When I first came to Folkestone in 2011 to study Creative & Professional Writing at Canterbury Christ Church University, it wasn’t exactly heaving with restaurants – vegan, vegetarian or otherwise. Thankfully, Beano’s vegetarian cafe was practically next door to my university and I often went there to eat (you can read my review from 2014 here). Now Folkestone has four dedicated vegan and vegetarian cafes/restaurants with a soon-to-come dairy-free ice cream place called The Cone Zone, which is the best name ever for an ice cream place. In keeping with the ever-increasing popularity of plant-based eating and veganism, virtually all of the other restaurants and cafes that have appeared in the last few years offer not only a wide range of vegan options but many also having a separate vegan menu.
I drank cactus liqueur in Gozo once. Actually, it was more than once because after the barman poured us our first shot, he kept the shots coming all night. I only mention this because that is the only time I’ve done anything with a cactus other than have it sitting spikily around the house while hoping remembering to water it once a year is enough to make it not die. Although, reading through Erbology’s info on nopal cactus, and how popular it is in Mexico, a vague recollection of eating a cactus quesadilla in a Mexican restaurant somewhere near Charing Cross is forming in my mind. Still, let’s just say my experience with eating or drinking cactus is limited.
Ah, gin. I’ve never been much of a gin-lover. In fact, I always hated gin. The first time I tried it was in a club in Liverpool (Planet X, to be specific) and I thought it smelt like paraffin. I’m not sure if I thought it also tasted like paraffin as I don’t remember getting as far as tasting it. Anyway, apart from it smelling like paraffin and therefore probably tasting like it too, I always thought gin was solely for drinking in scalding-hot baths in an effort to bring on a miscarriage to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy and not actually for, you know, drinking.
I never knew fresh apricots were extinct. I wanted to make the apricot appetiser mocktail from The Virgin Cocktail Garden as it looked simple, with just a few ingredients easily found in the shops. Or so I thought. Could I find fresh apricots? Could I bollocks. I looked online at Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons but I could only find dried and I’d been sure fresh apricots were as easy to find as apples. Google suggested I use peaches or nectarines in place of apricots and so, because I dislike the fuzziness of peaches, I bought nectarines instead. (I have since investigated and found out apricots are in season in the UK from May to September so I’m going to look for them then, even if I don’t want any. It’s become a matter of principle.)
I eat out a lot and, although the food, service and everything else might be great, there’s usually something that could have made the experience more enjoyable. Here’s a list in no particular order of importance of what would make for me the ideal dining experience. If you want to find your ideal dining experience, click here.
I used to be a Cadbury’s Whole Nut kind of girl. In my younger, thinner days, I’d think nothing of eating a massive bar of it over an evening because health and weight didn’t really feature in my life back then, with my diet being based on cigarettes, alcohol and delivery pizza. Now that I’m a *cough* glowing beacon of health and vitality *cough* and can’t remember the last time I had any kind of Cadbury’s – Whole Nut or otherwise – eschewing those purple-packaged products and their ilk for something more refined (i.e. not full of shit). These days I much prefer a satisfying couple of squares of good quality vegan dark chocolate as opposed to a massive bar of sugary milky stuff. Which is just as well, as I am no longer in my younger, thinner days and can no longer eat an unholy amount of crap without any repercussions.
I didn’t think I had a particularly sweet tooth. Not until I stopped drinking alcohol, anyway, and now my diet consists mostly of ice cream and chocolate. Then The Vegan Candy Co sent me half a kilo of their vegan pick ‘n’ mix and now my diet consists mostly of ice cream, chocolate and vegan pick ‘n’ mix. I thought 500g of sweets would last me until Christmas, at least. I’m not sure it even lasted until the weekend and I didn’t even get it until the previous Thursday. It was soooooooooooo good, I kept grabbing handfuls of it and happily chewed and sucked in front of the telly all night. Sorry teeth.
Veganuary‘s over and maybe you took part and maybe you didn’t. Maybe you thought, ‘Pah, I ain’t jumping on no bandwagon. Especially one that involves not eating cheese.’ Or maybe you did take part but struggled in the supermarket trying to decipher what was vegan and what wasn’t and would have quite happily lived on non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s for the month of January had it not cost five pound fucking fifty pee a tub.
I’ve just realised I’ve put ‘cookbooks’ in the title when, actually, only one is a cookbook (clue: it’s not the one that says ‘skincare’). But, as the skincare book uses vegetables and other edibles, when you’ve finished making stuff for your skin, you can eat the leftovers, so it’s kind of the same thing, yeah?
I’ve had quite a few vegetarian and vegan cookbooks sent to me lately, so I thought I’d do a post introducing them all to you. Some names may be familiar to you (Meat Free Monday, Áine Carlin, and Simon Rimmer for example), some possibly less so and a couple of them are unlike any cookbooks I’ve seen before. In no particular order, here they are: