Today, a new challenge: I was out of town for work again, and the people I was meeting had arranged for us all to go to the pub for lunch before our site visit. I was very much looking forward to it, but also a little apprehensive that there might not be much for vegans on the menu – it would be awkward if I opted out of eating altogether, and I didn’t want to be ‘that person’ pulling the menu apart – so, to calm my worries, I resolved that I’d be vegetarian for the day if necessary, but wouldn’t take the mick by ordering anything with cheese etc on it.
As it happened, I was half right and half wrong – there really wasn’t anything specifically vegan on offer, even though the menu itself was pretty extensive – were I in omnivorous mode, there were so many things I would have loved! Fortunately the other people were in light bite mode, so I didn’t have to interrogate the only possibly vegan option (a cauli tikka masala) and instead had a nosy at the sandwiches. Not one vegan option there either! Cheese, coleslaw, brie and bacon (how I lingered longingly over that latter option)… but nothing vegan friendly. At last I had a skim of the jacket potatoes, and thank goodness there was the option to have one with baked beans. Assuming that, with beans, they wouldn’t also lace the spud with butter, I decided that this was my safest option and ordered – though goodness, it felt like a real wrench not to ask for grated cheese on top too.
It’s funny – almost a week in, and I’m really not struggling with missing meat at all, but I am still working on my cheese cravings – whenever I’m hungry, the first thing I think is ‘ooh, I’ll get myself a finger of cheese’, fancing a nice salty bit of feta or a sharp cheddar – but no, not for another few weeks!
The potato arrived with butter on the side, which I didn’t use, and a small bit of salad (leaves, sliced peppers). It was fine, filling and warm, though did feel a bit plain and anticlimatic – how I drooled over the luscious smell of the brie and bacon sandwich that the person next to me had ordered. Vegan food can be so much better than this – come on, pub, get with the future!
As I travelled home, it did strike me that not all baked beans are vegan friendly, so it’s possible that my lunch hadn’t actually been a sensible choice after all – but shush, conscience, there’s no way to know and I did my best.
Back in the flat, I did find myself fancying a nice cold glass of white wine – it’s been a busy day of travelling and walking, and it would definitely have hit the spot! – but fizzy squash helped knock the edge off that. I was starving again too – turns out a spud isn’t enough food! – so had a slice of bread with spread and a thinly sliced raw mushroom while I waited for Jones to come home. I was super-excited for dinner, as we were returning to our beloved Japanese repertoire and making vegan ramen!
We had already bought the noodles and broth flavouring at the Japan Centre last weekend, so all that was left to do was sort the toppings. I was in charge of chopping up all the veg, finely shredding cabbage and cauliflower leaves, and breaking florets of cauliflower and broccoli into little pieces. We also added spinach, sweetcorn, and onion – delicious!
Meanwhile, Si was busy making us a substitute for the softboiled egg that normally tops a bowl of ramen. Last night he had chopped a big mushroom in half, taken out the stalk, and left both pieces to marinade in a mixture of soy sauce, chilli, and five spice. He then cooked down the stalks with some more chopped mushrooms and blitzed them in the food processor to make a soft ‘yolk’ – this tasted of such concentrated mushroom, it was absolutely heavenly. I would eat it spread on toast – heck, I would eat it with a spoon!
Time to assemble the ramen, heaping in the veg, carefully placing the marinaded mushroom (filled with a generous dollop of ‘yolk’) on top of the noodles, and sprinkling everything with ‘seven spice chilli powder, seaweed flakes, toasted black sesame seeds, and finely-sliced spring onion. It was so good! The broth was rich and savoury and how I love the mix of textures you get from all the vegetables. Good job slurping your noodles is considered good manners in Japan, cos I was wolfing that down! Pudding was another Alpro dessert, and some more corn and oat biscuits whipped up by Le Jones – I could get used to this… 😉
Tonight also marked the first taste of our ‘fake gin’ (a juniper syrup made on the hob), which had settled into an intriguing yellow liquid – we mixed a shot of this with tonic water (and ice and lemon, of course!) – and you know what, it really did taste like a bitter-sweet gin. You may not get the lovely fuzzy feeling that comes with two or three G&Ts, but taste-wise it is spot on – that should keep the cravings at bay for the rest of the month! And it’s nice too to have a ‘grown-up’ drink to enjoy with dinner, rather than endless glasses of fizzy squash…
Today I ate/drank
- Tea with almond milk
- Hula hoops and Coke zero (standard train breakfast!)
- Jacket potato with beans
- Bread and spread with a raw mushroom
- Fizzy squash
- Vegan ramen with cauliflower, broccoli, sweetcorn, onion, spinach, shredded cabbage and cauliflower leaves, seven spice, sesame seeds, seaweed spring onion, thinly sliced garlic, and a mushroom ‘egg’
- Fake gin and tonic
- Alpro pudding
- Corn and oat biscuits
- Brie and bacon
- Nice sharp cheddar
- Cold white wine