Well hello there! It seems the last time I posted a blog was ages ago; where has the time gone? Well, I have been extremely busy this past month and last week was especially so but very exciting. After my article in this month’s edition, I can now confirm I have my first regular column in BN1 Magazine. Hooray! Every month I provide a recipe and a restaurant review which means that sadly, I have the hideous task of visiting restaurants, eating there for free and telling you all about it. I know it’s a horrible and messy job but to save you all from having to do it, I shall stand firm and report back my experiences in minute detail. Ooh, maybe I’ll get an OBE for services to the British Empire or something!
I did my first review last Tuesday and had a fantastic time. I went to Aloka in Brighton and the food was superb. I’ll let you all know when it’s published but it should be in a few weeks’ time.
Another thing I did last Saturday was visit Vegfest; the UK vegan and vegetarian festival annually held in Brighton and Bristol. The Brighton one used to be in a much bigger venue but it seems they’ve had to scale it down a bit but nevertheless I had a great time and met some really fascinating people.
I started off by hunting out some much needed food. I was nursing a rather angry hangover after drinking far too much and dancing like a complete idiot in my local pub. Even though I had a great time, Gin, red wine and lager are not the best of friends so I needed some good food inside me to mediate a peace treaty between them all. I went to the first food stall I could find and had promptly devoured a delicious Caramelised Onion & Lentil tart with Quinoa, Coleslaw and a three bean salad served with a Tomato Relish and a Green Banana & Ginger Chutney. It was all home made and the shortcrust pastry was deliciously light and crumbly. The peace treaty was struck almost immediately and, feeling like a new man, I was ready to immerse myself in the all the delights that Vegfest had to offer.
The first thing that struck me was how many chocolate and cake companies there were and everywhere I turned there was another chocolate bar or cupcake being thrust in my face. I’m not complaining, I love chocolate, I love cakes and I especially love chocolate cakes but I do worry if they will all be able to survive in such a competitive marketplace. One of my favourites however was ‘Sweetcheeks’. The owner Catherine Rose, makes delicious cupcakes and cakes with really interesting flavours. My other great favourite was ‘Ms Cupcake’ She makes really incredible cupcakes and layer cakes and she has even developed her own vegan Lemon Curd! I love her branding and her 50’s style image is absolutely perfect for the products she is selling. She is a massive hit in London with pop-up stalls happening all over town. Rumour has it she will be opening a shop in London soon and possibly Brighton shortly after. Time to get those elasticated leisure pants out of the attic again!
My Chocolate favourites were ‘Raw Goodies’, a completely uncooked chocolate product that is beautifully packaged and the chocolates are wonderful. Scoff them down and don’t feel guilty. I didn’t! Now I’ve seen ‘Moo Free’ chocolate buttons on sale in some supermarkets and I absolutely love them. They taste like milk chocolate and that is one thing I really miss. They also do Easter Eggs, bars and pralines so look out for them at your local shop.
I’m not a big fan of drinking soya milk. I’m happy to cook with it and eat it as yoghurt but I’ve never liked it on its own and that goes for oat and rice milk too. One of the first things I came across at Vegfest was a coconut milk based drink called ‘Kara’ and it’s absolutely delicious! It tastes creamy and of coconut (obviously!), but it means I can have cereal for breakfast again. I can’t wait to crack out the Strawberry Clusters and have a good old munch! I don’t know if it’s heat stable or if you can use it to cook with but I’m going to find out in the next few weeks when I start experimenting with it. Watch this space!
I also happened to meet a lovely lady called Karin Ridgers who runs ‘Veggie Vision TV’. This is a brilliant site offering some great internet TV from cookery shows, animal welfare, health & lifestyle programmes and loads more. You never know, you may just see me on there soon doing a cooking programme so keep your eyes peeled.
I know I’ve gone on about this before, but I was surprised to see so many different meat analogues available at the show. I don’t know why it surprised me because it is a growing industry and lots of vegans (including myself), like to eat them. I think what surprised me the most is the ones I’d never heard of before such as ‘Wheaty’, a German wheat-based product which can be turned into pretty much anything! There were loads of different types of Wheaty sausage including Salami, curried sausage and pizza sausage to name a few. I had a taste of the curried sausage in a sauce and it was nice. It had a fleshy bite to it thanks to the wheat gluten in it but if you’re on a gluten free diet this won’t be for you. The craziest thing I saw was the Wheaty Doner Kebab. Oh yes that’s right! There was a giant leg of vegan kebab meat on a rotating skewer and a guy was shaving slices off and putting them in a pitta! Now unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to try it but I really wanted to. In fact I could’ve done with one of those last Friday after my night out with loads of chilli and garlic sauce. And maybe some fries. And some onion rings. Ooh and maybe some mustard and ketchup… Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah Vegfest. It was great!
It was so great to see so much talent in one room at Vegfest and so many people out there trying to make a difference to the world we live in. I can’t wait for the Bristol event, it going to be huge and who knows , if I’m lucky enough, I might be at the VegFest in New York in October! Anyone care to buy me a plane ticket? And an hotel room? And spending money? Anyone? ANYONE?……….Please?
Take care and until then
‘Don’t Be Scared, it’s just Food!’
Love Danny x
Roasted Smoked Tomato & Thyme Parfait
This is a rich and smooth pâté with smoked chipotle chilli oil drizzled on top to give it that extra dimension of flavour to it. I always keep a bottle in my cupboard. Just place a couple of chopped dried smoked chipotle chillies into a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and leave to infuse. You can keep on topping up the oil whenever necessary. If you don’t have smoked chilli oil you can use normal Extra Virgin.
8 Tomatoes (halved)
6 cloves Garlic (peeled & chopped into chunks)
1 bunch Thyme or Lemon Thyme
13-15 drops Liquid Smoke
138g Silken tofu
1tsp Coriander seeds
½ tsp Black peppercorns
½ tsp Salt
Splash Lemon juice
Smoked Chilli olive oil and normal Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking & Chilling time: 4 hours
Preheat the oven to 120oC
Halve the tomatoes and lay onto a roasting tin. Push one piece of chopped garlic into the flesh of each tomato and one small sprig of fresh thyme. Drizzle olive oil over each tomato and sprinkle with salt. Roast for approx. 2 hours or until completely soft and roasted. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Next, dry fry off the coriander seeds and black peppercorns. Place them into a dry frying pan on a medium high heat until they begin to pop and smoke. Crush roughly with a mortar and pestle.
In a blender, place the tomatoes, silken tofu, 2 tsp of the crushed coriander and pepper, liquid smoke, lemon juice and salt and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Spoon the mixture either into ramekins or one big serving dish and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours or until the oil has thickened. Transfer to the fridge for at least another hour until defrosted but the oil stays thick. Before serving, remove from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes then serve.