Friday, 31 August 2018

Laura Zabo Recycled & Vegan Fashion

Laura Zabo Recycled & Vegan Fashion specialises in recycling waste materials and products, inspired by her travels to Tanzania, falling in love with handmade sandals at a Maasai market, made entirely from car tyres.

Tyres take decades to break down and with over three billion discarded each year, it is a huge growing environmental problem, so Laura decided to do something about it, by making vegan, eco friendly accessories.   On her return from Africa, she set up Laura Zabo Recycled & Vegan Fashion making crafted tyre belts at home, selling them at London markets and being full of ideas, the range developed to include ear rings, necklaces and dog accessories.   A German tyre manufacturer donated 5,000 rejected tyres, saving them from landfill, which Laura upcycled into a range of belts, jewellery, guitar straps, dog leads and much more.

The belts come in a range of sizes and there is detailed information on the website, to ensure you choose the correct size. 

I love the classic ridged blue and black belt, is slightly stretchy and looks fabulous with jeans and dresses, Steven recognised the coloured bike tyre used to make the belt and thought it was a great idea, it will get lots of wear.

The poodle upcycled inner tube necklace is quirky, fun and a bold statement piece, certainly different to your every day jewellery, with matching bracelets available too.

I think the idea of recycling and upcycling is fantastic, we have so much waste we are damaging the environment, to the point where there will be no turning back if it carries on.  The future of the planet is in our hands and innovative companies like Laura Zabo are doing their bit to address the harm we are doing, we all need to do our bit.

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

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Craven Heifer Colne Road Kelbrook 29th August 2018

The Craven Heifer is a gastro pub in Kelbrook, near Colne, with twenty five bedrooms and are very accommodating as to dietary requirements and allergies. 

I was looking for somewhere to meet a friend for lunch and The Craven Heifer was a perfect location wise, but even better they had a vegan menu.

I completed their online contact form, to ask if they could make a soya free version of the mushroom spring roll and swap chickpeas for the lentils in the pie.   I was very impressed with Duty Manager Tommy's response saying it was no problem, as they tried hard to have an offering for everybody's individual requirements.

On arrival my first impression walking from the car park was very positive, with a spacious outside seating area and newly built accommodation, all very pristine.

Inside was also very welcoming, with a lovely dining room, lounge areas and well spaced tables and very busy, always a good sign.

I immediately felt relaxed when the front of house staff were already aware I had ordered my lunch, the number of places I have been, where the order was never passed on to the relevant parties.

My mushroom spring rolls were perfect, with a light non greasy pastry and the filling was fabulous and tasty.   The number of times I have had mushrooms that have been cooked to death, with all the flavour cooked out of them, these were delicious and quickly demolished.

The chickpea and vegetable pie for mains was rustic, which I loved, as you could see it was homemade, with really short pastry that melted in the mouth, nothing worse than a big stodgy pie, this was far from it.   There was no skimping on filling either and with a great tasting tomato sauce, fresh vegetables and chips, it was a a delicious main course, compliments to whoever made it.

I enjoyed my lunch and would definitely return, the whole experience got off to a great start with my initial contact with Tommy and carried on throughout.   I did lots of research before our visit and the area is pretty much a vegan desert, so The Craven Heifer is an excellent find. 

Monday, 27 August 2018

The Vegetarian Butcher No Chicken Nuggets

Steven follows The Vegetarian Butcher on social media and has been dying for their products to be available in the UK and this week his dream came true.   We visited Waitrose at Preston and found The Vegetarian Butcher's chicken nuggets in their new vegan section, sadly I cannot try them as they are soya based.

The story behind The Vegetarian Butcher starts with Jaap Korteweg, a ninth generation farmer and when swine fever and mad cow disease hit the Netherlands, his storage facility was used to store thousands of cadavers.   After this agricultural disaster, he decided to invest in organic farming, which was great until he had to take his animals to be slaughtered.   He became vegetarian, but as he missed meat so much, he decided the only way forward was to develop his own meat free products and the rest as they say is history.

The chicken nuggets are made from a small list of natural looking ingredients, with no mention of E numbers and when I removed the packaging, the distinct smell of chicken wafted through the air.   The nuggets are coated in a lovely golden crumb and only need a light fry in some oil on either side, so are ideal for a quick meal.

