Over the course of January I’ve realised that I’ve subconsciously made a pretty big new years resolution. I’ve been aiming to cut out plastic. For a while now I’ve been thinking about how much unnecessary plastic we have in our lives. From the food we eat to the things we buys, in 2018 there’s just no need for it. Zero waste is a growing movement and there are so many fantastic alternatives to discover so I’m taking streps to live more environmentally consciously, reduce waste and to shop smartly.
Pizza Union is becoming a bit of a London institution. I’ve heard loads of people talk about it, I’ve heard rave reviews of pizza goodness and seen a far few pizzas consumed on my way out of the Studio in Aldgate.
So when Adam and I finished work on Thursday and headed to Kings Cross to hop on the train to Newcastle we thought we’d pop into Pizza Union, Kings Cross for a bite before the ride.
It’s a bit like the set up at Nandos, you pay for what you fancy then take a seat. There’s no service, so it’s fuss free. It was pretty busy with people meeting friends and catching up and those, like us scoffing down a pizza before a train journey. Suitcases, luggage bags and packages in-toe. We were those people with lots of luggage, struggling to navigate the space available, haha.
We chose veggie options (obviously) with Adam opting for a florentina with egg and I chose a veggie mixture that I fail to remember the name of (We’ll have to go back again to find out!) We ordered, took a seat and went to claim our pizza, Argos style when our table buzzer was buzzing. It was pretty quick considering how busy it was, only about 10 minutes or so.
The pizzas arrived and we’d worried we hadn’t ordered enough, Pizza Union don’t do chips, much to Adam’s distress but despite each pizza being super super thin, they were very filling, we didn’t need a side salad and whilst Adam protests that we needed chips, we really didn’t. The pizza was the perfect portion.
Whilst mine was a little overdone around the sides, the garlic mayo soon sorted that out! Adam’s was super tasty with the egg cooked to perfection in the middle. Mine was quite spicy after I doused it in chilli oil – when will I learn!?
They were both quite cheesy and full of flavour, they did not skimp on the flavour. We devoured them in about 15 minutes, the perfect pre train treat.
Borough Market, a place full of flavour, character and London charm. When I asked my Dad what he fancied doing whilst he was staying with Adam and I for the weekend, his first suggestion was borough market, with Adam and I being massive foodies, we were sold, so when the weekend arrived, off we went to Borough Market.
It’s got an old industrial vibe, despite the new glossy entrance the one you go through if you’re coming in from London Bridge. The building, just like the food stalls are intriguing and worth stopping to have a look at- and don’t forget to look up!
We’d had a pretty massive breakfast, but that didn’t stop me with the free samples. From fudge to cake, pies and pate; i was interested in anything and everything.
Borough quite clearly had something for everyone. From Vegan, Gluten free and juicing options, the place was packed with all different types of people, all eating all different types of food from all corners of the world.
We’d sort of wandered straight into the sweet stuff: jams, meringue, melon pieces, fruit salads and cakes and a whole host of drinks stalls, selling iced teas, cold coffees and homemade lemonades. It was a foodies dream desert destination.
Moving towards the mains of falafel, hummus, burgers, wraps, lasagne, curry and stir fry, it all smelt amazing!
There’s also a fresh food section full of fruits and veggies for you to take home and cook yourself. There’s a whole host of strange and unusual, specialist foods and ingredients like asian mushrooms, Spices and tomatoes of every kind on offer.
It was amazing to see so many foods, so many people enjoying those foods and getting to try things you wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to. We really enjoyed our time at borough market and will be back for a full breakfast, lunch and dinner sometime soon! I’d highly recommend visiting if you’re in town, you’ll find all of the world best food favourites all under one roof!
We were exploring the rest of south bank for the rest of the day, you can read about what we got up to after borough market here.
Sometimes it’s just quite nice to eat out, isn’t it?
We felt that way Saturday morning, so we headed out to a quaint little cafe not too far away from home. We just fancied something different, and with the whole day ahead of us, we thought we’d give it a good kick start!
With a nice and frothy soya latte, we ordered two veggie sandwiches from our local’s long list of gluten free, veggie and vegan options. Adam going for a halloumi, pepper and pesto ciabatta and an avocado, rocket and sun dried tomato sandwich for me.
I’ll admit, the service wasn’t great, it took 45 minutes to arrive and it was just two sandwiches, and the place could do with a spruce up and clean, but it filled a whole and inspired us to be a little more creative with our breakfast options.
Breakfast and brunch options are pretty much endless, and whilst we’re going to try to recreate sandwich goodness at home, sometimes it’s nice to have it made for you, no muss, no fuss!
My jeans don’t fit. And who’s fault is it really? I no longer have a gym membership. I have a hectic and very unhealthy Birmingham to London commute. Am in my final semester of my degree and am a vegetarian.
All of these things on their own make it hard to eat the right things at the right time, but combined they add on the inchs, add curves I’ve never had before and result in real dislike for my 27″pairs of jeans that I can no longer wear. So with the jeans packed away so I don’t need to be annoyed by them (packed away for future use, as I plan to wear them again, it’s not sustainable to simply get rid!)
|Waiting for the bus with all my shopping!|
This coupled with my increased weekly anxiety doing the food shop and having an environmental and ecological breakdown at the unnecessary cling film like plastic, Un-recyclable packaging used by the big retailers. I’ve simply had enough.
I’m moving away from buying my fruit and vegetables from big retailers. I saw a sign at an organic food store in Newcastle in Feb that said ‘It’s not a food crisis, it’s called winter‘ and I couldn’t agree more. The prices of fresh fruit and veg have gone up, turning people towards cheaper, less nutritious food and our food is now being sourced from further and further away, we’re using packaging we don’t need to, and paying more for the privilege and I’m just not prepared to pay the price for it anymore. The environment pays the ultimate price.
Now, being a ‘go independents!’ Shopper and always trying, where possible to support local, independent businesses and market stall holders, it made sense for me to find an alternative in the face of an independent, rather than a whole foods or such.
|On the vine tomatoes|
Birmingham is my current stomping ground and will be for a few more months before we pack up back to London. Both cities have a wealth of independent food and veg traders to be found at weekly and daily markets and there are some hidden gems to be found in the Capitol, but I’ll touch on them further along the line.
Today’s all about Birmingham, my home city. After seeing on Instagram the fantastic fruit and vegetables a friend had picked up recently, I headed down, bags for life in hand to see what I could pick up.
|Smelling the bus out with my onions|
I wish I’d have taken more bags, for starters. I write this from the bus stop and could definitely do with an extra hand! Every trader was keen to give me a bag and was rather confused when I said no and tipped everything into one big bag, it was quite the jumble, but I’m committed to not taking a plastic carrier bag. Safe to say the bag got heavy pretty quick! And at these fantastic prices, it’s not surprising!
Here’s what I got:
2x strawberry £1
3x spring onions £1
3x butternut squash £1
All for under a tenner and with no waste packaging! Result!
Birmingham and more specifically Birmingham market has a reputation for being grubby. I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit rough around the edges- but what do you expect from an inner city market – Harrods?
It’s full of wonderful, chatty and smiley traders who earn a living from being their own boss, selling healthy fruits and veggies to the cities people in a way that’s financially, locationally and environmentally better than supermarket veg and that, I can completely get on board with.
I think my body will too, when I start to eat even more lovely fruit and vegetables than I already do due to the assesibility, price and range available.Bring on the curries, stews, snacks and fresh fruit breakfast bowls that will be in the Tomalin household this week!
Where do you get your fruit and veg from? And what do you think about the unnessiary packaging involved in fruit and veg production and packaging? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
|The Havilands menu|
|The Havilands menu|
What We Ordered
|The Tea Pigs tea menu|
|Time for tea!|
|Take a look at that pastry!|
|Thick cut chips|
|Plenty of meat in the meat pie|
|Lunch for two|
The Service & Bill
|Eaten clean plates!|
The service from the two guys in Haviland was lovely, pleasant and welcoming without being too full on. They served us at our table and made sure we didn’t wait too long for anything and also made sure Adam got his mayonnaise!
|Breakfast for 2|
|The Princi menu|
|Settling in for breakfast!|
What We Ordered
|The breakfast view|
|Adam’s scrambled eggs|
|Poached eggs on toast|
Service & Bill
The service, despite the warm and welcoming greeting from the woman at the counter, was appalling. There was no clear server dedicated to our table, when asked where the water was that didn’t arrive, the response was ‘It’s coming‘ and the food sat there getting cold until someone could be bothered to bring it to the table. They weren’t even busy. No excuses! When I complained when the bill eventually arrived, the server simply replied with ‘insert the card’ [into the machine]
|A lovely looking fruit salad we were eyeing up!|
The service put a real dampener on a beautiful space with a lovely bakery and cake selection. And the worst part was the server didn’t care that we’d had a bad experience! Clearly didn’t care about his job and that really disappointed me.
|All the curry goodness for £11|
If you haven’t been to Brick Lane in Shoreditch before, it’s the Capitol of curry, it’s full of curry houses and stores selling things to make curry. And it’s also rife with curry touts, stood outside their restaurants, drumming up business for their restaurants, trying to get people to come inside and eat. It’s an old tradition that stands strong in this mostly independent restaurant area.
I chose City Spice, right opposite the Old Truman underground market, every time I go passed at night it’s always really busy. It’s got great trip advisor reviews and has a massive banner across the front saying ‘curry house of the year‘ which is interesting as at least four other restaurants down the same road boast the same banner.
I ended up very quickly becoming the only person having lunch in the restaurant (was it something I said!?) the restaurant was clean and well presented and I was served by a smart quiet waiter who made me feel like I was the warm up act in order to bring out his smile, he got there, eventually.
As a vegetarian, I usually am very limited food choice-wise in restaurants, it was even worse when I was a vegan, but I always find curry houses and balti houses to have plenty of choice, something more than a Korma too! With lots of different ingredients and flavours, city spice on brick lane was no exception.
I ordered a biryani and a peshwari naan bread, which is my absolute fav bread of all time, no competition, no question.It’s amaze. I am very enthusiastic when it comes to naan.
|All the foods!|
I sat watching the world go by, out of the main street facing window, watched people from offices run back from lunch, vintage thrifters compare their finds and the owner of the restaurant frantically flag down the French Connection lorry when it nearly bumped his Jaguar. No matter what time of day, there’s always so many sights to see.
My food took a while, but then again, it was cooked with fresh to order with fresh ingredients that had only just arrived (I was also there for the delivery) when my food arrived I was thankful I hadn’t ordered a side of rice! The portions were very generous (that’s another thing about Brick Lane food places)
|There was so much food, I took some home!|
The smell of the curry was delicious and the sweetness from the narn bread was heaven in a bread, I sat for the following half an hour devouring my food whilst I witnessed hilarious restaurant interactions, over the phone and with sales reps selling beer and giving out free fridges. It is very much a family run, small business, who take no shit and don’t care if they loose customers because as the owner put it he’d ‘Rather die than sell a three course dinner for £15, not in my restaurant‘ and promptly put the phone down on the customer. It’s safe to say you wouldn’t have had the same experience in pizza express. Haha. It was an experience.
Overall my food was full of flavour, with acceptable service and full of great humour. It’s a great little spot to watch the world go by and is very reasonably priced for the quality and amount of food you get.
Open for lunch and dinner (it’s always busy at dinner) City Spice is where Brick Lane transitions from day to night.
Whilst 90% of the time Adam looks after the main meals in our house, I am the sweet queen: Brownies, traybake and cupcakes are my domain. With Ad making a delicious risotto, I fancied whipping up a flapjack and having a play, switching up the ingredients in my usual recipe. The triple threat vegan flapjack was born.
I’ve had rye flakes and wheat flakes in the cupboard for ages (Random, I know, I can’t even remember the original intention for such a purchase.) and decided to add them into the recipe to switch it up, I’ve also decreased the amount of sugar added (Watching that waistline!) and swapped golden syrup for natural date syrup. Just a few steps in a more healthy direction. Baby steps, baby steps.
225g Vegan butter / margarine/ plant/ oil based butter.
2 tbs of Date syrup
150g Rolled oats
100g Rye flakes
100g Wheat flakes
Using rye flakes, wheat flakes and rolled oats instead of just oats diversifies the texture and the flavour whilst giving you the goodness of all three.
The great thing about a flapjack is its diversity; swap sultanas for apricots, add choc-chips or plain jane it with old school style custard. I change the additional ingredients all the time, especially near Christmas when I add mixed fruit and a dash of either cinnamon or mixed spice for a festive christmas vibe. Good Times.
Basically, you melt the butter then throw all the ingredients in the melted butter bowl, mix and put into a tin, then into the oven for half an hour on gas mark 4.
If you try this recipe, let me know how you get on, What do you put in your flapjack?
This year we celebrated Adam’s birthday in London with friends. Marking his 24th in the best way: food + friends + wine.
With an intimate dinner with friends and drinks on a rooftop bar, it was a chilled celebration, because of this I didn’t take too many photos as I haven’t yet got too comfortable invading people’s dinner to be like ‘HEY THIS LOOKS GOOD, LET ME SNAP YOUR FOOD FOR THE INTERNET TO SEE!’ Anyhow, I thought Mildred’s in Kings Cross was worth a write up and to show you guys a little taster of what they have to offer.
Going to dinner with a fellow veggie and semi veggie is a dream, there’s no awkwardness because no one suggests a steak house and they also know where all the veggie restaurants are. For dinner we coupled up and went on a doubles dinner date and the four of us rocked up to Mildred’s Kings Cross branch at about 7pm on a Thursday night and as we hadn’t pre-booked and it was looking pretty busy, we weren’t sure we’d get a table. The host (Wish I’d got his name, if you’ve been to Mildred’s before, he’s one of the originals!) the host told us the wait would be about an hour unless we wanted to cosy it up by sitting at a corner table for three. It was a cosy squeeze, but do-able.
With drinks ordered and menus at hand, we chatted about our previous delights at Mildred’s in Soho (Need to pre-book that bad boy, it’s hella busy. All. The. Time.) and all picked something we hadn’t had from the Mildred’s menu before: Stir fry, Vegan Burger, Burger and Pie and Chips.
The food is beautiful, there is no doubt about it. It’s a premium price for a premium product and I wouldn’t say that it’s a regular food splurge. Especially with a £13 service charge for 4 people. Like OMG I really felt like I was living back in London when that big nasty was stamped on the bill. So we reserve Mildred’s for special occasions such as Birthdays. Actually, Birthday’s and Mildred’s are becoming a regular ‘thing’ for us. Perhaps we’ll work our way around the Mildred’s for each Birthday treat. Camden, you’re next!
My pie and chips was delicious. Hearty, flavoursome and filling. It was full to the brim with mushrooms in a sauce to die for. The chunky chips were old school and so much better than skinny fries. My mint mushy peas were nothing like chip shop peas, they were luxurious, bringing my taste buds alive. Mmmm.
Ad’s burger and chips was HUGE. There was no way you could eat that burger un-aided. The sweet potato chips were super chunky, if a little salty, but brought the burger together. Vegan cheese, onion and salad layered up the burger and the mayo (Ad’s fav) topped everything off perfectly. There wasn’t anything left behind, that’s for sure.
With a little room left for pudding, we decided to split it and share. For £7, I feel disappointed, I expected more of a slice, not a slither, whilst it was delicious, it wasn’t £7 worth, although the dusted chocolate was very pretty, my bank balance didn’t appreciate the gesture.
Overall, it was a lovely evening of great food with great friends. I’d highly advice booking in advance because it is so popular. I think so far our favourite branch is Soho even though the food / menu is the same. If you’re a veggie or vegan living or visiting london, head on over to one of Mildred’s three branches to test it out for yourself.
See more Mildred’s info here: Mildred’s Website
The branch we visited: 200 Pentonville Rd, Kings Cross, London N1 9JY, UK / 02072789422
P.S I’d love to try out some other veggie and vegan restaurants in the capital, so if you’ve got any suggestions, pop them in the box below!
Photos taken on iPhone 5C