Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Review: Peggy Porschen Cakes London

Many moons ago I was on a London bus en route to Victoria Station.  I was staring out of the window, admiring the immaculate houses in Belgravia, surmising how many millions they would cost when suddenly a vision of pink appeared, looking absolutely fabulous!  I managed to catch the name of it before the bus hurtled past - Peggy Porschen Cakes.

Next thing I know, I'm watching 'Made In Chelsea' and one of the scenes is filmed in there.  I took both occurrences as a sign that I must go.

So I did.  Took me a bit longer than from when my original 'occurrences' happened, but nevertheless, a recent trip to London allowed time for a visit.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Very much fitting in with its well heeled neighbours, upon closer inspection, Peggy Porschen's is indeed a pink palace with its doorway draped in pink hued flowers, peonies and the like with foliage woven in between.  It's actually stunning.  The warm weather and it being a Saturday meant you had to queue to get a chance of being seated inside or on one of their pavement tables, but as both options had few seats, it would be a long wait.  The queue was being managed and everyone had dressed nicely to be there, I suppose in readiness to have their photo in the floral archway which will subsequently be uploaded onto Instagram.  

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

MCH and I were not in the mindset to queue so we went straight inside to buy some cakes to takeaway and eat later.  There were an array of large cakes cut into slices or single cupcakes to choose from.  MCH went for a Chocolate Truffle slice and I had Summer Berries slice.  Boxed up and placed in a sturdy gift bag, amazingly they survived being carried round whilst sightseeing and a packed train journey.  So when we arrived home we experienced:  Chocolate Truffle - which was rich and dense layered in intervals of chocolate cream and sponge.  Summer Berries was comparable to a large Victoria Sponge with layers of cream and jam.  Covered in pink icing, topped with fresh berries and edible flowers.  (See the website for images).  It was all jolly nice and I was assured at point of purchase that it was suitable for vegetarians.  It wasn't cheap at approximately £5.95 per slice, but it was a delicious treat to have.

Photo: Word In Veg Ways
Peggy's pretty pink parlour is no longer a secret tucked away in a side street of affluent London, it's now becoming well known destination for those that are lovers of good cakes, a good photo opportunity or  who just want to be immersed into a pink bubble!  As well as the main Belgravia shop, there is now a venue in Chelsea so clearly there are plans to go more mainstream.

I would like to have a proper sit-down experience next time I visit as it did seem a very pleasant venue for enjoying a coffee and cake and I especially love London pavement cafe seating as you can take in your surroundings coupled with a bit of people-watching.   

Definitely a recommendation, put it on your to-do list and if you do go, save me a seat as I'll be going back!

Note:  I paid for my purchases in full.  Peggy Porschen's did not know I was visiting or that I am a blogger or that I would be conducting a review/article.  

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Review: Turtle Bay Solihull

I wasn’t wasting the occasion that my hair had been straightened properly, so myself and MCH decided to go out over Easter to Solihull for some drinks.  (Apologies it’s taken until now to write about it).

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The evening was ticking on nicely but it got to the point where drinks weren’t enough and a little of bit food was needed.  Normally, I have my act together and would know exactly where I want to go to eat but clearly the Bank Holiday fever had put me straight into a relax-setting so I hadn’t thought it through.  Not to worry.  Having had people tell me that Turtle Bay was “soooo amazzzzing” we thought we’d go there and kill two birds with one stone, get some food and more drinks.

Photo: Word In Veg Ways

Although it is a chain venue, it doesn’t feel obviously so and the Caribbean inspired décor makes you feel instantly at ease, almost switching your mindset into ‘holiday mode’.  Graffiti sprayed art pictures in glorious tropical colours, jazzy posters and bizarrely placed rubber truck tyres as sinks in the toilets.   Tuneage pumping from the speakers started with a bit of Bob Marley interspersed with other Reggae hits from yesteryear which added to the feeling.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I have to say, the staff are very friendly and super-keen to make sure you’re okay and were attentive without being intrusive, just as it should be.

Photo: Word In Veg Ways

The food arrived in quick-time after ordering which I find is a trait of chain-venues which may suggest that things are prepared in advance rather than being cooked to order, but fair enough and of no consequence to us.  We ordered:  Hallo Halloumi (Grilled Halloumi cheese, Portobello mushroom, lettuce tomato) for me.  MCH had Jerk Chicken with coconut rice ‘n’ peas, Caribbean slaw and we both had sweet potato fries as a side order.
Both agreed, the food was fine, not overly spectacular, but fitted what we were after at that point.  My sweet potato fries were tasty in fact, solid chip style and not over-fried.  The Halloumi burger I had definitely needed the side order of fries to pad it out with but was tasty enough.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Our cocktails were enjoyable, although I felt my Side Chick Martini, (Turtle Bay’s version of a Pornstar Martini), didn’t have as much alcohol in it as I anticipated but having the adjoining prosecco shot boosted it up.  It was a pity we’d missed the 2-4-1 happy hour slot.  MCH’s Koko Kolada (Turtle Bay’s Pina Colada) was refreshing he said and not too sweet.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Being full, we didn’t opt for a dessert.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Our pit stop for food had stopped us in our tracks at that point and feeling a bit full and reminding ourselves that we were no longer 21 years old with boundless energy, we decided to call it a night.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
It being “soooo amazzzzing” was maybe a review on the back of someone having the 2-4-1 experience, whereas I’d felt our visit was more soberly ‘pleasantly fun’.  It was a nice place to go,  I’d go again if the occasion was right as there are quite a few veggie options to choose from and I’d go regardless whether my hair had been properly straightened or not…………

Disclosure:  I paid in full for all food and drink consumed.  The venue did not know I was visiting or that I am a blogger or that I would be reviewing the venue.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Tłusty Czwartek & Shrove Tuesday

I'm a sucker for tradition.  I may have mentioned this once or twice throughout my blog.

Over the weekend, Mum and I had a belated Tłusty Czwartek celebration on Saturday and we called it Tłusta Sobota (Fat Saturday) instead.  

In essence, Tłusty Czwartek translated means 'Fat (Greasy) Thursday' and is the Polish version of Shrove Tuesday, observed on the last Thursday before Lent.  Cakes, sweets and other goods are eaten that day which are, and their ingredients, 'forbidden' during the Lenten period.  Doughnuts (pączki) are eaten in the main, symbolised by their high fat content, along with faworki (angel wings) which are twisted dough strips, deep fried and sprinkled with icing sugar.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

For our mini Fat Saturday event, I decided to buy some Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Mum had never had a Krispy Kreme doughnut before and relished the one I bought her.  I followed suit, coupled with a nice big mug of tea, it was a joyful way to mark the occasion.  

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Mum talked about her memories of Poland, how people would gather at others' houses and have big doughnut feasts.  They'd always be someone making them by hand in someone's kitchen.  This probably still goes on now in Poland but perhaps like us here, it can be easier to buy them from a shop or bakery.

Regardless, it boils down to tradition and it is about family time.  Both of which I fiercely promote.

Same again tomorrow when I flip into Anglo mode and make pancakes for myself and MCH (My Carnivorous Husband) for Shrove Tuesday.  I'll be using celebrity chef Gizzi Erskine's recipe which I've championed over recent years as it works a treat compared to others I've tried.  If you fancy a go, here it is, word for word as per one of Gizzi's Tweets:

110g Plain Flour
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar
1 free range egg + 1 yolk
½ pint milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil/melted butter


Whether you're making pancakes, frying doughnuts or eating cake, I hope you enjoy your pre-Lent celebrations and embrace whichever tradition you follow.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Review: Natural Bar & Kitchen

It is very liberating eating alone sometimes.  Pleasing yourself when and how much you eat and none of that bill splitting nonsense to contend with.  Saying that, not everywhere lends itself to this type of character-building freedom and can make you feel quite intimidated if you dine solo.  However, I found that Natural Bar & Kitchen in Birmingham is very much the opposite.  

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Its casual ambience, contemporary canteen style environment makes it easy to slip into "table for one please" mode and no one bats an eyelid if you're there unaccompanied or if you're part of a large table ensemble.  Praise be for that.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

On a particular Saturday lunchtime end of last year, I decided to pay them a visit.  With matinee tickets for the musical 'Rock of Ages' at The Alexandra Theatre for my friend and I, I assumed they'd offer a pretty much instant service which would be welcomed so I wouldn't be late.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

So coat off, table secured, I was shown how it works.  Very much like Tibits in London (if you've been there), you pay for the weight of your food rather than what you have and you choose your food from a hot and cold buffet.  A little bit carvery-esque on the day I visited, but good wholesome food nevertheless, with some thought around the flavour combinations and interesting twists on vegetable dishes such as Brussel sprouts which were served with Miso.  Everything is vegan, so no additional questioning or verifying is needed.  In the end, (like I did), you could have a plate of randomly put together food as you tend want to try a little of everything.  But no bad thing and reminiscent of a typical homely Boxing Day platter, however, you can be uber-sensible and stick to things that are meant to go together.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Once you've finished plating up the goods, you take it to the till, the waiter/ess assesses which plate size you've had and weighs a sample version, noting down the weight and this is then minused off your bill so you're not paying for the extra weight of your plate.  Then your actual food + plate is weighed, calculations amended and that's what you pay for.  The price is per 100g of food and an average medium plate with a mixture of light and heavier items could cost in the region of £10-£12.  Obviously, the heavier the food, the higher you pay, so if money is an object, then be mindful as you go round the selection.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Amongst other things, I had Rainbow Chard with Plum & Juniper Berries, Miso Chestnut Sprouts, Cranberry & Kale Salad and Balsamic Mushrooms.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

