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Must trys in the UK...for a vegan


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Well, looks like we'll finally be making a trip to the UK, around May. (We've been talking about it for quite awhile.) On the itinerary is England, Scotland and Wales.

I'm vegan - my husband is omnivore (where we agree is that we're both extremely adventurous when it comes to the ethnicity of a meal...anything's open for exploration - from Indian, to Iranian, and anywhere in between. And we're indifferent to whether it's street food or restaurant-based...it's the taste that matters.)

Of course, we're also very interested in meal options local to England, Scotland and Wales, specifically.

Wanted to ask for recommendations of the best local dishes to try - and the best places to go (preferably nothing that could just as easily be found in NYC, where we're from.)

I know I'm probably asking for alot, but I'd love any suggestions/input as to what to look for and where to go. I doubt we'll be able to get back anytime soon, so we really want to make the most of it, with the trip and the meals!

Thanks in advance,

--Janet (GG)

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

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Your husband must be very patient. Either that or you must look like Alicia Silverstone.

Anyway, in terms of decent quality restaurants, Rousillion and Morgan M are both able to cope admirably with such perversions. Likewise Foliage and Tom Aikens, although you will have to warn them several times when you book, warn them again when you arrive, warn the waiter as you sit down, etc.

Then there's the veggie only places, the best of which are The Gate in Hammersmith and Terre a Terre in Brighton. They always have a vegan option or two.

For travelling, this may be a handy bookmark. (You'll probably note that, the further north you travel, the more likely you are to be eating Indian.)

Edited by naebody (log)
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If you're up in Edinburgh, I would recommend David Bann, as well as Ann Purna, the best veggie Indian in the capital.

I'll also second naebodys suggestion of Terre a Terre in Brighton, I haven't been for quite a while but I remember having a great time there.

As a Scot living in London who has vegetarian parents and a vegetarian ex-girlfriend I would recommend Kastoori in Tooting (South London), but while down south you might want to avoid Indian restaurants, as naebody said you'll more than likely be visiting a lot of them across the border!

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Your husband must be very patient. Either that or you must look like Alicia Silverstone.

Well, I'm not blonde...but I think I do all right...! :biggrin:

Veganism aside, thanks for the recs.

Bigger question, I guess, is: what are the REPRESENTATIVE meals that a traveler should try in each of these countries (ie: England, Scotland and Wales)? I'm not asking that they all be vegan (my husband's not, so he can indulge)...and I rather suspect that a majority of them will be meat based (ie: Haggis, fish n' chips n' stuff...though the chips I can have...) From what I've seen of Wales and lamb dishes, I'll probably be completely out of luck there.

But I'd love to know what we should be looking to try. (Fancy restaurants are not as important to us as authenticity. We can always eat fancy in Manhattan.)

Thanks..!

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

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I cannot think of any regional foods that are vegan but for non vegan in the south west of england do try:

cream tea - scones, jam, clotted cream

fresh brown crab

fish & chips (at Steins in Padstow they are very good)

cornish pasties (also good ones to be found in Padstow)

west country cider (should be vegan I guess)

many many excellent local cheeses

I am sure there are more uk vegan info sites but here are a few

http://www.bristol.vegangroup.co.uk/index.html

http://www.leedsveg.co.uk/eatingout.htm

http://www.gla.ac.uk/clubs/vegan/scotland.html

Hope you enjoy your visit

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Well if you find yourselves anywhere near Gairloch in Scotland (which you really should, it's stunning) your husband could do worse than seafood at the Badachro Inn. In north-west Scotland, Ee-Usk on the pier in Oban is worth a visit.

Staying with seafood, Porthminster Cafe in St Ives (Cornwall) is fantastic, and if you get a window table it's a quite beautiful place to eat your dinner.

All sorts of traditional Scottish fare (stovies, whisky, fresh shellfish, cullen skink, smoked salmon, more whisky) at the Ceilidh House in Ullapool.

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""""Bigger question, I guess, is: what are the REPRESENTATIVE meals that a traveler should try in each of these countries (ie: England, Scotland and Wales)? I'm not asking that they all be vegan (my husband's not, so he can indulge)...and I rather suspect that a majority of them will be meat based (ie: Haggis, fish n' chips n' stuff...though the chips I can have...) From what I've seen of Wales and lamb dishes, I'll probably be completely out of luck there."'"""

