Sunday, 22 April 2018

Vital

Yesterday afternoon, we headed over to Headingley to take part in some market research for new business venture Vital. We were met by the lovely James and Laura, who gave us lots of information about the ethos behind the business, a bit of background about the dishes, and some extra bits of interesting information.

The dishes we tried were Caribbean inspired, and James explained that he has family from Jamaica - and further back in the family history there is some Indian influence. They also told us about the Rastari notion of Ital (which is incorporated into their brand name), which is about eating pure, natural food. This all combined to make for some really interesting dishes.

(I will warn you now, the pictures aren't very good as we were downstairs with no natural light - but you'll hopefully get the idea at least.)

Unfortunately there were a couple of dishes on the menu that were unavailable, due to a personal emergency for the third person that was due to host the event with James and Laura, but I think we tried enough to get the idea!

Green Juice
First on the menu was the traditional Ackee and Saltfish. I've never had this dish before, so had no idea what to expect but what we were given was very tasty. The "fish" was made of jackfruit, giving it the flaky texture you would expect from a fish dish. The ackee (a fruit) was cooked in such a way that it resembled scrambled egg, making a pretty convincing egg fried rice. In fact, I enjoyed the ackee so much that I'm going to try to find some to try at home!

Ackee and Saltfish
Next up came a Patty filled with lentil dahl. This was very tasty but the pastry was pretty crumbly - not sure if that was down to the spelt flour or just the nature of the pastry. A tasty choice either way!

Patty
After this we had Plantain Stew with Egg Fried Rice, which I completely forgot to photograph! I've never had plantain before and wasn't sure what to expect, but it was almost potato-like in texture. I'd definitely have it again. Again, the egg fried rice was made with ackee and was very tasty.

Next we had some straight up Jerk Jackfruit, which was tasty. It was quite a dry spice, so I think this would pair well with something contrasting. I imagine it would usually be served with rice, which would provide this contrast.

Jerk Jackfruit
While we ate the Jerk Jackfruit, James disappeared to prepare the next dish - BBQ Thighs. It's been a long time since I ate meat, and I'm not sure if I've ever had something like a drumstick, so I really had no basis for comparison for this dish. However, I really enjoyed it - this was one of my favourites of the evening. The "skin" was made from pancake style wraps (think Chinese duck pancakes) and the "meat" was jackfruit again. The texture combinations here were great, and the crispy bits on the "skin" were perfect. This was served with a little dollop of tamarind sauce (which I love) - a great compliment to the flavours of the "thigh".

BBQ Thigh
At the end of the session, we even got a pudding! This was labelled as a donut, but to me it felt more like a pudding (e.g. sticky toffee pudding style), as it was pretty dense and sticky. It tasted great though and when it is served as a full sized dish, you will get three of these little donuts, topped with ice cream or cream - which sounds great! The use of coconut sugar gave it a rich, caramel-like flavour.

Donut
James and Laura are both nutritionists and are incorporating that into their meals, without compromising on flavour. I am very excited to see where this venture goes, and look forward to trying some full blown meals in the future.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Meow Cafe

Meow Cafe opened last month in Todmorden and I have been drooling over their photos on Instagram since! We finally made our way over to visit the cafe yesterday and it was brilliant!


The cafe is run by volunteers, with all proceeds going to Bluebell Cat Rescue, which is such a lovely idea! Everything in the cafe is cat themed, from the staff's t-shirts and cat ears, to the table settings, to the decor. I was already sold before we'd even ordered any food. Look at how cute this place is:





The savoury menu is pretty small (which isn't a bad thing). When we visited, they had two flavours of panini (sausage and caramelised onion / cheese, tomato, and basil pesto), a couple of soups, and avocado on toast. We all opted for the sausage and caramelised onion panini, which was very tasty!


The star of the show here was the cakes. There was loads of choice and it all looked so good, it was very difficult to choose!

We had a selection of three flavours:

Toffee Fudge Cake
Orange and Walnut Cake
Chocolate Tart
All the cakes were brilliant. My favourite was the tart but I can't remember what it was called. It consisted of a biscuity crust, a rich chocolate bottom layer, and a top layer that I'm pretty sure was biscoff. YUM!

I also couldn't leave without trying the hot chocolate. This was one of the best vegan hot chocolates that I've had - it was rich and creamy, and velvety smooth. And look at those squirty cream and marshmallows!!


We will definitely be back - I can see this being a regular treat for us!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Eat Your Greens Preview


A new eatery opened in Leeds this week and we were lucky enough to be able to go to the preview event last Friday! 

The wonderful Grub and Grog team have teamed up with Outlaws Yacht Club to open a new restaurant which focuses on healthy food in a zero waste environment, with a focus on using locally sourced produce - Eat Your Greens. Grub and Grog have been hosting pop ups and residencies for years (one of which was actually at Outlaws Yacht Club!), so it's great to see them in their own place. I love the Grub and Grog menus because they work on the basis that everything is vegan unless otherwise stated. They do serve non-vegan food but it will be labelled (V = vegetarian, F = fish, M = meat), so if there is no label next to the dish you know it's vegan. Outlaws is a lovely chilled place to grab coffee and cake. I've never been for drinks but I bet it's a great place in the evening too!

The venue itself is lovely - very light and open. The tables are spread out enough that you have some privacy, but not so much that the place feels empty. They have a selection of smaller and larger tables - some of which come with a booth/sofa which looks like it would be great to settle into for the evening! I also love all the plants that are dotted around the place - it really makes it feel fresh inside!


We arrived at the start of the preview event, so the food wasn't quite ready but the bar was open, so we treated ourselves to a cheeky drink!

Cheeky beer and G&T

The restaurant runs a day menu and a night menu, both of which look great. The preview event was only serving the night menu - and only four main dishes from it... the vegan ones!

Day menu

Night menu

We were offered some complimentary snacks and starters, so of course we said yes! They were all very tasty. The pea hummus is made with local peas instead of chickpeas - and it works!

Roasted soya beans and wasabi peas
Bread and Pea Hummus
Potatoes & Herbs / Small Brassica Bowl
When the time arrived to order our mains, we both chose the Charred Leeks and Pea Broth, which was really tasty. Apparently this dish had the best reception at the preview event the night before as well, so I guess we chose wisely! I would love to go back and try the other options as well.

Charred Leeks and Pea Broth
All in all, we had a lovely evening there. My only complaint is that the music was a bit on the loud side. I don't know if we were sitting under a speaker or if it was just generally loud, but we both came away with a headache. Other than that, it was great! We will definitely be going back! (Also, if you're reading this, I wouldn't say no to some vegan cake / dessert if you were to add it to the menu!)