Category: Food & Drink

Tuesday Treat – The Gardener’s Arms, Oxford

There’s nothing quite like a decent burger and chips, all washed down with a delicious glass of wine, amiright? That’s what Phil and I had at The Gardener’s Arms in Oxford a few weeks ago. We’d been to the Gardener’s Arms a few times before, but not since I became vegan. That is likely to change is it was freakin’ awesome!

vegan burger vegan wine

All the food is vegetarian with a huge number of vegan options available, but to be honest, I’m always going to have the vegan burger with all the vegan toppings (everything except the mayo) and a nice large glass of wine. (All the wines are vegan! Almost did a little dance when they told me that!) The Gardener’s Arms is not a gastropub. It’s a pub that serves food. You might have to share your table, it can get cramped, it will get busy. But this doesn’t matter as the atmosphere is lovely and the food is delicious. Definitely worth a visit if you’re taking part in Veganuary, looking for a decent vegan meal or if you just like good food.

Vegan Brunch at Anna Loka, Cardiff

When I first became vegan, I honestly thought that I would be saying goodbye to some of my favourite foods. To me it was worth it, as there food should not be an excuse for cruelty. (Eggs, I’m looking at you!) However, I was very, very wrong. There’s pretty much a vegan alternative to every food I’d eaten before (which begs the question, why isn’t everyone vegan, but that’s another blog post for another time!) For example: pancakes. My favourite breakfast of all time. I can make a decent vegan pancake, using bananas as the egg replacement, but I wasn’t sure if there would be anywhere offering a vegan pancake. Thanks to Phil’s amazing Google searching, we discovered Anna Loka, a vegan cafe in the Cardiff suburb of Roath, run by quite possibly one of the nicest Welshmen I have ever met! With vegan toiletries in the loo and a discussion about protein while we were eating, it’s pretty much a vegan dream venue!

Anna LokaAnna Loka menuTea at Anna LokaVegan pancakes cardiffMiddle East Brunch Anna LokaWe found free parking, further up the road, but be aware, a lot of the streets nearby are permit holders only. It just takes a bit of looking around. The venue has a lovely feel, lovely handmade tables and a relaxed atmosphere. The menu is immense! Everything is vegan. Let me repeat that, everything is vegan. Being somewhere where you can eat everything is awesome! And the variety of food is amazing too. Having seen the menu online, I knew i was going for the pancakes, while Phil opted for the Middle Eastern brunch, which was delicious. I added fruit to my pancakes, as I often feel I should have something healthy with indulgent pancakes. Both the tea and coffee are ethically sourced and come with a choice of soya, almond or hemp milk. I’m still a soya girl when it comes to my tea, and ordered the breakfast tea. It arrived with a timer (I love when places do this. It shows they take their tea seriously!) and it wasn’t too long until breakfast arrived. The pancakes where hands down the BEST pancakes I have ever eaten, vegan or dairy based, and I have eaten A LOT of pancakes. They were well cooked, slightly crispy around the edges, soft in the middle, layered up with jam, and the fruit and yoghurt were a delicious addition, though probably not needed as I was stuffed when I’d eaten them all.

I wish I lived closer to Cardiff, simply so I could pop in to Anna Loka with greater regularity. I’d love to sample their other menus, as the brunch one was a huge hit with me. I know now where I’m going for brunch anytime I’m near Wales! If you are near Cardiff anytime this Christmas, head to Anna Loka – you will not be disappointed!

Boswell’s of Oxford 1738 cafe

Boswell’s of Oxford is an institution. It’s always been there, for those little things that you  just can’t get anywhere else or for those quality items that you need for your home. So when I was asked if I could attend the launch party for their new tea room, I jumped at the chance, especially as there was a promise of tea.

After over 275 years of serving the people of Oxford, Boswells are introducing a tea room for the first time in the history of the store. The 1738 Tea Room Café will officially be opened on Saturday 28th November with a visit from Santa himself. The cafe is set on the first floor of Boswell’s and looks set to be a calming port in the busy streets of Oxford.

1738 tea menu1738 Happy Cakes Tea testing at BoswellsTwinnings Tea Boswells cafe launchHappy Cake cake decoratingBoswells goody bagThere will be a delicious range of teas, cakes, pastries and sandwiches, ideal for satisfying any tea craving. Products in the tea room café will be supplied by local brands with Peros Coffee, Happy Cakes, Truly Scrumptious, Natural Bread Company, Oxford Cheese Company, Limes Farm, Viva Las Cakes, Stephanie Almeida Bespoke Cakes and Brightwell Vineyard.

During the launch, we were treated to cake decorating courtesy of Happy Cakes and tea tasting from Twinnings. I had no idea how different loose tea is from tea bags or that you can get tea that tastes exactly like Ferrero Rocher. The lovely ladies at Happy Cakes also said I was a bit of pro when it came to decorating my cupcake and Phil said it tasted delicious!

Thank you to Boswell’s for inviting me and for my fab goody bag!

