TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings humans! Well, it seems to have been a while since I’ve posted anything, hopefully you’re still in good spirits and haven’t missed my witty humour too badly. I wouldn’t want you getting withdrawal symptoms now!
After many, many weeks of solitary confinement in Charlie’s room (ok, I had Charlie) I was finally allowed out into the fresh air to join Charlie and Jack at the Portsmouth Vegan Festival, which, surprisingly, took place in Portsmouth. I for one was raring to go, the humans were understandably quite excited too.
On entering the building, we were subject to a bag search, what a surprise that was for the human who opened up Charlie’s bag and found my pink, stripy self inside. Like the good vegan-fest regulars they are, Charlie and Jack opted for the VIP tickets which included fast track entry and a goody bag full of samples and vouchers – yum.
First out the bag was Sheese cheese, which are made with soya and coconut oil and exist in many flavours. The flavours Charlie and Jack got were the garlic and herb spread and a creamy cream cheese – that’s its name technical folks.
The humans also came away with Rawlicious kale chips (or crisps as we say in Britain), Abakus crunchy jujube sprinkles for topping porridge, Well and Truly vegetable drink, SunWarrior vegan protein (pure brown rice) and some tea, the bottles of which have temporarily been misplaced so I can’t relate the brand to you. Gee, are humans useless?
Once the goody bags had been thoroughly inspected, we headed into the first room of stalls. Here we found many bamboo based products, Greenpeace, vegan Baileys by Besos de Oro, who also made some excellent chocolate, and Mariner’s Fudge.
Neither Charlie nor Jack are alcohol connoisseurs, however they are chocolate lovers, so the Besos de Oro chocolate was popular with them. The flavours included peanut butter and berries, all four choices on offer were divine.
Mariner’s Fudge offered around ten varieties, the humans were spoilt for choice. This array of options included vanilla, chocolate, chocolate orange, Biscoff, Oreo and salted caramel in tablet and fudge varieties. The tablet was harder, the standard fudge softer and gooier, but every flavour was excellent and after prolonged and careful sampling, Charlie settled on a salted caramel tablet and Jack on a chocolate orange. The flavours in all were exquisite and the humans say these were not easy decisions to make, but someone had to do it.
We then ventured into the main auditorium where a sea of stalls flooded our senses. The room was full of hungry vegans and non-vegans alike, sampling and purchasing the delicious food on offer, trying on clothes and learning more about veganism.
Our first stop was at a scone stall named Secret Scones. Their products were soft on the inside with a perfect crust and topped with the company’s own buttercream.
We wandered happily amongst the stalls, visiting Uncaptive clothing where the humans were particularly chuffed to find a T-shirt asking the question ‘Protein?’ after which, many forms of protein were pictured included lentils, nuts, pulses and seeds. A T-shirt every vegan needs.
Jack attempted to buy a jumper from Jade Green Vegan, but they had sold out in his size, however we spent a good while chatting to the friendly stallholders and discussing their range of T-shirts and jumpers.
Despite all these delicacies, the humans still made room for lunch. Jack had a sesame seed halloumi and falafel pitta bread from the Greek Vegan Deli. This was the third time Charlie and Jack have eaten their food, and it is fast becoming a favourite, for Jack especially. Charlie wanted to try something from a different company and settled on the Space Needle Burger from Sicily to Seattle. This burger included their own special, slightly spicy sauce, Red Leicester style cheese with a quarter pounder burger and onion rings. Salad was also crammed into the bun, including avocado, it was impressive.
Lunch was then washed down with milkshakes, raspberry for Charlie and strawberry for Jack. These were from GoFro, made with almond and soya ice cream and were wonderfully thick.
Well, that pretty much sums up the day. The humans were feeling considerably rounder than when they had entered, economically poorer, but intellectually richer having learnt large amounts about many products which I tasked Charlie with remembering to assist me in the writing of this edition. The humans had to take a walk to wear some of it off, but they then headed to Earth Takeaway in Petersfield. Constant Readers (which I hope all of you are, and yes, that’s a Stephen King reference, Charlie insisted I put it in and as a lover of books who was I to deny this request), you may remember Earth Takeaway. If you’re not a Constant Reader, you can use those helpful tag things on the side of the blog entry to navigate to my last entry on Earth Takeaway. As the humans were rather full, they decided not to get dessert (this borders on sacrilege, you should be able to imagine how full they were) and just settled for the main event.
Charlie tucked into a breaded chicken-style sweet chilli wrap and Jack ordered a Big Earth burger, which was a double cheese burger, gherkin and salad. Stupid humans forgot to take a picture... Both went down well, and the humans rolled back to the car (ok, I’m exaggerating) and the journey home.
