Tag Archives: food

Lake District Bank Holiday Loveliness

29 Aug

It was August Bank Holiday weekend, and for the third year running that meant an escape to the Lakes.

I stayed in my lovely vegan B&B Fox Hall in Kendal, which is always a pleasure, and being looked after by Sylvia and Chris always does me the world of good. It’s only 30 mins from the central Lakes so a great location for me.

I headed over on Saturday morning. The weather wasn’t great, and the Lakes were absolutely heaving. My original plan was to head into Keswick to have lunch at The Lakeland Pedlar, but Keswick was so busy and it was chucking down with rain so everyone was driving about like a nutter, that I thought I would give it a miss. I drove down to Grasmere, which was much quieter, and had a lovely bowl of soup and gf bread at Greens instead.

I then drove over to Elterwater where I parked up and walked along the Cumbria Way to Skelwith Bridge to have a coffee at Chesters by the River. Chesters make a pretty amazing coffee – probably my second favourite. First place goes to Flat White Durham mostly because I adore the barista boys and girls that work there, they are such sweeties. After coffee it was a walk in the rain back to the car, and then over to Fox Hall to check in and chill out.

Sunday morning was mixed – there were showers and the high peaks were covered in cloud. A friend from the NE drove over to join me for a walk. We set off from Grasmere and walked up to Easedale Tarn. The original plan was to head up Sergeant Man, but the cloud was right down and my walking companion was struggling a bit so we had lunch at Stickle Tarn, and then headed across the ridge to Silver How before descending to Grasmere.

It was was a really nice day’s walking, and I really enjoyed myself. We headed over to Chesters after the walk for a coffee, and some cake for my walking companion.

Bank Holiday monday dawned with torrential rain and cloud down to floor level. Frankly, it was vile.


I was meant to be meeting Amy for a walk. Amy now lives in St Bees, but used to live in the NE and walked with our Ramblers group. We met up, but decided the weather was far too disgusting for the walk we had originally planned so we cut the walk short and spent 2 hours in a coffee shop instead having a catch up and watching the vile weather out of the window.

After Amy headed home I went into Ambleside for a wander around the shops and a short walk in the rain. Then it was back to Fox Hall to get showered and changed before heading out for a meal. I had booked dinner at Lancrigg, the vegetarian country house hotel in Grasmere. I was thinking about booking there for Christmas this year, but wanted to go for a meal to see what the food was like before I did so.

Sadly, I was very disappointed with the food. Despite mentioning on several occasions that I was vegan and allergic to wheat I still ended up sick the next day, so can only assume that dairy or wheat some sneaked into my meal somewhere. I had the falafel for starter, which turned up with sourdough bread and had to be sent back. When it arrived back without sourdough bread it was ok, too heavy on the mint in my opinion. My main course was puy lentil shepherds pie. It was dull and too heavy on the celery – I hate celery and it was all I could taste. I make a better puy lentil shepherds pie myself, and it came with rather dull steamed veg. The portion was small and it was very disappointing. For dessert I chose the chocolate, toffee nut sundae. I was given some melted chocolate ice-cream in a glass – there was no toffee or nut as far as I could tell, just a lot of melted cheap chocolate ice cream with ice crystals in it – and they charged £6 for this?! The meal came to £30 for the three courses, and no alcohol (I don’t drink). It was exceptionally overpriced for the quality of food, and I was very, very disappointed. It was useful to go because it meant that I realised I did not want to book in for Christmas there at all. Such a shame as this was my birthday ‘treat’ meal out.

On Tuesday the weather was much much better, but it was also the day I was going home. Boooo hiss!

I decided to walk in Patterdale on the way home, so drove over to Cow Bridge and parked up the car. The walk I had planned was Dove Crag and Little Hart Crag: about 8 miles. It was magnificent.


It was pretty windy on the top, but I managed to hunker down behind a dry stone wall so that I could enjoy the view with my lunch. The view from the top was great because I could look down the valley to Patterdale, but also in the other direction I could look over to the Langdales, and Ambleside and Windermere – the Lake District really was laid out all around me. Fantastic.

Sadly, it was then time to go home, but I can’t be too sad because after 1 day to clean my clothes I’m off again tomorrow down to Hay-on-Wye for a night, and then on to Pembrokeshire again!

Hurrah for holidays!


