Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Veggie Food in Malta


Watching the rain beat against my window on this so-called August day, makes me yearn for hotter climes and for hazy afternoons spent in flip-flops, listening to Despacito as it booms from café stereos whilst letting sandy shale drain through my sun-kissed hands on the beach.    For me this epitomises my trip to Malta earlier this summer.

Whilst I can echo the above and I could write tales that build glossy wanderlust images in the mind, but today I’m doing a shout-out for Maltese food.

Not really knowing what to expect from Maltese food having not been there before, I was keen to see what it was all about.

Firstly, I’d describe it as a hybrid of Italian and Arabic/Middle Eastern food which is not surprising when you think of Malta’s geography and history.  Although vegetarian options are available, it’s not as forthcoming as in other countries and the lionshare of menus are meat/fish dominated.  But still, restaurants that aren’t 100% veggie are eager to please and most will put something together for vegetarians if the menus don’t suit.

Pasta plays a big part on most menu roll calls, which for vegetarians is a little predictable, but many offer Speciality Ravioli with Maltese Cheese, the cheese often being from neighbouring island, Gozo.

For an instant street food snack, Qassatat is available from takeaway outlets.  They are like large pasties filled with spinach and vegetables and for a Euro a piece, they’re a bargain!
 
In L'Chaim
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Like everywhere, there are international restaurants dotted around, one of which is L’Chaim in the resort of St Julian’s.  L’Chaim is a Jewish/Kosher restaurant and quite a quaint find.  Jewish folk music provides the backdrop whilst a large oil painting of a Rabbi looks down on you whilst you peruse the menu, the aircon is also a welcomed blessing in the30+ degree heat.  The menu is more Jew-ish than Jewish, so expect falafel and peppered steaks rather than stalwart favourites of salt beef and latkes.  Saying that, some meals are served with pickled gherkins and you can’t get more Jewish than that!

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
 
The capital Valletta is a must to see, not only for its architectural splendour but for the enchanting side streets with restaurants nestled side by side, over spilling with al fresco seating.  I loved Loop Bar in the Strait Street area.  Frequented back in the day by revelling sailors, it’s now a tourist haunt with echoes of the past present in the décor.  Their quinoa salad makes for a delicious lunch, but I imagine the sailors would’ve had something stronger though………..
 
Not the fruit stall as below, but outside a
shop in Gozo
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

One of my favourite memories was walking down a side street that had an open square and seeing a cheerful older lady purveying the most gorgeous large peaches, ripe huge tomatoes and an abundance of fresh fruit.  Seeing bountiful watermelons, I was told she could sell me a wedge.  The delightful lady, with cleaver in hand, sold me a quarter scored with slice marks making it easier to eat.  Her cherub-esque smile beamed at me as she exchanged the melon for 2 Euros.   This simple moment completely charmed me, I suppose this slice of watermelon symbolises a slice of Maltese life, it made me feel like a local, if only for that brief transaction.
 
View from Julia's Vegan Café down to
St Julian's Harbour
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Wherever you find your fodder in Malta, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to wash it down with a soya latte at Julia’s Vegan Café in St Julian’s, a glass of Maltese Green Label wine or a pint of Cisk beer with one or two date biscuits on the side.  Regardless what you consume, you’re guaranteed a restful, relaxing time in Malta, just like I can guarantee Despacito will still be number one in the charts as summer nudges into autumn…..

 

 

 


 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Din Dins at Min Mins


I suppose a number of my recent posts have been reminiscent of past events or have been prompted by things I’ve come across (again).

One of my little trips down Memory Lane this time have led me to think back to when myself and MCH (My Carnivorous Husband) went to see Mel C (aka Sporty Spice) back in April at the Institute in Birmingham.
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

Getting into Birmingham a tad earlier that night, we decided to try out Min Min’s located opposite the Arcadian car park for a quick dinner.
 
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

 
Having heard good things and lots of people loving its eclectic charm (pink moped by the till for instance), we thought it was worth a shot.
 
Walking in at roughly 6pm on a Sunday night, there were a good number of people in there – couples, families and a few lone diners, but yet we could easily find a table.  The set up was almost Scandi-canteen style with metallic furniture, all very informal.
 
