Day 217: Manna

Hello my darlings.

What began as a blog about becoming a vegetarian has slowly morphed into a place where I share so many different aspects of the life of The Silly Asparagus. Soon, I want to tell you about non-veggie related things, such as work experience and graduation. So today, I want to make this post about the veggies.

On Friday, I ate at my first vegetarian restaurant. And wow, was it impressive. I thought I would review it and encourage you all to go.

Where: Manna. Vegetarian Restaurant. 4 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, London, NW3 3AJ.

First, I’ll talk you through the food. I’ll then tell you all the little details you should know. I went to the restaurant with Mr. Carnivore. I promise I wasn’t eating two dishes per course! Most of the dishes are also suitable for vegans. I’ll add a ‘(v)’ to the dish name if it is vegan-friendly. Apologies that the images aren’t great, but I only had my low-battery phone on me. The food looks a lot more appetising in reality…

To begin…

Organic Hummus and Bread (v)
Considering I have been veggie for over seven months, it may be hard to believe that this was my first experience of hummus. It was really, really good and the bread was fresher than fresh.

Starters… 

Savoury Basil Pancakes (v)
‘A tangy gram and basil pancake filled with a tamari and garlic smoky bean curd, mushrooms and garden peas.’ These were very soft and very delicious.

Basil and Cashew Cheese Croquettes (v)
‘Basil and cashew cheese croquettes served on a bed of watercress and pea sprouts, with homemade chilli jam’. Amazing, especially the chilli jam.

Mains… Mr. Carnivore and The Silly Asparagus both opted for the specials, which you won’t find on the menu.

Pasta in a creamy white wine sauce, with cherry tomatoes and broccoli.

Spinach, courgette and garlic pie. Accompanied by a pea puree.

A side of seasonal mash and gravy (v).

 Dessert…

Lemon Cheesecake (v)
‘Lemon cheesecake, served with stem ginger vegan ice cream’. The cheesecake was delicious, but it was the ice cream that stole the show. The ginger flavouring was so prominent and spicy. It seemed that some smart taste technology had been used to create it.

What you need to know…
  • It isn’t cheap. If you’re eating on a smaller budget, try elsewhere. The meal above, for two diners, cost just under £80. I feel it was worth every penny. However, a can of (organic) coke will set you back £3.
  • This is a vegetarian restaurant. They do not serve any meat at all.
  • The choice is brilliant and the dishes contain so much detail. Because of this, meat-eaters should not be put off. Try it!
  • So many of the dishes are suitable for vegans. There is also a great gluten-free variety.
  • BOOK! The restaurant is extremely popular. Unless you make reservations in advance, you are unlikely to get a table here.
Talk to you soon.
With Love,
The Silly Asparagus
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Day 126: Pat-a-cake…

Over the weekend, The Silly Asparagus finally spent longer than five minutes in the kitchen. Before you get excited, I did not cook a vegetarian banquet.  Instead, I baked around 40 cupcakes for the birthday of Uncle Asparagus.  The cupcakes turned out well.  I did not take a lot of photos of them though, as I feel they could have been decorated better.  I definitely found some cute candles though…

Cupcakes are one of the most simple things to bake, and they are definitely still having a moment.  Until I went to university, I thought it was impossible to make a bad one.  I was wrong.  During my time in halls, people would make cakes and leave lovely signs that read ‘EAT ME’.  These signs should have said: ‘DO NOT EAT’, or ‘EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK’. These darling cakes will not go wrong if you follow my recipe:

To make 12 cakes, you will need:    

115g Unsalted butter                                                                                                         115g Caster sugar (sifted)                                                                                                 115g Self-raising flour                                                                                                              2 eggs (make sure they are free-range)                                                                                  2 teaspoons Vanilla extract                                                                                            Splash of milk

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350) Gas 4.
  • Once butter has softened, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl, until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in.
  • Stir in the vanilla extract and milk.
  • Spoon the mixture into cake cases.
  • Bake in the preheated oven, for around 15minutes.
  • Allow cakes to cool before decorating them.

For the vanilla buttercream:

85g unsalted butter (at room temperature)                                                                       225g icing sugar (sifted)                                                                                                          1 tablespoon milk                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon vanilla extract                                                                                                 Food colouring of your choice                                                                                       Choice of decoration, e.g. sprinkles

  • Put the butter in a bowl and beat until creamy.
  • Gradually beat in the sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add drops of food colouring until you have reached the desired colour.
  • Mix well.
  • Swirl the icing on top of the cupcakes, or pipe it on.
  • Decorate.

Unfortunately, this recipe is not suitable for vegans or those watching their waistlines.  If you are looking for a British touch to add to your cupcakes, I would recommend these paper cases (from Sainsbury’s).

If you prefer to buy your cakes, visit Candy Cakes (http://www.candycakes.com/).  There are four Candy Cakes outlets in London, and their flagship is in Windsor.  If you can’t get to one of their bakeries, they deliver to anywhere in London.  Their cakes are delicious and their window displays aren’t too shabby either:

As a lot of Candy Cakes have sweets on the top, make sure you check which ones are suitable for veggies!

I hope you have enjoyed today’s visual feast.

With love,

The Silly Asparagus.