World Vegan Pizza Day, 30th June 2012

30 Jun

It’s been a long time since I last had pizza. Being wheat-intolerant and vegan, the number of pizza opportunities available to me in the UK were exceptionally limited. I’ve had vegan pizza on visits to the US (usually picking up a frozen Amy’s rice crust pizza) but it has definitely been a while.

So, when I saw it was Vegan Pizza Day on the 30th June I thought, what better excuse to get my bake on, and cook myself up one delicious vegan pizza.

I started the crust first thing this morning. Leaving it to prove I headed out for my run, and continued on it for the rest of the day, slowly growing in a bowl on the living room floor! At dinner time I started to assemble my pizza. I opted for a tomato sauce base, then portobello mushroom slices, green olives and a sprinkling of Redwood mozzarella style vegan cheese.

The conclusion? The great pizza experiment was a massive success. My pizza was delicious and I will almost certainly make it again. However, seeing as I ate far, far too much of it (because it was so delicious) and I now have a stomach ache, perhaps I won’t make it too often! 🙂

Happy Vegan Pizza Day. What did you have?

Eating my way around NYC

29 Apr

I’ve spent the last 6 days in NYC for work. I adore NYC, and have had a wonderful time wandering the streets, people watching, and having early morning runs in Central Park. I have also been having a lovely time sampling all the amazing vegan food places.

The first place on the list was Candle Cafe, mostly because it wasn’t far from my hotel so it was logical to eat there on my first night. Candle Cafe is located on the Upper East Side. I had eaten there on previous visits to NYC and had enjoyed it, so was looking forward to returning. Unfortunately, my 2 visits on this occasion were underwhelming. The food was ok, but nothing amazing, and I felt that I could have made something pretty similar myself. Indeed, the Market Plate I had on my first visit was pretty similar to what I make myself most evenings.

The second time I ate there I had their seitan burger. Again, it was nice, but nothing amazing, and after two underwhelming eating experiences, and luke-warm service from the staff I figured that I really couldn’t be bothered returning to Candle Cafe again.

The next place I ate was Angelica Kitchen. Angelica Kitchen was one of the first vegan restaurants I ever ate at in NYC, and still remains a firm favourite. They have a wonderful menu, but also change the specials every day, so you are always sure to find something exciting to eat. I ate there three times during this trip. The first time I enjoyed a Sweet Potato and Sweetcorn soup with Angelica Cornbread, and their legendary walnut lentil pate. 

I enjoyed this so much I had the walnut lentil pate the second time I dined there. The soup was different, and I didn’t fancy it, so I ordered the Angelica cornbread with their Miso Tahini Spread (amazing).

The third time I ate there, the special on the menu was Randle Patrick McTempeh (gluten free)

Tangy grilled tempeh baked in an apricot marinade, & topped with
caramelized onions accented with thyme; served with a red quinoa-quinoa-amaranth blend. Accompanied by broccoli & roasted carrots; garnished with
wild dandelion greens.  Oh my, it was delicious. If you are ever in NYC I do heartily recommend Angelica Kitchen.

In addition to delicious meals, I have also been filling up on vegan junk-food, and probably adding lbs to my current weight (serious diet time when I get back to the UK). Some of the highlights include a trip to Babycakes NYC for delicious, gluten-free baked goods. I enjoyed a piece of their chocolat

e crumb cake, and also one of their chocolate glazed doughnuts.

I also went to stogo for some vegan ice-cream. The amazing thing about stogo is not only the huge range of delicious dairy-free ice-cream. They also stock Babycakes NYC baked goods, which means that you can use 2 Babycakes NYC cookies to make an ice-cream sandwich. Oh yes, the image is chocolate chip cookies wrapped around some pistachio ice-cream! Heaven, and impossible to eat in a lady-like manner!

So, my recommendations should you be visiting NYC: definitely hit Angelica Kitchen, Babycakes and Stogo. Give Candle Cafe a miss, there are better places to eat in Manhattan, and you won’t be missing anything by not eating there.

The Wedding. And the cake!

19 Feb

So the wedding…!

We were so lucky with the weather. It doesn’t happen often in February but, despite being bitterly cold, the sun shone!

Half of the office made it to the Registry Office in Durham in the morning to see Lindsay and Colin tieImage the knot. The service was small and lovely. The bride looked adorable, and groom looked very smart in his kilt, and the bridesmaid, who looked cute as a button, was very very well behaved.

Lynsey and Colin spent the afternoon with their close family members at Lumley Castle enjoying a meal (which I hear was absolutely lovely).