Oh dear, is that what you think food in the UK is all about? There's more of this kind of stuff in a recent thread about Ireland.

To get an idea of the sort of cooking the UK is producing check out the BBC show Great British Menu. It's not entirely representative of course and you'll probably find the large amounts of flesh on show repulsive but it's the reality and not the picture book haggis and kilts version of the UK most visitors are in search of.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search/?q=gre...Find+Programmes

And you might find this useful.

http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/food/s...2268171,00.html

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I think the posters in this thread are being a little harsh, although being a northern country many will regard a meal without animal protein as no meal.

There is some vegan food, mostly ethnic.

High end places will cope, but maybe not well. I think you will be eating a lot of teatime type meals, to take advantage of the long tradition of baked goods.

In Wales you can have Barm Brack and laver bread. In Scotland scotch pancakes, Porridge is better with cream and butter. You can get Vegan Haggis, http://www.macsween.co.uk/haggis/content.asp?PageID=20 but its a pale imitation.

http://www.veganlondon.co.uk/eat/index.htm is a useful list, and alo has a section outside London. http://www.vegansociety.com/html/ may help.

Sorts of foods you can look for:

Teas, but be sure to specify no butter or cream. That still leaves bread and jam, and some cakes. Try Ottolenghi,

http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/locations/ or one of the grand hotels, This is about as close as you can come to Vegan British.

Gujerati Indian, such as Diwana Bhel Poori House in Drummond St in London. Sabras, in WIllesden Green has alas shut, and I dont know if its re-opened.

Noodle bars like Wagamama have vegan dishes, as do some Pizza places. Similarly Thai and falafel

Your husband will appreciate http://www.stjohnrestaurant.co.uk/ and there may be menu items you can eat as well, but you will mosly have to avert your eyes.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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Your husband will appreciate http://www.stjohnrestaurant.co.uk/ and there may be menu items you can eat as well, but you will mosly have to avert your eyes.

Once took a vegetarian to St John - long story - and they did a main course bean concoction that was almost certainly vegan and actually pretty good.

Anyway: In Scotland, avoid all attempts at meat-free haggis (pointless, like alcohol-free whisky) and go for the classic white pudding supper. You get a fine example in Anstruther.

Puff pastry's vegan, right? You'll find the ale pie all over the place. Mildreds, an otherwise unimpressive diner in Soho, does a decent mushroom and Guinness example. (May I politely suggest that you eat at Mildreds, then swing into Andrew Edmunds opposite so your chap can have something bloody while you both plough through the wine list.)

Given Muhammed is now the second-most popular boy name in Britain, we can probably claim Middle Eastern as cuisines-in-law. Momo for atmosphere, Noura for quality, Taz for value (I think it has the edge on the Maroush and Sofra chains at the moment; others may disagree), and anywhere up Edgware Road for authenticity with a slightly threatening but unspecific undercurrent.

Finally, if there is one bit of advice to offer, it would be this: never expect the good stuff to find you.

As a nation, we've never been particularly good at hospitality. Good places do exist, but the further away you travel from London the tougher it gets to eat at a whim. By the time you reach Yorkshire you're more likely to be hit by lightning than to chance on that "wonderful little place" of holiday anecdotage.

It really is best to do your research, find places you want to visit, and phone ahead to book. On that theme, take a browse of Matthew Fort's "Around Britain with a fork" column in The Guardian, which may offer some interesting starting points.

Edited by naebody (log)
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Puff Pastry should use butter - wouldn't that exclude it from a Vegan diet? :unsure:

Yes, that was my initial assumption too. But I googled vegan "puff pastry" and was returned with 50,900 hits, so assumed that the store-bought stuff was made of turnips or sawdust or something.

Or am I thinking of phyllo?

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Excellent post from jackal10. However, is it fair not to mention that laverbread, er, isn't bread? Good stuff, local speciality, in itself vegan... :smile:

In the UK, its not too hard to find decent vegetarian food.

But vegan is quite a bit rarer.

And it would be a very helpful mistake to imagine that, for example, waiters in ethnic restaurants could be relied upon to know the detailed difference. For example, most Indian restaurants would likely be using Ghee... (a butter derivative).

The most likely place to find food and an understanding of your preference is going to be in a vegetarian restaurant, where they should at least be able to tell you correctly what is vegan and what isn't.

If you know where you are headed, then phone ahead and warn them! You should get some sort of feel at that stage as to wheher you ought to be phoning somewhere else!

As for the "white puddin'" (aka mealie puddin') shouldn't that be made with copious quantities of lard? (Or can it be confidently assumed these days to be either artery clogging trans-fats or eco-nasty palm oil?) :huh:

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Anyway: In Scotland, avoid all attempts at meat-free haggis (pointless, like alcohol-free whisky) and go for the classic white pudding supper. You get a fine example in Anstruther.

I used to go up to Glasgow a lot when I was younger, and white pudding (with chips) was the late night main stay of the vegetarians and vegans I knew there. (Ask when you're there, not all the recipes for White Pudding are vegan)

It is possible to get vegetarian cornish pasties in Cornwall, but I don't know if vegan ones are sold. Another Cornish speciality is Saffron Cake. Again, although it is possible to find vegetarian versions (without lard) I'm not so sure about vegan ones.

Someone mentioned porridge, the traditional way to eat it is without milk or sugar

http://www.glasgowguide.co.uk/scottish_recipes_Porridge.htm

You may find somewhere prepared to make it for you this way

Other foods I would recommend you look out for as you travel around the UK:

New potatoes (preferably with a little mint)

pickles and chutneys - for instance, somewhere that serves a Ploughman's lunch http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ploughman's_lunch may be able to offer you a range of relishes and pickles with bread and vegetables, they just need to prepare it without the cheese. Many delicatessens will stock locally made pickles, relishes, jams and preserves for you to try. Britain has some glorious treasures sealed into jars.

In May British samphire is just coming out. This can be gathered for free off of English coasts (I get mine near Maldon) but fishmongers also sell it. Just clean and blanch in boiling water for about 30-40 seconds (you can do it with the kettle from a hotel). Lovely with a little vinaigrette, they're perfect with new potatoes, but should make a tasty salad (perhaps with some cracked wheat - another food that can be prepared in a hotel room - to make a tabouleh style dish).

Unfortunately, as you already suspect, not too many of Britian's specialities are suitable for vegans (vegetarians fare considerably better). Our fruit and vegetables, when sourced from a good farmer's market, can be fantastic though. If you can bring a little cooking stove you may be able to enjoy more of our local foods.

Here are some more suggestions

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/in_season/may.shtml

asparagus is fantastic in May

And you might be able to enjoy our broadbeans Japanese style:

http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/jI7hw41z5sA...Jmxr1Zi6y8hm-uw

Unfortunately, you've missed the Wakefield Rhubarb Festival (February). Rhubarb is a speciality of the Yorkshire Area

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yo...ire/7215790.stm mmmm....

(And I second Rousillon, I've had the vegetarian tasting menu here - excellent - I haven't eaten a vegan menu though. And the Andrew Edmunds/Mildreds combo suggestion - Mildreds is OK, Andrew Edmunds offers extremely good value for money in London, you'll probably need to book up though as it's very popular)

Edited by MoGa (log)
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... But I googled  vegan "puff pastry" and was returned with 50,900 hits, ...

But just 2,790 from the UK !! :wink:

(And looking for "vegan puff pastry" - with the quotes - from the UK, brings up just... 20 hits... :rolleyes: )

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Puff Pastry should use butter - wouldn't that exclude it from a Vegan diet? :unsure:

Yes, that was my initial assumption too. But I googled vegan "puff pastry" and was returned with 50,900 hits, so assumed that the store-bought stuff was made of turnips or sawdust or something.

Or am I thinking of phyllo?

Most shop bought stuff (yuck) uses vegetable oil so that may be why, however, even then it is likely to be glazed with egg so that would also disqualify it!

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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...

Anyway: In Scotland, avoid all attempts at meat-free haggis (pointless, like alcohol-free whisky) and go for the classic white pudding supper. You get a fine example in Anstruther. ...

