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 200º.   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.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Noi Quattro Pizzeria High Street Manchester 14th October 2018

Noi Quattro is a traditional Italian pizzeria, opened by four friends, hence its name which means 'The Four Of Us'.   The Northern Quarter, my favourite part of Manchester, known locally as the NQ is home to Noi Quattro, so they really were made for each other.   Noi Quattro's sister restaurant is The Pasta Factory at Shudehill which I reviewed here, so I knew there would be plenty vegan options and I was not wrong.

They have spent a long time getting Noi Quattro up and running, importing everything from Italy, including the two magnificent pizza ovens, handmade in Napoli.

The menu is concise, with the main event obviously being pizza and it is fabulous to see so many options for vegans and also vegetarians.

I love wine especially from Sicily, so I ordered a bottle of Zisola, made by the Mazzei family, in a vineyard dating back to 1435.   I emailed to say how wonderful the wine was and received this detailed reply and their thoughts on producing vegan friendly wines.

I ordered olives to share, with starters of Verde salad for me and Cuoppo for Steven and what fabulous dishes they proved to be, so colourful, fresh and tasty.

Then onto my favourite food of pizza, an Avezzanese and Tris di Funghi, so we could have half and half.   Noi Quattro are passionate about their pizza, the base is simply just flour, yeast, salt and passion, with the dough taking two days of slow fermentation to make, so easy to digest and cooked in ninety seconds, in those awesome pizza ovens.

There is no need to say anything really, that last photo says it all, the pizzas were scrumptious, just the right amount of toppings, a top notch base, slightly stretchy with a wonderful sourdough smell.  The base had risen around the edges, like soft pillows of dough, that melted in the mouth, with its characteristic leopard spot markings.   I was in pizza heaven literally, I could not fault it.

I finished with a Caffe Doppio, a double espresso, even though I do not drink caffeinated coffee normally, but the temptation was too much, it was gorgeous and powerful.

So did Noi Quattro meet my expectations, well it surpassed them, I am a pizza addict and know my pizza and the competition in Manchester is fierce, as to who makes the best pizza in the city.   I think I just found my number one spot and am already looking forward to my next visit.   Highly recommended.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Flavor Downtown Pitt Street Sydney Nova Scotia 27th September 2018

Flavor Downtown is a small cafe in the lovely town of Sydney and was a haven on a very wet September lunchtime.   Flavor have three sites in Sydney and all cater for vegans, with clearly labelled options on their menus and all slightly different.

I chose roasted tomato and basil soup, vegan pita and bottomless coffee, to warm me up, after getting soaked in torrential rain.

I could not fault either dish, the soup was gorgeous, very warming, thick and packed with tomato flavour.   As for the pita, well the photos say it all, its a long time since I have eaten such a scrumptious wrap, I did not want to finish, it was that good.   I loved the bottomless coffee too, so you could have as many top ups as you wanted.

What a great find for vegans in Sydney, if you visit head to Flavor, you will not be disappointed.