Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The Green Man Silk Mill Lane Inglewhite Preston 31st October 2018

The Green Man is a pub near Preston, under new management since 2017, who had the forethought to include vegan options on their menu.   You can cosy up in the bar near the fire in winter and in summer sit outside in the beer garden and dogs are more than welcome.

I love the big sign as you come off the car park to walk to the front door, with its clear vegan logo, feels really welcoming.

The vegan options are not just a token salad or plate of vegetables and with notice they can make gluten free vegan pies too.   I was also told that they could customise other dishes on request and there was approx a 45 min wait for pies, as they are made to order.

The Green Man have excellent vegan dishes on their Christmas menu, unlike many places where a main course is offered, but no starter or dessert, as I saw yesterday on a restaurant menu in Skipton.

I made The Green Man aware of my allergies and requested a gluten free Bombay pie for Steven and a field mushroom and vegetable pie for me.

I love the blackboards over the fire, describing the vegan pies available, again with clear vegan logos, its a nice touch.   We decided against having a starter, which was a wise choice, as the portions are hearty and substantial.

The pie was packed with a tasty mushroom and vegetable filling, served with a jug of gravy, fabulous mushy peas and very moreish chips.   The pastry was short as in light, soft and crumbly, yet not stodgy at all, I have never had pastry like it, but such a satisfying delicious dish, perfect for a cold day.

Steven's Bombay potato pie was just as scrumptious, with a lovely filling, worthy of being served on its own without the crust, so he bet their vegan curry is a cracker too.

We had a chat with Operations Manager John Hughlock, whose background is catering, about their vegan options, all driven by customer demand.   John said they had vegan cheese for pizzas, Oatly milk for coffees and Oatly creme fraiche, custard and cream with their desserts, which is the icing on the cake for me, so many places only offer sorbet.

I will definitely be returning, as I rather fancy the burger or maybe a pizza or perhaps another pie, it is nice to have a choice.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Blueberries Cafe New Market Street Clitheroe 24th October 2018

Blueberries is a market cafe, in the historic town of Clitheroe and I went for lunch, for a friends 80th birthday, who is a regular customer.   Blueberries is always busy, not just on market days but any day they are open and is very popular with locals and visitors alike.

I enquired about a vegan option and their suggestion was Lancashire hotpot, made with vegetables and cannellini beans, served with mushy peas, beetroot and red cabbage.   I was impressed and so ordered it before our visit, so the kitchen could be prepared.

The photos say it all, the hotpot was piping hot and scrumptious, with crispy potatoes, delicious filling, excellent mushy peas and the beetroot and red cabbage were perfect accompaniments.   It was a proper Lancashire portion, but I wolfed it all, it was far too good to leave.

Blueberries have no vegan options on the menu, except for a jacket potato with beans, but the owners Julie and Kath have a fabulous attitude, if they can make something they will, whether a jacket potato with alternative filling or a wrap, they will try their best.  Blueberries hotpot is the best I have eaten and I have eaten a fair few and I will definitely return to sample it again and again.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Hala Bar

Hala Bar is a family business, making nutritious healthy snacks, with all products vegan friendly, with no additives, preservatives, soya or added sugar.   The Hala family is made up of a health conscious mum, an IBS suffering dad, who decided to make healthy snacks for their sweet loving children.

Hala Bars come in three flavours and one thing that attracts me immediately, is the bright colourful packaging, it really stands out.

The lime, chilli and ginger energy bar, won a Gold Star in the Guild of Fine Foods Taste awards this year and I can understand why it won such an accolade, it was my favourite.

The energy bars have a firm texture, not solid or heavy, but firm enough to make them a great travelling snack, as they will not squash in your bag.   Steven said they are ideal for cycling, stuck in the rear of his cycling jacket and with no crumbs, can be eaten whilst cycling along.   They taste great too, with the chewiness of date paste, crunch of peanuts and seeds, sweetness of cranberries, warmth of chilli and ginger and zing of lime, so each one has its own unique individual flavour.

I think they are an excellent vegan snack and make a perfect partner with a nice mug of tea.   Highly recommended.

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

Monday, 22 October 2018

Proudly Vegan Wines

Proudly Vegan wines were developed and launched by Broadland Wineries, an international wine supplier in 2018.   Broadland Wineries are on a mission to prove wines can be produced, without animal by products, but not compromise on taste.  The wines are produced in Chile's Central Valley, with the range including Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Rose, at a strength of 12.5% ABV.

The wines are 100% vegan, from the packaging and ink used, right through the wine making process and registered with The Vegan Society trademark, giving confidence to consumers.   I really like the tasting notes and food match information on the website for each wine too.