The nuggets are so like the real thing, Steven said anyone would be fooled into thinking it was chicken, with a fabulous firm meat like texture, a slight bite and tasted just like the real thing.

I hope Waitrose stock more of The Vegetarian Butcher products, they are first class and great for people transitioning to vegan, who want the meat flavour without the cruelty involved in the meat industry.   Highly recommended.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Cibus Almondino Cheese

Cibus Almondino artisan cheese was created by Paolo, Alberto and Elisa of The Pasta Factory in Manchester and marketed by Giulio of Delitalia.   The cheese is sold at Unicorn Grocery and Eighth Day in Manchester and available at the San Carlo group of Italian restaurants in the city too.   I have tried various artisan nut cheeses in the past, from Tyne Chease and Nutcrafter Creamery, so I was keen to try Cibus as a comparison.

There are four cheese flavours and once opened the cheese needs to be consumed within three days and I took them out of the fridge to allow them to room up.   I tried them at lunchtime with Steven and took them to a non vegan friend's house, who was hosting a dinner party, for the cheese course.  My friend, a chef, has been diagnosed as lactose intolerant, but prior to that he was a real cheese buff, so the cheeses were thoroughly tested.

The cheeses are perfectly formed, with a gorgeous smooth texture, easy to spread on crackers and packed with flavour.   The problem with many vegan cheeses is lack of flavour and although I was never a big cheese eater in the past, when I did it would be strong mature flavours.

As someone who can eat raw chillies, I struggled to detect the chilli in the chilli cheese, but Steven said the chilli flavour was subtle, with a background heat, otherwise it would be overpowering.

The garlic in the garlic cheese was not too strong just the right amount, with the flavour building up, as you ate it.

The herb cheese was our least favourite, nothing to do with the product itself, just personal preference, it contained so many different herbs that worked well together.

The truffle cheese was my favourite, as I love truffles, it had a deep flavour and I could easily have eaten a whole one, whilst Steven loved the garlic.

Our friend was exceedingly impressed, with his favourite being herb, he loved the flavour and texture of the cheeses and commented that if you offered them to non vegans, they would be unable to distinguish them from dairy cheese.

I think Cibus cheeses are a luxury product, make a decadent vegan cheese board and are a real treat, I preferred them other artisan cheeses I have tried and could easily grace the vegan section in Waitrose.   They are definitely not your every day vegan cheese and need to be appreciated and savoured, some nice chutney and a glass of red wine make a perfect partnership.   The plastic packaging lets the product down I think, which I mentioned to Giulio, a small cardboard box and waxed paper would be more appropriate, like those Camembert are packed in.

Cibus also make a vegan Parmesan cheese, which sadly I cannot eat as I am allergic to the sunflower seeds it contains, but by all accounts it is an excellent product too.

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

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Apple Store Cafe Wyresdale Park Snowhill Lane Scorton 22nd August 2018

Apple Store Cafe is located in a walled garden and glasshouse and is a favourite stop for cyclists, one being a friend of mine, who sent me photos of the vegan options, so we decided to have a run out for lunch.   Apple Store Cafe is in Wyresdale Park in the beautiful Trough of Bowland and caters for weddings, parties and there are on site glamping and camping facilities.

There are lovely gardens to sit out and dine, although today it was very overcast and rainy, so we sat inside,

There are plenty vegan options, all clearly marked on the menu and they offer Pure margarine for their vegan customers too.

We were lucky to grab the last table in the glasshouse, as the place was packed with people and so after checking out the menu, I chose a peppermint tea, with a vegan Greek salad and some chunky chips.

The salad was delicious, it would have been nice to have some vegan cheese to replace the usual feta but it was very tasty, a big portion and the crispy kale really made the dish.   The chips were perfect and a generous side dish, so much so I had to leave some sadly, I was popping.

I loved the quirkiness of the glasshouse, with its mismatched furniture, furnishings and crockery and real grapes growing in the roof, never seen that before.

I would definitely return to the Apple Store Cafe, to try the other vegan options and it must be fantastic when the sun is shining and you can sit outside in the garden.