The day was a thorough success, the humans might not be able to afford to buy anything for a month or need to eat for a good few days, but they had a great time and I was happy at being able to get out and surprise a few people with my presence in the world!
Until my next entry folks (which will hopefully be after a shorter interval than between this and my last entry),
Greetings, humans! After our day out at the Ethicoco chocolate factory (see my previous entry), we headed to Earth for dinner. This was an all vegan takeaway discovered by Charlie on a vegan Facebook page where the restaurant had been recommended. It was in Petersfield although neither human knew where this was, but on the way to Portsmouth for the chocolate factory, we spotted Petersfield on a road sign and decided we might as well check it out.
We got a little lost trying to find the restaurant (it was hidden behind some road works), but in the end we found it and settled down, the huge menu in front of us.
The menu mostly consisted of burgers, no bad thing there, but also on offer were a selection of wraps and plenty of sides.
Most of the burgers were beef or chicken style, but there was also a bean burger, a mushroom and spinach burger and fish finger style for a ‘fish’ burger. The toppings included mozzarella and cheddar cheese, gherkins, special burger sauce, mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, the list goes on. The sides included coleslaw, onion rings, chips, guacamole and ‘chicken’ nuggets. Well, we were spoilt for choice!
Charlie ordered an Earth burger: one beef-style burger, with cheddar cheese, a gherkin and special burger sauce in a sesame seed bun, Jack had the BBQ burger: a 1/4 pounder beef style burger which had double cheese, BBQ sauce and onion rings. It would have had ‘bacon’ in it but this had sold out, must be a popular place. These were served up in baskets, with sides of onion rings and air fries. The onion rings were coated in copious amounts of batter and were huge, these came with a hearty seal of approval.
The burgers were both great, exactly what you’d expect from a takeaway restaurant. Not that we took away, we ate in, like civilised beings.
Also of note were the milkshakes. Charlie ordered strawberry and Jack ordered mint. Again, this strawberry tasted of Angel Delight (I sense a theme emerging, see my Ethicoco entry) and the mint was particularly strong. Both were made with soya milk and came with a huge serving of soya whipped cream on top. This was particularly appreciated as unlike most dairy whipped creams which don’t seem to really taste of anything, this was particularly flavoursome. The strawberry pink matched my beautiful fur, I was very happy with this. There were your other standard flavours available, you know, banana, chocolate, blueberry, but there were a selection of Oreo based specialities and peanut butter on offer. If the humans had been less stuffed from the chocolate factory open day, they would probably have gone for an Oreo sensation but they were rather full.
More good news, all the napkins and cups were made from plants, not plastic and were fully biodegradable and recyclable. Good for the planet, this is then, not just in terms of the food on offer.
The humans might have been full, but there was dessert up for grabs and these two weren’t going to miss out. There were two options, lemon and blueberry iced loaf cakes and sandwich cookies. The sandwich cookies were chocolate chips with a huge dollop of buttercream squished in the middle. There had also been birthday cake sandwich cookies on offer but these had sold out by the time Charlie and Jack made their choice, a chocolate sandwich cookie each, then.
These cookies were truly decadent. The chocolate centre was smooth, thick and gooey, very chocolatey but not bitter. The cookies were chunky, huge and delightfully flavoursome. These cookies had small chocolate chips in them, and a hint of vanilla. The humans can’t recommend them enough. The dessert was huge, and probably a little too large for the humans to eat after the amount of chocolate they’d already consumed today, but that didn’t stop them polishing off every last crumb.
After the cookies had been finished, snickerdoodle sandwich cookies were brought out. These looked just as good as the chocolate ones, if they’d been out ten minutes ago, the humans would certainly have bought one.
Dinner was a raging success, the humans were very happy, the staff were friendly, the food was delicious, the atmosphere was nice. The next time the humans are around Portsmouth, I’m sure they’ll be hitting Earth again, I mean from a purely scientific standpoint, there are so many more dishes on offer that need to be tried and tested, that way I can share and recommend them to you.
So, if you’re ever near Petersfield, which is close to Guildford and that itself is half an hour’s drive east of Portsmouth, you’d do well to head over to this little slice of environmentally friendly eating. Tuck in!
Until my next entry,
Greetings, humans! And welcome back to the Vegan Edition, I’m sure you’ve missed it! Those of you who like chocolate, you’re in for a treat today as we visited Ethicoco, the ethical, vegan, natural chocolate company for their annual open day. We set off with high hopes of touring a chocolate factory and whatever excitement might come with this, but it turned out this wasn’t to be the case.