Vegan Food in Copenhagen

To say I was a little apprehensive about spending a week in a foreign country as a new vegan is an understatement. I find eating out in the UK as a new vegan slightly daunting so being in a country that I’ve never visited before made me slightly anxious. I packed a few vegan friendly flapjacks and bars, just in case but I also downloaded the Happy Cow app and spent some time having a look at the different venues available. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were quite a few vegan/veggie places in Copenhagen, and even some vegan specific places.

At the airport I bought an almond, banana and cashew shake from Pret a Manger and Boots had some individual Graze boxes so I picked up a box of the nuts and a pack of Starburst to eat on the plane, as we didn’t think we would be getting any food. It turned out we did, but as we hadn’t ordered anything, there wasn’t a vegan option so I sat back and enjoyed my nuts! After dropping our bags at the hotel, we headed out in search of lunch and we weren’t disappointed. We arrived at Astrid och Aporna and had the most amazing salad. It cost about £10, but Phil and I shared it between us. It’s based in a vegan shop, which pretty much blew my mind! I could eat everything they had! They even had some Go Max Go bars, so naturally I bought a few to enjoy while we were in Copenhagen.

Astrid och ApornaI had thought that they sold vegan burgers and hot dogs, but they didn’t on the day we were there so settled for this epic salad and some chocolate cake. We noticed on the Happy Cow app that we weren’t far from a 42Raw so we stopped there for a chai latte and a juice. It was lush! On the menu, it showed that they also do a vegan burger, so we made a mental note to go back there another day.

42 Raw juiceWe hadn’t really planned where we were going to have dinner, but while we were on our way to Tivoli Gardens, we noticed there was a Wagamama nearby. As I knew they had vegan options, I was happy to try there. After looking at all the menus of restaurants and cafes inside Tivoli Gardens, and discounting them all, we were very relieved to turn a corner and find that there was an entrance to Wagamama from the gardens! We headed in and enjoyed some much needed hearty, filling food. I asked the waitress what I could have and she pointed out a few things. I opted for the yasai steamed gyoza and yasai itame. They were delicious and I cannot wait to have them again.

Yasai steamed gyoza Yasai itameThe hotel did a pretty decent breakfast buffet. There was lots of different breads and rolls to choose from, a huge variety of fruit and cucumber! I made sure I ate as much as I could, as well as helping myself to the generous pot of coffee on the table.

Breakfast at Island Hotel CopenhagenOn our second day there, we felt much more confident about food, especially as you can search on the Happy Cow app for venues near your location. After a morning of learning at the National Museum, we headed to another branch of 42Raw for lunch. This time, we had the burger and some sweet potato fries. I’ve never felt so healthy!

42 Raw burger 42 Raw sweet potato friesIt was quite an epic meal! They do such a good variety of snacks, cakes and drinks, its well worth going to. After a quick check on Happy Cow, we noticed that we were really close to Botaniq, which is a 100% vegan cafe. It had a lovely feel, though it was quite quiet when we were there, but that suited us as we had the pick of the tables. We both opted for a slice of the cheesecake and it was light and refreshing and washed down well with a cup of chai.

BotaniqAs we’d had such a big lunch, we didn’t need that much for dinner, especially as we’d bought tickets for The Martian and knew we were going to have some cinema snacks (and they had vegan sweets at the cinema, I kid you not!) we headed to the mall next to the hotel to see what they had to offer. We opted for something from the buffet at Indiana Mexican, mainly because it was the easiest vegan option.

Indiana Mexican restaurantLook at all that veg! While it was a decent meal, it was the low point during the week, mainly because the standard of vegan food was so high.

On our final full day in Copenhagen, we headed to Christiania, mainly because we wanted to try the veggie restaurant, Morgenstedet. It didn’t open until noon, but there were quite a few of us waiting to go in. It’s a small, quirky little place, but everything except one salad (and there were about eight salads available) was vegan. I had the biggest smile on my face. I was about to order a selection of the salads, when we noticed the previous customer receiving a vegan burrito, which came with two, that’s right, two salads! Phil and I both opted for this and it was the best meal I’ve eaten! Simple, filling, healthy and delicious. I still can’t get over how good it was!

morgenstedetI wish I could eat like this all the time, but my lack of food skills and imagination definitely holds me back! This was epic and kept us going all afternoon. If you’re even in Copenhagen, this is a must visit. That afternoon, we walked all the miles so we didn’t want to venture far for dinner. We headed back to the mall next to our hotel, as we’d spotted LêLê and after a quick check of the menu, we headed over.

lele curry with crispy tofuI had the curry with crispy tofu and spring rolls, and while it wasn’t as delicious as the meal we had had at Wagamama, it was still pretty good. Despite being in a shopping mall, the restaurant was surprisingly lovely. It was near closing and was fairly quiet, just what we needed after a busy day walking around the city. Considering the food we ate was incredibly healthy and the fact we walked over 40 miles in the few days we were there, I think this is the only holiday I’ve ever been on where I’ve lost weight! Being vegan rocks!