Karma Kitchen – All Vegan Indian Takeaway

I don’t get takeaways that often but sometimes nothing else will do. After a long journey back from a family wedding this Sunday we were both in the mood for some comforting Indian food without the need to put on proper trousers or cook. I haven’t had an Indian takeaway since going vegan as I wasn’t sure how to guarantee 100% vegan food. 

Luckily Karma Kitchen has just launched, delivering in a 5 mile radius from Newcastle City Centre they do an all vegan Indian menu. This includes their naan breads and sides, yummy!

We placed our order at about 6.10pm which is 10 minutes after the kitchen opens and we ordered the chickpea curry, vegetable platter with curry dips, garlic naan, peshwari naan, steamed rice and I ordered spiced onions which weren’t on the menu but I asked if they could do it and they said yes. With delivery the whole Order came to £24.30 and we were given a delivery time of 7.45pm.

The food came exactly on time and there was a lot of it!


In this photo the plate is showing half the rice, platter and chickpea curry.

The food was perfect, it wasn’t greasy and was obviously fresh ingredients. The chickpea curry was very tasty and I think next time I order it (and there will definitely be a next time) I’ll be brave and go for spicy curry rather than medium. The highlight for me though had to be the peshwari naan, normally I don’t like these and that’s why we always get two naan breads as Andy loves them, but when I accidentally tried some of Andys I couldn’t believe how lovely it was. The paste in the middle was so tasty and fresh with a delicate texture which wasn’t like any peshwari I’d ever eaten before. I was so impressed! 

In our haste to eat our dinner I forgot to take any more piccies except this one at the end of Andy looking stuffed. 


I think the next time we order I’ll order something completely different. Not because what I had wasn’t nice but because I fully trust whatever I order will be special and I want to try them all!!

I wish every success to Karma Kitchen and I feel so lucky to live in a city with so many exciting up and coming vegan ventures to support! 

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Jus Rol Pain Au Chocolat – Vegan Heaven

There are some things that you just accept as a vegan, and for me one of those things was that I would never spend a rainy morning with the papers dipping a warm Pain Au Chocolat into a coffee ever again. 

I told myself I didn’t mind and it was a small price to pay, but when I heard a rumour that Jus Rol did a range of bake them yourself pastries that were accidentally vegan I just had to investigate. I couldn’t believe it, but my research all came back the same. Vegan. 

Oh praise to the high heaven! 

So when I woke up this morning and it was raining I decided it was perfect Pain Au Chocolat weather and I was going to treat myself. I stopped off at the big sainsburies at the end of my morning run and found them in the chilled section. The range included croissants and cinnamon rolls which are both vegan too (I will be trying these at another date).

I got them home and got straight onto ‘cooking’ them. 


They come in a box and inside the box is a tube and a packet for the chocolate.


Opening the tube is pretty straight forward and then you unroll the pastry, separating the individual pastries by cutting along the perforated edge.


Then you put two pieces of chocolate at each end.


And roll from each end into the middle.


Then you place on a baking tray with the crease at the bottom and if you want a golden glaze (who doesn’t want a golden glaze?) you brush soya milk on the outside.


Pop in the oven at 200c for 12 minutes and go hug your cat.


As you hug your cat enjoy your ordinary house being transformed into a French patisserie as the sweet aroma of baking envelops your home. 

After 12 minutes take them out the oven.


Enjoy warm, with coffee.


The only down side is that they don’t keep well so you need to eat them with at least one other person or you’re in danger of polishing off six on your own. I shared with Andy who agreed they were utterly delicious!  

Vegan Thai Food At Mantra Thai

I’ve been hearing good things about Mantra Thai for a while so decided to give it a go on Thursday night with the Husband before seeing the Nick Cave film (which is  AMAZING btw). 

Thai food is often a good option for vegans as they don’t use a lot of dairy products so you can usually have most of what is on the veggie menu and Mantra Thai’s veggie menu is vast with dishes to cater for all tastes. I spent ages trying to decide what to have as I actually wanted it all, and just when I was about to order the fried aubergine the waitress came over to say that we could have anything on the menu with tofu. Imagine that a whole menu to pour over! (Andy had decided what he wanted in about ten seconds flat so was not as enthusiastic about this as me).

Eventually we ordered the papaya salad and the BBQ tofu skeweres to share as our starters and we both went for the panang as a main, Andy ordered it hot with butternut squash and I ordered medium with tofu. 

The food came quickly and the portions we big. The papaya salad was beautiful, it had a light lime dressing which was deceptively spicy. Both me and Andy found it to be very hot but not in an unbearable way. The spice crept up on you until you were a bit giddy with a streaming nose and a tingling tounge but unable to stop pushing more in your mouth. I will definatly order this the next time! 


The skewers were also a delight. The tofu was crispy on the outside and soft and silky on the inside (how do you do that? I can’t even get tofu out the box without it falling apart). We got four skewers so they are perfect for sharing. They were light and the bbq sauce was flavoursome without overpowering the gentle flavours of the vegetables. Lovely! 


We ate everything on our plates including the side salads in almost complete silence, just the occaisonal negotiation about how many tomatoes we had left. 


Then our mains arrived. Oh happy days! 

Again the tofu was cooked to perfection and the portion size was just right, we shared a Jasmine rice which was exactly the right amount of food. I tried Andy’s butternut squash and though it was well cooked, I’m not a fan of butternut squash, so I’m glad I got the tofu. I was also pleased I ordered medium rather than hot as my tastebuds needed a bit of a break after the papaya salad. The curry was tasty without being overpowering and just the right amount of fat. 


We still had some time after our meal before the film so I ordered one scoop of the mango and passion fruit sorbet and Andy got a coffee. I was impressed by the sorbet which had pieces of real fruit in it and was the right blend of tangy and sweet. 


The whole bill came to £51.75 including 3 beers (between us not each) which I felt was reasonable for the amount we ate and the level of service we got. 

I will definatly be returning to Mantra Thai to sample the rest of the menu! 

Vegan Afternoon Tea At The Great British Cupcakery

It was my birthday last week and I was really excited to try the vegan Afternoon Tea at The Great British Cupcakery. Before I went vegan I used to love Afternoon Tea but haven’t managed to find anywhere that doesn’t feel like you are being short changed on the cake front when you get the vegan option. 

I found out about the Great British Cupcakery’s Vegan Afternoon Tea by chance, one of my yoga peeps is a cook there and also a vegan so we often chat about where to eat. I was lamenting the lack of Afternoon Tea options and she said that The Great British Cupcakery do them, as she is a vegan herself I knew she would understand the struggle so I booked myself in straight away! 

Everything is made to order so you need to book 24 hours in advance and it costs £19.95 for adults and £9.95 for little ones. 

When we arrived we had a table waiting for us and they had set out lovely little tea sets for each person, I ordered tea, my sister ordered the coffee and my niece had a rose lemonade. 


Our teas came out very quickly after that and mine had a birthday candle in which was a sweet touch.


It was so much better than expected. Let’s look at it layer by layer.


Sandwich layer of cucumber, tomato and hummous sandwiches.  These were delicious and my sister felt jealous that there wasn’t one on the non vegan option.


Next layer was a gooey brownie, crumbly flapjack and a plain scone. The brownie was the highlight of the whole meal for me!


Then we had a strawberry cupcake, a fruit scone and some jam and spread. The cupcake was really good, it was light and airy which just a faint hint of strawberry.


I didn’t manage to eat it all, in fact I barely made a dent in it. However I’m a firm believer that half the fun in afternoon tea is taking most of it home and eating it in front of the telly.

We had such a lovely afternoon and the kids afternoon tea was such good value, I can imagine it would be a fab place for a teenagers party. 

They don’t do champagne afternoon teas but you are welcome to bring your own bottle for £5 corkage. I would have done this if I hadn’t been working later on.

I am so happy that The Great British Cupcakery are catering to vegans so well, the vegan option was just as good as the normal version and I am sure that when word spreads they’ll be inundated which vegans from up and down the land! They also sell vegan cakes to buy at the counter but once these run out on the day they are gone so it might be worth ringing beforehand to check they have some left to avoid disappointment. 


Now if only they’ll veganise one of those delicious looking milkshakes *drooooool*

Byron Burger Metro Centre Review – Where Avocado Dreams Come True

Avoid it for as long as you can but there comes a time in all Geordies lives when you must make the perilous journey across the river, through A1 roadworks and visit that desolate land, The Metro Centre. You can only put off the inevitable for so long before your ikea lamps need bulbs, and your desire for cheap storage boxes from The Range becomes too strong and you are forced to go. 

