Saturday, 22 December 2012

Vegan rougaille

The mother of a good friend of mine spent years living on the beautiful Indian Ocean island of la Réunion. Lucky her. This means that despite her Norman heritage, she's a dab hand at all sorts of fantastic creole dishes. Her rhum arrangé is to die for, and the rougaille recipe I'm going to share today is killer too.

Rougaille is essentially a spicy tomato sauce. It's often used as a condiment, but here the addition of beans makes it a perfectly balanced vegan main course. It's also especially good at clearing up colds. Maybe because it comes from a nice warm place.

Rougaille-saucisses is a tea my friend's mum made for us very often. She always cooked the saucisses part separately, so that I could enjoy the delicious spicy bean and tomato stew that is rougaille over rice. The internet tells me that every family has a different version of rougaille, lots of which seem to involve prawns and a variety of vegetables. I'm giving you Maryvonne's simple version, which I've tweaked a little, mainly to add more umame.

Serves 3-4


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
800g tin whole tomatoes
400g tin kidney beans
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Marmite
1 Tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp sugar
Black pepper
A few good shakes of your favourite hot sauce
Optional, to serve: fresh parsley, spring onions, squeeze of lemon or lime

1. Warm the olive oil in a deep frying pan, and sweat the onion in it, covered and on medium heat, for a few minutes until transluscent. Add the garlic, ginger, herbs and spices, and fry for 1 minute.

2. Tip in the tomatoes and stir to remove tasty bits from the bottom of the pan. Break up the tomatoes a little (into 3-4 rough pieces each). Stir in the soya sauce, black pepper, Marmite, hot sauce, and sugar.

3. Simmer the sauce, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Add the drained kidney beans and simmer for 20 more minutes, until reduced and thickened.

Serve with rice and a side salad or cruncy vegetable of your choice. Extra hot sauce is always a good idea.

Vegan rougaille: not very photogenic, but cheap, easy, warming, and delicious.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Vegan waffles

...are really easy and delicious!

A dear, dear friend of mine has sadly bid farewell to Paris and gone to live in New York. My only consolation is that she has left me her waffle iron. So I have waffles on which to weep (and on which to pour maple syrup).

I used Isa's Gingerbread Waffle recipe from Vegan Brunch. Man, are they good?! A cheeky blogger has posted the recipe here, but I'd advise you to buy the book. That way, you'll also get your sticky mitts on the world's best vegan crêpe recipe, the definitive tempeh bacon recipe, and many more brunchy treats.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Gentle Gourmet Café

The Gentle Gourmet Café is brought to you by the good people behind the now-closed B & B of the same name, as well as Paris Vegan Day and other events. The café serves 100% vegan, upmarket French food. No alcohol is served, but - get this - you can BYO! There's not even a corkage charge.

I've eaten here twice now, and really enjoyed my meal both times. I took a flexitarian and an omnivore along too, for good measure.

The menu is concise but appetising and changes frequently. The majority of the ingredients are organic. Here's what we ate...

Tartiflette! This is a French classic, particularly favoured by ski enthusiasts in the Alps:

It's a creamy, cheesy bake of potatoes with lardons. Here, entirely veganised. It was tasty, although maybe could have done with a little more creaminess.

My flexi friend chose the portobello burger, which turned out to be super. fucking. delicious. Juicy mushrooms, great sauce, extremely generous side of chips and salad. We both loved it:

Then I took my omnivore along one evening (hence decreased quality of photos). He had the portobello burger on my recommendation. Now with fat chips:

He enjoyed it, but would have preferred a burger patty over the mushrooms and fried onions that Flexi and I found so delicious.

Since Omni and everyone else in the restaurant had ordered a burger, I felt obliged not to order a burger. They were out of the excellent-sounding cajun tempeh dish, so I chose the seitan bourguignon:

Yes, it comes served in a potimarron, that most delicious of winter squashes! The bourguignon itself contains seitan, juicy mushrooms, and some root vegetables. It's a great winter warmer and extremely filling, but I thought the sauce could have had deeper flavour and there could have been more of it. Still, a very tasty main course.

Then came something that put the biggest smile on my face since Vöner in Berlin: crème fucking brûlée.

I can't tell you how much I loved this. We were supposed to share it, but it didn't quite work out like that. The caramel topping was perfect, and cracking it with my spoon actually made me squeal with delight. Just call me Amélie. The sweet creaminess below was more solid than the eggy/milky versions I've seen people eat. I loved it though. Really, really loved it.

The Gentle Gourmet is a great place to go for swanky or romantic meals. It's also a great place to go for vegan crème brûlée. Seriously, I might go back in the middle of an afternoon just for that beauty.

24 Boulevard de la Bastille, 75012 (map)
Métro: Bastille (lines 1, 8, 5) or Gare de Lyon (lines 1 and 14, RERs A and D)
Opening hours:
Tues-Sat: 9am-11pm.
Sun: 11am-3pm for brunch and 11am-11pm for take-away.
Mon: 9am-7pm for take-away.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Vegan St Petersburg

St Petersburg in November? Why the hell not? It's beautiful.

I was slightly nervous about what on earth I was going to eat, but a little internet research, map annotation, and the occasional drawing of cheese with a line through it meant that I didn't need to worry.

A good friend suggested trying Georgian and Azeri cuisine, and we happened to stumble across Kavkaz on our first night in St Petersburg. The candle-lit, cosy atmosphere made for some pretty bad photos of:

Peppers and aubergines stuffed with walnut cream. Delicious.

Herb salad that really turned out to be a plate of herbs.

Fantastic selection of home-made pickles including green tomatoes, whole garlic cloves, red cabbage, yum!

The Azeri wine we chose to wash it down with wasn't all that hot: kind of sweet. I suppose living in France has made me a bit fussy with wine.

We also made it to a branch of Troitsky Most, kind of by accident. It was a really lovely café with a relaxed atmosphere and without the extremely loud music playing in most restaurants. Everything here is vegetarian, which is as refreshing as the lack of music. You can choose from a selection of salads. By pointing, of course.

The star of my plate was a waldorf-style salad with a lemony vinaigrette rather than mayonnaise:

And my gentleman friend's plate, which contained the creamy/cheesy salads:

For our night on the town, we started at Russian Vodka Room N° 1. The place itself is fabulous - great big open rooms with free-standing chairs and tables. It makes you want to wear a ballgown. They do a couple of different plates of vodka snacks, one of which just so happens to be vegan. Sauerkraut, weirdly textured mushrooms, and two different types of cucumber: one pickled and delicious, the other salted rather too much:

Oh, and they do real food too, but the only vegan-friendly thing seemed to be these gorgeous potatoes and mushrooms:

Have you tried Russian pizza? I have. In a pizza rock bar with a side of Rammstein, no less. There's paprika in the tomato sauce, which is actually a delicious addition.

Oh, and the obligatory vegan travel shot of a hotel breakfast.

Do: learn to read Cyrillic and say a few words in Russian before you go. Don't: be afraid of finding vegan food in St Petersburg.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

East Side Burgers

For a long time, vegetarian options in Paris were the same as vegetarian options in 1970s Britain. Over the past couple of years, that's changed a lot. The move away from spirulina-walnut roasts and undressed side salads is continued by the newest arrival, East Side Burgers. This very modern place opened up in October, as Paris' only vegetarian burger joint. I finally managed to try it out yesterday. It's great.

There's a rotation of four different burgers, three of which come in vegan versions. Check out their facebook page for each day's burgers and other news. I had the Forestier - a tofu-based mushroom burger with lettuce, tomato, fried onions, and - get this - a vegan cheese slice. Good old Tofutti.

Everything is made to order and cooked properly, including a perfectly toasted bun. My omnivorous dining partner really enjoyed his Fromager burger too (the only one that's not available vegan style). The chips are amazingly good. I care a lot about the quality of chips.

A burger on its own costs around €6, and there's a good meal deal which includes a burger, a choice between chips and coleslaw (not vegan), and a drink for a very reasonable €9. There are even vegan quiches. I need to try a hotdog next time. There are sweet treats too, including two vegan options: cookies and cake slices.

The place itself is lovely: cosy, clean, modern, and run by super friendly staff. As well as a couple of tables outside, there's a nice downstairs eating area where you can help yourself to a good selection of sauces including American mustard. Everything is available to take away.

East Side Burgers
60 Boulevard Voltaire, 75011 (map)
Métro: St Ambroise (line 9), Richard Lenoir (line 5), or St Sébastien Froissart (line 8).
Closed Sunday and Monday. Open 12-6pm (12-8pm on Friday and Saturday)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A vegan walks into a French restaurant...

And I'm afraid there's not much of a punchline.

I went vegan just over five years ago. One of the main reasons for that was the vegetarian options in French restaurants (read: 'restaurants in France serving French food', not 'restaurants in France'). The vegetarian diner has, typically, a couple of options. They could have a salad with cheese: salade de chèvre chaud, salade fromagère, that kind of thing. Or they could have an omelette with cheese or mushrooms or nothing in the middle.

