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 141: ‘Kreativ Blogger’

Hello darlings.

Sorry that I have abandoned you for a while.  Deadlines are fast approaching and I didn’t plan on writing any new posts until all my work has been handed in.  However, today someone passed me a Kreativ Blogger award.  That someone is Becky, from http://veghotpot.wordpress.com/ and I wanted to say thank-you.  I really enjoy reading veghotpot and it is filled with some brilliant veggie and vegan recipes that I must try, especially all the chocolate related ones.  It also has some lovely restaurant reviews (through reading these, I discovered that we must live fairly close to one another).

The Kreativ Blogger award is to encourage people with their blogs and to let them know that the blog is being read and appreciated by others.  There are rules to the award, which makes it seem similar to a chain email.  However, I would love to share some wordpress blogs with you.

So here are the rules (feel free to break them):

  • Thank the nominating blogger and provide a link to that blog.
  • Spread the love by nominating seven other bloggers, including their links here.
  • Tell your readers seven things they may not already know about you.

Seven things about myself:

1) When I was about five, I won a talent competition in Tunisia for my rendition of a rhyme about rabbits.  I don’t think this poem exists anymore, as I was unable to find you a copy.

2) I chose ‘Ursula’ as my confirmation name.  After the saint, not the sea witch from the Little Mermaid.

3) My favourite film is Pulp Fiction.  Combine this with my love of nail polish and you will find that Uma Thurman wears Chanel no.18 ‘Rouge Noir’ on her nails for the film.  (Some argue that she wears the ‘Vamp’ shade).

4) As an English literature student, I couldn’t possibly pick my favourite book.  Thomas Hardy and Sylvia Plath win my award for poetry.

5) I think that wearing ball gowns and tutus should be acceptable every day behaviour.  Yes, I want to go to the supermarket wearing Vera Wang gowns.  Elie Saab would suffice.  Ditto Valentino Haute Couture.

6) Writing on each side of a piece of paper makes me feel nervous and ill.  I will avoid doing so at all costs.

7) Frank Ocean’s voice completes my life. If you want specifics, listen to ‘Acura Integurl’.

Blogs I nominate:

1) http://bariatricbeginnings.com/  My reason for choosing this blog is that it is incredibly well written and funny.  The title summarises what the site is about.  The blogger has found blogging to be a form of therapy, as they share their journey to a healthier life. Bariatric beginnings talks about things such as weight loss and depression.

2) http://foodimentary.com/  I love this blog because it provides the history behind popular dishes such as eggs benedict. Today (18th April), he is celebrating National Animal Cracker day and there are some great images.

3) http://merrylittleworld.wordpress.com/  A simple, but relevant fashion . lifestyle blog.

4) http://hungrycupcakes.wordpress.com/ The title says it all!

5) http://morethangreens.wordpress.com/ Quote: “There’s so much more to vegetarianism than rabbit food”.

6) http://domesticdivamd.com/ Providing the world with recipes and humour.

7) http://2busybrunettes.com/ Some very original arts and crafts ideas.

For my UK readers, some of the blogs above are American.  This means that recipes can be confusing (we don’t use the ‘one cup of…’ measurements).  But, they still make a great read.

That’s it from me today.

Blog Love,

The award-winning Asparagus.

Day 129: Dairy Débâcle

Hello darling.

If you haven’t guessed from the title, this post is about dairy.  Last summer, whilst on a diet, my skin became quite bad.  Through a process of elimination, I realised that it was milk and certain cheese that angered my face.  After cutting out these products, my skin showed an instant improvement.

My findings were strengthened in Elle UK.  The April issue of Elle features a brilliant article about dairy products, ‘Truth About Dairy’. There are so many quotes I would love to share with you, but that will have to wait until I get my copy back — I left it at university and Elle May is now gracing the shelves.

What the article outlines are the reasons that cow’s milk is unsuitable for humans.  I am not a scientist, but the general gist is that a lot of humans do not have enough of the enzyme, lactase.  Lactase is needed to breakdown lactose (the sugar found in dairy).  Approximately 70% of people show some degree of lactose intolerance (it does not have to be severe).

