Vegan Afternoon Tea: Terre a Terre, Brighton

20150329_150158

Brighton will forever be one of my favourite places.  Last year when I went there for Vegfest it was not only my first time in Brighton, but my first holiday with Mr HH, and we had such a wonderful time exploring, eating and enjoying the sea air.  We had no choice but to return for Vegfest 2015 last weekend, and found ourselves revisiting the same cafes and restaurants (even ordering the same dishes occasionally) and having just as magical a time.  This year I am on the prowl for as many afternoon teas as possible, and the Terre a Terre special was too good to resist.  As Terre a Terre is a meat-free fine dining restaurant with a wonderfully inventive menu – it’s the fanciest vegan food I’ve eaten – it proved an excellent addition to the itinerary.

20150329_150137

It is, of course, no ordinary afternoon tea.  The savoury plate comprises various elements from the normal menu – not a cucumber sandwich in sight!  At the front of the picture you can see pickled lotus root slices, sandwiching some delicious chunks of sesame hoisin tofu – a lovely crunchy layer of seeds, and some quite sweet flavours mingling throughout.  This was the highlight of the plate for me.  In the back right are the arepas (Venezuelan corn cakes, which in this case are chip-shaped, deep-fried and a wee bit spicy).  They’re served with a lovely avocado hash.  Usually I feel like you should be able to eat an afternoon tea with your fingers, but here we had about eight different pieces of cutlery.  While we didn’t use most of them, it was nice to be able to scoop up any lingering traces of avocado with a spoon.  It would be a sin to waste it!  Finally, in the back left, you should be able to glimpse the tapioca cracker, which was lovely and crisp, with some pickled vegetables, including lovely vibrant beetroot.

Not only was it a tasty plate, it was also a nicely colourful one, with the yellow lotus root, green avocado and purple beetroot.  And, somewhat untraditionally, each person receives their own plate of savouries – presumably as some of them are a little too delicate to move!

20150329_150146

The sweet plate also looked very enticing.  It deviated from the menu slightly, but we had no grounds for complaint.  First we tried the chocolate cake at the fore of the picture, and to be honest, it was a little disappointing.  The sponge was quite dry and it was all a bit heavy.  I wouldn’t have wanted a much bigger slice, let’s say.  Next we had the small cake to the left of it:  a polenta cake with a fruity bit of sauce on top.  I’d never had polenta cake before and now I wonder why – it was glorious!   The outside was almost biscuit-like in its crumbliness, but when you bit into it it was really soft and moist, and everything the chocolate cake wasn’t.  I definitely wouldn’t have complained about a bigger piece of that!

Behind the polenta cake is half each of a mini banana cupcake.  Well, that is rather a simplified version:  it is in fact a hot banana almond spice cake.  It was nice and moist as well, and served with a pineapple chunk, but it wasn’t as flavoursome as I’d hoped, and wasn’t as good as the polenta cake.  We finished on a high with the mini churros.  Ah, churros.  They are the best dessert on the main menu, and these mini ones left me wanting more.  They were nice and warm, coated in cinnamon sugar and served with little pots of vodka cherries (meh) and melted chocolate (yum!).  Delicious!

20150329_150151

And finally, the scones.  The texture was good, but they were quite small and I actually preferred the ones from February’s afternoon tea at The Hideaway.  But the home-made jam was a lovely touch, and the oat cream was a really welcome addition – far superior to a bit of spread.  And basically I could eat scones all day every day:  they were really nice.

Afternoon tea is £18.95 per person at Terre a Terre, so it’s not cheap but it really is value for money.  It’s extravagant, ideal for a special occasion, and a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds!  Service was fast and friendly, and it’s nice to have a vegan option that’s as creative and tempting as it’s “normal” counterpart.  I usually judge vegan food in restaurants by asking myself:  “Would they serve this to omnivores as well?”, and while sometimes I’ve found the vegan options to be disappointingly bland or simple, here it was a resounding “YES!”  And for all my claims that I could have eaten more, I was actually extremely full at the end and had to waddle up the hill to the train station.  It’s probably just as well I was sitting down for the next few hours on the train home!