Then I got to thinking: this cheese, these eggs, these are not from happy animals. Why would I order and eat them, since I'm vegetarian in order to stop animals suffering so much? A bit of research, a bit of thinking, and the only option was to go vegan. I had to get away from battery hen eggs and industrially raised cow cheeses.

Since then, I've been doing a fairly good job of avoiding French restaurants. The vegan options there are:

1) Chips
2) Green salad
3) Chips and green salad

You do find the occasional bistrot or resto that does a vegetable-heavy salad which you can ask to be made without the hard-boiled eggs or, say, emmental. It may arrive with or without them.

The solution? Don't eat in French restaurants. France is, slowly, coming around to the idea that maybe there are people in other countries who eat good food too. In Paris, there's a wealth of delicious, non-French food to discover. It's slowly making its way to the provinces.

Screw the French and their chips and lettuce. Try eating here instead:

Roast peppers with garlic and olive oil, then stuffed aubergine at the Turkish:

Vegetarian spread at the Ethiopian:

The best falafel you could wish for (yeah, it photographs badly):

Lemongrass 'chicken' or crunchy nems at the pan-Asian place:

Pizza with no cheese from many an Italian place (check the crust ingredients before ordering):

These are just the tip of the iceberg. You'll find delicious North African, Indian, Colombian, Japanese food and so much more in Paris. Be adventurous!

Want an address? Leave a comment!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Terry Hope Romero: Vegan Eats World (review)

I had a great time last winter and spring testing recipes for the fabulous Terry Hope Romero's latest cookbook (see my during-testing post). Yesterday, I received my beautiful, hardback copy of the finished Vegan Eats World.

This book is a gutsy romp across pretty much any world cuisine you care to think of. I've tried dozens of the recipes, and not had a single flop. Terry's writing style is engaging and funny, and there are beautiful photos to boot.

One of the things I like most about the book is the way Terry breaks down full meals into individual components. This means you have access to a ton of exciting elements that you can play around and get creative with.

Yesterday I made the Coriander Seitan, which is succulent, chewy (in the right way) and super easy to make.

It went perfectly in a green bean stir-fry served with Korean-style noodles.

Today I tried out the Homemade Mexican Beans. They were bloody perfect, and satisfied the craving I've been having for black beans ever since I got back from Brazil. Served here with plain old white rice and yummy salted and lime juiced fried plantains. Hot sauce not pictured.

Now go buy the book. Make the Flourless Chocolate Torte, make the Adobo, make perfect seitan and perfect beans and enjoy.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Pink Flamingo

Although the Pink Flamingo isn't a vegan restaurant, I eat their pizzas often enough to owe them a post.

There are four franchises in Paris, one of which happens to be on my street, and another (the original) on a good friend's street. The pizza bases are 100% vegan, and made with organic flour. Your best bet is the Aphrodite pizza sans fromage. This results in a perfect pizza base topped with tomato sauce, fine slices of grilled aubergine, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a big dollop of hummus in the centre to dip those pesky crusts in.

The restaurants themselves are quirky, maybe overly so. Think pink and black colour scheme, Ramones on the stereo, a pizza called the Obama. If you choose the delivery option, you'll be given a pink balloon so that the delivery cyclist can easily spot you and bring you your pizza. See, quirky.

Your non-vegan friends will have a lot of unusual pizza toppings to choose from, the Indian-inspired Gandhi being popular with vegetarians.

You save a euro per pizza if you choose take-away rather than delivery.

Addresses in Paris:

23 Rue d'Aligre
75012 (map)
(closed Mondays, like pretty much everything on my street)

67 Rue Bichat
75010 (map)
(the original branch, near the Canal St Martin)

105 Rue Vieille du Temple
75003 (map)
(the branch in the Marais)

30 Rue Muller
75018 (map)
(the branch in Montmartre)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Wine biscuits

At the start of the summer, my friends and I made our yearly excursion to the jazz festival at the Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes. I don't like jazz all that much, but I do like friends and picnics a lot.

 And peacocks.

This year, our number included a visiting Italian friend, the fabulous Marta. There are many reasons why Marta is fabulous. The one I'm going to tell you about here is that she introduced us to wine biscuits. Yes, wine biscuits. These little doughnut-shaped Italian biscuits not only contain wine, but are also designed to be dipped in wine. Twice the wine, twice the fun.

