Day 27: Vegans who brunch

It’s the weekend – and that means a lazy start and a big beautiful brunch!

This morning we were chez Jones in Stepney, and so we took ourselves off to a place that we’ve been meaning to try since we started Veganuary: a vegan/vegetarian cafe called 90 Degree Melt. I was after a grilled ‘cheese’ sandwich, but there were none on the brunch menu… that didn’t stop us pigging out on lots of tasty treats, though!

I was briefly tempted by their mushrooms on toast, but then, greedy nombag that I am, decided to go for one of the ‘big plates’ instead, and ordered the ‘Vegan Chili with Fried Sausages & Potatoes Skillet’. Si had tofu shakshuka, which was richly flavoured and was sprinkled with pomegranate seeds – a surprising but very yummy twist!

My meal was also surprising – the ‘chilli’ was more like a ratatouille, packed with veg but with added kidney beans and chickpeas. This was served with a handful of soft, warm tater tots, a couple of vegan sausages (a bit soft and certainly not ‘meaty’, but tasty), and two BIG pieces of crusty toasted bread. Get that in your tummy and tell me you don’t need a nap!

One thing Si and I both agreed on while eating was that veganism has really opened our eyes to how interesting food can be. Because the ingredients are often simpler, to compensate you need to really layer flavours, resulting in delicious and very satisfying meals. We’re often also served far more, and more varied, veg than we would with an omnivorous meal – contrast my gorgeous chilli with the baked beans and (maybe) mushrooms that you would typically be served with a conventional fry-up, for example. We are eating a lot this month, but I’m sure we’re eating more healthily, and ticking off more of our 5-a-day!

For most of the rest of the day we were out walking, doing a bit of Jack the Ripper history in a self-guided tour around Whitechapel. It was freezy and raining but we had a great time – my only regret was that we couldn’t find a vegan-friendly hot chocolate to help me thaw out afterwards; that’s what I was really craving, but you rarely find one easily available on a market stall! When we got in, though, Si had a go at making a home-made one, using hazelnut milk, cocoa, and agave syrup. It was lovely – not too sweet, and maybe not entirely smooth, but just what the doctor ordered.

Once we had warmed up, Si whipped up a lovely creamy pasta bake using chickpea flour, nutritonal yeast, and parsley, plus lots of mushrooms. This we wolfed down before heading out to the Waterloo Vaults to see my friend Dave’s show – a really cool and thought-provoking piece blending all 16 of Shakespeare’s plays, his Sonnets, and the music of Kate Bush. It sounds weird written down, and it was weird, but it was absolutely brilliant.

We met Dave for a drink and a catch-up afterwards, in a fabulous cocktail bar that we will absolutely have to return too once we’re back off the wagon… that said, Dave was tired and drinking only water, so it didn’t feel too wrong to be sipping lemonade as we exchanged news and talked about the show. Talking to him and his castmates about Dry January, though, we all agreed that it’s amazing how unthinkingly we associate alcohol with having a good night out or with socialising.

Today I ate/drank…

  • Tea with almond milk
  • Vegan brunch skillet
  • Fanta – in a glass bottle, fancy schmancy! I’ve never seen that before…
  • Half an onion bhaji and the remaining stuffed vine leaf from yesterday’s lunch, shared while Si made dinner
  • ‘Hot chocolate’ made from hazelnut milk, agave syrup, and cocoa.
  • Creamy pasta bake with mushrooms
  • Apple and mango squash
  • Lemonade
  • Caramel rice cakes, nommed chez moi as we were putting the breadmaker on before bed

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