Posted in Afternoon tea, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cookbook of the Month: Isa Does It (Part Two)

007

Continuing with the cookbook of the month, here are some more of the recipes I’ve tried in March from Isa Does It.

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup (9)

Creamy leek and potato soup is such a classic, it’s hard to go wrong.  The picture here is terrible, but the soup is really simple and tasty.  I used a hand blender to blitz about half of the soup, meaning the broth had a bit of thickness to it but there were still some nice little chunks of potato.

Chunky Miso Vegetable Soup (10)

The chunky miso vegetable soup was not quite as good – the chunkiness of the title refers to the vegetables, rather than to the broth itself, which is very watery.  It needs a partial blitz as well, I think, to thicken it up a bit.  And I’d probably double the amount of miso to really pack a flavour punch.

Cheddary Broccoli Soup (7)

The cheddary broccoli soup was more enjoyable:  it really does taste like a broccoli soup with cheese in it, almost unsettlingly so.  The texture is unsurprisingly smooth and creamy, and broccoli soup remains one of my all time favourites.

Wild Rice Soup (12)

The wild rice soup with browned seitan was quite meaty (though meat-eaters might disagree), and really packed with flavour.  This is one that I’ll definitely make again, not least because I will take any opportunity to say “I love seitan.”  I didn’t use wild rice, because I am not made of money – simple brown rice, with a courgette thrown in for colour.

Sweet Potato Red Curry Soup (6)

I was worried the sweet potato and red curry soup might have a bit too much going on:  red curry paste, rice, sweet potato, kale, coconut milk.  Fortunately, it’s a really well-balanced dish and a soup that’s definitely going to be on regular rotation in our house.  It’s filling (unsurprising, with the rice), and just full of exotic Thai flavours, but it’s really simple and comforting at the same time.

Glam Chowder (11)

This is the king of the soups:  new England glam chowder.  It’s thick and tasty, and the crumbled nori sheets (never, ever try to chop nori.  It’s a fool’s errand) lend a taste of the sea.  The shiitake mushrooms have such a great texture and meatiness, and there are chunks of carrot and potato in there too.  It’s a substantial meal, and every part of it is delicious.  I want to eat it every day.

Dragon Noodle Salad (6)

I far prefer soups to salads, but I did give the dragon noodle salad a go.  It’s very fast to prepare, and the sauce is so tasty, combining nut butter and sriracha beautifully.  It even managed to make the abominable cucumber more bearable!  Next time I think I’ll add some tofu to really make it into a well-balanced meal.

Tofu Porcini Burgers (17)

The porcini tofu burgers may be the best tasting burgers I’ve made:  they’re formed by blitzing some dried porcini and mashing the crumbs with tofu, panko, and various other delicious things.  There are lots of powerful savoury flavours in there.  However, the texture didn’t quite work out for me, they were too soft on the inside and crumbled quite easily in cooking.  I’m going to play around with them a bit more, because they are simply too good to be forgotten.

Shiitake Banh Mi (10)

I hate sandwiches, and even I enjoyed this shiitake banh mi.  I felt a bit fearful when I was pickling the radishes and cucumber (eating anything pickled is quite adventurous for me) and when I blitzed the almond butter and sriracha for the spread.  But when those two elements came together with the meaty shiitakes, the fresh baguette and the fresh herbs, it was a beautiful combination and a lovely light meal.  I used the same fillings with seeded brown bread for an exciting addition to my afternoon tea table as well – it was unconventional, but a hit with everyone.

Red Lentil Thai Chilli (7)

I had high hopes for the red lentil thai chilli, and it didn’t disappoint.  It has red curry paste and coconut milk to lend a taste of South East Asia, but also kidney beans and red lentils in a nod to the usual Mexican chilli ingredients:  a very happy combination!

007

The Omaha yakisoba was really easy to make, even on a work night.  It didn’t take long to throw together, and it was a really tasty and satisfying mix of udon noodles, sweetcorn, shiitakes, red cabbage, broccoli and Asian seasoning.  It’s easily adaptable as well to whatever veg you’ve got in – I made it again the next night with asparagus and chestnut mushrooms.

Hash (10)

As I said in Part One, this book is famous (in my home, at least) for its breakfasts, and while I’ve already tried out quite a few there were still some more to explore.  Behold the chipotle sausage hash.  The dressing (miso tahini, my new favourite combination) was heavenly, and the potatoes and sausages are obviously a delight.  The recipe suggested just two sausages to serve four people.  I don’t know what kind of people this is meant to feed, but we had two sausages each and called it a proper meal.  It was delicious!  The only possible complaint is that it looks so very brown – a handful of wilted spinach leaves next time will sort that out.

Scrambled Chickpeas (8)

Less sensational, but still tasty, was the scrambled chickpeas.  Again, I don’t feel like there was enough to serve four people – you really did need the tomatoes and avocadoes to fill you up.  Fortunately, they were a good tasty addition, though I think I might chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan for a few minutes next time.

What a fine month it’s been!  The recipes are all easy to follow and the results have been uniformly good – the only problem has been the seasoning and spiciness, which I feel need to be significantly increased.  Those are the kind of tweaks that are easily made, though, and I think this book is a great addition to the bookshelf.  It’s not surprising that Isa is one of the most famous vegan cookbook authors in the world – she presents dishes that are by turns colourful, exotic, comforting and flavoursome, and she makes veganism very accessible.  When people ask me in horror, “But what do you eat?” I want to hand them a copy of this book so they can see that my diet is in no way dull and repetitive.

Next month I’m being bolder and going for one of the cookbooks I rarely use.  In fact, it has only had two outings in about 4 years.  Fingers crossed I will discover some hidden gems in Asian Vegan Kitchen!

Posted in Cookbooks | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cookbook of the Month: Isa Does It (Part One)

Chimichurri Bowl (15)

March’s cookbook of the month is the brilliant Isa Does It.  I’ve tried a number of recipes since I got it last year, particularly from the breakfast section, but I challenged myself to try new recipes this month.  It was very easy to choose my dishes, as there are numerous tasty options, and the photographs are all extremely tempting.  Yes, it’s been another month of stupendous food.

Roasty Soba Bowl (7)

The Bowl section of the book has been a revelation!  It’s essentially just a combination of some kind of grain (rice/quinoa), a vegetable (usually roasted), some beans or lentils, and a sauce packed with flavour to tie it all together.  This means there’s a lot going on in the kitchen, but each element is quite simple to make, so it’s only a matter of timing.  We started off with the Roasty Soba Bowl, which unites noodles, roasted cauliflower, green lentils and a dressing, and the combination of miso and tahini in the sauce made my heart sing.  This is my new favourite thing.

Chimichurri Bowl (15)

The chimichurri bowl was just as good, packed full of flavour from the herbs in the parsley and coriander sauce.  This was a really pretty bowl, with the vivid orange butternut squash slices, green noodles and sauce and the darkness of the black beans.  It tasted as good as it looked.

Pizza Bowl (4)

And the pizza bowl in no way resembled a pizza, but it was tasty:  sausages, kale, olives and rice united in a delicious tomato sauce.  Again, the sauce was the real highlight.

Spinach and Black Bean Burrito Bowl

This spinach and black bean burrito bowl looks so healthy and appetising:  quinoa, spinach, tomato, black beans, homemade guacamole.  However, it was surprisingly bland and needs some serious seasoning.  All the other bowls I’ve made from this book have instant hits, and this is the only one requiring any real tweaking.  It has definite potential – next time I plan to double the amount of cumin and add some chilli flakes, and probably throw some salsa together for serving too.