The metro centre is not a place I equate with good food in my mind, I spent a great deal of my adolescence working in the metro centre, first for a designer men’s clothes shop where I would grab my lunch and sometimes dinner from Greggs, and then for a sit in fish and chip resteraunt where becoming sickened from serving fish and chips all day I would eat sausage, bread and gravy in a staff room that stunk of regal king size (oh to be young again!) On reflection,  I don’t think I have ever eaten a vegetable in the metro centre unless mushy peas count. 

However all this has changed. Recently the yellow quadrant has expanded to accommodate a host of upmarket chain eateries, and during our recent jaunt to the land of strip lighting we decided to go for a bite to eat in Byron Burger. 

Byron Burger is actually the last on the strip before you reach the shops again, and it’s set a little back from the other restaurants, though I prefer it this way as it means it’s quieter, it’s a shame for the resteraunt as it deserved to be much busier than it was. 

We told the server that we were vegan and they took great pains to explain everything on the menu we could have. On the face of it it appears that the vegan options are very limited but once she had explained that we could have any burger and just swap it for either a bean pattie or a portebello mushroom then that opened up way more options. It’s worth noting too that all their buns are vegan too so you don’t need to worry about that. 

We went for the tortilla dips with salsa and quacamole to start.


It turns out that their own brand draught beer is vegan too so we had two pints of that also! (Well it would be rude not to.)


I’m not a massive fan of tortilla chips, I can take them or leave them. They are just a vehicle for dip really, but these were lovely and the dips that came with these tortillas were amazing. The salsa was more of a refreshing cool salsa than a hot dip but this is exactly how I like it. The quacamole was very tasty too, chunky and just the right consistency to fit on your chip. 

For the main even we both ordered something called a B Rex, but Andy swapped the burger for a mushroom and I had a bean pattie,  then we swapped the bacon for avocado, the cheese for red pepper and omitted the mayonnaise, apparently you can do this with anything on the menu for no extra charge. The staff were so nice about this and weren’t put out at all, there’s nothing worse than feeling like a pain in the bum when you order. 

We then got a side of sweet potato fries, French fries and the feta and watermelon salad but with avocado instead of feta. (We were hungry ok!)

Our food came very quickly.

Is there a single more beautiful sight than your order on the counter waiting to come to you? I think not.


It became apparent immediately that we had underestimated Bryon Burger’s portion sizes. Normally when you ask for a side of avocado you get a measly slither of a avocado, not an entire avocado. I’m not complaining, I’m far from complaining. It brings a tear of joy to a vegan eye to see that much avocado in one sitting, finally somewhere that understands. 

The bean pattie 


 

The mushroom burger


As usual we ended up halving them and having a bit of both, the bean burger was nice but the mushroom really blew my socks off. 

This is not a first date restaurant mind, you can’t eat the burger daintily.



 The sides were also excellent. I really liked the pickled red onions in the salad and the chips were perfect.


For the first time in our entire lives we were defeated by the amount of avocado, this literally never happens, ever. 


We ate forever and we still had some left! Luckily though the server asked if we wanted a doggy bag, which I would have asked for anyway but I really appreciate it when a server gets in there first. 


Me with my takeaway left overs that will by mashed in rye bread for tonight’s tea. A vegan can’t see avocado go in the bin, it’s not right. 

I was really impressed with Byron Burger. I am always on the look out for places that you could go in a large group and satisfy everyone. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to go to the metro centre again without stopping by. So if you have anything you need to buy from ikea, soften the blow with a meal in Byron Burger! 

Our Big Fat Greek Vegan Holiday

We’ve just come back from an amazing week on the island of Kefalonia in Greece. We had sun, sea, sand and loads and loads of good food. I think between us we must have eaten at least a bottle of olive oil, and oh the vine leaves, and the tomatoes, take me back now!

 


Initially we were apprehensive about our holiday in Greece as it appeared that Greek cooking seemed to be mainly meat and cheese. Traditionally for us our holidays revolve mainly around food so we were a bit anxious that we would feel like we were missing out but it was wasted worrying as the food was AMAZING!