To make matters even better, Marta located, translated, and sent me a recipe for Italian wine biscuits. Here it is:

Ingredients (make approximately 40 biscuits):

150 g caster sugar, + extra sugar to sprinkle over biscuits
125 ml oil (some use olive oil, some seed oil: I find olive oil too strong for baking cakes, but, again, your choice)
135 ml white wine (or red wine)
500 g plain flour
8g baking powder
a pinch of salt
half a spoon of anise seeds (optional)

If you're using anise seeds, add them to the wine to soak. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Sieve flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the sugar and make the mixture into a volcano shape. Gently mix in the oil and the wine. Work the dough until homogeneous.

Section off and ball up small pieces of dough. Roll the dough into small ropes. Coil the ropes into round doughnut shapes, leaving a small hole in the middle.

Sprinkle the cookies with caster sugar and place them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. (I found it easier to dip them into a shallow bowl of sugar, to get a good coating).

Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes and remove from the oven as soon as they get a slight golden colour on the top. Let them cool before moving them (they will be soft).

And delicious they were too.
Italian wine biscuits
Italian wine biscuits

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Bottle Shop

Sometimes I miss Britain. Or, to be more precise, I miss British food. When it comes to eating out for the homesick, one of the best spots is The Bottle Shop.

This bar-cum-food-place is part of a small chain of venues with an Anglophone feel. The Bottle Shop does a great brunch on Sundays, the star of which for me is definitely beans on toast (ask for the toast not to be buttered). The roast potatoes aren't too shabby, and there's a great collection of sauces including good old HP and plenty of different hot sauces. Oh, and brunch features a cheap and delicious bloody Mary (ask for it without Worcestershire sauce).

The Bottle Shop vegan tartine

The lunch menu is more limited for vegans, but the staff are friendly and the kitchen is usually happy to make alterations, as in the modified tartine above.

The clientèle is a mix of UK and US expats, along with a fair few locals, each more hipster than the next. Great for a game of ironic moustache bingo. Oh, and if you like star spotting, look out for Lou Doillon.

The Bottle Shop
5 Rue Trousseau, 75011 (map)
Métro: Ledru-Rollin (line 8)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Apéritif croissants

These savoury mini-croissants are great for impressing an omnivorous crowd at a party or apéro. They look and taste like significantly more work than they actually are.

Most organic shops sell vegan puff pastry. The cheapest supermarket brands are sometimes vegan too, albeit pretty unhealthy. Or you could try to make your own if you roll that way.

To make 24 croissants:

2 sheets vegan puff pastry
24 sun-dried tomatoes in oil (about half a jar)
Vegan pesto
Sesame or poppy seeds for the pretty

1. Unroll your pastry and slice into 12 like a pizza. Try to make slices of a fairly similar size:

2. Spoon a small amount of pesto (about 1/2 a teaspoon) onto the fat end of one slice. Top with a tomato:

3. Grab the edge and roll up, moving towards the centre of your pastry pizza. It doesn't matter if your croissant looks a bit wonky - the baking process evens things out. Repeat with all your other 'slices'. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, whatever you feel like. Or just don't.

4. Bake at 180°C for 16 minutes. Your end result will look something like this:

These taste great with other fillings too: tempeh bacon crumbles, mushrooms fried up with garlic, roasted red pepper pieces and capers, etc.

More vegan apéro ideas here.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Tien Hiang

Tien Hiang is far and away my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Paris. The vast menu spans most of East Asia, from nems to pho, via sweet and sour pork and green papaya salad. No eggs are used at Tien Hiang, but one claypot dish contains cheese, and the 'ham' isn't vegan either. Aside from that, pretty much everything is vegan.

The restaurant has recently moved from its hole-in-the-wall-style spot on the Rue du Chemin Vert, and is now located near the trendy Canal St Martin, in the 10th.

Some of the following photos were taken with a phone, so apologies for the mixed quality.

Nems ready to be rolled up with mint leaves inside a lettuce wrapper and dipped in sauce.

Succulent fried shiitakes with crazy good bbq-style dipping sauce.

Thai salad - contains 'ham'.

Lemongrass 'chicken'.

Satay noodle soup with 'beef'.

Claypot with tofu balls.

I've never been disappointed by anything on the Tien Hiang menu. Particular favourites include the Claypot 'beef' with black pepper; the magical fried mushrooms; the 'beef' lok lak; and the lemongrass 'chicken'.

The new location is not only bigger and brighter than the old one, but also in a great spot that lets the take-away option come into its own. If the weather is nice, you can take your food down to the Canal St Martin and eat in the sunshine while watching the bobos go by.

Tien Hiang
14 Rue Bichat (map)
Tel: 01 42 00 08 23
Métro: Goncourt (line 11) or République (lines 3, 5, 8, 9, 11)
Closed Tuesdays.