Archive for March, 2010

Brighton; and, an apology.

I’ll start with the latter first – sorry for the lack of updates. My absence is not for lack of inspiration – quite the opposite, in fact. There is an increasing number of topics on which I want to post, with more coming to my attention every day. But there is a limit to what I can do with my meagre time. In addition to just starting a full-time apprenticeship, I also have to do the shopping, clean the flat and so on. However, having the long Easter weekend off (i work in the City) will benefit you, dear, faithful reader.

Now, back to business.

Last Saturday, I woke up with the full intention and good time to venture to the relatively new Bermondsey Farmers Market. Whilst I don’t want to betray my love for Blckheath and Islington FMs with an SE1 fling, a major reason for visiting was the presence of vegan Caribbean foodies Global Fusion, a company who occasionally have a stand-by stall at Blackheath.

However, this did not happen…

Instead, we got an early morning message from a trainee pilot friend inviting us on his practice flights over Brighton that afternoon. Five minutes, a phone call and a £15 ticket payment later nd we were set to go to Brighton.

As most of you my know, Brighton is pretty damn vegan-friendly. So we knew we wouldn’t go hungry!

We disboarded in Brighton a couple of hours later a little hungry, but not ready for a meal. Right to the uber-vegan-friendly pie place Our Cornish Pasty we headed. £3.15 may seem steep for a pasty (we chose the Mexicana), but it was plenty snack for us two, so would be a decent small meal for one. They do three varieties of vegan pasty, plus a sausage roll and two desserts. Add that to soya milk for you coffee and you’re all set.

Next, with time against us, we popped into Infinity Foods health food store. With plenty of stock ranging from fresh organic produce to house-baked bread, from vegan chocolate to dairy-free yoghurts, and from animal-friendly toiletries to frozen vegan ready meals, and everything inbetween. The day that we visited happened to be a sample day for Brighton-based The Raw Chocolatier.

I had a little chat with the chocolatier herself, and her passion for her craft really comes through, as it does in her gorgeous-tasting choccies (try the orange cardamom – delightful).

Following this, we took a short walk through the Lanes to get to Aloka. Part-yoga centre, part-holistic meeting centre, part-cafe, Aloka has a rather minimalist, smart, new age feel to it. We couldn’t stay long so perused the dessert offers, all of which were vegan. We chose (wisely, I feel) the dark chocolate and pear layer cake with a scoop of vegan mint choc chip ice cream. Both were delicious, and I would definitely have both again.

Then we went flying. Brighton, an exceedingly attractive city at ground level, looks equally (or perhaps more) beautiful from the air.

Buckets of adrenalin and sweat later (I’m terrified of heights…), we were back in Brighton, tiring and famished. Time for veggie pub The George. When we visit Brighton, we always gravitate towards this vegan-friendly haven to enjoy a steaming plate of vegan bangers in fluffy mash with red onion gravy or baked enchiladas, served with copious amounts of salsa and guac. This would be then followed by a vegan dessert of some variety, all washed down with a chilled cider.

A quick glance at the menu and I could tell that the rumours were true – vegans were no longer The George’s dish of the day. Quorn sausages, cheesy chilli and no vegan desserts were combining to whisper “unwelcome” softly but viscerally in my shocked and dismayed face.

All was not lost – the burger could be made vegan (minus the mayo and cheese, not with a vegan substitute). It was meh – the burger bland and mushy, the salsa a supermarket’s own-brand disaster, the salad bizarrely salty (I bit into a huge chunk of sea salt more than once) and the ketchup from Aldi (yes, really). It goes toshow how disappointed I was when I say that the highlights of the meal were the chips, the availability of Brothers’ strawberry cider, and Soft Cell’s Tainted Love. Played very loud.

I love Brighton and can’t wait to return – but I shan’t be going back to the George.

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Vx, the new home of Secret Society of Vegans

Firstly, let me start by apologising for my lack of posts over the past couple of days. But I do have good reason! I started on Monday morning a venture that will hopefully make my life a whole heap better: enabling me to grab hold of my own future and to further my skills. I have, in short become an apprentice chef! (In vegetarian, mostly vegan, kitchen of course) More news on this shall come in good time.

So yeah… sorry.

Anyway, onto the pressing matter to which the intriguing title of this post alludes.

That of the Verily Voluptuously Vegan Vx.

I could go for pages about how fantastic it is to have a wholly vegan shop in Central London, one which is positively overflowing with otherwordly deliciousness and coolmaking attire, but I cannot. I fear being damned for nepotism (I know Rudy, ssov’s chief leader) and cast out of blogland.