In the spirit of full disclosure I feel I have to say that there were a couple of instances where food we’d ordered without cheese, came with cheese on top *le sigh* but we just scrapped it off and munched around it, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Here are our vegan highlights.

Aeroplane food.

We were  flying Thomsons so no included inflight meal for us. We did the bog standard thing of getting a Boots Meal Deal on the way there. There was loads of vegan options, so that was fine.


The way back was a bit tricker as the deli at the airport had no vegan options and because we were flying at 1.30pm we had to be at the airport at 11am and didn’t arrive back in Britain until 5pm (Greece time) we were kinda forced to buy something on the plane. We went for the vegetable pasta (because it was the one and only choice) which was six whole pounds of British coinage. In fairness to Thomsons it was actually quite nice but I think that was because I was starving and it had the salt content of a packet of crisps and the sugar content of a mars bar. The two gin and tonics I had to wet the whistle on the way down probably helped too.


Crap areoplane food is part and parcel of going on holiday though, it’s all part of the fun and this pasta was a million times better than the cheese and ham toastie I once had on a Jet2 flight to Croatia. (I’m pretty sure the aftertaste is still lingering in my mouth from that monstrosity).

Breakfast

Let’s face it. No matter where you go in the world, whatever incredible sights you see, cultures you sample, people you meet, life changing experiences you have.  The highlight of any holiday is always the breakfast buffet.

On the first day we went down to breakfast and were excited to discover that we could easily cobble ourselves together a fried breakfast using the fried vegetables and beans.

The hotel also believed that Oreos are a breakfast staple and though I don’t agree, I was certainly happy about.

I could live off this kind of food forever but Andy is more of a cereal and fruit man himself so we decided to go on the hunt for some soya milk. When I say hunt I actually just mean we visited the hotel mini-mart and there we found not one but THREE milk alternatives, they had soya milk, rice milk and chocolate soya milk.

Here is Andy looking chuffed at his breakfast.

Evening Buffet

We were half board and we were allowed to choose between lunch and dinner at the hotel which meant we weren’t tied to the hotel which was brilliant. However we did end up eating in the hotel most evenings because the buffet was incredible.

So many fresh vegetables, pulses, stuffed vine leaves, salads, breads, the options seemed endless. There was never a night that we didn’t eat at least two plates in complete silence with only the odd grunt of contentment to puncture our greedy guzzling.

Here is a medley of some of the plates I remembered to take a photo of before I gobbled it up.


Eating out

Greek vegan options though not vast, are very very tasty. You can usually find rice stuffed peppers or  tomatoes on the menu and if you’re really struggling most menus have some vegan options in the meze sections.

Here is a selection of the meals we ate.

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Treats!!!

You need treats on holiday. It’s the law. Obviously ice cream is off limits but sorbet is usually vegan so we ate a lot of that! We had mango, strawberry, lemon and orange. If there wasn’t a sorbet option we’d have a cocktail, simples! Also never underestimate the pleasure of eating a plain watermelon on the beach.

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Our first vegan holiday was a resounding success and the half stone I’ve put on will agree that the food was amazing and we certainly didn’t miss out!

What’s your favourite holiday destination for vegan food??

Five Minute Slow Cooked Three Pulse Soup

I am feeling super sorry for myself, my wisdom teeth are hurting and I can’t bear the thought of eating solid food. My jaw is aching, ear is sore and I have a pressure headache 😦

I have even had to cancel my evening classes which I just can’t bear doing but needs must. 

Luckily though, dinner is sorted. With 5 minutes prep this afternoon I had a steaming bowl of protein packed pulses and veg. Thanks past Jo!!

When I posted a piccie of it on Facebook someone asked for the recipe so here it is.

Ingredients

100g red lentils

100g of chaana Dahl (if you don’t have this just double the lentils)

One tin of chickpeas

One onion

One stick of celery

One corgetti

One red pepper

Some cabbage 

Two carrots 

One clove garlic

One bay leaf

One 2 inch cube of ginger

One stock cube

Method

Thinly slice veg, for super speed just throw through the slicer in a food processor. Put in slow cooker, cover with boiling water, add lentils, chick peas, dahl, stock cube and bay leaf. Turn on low. Enjoy. 

