Vegan Mofo 2017 #16: The Hip Hop Chip Shop

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

I found myself in Manchester just over a week post op for a few days before I came up here to Edinburgh to see out the rest of my recovery. Being so far away from home for so long, I had a few friends who were keen to see me before I left for Scotland. Of course I suggested a meal out and I had just the place in mind.

For a short while The Hip Hop Chip Shop set up at Kosmonaut Bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Unfortunately their run at Kosmonaut ended at the beginning of this month but there are plans for them to open their own place in Ancoats next year and they can also be found at Media City most weekdays, so check out their Facebook Page to see where they’re at!

This was the perfect place for us all to meet. What better way to celebrate my top surgery than to eat everything covered in batter?!

I was really impressed with all the vegan options on their menu. They have a Veganstarr Meal of Battered Sausage, Chips & Mushy Peas. At around £7 it’s not the cheapest chippy but the portions are HUGE and you get a vegan chippy meal that is very hard to find in the UK.

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Also, the sides are so where it’s at. Chilli Batter Onion Rings, Chilli Batter Plantain and Battered Gherkins? Oh God get in my mouth.

The best part? If you bring your own chocolate bar they’ll batter and fry it for 50p. So OF COURSE I brought a few things to try out.

Ananda’s Wagon Wheel

Verdict: 9/10

This was a winner, I think the bulkiness made it a really good option for deep frying, it wasn’t too greasy and you got a good bite. It was soft, warm, sugary and delicious. The only thing stopping it getting 10/10 is that the marshmallow didn’t really melt, it just went softer. Damn you vegan mallow!

Go Max Go Twilight Bar

Verdict 6/10

I expected amazing things from this chocolate bar but the result was (don’t hate me) a bit too much. It was SO sweet and sickly. Perhaps if I hadn’t eaten if after a HUGE battered meal I would have enjoyed it more. But it was also quite greasy because it was quite flat. Of course I would eat it all over again.

I really loved The Hip Hop Chip shop and I’m so excited for them to be opening their own place next year. It would be great if they had some more vegan main options. A battered vegan chicken burger and definitely some battered vegan fish. These fake meats are all relatively easy to come by and would keep us vegans going back time and time again!

 

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Vegan Mofo #6: Celebratory Feast at Zad’s Vegan Takeaway

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

I decided to work right up until the day before I had to travel to Brighton for my surgery. In some ways it was good to have a distraction, but also the fear had set in by this point and I was finding it really hard to think of anything else.

I was mostly concerned about spending the last night at home alone worrying, so I invited my work colleagues out for a celebratory farewell feast at an amazing new vegan takeaway in Chorlton….

Zad’s specialises in filthy vegan pizza and burgers. I’m thrilled this place has opened up so close to where I live. This is definitely something that South Manchester needs and perfect for Chorlton, which could do with more vegan friendly fast food options.

I’ve been to Zad’s quite a few times now and I’ve been very impressed. Service has always been quick considering it’s been packed every single time I’ve visited. Even on their opening night they were calm and on top of orders, which I wasn’t expecting! So just to give you a hint of what they have to offer, here are a few options on their menu

Seitan BBQ Pizza – BBQ sauce base, cheese, spiced seitan, mixed peppers, sweetcorn and red onion

The Revolution Pizza – Fresh tomato sauce, cheese, avocado, pineapple, mixed peppers & scotch bonnet chillies – optional hot sauce

Pig Save Pizza – Fresh tomato sauce, cheese, smoky maple strips, hot dog, pepperoni & smoked seitan. *50p from each pizza will be donated to local animal save groups or vegan charities.

Zad Burger – Double patty, cheese, avocado & either an onion or pineapple ring, you choose. 

Loaded Hot Dog

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Chicken Niggets, Curly Fries, Cheesy Fries, Loaded Fries, Onion Rings…

Have you managed to stop drooling yet? They even have cake. This place is magic.

I’ve managed to delete the photos I took from my phone, but I have previous food porn I can show off from here. So here goes!

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Pig Save Pizza

Pig Save Pizza – Good God, this is good. Gimme all the faux meats and cheese! I particularly like the maple tempeh on here. Also, 50p from each pizza going to a good cause? Zad’s are good peoples.

