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 123: 4 Month Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to me!  I have now been a vegetarian for four months!

The Silly Asparagus has been far too busy to blog over the past week — apologies for my absence.  I have been eating out a lot over the past ten days.  I will now share three of my outings with you…

I have been to Nando’s twice in my life.  You can read all about my first experience here: http://wp.me/p21TV4-2i.  I have little to add to my initial views of the place.  I had the bean burger with mash again.  However, I did try something new: halloumi.  I hadn’t tried halloumi before, but veggies seem to get very excited about the rubbery cheese. I really enjoyed it, unfortunately my skin did not.  Eating certain cheeses causes my skin to breakout.  Cheese triangles are the biggest culprit — this is most unfortunate, because I adore them.

It was a week of seconds, as I made my second trip to another restaurant: Crazy Bear, in Beaconsfield (http://crazybeargroup.co.uk/beaconsfield/).  Crazy Bear has four restaurants: English, Thai, Italian and Japanese (opening in May).  The Silly Asparagus ate at the Thai restaurant.  Crazy Bear offers a set ten or twelve course menu.  A majority of the dishes contain meat, but can be altered to be suitable for vegetarians.  However, courses are put on the table and shared.  As the only vegetarian out of eight diners, it was inconvenient to ask for vegetarian dishes.  Thus, I ate a lot of rice and crackers!  I would not recommend Crazy Bear for vegetarians, if you are dining with a lot of carnivores.  If you are only eating with a few others though, it would be quite easy for Crazy Bear to fill your veggie needs.  For Thai-loving carnivores, Crazy Bear is a a delight.  I do not feel disappointed at what I ate — before turning veggie, the only Thai I ate was chicken satay.  I would not have gone anywhere near venison or the black cod that they had to offer. Dessert arrived, beautifully presented.  I’m not certain as to what it was, it resembled a panna cotta / cheesecake / jelly.  I was instantly suspicious of the creamy pud.  The chef confirmed my suspicions: ‘not suitable for vegetarians’.  After four months, I am getting good at spotting non-veggie food.  I was given sorbet instead.  MY GOODNESS, the sorbet was a mango, lychee, strawberry-infused heaven!

My final food adventure for today’s blog took place in Windsor.  After taking a look around the mighty Windsor castle, it was time for lunch.  Papa, Mother and Baby Asparagus ate at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen (http://www.gbk.co.uk/).  I hadn’t heard of the place before, but there are at least 60 in England.  I had a very yummy bean burger with super skinny fries (oh, the irony!).  My meal was delicious.  I do feel that it that it was over-priced though. Everything is an extra, including the chips and sauces!

“You can see the best sights in the world, but the eating is the best part of the day”.  Father Asparagus, Windsor, 2012.

With Love,

The Chubby Asparagus

Day 109: Ich bin ein Spargel

Hello.

Today is partly a confessional and I hope that you will be understanding.  Since becoming a vegetarian, I have been tempted to eat meat 4 out of 109 days (only tempted)…

Those four days were during my time in Berlin, about three weeks ago.  Before turning vegetarian, hotdogs were one of my favourite foods.  I quite simply loved them.  I would go to the cinema, mainly for the hotdog and not for the film.  I would slice frankfurters and sprinkle them on pasta.  I would have hotdogs on the BBQ.  Considering I am fussy, it was a weird food for me to like anyway — goodness knows what sort of meat they are made from.

Anyway, Germany is home to the sausage.  You can buy a coffee and a bratwurst / frankfurter for €1!  I ended up with a bratwurst in my hand.  Mr. Carnivore bought us one each on our third day.  A kind German man even covered it in ketchup for me…

So, I was about to eat this rather amusing looking food, but I just couldn’t do it.  No matter how much I used to love them, I am now a vegetarian and they are off the menu.  To his delight, Mr. Carnivore ended up with two.  The asparagus won.

I loved Berlin.  If you are looking for a cheap city break then I would recommend it.  When I went to Paris, I paid €7 for a Diet Coke.  In Berlin, you can get drinks from as little as 45¢!

Here are some more photos of the German food journey…

Standard airport breakfast…

Airport breakfast

Playing it safe with a pizza Margherita.

Dunkin' Donuts are everywhere in Berlin!

I adore the Hard Rock Cafe and the one in Berlin was no disappointment. As a starter Mr. Carnivore and I shared potato skins. Half had bacon on and the other half were without.

I had never seen whipped cream in soup until this trip...

Ich liebe dich, Berlin.

I hope you are impressed that I managed a post about sausages without making any puns.  Keeping it classy.

With love

The Chubby Asparagus.

