Vegetarian fairs and festivals 2013

If you’re starting to think about where you might go on your holidays this year, why not plan a trip to some of these veggie fairs and festivals, which are taking place all over the UK throughout 2013.

March

March 16 – 17. Brighton VegFest is back and it’s bigger and better than ever. Expect to find more than 120 stalls spread across three floors. There will be cookery classes, live music, free nutritional advice and even speed dating.

March 23. Evesham Vegan Fair looks set to be a much smaller and more intimate affair. Organised by Midlands Vegan Campaigns, the fair will offer 20 stalls with vegan cosmetics, recipe books and Easter eggs, as well as cookery demos and talks.

April

April 13. Northern Vegan Festival will take place in Manchester on April 13. Visitors will find 90 vegan stalls, selling vegan chocolate, clothing and gifts, as well as children’s activities, films and a talk on eating out in the north of England.

Vegan cupcake stall

Vegan cupcake stall

May

May 24 – 25. VegFestUK will return to Bristol for its 10th anniversary. More than 120 stalls will celebrate every aspect of a vegan lifestyle, from food to fashion. There will also be live music, films and entertainment.

August

August 3 – 17. Vegan Camp has been running in Cornwall for 32 years. Individuals, couples and families are invited to visit for a day or stay for the full two weeks. Communal meals, camp fires and picnics make this a unique event.

October

October 5 – 6. The dates have been confirmed for a huge new show in London at the world-famous Kensington Olympia. VegFest London will offer comedy and music, alongside all the essential stalls and demonstrations.

December

December 8. You may not be thinking about Christmas just yet, but the Christmas Vegan Fayre in London’s Kensington Town Hall is a definite date for the diary. Organised by Animal Aid, the event will showcase everything you need for perfect meat-free festivities.

Photo: Binary Ape

Vegan Wines Online

Grape vine

Grape vine

Sitting down with a nice glass of wine at the end of a long, hard day can be an excellent way to unwind, but unfortunately, trying to find a wine that is suitable for vegetarians can be a difficult and stressful experience.

Luckily, new company Vegan Wines Online aims to make the whole process much easier. The site is dedicated to stocking wines that are free from animal products, and also aims to provide useful information for vegetarian and vegan wine consumers.

Nigel Oldham said he was shocked by the lack of vegan wines available. “We were inspired to set up the site when we realised just how poorly the vegan community is served,” he said.

He added many vegans did not realise wine contained animal products. “Most people think wine is fermented grape juice and they are horrified when they realise the majority of bottles contain ingredients such as gelatin, fish guts and egg whites,” he said.

The site stocks about 100 wines, which are vegan, organic and low in sulphur. For more information, visit Vegan Wines Online or follow @VeganWines.

Related posts: Vegetarian wines, Vegetarian ciders.

Photo: tribp

Mango lassi

Mango lassi

Mango lassi

I’ve tried mango lassi at several Indian restaurants, but never realised how incredibly easy it is to make. Traditionally found in India and Pakistan, but gaining in popularity worldwide, this sweet yoghurt-based drink is perfect for summer.

Preparation time: 5 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 100ml single cream
  • 200ml milk
  • 400ml natural yoghurt
  • 400ml mango pulp
  • 4 tsps caster sugar

Method:

Blend the ingredients together and serve with ice. It’s that easy! Here’s an alternative vegan version, which is made with coconut milk and vanilla.

Photo: Jeannie

Vegetarian restaurants in Cardiff

I’ve been living in Cardiff for nearly a year now and after reviewing plenty of vegetarian restaurants, bars and cafés, I thought it would be helpful to compile a map of the best places for veggies and vegans to eat out in the Welsh capital.

Chapter Arts Centre

Lovely light and airy café-bar, with a sunny courtyard for summer evenings. Wide range of veggie and vegan dishes available, all made with fresh and local produce. They do a particularly tasty vegetarian breakfast.

Madhav

Cosy Indian café and takeaway located five minutes away from Millennium Stadium. All dishes are vegetarian and can be adapted for vegans. They do a good selection of freshly-made Indian sweets.

Milgi

Quirky kitchen, lounge and gallery in Cathays, complete with its own yurt in the garden. All dishes are vegetarian, by popular demand. Most dishes can also be adapted for vegans. Don’t miss out on the vegetarian Sunday lunch.

Riverside Market

An integral part of Cardiff life, the Riverside Market takes place on the banks of the Taff every Sunday morning, from 10am until 2pm. There are plenty of vegetarian stalls, including Frantastic Crepes and the Parsnipship.

Vegetarian Food Studio

Vegetarian heaven! Small and cosy vegetarian café, which offers an almost overwhelming selection of Indian and Oriental dishes. Vegetarian Food Studio has won many awards, including Vegetarian Society Best Restaurant and the Guardian Food Award.

For comprehensive listings, visit the Eat Out Vegan Wales site.

Kale chips

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I’ve tried all kinds of weird and wonderful crisps in my time. I’m certainly a fan of the colourful and earthy beetroot, parsnip and carrot variety, but I must admit, when I was sent some raw kale chips to review, I was slightly perplexed.

Kale is a form of cabbage, no? You can’t make crisps from cabbage! Well, apparently you can and it turns out they’re pretty tasty. I was sent four different flavours: cheese and purple corn, wasabi wheatgrass, baobab and onion and raw cacao and cinnamon.

At first glance, they didn’t look hugely appetising. They were very dark green in colour and if you’re the kind of person who is put off a meal by the sight of a mound of spinach, then these may not be for you…

Organic

In fairness, it’s difficult to judge any food in its packaging and I can imagine these would look very appealing served alongside a sandwich or a nice salad with some fresh, crusty bread.

While we’re discussing looks, the chips were well packaged in brightly coloured and fully recyclable eco-packing, which clearly states that the product is suitable for a whole range special of dietary requirements, as it does not contain any dairy, wheat, soya or sugar.

Looks aside, the cheese and purple corn chips (which won the 2012 Free From Food Awards) smelt delicious. They did not have the usual greasy and oily texture of crisps, but instead, were light, delicate and crispy, with a strong taste of mature cheese.

Healthy

Instead of being fried, the chips are dried and dehydrated, which means they’re much healthier than normal crisps. The manufacturer also prides itself on steering clear of all additives, preservatives, MSG and GM ingredients, instead favouring organic alternatives.

The unusual wasabi wheatgrass flavour was nutty and peppery, with a spicy aftertaste, while the equally curious baobab and onion flavour had a pungent, salty aroma and a rich, earthy flavour.

The raw cacao and cinnamon flavour was more of an acquired taste, as my taste buds were confused by the sweet, sugary taste of what otherwise appeared to be a savoury product.

Light and crispy

Overall, I wouldn’t view kale chips as an alternative to traditional crisps, I would see them as something distinct and different. If you took a packet along to a house party, you might get some funny looks, but they are definitely worth a try and I will certainly be popping into the inSpiral café next time I’m in Camden.

A 35g pack of kale chips costs £3.45, while a large 80g pack is priced at £5.95. For more information, visit the inSpiral Visionary Products website.

Photos: InSpiral

Vegetarian blogs

When I first started thegreenveggie, I was slightly overwhelmed by just how many vegetarian blogs there are out there. Yet they’re all so different and distinct. Here are a few of my favourites…

Herbivoracious

herbivoracious

herbivoracious

Herbivoracious is a brilliant and very widely read veggie blog, with more than 92,000 subscribers. The aim of the blog is to reinvigorate vegetarian cuisine by promoting modern techniques and bold, authentic flavours.

The blog is run by Michael Natkin from Seattle. Michael worked as a software engineer for 25 years, before deciding his true passion lay in the kitchen. Since then, he interned in a kitchen, published a recipe book and now he’s planning to open a small restaurant.

Michael said: “I’ve been a vegetarian since 1984. Here’s why. I’m passionate about bringing big flavors and good culinary technique to vegetarian cooking. Not to say I don’t also love a big plate of waffle house hash browns.”

This blog is bursting with original and inspiring recipes, which are neatly archived and easy to find. It’s nicely laid out, with lovely big images, plus video and audio clips, which make the recipes really easy to follow. Definitely worth a read.

Veggie Belly

Veggie Belly

Veggie Belly

Veggie Belly is another excellent vegetarian recipe blog, with more than 5,000 fans on Facebook. The blog is run by Sala Kannan, who was born in India and grew up with fiery, bold flavours, which influenced her cooking.

Sala is one well-travelled lady and her blog combines insightful travel writing with stunning photography and unusual recipes from every corner of the globe. She describes herself as a software services entrepreneur by day and a hobby cook and food blogger by night.

Sala said: “I was raised a vegetarian and have been vegetarian for most of my life. I love it and will never change it. But you won’t see me preaching vegetarianism. I respect people’s eating choices. I have a husband who eats meat and I have no problem with it.”

Veggie Belly’s greatest strength is its beautiful photography, which makes the recipes irresistible to try and easy to follow. And with pages on home, garden and travel, this is more than just a food blog, Sala talks about vegetarianism in all aspects of life.

Vegansaurus

vegansaurus

vegansaurus

Vegansaurus is a popular vegan lifestyle blog, covering food, politics and news related to veganism. Based in San Francisco, the site was set up in late 2008 and gets over 100,000 page views every month.

The best thing about vegansaurus is its light-hearted, banterous tone, which makes it accessible and fun to read. It also has a wide range of contributors, whose distinctive voices make this site wonderfully varied and diverse.

The site is updated very regularly and has a huge amount of content, making this one of the best sites around for product reviews and recipes. This is a fun, friendly and frank blog. Definitely worth a look.

Quote of the day

Quote

“It is very significant that some of the most thoughtful and cultured men are partisans of a pure vegetable diet.  I do not regard flesh-food as necessary for us at any stage and under any clime in which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live.”

Mahatma Gandhi, spiritual leader (1869 – 1948)

Vegetarian Sunday lunch

Vegetarian Sunday lunch

Vegetarian Sunday lunch

Traditional Sunday lunches do not always provide ideal vegetarian fare. I always associate a Sunday roast with my grandma’s epic portions of roast beef and enough sausages to sink a small ship.

But with crispy nut roasts, traditional Glamorgan sausages and fresh vegetables, vegetarian roasts can be just as tasty as their meaty counterparts. Thegreenveggie seeks out the best vegetarian-friendly Sunday lunches in Cardiff…

Y Mochyn Du

Y Mochyn Du

Y Mochyn Du

Y Mochyn Du, meaning the black pig, is a light and airy pub, right next to Bute Park in the heart of Cardiff. This popular drinking hole is the main meeting place for Welsh speakers in the area and you will often hear a male voice choir practicing their repertoire in the conservatory on a Saturday evening.

This pub was nominated Pub of the Year in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and their slogan “for all reasons and all seasons,” aptly sums up the pleasant setting. There’s a lovely sunny beer garden, complete with patio umbrellas for glorious summer days, as well as a cosy fire and comfy sofas for chilly winter evenings.

The vegetarian option was Glamorgan sausages, which was priced at £7.75. The sausages were delicious and were clearly handmade, using local Caerphilly cheese. These traditional Welsh sausages were thick, flavoursome and coated in crispy breadcrumbs.

The sausages were served with a generous portion of Yorkshire pudding, fresh vegetables and golden roast potatoes. The bar also had a wide range of local ales on tap, most of which were suitable for vegetarians and vegans. A great place to meet up with friends or family.

The Robin Hood

The Robin Hood

The Robin Hood

The Robin Hood is a friendly, bustling pub, tucked away in the leafy heart of Pontcanna. The shady awning and pretty window boxes give the pub a European feel and the front patio provides some excellent people watching opportunities.

The Sunday lunch menu did not offer much choice, with only three or four options available and only one vegetarian dish. However, the quality of the food more than made up for the lack of choice.

The vegetarian option was a generous slice of nut roast, served with a small silver jug of vegetarian gravy. The nut roast was crispy and packed full of different herb flavours. A large bowl of fresh vegetables was brought to the table for us to share. This included carrots, broccoli, parsnips and roast potatoes, which were all cooked to perfection.

The pub also offers a free bottle of wine if you book a table in advance, making Sunday lunch at the Robin Hood excellent value for money. A great place to take the parents.

Woods Brasserie

Woods Brasserie

Woods Brasserie

This contemporary restaurant, situated in the pilotage building in Cardiff Bay, had a very modern feel. The glass roof and minimalist decor provided a pleasant setting, which was just as well, because the service was incredibly slow.

The menu at Woods Brasserie was slightly pretentious, offering the sort of dishes where you either need a foreign phrase book, or are obliged to ask the waiter to interpret the unnecessarily elaborate and over-fussy descriptions.

On the plus side, there were several vegetarian dishes to choose from. For a starter, I tried fregola with ewe’s cheese, artichokes, pine nuts and lemon. Just in case you’re wondering (I certainly was) fregola is a type of pasta, made up of small, round beads, with a  couscous-like texture.

Although I appreciated the originality and presentation of the dish, the execution was disappointing. The fregola and artichokes were poorly cooked, with some chewy, raw pieces spoiling the otherwise light and delicate flavours.

The main course was carrot and cumin fritters with smoked baba ganoush, basil and shallot. The classic combination of carrot and cumin worked well, but the fritters were overwhelmingly oily, which made them heavy and soggy.

I had never tried baba ganoush (which is made from mashed aubergine and olive oil) and based on this experience, I would not be inclined to try it again! Like the fritters, the texture was very oily, which did not help the wetness of the fritters, and overall, the main course was mushy, with a riot of conflicting flavours fighting for the attention of your taste buds.

The restaurant was also more expensive than the previous two, with lunch costing £20 for three courses. However, after two disappointing courses and ridiculously slow service, we decided not to stay for a desert. A sunny walk around Cardiff Bay seemed more appealing!

Photos: Ewan Munro, Dom Stocqueler, John Dixon

One Love Veggie Foodival

Valentine's cupcake

Valentine's cupcakes

Calling all Cardiff veggies! Don’t miss out on Milgi Lounge’s One Love Veggie Foodival this week, which will be celebrating all things vegetarian, vegan and organic.

The shenanigans will be kicking off tonight with a Valentine’s Day French bistro (ohh la la!) followed by a 100% vegan and raw food evening tomorrow. Then on Thursday, we can look forward to a special “feast from the east” supper club, ahead of Friday’s spicy Reggaetarian Jamaican Thali.

And don’t forget to leave some room for Saturday’s seasonal pizzas and Sunday dinner, which will be accompanied by acoustic sessions in the yurt. We can’t wait!

Milgi Lounge is located on City Road in Cathays, Cardiff. For more information, visit the Milgi website.

Photo: smittenkitten

Vegetarian ciders

Cider apples

Cider apples

Following thegreenveggie’s review of vegetarian wines, a lot of readers got in touch about beers and ciders. I’m a big fan of cider and was more than happy to take up the challenge of seeking out the best veggie tipples…

After chatting to a lot of cider and perry producers at the Bristol Winter Cider Festival last week, I was relieved to discover that most types are suitable for veggies and most are also clearly labelled.

I’ve reviewed some ciders made by Gwynt y Ddraig – the Welsh cider and perry company. Based in Pontypridd, they use apples from Welsh orchards and were the first Welsh cider producer to earn a CAMRA gold medal.

Black Dragon (6.5%)

Black Dragon has a beautiful, light copper hue. It is aromatic, with a sharp, but fruity fragrance. The apples are grown in traditional ageing orchards and the juice is fermented in oak barrels, giving the cider a distinctive rich and mature flavour. This is a lightly sparkling, medium dry cider.

Perry Vale (4.5%)

Perry Vale blends three varieties of pear that have been allowed to ferment slowly, but this perry will certainly not suit all tastes. The smell is sickly sweet and the bubbles overwhelm the flavour. The taste lingers on the palette, but the sugary flavour is overpowering.

Orchard Gold (4.9%)

Orchard Gold proves that Wales can make cider just as well as its Somerset neighbours. This cider has a bright, gilded tone and a sweet, fruity scent. This is a traditional, oak matured farmhouse cider with a smooth flavour. The fresh and honeyed notes make this a mellow and refreshing pint.

Dabinett (6%)

Dabinett is made from a single variety of apple, which thrives in Welsh orchards. The Dabinett apple is a small, yellow-green fruit, which is native to the UK. These apples produce a pungent cider with a bright, golden colour and a bittersweet perfume. This is a well-balanced, medium dry cider, with a sting in its tail. The flavour is full-bodied, complex and shifting. A must-try for any self-respecting cider connoisseur.

Photo: @Doug88888