Saturday, 24 March 2018

Honest Crust At The Mackie Mayor Eagle Street Manchester 23rd March 2018

I last went to Honest Crust at the Mackie Mayor in October last year, read my review here and this latest visit came whilst on a day out in Manchester, as I was longing for pizza.   I was pleased to see Honest Crust have extended their vegan offerings, which is fantastic and I could easily have eaten them all.

I wish I had a pizza oven like theirs at home, though my dough making skills would need some serious brushing up to do it justice.

Reserve Wines have also upped their game, since my last visit, with clearly labelled vegan friendly wines on the wine list (shame my photo is poor though).

I had a very nice glass or two of Monte de Fra Bardolino Chiaretto rose, a perfect accompaniment to the meal.

When I went to order I made Honest Crust aware I was vegan with allergies including dairy, so wanted to ensure no cross contamination.  I was impressed when chef came over and said he would clean everything down, prior to making my pizza, you cannot say fairer than that, it was also clearly marked on the order chit too.

I ordered antipasti to share with Steven, but a few of the ingredients had sold out, so chef added a few other items, including some huge meaty mushrooms,

I am a huge lover of Italian food, it is my favourite and this was perfection on a plate for me, simple but quality ingredients, with rosemary focaccia bread to die for, I loved it.

I had Marinara pizza last visit and was keen to try the roasted tomato and onion pizza, as it was my first taste of 'Pizza Bianca' meaning white pizza with no tomato sauce, which could have been dry, but nothing could be further from the truth.  The dough with its characteristic leopard spots was faultless, better than the bases I have eaten in Naples, the dough was stretchy and had the classic sourdough aroma.   The simple toppings were scrumptious, with the crunch of almonds, slightly charred onions, roast tomatoes and basil, it was totally lush and I devoured every morsel.

I am really pleased Honest Crust are catering for their vegan customers and I for one will be back soon, but in the meantime, you can just make me out on this photo.

On a recent visit I ordered a fantastic, scrumptious pizza with a topping of cavolo nero pesto, harissa and cashew cream.   This is probably one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten, what a fabulous unusual topping, which totally worked, I shall be stealing the cashew cream idea to replace ricotta.

Honest Crust in my opinion are the best pizza makers in Manchester and long may they continue to produce what I think is the perfect sourdough pizza.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Northern Bloc Ice Cream

Northern Bloc are based in Leeds and responsibly source the best ingredients, to produce traditional ice creams, with a modern twist, using no additives, emulsifiers, artificial flavours or colours.

In  2018 a range of four vegan ice creams were brought to market, after two years of innovation carrying The Vegan Society Trademark, which gives reassurance to vegans like me.   I avoid most ice creams due to allergies, as most contain soya or guar gum, but Northern Bloc products contain non of these ingredients, apart from soya lecithin in the peanut chip.   I can tolerate soya lecithin, due to how it is derived from the oil refining process and the protein allergen not being present, so this is a major point score for Northern Bloc.

I love the flavour combinations, bringing classics bang up to date, with exotic undertones like rose, yuzu and orange blossom.   I found it best to remove the ice creams from the freezer ten minutes before serving, to allow them to soften slightly for scooping.   The ice creams are rich and decadent, with a smooth creamy texture and are not your every day ice cream.   I could not leave Steven out of the tasting and strangely enough we both rated the ice creams exactly the same.

 Peanut Chip

Peanut chip was both mine and Steven's favourite, rich creamy and nutty, with a crunchy texture from the chocolate chips, it would be so easy to devour the whole pot.

 Hazelnut & Rose

Hazelnut and rose came in second on the flavour front, with the distinct taste of roast hazelnuts, married with just the right amount of rose essence, we were really splitting hairs between this and the peanut chip.

 Chocolate & Orange Blossom

Chocolate and orange blossom came third, with its subtle flavour of orange blossom, balanced against rich dark chocolate, it was pretty amazing and chocolate addicts will love it.

Strawberry & Yuzu

Strawberry lovers will love this sweet combination with yuzu,  it was our least favourite, only because neither of us are big on strawberries, but it sure had full on flavour. 

Northern Bloc researched the use of their plastic pots, recyclable dependent on your kerbside collections and interestingly the other alternative, wax paper pots, are more difficult to recycle.  In any case I will reuse the plastic containers, for freezing things like soups and stews, as they are a perfect size.

Leeds based Northern Bloc's ice creams are available at independents, via northern based company Suma, at a retail cost of around £5.49 so similar price point to competitors.   Northern Bloc are currently working to supply to Waitrose, Co-Op and Ocado, so I shall sign up to their email newsletters, to keep up to date as regards availability, as currently nowhere near me stocks their products.

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

Monday, 12 March 2018

The Nut Shack

The Nut Shack is a family run business in Paisley, specialising in unique flavoured peanuts, offering five flavours, in different sized bags, 60 g , 250 g and 1 kg, with mixed boxes available too.   I would always go for the larger bag as I love my peanuts and can easily demolish a 60 g bag in a jiffy.   The Nut Shack also sell to trade customers, who can access a separate area on their website.

All packaging is stamped and labelled by hand, clearly stating their vegan suitability and the nuts are hand blended, using rapeseed oil.

The Nut Shack kindly sent me samples and I was immediately drawn to the spicier habanero and garlic and scotch bonnet.

Scotch Bonnet


The nuts are not too oily and every one packs a punch of the flavour it says on the bag, with a perfect seasoning of salt.   The scotch bonnet was my favourite, I have never eaten anything too hot to handle and when a product suggests heat, it has to meet expectations, so these came up trumps.  The heat was just to my liking, though too hot for Steven, who could just about manage the habanero and garlic, so the scotch bonnets were all mine.   

If you love peanuts and fancy tickling your taste buds, blog readers can get a 25% discount off orders, (except sales items and mini mixed box) by quoting Veganolive1 at the checkout

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