I sampled the Merlot first, alongside green pea and kalonji seed pancakes, with harissa borlotti bean and mushroom stew, it was a perfect match.   I am not a lover of big heavy reds, but Proudly Merlot is a smooth medium bodied wine, with a lovely round flavour, ideal with food but an easy drinking wine on its own.

The Sauvignon Blanc is full of tropical fruits, as its tasting notes attest, with a refreshing clean note and went perfectly with sweetcorn and bean quesadillas.  You can drink this wine with food, but as I write this review polishing off the last glass, its great without food too.

Proudly Vegan wines are available from Ocado and Amazon for £6.99 per bottle and I think they are a great buy and it is comforting for vegans, that the entire production is 100% vegan friendly.  It also makes choosing wine for a vegan family member or friend so easy, either as a present or to take round for dinner, so no mistakes are made.

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

Friday, 19 October 2018

Aubergine Carrot & Walnut Salsa

This recipe is from Vegan Food & Living magazine, a winning dish if you love aubergine like me and is so good, even aubergine hater Steven had two servings.

1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp onion seeds
Salt and pepper
1 aubergine
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
12 olives
1 large carrot
40 g walnuts chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Chilli sauce

Serves 2

Preheat the oven to 200ยบ.   Combine the paprika, tumeric, onion seeds and a good grind of salt and pepper in a dish, add 2 tbsp oil and mix to a thin paste.

Cut the aubergine into cubes, put into a deep roasting dish, mix with the spice paste and cook until browned and soft when pierced with a knife.

While the aubergine is cooking, peel and grate the carrot into a large bowl, remove the stones from the olives, chop into pieces and add to the carrot.

Mix the vinegar and remaining oil and add salt and pepper to taste.   Add the cooked aubergine and walnuts to the bowl, add the oil dressing and as much chilli sauce as suits and give the salsa a good mix.

I served with a jacket potato and harissa houmous, but it would make a good side dish or perfect in a wrap with refried beans and some sour cream.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Willow Tree Cafe 93 Kirkgate Saltaire 17th October 2018

The Willow Tree Cafe is a 100% vegan cafe in Saltaire, owned by Shaun and Stacey Lester and I visited back in July, when their home was in The Cellar Trust at weekends.  Since then they have moved to new premises and I had been dying to visit, as I had seen photos of Shaun's seitan kebab on Instagram.   The Willow Tree is well located, with good parking to the front and rear and side streets and you cannot miss the colourful signage from the road.

I love the interior with its wood furniture, funky lighting, pictures and lovely flower pots on every table, gives a warm friendly feel to the place.

The menu is concise, which I like, as I am always wary of places with a long list of dishes, there is also a special of the day and a daily changing selection of vegan cakes, all homemade by Stacey.   Stir & Sip supply all their teas and Casa Espresso all the coffee and I have to give Shaun and Stacey the big thumbs up for supporting and working with local companies.   The couple are also very conscientious regarding customers allergy requirements and go the extra mile to ensure that everyone is included and has a great experience, that cannot be said about everywhere I dine.

Shaun said he could make me a soya free seitan kebab, so I already knew what I was having before I got there and Steven picked Med Veg wrap, both served with salad and chips, with a decaf Americano and a loose leaf tea.

Just look at that seitan, made me realise how rubbish my attempts are, a fabulous texture, great bite yet not chewy or rubbery, just perfect.   Shaun makes awesome proper chips too, crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and he used my favourite Koko plain yogurt to make the mint sauce, it worked a treat.

Steven's wrap was a cracker, with loads of houmous, roast vegetables and olives, he commented several times on the quality of the chips too. 

We could not resist cake, so ordered two coffees (the coffee here is top notch) with a slice of specially made soya free salted caramel and chocolate chip cake for me and gluten free chocolate cake for Steven. 

Stacey makes a mean cake, with no skimping, these are Yorkshire portions of light sponge, delicious buttercream and the crunch of chocolate chips in both.   If I lived round the corner I would never be away, it would be too tempting, I would be their best customer.

Shaun and Stacey have loads of ideas for the venue too, additional seating upstairs, hand painted artwork on the walls, bistro evenings, guest chef pop-ups, loads of new menu ideas, it all sounds so exciting.   I will be keeping a close eye on their social media feeds for updates, so I do not miss out.  Highly recommended, this is a fabulous place, run by a young enthusiastic couple, who look after their customers.

When I visited in July, The Willow Tree was at its previous home, where we had a scrumptious lunch of vegan fish and chips, made with banana blossom, sweet potato and chickpea curry, vanilla fruit loaf and chocolate and strawberry cake.   The photos say it all and the fish and chip photo has been shown to so many people, who cannot believe it is a vegan dish.