There you have it! Perfect poorly soup 🙂 

Yo! Sushi Grainger Street Review 

Oh Yo! Sushi, how I love thee. I have spent many a lunch time happily alone, sitting perched at the belt watching the sushi spin past. I have visited over 5 branches of the restaurant and was so sad when I heard the one in Fenwick was closing (a short lived sadness I have to say, as the new Fenwick food hall is divine and a Yo! Sushi Grainger Street opened not too long after).

My job means that I work most evenings and some of the weekends, this means I have become a lady what lunches. Pretty much all of my disposable income goes on meeting friends for lunch, and when I’m not meeting friends I adore to dine alone. Yo! Sushi is a perfect dining alone venue.

What I loved about the Yo! Sushi in Fenwick is that it was a perfect mix of being left alone to relax, but you never felt bored watching the sushi sail past and pressing your little button for more green tea or a refill of miso. I enjoyed watching the shoppers bustle by with their bags and the chefs frying up some tepenyake behind the counter. 

If you’ve never been to Yo! Sushi I’ll explain the concept. There is a moving conveyor belt which the tables are arranged around, food is placed on the belt and you pick off what you fancy. You can also order food if you can’t see what you want on the belt. All the food is made in the centre of the room so you can see your food being made. It’s a gimmick that works and though it’s not the best or most authentic sushi in the world it’s fun and I ALWAYS end up eating more plates than I planned. 

So to my trip to the Grainger Street branch. The restaurant opened on the 12th May and I visited with two friends on the 13th. We entered the restaurant at 11.45am so just before the lunchtime rush. I was presented with a vegan menu straight away when I asked which was great.


There was a lot to choose from but I would have liked to have seen pictures in the menu showing the dishes like in the main menu, as if you had never been to Yo Sushi before you might find it difficult to match the dishes to the belt, also there was no prices on the menu either. 

The atmosphere in the restaurant was what I can only describe as ‘hyper’, every time someone came in all the staff and chefs would shout, which got very VERY noisy after a while. The music was so loud that me and my companions struggled to hear each other, which if anyone has ever met me or my companions in real life knows that that must be a mean feat as we are not quiet voiced people. The staff were obviously straight out of training which is fair enough as it had only been opened a day and no one expects a restaurant to be free of teething problems after one day. We had several mix ups with our orders (non of them vegan related), and one of the waiters was very young and a bit too keen, he stayed at the table asking us what our favourite dishes were for way too long while we were trying to eat and used the table we were eating at to lean on to put an order into his machine. These things are totally forgivable, like I say it’s a brand new restaurant and having been a young keen server myself I know it can be exciting to be working on a new job. I hope things settle down when it’s been open a bit longer, as I have no problem at all with a lively waiter or a bustling atmosphere but when it starts to encroach on the enjoyment of your food that’s when it becomes an issue. 

So to the food. There was a lot of choice for vegans, hoorah!

I had,

Aubergine Harusame


Yasai Yakisoba

Miso Soup

Cucumber Maki

Avocado Maki
The avocado maki wasn’t on the vegan menu but I asked for it to be made without mayo and they were very obliging (I actually ate three of these).

I was also excited to see that my favourite dish at Yo! Sushi, Miso Dumpling Ramen with Rice, is also vegan, but I was too full to have it this time.

I will definitely return to the Grainger Street branch of Yo! Sushi as the food is delicious and it’s such an easy way to eat vegan. I am sure that the excitement of opening will calm down and the staff teething issues will sort themselves out. I recommend you try it if you’ve never been.

Five Items That All Vegans Need In their Food Cupboard

When you first start looking into living a plant based lifestyle some of the ingredients can seem a bit daunting but you’ll soon see that the same things come up again and again. These are my top five things you need in your cupboard.