Curried Peanut Tofu Bowl (3)

The curried peanut sauce bowl was more of a hit, tastewise.  The sauce was a great balance of the salty peanut butter, spicy curry powder and sweet agave nectar.  The tofu cubes were wonderful (how anyone doesn’t like tofu just baffles me – it’s glorious!), and the steamed kale was a nice healthy touch.  However, there were a lot of different pots and pans on the go which always stresses me out a bit and deters me from making it regularly.  I’ll definitely make it again, but I don’t think I could throw it together on a work night, even though it’s fast.

Dilly Stew (21)

Moving on from the bowls, this dilly stew is raved about in the vegan community, so I had no choice but to try it.  I found it a little bland at first and had to add some serious seasoning, but it was a really tasty dish.  The dumplings are wonderful and it’s a very comforting meal.

Okra Gumbo (10)

The okra gumbo was nice, though again it didn’t pack quite the flavour punch I’d been expecting and generous lashings of hot sauce were required to give it some fire.  I’d never seen okra in the shops until I moved to my new place, and now it’s available in our local Tesco (that’s the bonus of your local being a Tesco Superstore) and the local grocery shop.  I was eager for another opportunity to use it, which leads us nicely to…

Bhindi Masala (9)

…the bhindi masala.  First tasting, as it cooked, revealed quite a bland taste, which was not entirely surprising as the recipe included curry powder but no chillies.  My Indian fellow would be outraged if I served him a curry with no chillies (as he is when I serve him anything that doesn’t pack a spicy punch).  I added some green chillies and doubled the amount of curry powder, and it was finally strong enough to serve.  It was tasty!

Marbled Banana Bread (10)

Marbled Banana Bread (14)

The marbled banana bread looks pretty spectacular, no?  Yet somehow, some of the slices turned out all brown!  I have no idea how I managed to achieve that.  I suppose it’s all about taste though, and this was very good indeed:  the bananas come through strongly, and the cocoa and vanilla mingle happily.  And it’s a lovely moist cake, as you’d expect from banana bread.

Chai Snickerdoodles (9)

I tried to make the chai spice snickerdoodles on a day that I didn’t have any ground cardamom or cloves, so they turned into normal, cinnamon snickerdoodles.  They were tasty, and the texture is absolutely perfect – crisp on the outside, soft on the inside.  Just check your spice rack before you start!

Kofta (18)

And to finish on the highest of highs, the Chandra Malay Kofta is probably the tastiest thing I’ve made from the book.  The picture doesn’t really do it justice:  the kofta balls are made of courgette, chickpeas and panko breadcrumbs, and the sauce is creamy and spicy and wonderful.  It was such a satisfying combination of flavours and textures.  Delicious!

Stay tuned for more delicious meals from this book, including some very special soups.

Posted in Cookbooks | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Brownie Coco-Nut Butter Cups

Brownie Peanut Butter cups (9)

It was Mothers’ Day yesterday, but we celebrated one week early with a delightful homemade afternoon tea.  This combined two of my favourite things:  eating cake, and spending time with my ma, though it seems that she doesn’t believe the last one is possible.  I like to see her every week for a catch-up, but this is made difficult by the fact that she never invites me anywhere, and indeed seems loath to actually accept my invitations either.  A typical attempt at inviting her out goes something like this:

Me:  Do you want to come to the cinema with us next weekend?

Mother:  Oh no, I couldn’t intrude.

Me:  It’s the opposite of an intrusion.  It’s an invitation.

Mother:  But you don’t want me there!

Me:  Then why am I inviting you?

Mother:  I know, but…

Me:  Right, it’s decided, you’re coming with us.  I’m booking a table for dinner afterwards as well.

Mother:  No, absolutely not.  That’s your time together, I’m not coming.

Me:  But we just invited you!  If we didn’t want you to come along, we just wouldn’t have told you!

Mother:  No.  I can come to the cinema, but not for dinner.

015

Is she not insane?  Despite being faced with similar conversations every time I invite her for a brew, I do manage to force into seeing me most weeks.  Perhaps it’s some ploy on her part to avoid spending time with me, and she absolutely hates our catch-ups, but I at least thoroughly enjoy them.  Especially when they involve cake, as they so often do.

