Sunday, 27 April 2014

Safari Event Catering (Resistanz 2014)

Last weekend, I went to Resistanz Festival with some friends. It's a great weekend - music, dancing, people-watching. The one thing that usually lets me down is the food. As the festival is held at Corporation (a nightclub/gig venue), there is not a huge amount of food there. There is usually a potato stall, an exotic burger stall and maybe one or two more - all at high prices with little to no vegan food. Due to the price, we often end up heading out into Sheffield to get some cheaper chips or something from one of the many takeaways close by.

However, this year the exotic burger stall (Safari Event Catering) had an ENTIRELY SEPARATE VEGAN MENU. I had choice! And not just one choice, there were maybe 5 or 6 options I could choose from! I didn't take any photos, so off the top of my head this is roughly what they had:

Vegan Haggis & Chips
Vegan Burger
Boerewors (Sausage)
Currywurst
Vegan Wrap

And it was good food!

It wasn't too expensive, considering it was a speciality stall at a festival, and I was happy to pay the price to get a decent vegan meal. It was so good, I went back to try three different things!

I started off with a Boerewors, which was very very good. There was also the option to add vegan cheese, which I did - although I think it would have been better without as it came with onions and peppers so didn't really need the "cheese".

My second dish was the Vegan Haggis & Chips, which I wanted to try as I've seen it in health food stores but never bought it. Having never had real haggis, I have nothing to compare it to but it was tasty. Probably not something I would buy to cook at home but I'd buy it from a stall again. It tasted quite similar to stuffing (which is a good thing!).

And thirdly, I decided on the last night that I was going to go back for another hot dog but when I got there they had sold out! (They had sold out of most things.) So I opted for the burger, which was also great!

So if you spot Safari Event Catering, don't assume they only do meat - they have a very good vegan menu too!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Belgrave Street Feast - April

The Belgrave Street Feast is an event I've been reading about for a while but only recently ventured over to explore. I'm very glad I did!



The event takes place on the second Saturday of every month, and gathers together a selection of street food vendors, art, music, and more - all spread over the three floors of the Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen.

We arrived in the early afternoon, and the event was already a hive of bustling activity. The venue appeared to be full to capacity, although people kept managing to squeeze in - and although we couldn't get a seat at first we eventually grabbed one when a group got up to leave.


Onto the food!

I was pretty spoilt for choice at the Street Feast, with a number of the vendors offering vegan options - many even labelled VEGAN on the sign! (I love it when that happens, it's so much easier...)

I arrived with the intention of sampling some delights from Manjit's Kitchen, as I have heard nothing but praise for them. However, something else caught my eye and I ended up changing my mind! (In hindsight, I should have bought something small from a number of stalls instead of one large meal but hey ho - I'll do that next time!) In the end it was the "Bun dau-hu" from Street Fodder which grabbed my attention - "Crispy turmeric Tofu, vermicelli rice noodles, herb salad & peanut dressing". I'm a bit of a sucker when it comes to noodles and peanut sauce so this sounded great. (Please ignore the green hue of the photo - this was due to the lighting we ended up sitting under!)

 

The tofu was served hot over a bed of cold rice noodles and salad, and was very tasty. To be honest, I was hoping the noodles would be warm but it was nice and refreshing to have them cold - they complimented the salad well. The tofu was wonderfully seasoned and the salad was a great mix of fresh vegetables. My only complaint was that there was too much coriander for my taste - but I didn't specify that I didn't want much so it's not their fault either! All in all, I was very satisfied with my choice and would go back to them again. Plus, look at how pretty their stall is:


Only eating half of my salad meant that I had plenty of room for dessert - YES! (Although I would have still had dessert even if I didn't have space...)

The lovely Noisette Bakehouse was there with a fabulous menu - including a vegan option!


It would have been rude not to sample it, so I bought one of the Rosemary, Lemon, Olive Oil Cakes... oh my! A gorgeously soft, succulent cake with a lovely zesty flavour and a herby edge from the rosemary. Very good! It was so good in fact that I had to buy another one to take home (in a cute little box) and share with Mr Hatter...

 

Who says there's such a thing as too much cake???

So we ended up having a very tasty day out - I would definitely like to go back to the Belgrave Street Feast sometime!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

#TVK6

I have a bit of a backlog of blogs to write so this is the first of a few catch-ups!

Box number 6 from The Vegan Kind arrived in their new dinky little box - it's so cute! And a great idea for when the items are smaller as there is less packaging waste.

There were 6 items in this month's box:

1. Rebel Kitchen Choco Mylk
2. Freya Luna Lip and Body Balm
3. Creative Nature Sublime Seed Bar
4. Landgarten Organic Dark Chocolate Soya Snack
5. Coconom Coconut Sugar
6. Clearspring Sushi Nori


1. Rebel Kitchen Choco Mylk


This "mylk" drink is made from coconut milk and spring water, and comes in three flavours - Choco, Banana, and Orange Choc. They contain no added sugar, as they are naturally sweetened with dates - yum! You're meant to chill them before drinking (as I imagine this would make it taste better...) but I decided to have mine straight out of the box for a chocolately fix and it was yummy even when room temperature! I would definitely like to try the orange choc one, as orange chocolate is one of my favourite flavours!

2. Freya Luna Lip and Body Balm

This sounds great - a moisturising lip balm which is also suitable for soothing dry skin patches while you're out and about. Unfortunately I don't like lavender so I can't vouch for it as I've not tried it! I think I know someone who would like it very much though...

3. Creative Nature Sublime Seed Bar

This was an interesting alternative to the type of bars I usually buy. The peanutty flavour was a nice change and it was packed full of protein (peanuts, seeds, and hemp) so would be great if you wanted a post-workout snack.

4. Landgarten Organic Dark Chocolate Soya Snack


The third TVK box I received had a packet of Landgarten chocolate covered pumpkin seeds which I loved, so I had high hopes for these. They did not disappoint! The soy beans were tasty and the chocolate was divine - such a great snack! (At least if you can refrain from eating the entire packet in one sitting... but even then it's still less than 100 calories so it's not so bad!) I've enjoyed the Landgarten snacks so much, I'm planning on visiting their website to stock up my cupboard with healthy snacks. Yum yum yum.

5. Coconom Coconut Sugar

Coconom coconut sugar can be used in place of regular sugar on a 1:1 ratio, so you can literally just swap it in your recipes. It is made from "freshly harvested coconut nectar 'sap'", and is loaded with nutrients. It's something I've wanted to try baking with since I tasted it at Vegfest in London last year. I haven't decided yet what I'll be baking with it but I'm looking forward to giving it a go!

6. Clearspring Sushi Nori

My very first box from TVK contained a box of Clearspring miso soup (which was very lovely), so it was a pleasant surprise to find another Clearspring product this month. This nori (a sea vegetable) can be eaten straight from the packet, used to make sushi, or crumbled onto a dish. I've never had sushi, vegan or otherwise, so I think I might give it a go and see how it turns out!

This month's free recipe card looks beautiful and is something I will definitely make - Salted Chocolate Tart by The Vegan Cookie Fairy. The charity of the month is The Excellent Adventure Sanctuary, who help guinea pigs that have ongoing medical issues - go have a look at the adorable gallery on their website!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Vegan Package Swap - March 2014

For my March swap, I was partnered with someone from the Netherlands - a first for me!

I received a wonderful box of goodies - just look at it!


I must admit, I've not got around to using that much of it yet but as I've just signed up to the April swap I wanted to write the blog post before it got lost underneath all the others I have yet to write...

So in my box this month I received:

- Rice milk chocolate with crunchy rice bits
- Mushroom pate
- "Tony's" chocolate
- Biscuits
- Ground hazelnuts
- Cassava crisps
- Spices for biscuits
- Chocolate flavour Lotus spread
- A huge variety of teas

The rice milk chocolate went straight away. It was yummy - so yummy in fact that I didn't get around to taking a photo!

The mushroom pate is waiting to be spread on some toast I think... Mmmmmm...

Tony's chocolate sounds really interesting - you can check out their website here. It sounds like they are a very ethical chocolate company, sourcing everything directly so that the farmers are paid fairly. I'm looking forward to opening this, as the website states that their chocolate bars are divided into "25 unequal but all great tasting pieces".

The biscuits we ate over the space of a couple of days - very tasty. They had got a bit squashed in transit though so no photos unfortunately!

The ground hazelnuts will be very handy for baking - hazelnuts are one of my favourite nuts... I'm thinking something chocolatey will be good for these...

Cassava crisps - I had to look this up and apparently it's some sort of root vegetable. We have yet to try these!

Spices are always handy and these ones smell great! I just need an excuse to bake a big batch of biscuits now!

I've been wanting to try Lotus spread for a while - the regular one. I didn't even realise it came in a chocolate flavour! I am very much looking forward to trying this!

I've started working my way through the teas. I'm not a big tea drinker and there are a couple in there that I don't think I'll try (mint / liquorice) but so far I've liked most of the ones I've tried. The "lemon pie" flavour was great! This is one of the great things about these swaps - it makes me try things I wouldn't normally have!

UPDATE

I opened the chocolate! Look at it! And the INSIDE of the wrapper has stuff on it (not that I can read it but still...) ! It's tasty too! All that Fairtrade goodness... means it's good for me, right?


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Cake & Bake Show 2014

Last year, I had my first experience at The Cake & Bake Show, and absolutely loved it. So when the time rolled around again, and tickets were on special offer (!), I could hardly say no...

This year was more of a mixed bag - but we'll come to that soon.

We were there super early this year, so ended up queuing outside - look how close to the door we were!


Once we were inside, we roamed the stalls looking for goodies to take home. I managed to pick up a few pieces of equipment that I was on the lookout for, but came away missing some of the things I had hoped to buy as it turned out I could get them cheaper online!

I was very excited at the prospect of there being vegan treats there this year. (Last year there were no sweet treats but I did manage to come home with quite a bit of bread!) I knew in advance that there would be a vegan cupcake stall and was pleasantly surprised to see a few other signs labelled VEGAN. However, it turned out that this was a bit of a mixed blessing. I'm very glad that veganism is becoming more accepted and available, but if I'm completely honest, I wasn't overly thrilled by the quality of the vegan produce.

