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CAVERN CLUB CAFE: Exeter’s underground Vegan retreat

This subterranean cafe and renowned thriving music venue is home to a popular 100% vegetarian kitchen that all started back in 1991. When they’re not serving pints and playing host to a range of blossoming and well-established bands and artists, the Cavern Club Cafe delivers a broad and wallet-friendly menu of hearty and gratifying vegan dishes. Catering very well for vegans, with cheese to top your chips and vegan mayonnaise at your disposal, make sure you follow their Instagram to keep an eye of what specials crop up. Featuring full fry-ups, tofish and chips, cheese toasties, plus (if you’re really lucky) the appearance of Biscoff and raspberry doughnuts – you better arrive with an empty stomach.

instagram.com/cavernclubcafe   •   caverncafe.com

RECIPE: Ridiculously Simple Vegan Crepes

One of the most important days in the foodie calendar: pancake day! We’ve got you covered, with a super simple recipe for creating delicious vegan crepes with absolutely no need for dairy or eggs. Crispy on the edges and soft in the centre, ready to be topped or rolled with whatever indulgent or saintly ingredients you fancy…

Ridiculously Simple Vegan Crepes
Recipe type: Breakfast/dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 crepes
 
Ingredients
  • 200g of plain flour
  • 400ml of plant milk (soy, almond, oat, etc)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or any neutral-flavoured oil)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Sieve the flour and sugar into a bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
  2. Lightly coat a non-stick frying pan in neutral-flavoured oil and heat over a medium-high heat.
  3. Pour enough batter into the pan (around 5 tablespoons, depending on how big you like your crepes!) so that it covers the surface thinly and evenly as you twist the pan around to spread the batter.
  4. Cook for 1-2 minutes, using a spatula to loosen the edges and flip the crepe over. Cook the other side for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Repeat these steps to get around 6 large crepes from the batter.

COMPTOIR LIBANAIS: A Vegan Feast

Thanks to an ever-increasing demand and the popularity of Veganuary, restaurants big and small are noticeably developing more new and exciting vegan menu options. Exeter’s Comptoir Libanais is no different, adding a mighty ‘Vegan Feast For Two’ to their colourful repertoire. Tuck into four mezze dishes, two mains, a dessert and a pot of soothing mint tea – all for the very reasonable price of £19.95.

A self-described ‘Lebanese canteen,’ Comptoir Libanais serve up light, wholesome dishes inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine in a bright and bold setting. We headed in to try their Veganuary showstopper with suitably empty stomachs, and were welcomed into the restaurant in Exeter’s Queen Street Dining quarter during a bustling but calm early Saturday lunchtime slot. As the cheerful staff delivered our dishes to the table, the relaxed bustle quickly evolved into a packed restaurant, with hungry shoppers taking up every seat around us. The platter of food we were presented with looked almost too good to eat. Garnished delicately, with pops of vivid colour, we expected nothing less considering our stunning surroundings.

Featuring in the mezze you’ll find pitta bread to dip into the beautifully bright beetroot hummus, a handful of crispy falafels, smooth and creamy baba ghanoush, and a bowl of freekeh salad – a refreshing mix of smoked green wheat, tomato and spring onion, with an apple vinegar and mint dressing.

Headlining this fresh feast are two main dishes in the form of an aubergine tagine and a roasted pumpkin and quinoa salad. The comforting warmth of the tagine contrasts to the lighter salad, but both are equally enriching.

A rose coconut mouhalabia delighted our palates at the end of the meal, and was a nice alternative to the typical vegan chocolate brownie. This pretty Lebanese pudding, made with coconut milk, closed the feast perfectly with its intriguing floral sweetness, accompanied by a relaxing pot of fresh mint tea.

Well-balanced and full of a variety of unique flavours, the spread was a delicious and thoughtfully-chosen mix of textures. For taste buds more used to pizza every Saturday night, Comptoir’s vegan feast was an exciting exploration of a very different cuisine, which left us feeling gratified but not gorged. But if, like us, you struggle to polish off all of it, Comptoir will pop any leftovers into handy containers for you to enjoy at home later for feast round two!

While Comptoir Libanais have several vegetarian dishes that can easily be adapted to be vegan with the guidance of helpful and knowledgable staff, explicit VG options are something their menu is definitely missing – especially when several of their high street competitors go as far as having entirely separate vegetarian and vegan menus. The Vegan Feast is available until the end of March, shortly after which Comptoir will be looking at a menu revamp – hopefully with successful sales from this new dedicated vegan offering, it’ll be a plant-based revamp…

THE ROOTS FOUNDATION: There’s a new, well-styled kid in town

The Roots Foundation

While the opening of a new barber shop in Exeter might not seem like news that’s worthy of a second glance, The Roots Foundation are setting out to provide the city with something a little more than just an excellent haircut.

Stepping into the light, minimally-decorated space, you’re welcomed by beaming faces, pristine white walls and the offer of a fresh espresso. The natural, woody decor reflects the 100% green energy that powers the shop, as well as the completely vegan products they use and sell, which are all – for the vast majority – made from ingredients that come straight from nature. As coproprietor PJ proudly tells us, “people can be completely assured that everything in our shop is 100% vegan. We also use Oatly in our teas and coffees, even the hand wash in the bathroom is BUAV approved, so all bases covered!”

The Roots Foundation

The Roots Foundation

The brainchild of PJ (aka Cut the Punx) and fellow Exeter barber Luke, the project was born through a desire to create the kind of welcoming space that didn’t already exist in the area – somewhere that offers a creative and social environment as well as top notch hair styling for everyone. “We aim to be very inclusive – whether that’s your background, gender, what you’re into… We aimed to create a place that’s not overrun with testosterone or anything like that,” explains PJ.

“People can be completely assured that everything in our shop is 100% vegan”

A friendly welcome is a genuine one at The Roots Foundation, with books to check out and records of local bands to browse and purchase. As PJ says, “we welcome people to use the space to read, study – come and just enjoy hanging out. We’re always adding to the books and fanzines that we have out on display.”

And their plans don’t stop there, with the innovative barbers intending to use the newly-opened shop as a space to showcase the vibrant creative hub within Exeter, including events such as talks, workshops, live music, film screenings, even meditation and yoga classes. As PJ tells us, “Just anything that has to do with positivity, positive change or is community focused, we’re interested to hear from people. We’re also open to have it used by traders, artists or makers who need a space to sell or exhibit from. All the events we’d like to do also have a leaning towards sustainability, as that’s an important theme for us.”

The Roots Foundation

The Roots Foundation

Evidence of PJ and Luke’s focus on sustainable living is quite literally in the fabric of The Roots Foundation – although that might not be obvious at first. When setting up shop, the entrepreneurs sourced all the materials they needed for free. “Most of what you see in the shop was reclaimed from building sites, saved from the scrapheap or came from friends’ places of work.” PJ explains. “We are hugely grateful for all the help we had from friends and family. Luke’s brother, Jake, is an amazing carpenter and we couldn’t have done it without him: the mirrors, the coffee table, the bar, the bench at the back, even the stations – were all built by hand.”

Fitting perfectly within their new home in Exeter’s thriving indie quarter, PJ and Luke are bringing an exciting set of creative and unique ambitions with The Roots Foundation – fresh-faced and ready to grow.

facebook.com/therootsfoundationexeter         instagram.com/therootsfoundationexeter

The Roots Foundation

The Roots Foundation

SEASONS: An all-year round vegan haven

You’d struggle to be vegan for long in Exeter without soon discovering Seasons. A treasure-trove of plant-based delights, this independent shop is 100% vegan, meaning you can browse safely in the comfort of knowing that anything you pick up – from chorizo strips and pepperoni pizza to whipped cream and chocolate – is completely vegan-friendly. No more scouring the long ingredients lists – this is vegan utopia.

Owner Chris gives every customer a warm welcome, and he’s always on hand to help with finding any specific items or even just for a chat on a rainy afternoon. For a small store their selection is vast, and time can happily be wasted here discovering new brands, products and forms of coconut you didn’t know existed. You’ll find an array of old favourites as well as mysterious new items, with a huge range of stock available, from fresh fruit and veg to eco household products. Many of us have been down that path of finding an awesome-looking recipe for a veganised dish that we’re eager to try, but a strange-sounding ingredient stops us in our tracks – fear not, Exeter vegans, as chances are Seasons will have it.

Delicious vegan goodies and a warm glow inside from doing something good – what more could you want?

Seasons also have a great selection of alternatives to the big brands, making it easier (and often tastier) to support small, local businesses. If you’re a fan of the Sainsbury’s and Tesco range of Free From cheeses, you can find the exact same stuff in Seasons – under the Sheese brand, made by Bute Island, who originally produced the cheese. Seasons stock the same range of flavours at the same price – the only difference here is the packaging, and that you can support a local business rather than a supermarket giant for the same product. If you’re keen to avoid anything made by Unilever, we can highly recommend grabbing a pot of Natex from Seasons instead of good ol’ Marmite.

After a first visit to Seasons, it no doubt becomes a staple stop-off in any vegan’s shopping trip to Exeter – which, conveniently, helps us all out, as shopping locally and independently comes with many benefits, including boosting the local economy. Delicious vegan goodies and a warm glow inside from doing something good – what more could you want?

facebook.com/seasonsveganstore  //  instagram.com/seasonsexeter  //  www.seasonsexeter.co.uk

‘How on Earth’ is a very good question…

A delicious new plant-based product that could win over any die-hard KFC fan has hit the shelves of your local vegan shop in Exeter.

How On Earth, a vegan team based in Devon, bring you their lovingly handmade southern-style seitan. It has a temptingly well-seasoned coating, mimics the flavour and texture of chicken impressively well and tastes great just eaten straight out of the box – the perfect convenience food. If you’re a fan of meat alternatives, a transitioning vegan or vegetarian or just on the lookout for something new in salads and sandwiches, this is a product that has to be tasted to be believed.

The brains behind it all belong to Heidi and Chloe Howarth, the mother and daughter business partner duo who are sure to make How On Earth a success. The inspiration for this new venture came from their family’s desire to find more quick and easy vegan food. “Once my mum, dad and I had all turned vegan, we quickly realised that the lack of convenience foods was the hardest part of being vegan and we wanted to change that,” said Chloe, who’s been vegan for about two years. She adds, “I brought veganism into the house, and because my mum has been vegetarian her whole life she quickly made the change too. We’ve always loved animals and realised the hypocrisy of eating animal products, and we all agree that we feel so much healthier from it too!”

We wanted people to feel like they didn’t have to waste an animal’s life to fill a craving

For those not so in the know, seitan (pronounced say-tan) fits into the same group as tofu and tempeh, in that it’s often prepared and eaten as a meat substitute in a dish. Unlike its soy-based counterparts, however, seitan is made from wheat gluten. It’s packed with protein, adopts flavours well and has a remarkably meat-like texture. Despite a devilishly-sounding name, seitan tastes heavenly when prepped and cooked well, and if you don’t fancy the fuss of making it yourself, we’ve got How on Earth to do that for us. And luckily, we can pick up a box (or four) of their seitan whenever we’re in town and paying a visit to Exeter’s only 100% vegan food shop, Seasons.

As for the future of How On Earth, we can excitedly watch this space, as Chloe tells me: “We’re only just starting up, but we’re looking to change the face of convenience foods. We purposely made the seitan perfect to eat straight out of the box because we wanted people to feel like they didn’t have to waste an animal’s life to fill a craving! We are currently working on adding other products to our range, such as a chicken roast for Christmas, sandwich slices, and some festive charcuterie.”

If this seitan is anything to go by, I’ll be the first to grab whatever they fill the shop shelves with next.

HOW I SERVED MINE

Simple!

I served my seitan among a pile of fresh crisp salad ingredients in soft whole wheat tortillas, along with some bacon-flavoured croutons and a generous drizzling of garlicky ranch dressing for a little indulgence.

Chop up all these goodies:

Chuck them all into some of these:

And drizzle some of this delicious dressing over the top:

Try to recover from the shock of how good this all tastes and thank me later.

THE FLAT: paradiso vegano

Nestled in Exeter’s thriving indie quarter, The Flat offers a laid-back dining experience with some of the most memorable vegan dishes you could ask for. Owners and Exeter residents Chloe and Pietro opened the restaurant this weekend to a huge buzz among the veggie community of the city and, judging by the response so far, they shouldn’t expect the excitement to disappear anytime soon. Stopping by for dinner on Friday to see for ourselves what the fuss was all about, we swiftly returned for lunch the next day. Yes, it’s just that good.