Since January, my diet has not been particularly healthy.  It is time to replace my love of bagels for breakfast, with Weetabix again.  Ah, but what to pour over them asked Goldilocks?

Soya milk? Too typical.

Rice milk? Too high in carbohydrates.

Almond milk? Just right!

I very much enjoyed my first encounter with almond milk today.  It’s slightly sweeter than cow’s milk, which is great because I no longer need to cover my Weetabix in sugar (The Silly Asparagus has a very sweet tooth).

Almond milk is suitable for vegans and high in antioxidants.  Other benefits include being lower in fat and calories than semi-skimmed milk.

If you are anything like Mother Asparagus, you will start defending cow’s milk.  What about calcium? Almond matches semi-skimmed to the milligram when it comes to calcium.  Foods like sesame seeds and nuts contain more calcium than cow’s milk.  Okay, B12? Eggs contain more B12 than cow’s milk.  If you are a peschatarian, clams and mackerel are extremely high in B12.  Protein?  Pumpkin, squash, nuts and cheese are just some of the products that have higher protein levels than milk.  For Vitamin C, think peppers, broccoli, kiwi and orange.

I have not even reached the ethical questions that surround the treatment of animals in the dairy industry.  I won’t discuss ethics now.  However, I remember vegan tutor (learn more about him here: https://sillyasparagus.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/day-4-im-spartacus/) shuddering over dairy, stating that “The dairy industry is even crueller than the meat industry”.

Well, I hope that has given you some food for thought.  Time to get back to my Weetabix.

The Silly Asparagus

Day 4: “I’m Spartacus”

Yesterday, I would have made Stanley Kubrick proud.  I managed to turn my English seminar in to a vegetarian version of the famous Spartacus scene.

A conversation with a friend, about my new-found vegetarianism, was overheard by another girl in my class.  It so happens that she has vegetarian parents and has always been one herself.  My seminar tutor came in from a break and wanted to know what we were discussing.  Guess what?  He revealed that he is a vegan!  He asked the class about their eating habits, cue the “I’m Spartacus” moment.  In a room of eleven people, there were two vegans, three vegetarians and a partridge in a pear tree.  Oops, Christmas is on the brain, I’ll try that again: two vegans, three vegetarians and an ‘ex-vegetarian’.  The ‘ex-vegetarian’ was a veggie for three years before returning to her meat-eating ways.  She couldn’t find her reasons for being a vegetarian and stopped.

Our tutor became a vegan at the age of 18, because of political reasons (I will cover these in a later post).  The carnivores of the class tried to use bacon as an argument, describing the mouth-watering smell and taste.  The basic idea seemed to be that a life without bacon was not a life worth living.  However, vegan tutor (he does have a real name) came to the rescue.  Apparently, being a vegan has made him a fantastic cook.  He can not saunter in to a  supermarket and pick up any old thing.  He has to put effort in to his cooking.  Vegan tutor feels that Jack’s meaty lasagna (yes, I have a classmate who combines 400g of mince with 400g of bacon to create his lasagna!)  would be no match for his delicious vegan chocolate cake.

Vegan tutor will not eat honey, because the bees are not wild (wild honey could be an exception).  He researches the jeans he buys to ensure that the factories they are made in do not use animal fat in the process.  However, he admits to having two vices: the first is Guinness (suitable for vegetarians, but not vegans).  The second is smoking (which is tested on animals).

What this has confirmed for me is that there are no strict guidelines or rules that I have to follow to be a vegetarian.  I do not eat any meat, fish or gelatin(e) / rennet products, therefore I am a vegetarian.  Sure, everyone will have their own views on what makes a vegetarian a vegetarian or a vegan a vegan.  As I learn more, I can adapt my lifestyle in the ways I deem fit. 

I would just like to thank those who have been supportive and have been providing me with great advice.  I really appreciate it. 

Sunday’s post should be a good ‘un as I try to tackle fashion.

With love,

the simply silly asparagus.