Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

03/05/2009

An unexpected vegan treat

Filed under: Eating out — Tags: , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 09:21

Inside M Manze, Bermondsey

Inside M Manze, Bermondsey

The London Randomness Guide threw me an irresistible option yesterday – something so intriguing that I couldn’t not try it. It told me of Manze’s pie and mash shops. Now, pie and mash is a very traditional food among the white working class of London, and is essentially what you think it is: a meat pie served with mashed potato and either liquor (a non-dairy parsley sauce) or gravy, and the only other things pie and mash shops tend to sell is eels, either stewed or jellied. So, nothing much there for the vegan, right? Well, according to the Randomness description of M. Manze:

Vegetarian pies are available, but there’s a 10-minute wait while they heat one up. According to the Manze’s website, the vegetarian pies, the mash, and the liquor are all suitable for vegans.

The website also mentions that the gravy is suitable for vegetarians. It was a no-brainer, and soon I found myself, and two meat-eating companions, on a bus heading down Tower Bridge Road. The shop is exquisite, with tiles, and marble table tops, with the only change in the last 80 years or so being the sympathetic addition of some stainless steel surfaces in the food serving area. Manze is no dodgy establishment, and they pride themselves on keeping up with all modern hygiene standards, and even some up-to-date ingredients, whilst maintaining a traditional atmosphere and flavour.

I ordered the one vegetarian pie, one mash and one liquor, plus sarsaparilla to drink. The food only took five minutes, if that, and this is what I got:

Vegan pie and mash, with liquor.

Vegan pie and mash, with liquor.

Now, I’m not from London, but I’m from a working class background, and that just says to me “food”. One of the others, of more refined origin, opined that it resembled school dinners. Obviously private schools have better dinners than we did! We all tucked in, and none of us was disappointed. The veggie pies are made with a soya-based mince to resemble the meaty ones as closely as possible – none of those effete vegetables here. The pastry was a little tough at the edges (does chewing it count as exercise?), but the mash was made of potatoes – real ones, that tasted of something – and nothing else. The liquor was interesting, mildly herby and was really good with the potato. This is the only recipe I’ve found so far, with a very superficial search, and making that vegan will be trivial.

Overall, I never expected to find food like this in a vegan form, especially not in such a traditional shop, and it was solid comfort food that kept us going all day whilst touristing around London, and it was a joy to eat. I’ll be back on my next visit, and I’m only waiting that long because the shop’s not open until after I get home (Sundays and bank holidays being in the way).

M. Manze Pie and Mash shop, 87 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 4TW. Open lunchtime only, Mon-Sat. Closed Sundays and bank holidays.

29/07/2008

Lavender scones

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 14:51

This recipe is based on one published in The Week, which is a weekly round-up of the best of the UK newspapers. In turn, they got it from the Daily Telegraph, who say theirs is the recipe used by the café at the Chelsea Physic Garden. It didn’t take much to veganise it.

250g (approx ¾cup) self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g sugar (originally caster sugar, but any fine sugar will do)
1 level tsp lavender flowers [*]
110g (approx ½ cup) vegan margarine
2 tbl lemon juice
up to 280ml (1¼ cups) soya milk [**]

Preheat your oven to 160°C/gas mark 3.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and rub in the margarine until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the lemon juice and enough milk to make a somewhat wet dough.

Turn it out onto a really well-floured board and knead briefly. It needs to be dry enough to work with, but still moist inside. Shape it into a flattish circle and cut out your scone shapes. Place on a baking tray (I found it easier to keep the dough in the cutter whilst transferring) and bake for between 12 and 20 minutes, depending on your flour, your oven and the phase of the moon.

Leave to cool on a wire rack if you can leave them that long. Makes about a dozen.

Notes:
[*] It is apparently very important to use English Lavender (lavendula officinalis) rather than French Lavender (lavendula stoechas), as the article claims the latter is toxic. I have not been able to Google up any more information on that, and the stuff I used was grown in France, and I’m not dead yet!

[**] The amount of soya milk needed will vary wildly, and wholemeal flour needs a lot less than white.

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