You can opt for lighter bites of sandwiches in varying guises and which come as a standard offering at a set price.  Cakes and desserts are separate and include the usual crowd pleasing arrangements of traybakes, cupcakes etc, some of which have a little ingredient add-on igniting curiosity and which makes it hard to bypass them.  I had a Honeycomb Brownie and Green & Gunpowder Tea blend.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

A nice selection of teas, coffees and alcohol are on the menu which you can enjoy on the comfy sofas as opposed to on the tables, with old school board games available if you have time to squeeze in a little Kerplunk with your cappuccino.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

All in all it is a good, solid offering of a place which I would visit again, more so as a functional lunch venue rather than somewhere for a special occasion, but with it's sole focus on vegan food it's a pleasant go-to diner for those that are meat-free and/or embracing Veganuary.  And of course for those that may wish to dine alone.   

And if you're wondering,  Rock of Ages was fantastic and I recommend that too.

Note:  I paid for my own food and drink and the venue did not know I was attending.


Sunday, 25 November 2018

Epicurean Mementos Interview: Daniel Acevedo

Like many vegetarians in the UK, I’ve taken the pilgrimage to Mildred’s in Soho many a time and experienced their delicious, wholesome food as well as their vibrant, busy restaurant environment which has people queuing out of the door begging for a table.  Part of their success is down to the team in kitchen which includes Australian born Daniel Acevedo.

Daniel Acevedo

Daniel started professional cookery in 1997, specialising in Italian, Greek and pan-Asian cuisines, although his Australian, British and Chilean background has contributed to his wide range of culinary tastes.

In 2005 he moved to London and began working at Mildred’s restaurant, where he climbed the ropes quickly taking over as Sous Chef, then as Head Chef.

In October 2010, Daniel and fellow chef SarahWasserman started a food blog for Mildred’s which led them to co-write Mildred’s Vegetarian and Mildred’s Vegan cookbooks.

Their recipes have featured in various publications including: The Sunday Times, The Independent and magazines such as: Red, Good Food, Homes & Gardens, Delicious, Vegan Life and Olive.

Recently, Daniel has been working alongside Ian Meek, Head Chef at The Highfield in Edgbaston, Birmingham helping to create more vegetarian menu choices and co-hosting a special version of The Highfield’s weekly vegetarian/vegan ‘Live Live On The Veg’ event which was a roaring success.

With the festive season soon upon us, Daniel has been working towards the launch of Mildred’s special Christmas menu which is scheduled for the third week of December and which will run alongside their regular a la carte selection.  In addition, he’s also involved with expansion plans for Mildred’s in the new year.

Aside from all this activity, Daniel has kindly taken time out to share some of his favourite culinary items and memories in my Epicurean Mementos interview to give us an insight into his world and his kitchen.

Cookery The Australian Way
An Aussie classic with its easy to follow, fool proof recipes.  I remember from the age of about 7, grabbing my Mum's copy of Cookery The Australian Way from the kitchen pantry after school and baking yo-yos, Anzac biscuits and scones.

Kilner Jars
I love preserving and pickling and have a nice collection of jars to get me through a large pickling session.  More recently I have really enjoyed pickling Polish style gherkins Ogorki Kiszone.  They are pickled in a salt brine, I do this towards the end of summer, preserving enough to last the winter.  This pickling recipe and method along with a few other Polish classic dishes have been handed down to me by my Polish mother-in-law.  This type of learning, knowledge of recipes and cooking methods handed down by family are so important to me and I feel is invaluable to preserving family tradition and to becoming a great cook.

I remember always hanging around the kitchen at family gatherings when I was young and pestering my Aunties with questions about what they were cooking and how they were doing it, offering to help with any job I could get.

Herbs and Spices
This has to be the best and most exciting part of cooking for me.  The different flavour combinations you can create using fresh and dry herbs and spices is simply amazing.  You can travel the world and create your own experiments with a nicely stocked spice cabinet.

Chilean Clay Pottery
I have various Chilean clay dishes and pots at home, my two essential ones holding sugar and salt.  In addition to storage, the smaller size dishes can be used for serving a pebre (Chilean salsa) or a dip whilst the larger clay pots can be used to bake pies or casseroles.  These dishes are found in every Chilean home and kitchen, I have grown up using and eating from them at every single family gathering (that happened every other weekend) in my hometown of Melbourne.

My thanks to Daniel for his time with regard to compiling this interview.  All photos provided are courtesy of Daniel Acevedo.