The menu has plenty to offer, with a varied selection of pizzas and pasta to choose from that deliver classic Italian combinations as well as some inventive touches. Everything is vegetarian and can be made vegan and gluten free, with different types of homemade vegan cheese to complement the mixes of flavour in each dish. Wanting to sample as much as possible, we took advantage of their launch opening 2-for-1 offer on pizza and pasta and opted for the small portions of each, with pasta to start and pizza for main. When the bowls of pasta arrived, the gorgeous smell alone was overwhelming, and we couldn’t help but take that in for a few moments before digging in. The Crema e Funghi is a creamy, nutty, delectable dream, particularly for mushroom lovers. With a light but indulgent sauce covering smooth, perfectly cooked pasta, the incredible flavour and textures from the selection of mushrooms goes superbly with the crunch from a scattering of chopped walnuts. It’s rare to find a creamy vegan pasta dish when eating out, as restaurants tend to go for just the tomato-based option, so to find this available in Exeter is something The Flat should be proud of – and just one of the many reasons they stand out from the crowd of Italian chain restaurants dotted around the city. Our second pasta choice, The Flat Pesto, was just as flavourful – we couldn’t quite get enough of the freshness of the pesto, the silky pine nuts and the beautiful balance of the whole dish.

After sitting in awe of how delicious our pasta starters were, our pizzas arrived accompanied with dressed rocket. Having just devoured a good sized portion of pasta each, we were pleased to see these were small portions of pizza, although we quickly regretted not ordering the regular sizes once we’d tasted them. The Smoked pizza packed a punch, with fresh spices and smokiness bursting from the sauce and the carefully curated toppings. After practically inhaling it, my omnivore dining partner said the dish had such substance to it that he didn’t feel it wasn’t missing any meat or dairy – Pietro’s skill in flavour combination leaves you wanting nothing else except more of the same. Offering a lighter approach, the Garlicky pizza had a delicate sesame flavour that came through wonderfully, with fresh courgette, aubergine, red onion, creamy chunks of vegan mozzarella and crispy pumpkin seeds. With light and fluffy yet crispy bases, we couldn’t pick any fault with our main course, only that there wasn’t more of it. To finish up, we enjoyed some chocolate and hazelnut Booja Booja ice cream and a tall glass of the homemade lemon Sorbetto, which is an absolute must-have to end your meal.

Chloe and Pietro have filled a gap in Exeter’s dining market that the city probably didn’t realise it had, but now that’s it’s been filled, we’re extremely glad The Flat has been occupied.

facebook.com/theflatexeter     instagram.com/theflatexeter

VOOD BAR: Vegan Street Food, Penzance

If you’ve ever been sat in your 9-5 job, staring idly out of the window, and felt an inkling to follow a distant dream of a different life, Vood Bar owner Danielle’s story may just encourage you to take the first step down that path.

At a festival in 2016, Danielle was enchanted by the way of life the food vendors experienced. Their freedom, happy and fun-filled day jobs were something she wanted for herself – so that’s exactly what she set out to do. Getting her inspired ideas down on paper as soon as she came home from the festival, Danielle bought a van the next month and got to work. Just a matter of months after the concept first starting forming in Danielle’s mind, the van found its new home on Penzance Promenade and began serving delicious vegan street food to eager customers, with a breathtaking view of the coastline to match. Vood Bar sprung to life, and the Cornish vegan scene has been blessed with a fantastic new vegan food outlet.

Finding myself not far from Penzance during their first week open on the Promenade, I just had to pay them a visit, and I was sure glad I did. Vood Bar is 100% vegan, serving beautiful, freshly cooked street food that ticks all the right boxes. From veggie skewers and fried cauliflower to ‘chicken’ satay wraps and sweet potato fries topped with chilli and cheese, their food is indulgent, inventive and would satisfy any skeptic. Every drop of the homemade, nutty and sweet satay sauce on the perfectly cooked vegetables was scooped up, and I’ve been craving the fried cauliflower ever since. Having never been a fan of this particular vegetable, I chose the fried cauliflower out of pure interest – now I’m desperate to know how it could’ve possibly tasted so good. Not forgetting something for dessert, they also offer a range of tempting treats. I went for a slice of blueberry cake on my visit, and could’ve taken home a whole tray – with the sweet, gooey fruit, it was the perfect moist texture and had a lovely light icing.

Danielle’s story of when she first went vegan is of similar tenacity to that of her starting her business. Curiousity led her to join the Cornwall Vegans Facebook page in June 2015, where she saw an article about a girl who went from being a meat eater to vegan immediately after watching the 2005 documentary Earthlings. “I thought to myself – there is no way!” Danielle told RootedExeter. “So I attempted to watch it, but only lasted 15 minutes, at which point I was laying on the floor cuddling my dog in floods of tears, telling her there is no way I would ever let anyone do that to her. So why is it so normal that it happens to other animals?” It was after this moment that Danielle became vegetarian overnight and, following a year of learning more, she became vegan in July 2016. Her passion for the environment, animals and the community around her is reflected in the way she practises her business too: Vood Bar runs feast nights, where 20% of the takings go to an animal charity, all of the packaging used in Vood Bar is 100% compostable and biodegradable, and any leftovers from the van are donated to a homeless shelter in Penzance.