017

This is one of the cakes I made for the afternoon tea.  The recipe comes from Vegan Finger Foods, but I picked it up in Vegan Life magazine.  As the name of the book suggests, they’re meant to be bite-size, mini-cupcakes.  Alas, I don’t have the right tin, so we made big ones and I fear I increased the baking time a bit too much as they were a wee bit dry.  They were still delicious though!  I decided to switch from light brown to coconut sugar to really enhance the flavour from the coconut oil, and it complemented the almond butter in the filling beautifully.  It might be nice to sprinkle a bit of dessicated coconut on the top as well and really emphasise the coconutiness.

Brownie Coco-Nut Butter Cups

Tweaked from Vegan Finger Foods, makes 34

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray

115g dark chocolate, chopped

40g coconut oil

120g plain soy yoghurt

200g coconut sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

150g plain flour

For the filling:

190g almond butter

3 tbsp icing sugar

pinch salt

60g dark chocolate, chopped

Method:

1.  Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly coat the cups of two mini-muffin tins with the cooking spray.

Brownie Peanut Butter cups (1)

2.  Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl and melt in the microwave, in 30-second bursts, stirring in between.  It will smell extremely tempting!

Brownie Peanut Butter cups (2)

3.  In a large bowl mix together the melted chocolate with the yoghurt, sugar, salt and vanilla.

Brownie Peanut Butter cups (3)

4.  Sift the flour on top and stir until it’s all combined.

Brownie Peanut Butter cups (4)

5.  Fill each cup two-thirds full.

Brownie Peanut Butter cups (5)

6.  Bake for 12 minutes.

Brownie Peanut Butter cups (6)

7.  Leave to cool on a wire rack, creating an indent in the top with the back of a teaspoon or your finger.  When they have cooled, pop them out of the trays.

Brownie Peanut Butter cups (7)

8.  To make the filling, mix together all the ingredients except the chopped chocolate.   Spoon 1 teaspoon of filling into the indent of each one.

Brownie Peanut Butter cups (8)

9.  Scatter some chopped chocolate on top, and serve!

Posted in Treats | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Vegan in York: Goji

20150301_122640

In days gone by, a trip to York meant only one thing:  tea at Betty’s.  Now, with my vegan sensibilities, I’ve given up Betty’s in favour of a meat-free little cafe just off the Shambles:  Goji.  York is a wonderful, ancient little city with a network of narrow streets of largely independent shops and eateries, so it shouldn’t be surprising to find somewhere amazing nestled in there.  Now every time I sail past the queue at Betty’s and straight into the warmth at Goji, I can’t help feeling a little smug.

I’ve eaten at Goji probably four or five times in the last year, and I just love it.  I’ve had the Sunday roast twice, and it’s easily my favourite thing on the menu (not including the cakes, obviously).  The roast itself is chock-full of lentils and nuts.  Nut roast has an unfair reputation as being a bit bland and sawdust-like, but I’ve never really found that to be the case, there’s always so much flavour.  You get a really generous portion and a lovely mushroomy sauce surrounding it with those wonderful earthy flavours.  The accompaniments are also pretty special:  plain green beans don’t add much to it, but the cabbage and roasted carrots and parsnips are good, and it’s rare to get quite so many roasties, I find, so I’m happy with that.  And behold, at the front of the picture, a vegan Yorkshire pudding!  Whenever I see one on a menu, I devour it.  True, it doesn’t look like a Yorkshire pudding – but inside it’s just the same and is a very welcome addition.

20150301_125958

Goji also has an impressive cake selection in the window, luring in the passers by (it’s always busy in there, and does good take-out business too, with an enticing deli counter of samosas, salads, etc).  The lemon and poppyseed cake is good, and I’ve had the chocolate hazelnut bundt cake before.  This time I tried something completely new:  the rose pistachio cake.  The texture was just spectacular, it was a lovely moist sponge, with really subtle flavours (you have to be careful with rose, after all), and good creamy icing.  A definite winner!  Goji also has vegan cream and ice cream at the ready too, and a vegan sticky toffee pudding on the menu which I am, astonishingly enough, yet to try.

For anyone else who shares my old ‘York=Betty’s’ mentality, I urge you to cast your net a little wider.  Next time you go to York, take a detour away from the crowds at Betty’s and opt instead for this tasty and cosy little place!

Posted in Travel | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cookbook of the Month: Oh She Glows (Part Two)

Baked Apple Oatmeal (6)

I had not quite finished with Oh She Glows when I wrote about it two weeks ago:  I continued my cooking for the rest of February and although the month is over, let me share what I tried:

Baked Apple Oatmeal (7)

Pictured up top, fresh from the oven, is the maple-cinnamon apple baked oatmeal, which I made with blackberries instead of pear.  This dish combines some of the ultimate comforting flavours (and aromas), and closely resembled apple crumble, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed it.  You could just as easily eat it with custard or ice cream and call it pudding.

OSG Granola (12)

Sticking with the breakfast theme, the Ultimate Granola Clusters were really tasty and easy to make.  All granola recipes I’ve tried in the past have said to bake for 40 minutes, but they were blackened and burning after 10 – this was the only accurate recipe I’ve found, where it did indeed take about 35 minutes for it all to come together.  This didn’t last long, but it was beautiful with coconut yoghurt.

OSG Scramble Breakfast Plate (5)

The sunrise scramble was another tasty breakfast.  My fellow is the king of the breakfast scramble, but even he conceded that this was a pretty good second best- largely because I sprinkled in some chilli flakes, whereas when he cooks I expressly forbid him from adding extra fieriness.  It was a nice twist on a big cooked breakfast – a little bit healthier, and filling enough without the added heaviness of the sausages and whatnot.  It was also my first time having avocado on toast, and I’ll definitely be back for more.

Gym Rat Smoothie

I mentioned a couple of the smoothies last time:  another favourite is the gym rat, which is really sticky and sweet from the dates, substantial from the oats and delicious from the peanut butter.  It always puts me in mind of a Snickers bar, which is no bad thing.

OSG Fruit Smoothie

This morning glory strawberry smoothie is more obviously virtuous, and very tasty and refreshing too.  The recipe calls for coconut water, but we just throw in a little tap water and coconut milk together.

OSG Party Nibbles (5) I think there is no occasion fancier than a party tea, so I tried a few of the nibbles that could easily be served to a crowd.  These pretty little bites are taco fiesta potato crisps:  roasted potato slices, topped with cashew sour cream (delightfully easy to make), walnut taco ‘meat’ (spicy and meaty), and salsa (homemade by my rugged and manly assistant).  I’ll definitely be making these again – lots of different textures and complementary flavours mingling happily.

Life Affirming Nacho Dip (6)Life Affirming Nacho Dip (9)

We also sampled the life-affirming warm nacho dip.  I thought the title a rather bold claim, especially because I associate nacho dip with the disgusting, plastic-looking smelly cheese that people have on their nachos in the cinema (food that smelly surely shouldn’t be allowed?).  But it was very good.  It combines a cheese sauce with a tomato one, and I hadn’t expected much from the cheese part, but it was really tasty.  We devoured this in no time at all, it was lovely and creamy, and certainly best served warm.

OSG Potato Salad

Switching to salads, I’ve made the creamy avocado-potato salad a couple of times for packed lunches and find it very satisfying – roasting the potatoes may not be particularly healthy, but it pays off tastewise, and there’s some greenery right there to balance it out.  This is going to be even better in summer, I can just tell!

OSG 10 spice soup (1)

The 10 spice vegetable soup was another good packed lunch.  It contained a lot of the same vegetable ingredients as the African peanut stew, which I think it just breathtakingly good, so it suffered a wee bit in comparison.  But it was fiery and healthy, and inspired some staffroom envy too.