Day Nintendo64: A Beginner’s Guide to Nando’s.

Looks like I’ve got the blogging bug back again!

A few weeks ago, for a friend’s 21st, I found myself at Nando’s for the first time.  I have purposefully avoided Nando’s in the past.  After hearing Example and Ed Sheeran’s ‘Nando’s skank’ over a year ago, I decided it was not the place for me.  If you haven’t heard it, I have posted a link to the video at the end of this post.  It is witty and terribly catchy.  The trouble is, the video caused Nando’s hysteria.  I started to imagine it as the place where adolescent boys would eat extremely hot chicken, in an attempt to impress the ladies.  Then the teenagers would make lots of noise as they turned scarlet and cried for water.  I am not going to say that I am wrong, but I have been harsh. Nando’s is actually some-kind-of-heaven.

I have been told that I have not lost my ‘Nando’s virginity’ because I am a vegetarian and did not try the chicken.  Apologies, but I brought food from the place and I ate it.  I have therefore popped my ‘Nando’s cherry’.  I do feel like a slight failure of a vegetarian though, because I didn’t try the halloumi.  Ooops!  I did have a Bean Burger Pitta and some mashed potato.  It was all very yummy.

For those of you who haven’t been before, I have created a guide for you.  Having become accustomed to fine establishments such as The Ivy, I really wish someone had told me these things…

1) Firstly, only go to Nando’s if you enjoy chicken or vegetarian food.  The choice for veggies and those who are passionate about poultry is really, really good.  The choice for red-meat fanatics is non-existent.

2) You will have to wait for a table.  You will have to wait near a breezy entrance and you will be surrounded by peasants.  Just keep calm.

3) A waiter will put a cock on your table.  Try not to laugh.  He takes the cock(erel) away once your food arrives.

4) Go to the bar and order for yourself (or get your friend to do it for you).  Nando’s staff will not come and take your order.

5) Do not wear a pencil skirt or 7″ velvet platform heels.  Especially do not wear this combination together.  At Nando’s, you get your own drinks.  The peasants will stare. You do not want to look like Kate Middleton arriving at McDonald’s in Erdem, darhhhling!

6) Do pretend that you are a celebrity and demand a black card.  Actually, I was very surprised at how reasonably priced the food is.  So, if you aren’t given a black card, don’t fret.

Well, that’s all from the Silly Asparagus today.  Please let me know about your own Nando’s experiences.  The link to the ‘Nando’s Skank’ is below.

Bye bye. x

*Disclaimer: This video is not mine, nor is the song.  Example’s hair has nothing to do with me either.*

Day 7: You’re having a giraffe!

Sunday seemed like the perfect day for an asparagus adventure.  After going to see Arthur 3D at the cinema, it was time for lunch.  Eating at restaurants can either be an enjoyable experience for me, or a very, very miserable one — a lot depends on my then-relationship with food.  I didn’t hold out much hope for today — as well as being a seven-day old vegetarian, I am also being a fusspot when it comes to counting calories, carbs and naughty fats.  This is where I allow you to say, “Get a salad, eat it, shut-up”.  The trouble is ladies and gents, I hate loathe lettuce.  Lettuce sits on the ‘cannot eat’ shelf, alongside cucumber, melon and a few other things.  The watery texture is so unpleasant.

This is where I stop moaning.  The food gods answered my prayers with…

I had never been to Giraffe before, but I will definitely return.  I began with a delicious and nutritious smoothie.  The ‘Hippy Hippy Shake’ contains pineapple, passion fruit, mango, banana, pomegranate juice and a giraffe’s head.  So far, so good.

It was judgement day, the meals had arrived.  ‘Mr. Carnivore’ boyfriend opened his steak-sandwich with slight disappointment.  You had to search for the steak beneath mounds of onions, tomatoes and lettuce (see, I told you that lettuce was the devil!).  I, on the other hand, was overwhelmed with yummy grub.  Drumroll please, as I introduce to you the Vegetarian Brunch…

Mr. Carnivore dealt with the bread and the mushrooms (another texture that gives me shivers).  I have never met an avocado before, but he has an odd squishy texture too, which unfortunately means we can not possibly be friends.  At least I was a good asparagus and tried it though.  Every thing else was ridiculously scrummy.  I recommend Giraffe to you all!  It was busy, but service came promptly and with a smile!  I can’t complain about their reasonable prices either.

I left a very happy customer.

Oh, and look!  The rather darling giraffe somehow found its way in to my bag and all the way home ;).

Have a happy Monday,

with love,

the asparagus and her very cheeky giraffe.

PS: Arthur is a very funny film for those looking for some festive cheer.