Thursday, 28 March 2013

Vegan salade lyonnaise

When I visited Lyon, I had a great time but not a great deal to eat. Let's right that wrong with this animal-friendly version of the classic salade lyonnaise.

What is a salade lyonnaise?

This is a fine demonstration of French salads: full of pig and egg. There are lardons to give salty, smoky, chewy bite. There's a soft-boiled egg to give gooey richness. Then there's bitter-crisp frisée, part of the pale and interesting endive family, a good vinaigrette, crunchy croûtons, and a smattering of herbs.

What is a vegan salade lyonnaise?

You'll save a pig's life by using delicious salty, smoky, chewy tempeh bacon crumbles. And you'll save a chicken from a grim life by providing gooiness through a rich tahini sauce rather than an egg. Everyone's a winner.

Vegan salad lyonnaise: the recipe

To serve two people as a main (or four as a starter):

Salad solids:
1 batch tempeh bacon crumbles
1 small head or bag frisée lettuce
4 chives, chopped
4 baby handfuls croûtons

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp vinegar (red wine, raspberry, cider...)
0.75 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper

3 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp miso
1 Tbsp olive oil
3+ Tbsp water

1. Prepare your tempeh bacon crumbles and croûtons (or just cheat and buy croûtons). While they cook, wash your frisée and tear it into bitesized pieces. Transfer to a salad bowl.

2. Make your 'Not-an-egg' by forking all the ingredients together in a mug. You may need to add more water depending on how thick your tahini is. You're aiming for a consistency similar to that of an egg yolk.

3. In a separate mug, fork your vinaigrette ingredients together. When combined, pour the vinaigrette over the frisée and toss to coat.

4. Once the tempeh is cooked, assemble the salad: divide the frisée between your plates. Top with tempeh bacon crumbles, scatter on croûtons, and spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the 'Not-an-egg' in the centre. Finally, snip on the chives.

5. Serve with bread. Yeah, there are croûtons already, but this is France...

Monday, 18 March 2013

Vegan Berlin II

Berlin is too amazing for one trip to suffice. So I dutifully went back to see more, eat more, drink more.

We arrived really late at night, tired, and hungry. There was only one solution: falafel.

Omni had his first Berlin kebab, and finished my falafel. The spicy sauce was very spicy, very yummy. Oh, and the chips! How did I miss this last time? Chips fried to perfection and finished off with a salty-spicy sprinkle and lashings of ketchup.

Next up, brunch at Kopps. It runs from 12-4pm every weekend, and is outstanding. The spread stretches as far at the eye can see: fantastic breads, mueslis, compôtes, salads, ham, tofu scramble, potatoes, waffles, fruit salad, doughnuts, oh God.

I got a cold plate to start, with cucumber salad, delicious smokey chewy ham, amazing egg salad, bbq beef salad, celeriac salad, courgette-spring onion salad. All vegan, obviously. Yes, even the egg.

Then the hot: cheesy beans (YESSSS), tofu scramble that I found a little sloppy (I like mine very well done), and amazing sautéed potatoes with bacon/ham bits. The voice of the Omni: "I'm going back for thirds of these potatoes".

And finally we got our paws on the last round of waffles and doughnuts. I found the waffles a bit weird - maybe lacking sweetness? Loved the doughnuts though. The voice of the Omni: "Only vegans would enjoy these desserts". Oh well.

That night we went to see the Tiger Lillies at the Tipi Am Kanzleramt. The venue is amazing: a series of circus tents in the Tiergarten. Very well heated. All red velvet, fairy lights, bustling waiters, and cabaret-style tables.

I'd phoned in advance to ask about vegan food options, and was amazed that a) the nice lady was patient with my German and b) she wasn't remotely taken aback by the fact that I wanted vegan food. She booked me a three-course vegan meal which turned out to be delicious.

No photos of the starter, which was a tasty herby soup with croûtons. Here's the main: breaded smoked tofu, crunchy vegetables in coconut milk, potato croquettes. The whole lot bathed in atmospheric cabaret lighting...

And pudding: blackcurrant sorbet, redcurrants, and a fabulous vanilla-flavoured apple compôte.

Wandering around Friedrichshain the next day, wondering if I could make Omni eat a Vöner, we chanced upon Zeus pizzeria.

And how lucky we were! They do vegan versions of most of their pizzas. We went for a great big vegan Pikant. Perfect crispy base, tasty tomato sauce, vegan cheese, peperoni, and jalapenos. My first cheesy vegan pizza. Not sure I can cope with the Paris-standard végétarienne sans fromage after this delight.

The voice of the omni: "This is amazing", "I never thought vegan pizza could be so good", "This is the best pizza I've had for ages: vegan or not".

Do I look like a vegan?

Oh, and definitely go to the Sammlung Boros next time you're in Berlin. Extraordinary contemporary art in a bunker, including art that you can eat.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Le Pas-Sage Obligé

This is what became of the Victoire Suprême du Coeur. Some of the team are the same as at the old vegetarian restaurant, and even a little bit of the food is the same.

Other parts of the team and recipes seem to be going strong at Saveurs Végét'halles, another location that the Victoire used to have. The Paris vegetarian scene is a little incestuous.

The big difference is that le Pas-Sagé Obligé also serves meat. On the plus side, you'll be able to eat here with dining partners reluctant to eat a meal without animals, on the downside, there's foie gras on the menu.

Pictured badly above is the main reason I like to eat at the Pas-Sage Obligé: the killer veggie burger. Atop half a muffin sit a big daub of home-made tapenade (mind the stones), a whacking great slab of really gorgeous seitan, and a hash brown. 

There are other vegan options too, but for me this is the finest veggie burger patty in Paris. If you're feeling really indulgent, start with the gorgeous, greasy onion bhajis too.

A word of warning: there's currently a tagine on the menu which is marked as vegan but also listed as containing honey...

Le Pas-Sage Obligé

29 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg
Métro: Hôtel de Ville (lines 1 and 11) or Saint Paul (line 1).

Monday, 4 March 2013

"I've got a bottle of amazing olive oil" pasta

I recently acquired a bottle of my favourite olive oil in the world, Nuñez de Prado.

This stuff is magic. It makes magic mashed potatoes with garlic. It's magic drizzled on toast. It's magic with pasta.

I was starting to feel a little bit guilty about taking a carbohydrate, pouring Nuñez de Prado on it, and calling it lunch. I needed green! One of the best places to go for green is rocket. So for lunch today, I took a carbohydrate, poured Nuñez de Prado on it, and added green. Much healthier, right?

To serve one, you will need:

100g long thin pasta of your choice
3 big handfuls rocket (arugula)
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 pinch red chili flakes
1.5 Tbsp best ever olive oil
Salt, pepper

What to do:

1. Cook the pasta in salted water until almost done. Meanwhile, chop the garlic roughly. When the pasta is almost cooked, toss in the rocket and allow to wilt for 30 seconds.

2. Drain, but not too thoroughly: some water clinging to the pasta is a good thing.

3. Return the pasta and rocket to the pan over a medium heat. Throw in the garlic, chili flakes, and olive oil.

4. Poke it around quite vigorously over the heat for one to two minutes. You're trying to get the olive oil and the clingy water to make friends.

Serve with salt and pepper (and nutritional yeast if you're a level 5 vegan like me).