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

Our waitress was dutiful but not gushy and we were left to our own devices to study the menu.  The menu was somewhat ‘busy’ with lots pictures of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese food supported by multi-lingual descriptions.  The vegetarian options weren’t accurate as seafood and some fish dishes were marked as vegetarian which I wasn’t very impressed by and so I had to study the menu harder to ensure that what I did choose in the end was 100% veggie.  Something strict vegetarians would need to bear in mind.
 
Veggie Pad Thai
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

I had the Veggie Pad Thai and MCH had a Beef Curry.  Portion sizes were adequate and although we both felt our respective dishes were nice, they didn’t wow us.
 
Beef Curry
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

All in all, Min Mins is great for quick, easy food when you need a meal pitstop rather than for a leisurely night out of feasting.  Its convenience works in its favour, close to Birmingham Hippodrome, Gay Village and the bars in the Arcadian area, ideal to visit en route to ‘wherever next’.

Oh yeah, and by the way, Mel C was amazing!  Ziga-zig-aaaa………

Monday, 19 June 2017

Charity Night with Belinda Carlisle - The High Field

It is very exciting to hear that two things I enjoy very much – The High Field Birmingham and 80’s music are collaborating for a charity extravaganza!

Photo:  c/o The High Field

On Saturday 15th July 2017, The High Field will be hosting a very special evening in aid of charity when Belinda Carlisle, one of the biggest selling female global artists of all time, makes a one-off appearance at the Edgbaston venue.

This exclusive event, which is limited to just 250 guests, will feature a short acoustic set of songs from Belinda as well as drinks and dinner in a glorious garden setting. It will raise money for Belinda's own co-founded charity ‘Animal People Alliance’ and the UK Charity Branch of ‘Her Future’.

Tickets for this special event are now on sale and include fizz and canapés on arrival, followed by a three course vegetarian or vegan dinner with a menu created for the night by The High Field's head chef Ian Meek.

After enjoying good food and drink in the stylish surroundings of The High Field, which was named the Best Gastro Pub in Birmingham at the inaugural Birmingham Food Drink & Hospitality Awards, guests will enjoy a short acoustic performance of Belinda’s songs. 

There will also be a silent auction with some brilliant prizes to be won, special guests and even the opportunity to win breakfast with Belinda herself at a secret location the next morning.

Photo:  c/o The High Field

All the proceeds from ticket sales will be given to the two charities close to Belinda’s heart to support the vital work they undertake. Animal People Alliance's mission is to offer high quality care to street animals in need, alongside robust employment opportunities to survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations in South Asia. Her Future UK provides shelter, education and high-wage employment to survivors of human trafficking and extreme abuse so that they may remain forever free; since 2005, the charity has helped thousands of women and children to build a bright and independent future.

Photo:  c/o The High Field

Launching the evening, Sarah Robinson, General Manager of The High Field, says, "This is a fantastic opportunity to support these two amazing charities whilst enjoying good food and drink in a unique venue.

"We are thrilled to be joined by Belinda Carlisle and to have this unmissable opportunity to listen to her music in such an intimate setting," says Sarah. "As lead singer of the Go-Go's and one of the world's biggest selling female artists, she is a true pop icon, and we are honoured that she will be performing here in support of these two great charities.

"It's going to be a wonderful evening full of excitement and surprises, and we hope that as many existing and new guests will join us to help raise as much money as possible for charity," she says.

Photo:  c/o The High Field

Belinda Carlisle, says, “Animal People Alliance is a charity, based in Kolkata India, I co-founded with Paul Suit in 2014. Whilst still in the early days, we are starting to have a real impact, with our mission to provide quality care for India’s street animals, employment for survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations. We want to change the future generation's consciousness towards animals, and raise awareness of the need to treat animals humanely.

"I’ve always dreamed of having an animal sanctuary and I have such a love of India. I had an idea on how great it would be to combine both with the invaluable help of Her Future, of which I’ve seen first-hand the work they do, and I’m humbled even to be in the same room as Sarah Symons (the co-founder of Her Future Coalition and inspiration of Her Future UK), as she does the work of angels.

"I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the charity evening at The High Field, and grateful to all the generous people and businesses who are making this event happen. I will be performing a short acoustic set of my hits as music is still a big part of my life, as is Animal People Alliance,” she says.