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Seitan BBQ

Seitan BBQ Pizza – This pizza is ace. They’ve got the right amount of BBQ sauce with seitan and cheese ratio. This is one of my favourites for sure

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Cheesy Garlic Bread

Cheesy Garlic Bread – Basically another pizza but oh my god this is so good. They are very generous with the cheese so if you’re not too keen on huge amounts of vegan cheese, ask them to cut back a bit. For me this is perfect. So garlicky and greasy. I love it.

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Gary, Nuggets, Zad Burger

Gary Pizza – So many cheeses. So many goddamn cheeses. YESSS.

Zad Burger – Just what you’d expect for a typical dirty takeaway burger. They use Fry’s patties and are similar to the old style burgers V Rev Diner used to make on their old premises.

Nuggets – they’re deep fried, what’s more to say?

They also sell really good cupcakes made by the amazing Gorgosaurus Vegan Bakery

So if you’re Manchester based and haven’t been yet, what are you waiting for? Get on down to Zad’s and stuff yer face!

GRUB Mcr ExtraVEGANza

I’ll be honest, there’s not much that will convince me to get out of the house these days. But, when I heard that GRUB were planning an all vegan street food event for Veganuary…I knew I had to get in on the action.

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So, before I get into what I ate and the event itself, here’s what the line up looked like.

Yakumama – Latin American Street Food! Serving Arepa, Wontons and Plantain Stew

Oh/Mei/Dumpling – Beautiful, tasty dumplings, handmade in Stockport

Otto-men – Mediterranean and Ottoman inspired deliciousness

Manjits Kitchen – Vegetarian Indian Street food

Fritto – Italian Street Food, making jaws drop with their fresh donuts, polenta chips and panzerotti (deep fried calzone to me and you)

In Truffle We Trust – Local chocolatey truffle goodness

Pasta Factory – Local vegan friendly restaurant who I have blogged about already here. They had their amazing homemade cheeses, crackers and pasta for sale

Los Antojitos – Vegan Mexican Kitchen, selling salsas and hot sauce

Blawd – Local bakery who bake over at Common Bar in the Northern Quarter

Coffee Cranks Coop – Awesome Manchester based workers coop, providing tea, coffee and hot chocolate

Just allow yourself a moment to take all that in.

There we go. Doesn’t it sound amazing? I spent weeks drooling over this line up.

Sadly, I couldn’t try it all (saving for top surgery is financially ruining me dontcha know) but my recent lack of appetite gave me enough funds to have a bloody good go at it. Having pals with me to share was also helpful, especially as my belly game is poor right now.

We arrived early  because there was way more interest in the event than Grub anticipated and I take warnings of queuing times and traders selling out very seriously indeed. Also, more time for face stuffing.

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The venue is super cool. I really like The Alphabet Brewing Co. I went to scream along to Iron Chic there last year and it’s a great space run by really cool folk. Sadly I can’t comment on the booze because both times I’ve been, I’ve not been in a drinking place but I hear very good things about it. It is pretty chilly because heat and brewing don’t mix, but if you wrap up warm it’s all good.

I had planned to go round taking loads of pictures but I somehow ended up queuing for dumplings pretty much immediately.

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Oh my LORD. These were good. Really, really good. I did think they sounded a little bit healthy for my tastes but good grief, they were magic. I could eat these over and over again. Both the dumplings were frigging tasty and I really loved the sticky rice.

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As soon as I finished my dumplings, I headed over to Blawd to sort out take home cake because there was no way I was gonna let it sell out while I was there. I went for the Chocolate Fudge Cake and the Chocolate Salted Caramel Brownie because chocolate and caramel beat everything.

They had some non chocolatey stuff on offer, like a Lemon and Lavender Cake and Banana Bread which looked great.

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The Chocolate Fudge Cake was my favourite out of the two, really moist and the icing was super rich and delicious. I loved it. The Chocolate Salted Caramel Brownie was also pretty spectacular, sooo sweet, I think I heard my teeth whimper. I don’t want to be the guy that says ‘too sweet’ but I’ve had to save the rest for later because it was too much for one sitting for me.

As soon as I was caked up, I caught a glimpse of my friends Arepa from Yakumama and was offered a Wonton to try.