The evening ‘do’ was a lovely homemade event at a local church hall where Colin and Lynsey run a swords club. Both are pretty adept with a samurai sword, and we  were treated to a wonderful sword demonstration by members of the club, and finally Lindsay and Colin. All I can say is that when Lyndsay is wielding a sword, she is a very frightening lady. I’m a little worried about asking her to do banal office tasks for me now! 🙂 We also enjoyed a lovely Northumbrian piper (I adore the Northumbrian pipes), and then there was dancing, but not before the cake was cut (with a samurai sword of course). 



The cupcakes had been made by one of the other girls in the office, and it was by complete chance that the frosting matched. It almost looks like we co-ordinated! There were two little girls at the reception, and I have never seen girls happier than when they were told that they could have a cupcake each! 🙂

Oh, and for those curious whether the purple stripes came out (because I certainly was), here is the proof, and everyone tells me that the cake was really good. So, mission accomplished, despite the 6 layer mishap (see the previous post)!


Shrove Tuesday

16 Feb

My ankle is playing up, which means no running, so I’m feeling very sorry for myself. What better way to make myself feel better than pancakes for breakfast!

Well, it is Shrove Tuesday, so it would have been rude not to!

Recipe for Vegan Buckwheat Pancakes


1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

Mix together and then stir in

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

and a small handful of raisins.

Heat a frying pan on the hob with a little oil and drop a tablespoon of the batter onto the pan when it’s reached the right temperature. When the bubbles pop on the surface it’s time to flip it over.

This recipe makes 5 small pancakes.

Rainbow Cafe, Cambridge

13 Feb

Thursday saw me in Cambridge for work, and a visit from MG, who I haven’t seen for ages. Dinner that evening was at the Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge.

I was a little unsure about whether MG would enjoy Rainbow Cafe. I have known him for a long time, and lived with him for a year, and throughout the duration I have never known him eat anything more interesting than Readybrek, Peanut butter sandwiches on white bread, and sausage and mash. It’s the same every day. Still, he was brave and decided to try vegetarian food for an evening.

Rainbow Cafe is a quaint little place, tucked down a side alley, opposite Kings College. It has a lovely chilled atmosphere and the menu includes both vegan, gluten-free and nut free options.

MG chose the Cuban Pecadillo Pie (Quorn adaption with capers, olives golden, cumin & more topped with white & then sweet
potato, sprinkled with cheese & parsley & oven baked. Served on rice & peas or turmeric rice &
salad garnish. )

I chose Ethiopian Mesir-Wat (Lentil Bowl) £8.95 vgf
Lentils, seasonal pumpkin & more, made with our special “berbere” spice mix & homemade
vegan “Niter Kibbeh” – “Ethiopian butter” – to give a true authentic flavour. Served with turmeric
rice & salad.

The food was ok. I found my choice a little bland and boring but it was fine.

We both had dessert. I chose a vegan wheat-free chocolate and coffee cheesecake, MG had the carrot cake. I really enjoyed my choice, it was lovely, but not enough coffee flavour for my tastes. MG said that his carrot cake was good, but not the best he’d ever had.

All in all the food was good, but not spectacular, but perfectly fine for a quick meal on a Thursday evening – it is a cafe and not a restaurant after all, and the atmosphere and prices are both excellent.

Christmas Eve

24 Dec

It’s Chritmas tomorrow, and every vegan has to eat something delicious on Christmas Day, especially if you are sharing your Christmas meal with your omnivore family, so I’ve been cooking up a storm in the kitchen in preparation for tomorrow’s meal.

In the end I settled on making a chestnut and vegetable cottage pie, which looks delicious, and I deliberately made far too much for me so that everyone else can have some on their plate too (plus there is some for the freezer as well).

The white Le Cruiset dish is to be taken to my parents house for our meal, the dish on the right shows the vegetables below the mashed sweet potato lid – this one will go in the freezer for another day.

As well as making myself a delicious Christmas lunch I also made yummy cookies for everyone to enjoy (vegan and wheat-free of course). I tried to mexican chocolate snickerdoodle cookies that are in  Isa’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

They turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. Still, it’s no surprise, Isa’s recipes are always rocking.

As well as making cookies for all the human’s in the house I also made some vegan dog biscuits for the dog in the house. They are her Christmas presents so shhhh, but she sampled one yesterday, just to check they were ok, and she gave them the waggy stumpy tale so that means they are good.