The chocolate factory was in fact a port-a-cabin and the open day was held under many poly-tunnels nearby. Although not what we expected, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, there was still a chocolate shop and a live demonstration. Oh, and a free vegan BBQ so all was good.
We arrived at lunch time so tucked into a couple of burgers from the BBQ first, and then headed over to the most important section: the chocolate shop.
Here, six fantastic flavours were laid out for our sampling pleasure, bars of which were on sale, as were a selection of other flavours which sadly weren’t on offer to try.
After careful and considered sampling of each bar, the humans made their purchases, caffe mocha, strawberry white cacao and classic cacao. All the flavours on offer were divine, so I’ll provide a breakdown of them for you, as related to me by the humans, who thought they knew best.
Strawberry cacao was a particularly smooth and palatable bar, vegan white chocolate made with rice instead of dairy and real strawberries. It was strongly resonant of Angel Delight for those who remember that from their childhood (unless of course you have been vegan from a young age and so never had this, frankly, quite bizarre dessert). This was one of the bars Charlie bought, I approved because it was a pink as me!
Next up was classic cacao. This was a milk chocolate, this time using oats and barely instead of rice. It was beautifully smooth and creamy, not bitter like a dark bar, but still with a chocolaty taste. So good the humans bought a bar each.
Next in line was matcha white cacao. This was another rice base, containing actual matcha green tea, and it was green perhaps the best thing about it. Not quite as good as pink, but nearly there. This was another smooth chocolate and, much to Charlie’s delight, didn’t taste like tea. It was another favourite among the humans, but not quite enough for them to buy it.
Then, there were two of the three dark chocolates Ethicoco produces. These were Guatemala 72% dark and Venezuela 80% dark. Not available to sample was Belize 75% dark. The countries refer to the origins of the cocoa beans, these bars were made using only two ingredients, beans and sugar. Impressive. There was a distinctly different taste between the two the humans sampled, one was much stronger than the other, no surprises there then! The cocoa taste was strong but not too bitter, you need to like dark chocolate to like these, but they were fantastic, as the humans informed me.
The final chocolate on offer was caffe mocha. Yep, coffee flavoured chocolate. Now, I know coffee is kind of a big deal with you humans, and as with the other dark chocolates, ingredients were kept to a minimum: cocoa beans, sugar and coffee beans. The coffee taste was very strong, which was highly approved of by both humans. However, a word of warning. A good sized chunk is needed to appreciate the true coffeeness (ah, I appear to have invented a new word) of the bar, meaning, solely for research purposes, the humans had to eat large amounts of the samples to come to these conclusions. The things we do for science… Anyway, the coffee chocolate was good enough that Jack bought a bar.
The other flavours were dark peppermint (Charlie wasn’t too disappointed to miss out on that one), chai latte, orange and ginger and classic cacao and flame raisin (Charlie was very disappointed this wasn’t on offer).
Chocolate consumed (for now), we went to watch a live chocolate making demonstration by the owner. There were bowls of cocoa beans from Ghana, Venezuela and Belize, which the humans sampled contentedly. There was a slight bitterness to the beans but they did, ultimately, taste of dark chocolate. Of particular interest was the differences between the three types of beans.
The Venezuelan beans were the largest and most bitter. The beans from Ghana had the greatest colour variety, they were the smallest and were less bitter. The unanimous favourite of the two humans was the Belizean bean. This was similar in looks to the Venezuelan beans, but smaller. These were the least bitter and most chocolatey.
Moving on from the beans, they were crushed up and poured into a swirly heating mixer thing (that’s its scientific name, probably). Here they were mixed with the only other ingredient, sugar, where they were heated, with the aid of a blow torch (sort of) and spun around to make them into a smooth paste. This process normally takes three and a half days, but for the sake of the demonstration would be shorter today. This would mean the chocolate produced would be less smooth, but still chocolatey and delicious, I’m sure. The device whirred around for a while, every time we came back to check on it, the bean and sugar mixture was smoother and the smell of chocolate got stronger. It was a truly delightful experience to behold, but unfortunately it wasn’t ready for the end of the day so the humans didn’t get to taste any.
No matter, they consoled themselves with some more samples.
Well, this was an informative day, we all learnt a lot about chocolate, which I have shared now with you. I hope you feel enlightened. If you want some excellent tasting chocolate whilst maintaining a clean conscious, you know where to go: Ethicoco. Yum.
My next post will come from Earth takeaway in Petersfield. Until that next adventure, folks,
Greetings, humans! This Tail will report on my experiences at my first vegan event. Well, it is not strictly a vegan event, the Just V Show is dedicated to vegetarian and vegan stalls and there are also two other events running simultaneously, the Allergy and Free From Show and the Love Natural, Love You Show. Anyway, all the events were held at Olympia, which is in Kensington and that is in London. I thought Olympia was where they did the horse show event, but looks like there’s at least one giant hall as well.
All three shows allowed plenty of opportunity for the humans to snack on free samples, buy vegan food and take away more food. Once we were in, our first top was to the Schär stand. Although they are producers of gluten free food and so were in the Free From section, they were giving away free goody bags, we didn’t want to miss out on this one! Quite a haul we came away with there as well: gluten free breadsticks and sourdough, a bag of potato crisps, seaweed crisps, a fruit and nut bar, some flax seed, chocolate spread, a no-sugar sugar replacer, a sachet of Barely Cup (vegan Bovril basically), as well as the all-important money off vouchers for various brands.
Already loaded up for the day, we set off around the stalls, grazing on free samples as we went. Our first purchase was from Baking Bad. The stall was full to bursting with assorted iced cupcakes, brownies and cakes. The humans shared a salted caramel brownie, but there were also fudge and strawberry hazelnut flavours. There was a plethora of cupcake flavours, but just a few included chocolate fudge, Oreo and carrot walnut. The cake flavours on offer were double chocolate orange blueberry.
Whilst it was tempting to buy a bit of every cake, the humans controlled themselves and only bought one. The brownie was soft and gooey, but not so gooey that it made a mess everywhere. Other people must have liked Baking Bad as much as Charlie and Jack did as when we walked back passed the stall at the end of the event, the stock was much diminished.
The next major stop was at Nutcrafter Creamery, makers of artisan raw cashew nut cheese. The humans had a good time testing out the various flavours on offer, including the volcanic (aged to perfection one would hope), the ancient (extra aged) and the decadent (air aged). All the cheeses we tried were very creamy and strong, what more can one ask for from a cheese?
We then moved next door to Essential Vegan, where we tried out a smoked cheese this time. It was a harder cheese but still as good. This was also cashew based. All this cheese, the humans’ breath is going to stink by the end of today…
Not to worry, we then found a chewing gum stand, Chewsy. Unlike your average gum which comes in sticks, these were in cubes which was different, I suppose. The three flavours on offer were your traditional spearmint and peppermint and the less usual lemon. We were informed by the stall vendor that the lemon flavour was the most popular of the samples, this was undoubtedly true as many of the people passing stopped to taste this one. After careful testing of all the flavours, the humans decided to buy a packet of the lemon each, this was particularly good for Charlie who doesn’t like mint, it’s not easy finding mint-free gum.
Although the flavour doesn’t last as long as regular gum, it also doesn’t turn tacky so won’t stick to your teeth, which is a benefit. It is soft and pliable on the tongue if that is important to you (Charlie is chewing a piece as we write, so can give a fully accurate review of the gum).
After freshening up their breath with the gum, the humans then visited a gluten-free pastry stall then a flavoured seeds company, the spicier flavours including curry and Mexicana, so much for the er… lemony fresh benefits of chewing gum.
From here we passed the Yu and Mi Company, selling Japanese vegetable noodles and rice. We took the opportunity to try the noodles with salad and sweet noodles with coconut milk sauce. Charlie liked both, Jack was not such a fan. The rice was not vegan, although I couldn’t work out why. We had now wandered into the waters of Allergy and Free From so decided to head back to Just V.
Here we wandered through a sea (fortunately metaphorical) of vegan chocolates, cheeses and ‘meats’. We also came across Cats Protection and Charlie signed up to sponsor a cat pen, the current resident of which was a tortoiseshell called Lexi Girl. I was very happy with the pictures of cats around this stall and settled down for a photo here.
There were so many exciting food stuffs on offer, but for the sake of becoming repetitive, I’ll only include a few really good ones now.
We visited Cape On Backwards, who make individual artisan cakes. They had red velvet, chocolate mud and lemon drizzle cakes on offer, all of which were divine. The lemon drizzle in particular was light and fruity, but perfectly moist. Deliciously Raw heaped free recipes upon us, which was exciting, as well as free samples. The teriyaki coconut was a particular favourite, the flavour was strong, but not over powering.
Linda McCartney was there, their new pulled pork burgers were on offer. Although they had previously contained honey, they now used black treacle, making them vegan but still giving them a perfect sweet taste.
There was also Oumph! a Swedish company producing soya based meat alternatives, these were served up on nachos and eaten almost quicker than they could be put out by the vendors.
Holy Moly dips produced some fantastic guacamole, plain avocado and spicy flavours were available. These were creamy and avocado-y which I’m sure is a real word, anyway what I’m trying to say is that if you like avocado, you’ll be a fan.