As they do often do events, make sure to keep up-to-date with Vood Bar on Facebook and Instagram to keep track of their whereabouts this summer! Or just hitch a trailer to the back of their van? That might be quicker.

www.voodbar.com    facebook.com/VoodBar    instagram.com/voodbar

Vegan Afternoon Tea: a vintage lover’s dream

Wander back in time to this very English tea room for sweet treats galore. Famous for their vegan afternoon tea, head to The Hidden Treasure Tea Room for homemade savoury and sweet vegan offerings. Sat among the pretty vintage decor, you may find such delights as treacle tart, banana bread and pavlova with fresh fruit and cream, as well as an array of delicious vegan sandwiches. Enjoy alongside your loose leaf tea and locally roasted coffee in vintage crockery – a unique and joyful experience.

www.hiddentreasure.biz   •   facebook.com/HTtearoom

Beespoke of Devon

In whichever way you care to say it, hygge seems to be all anyone wants to achieve these days. And if there’s one way we can all fill our lives with more hygge, it’s to fill our homes with more candles.

Jo from Beespoke of Devon starting hand-making her own stunning candle collection from her home in Exeter after falling in love with creating them following a candle making course a few years ago.

The beauty of the candles are matched by their gorgeous aromas. From geranium and lemongrass to lavender and orange, these delectable mixtures are formed of natural ingredients, as Jo avoids using artificial fragrances. Her vegan-friendly candles are made using natural soy wax and come presented in a variety of elegant, creative ways. A selection of scents come in striking geometric porcelain holders, in either crisp white or classic grey and in two different shapes. Alternatively, candles with a wooden wick are available, which burn with a quiet and calming crackle sound. To find out more about Jo and to see her range of products, visit BeespokeofDevon.co.uk and don’t forget to follow her on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

BERRY GOOD FOR YOU GUEST RECIPE: Gnocchi in Spring Sauce

Vegan Gnocchi from Berry Good for You

Gnocchi is a traditional Italian dish often made by combining potato and flour to create small dumplings that are used in a similar way to pasta. Filling, delicious and featuring an interesting mix of flavours, this recipe is perfect for Spring.

This great recipe comes from local vegan blogger Freya of berry-good-for-you.com, a site packed with amazing vegan recipes, advice, information and recommendations on great places to eat in the UK and around the world. Make sure to follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

The stunning photos you see here were taken by vegan photographer Martin Zaple. You can follow him on Instagram and see more of his work on his website.

Vegan Gnocchi from Berry Good for You


Berry Good For You Recipe: Gnocchi in Spring Sauce
Author: 
Serves: Serves 4
 
This recipe has been reproduced by kind permission of its creator Freya Saunders Martin, founder of Berry Good For You with photographs by Martin Zaple Photography.
Ingredients
  • 2 large potatoes, we recommend the Lady Balfour variety
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 spring onions (1 for a garnish), finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sweetcorn
  • ½ cup peas
  • 250 ml soya cream
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon
  • Small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Small handful fresh chives
Instructions
For the sauce
  1. In a large frying pan, fry the crushed garlic and chopped spring onion. After a couple of minutes, add the sweetcorn, peas and spinach.
  2. When the spinach has wilted, stir in the soya cream, water, vegetable stock and lemon juice and simmer gently. Set aside until you are ready to cook the gnocchi.
For the gnocchi
  1. Peel and cut up the potatoes and add them to a large pan of water. Bring to the boil and then cook on a low heat until the potatoes are soft enough to mash. Drain the water before seasoning the potatoes and mashing them into a smooth consistency. Set aside to cool.
  2. Once the mashed potato is cool enough to handle, slowly mix in the flour. Depending on the type of potato you use, you may need to add more flour until the mixture can be easily shaped into gnocchi (small oval shapes that are about 1.5 cm long and 1 cm wide).
  3. When you have finished shaping all of the gnocchi, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add them. Cook for a couple of minutes, or until the gnocchi float to the surface. Drain and set aside while you heat some oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the gnocchi and fry for about 5 minutes until they turn golden brown.
  4. Toss the gnocchi in the sauce and garnish with spring onion, parsley, chives, a generous dash of pepper and an extra drizzle of soya cream.