However, McSweens "Vegetarian" Haggis is actually according to the small print on the label "suitable for vegans".

It has an inedible (plastic?) casing. The content may be meat-free, and pleasure-lite, but its edible. And has some nutritive value.

However, sadly, I think one's chances of finding a "white pudding" (or mealie pudding as I once knew them) with a Vegan casing (never mind content) is going to be pretty slim.

And the linked Anstruther Fish Bar website says "Puddings, prime Scottish haggis, sausage and steak pies are obtained from our supplier of 25 years (John Dow of Dundee) ..." which really doesn't sound terribly hopeful for Vegans. (John Dow even seems to be so traditional as not to have a web presence...)

Scotland isn't going to be particularly easy in restaurants of any kind!

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Seriously? Collagen casings are not allowed?

What about rennet in wine? Glycerine in toothpaste? Bone meal on your sprouts? Shellac varnish on the restaurant table?

Bloodied carcass of hell, I give up. I'm afraid that, once you escape the Hare Krishna recruitment camps*, Britain can offer nothing untainted by flesh except perhaps the air (so long as you avoid Newcastle). Sorry.

* ETA: man alive .... just checked, and even the Krishnas are cool with dairy. So you'd best rule them out as well.

Edited by naebody (log)
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Seriously? Collagen casings are not allowed? ...

Collagen is very much an animal-origin product.

However, you're in good company - from The Cooks Book, Ferran Adria appears to be of the opinion that ordinary Gelatine is suitable for vegetarians ...

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I think its pretty clear from the postings so far that your best bet is to abandon all thoughts of eating in either England or Scotland !

However , you (and your omniverous husband ) will do very well in Wales , where you will also find the nicest people and the finest scenery (and if you like rain - the best weather).

Pembrokeshire , Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion in particular have a good range of bed and breakfasts (many , but not all rather new age/hippy) with a focus on local/organic/vegeterian food, most of which do evening meals as well and all of which will provide vegan options. Upmarket hotels that will provide vegan meals (with a bit of notice) include Seiont Manor (near Caernarvon), Peterston Court (near Brecon) and Portmeirion (which isn't really near anywhere).

Vegan welsh specialities are pretty thin on the ground - apart from Bara Brith (spiced fruit bread). You might find laverbread (a type of seaweed) used in various vegan dishes and there are some interesting beers and ciders but that's about it. Your husband should look out for local cheeses, carmarthen ham, Welsh Black beef , welsh lamb, venison and seafood (particularly cockles from Penclawdd, sewin (sea trout) and scallops and mussels from the Menai Straits).

Reccomended restaurants where he will get good local produce and you can get more interesting than normal vegan options (again, providing a day or two 's notice) include:

The Foxhunter , Nant y Derry

The Old Pharmacy, Solva

The Crown at Whitebrook

The Harbourmaster, Aberaeron

Seiont Manor ( near Caerenafon)

Dylanwad Da (Dolgellu)

The best place to start planning your eating in in Wales is: here : (where you will find links to the above restaurants plus loads of other vegan friendly estanblishments in Wales)

Report back on how you get on.

gethin

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Hi Janet!

I'm married to a vegetarian and have a close vegan friend so have a few ideas...first, the Gate (mentioned before) in Hammersmith, London is truly fantastic. Hubby and I go there all the time and there is always lots of good vegan stuff on the menu and it keeps me (the omnivore) happy coz the food is creative, global, and delicious.

That being said the best-ever vegetarian meal I've had in the UK was at Demuths in Bath - really splendid stuff and nice atmos as well. They seem to have lots of vegan options on the menu as well.

Finally, my vegan friend is currently enamoured of Rootmaster, a new vegan restaurant located in an retired Routemaster bus - I've not been but she loves it, and I think it might be a kinda fun tourist experience as well. :biggrin:

Oh, and the Sagar mini-chain of veggie Indian restaurants (in and around London) is a good source of some cheap and cheerful yummy veggie nosh - try the masala dosa -yum! I think there's one in Hammersmith, Twickenham and Fitzrovia...

Have fun!

Elizabeth

Elizabeth, AKA Izabel_blue

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