  1. Nutrional Yeast. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this stuff is amazing. Packed through of goodness it can add a cheesy hint to any meal and when a dish just feels like  ‘there’s something missing’ nine times out of ten, it’s this bad boy! I really don’t know why it’s not out there on everyone’s table, whether you’re vegan or not, right next to the salt and pepper!
  2. Liquid smoke. When I first heard of liquid smoke in a recipe I thought it must be some fancy pantsy ingredient. In reality it’s a liquid bbq sauce which can give your food a smoky, meaty taste. Great for marinades and chillis, or for making the amazing rice paper bacon. 
  3. Chick peas. Everyone knows how great chickpeas are in curries, soups, and blended as hummous, but did you know if you whisk the water from the can it can replace egg whites in cooking? Pretty neat! Called Aquafaba you can use it to make meringues, sauces and it’ll even give your chocolate mousse bubbles! 
  4. Black salt. This was a total revelation to me as I love a boiled egg. When I went vegan I was surprised that I wasn’t all that bothered about cheese or chocolate but I did get a craving for an egg. Black salt tastes exactly like boiled egg, I was stunned when I tasted it. I ate it with avocado, portebello mushroom and Violife creamy and it blew my mind. You can buy this from Indian Supermarkets and you can get it ground or whole, I bought ground for ease.
  5. Cashew nuts. Though all nuts will provide you with protein and can bulk up your power balls it’s the cashew nut which is going to make your cabanara sauces creamy and give you the right consistency in your cheese cake. So simple to use, just soak then blend, cashews are the base for many recipes for homemade cheese.

So there you have it, not a comprehensive list by any stretch of the imagination but a pretty good start! 

The Newcastle Vegan Festival

Isn’t it funny about vegan festivals, there isn’t one for ages and then three come along at once. Yesterday  (7th May 2016) was the first of three vegan festivals in the north east region this Summer and I was really excited to get along and see what the fuss was all about.

Newcastle Vegan Festival was held at the Assembly Rooms and was ran by Vegan Festival UK. It was a daytime festival and was open between 10.30am-4.30pm. I had classes in the morning so me and Andy headed down for about 2pm.

When we arrived I was surprised at how busy it was, everywhere seemed full of people browsing and sitting on the floor eating and chatting. A friend who I bumped into said that she’d been there all day and at one point it was completely heaving and the queues for the food had only just started to die down.

We dove straight in and started scanning the area for the food we wanted to eat. The choice was great, no dry falafel and hummous here, all different types of food and all vegan, pure heaven.

We had one sweep of the stalls and made a beeline for a curry and samosa stall and bought a plate of samosa chaana.

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If this picture doesn’t look very appetising that’s because I was so keen to gobble mine up that I totally forgot to take a picture and this is the display model that had been out all day.

It was very nice, but I have to say that I have probably spoilt myself for samosas as we have so many beautiful ones in the shops around Newcastle. My heart dreams of the ones from the Brighton Grove Foodstores, and just the day before the festival I had bought one from The Grocery on Chillingham Road(the man behind the counter assured me they were vegan). I had meandered slowly home from my Friday morning yoga class pulling peas out of the still warm pie, the batter crunchy on the outside and the filling soft and spicy on the inside. A samosa to me conjours up images of warm summer days in the park with my friends, or a treat lunch grabbed on the way somewhere fun. I have a low tolerance for a bad samosa and this one at the festival was just ok. Too much potato and a pastry that was too soggy for my taste. However the salad and curry it was served with redeemed the dish and I enjoyed sitting on a sofa in the corner of the festival people watching and plotting my next dish.

Next up we had a Seitan BBQ skewer from a stall which really did steal the show. It was amazing. Just the look of the food was enough to blow your mind.

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Seitan doner kebab bagels, cheesecakes and rice paper bacon donuts were just some of the things on offer at this stall. I don’t know how they kept it stocked all day as the products were literally flying off the table.

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This is what the BBQ skewer looked like.

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And this is how happy I looked to be eating it

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It tasted just as good as it looked, the texture was exactly like meat and it was seasoned to perfection. I know that some vegans don’t like meat substitutes that are like the real thing but I didn’t give up meat because I don’t like the flavour, and when I did eat meat I was a bit of a fiend for bbq so I was thrilled to find this! I’m even working on a recipe to make it at home.

We then had a cheesecake from the same stall. (Bad form I know but they looked SO GOOD!)

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To be perfectly honest Andy got this for himself and I stole ‘a bite’. It was just like the real thing, and the portion was insane. Top marks!

After we filled our bellies we had another look around, lamenting that we were now too full to try all the other stalls. Here are some pics of other things on offer.

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We stayed for about two hours, sampling more food and meandering through the stalls. We even discovered a club called Vegan Runners who we think we might join!

It was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon, bumping into friends and eating lots of food, and it was well worth the very modest entry fee of £2.

I can certainly see what all the fuss is about now!

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