Jackson and Rye, London

  

I’m off to the Arctic for the next four weeks, which means that my partner and I won’t see each other for a very long time. We took the day off work today (Friday) and set out to do some tourist London exploration, because I realised that I never, ever big up my home town enough.

I reckon that’s because the vegan food offerings here just aren’t very good. Why not? The centre of London has a dearth of places that serve vegan breakfasts. Vegetarian food offerings are awesome, but if you have allergies or have cut out animal items from your diet totally, London is not the best place for you.

That said, I live here, so make do I must. Tibits is great for some vegan food, Inspiral is super, and unintentionally vegan ethnic offerings are plentiful. But it’s no New York (hello vegan Chinese) or LA (they have a vegan CHEESE SHOP). And this continues to make me sad.

So we took the day off work and this took us to Jackson and Rye because I was determined not to go to Hospital Club AGAIN (my fail safe brunch location). It sucks for vegans. And for anyone with allergies. But it’s glorious inside, and their country style potatoes with caramelised onions may well be one of the most delicious thins I’ve eaten this week.

I literally have a plate of avocado and some green juice, but hey, the tiling is nice and they have a bottle of Tabasco, so life’s not all bad.

And if you’ve got a meat eater in your life, I imagine they would be a huge fan.

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Vegan hotdogs in Santa Cruz, Tenerife

With four hours left before my flight home and having finished all the work I’d come to Tenerife to do, I decided to locate Santa Cruz’s vegan offerings. This is Northern Tenerife, well away from the crowded high rises and apartment blocks of Los Christianos. 

  
I’d been really surprised by Tenerife. For a start, I’d spent the last four days cowering from the freezing cold weather – in early June, fog and wind had been the order of the day. This is an island of microclimates, and my trip had taken me away from the sunshine. First up to El Teide, a mountain in the centre (fog), and then along the northern coastline which is reminiscent of California’s craggy Route One.

  
The purpose of the trip (oh the hardship), was to track down gourmet Tenerife – the culinary heart of the island. Over the last few days I’ve tasted some incredible wines and eaten a vegan menu at a two star Michelin restaurant. But now, with a few hours to myself, I left the comfort of the hotel’s saltwater pool and comfy loungers, to find Burger Mel, a totally vegan hamburger joint in Santa Cruz.

  
The fact that such a thing even existed surprised me for many reasons. The main one is that Spain is not known for its veggie friendly cuisine, and yet, according to Happy Cow, there seem to be about five Burger Mel’s. She offered me vegan mayonnaise but normal cheese (possibly – my Spanish is mediocre and she didn’t speak English), so it might be worth double checking before you go faux-dairy crazy.
I had absolutely no idea what I just ordered until she just brought it just now. I seem to have got a hotdog with vegan mayonnaise, salsa, onions, and topped with avocado. It’s awesome. Best of all is how cheap Tenerife is away from the tourist areas – it’s incredible.

  
I packed nine euros (now worth about 5 pounds) in my purse worried I wouldn’t have enough and the whole meal including a piña (pineapple juice) came to 4 euros. Amazing. It’s good too. It lacks a little texture but  made a nice change from Tenerife’s high end restaurants. And perhaps the meat-free wind is starting to blow here. 

Vegan hotdogs in Santa Cruz, Tenerife

With four hours left before my flight home and having finished all the work I’d come to Tenerife to do, I decided to locate Santa Cruz’s vegan offerings. This is Northern Tenerife, well away from the crowded high rises and apartment blocks of Los Christianos. 

  
I’d been really surprised by Tenerife. For a start, I’d spent the last four days cowering from the freezing cold weather – in early June, fog and wind had been the order of the day. This is an island of microclimates, and my trip had taken me away from the sunshine. First up to El Teide, a mountain in the centre (fog), and then along the northern coastline which is reminiscent of California’s craggy Route One.

  
The purpose of the trip (oh the hardship), was to track down gourmet Tenerife – the culinary heart of the island. Over the last few days I’ve tasted some incredible wines and eaten a vegan menu at a two star Michelin restaurant. But now, with a few hours to myself, I left the comfort of the hotel’s saltwater pool and comfy loungers, to find Burger Mel, a totally vegan hamburger joint in Santa Cruz.

  
The fact that such a thing even existed surprised me for many reasons. The main one is that Spain is not known for its veggie friendly cuisine, and yet, according to Happy Cow, there seem to be about five Burger Mel’s. She offered me vegan mayonnaise but normal cheese (possibly – my Spanish is mediocre and she didn’t speak English), so it might be worth double checking before you go faux-dairy crazy.
I had absolutely no idea what I just ordered until she just brought it just now. I seem to have got a hotdog with vegan mayonnaise, salsa, onions, and topped with avocado. It’s awesome. Best of all is how cheap Tenerife is away from the tourist areas – it’s incredible.

  
I packed nine euros (now worth about 5 pounds) in my purse worried I wouldn’t have enough and the whole meal including a piña (pineapple juice) came to 4 euros. Amazing. It’s good too. It lacks a little texture but  made a nice change from Tenerife’s high end restaurants. And perhaps the meat-free wind is starting to blow here. 

With four hours left before my flight home and having finished all the work I’d come to Tenerife to do, I decided to locate Santa Cruz’s vegan offerings. This is Northern Tenerife, well away from the crowded high rises and apartment blocks of Los Christianos. 

  
I’d been really surprised by Tenerife. For a start, I’d spent the last four days cowering from the freezing cold weather – in early June, fog and wind had been the order of the day. This is an island of microclimates, and my trip had taken me away from the sunshine. First up to El Teide, a mountain in the centre (fog), and then along the northern coastline which is reminiscent of California’s craggy Route One.

  
The purpose of the trip (oh the hardship), was to track down gourmet Tenerife – the culinary heart of the island. Over the last few days I’ve tasted some incredible wines and eaten a vegan menu at a two star Michelin restaurant. But now, with a few hours to myself, I left the comfort of the hotel’s saltwater pool and comfy loungers, to find Burger Mel, a totally vegan hamburger joint in Santa Cruz.

  
The fact that such a thing even existed surprised me for many reasons. The main one is that Spain is not known for its veggie friendly cuisine, and yet, according to Happy Cow, there seem to be about five Burger Mel’s. She offered me vegan mayonnaise but normal cheese (possibly – my Spanish is mediocre and she didn’t speak English), so it might be worth double checking before you go faux-dairy crazy.
I had absolutely no idea what I just ordered until she just brought it just now. I seem to have got a hotdog with vegan mayonnaise, salsa, onions, and topped with avocado. It’s awesome. Best of all is how cheap Tenerife is away from the tourist areas – it’s incredible.

  
I packed nine euros (now worth about 5 pounds) in my purse worried I wouldn’t have enough and the whole meal including a piña (pineapple juice) came to 4 euros. Amazing. 
It’s good too. It lacks a little texture but  made a nice change from Tenerife’s high end restaurants. And perhaps the wind is changing here. 

Herbivore: where skinheads and hippies join hands and eat pancakes

“Sitting in the booth next to me is a tattooed man. He is a skinhead. He has a male partner who is looking enviously at the vegan gluten free lasagne that the waitress has just placed in front of him. 

We are sitting in a vegan restaurant, called herbivore. In front of him sits a half drunk spirulina infused pineapple juice. When he talks he has a Yorkshire accent. “I’m from Chesterfield,” he says. We momentarily reminisce about the leaning spire of Chesterfield (google it). He looks hard -tough knuckles kind of hard – and like the sort of man I used to avoid in Sheffield City centre on a Friday night.


Folks, this is San Francisco, where men with tough morals and tough fists eat vegan.”

I wrote this almost a year ago, when I visited San Francisco for the first time. Now I’m back, and I’ve dragged Sam to the Berkeley branch of the same restaurant.

The breakfast menu is staggeringly good for this area, and the price is great compared to other vegan restaurant places we’ve visited. This is my fourth visit to Herbivore, and each time I’m torn between trail mix choc chip pancakes, salsa and corn cakes, the breakfast burrito, or sausage, biscuits and gravy.

Luckily, this time I have an ally, so we split the corn cakes and pancakes, and to alleviate the guilt, get a green juice too.

As ever, it’s perfect. Vegan sour cream, creamy avocado, crunchy corn cakes and piquant tomato salsa. Amazing.

I always forget how little I like pancakes for breakfast, but feel compelled to order them in the U.S. Regardless. These are fine, but I hate having such a sweet, stodgy start to the day. And this day I’ve been up since 4.30am trying to meet a deadline for my book proposal. So my fingers are hungry at the very least.

So here’s to vegan breakfasteries, and the pleasure of shared breakfast meetings. 




Similies: exploring Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto

The last few weeks have provided the writer within me a chance to fumble around with some wordplay, and produce some hugely awful and desperate similes. Even though you’ve barely drunk your morning coffee, I’d be damn surprised if you didn’t want to hear any of these excellent examples. So here goes: As many ____ as ghost tours in New Orleans. As many ____ as animal hospitals in West Hollywood. As many ____ as car angst scenes in the movie Shelter.

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And now I guess I can add: As many ____ as fresh food marketplaces in Berkeley, California.

I’ve been before. I suppose every vegan should one day make the pilgrimage to the home of California cuisine, and the town that kickstarted the vegan revolution (of sorts). Last time I came I was bowled over. London is doing many exciting things in its culinary scene at the moment, but none so thrilling as California’s: vegan cinnamon rolls at Cinnaholic; Cafe Gratitude‘s BLT; chocolate cake at Herbivore. Although probably tame and old news to Californians, from a Londoner’s perspective, where vegan food in comparison to the size of the city is lacking somewhat, Berkeley was mind-blowing to me.

After spending the last eight months actively hunting down vegan food around the world, it’s probably diminished in excitement, but it’s still the shrine; the original.

So, after a long drive down from Yosemite national park, we headed straight to Cinnaholic where I devoured a strawberry and cream cheese cinnamon roll washed down with lemonade. In desperate need of walking off my car fat (and now cake fat), we took a long walk around the UC Berkeley campus and hiked up and down Shattuck Avenue’s Gourmet Ghetto. When we’d worked up enough appetite, we headed to Cafe Gratitude.

Polenta bowl at Cafe Gratitude

Polenta bowl at Cafe Gratitude

We’d been so impressed with the LA location – the menu was enormous. This one was tiny, but had a vibrant selection of items. I picked my fave BLT (the bacon replaced by smoked coconut chips), and Sam chose the polenta bowl with mushrooms and greens. It was awesome, and I found myself picking at his meal the entire time – I can’t resist anything creamy when it’s so tough to make food creamy at home without turning it into a thai dish or a peanut butter flavoured dish! If only we had a surplus of avocados and cashew nuts back in England!

Now properly stuffed with food, we tootled down to the marina and strolled around the headland, watching people bring their boats in off the bay as the sun began to set over San Francisco. I spent far too much time staring in awe at the sky, when Sam reminded me we needed to speed up to be at our friend’s house for 7.30. I needn’t have worried leaving the sunset: their house is on the top of a hill in the bay area and overlooks the city, the Golden Gate bridge, and the ocean. It’s spectacular and is an absolute treat to be staying here. (So if either of them are reading – thank you!)

The view from Oakland hills over the bay

The view from Oakland hills over the bay

Eating vegan at Yosemite National Park

Bears. They’re everywhere if you’ll believe the signs. Every year 16 bears are hit and killed by speeding cars in the park, and the park rangers show vivid films of bears breaking into cars and stealing all the food. 

  

This meant that in the campground we were staying in – unheated tents in Curry Village (error, it dropped to about -3 degrees) – we weren’t able to cook our own food. We had to rely on the canteen and pizza place at the campground, both of which were very much geared towards pleasing children. The camp was probably doing the best it could, but the food was painfully expensive – a large pizza with no cheese and extra olives and tomatoes cost $28. I mean, what the hell? Surely cheese is the most expensive ingredient there – why not give me a handful of mushrooms for free? 

  

At the risk of sounding like a tight-arse miser, this felt expensive, even for the heart of the national park. 

This is a post about vegan food at the park rather than the national park itself, which is of course, incredible. Striking blue skies, powdery grey waterfalls, green trees and slate grey mountains made every vista look like it had been drawn by a child with a limited supply of crayons. But what crayons! What colour!

  

We did lots of hikes (three in one afternoon) – mirror lake, Vernal Falls, and Yosemite falls. They were all, of course spectacular, but we spent our visit desperately wishing we’d packed our hiking gear so we could tackle longer and more strenuous hikes. Sadly, our airline baggage allowance wouldn’t permit it.

  

Away from the mountains and back to the vegan food, which is surely a concern for anyone coming to visit. The grill in Yosemite Village has black bean burgers for 10.95 and there was a sizeable salad offering in Curry Village – bear in mind that each salad is measured by weight. There was also a vegan marinara sauce for the pasta dish which looked pretty good.

All in all, vegans could probably eat one evening meal fine in Curry or Yosemite Village. If you’re concerned at all, I recommend stopping off in Mariposa at the High Country Cafe, which is attached to a whole food shop (not Wholefoods). You can buy vegan trail mix there and the essential Almond Dream ice cream bites. Just remember that everything has to be put in the bear box outside your tent, and no cooking!

Ps. It’s cold at night. Get a sleeping bag at the very least. I wore two pairs of jeans, three jumpers and my coat. Still freezing.