There was also a large number of stalls dedicated to vegan supplements. Charlie and Jack decided they were healthy enough to not need to try these, but their popularity does rather suggest there’s a lot of vegans worried they aren’t getting the right nutrients from their food. I’d suggest just eating a balanced diet, not that I’m a nutritionist or anything, I just like the excuse to eat lots of different foods!
We took a break for lunch, purchasing a steak and cheese burger from a burger company whose name has unfortunately slipped my mind. All I can say is they were from Glasgow, made everything themselves, the vegan mayo, the nutty cheese and the steak which I think was soya based. The whole burger was delicious although it made quite a mess (what are napkins for?). The humans shared the burger and then headed to the Greek Vegan Deli where they bought a sausage roll, which happily came with sundried tomato hummus. The pastry was soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, the sausage was delightfully flavoursome, although again I’m not quite sure what it was made of.
The Greek Vegan Deli offered a huge selection including hummus and falafel filled pittas, baklava, moussaka and several pizza like things which I was uncertain as to their Greek-ness. Everything was piled high on the stall and all looked as good as our sausage roll tasted.
After lunch, we ventured back to explore the other shows on offer. The Allergy and Free From show seemed to contain a large number of gluten-free granola stands. All had tasty selections on offer, the particular favourite being Nature’s Path who gave us a whole tub of fruity granola to take away. The humans enjoyed a granola that was packed with flavour but without the addition of the totally unnecessary honey which seems to appear in most commercial granolas.
This show was also home to a large number of alternative milks and yoghurts. A particular favourite was Soya Dream (also Rice Dream, Almond Dream, Coconut Dream etc), so good Charlie kept sneaking back for more samples. It was creamy but without the overwhelming soya taste or the cloyingness of other brands.
Nush offered a large selection of cashew and almond based yoghurts, including salted caramel, strawberry and blueberry. All the flavoured ones were well received, although the plain almond base less so.
CoYo provided coconut yoghurts (get it?) which were excellent, particularly the cherry flavour, and the Coconut Collaborative had a fantastic lemon yoghurt up for grabs.
A particular favourite among the humans was Real Good Ketchup, this was amazing – it actually tasted of tomatoes! There was also a BBQ ketchup on offer. This was so good Jack bought a bottle, Charlie preferred the tomato-y taste of the ketchup.
Jack embraced the idea of doing your shopping at a vegan event, he also bought spicy Veganaise, seaweed crisps and a good selection of other stuff of which I’ve rather lost track of.
One of our last stops, just as the event was closing for the day was Freaks of Nature who produced wonderful chocolate puddings. These were all free from dairy, gluten, soya and artificial stuff, the pudding we tried was just the right amount of chocolatey-ness, not too bitter, but still strong. It had a dark chocolate base layer and a more mousse like top, truly decadent.
Well, I’ve rambled on about food for quite a while now. You’ll either be starving hungry or sick of the stuff, but hopefully I will have inspired you to try out some new vegan brands, most of which you can find in your local supermarket or health food shop. Go on, grab your favourite vegan granola, followed by a bit of soya meat and the gooiest cake you’ve got on offer. Enjoy it!
Until my next entry,
Greetings, humans! Welcome to the Vegan Edition. That might be a slightly confusing name as of course, Charlie, and Jack when he’s here, are always vegan and I have included vegan-type stuff in my other entries, mostly notably in the Europe Edition where I reviewed some fantastic plant-based culinary delights, but this edition will focus solely on vegan FOOD, with maybe some other vegan products thrown in. Excellent stuff.
I will be documenting our trips to various vegan events and particularly spectacular vegan eateries across the length and breadth of the country, and perhaps some other countries, if my humans’ travel budgets extend that far. Who knows where we might end up?
Charlie and Jack have been to a good few vegan events, cafés, restaurants, bakeries and pubs in their vegan lives, and now they have entered my sphere of influence with my spectacular writing skills, what better than to share these experiences with other vegans, bringing some foody joy to the world (or a select few in Britain, my sphere of influence only extends so far)?
Unlike my other Editions, which are nicely chronologically constrained, this Edition will extend throughout our journeys, how long may it last? Months? Years? Who knows, depends how many people read this blog – any recommendations of places to visit will be appreciated.
As one little cat in a big wide world with so much to explore, I hope to bring some (vegan) happiness to the people I meet and who read my entries. Aren’t I so lovely? It’s the grin, people just can’t resist me.
Until the next entry (time is no longer the best concept, there won’t be such regular posts to this entry, or there might be, if my humans get rich and start eating out a lot...)
Anyway, until the next time I write,