OSG Enchiladas (2)

And finally, a look at the main meals:  the sweet potato and black bean enchiladas were tasty and quick to make, but I’ll add more spices next time to really give it a kick.  The recipe includes a creamy avocado sauce, but we drizzled it with some leftover cashew sour cream we had.  I bulked out the recipe by doubling the amount of beans, and had to switch from black beans to kidney due to a slight error on the shopping list.  Still delicious.

OSG Burgers (8) OSG Burgers (12)

The favourite veggie burgers were quite easy to make and froze really nicely.  The mixture was quite sticky and required more oats to hold it together, and then the cooked burger was a wee bit dry.  I froze the burgers to save them for a rainy day, and cooked them from frozen.  They crumbled a bit on cooking, but were generally able to be scooped up onto the waiting buns.  I’d feared they’d be a bit dry, but was pleasantly surprised – they had a lovely texture and taste.  I think they need a bit more experimenting to get them to retain their shape while they cook, but I’m definitely going to make them again.

Creamy Vegetable Curry (5)

And finally, the creamy vegetable curry.  Again, the simple beauty of soaked cashew nuts brought wonderful creaminess to the dish.  I tweaked the recipe slightly by throwing in a tin of chopped tomatoes and adding a cauliflower as well, and it’s just as well I did, otherwise there never would have been enough to feed us.  (In fact, I think my only criticism of the book is that some of the portion sizes are quite small.)

Creamy Vegetable Curry (6)

This month I’m turning my focus to Isa Does It.  Here’s to more delicious meals!

Posted in Cookbooks | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Vegan Afternoon Tea: The Hideaway, Urmston

20150217_135420

I’ve decided to make 2015 the year of the vegan afternoon tea.  I want to have one per month, and I kicked things off with a trip to The Hideaway in Urmston, Manchester.  It’s an omni-cafe which does a regular afternoon tea, but with a bit of notice they are happy to veganise it for you.  It’s a bright and airy little place with really friendly staff, and as a bonus they were playing endless 90s R’n’B that I’d forgotten all about:  an afternoon tea accompanied by Eternal and Brandi can only be a good thing.  It was an excellent spread of food for £12.95 each.  It’s not often I feel so full I almost turn down cake – it was a sign of how tempting the ginger cake was that I ploughed on to the end!

Starting with the sandwiches, I was very pleased with the array.  Last time I went for vegan afternoon tea in London we only had cucumber sandwiches – this time they were accompanied by hummus with pepper and tomato with salami.  Vegan salami is one of my greatest hates, so I was a touch apprehensive about it.  And yet, I loved it!  The tomato added a necessary light juiciness to it, and it was really a winning combination.  I rated it as the best sandwich of the bunch.  Hummus and pepper is a real classic, though we found them a little light on the pepper.  Cucumber sandwiches are fine, but a bit unremarkable.  All in all, a solid sandwich plate, though I’d have liked a bit of brown bread rather than all white.

No complaints whatsoever about the scone plate.  Two weighty scones each, with your own little pot of spread and jam so you don’t have to scowl bitterly if your companion takes more than their share.  I always struggle to make good vegan scones, so I was very envious of these beautifully baked ones, and I think I’d go so far as to call them the highlight of the event.

A generous cake plate is the essence of an afternoon tea, and this one was extremely well-stocked:  two slender slices each of lemon and poppyseed, chocolate and date and sticky ginger cake.  We were tipped off by the friendly waitress that the ginger was the best, so we saved that till last.  The lemon and poppyseed cake was quite disappointing, unfortunately:  quite powdery and dry, though it had that fresh zingy taste.  The chocolate cake was better, with delicious thick icing.  But it truly was the ginger that was best, all sticky and full of flavour.  We could barely move at the end of it all, but were extremely happy with our full bellies!

Besides one sub-standard cake and a bit of skimping on the sandwich filling, we loved this afternoon tea and were mightily impressed with The Hideaway.  A strong showing for our first afternoon tea in Manchester!  At the end of March we’re having afternoon tea in Brighton.  Will it surpass this one?!

Posted in Afternoon tea, Travel | Tagged , , | 1 Comment