My day started with a huge piece of vegan coconut cake. When talking to the stallholder, he explained that it was made from a traditional Jamaican recipe which is just naturally vegan - no adjustments necessary. We went on to discuss how vegan cake can be a bit dry if not done well, but this recipe was made with coconut milk which kept it lovely and soft. So I bought a piece and munched it down. The flavour combination was lovely - coconutty and spicy and everything you would expect from a Jamaican cake. But what do you know, it was quite dry...

I was super excited about visiting the vegan cupcake stall (My Cupcakes), as I knew I would be able to choose anything I wanted from it. I bought a box of four pretty cupcakes, which Mr Hatter and I tucked into on Monday night (the day after I bought them).



The flavours were pretty good, and as I said they were pretty, (here it comes...) BUT the bases were very dense (I think this was maybe due to them being gluten free), and the icing seemed to just slide off the top (which isn't something I would expect from a cupcake). So, I'm glad I tried them but I don't think I'll be going back if I see them again.

There was a very expensive chocolate stall which was all dairy free but as it was so expensive, I skipped it.

It's not all a woeful tale for my vegan hunt though! I came away with some yummy chocolate sticks which you melt into hot (almond) milk to make hot chocolate, and there was a non-vegan stall offering two vegan options - I opted for the Almond Millionaires Shortbread and it was divine. I wish I'd bought more!

There was also some very yummy bread that I brought home - a breakfast loaf, an olive loaf, and a huge white loaf.

Anyway, I keep being told I need to get a stall there so I think I might see how feasible it is next year, so I can show people how yummy vegan cakes can be!

One thing that struck me about this year's show was the number of non-baking related stalls. Last year, I think the only really out of place stall was Cats Protection but they seem to get to every event! This year, there was a shoe stall, a hair straightening stall, even a tarot  reader! It was almost as if not enough cake-related companies wanted to attend... Very strange.

Onto the show itself...

The theme for the display and competition cakes this year was "Welcome to the Jungle", which I found much more inspiring than last year's fashion theme. There were lots of amazing animal-themed cakes which I adored, although it did make me think about what a waste it is - making all that cake and spending so long decorating for it just to be thrown away. One of the main show pieces was a huge elephant outside the Jungle tent (enclosure?). We were talking to the woman on the door there, who told us that due to the cake being assembled on location, they weren't allowed to serve it to anyone as it hadn't been certified by the food hygiene people...

All in all, it was a great day out with some lovely ladies who made the whole thing worthwhile! (You know who you are!)

These were a few of my favourite cakes/creations (apologies for any blurry photos - camera phone + low lighting/many people isn't the best combo). You can see all my photos here.






 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Brandon Street Night Market

Friday really was a foodie day, after lunch at the Noonshine Cafe (see yesterday's blog post), we also went out for a street food dinner!

Brandon Street Night Market is a pleasant way to spend a Friday night, which I stumbled across by accident on the internet. (Isn't it great when that happens?) It takes place on the last Friday of each month, and has a selection of street food stalls, drinks, DJs, a record store, and artwork. Before I get onto the topic of food, I'll say that the live graffiti artists that they had were amazing - unfortunately I didn't get any photos but they were well worth watching!

The market was situated at Canal Mills, just outside of Leeds city centre (walking distance). With the fairy lights, colourful decorations and urban-chic feel it was a lovely place to just sit and chill out after a week at work:



There were a few food stalls, but one caught my eye immediately due to the big sign saying VEGAN in capital letters! Yay!

You can see the VEGAN sign in the bottom left, and on the right that is the start of the street art
Now, there was a sign showing the different layers that make up a banh mi, but as I'm rubbish (or I was just too keen to start eating), I didn't take a photo of it. So here is the description of a banh mi from the Banh Mi Booth facebook page:

Hang on, what's a bánh mì then? 

A bánh mì [ban-mee] sandwich is the perfect fusion of Vietnamese and French cuisines consisting of a lightly toasted baguette, smothered with mayo and pâté and filled with marinated meat, sweet pickled veg, crunchy cucumber and fresh herbs.

I obviously opted for the vegan choice, which was "spicy tofu and aubergine" - cooked separately and fresh to order to avoid contamination. What can I say about it? It was WONDERFUL! The different layers gave the sandwich so much depth of flavour - you can see mine below, topped with crispy onions for a bit of crunch. I'll be looking out for Banh Mi Booth at any other foodie events I end up at! Definitely a satisfying way to finish the week!


After our gorgeous sammiches, we thought we'd get ourselves a refreshing cocktail - we both went for the "Bourbon Smash", which was lovely and fruity. I tried to get a photo of all the yummy raspberries in our drinks but unfortunately mood lighting is not conducive to good photography when you're just using your phone!


I get the impression that the night market gets livelier later on in the evening. We went straight after work and it was pretty quiet, although it did start to liven up by the time we left. I think it would be a great place to go with a group of friends to eat, chat, and chill out in the funky surroundings. Maybe I'll see you there next month!