There are just 100 tickets for this special evening costing £150 each, to include fizz and canapés followed by a three-course vegetarian or vegan meal, and a further 150 tickets at £75 each for those not wishing to dine, with a silent auction and some amazing raffle prices from sponsors.

To book, please email event@animalpeoplealliance.co.uk to request tickets.

The charity evening at The High Field with Belinda Carlisle takes place on Saturday 15th July 2017 from 5pm until midnight.

The High Field is at 22 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, B15 3DP. Tel: 0121 227 7068.
www.highfieldedgbaston.co.uk/ Highfield@peachpubs.com @_TheHighField www.facebook.com/TheHighFieldEdgbaston



Saturday, 17 June 2017

Breakfast in Budapest

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Looking back at some old photos, its triggered memories of my visit to Budapest in Hungary last year.  Packed with Eastern European charm, famous for goulash, paprika and thermal baths, it's small as capital cities go, but there is a lovely, easy, calm energy wherever you turn - perfect for a long weekend.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Hotel-wise, I have to whole-heartedly recommend Bohem Art Hotel.  Its location is ideal - right next to the underground station, by the Danube river, round the corner from Vaci Utca (the main road for shops/restaurants) - I could go on.....  Its contemporary decor with huge pieces of artwork on every corridor and in every bedroom makes it a very stylish place to stay.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Decor and location benefits to one side, what I really want to wax lyrical about is the breakfast.  NB:  **Info valid at the time of visit - April 2016**.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
The all-you-can-eat buffet (including various types of non-dairy milk) not only offered vegetarian options but also vegan and gluten free food with other dietary requirements potentially being catered for upon request.  Hot food, fruits, continental style items, all washed down with 'champagne' style sparkles.  What a glorious way to start the day!

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
This post is short but sweet, but the fact that I've still got memories of the breakfasts there surely are testimony of how enjoyable and plentiful they were.......... 


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Deposit Secures Your Table

I’ve known Alex Claridge almost as long as I’ve been blogging, so since 2012 I’ve been following his work and projects around Birmingham and I’ve watched him move from one challenge to another.

The Wilderness Interior
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

A lovely guy whose passion for food, service and creativity are second to none and you won’t see lame penne pasta in tomato sauce or mushroom risotto on his menu anywhere. 

His ethos is to push boundaries and to bring tastes together that you’d never think of combining.  To give you a work of art that is visibly clear has taken hours to make, that has been nurtured to give you a real food experience and something far, far away from an average Tuesday-night-TV-dinner.

Going the extra mile, he goes foraging for seasonal herbs and sources ingredients from remote places (sea buckthorn anyone?).  For instance, tomatoes are marinated for 24 hours, strained for 24 hours and the juice of which is then used to make a meringue.  This is the effort he goes to, the man has the patience of a saint to bring it all together.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

This is why you pay good money to eat at his venue The Wilderness.  Everything is thought through, every minor allergy, dislike, food intolerance request is factored in (if notice is given) to make the diner a bespoke version of the planned menu.   Vegetarians are given a culinary rollercoaster of taste and texture, something you don’t get in an average establishment.

Bearing all of the above in mind, so why is it that have people been grumbling about his new policy of providing a deposit upon booking?


The Wilderness Interior
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


I’m angry for him that he’s had issues with this.  He’s not in the league of the large High Street chain outlets where you can arrive as you please and a lot of the food is all pre-done for future consumption so waste isn’t a primary issue.  Instead, he’s a small, independent business where 2 or more no-shows per night makes a real impact not only on a financial level, but all the hard work in putting the menus together are wasted and it also denies someone a table that wanted to get in but couldn’t.  And he does have waiting lists.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way, fellow blogger Laura from Full to the Brum even appeared on local TV news discussing this supporting Alex’s stance.  She makes a good point, if you have to pay deposits at restaurants on occasions such as Mother’s Day or Christmas, then what’s the problem in doing so all the time?

So if you’re one of those who feels put out by paying a deposit, all I’d say is, don’t cut your nose off to spite your face and respect his deposit policy to secure your booking as I truly mean this, you won’t want to miss out on his menu creations.  We often say, our visit to The Wilderness (and also when we visited his venture Nomad) was one of the best meals we’ve ever had.  And the best things are worth paying for.


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Information

This is an extract from The Wilderness’s Vegetarian Menu from last summer.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Chapter One
The Shoreline – Evening to Dusk
A Coastal Breeze (Pea, Cucumber, Hazelnut, Potato)
Under Embers (Roast Cauliflower, Salted Grapes, Oyster Leaf)



Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Chapter Two
The Forest & The Fields
Celeriac, Leftovers & Weeds (Celeriac, Egg Yolk, Herb Oil, Cheese Biegnet)
The Forest & The Field (Pearl Barley, egg yolk, Forest Herbs inc: white flowers, stone fruit)



Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Chapter Three
The Picnic 2009
The Flowers Got To the Tart First (Cheddar Tart, Many Flowers from the Allotment)
Jammy Dodgers
Oh B*llocks (99 Flake, Strawberry, Meadowsweet)


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Monday, 15 May 2017

Bardolino Birmingham

Yesterday, I had a very nice little lunch with two of my closest friends at Bardolino’s in Birmingham.  Based in The Cube by The Mailbox, it is part of Marco Pierre White’s chain and is more informal than some of his other offerings.  In fact it’s used by the guests of The Cube’s spa facility so there were plenty of people in white robes dotted around, so don’t worry about feeling under-dressed.

We went there for lunch, rather tempted by the £6.95 offer which includes a pizza or a dish from the Al Forno section of the menu and a soft drink.  In addition, jugs of chilled water were brought out as standard which I was pleased to see.

Opting for a Wild Mushroom Lasagne myself, it came with a good amount of wild mushrooms and they had that nice ‘chewy’ texture you get from them as opposed to that from standard field mushrooms, so a rustic twist on a classic.  My friends both had the Salmon Cannelloni which they said was also good.

We ordered a side dish each, however these came late and without asking, our waitress took them off our bill as an apology, which was fair of her.

In fact, Laura (our waitress) was really attentive and delivered a high level of customer service which we appreciated.  Customer service is just as important as the food itself and either factor can make or break your dining experience.

Sorry, but no photos as we were too busy gossiping, but to put you in the picture:  the restaurant has a clean, airy feel about it, lots of white tiles, mosaic slates on the floor, views of the canal, framed Italian kitsch posters and of course obligatory photos of Mr White himself as is standard across all of his venues. 

The lunch offer was extremely good value, so definitely worth popping in for that and again, another round of applause for the customer service we received.  People often talk about the bad service they have and not so much about the good service, so I’m bucking the trend here.  All in all, good to see a chain restaurant that offers the personal touch.

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**We paid for our food and I did not disclose that I was a food blogger**

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Gluten Free Veggie Crisps

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I find it’s a dangerous game opening a bag of sharing crisps.  Because they go.  Open the bag, fail to stop at having ‘one or two’ and before you know it, they’ve gone.  The larger the bag, the larger the temptation – for me anyway.

But it seems I’m not alone.  New in the sharing crisp category are Seabrook’s premium Lattice range and as I found, having them makes you fall into the trap as above – they are somewhat addictively moreish.  Offering a bag to friends, they commented how easy they were to polish off and did so within a car journey.   I watched my mother who insisted that a couple of crisps would be enough for her to try, to then see her dismay when the packet was empty.  This is what I mean by a dangerous game – it’s hard to stop.

But unlike my mother and I, for those with a tad more willpower, the packet comes with a peel & seal facility on the front, it can be closed off quite easily if you only (really, literally) just want a handful of crisps.

The lattice shape gives it texture and each crisp is quite thick which gives them substance and flavours in the range include Natural Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Black Pepper and Cheese & Onion, all of which are enjoyable.

Additional benefits is that they boast natural ingredients, are vegetarian friendly and are also gluten free, thus giving those that are observing a GF dietary lifestyle a chance to have a snack which suits them and yet doesn’t compromise on taste.


With #GlutenFreevolution Week in-situ (8 May – 14 May) and ahead of British Sandwich Week (14 May – 20 May), (and who doesn’t like a sandwich with crisps?), Seabrook’s Lattice Range are worth a try and also, they are really good for the Saturday night ‘beer munchies’ – for which I can vouch.


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Disclosure:  This review was conducted following receipt of complementary samples of Seabrook Lattice Gluten Free crisps.  The review was conducted honestly without bias. For further information about reviews, please see the Disclosure tab on this website.