard spots on the crust, a thin sourdough base, a top quality tomato sauce, with thinly sliced garlic and oregano, a simple pizza perfectly executed.   I usually cut the crusts off many pizzas, which are tough and doughy, not with this I ate every morsel.

I loved Mackie Mayor and will definitely return and although I appreciate it is early days, I am surprised the vendors are ignoring the biggest growing lifestyle and alienating their vegan customers, maybe this will be rectified.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Bonbon Chocolate Boutique John Street Manchester 18th October 2017

Bonbon Chocolate Boutique is an artisan chocolatier and cafe, selling chocolates, truffles, biscuits and hot chocolate and all things for the chocolater lover, in a charming cosy space.

I had a chat with Faye, who said they always had a vegan cake, truffles and biscuits, all made on site and even vegan hot chocolate available, so I chose chocolate courgette cake, with a decaf coffee.

The cake was delicious, very chocolatey and moist, due to the courgettes and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I will definitely return, as I am dying to try everything else vegan they make.

Fress Restaurant Oldham Street Manchester 18th October 2017

Fress Restaurant is in the Northern Quarter, in a building which was a newsagents, but is now a stylish venue and according to their website they serve seasonal, locally sourced products, with everything made on site.

They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails, but it is disappointing there is no vegan breakfast and only two vegan dishes on the lunch and dinner menu, surprising as the Northern Quarter is renowned for being vegan friendly. 

We went for breakfast on a Wednesday morning around 10.45 am and there was not a soul in the place, so the atmosphere was zero.   We ordered coffees and my first comment would be, why serve such a small cup, I want a big mug.   I had a chat with the waitress, about the possibility of soya in the avocado on sourdough toast with sides of mushrooms and peppers, but we came to the conclusion that it would be fine. 

My breakfast was perfectly acceptable, but I was not blown away, compared to other avocado on toast I have had at the likes of Moose Coffee, Ezra and Gil or Takk, it was lacking if I was being honest.

Would I go back, based on this visit, sadly not.

Monday, 16 October 2017

T Plus Teas

T Plus Teas are an independent company based in Harrogate, who I can only describe as tea mad, after reading their website.   Their dilemma was to produce teas that were a perfect blend of super teas, that taste good and do you good too, so they tried 1,000 teas in total, as the ultimate tea was crucial.   I find green tea can be quite tannic and bitter, herbal teas can be insipid and fruit flavour teas to me are more like hot fruit cordial, not a tea.   T Plus Teas settled on handpicked Sri Lankan green tea, mixed with functional herbs, whole fruit pieces and essential vitamins to give a nutritional boost and kindly sent me the four flavours they produce to try.

Detox comprises green tea, apple and blackcurrant, with cleansing herbs, B and C vitamins, milk thistle and ginger root.

Boost comprises green tea, raspberry and pomegranate, yerba mate, ginseng and B vitamins

Multea comprises green tea, lemon and peach, nine vitamins, cardamon, spearmint and rosemary.

Immunitea comprises green tea, echinacea, ginseng and 50% RDA vitamin C.

The first thing I noticed on opening the sachets, was the pungent aromas of the teas, so for example the Multea had a real waft of lemon and peach, no mistaking what it was.   The teas are a deep yellow colour too, not green like I was expecting.

There is no bitter taste of green tea, but a mellow flavour with a burst of the fruit flavours cutting through, so a very enjoyable drink.   I especially loved the Multea and although I thought peach would be lost, fighting with the stronger lemon and green tea flavours, it held its own and you could really taste peach.

I think these are a great range of teas, especially for people who do not like green tea, but really want to benefit from its health properties.

Disclaimer:   I received free samples of this product and have not been paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Pulled Aubergine

This is a great recipe from Vegan Food & Living magazine.   I changed the recipe slightly, as cumin or mustard seeds are off the menu due to allergies and I had no garlic or onion powder, but even so it was awesome.

3 small aubergines
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 garlic clove crushed
1 tsp ground ginger
1-2 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp Himalayan salt

Serves 2-3 depending on your appetite

Heat the oven to 200°, place the aubergines on a baking tray, cover with tinfoil and bake in the oven, until they are collapsing and the skin has turned brown.

Put the oil, garlic and maple syrup into a large bowl and mix well together.

Make a spice rub by combining the paprika, oregano, ginger, chilli powder, pepper and Himalayan salt in a small bowl.

Cut the aubergines in half, peel off the skin and shred the flesh into long thin strips, then add to the oil mixture and sprinkle the spice rub over the top.

Toss everything together and spread the aubergine evenly on a non stick baking tray.

Cook for 20-25 mins, turning half way through, until slightly dried out and firmed up.

The pulled aubergine can be used in recipes to replace jackfruit and on this occasion I made quesadillas, with Violife cheddar and sliced tomatoes.   It makes a great sandwich or jacket potato filling with houmous and chilli sauce, in a pitta bread with slaw, or in a bun with your burger of choice and sriracha mayo.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

V Pud Vegan Black Pudding

V Pud Vegan Black Pudding is made by The Real Black Pudding Company and is 100% vegan friendly too.

V Pud is made using an award winning recipe, without animal ingredients, approved by The Vegetarian Society.   The Bury Black Pudding Company also make a black pudding made with black beans, which Steven has tried, but nowhere near as good either in texture or taste apparently.

The FAQ's on the website answers some of the questions I have, as regards its production and also the use of palm oil which is sustainably sourced.

I used to eat black pudding and I think this vegan version looks a little similar and it freezes well if you do not want to use it all at once.

Straight out the wrapper it breaks a little when slicing, a quick chill in the fridge makes a big difference and when I get it out the freezer I slice it before its fully defrosted.   I gently fry in a pan in a little oil, as per the cooking instructions and serve as part of a breakfast and it makes a great sandwich filling.   When cooked the black pudding should be crisp on the outside, soft in the middle and has a rich savoury flavour, so good I could eat a whole one.

One of my favourite dishes is a tweaked version of the classic black pudding, scallops and pea puree, using mushrooms to replace the scallops.   I have served it to many a meat eating friend and committed carnivores, who have all been impressed, especially with the black pudding and it makes a regular appearance at dinner parties.

I always have V Pud in my freezer, its a product I would never been without.  Highly recommended.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

We Love Cake Mince Pies

We Love Cake are owned by parent company Bells of Lazonby and are dedicated to making gluten free cakes and bakes.   However they are also exceptionally vegan friendly, with the likes of chocolate and orange tart, cranberry and pecan flapjack, apple crumble slice, apple lattice pie and mince pies.

Last Christmas I bought about fifteen boxes of their mince pies, taking some on my Christmas cruise, so I did not feel left out.   I asked We Love Cake had they considered putting clear vegan labelling on their boxes and I am pleased to see they went one step further and registered for The Vegan Society trademark.   They also proudly shout about their vegan status on their website here.

We Love Cake kindly sent me some of the mince pies, bearing their new logo, what an early Christmas treat and I loved the message on the box.

The mince pies are perfectly formed, in a lovely crumbly pastry case, with plenty filling and a light dusting of sugar on top to finish them off.   They are absolutely delicious and I doubt anyone can tell they are also gluten free, I have to take my hat off to whoever created the pastry, its wonderful and begs the question, why buy any other mince pie.

The mince pies are available from Iceland countrywide and if you live in the North from Booths supermarkets, think I better go and stock up.

Disclaimer:   I received free samples of this product and have not been paid for this review and all opinions are my own.