Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Dosas!

I live 10 minutes walk from Manchester's famous Curry Mile. This is a stretch of Wilmslow Road populated with Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants, Shisha bars, Indian clothes, jewellery and grocers shops. It's fab and when I remember the first time I went through it on the bus as a kid I thought it was like Blackpool with all the neon signs!

My favourite restaurant is one of the smaller ones, the Punjab, which specialises in South Indian cuisine.

South Indian cuisine means Dosas! If you've never had one before, a dosa is a large crispy pancake made from a rice and lentil batter which is vegan and gluten free. The pancake is wrapped around a filling and served with a coconut chutney and a spicy sambar sauce. I went for the classic Masala Dosa with a filling of spiced potatoes and my friend Lynnmarie had the mushroom one. They have one big ole pan at the Punjab, check out the size of them! I also love that the Punjab menu states that they have a sister restaurant in Melbourne, Australia and instead of getting mints with your bill they give you a Vimto lollypop!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Movember and Animal Testing

The medical world can be a tricky subject for vegetarians and vegans. Animal Aid are currently running a campaign to highlight which major medical research charities conduct and fund animal testing and there is a full list here showing health charities stance on this subject. I've found this info very informative and it has definitely made me think but at the same time I take a prescription drug which is definitely not vegan and which I have been told to take indefinitely. At this moment there is no vegan alternative available and I don't want to go back to how I was feeling a year ago before I started taking it. One thing I intend to try to do more of though is focus on those charities that don't fund testing and lend support to them instead.

As I'm sure you're all aware November is Movember and is a month for raising awareness of and funds for prostate cancer charities. Above is the face of one of the Cake Liberation Front founder members, Steve Cunio. Steve decided to take part in Movember but when he looked further into the charities it donates to he found them all to support animal testing. He has been in touch with the official Movember people and has suggested them offering alternative charities for future years. Hopefully, if enough people do this it might happen! In the meantime he has decided to continue growing his facial hair and is donating all sponsorship to Dr Hadwen Trust who fund and promote the development of techniques and procedures to replace the use of animals in biomedical research and testing. Indeed he is one of two guys listed on their supporters page doing this. He has set up an easy way to donate from as little as £1, go here to find out more. Thank you!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Bakerie Is Open!

Whoever would have thought that when my mate Dale and I stood on Albert Dock outside Tate Liverpool 5 years ago chatting and decided we'd both give this being vegan lark a try that it would come to this! I'm pleased to say that Dale is one of the partners in the freshly opened Bakerie on Lever Street in Manchester City Centre. The business is a wine bar and restaurant and has great vegan options for each course.

I was part of a group invited along tonight to try out the vegan options on offer. To start with there was delicious freshly baked bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip into and the best olives I've had in a while. Then we were brought tasting samples of a warming pumpkin and carrot soup which had a hearty homemade feel.

Next up was taster samples of the vegan sandwich option which was hummus, spinach and roasted red pepper. As with the soup the flavours were lovely and fresh. We also got to try the vegan option on the stews which was a butternut squash and caraway stew. Again, this was really, fresh and seasonal. The menu is split into soups, sandwiches, stews, salads and desserts with around 4 options for each and it is amazing to see in a non veggie restaurant that there are vegan and gluten free options at each level. Let's hope that this is the start of a trend like you see in cities in the USA. The dessert menu is good to us too with desserts made by Lily and Dilly with chocolate and pear torte and chocolate brownie + peanut butter blondie served with non dairy icecream.

It's lovely to find somewhere that's not strictly veggie where there is a vegan option for each course that is clearly labelled on the menu. What is also great about Bakerie is that it is a proper wine bar with an extensive wine list which is my friend Dale's domain. Before this venture Dale had accrued a wealth of experience with over 20 years experience working for Oddbins and the wines are all hand picked and are very keenly priced and again clearly labelled where they are vegan, organic etc. They are seriously focused to get people in there trying good wine without any of the snobbery attached to wine tasting and there are award winning wines on their list that are great value, especially compared to other venues. There are going to be lots of wine tasting events etc. It's my birthday on Saturday and I'm starting off there and looking forward to sampling more of the list!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

They Call It Mello Mello

Mello Mello has been on my radar for a while. I remember walking past it during the 2010 Biennial and thinking it looked cool but only recently realised through glowing recommendations on Scouseveg that it's not just a bar/venue but that it's also a fab veggie cafe. It's one of the projects of The Art Organisation who regenerate derelict spaces for use by artists and local creative industries.