Instead, I shall merely outline what Vx is all about:

  • ssov-branded merchandise;

  • Fresh baked goods from London-based vegan companies (including gluten-free options), as well as hot and cold drinks to enjoy them with in the downstairs lounge area;

  • Packaged vegan (and kosher) candy, crisps and cookies (including vegan oreo-style ones!).
  • Sandwiches, salads, truffles and yoghurts;

  • Vegan canned dog food, dog biscuits and dog chews;

  • Central London location (5 minutes walk from Kings Cross).

Any questions? Just drop a line to the man himself on twitter: CLICKY!

EDIT: All photos courtesy and copyright of Rudy Penando

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Telegraph Hill Farmers Market

Only time for a quick post today, so forgive me my brevity.

Telegraph Hill Park, a walk to and around which is one of my favourite endeavours in London, holds a Farmers Market on the third Saturday of every month, from 10am-3pm.

It was (from a vegan point-of-view) rubbish. Out of nine stalls, three were ‘happy’ meat, one was ‘cheerful’ cheese, another of unfriendly wine and another was eggy cupcakes.

The other two were an overpriced tomato stall (with a couple of other items), an extremely expensive olive table and a generic Kentish fruit &veg vendor, the quality at which seemed somewhat dubious.

I bought nothing. The best part of the journey from my flat was just that – the journey. The walk (from New Cross Road) is invigorating and has some breathtaking views.

However, I think I’ll continue to make the train to Sunday’s Blackheath market.

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The Shop on the Hill

Bored, all DVDed out and in need of pizza ingredients, this evening I had a look on the web for anything that would avoid my venturing into Central London (my nearest two Holland & Barrett had closed at 6pm). Fate smiled sweetly upon me when I stumbled upon the wonderful Brockley Central blog, an online news, views and reviews about (you guessed it) Brockley, SE4 and its environs. This particular entry was regarding a quaint-sounding store called “The shop on the hill”, which was open until 8pm, and was seemingly very vegan-friendly.

As it was a pleasant evening (and by ‘pleasant’ I mean the weather had decided to stop drowning worms, instead opting for a light drizzle), I decided to take my chances with an easy Google Map-routed 30-minute walk.

Took me fifteen.

So, shins burning and hooded top soaked, I wandered into the empty shop. First impressions: Bulk rice and muesli! A rarity round these parts, so that’s a plus already. Following this, my eyes caught the fridge with the vegan (a selection of raw, sugar free and regular plain) chocolates. This might well be my kind of place. In the next fridge there were fresh salad vegetables, vegan (and vegetarian) cheeses and faux meat products (Redwoods). A shelving unit across held Ecover (PAH!) and Bio D (YAY!) cleaning products, including (another rarity round here) refill stations!

One main thing I noticed about this section of the store was that, with the exception of the Taifun tofu-weiners, the prices were either the same as the larger chains of health food stores or a smidge cheaper. Which is highly unusual for an out-of-the-way, small, independent store.

In addition to all of this, there were the usual organic vegetables (with the option of ordering a bespoke organic veg box), nut butters, free-from loaves etc.

The delightful, enthusiastic shop assistant with whom I spoke (not the owner, incidentally) seemed very knowledgeable and excited about the range of vegan products available and wound things up by convincing me to take one of the locally-made Coxeter’s Fayre‘s raw truffles for the road. Which I nearly walked out with without paying… Anyway, the chocolate (80p for a just-less-than-ping-pong-ball-sized truffle) was delicious, its nutty raw cacao and dried fruit centre reminding me of a Picnic bar from my pre-vegan days.

Whilst it may not stock close to as much as Holland & Barrett (and definitely not Whole Foods), Brockleyites are lucky to have this little gem on their doorstep.

p.s. For the late-night Brockley vegan, the Costcutter around the corner (open well after ‘The shop…’ has closed) stocks a few Redwood chilled ‘meats’, some Fry’s and other frozen ‘meats’ and ready meals, about 8 different non-dairy milks and a couple of vegan and organic Vintage Roots wines.

You lucky devils.

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A Quick Introduction

Hello everyone! This here is just a quick introductory post as to who I am:

  • Bryan, 23-years-old and happily married to a wonderful nurse;
  • Vegan, have been for five years, and will be for the rest of my life;
  • I live in New Cross/Deptford, but I’m not from ’round these parts.

And what the focus of this blog will be:

  • succinct, helpful reviews on vegan products, cafes and services in Deptford SE8/New Cross SE14 and the surrounding areas of South East London.
  • developments in the vegan world in the wider London area and wherever else in the UK I visit (mostly Manchester and Edinburgh). Also the rest of the world, should I venture outside these borders.
  • however, this blog shan’t be solely vegan. I’ll be looking at interesting developments in the local area and other parts of London, should I stumble upon things that I find blog-worthy.

Enjoy!

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