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It was so good that I ran back to the queues for more food. It was a long wait, I think I was there for nearly 30 minutes as it had got veeerrry busy by this point. Totally worth it when I ended up with one of these in my hands.

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I split this with a friend of mine to save tummy space. It was incredible. By far my favourite thing at the event. Delicious. It had all my favourite things, black beans, guac, plantain, chimmichurri… I was kind of sad I only had half of one but I also spent that queuing time next to Fritto and had already decided to get their £10 deal..

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So that’s where I ate my Arepa…in the queue for fried food. I’d like to say I do this struggle for you dear readers, but that would be a lie. I queued for a long time. My Arepa was finished within seconds and I lost all feeling in my toes. I got to watch all the doggos visit the dog bar though, so that was good fun.

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I finally got my hands on ALL THE FRIED THINGS! Polenta Chips, a Donut and this BEAST of a fried Calzone (I had to steal the Calzone and Donut pictures from their website because I ate them before I could take my own pictures.)

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I only managed a few of my polenta chips (SO GOOD) before my body gave up. I’m sorry, I told you my belly game has taken a hit in recent months. I took the donut and calzone home though and they were frigging delicious. I can say the donuts are better fresh from the fryer (I’ve had these before at Levenshulme Market y’see) but they were still good and the calzone heated up fine in the oven at home and made a great breakfast this morning.

This was the point where I just had to stop. I couldn’t eat anymore, I had plenty to take home in my bag and I’d spent a lot of money. Also, it was HEAVING at this point and folk were queuing to get in outside. I was sad not to pick up an almond cheese from Pasta Factory or any of the hot sauces from Los Antojitos. I was also silly enough not to load up with a brew or two from Coffee Cranks while I queued…next time for sure.

Because…there will be a next time! Grub have confirmed that the event was a success and they’re planning to do an all vegan event sometime soon. Yisssss!

I was also told on the way out that there is always at least one vegan option at all the non vegan events each week. This is pretty cool… but like I said, it’s hard to convince me to leave the house unless there’s plenty to gorge on, so I’ll need to keep my eye on the line up to see if those tasty Arepa’s are due to make another appearance. I will venture outside for those any day.

So thank you Grub for hosting such an awesome event. I can’t wait to see what you have planned for us vegans in the future. Keep it up!

V Rev Diner

This post has been a long time coming and I feel super bad about not doing this review sooner. But I was waiting until they moved into their shiny new premises. Well, today was the day. Today V Rev Vegan Diner opened the doors at their new home on Edge Street.

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I was so happy that opening day fell on my day off and I made sure I was there just a half hour after they opened. I couldn’t believe it when I saw how rammed the place was by the time I got there. We managed to get a table in the back of the restaurant and as we were waiting for a friend to join us, we had a good look at the new place.

Oh my gosh, it’s so pretty. Sadly, I couldn’t get tons of photos because it was sooo busy and I didn’t want to get in the way of the staff on such a stressful day, but the place is looking so cool. The decor is light and bright, the walls are covered in some really amazing artwork, the bar area is super smooth with it’s soft serve ice cream machine and bloody rotating glass cake cabinet! God, I wish it wasn’t so busy so I could take all the photos, but keep an eye on V Revs Twitter feed and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Now, before ordering there was something really important I had to do. I had to get my big, fat queer arse onto one of their toilet seats. Why? Not because I particularly needed to pee but because I’d heard all about their new gender neutral and accessible toilets. Of course I had to force a little bit of wee out of me to celebrate the occasion.

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Oh yeah! Toilets I can pee in without having to worry about how safe or comfortable I am. Awesome. This is really important to me and I’m so happy to see V Rev getting on board with this. I have a list of safe places I know to pee at in Manchester City Centre, sadly I can count them on one hand, but yay for this cool vegan joint being one of those places. Also was happy to see that the accessible toilet was actually accessible. So thumbs up for that too!

And, can I just point out these vegan condom and tampon machines outside the toilets?

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I want to live in these toilets, can I live here pls?

Anyway, back to what y’all care most about. THE FOOD.

Ok, so I could pretend that I ordered a shitload of food from the menu to take one for the team because I’m such a nice guy and I wanted to spread the word. But basically, I’m a greedy bastard and I love all the junk foods so I ordered a shitload from the menu BECAUSE I CAN AND I WILL. I don’t care who judges me. It was effing tasty and it being good blogging material was just a beautiful plus in the situation.

So, what did I have? Well, I started off light and got myself a Cookies n Cream Milkshake (£4.25)

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Jesus Effing Christ. The old V Rev standard has been beat. This beauty must be twice the size of what I’m used to and it was uh-mazing. The main bulk of the milkshake was this rich, creamy, cookie delightfulness but I loved the soft serve ice cream it was topped with. It was super tasty and it made me a very happy human.

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After I’d had half of that beast, I ordered the savoury. I ordered a lot and I don’t regret a single thing. Let’s tackle this one dish at a time

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Let me introduce you to the Macaroni & Michele’s High School Reunion. Yeah, that’s right. It’s a burger with fricking mac n cheese in it, basically my dream burger. This was awesome, a homemade beef patty topped with mac n cheese, pickles and a chipotle cola bbq sauce in a pretzel bun. It’s one of the pricer burgers at £8.25 but it was huge, the photo doesn’t really show how much of a beast this burger was. I really enjoyed it and scoffed half the damn thing before remembering everything else on the table. I have the other half leftover for later and I can’t bloody wait to reunite with it.

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V Rev has a bunch of Loaded Fries combinations on the menu and I couldn’t resist these Buffalo Ranch Fries. Oh yeah. These were frigging ace. Tasty fries! V Rev finally does fries! Topped with cheese, bacon, ranch dressing, buffalo sauce and chives. Get in my fat face. These were bloody great. I could eat these constantly and it was hard not to lick all the melted cheese and sauce off the paper at the end.

I was with my partner Jake and a friend, so I also got to try their loaded fries. The picture on the left is the Vietnamese style and the other is the Mexican variety. The loaded fries range from £3.25 – £4.25 and the portion is pretty big. The Buffalo were indulgent but I also loved the Vietnamese ones a lot.

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CHICK’N N GODDAMN WAFFLES! FINALLY! YESS! These crispy chick’n pieces are coated in buttermilk and fried and covered in blueberry syrup. The sweet, savoury combo is a little strange but I still loved them. It would be great to see these come with a nice American style sausage gravy in the future just because it’s a personal favourite of mine. These were really great. They are a little pricey at £8.95 but totally worth it, where the hell else can you get this? Nowhere.

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I shared these with Jake and he out classed me and ate them with his bare hands.

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These tasty little morsels were one of my favourite things. I recommend getting a side of these delicious fried pickles when you eat here. They’re £3.45 so not too pricey and they come with a generous amount of that delicious range dressing that covered my buffalo fries. I want fried pickles for breakfast every morning now. I would eat them like cereal, but drowned in ranch instead of soy milk.

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All of the above was definitely more than enough savoury food….but there’s a Lobster Sarnie on the menu. I cannot say no to that. I only managed to eat a measly third of this, I have the rest packaged up for later, but it was pretty good. Not overly fishy but it reminded me of my chickpea tuna style sandwich I make at home. It is £6.95 which is quite expensive for a sandwich but it was stuffed with the filling, there was loads. I guess it’s also not a typical cheap sandwich filling either.

I didn’t eat these, but they got great reviews from Jake and my friend. The burger on the left is the Guac to the Future Chick’n Burger and then we have the Go Ahead Mac My Day Hotdog. I’m definitely coming back for these, they will see the inside of my belly for sure.

So for those of you who haven’t heard, V Rev Diner is also home to a new in house bakery Tender Vegan Bakery. There was lots on offer today; Cinnamon Sugar Donuts, Brownies, Cookie Sandwiches, Gluten Free Caramel Cake and Cherry Cheesecake. Well, I couldn’t just have one pud could I?

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Of course I went for the cheesecake. I always have to have cheesecake. This was pretty good, I’ll be honest and say it’s not the best vegan cheesecake I’ve had but it is really tasty. I am spoilt when it comes to good cheesecake when I go to Berlin so often, so I do have ridiculous standards. I found the base a little bit too thick and hard, when I tried to break pieces off with my fork it crumbled everywhere and I like to have a bit of everything with each bite. The actually cheese part was pretty good and I loved the cherry topping and overall it was a top pud.

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I couldn’t fit this doughnut in, so I took it home with me and just had my first bite. Oh godddd. It’s a proper good doughnut this. It’s deep fried which automatically makes it a winner. Beautifully fried and golden and the sugar cinnamon glaze is incredible. This beats Co-ops strawberry doughnuts for sure, sorry Co-op, you’ve been beat. I need more of these in my life.

So, that is everything that I ate. I’m now collapsed on my bed, a bloated but very happy and satisfied mess of a person. I like to think i left the place looking like one of their pieces of art…

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I decided before visiting today that I would not be reviewing the service. It was their very first day, they have more than doubled their team of staff, it was the first time a lot of them had worked together while the place was open, there was a new till system, a new much more complex menu etc and it just didn’t feel right to judge service in these circumstances.

There were a few teething problems for them today which they have kept everyone up to date with on social media…they’re stars like that. I spent a good few hours stuffing myself there and I really felt for the team when they encountered some of these problems. BUT I just wanted to say how wonderful they all were. Today must have been super duper stressful and they still managed to be friendly, polite and helpful with everyone. I mean, I cry a lot at work and regularly have panic attacks, admittedly more than most…but they kept their shit together and I really admire that. If any of y’all are reading this, honestly, well done for today. You did good. More than good.

I loved my experience at V Rev Diner and I’m so excited that this is happening here in Manchester. This is the kind of place we really need around here.

V Rev Diner is open every day of the week 11am-11pm and one thing I haven’t mentioned here is alcohol. They have a vast selection of beers, wines and creamy vegan cocktails for you all to try. I’m hoping to get myself down there one evening soon to try out some of these drinks. It all sounds wonderful.

V Rev can be found at 20-26 Edge Street in the Northern Quarter in Manchester

Check out their Twitter, Facebook and Website for their menu, more info and some drool worthy photos. And for goodness sake just get yourselves down there to try this food. It’s amazing!

Ice Shack

Yesterday I got word that there’s a brand spanking new veggie/vegan dessert parlour in Withington, South Manchester… Ice Shack. I had zero plans for the weekend so the timing was perfect. I spent yesterday afternoon running around, rallying my vegan troops and used the menu as a little bedtime reading. When I woke up this morning, sugar was on the brain.

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I was patient and arrived 30 whole minutes after midday opening before arriving. The menu has promises of a large assortment of dairy free ice creams, doughnuts, cakes, pastries, milkshakes, hot drinks and lots of toppings (including whippy soya cream!). Obviously I walked in with big expectations…and I was not disappointed.

Not everyone was there when I arrived so I decided to order a cheeky little doughnut starter with a brew.

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After a few sweet bites, I was able to calm down and observe my surroundings a bit more. I really liked this place, it has a really nice chilled out atmosphere. There are a few tables and chairs but also some comfier sofas at the back…and… entertainment! There are books, board games and an arcade game! Yeah!

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As the place is a mixture of vegan and vegetarian, it was nice to see that there was a separate ice cream and separate cake cabinet to choose from. No need to worry about cross contamination or accidentally ordering something not vegan.

The cake cabinet had lots to choose from; chocolate topped jam doughnuts, flapjack, chocolate cake, ginger cake, lemon cheesecake, truffles…It looked like most of the cakes were homemade, though I suspect the doughnuts were bought in but decorated by hand. The ice cream cabinet had lots of flavours; chocolate, raspberry, raspberry mango, coconut sorbet, lemon sorbet, vanilla..I think most if not all of these are bought in rather than made in house, so I was impressed with the amount of choice available.

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For round 2, I decided to go for warm chocolate cake with 1 scoop of chocolate ice cream and 1 scoop of raspberry…topped with chocolate sauce. This was so good! I scoffed it and felt immediately sick…in the good way obviously.

What surprised me most was how reasonable the prices were here, it was 20% off all day which was an added bonus, but everything I ate came to less than a fiver! There aren’t many places you can eat yourself sick at for that kind of money.

Also..the best thing? I didn’t actually have this…but it’s so on my list…The Dog Bowl Sundae. What is this? 5 generous scoops of ice cream and 3 toppings (I think the non vegan version has a waffle too) and what makes it so great? It’s served in a bloody dog bowl. I’ve already made plans to return for this next week.

I spent nearly 3 hours in Ice Shack today and had a great time. Lovely atmosphere and really nice member of staff looking after all of us. It was amazing to see how many folk were coming in for the vegan selection, the non vegan cabinets were almost untouched! My friend told me that the owners are hoping to make more of it vegan and it definitely looks like the demand is here. It would be amazing to see some of the danish type pastries and frosted cakes found in the vegetarian section to spring up in the vegan area…hopefully Ice Shack can track down a supply of these in the future.

If you’re in Manchester, get yourself down here already!

Ice shack is open Tuesday – Saturday 12-9pm or 12-6pm on Sundays and is based right by the library in Withington, you can’t miss it!

 

Celebratory Choc Chip Quinoa Cookies

The last few weeks have been pretty wonderful.

I had a great birthday for the first time in a few years. I spent the day alone at our local cinema, Home. I love watching films by myself and Jake was busy at work, so it was the best way to spend my day. I watched two films back to back, Our Little Sister and The Brand New Testament. Both were fantastic films and I definitely recommend seeing them.

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Our Little Sister

I’m rubbish at organising big celebrations for myself, so I booked an evening meal at Teatime Collective. You only need a minimum of 8 people, so it was a nice small gathering. We had a delicious three course meal that obviously I forgot to take photos of and then I received the best birthday cake I’ve ever had.

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If you’re wondering what cake this is, it’s a Chocolate Oreo, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake. One layer of chocolate cake, a layer of salted caramel ice cream, followed by another layer of peanut butter ice cream, topped with cream, chocolate fudge frosting and oreos. It was incredible. Teatime did an amazing job and so did Jake (who forgot to even get me a cake the year before). I was so happy with it, it made me feel pretty darn special.

I got some lovely gifts including Snape’s Wand, The Gilmore Girls complete Boxset, homemade tiffin and a cool Seitan related tee! It was one hell of a day.

Some more good news, Aidah is doing really well. She’s been diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism, so she’s now taking medication daily. We managed to get it in a paste form that is absorbed through her skin so that we don’t have to go through daily drama with pills. She’s already gaining weight and seems totally back to normal. This still doesn’t explain the seizure, so we’re keeping a close eye on her and I expect that it may happen again. Otherwise, she’s doing really well.

..and speaking of treatment. Look what I managed to get my hands on..

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I am officially on Testosterone! Don’t worry, I didn’t rob a pharmacy. My amazing, supportive GP agreed to a bridging prescription while I wait for my first appointment at a GIC. I can’t believe this happened, I’m so happy that my transition is finally moving to where I want it to be! I might do a post about how I managed to get T before going to a GIC, but for now I’m just gonna be happy about it

To celebrate all of the good news, I decided to do a bit of baking. I had a sample of Quinoa Flour hanging around for work, so I thought I’d experiment with it a bit. And what better way to celebrate than with chocolate chip cookies?

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies

  • Servings: Makes 12 cookies
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quinoa flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp no egg replacer mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. If you want a really nutty flavour to your cookies, toast the flour in a pan over a low heat for 5 minutes or so. If not, skip this step.
  3. Beat together the sugar and coconut oil in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the egg replacer and the vanilla and beat for a few more minutes
  4. In a small bowl mix together the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. When fully mixed add the chocolate chips.
  6. Divide the mixture into 12 small balls, lay on a baking sheet with enough space between each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Once baked, leave to cool for 5 minutes before moving the cookies from the baking sheet, they’re pretty delicate when they first leave the oven.

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These came out really well, I don’t do gluten free bakes often so I was really surprised that I managed to just swap out wheat flour for quinoa and it worked. The flour gives these a really delicious nutty taste, you can definitely tell that there is quinoa in it, but I think this works really well with the sweetness of the cookie. If you’re less keen on the nutty flavour, don’t toast the flour and maybe have a go at mixing it with another flour.

I went for that heat treated coconut oil because I didn’t want a coconut flavour in the cookie, but if you like it, go for a raw coconut oil instead

These were super tasty…the only negative is that I’m going to have to take these to work and share them so I can get some feedback. Boo! I’ll definitely be making them again though.

So that’s it. Hurray for good news! I hope all of you are doing well.

The Pasta Factory

Somewhere pretty special has opened in Manchester City Centre. Finally we have an authentic Italian restaurant that makes fresh pasta on site and there are vegan options to choose from.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a good friend visiting from London recently who wanted to try out all the vegan offerings in Manchester. I suggested booking a table at The Pasta Factory as it was one of the only places I haven’t tried yet. As we had arrived a little early for our booking, we got a chance to see what was on offer at their deli. I was amazed to see many fresh pastas labelled vegan, but also home made vegan cheeses too! It all looked great.

It didn’t take long for us to get to our table, I was surprised how small the restaurant is inside as it looks much bigger from the outside. Although it was really busy (you definitely need to book), it had a lovely atmosphere and the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. As we asked for the vegan menu, I think we got a bit of special attention. A member of staff ran through everything on the vegan menu, highlighting a few ingredient changes as well as running through what was available from the deli and what could be veganised from the general menu. We were also told that all of the wines were suitable for vegans, I don’t drink but this is good news for those who do!

As we’d spotted the home made cheese on the counter, we asked if it was possible to have a main dish that used it. Due to the cheese not suiting the pastas we were ordering they were unable to do this, but they were really kind and offered to let us try some free of charge. They also promised to bring us some of their home made parmesan to sprinkle on our dishes.

Our samples of their home made cheese arrived before our mains. We even got some of their crackers to try with it.

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Oh my gosh, this cheese was so tasty. It had a nice delicate salty flavour and crumbled in my mouth. I was really impressed that a non vegan restaurant had gone to this much effort. I’m definitely planning on popping in again just to buy some of this!

Not long after our mains arrived. I had a spelt pasta with sunblushed tomatoes and olives.

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This was really, really good. It was refreshing to have a pasta dish that wasn’t just a basic tomato sauce and now I finally realise how much nicer fresh pasta is to dry. It’s like a completely different experience. I sprinkled on the parmesan pretty liberally, it was so good.

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Jake got a stuffed ravioli

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And my friend ordered a spelt pasta with thinly sliced vegetables. I had a bite of this, I can’t remember what the dish was but I remember thinking it was really really delicious.

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I was pretty full after the main course but I was desperate to try out the desserts. I’d heard about the chocolate ravioli and the panna cotta. My friend and I decided to have a choc ravioli each and share a panna cotta.

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Oh lordy.

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The Panna Cotta was my favourite. It was coconut based with with a berry coulis on top. It was firmer than any Panna Cotta’s I’ve tried but it was really tasty. It has a very coconutty taste but I think this worked well with the fruit.

The Chocolate Ravioli was really interesting. It was a cocoa pasta, filled with figs and then served with coconut cream and topped with extra coconut. I did really enjoy this but it was a bit too much coconut for my liking. I enjoyed the cream sauce with it though, so maybe a soya or cashew cream would work well instead? The fig was nice but the coconut overpowered it a lot…and of course I’d always be up for a little extra chocolate sauce drizzled on top…I’m a chocolate fiend. We did feed this back to our server as he was asking at each course what we thought and he suggested ditching the coconut, so maybe this dish will be slightly different when I next visit?

Overall I was really impressed with the desserts, they were super imaginative and different to anything I’ve had before.

The whole meal was really, really delicious. I had a lovely time at The Pasta Factory. The dishes aren’t cheap (around £12 for a pasta dish, desserts were £6 each iirc) but the quality and care put into each dish makes it worth every penny. Plus the service was great.

The best thing is how open they are to feedback from the vegan community. I’ve seen them regularly engaging with Manchester vegans on social groups and I feel like they’re working really hard to not just to accommodate us, but to put really good vegan food on the menu. I’m hoping that as they’re experimenting with making their own cheeses that we might see some creamy based pasta dishes appear on their vegan menu. That would be perfect.

If you’re in Manchester and after some authentic Italian food then definitely check out The Pasta Factory. It’s open Tuesday – Sunday from 12pm and is just around the corner from Shudehill bus station.