Got to go in yesterday and we loved it! From the wooden menus and Elvis soundtrack to the mismatched 70's cups, it's fun and had us reminiscing for Manchester's much missed Cafe Pop. The breakfast is undoubtedly the best value vegan breakfast around. For £4.50 you get tomatoes, mushrooms, sausages, beans, scrambled tofu on toast as well as juice and good coffee. All the ingredients were nice quality and there were lots of other vegan options too including a weekend roast for about £5.50 that included wine! The cake selection included several vegan and GF options and we got some spiced chocolate cakes to take out that were pretty good. I was also impressed by the great selection of American craft beers, made me want to go back for another holiday in Portland!

Suitably fortified we then headed to Fact for the amazing and quite bizarre experience that is Zee. It's part of the Abandon Normal Devices festival and is there until November 27. It's been described as an installation 'like death', 'entering heaven' or 'being on another planet' that has audiences struggling to believe the evidence of their senses. Check out the video in the link to get a flavour. Then the rest of the day was spent down at the Contemporary Urban Centre for the excellent Americana 10 festival. Another great day in Liverpool, I love visiting there.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Rise of the Tearoom!

There's been a plethora of tea rooms open up in Manchester recently what with Teacup, Home Sweet Home, North Tea Power , Fyg and my personal favourite Sugar Junction right near work. They tend to be situated around the Northern Quarter but my friend Jan who I sit next to at work has been telling me about Richmond Tea Rooms in The Village and we decided to go for an early birthday celebration after work.


The decor is like something out of Alice in Wonderland, very OTT but it's fun and it works. You can choose to sit in this little Greenhouse type section, the main room or the tented boudoir! We went for the latter.

Jan went in a few days ago and asked if they did any vegan cakes. Like all the tea rooms mentioned above they don't. However, they were great and said they'd get the chef to make something so we had a big piece of really gorgeous chocolate cake with our glasses of champagne. The staff were really friendly and I was impressed with the cake. The tea menu looked good too so I'll definitely be back to try more.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Cakes, cakes, cakes, cakes, cakes

My flat has felt like a bakery this weekend! A friend asked me if I could make a large cake for his birthday party tomorrow. I'm always a bit nervous with making large cakes but I'm pleased with how it's come out. I started with the basic chocolate cake batter from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, doubled this and added chocolate chips and dried cherries. There's a vanilla chocolate frosting, white + dark chocolate buttons and lots of little stars and edible holographic glitter. So, it's a triple chocolate cherry cake!

Tomorrow is also the Manchester Vegan Society, World Vegan Month celebration. It's an afternoon event at the Seven Oaks pub and for a fiver you get Lancashire Hot Pot and a cake. My friend Lynnmarie who has organised the event was going to be making the cakes but has broken her wrist :( So, I've been busy making cupcakes and the cupcake hotel is now loaded up with a choctastic trio of peanut butter with chocolate ganache, chocolate chip and cherry and Mexican Hot Chocolate. Has anyone else got World Vegan month events going on?


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Competition Winner

Back at the start of MoFo I put up a competition to win some Cake Liberation Front goodies - a set of the new badges, postcards and an apron.

The winner was drawn by Random number generator from these entries and was number 7 - Mandee of Cupcake Kittee blog! Congratulations, please email me your address via the email link in my profile and I'll get them posted off to you.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Vampire Friendly Hummus

I've been going through my recipes to rejuvenate my packed lunches, now that I'll be making them for my sister too. Came across this flavoured hummus that I've not made for a while. It's a great one for using up lemons. I always buy unwaxed lemons for baking recipes where the zest is needed but only ever seem to find them in bags not sold as single lemons and they end up hanging around in the fruit bowl for ages unless they make it into a gin and tonic! What's a bit different about this one is that there is no garlic! The secret ingredient is the boullion powder. I can't take any credit for the recipe as it was on a Gillian McKeith recipe card I picked up in a Holland and Barretts a few years ago.

Lemon and Coriander Hummus

Can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons of tahini
Finely grated zest of a lemon
Freshly squeezed juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon of organic boullion (stock) powder
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of cold water
3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend.