(Once more, with feeling: Another, another, another year in vegan meals- from January to June because these posts are way too big now.)
Well. I actually wrote the intro to this post pre-Christmas break, and by GOD it’s clear I needed some time off. Jeeze. Thankfully I’ve now had some Actual Days Off and am well happy to be coming into 2017 guns a blazin’ and less-shit-takin’.
2016 was my first full year as a freelancer. It was hard AF at points. Some days it felt like a total, relentless haul. Other days were ruddy brill. Being able to go to Poland with my Mum was amazing. Travelling most months was my favourite part. Coming back each time to be part of a brilliant growing vegan business in London (Club Mexicana) was also wonderful. Cooking more, eating more and chatting to people about vegan food more was ace. Launching the recipe cards right at the end of the year and sending so many off to all over the country (and world!) was the total highlight. Some days I cried because there was just too much work. Other days I was super grateful for all the work. That’s liiiiiiife baby.
Here’s my year in vegan meals. Comin’ atcha.
In January I worked my second Frank and Olive Crochet Retreat in Yorkshire and cooked up a huge rainbow roast followed by sticky toffee pudding on Sunday, which I’ll definitely be using as inspiration for February’s retreat this year.
Then at the end of the month, Tsouni from @yesitsallvegan asked me if I fancied going to Copenhagen overnight on a little adventure with her awesome pottery business, Moss Ceramics. So we spent 24 hours eating our way around vegan options in one of my favourite cities. I wrote about it here. The best meal was the brunch plate at Cafe N, which I’ve been trying to adapt ever since, but those chai vanilla soy lattes are proving difficult to match!
I’ve always wanted to go to Glasgow so I decided to head north for my birthday and eat as much vegan food as possible there for a few days. My boyfriend and I tracked down two of our best friends that now live in Scotland and ate more than I ever have as a vegan. Including the incredible vegan donuts pictured above that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon! Here's my guide to visiting the city as a vegan.
After Glasgow I caught a late night flight over to Berlin and arrived just in time for the second Poppadom Preach. The next day we began on our prep, which involved numerous trips out in freezing Berlin to the all-vegan supermarket chain there, Veganz, lots of coffee and me googling How To Make Perfect Rice at 4am the next morning. The next day we set up camp in our little restaurant round the corner once again and cooked away from 10am right through to 7pm. Dinner morphed into five courses, everyone ate a ton and even came and helped us wash up.
In true Poppadom Preach style we went out straight after and drank and danced to 6am, at which point Heather and I came home and watched Parks and Recreation and then went straight out to get vegan burgers. Because I’m basically such a pain in the arse I refused to sleep until we could eat again. I wrote about my days off here, and the Poppadom Preach recipes here.
In March I came home from a Club Mexicana night with some extra tofish from our amazing beer battered fish tacos, so I made some into vegan fish and chips for The Debrief. You can see the full recipe here.
Later in the month my bff Jessica and I went up to Manchester for the first time because my brother was having a house party for his birthday. He lives in Chorlton, just down the road from Unicorn, an entirely vegan co-operative. So I made a big ‘pre game’ meal for us with loads of Unicorn produce.
April swung around and Club Mexicana opened up in Model Market again for the summer, all the way down in Lewisham. It was so great to meet so many vegans that became regulars down at the market and work with some incredible vegan chefs like Sandra, Julian and Jago, and get to eat Club Mexicana food and generally see how happy people were when they realised there was a vegan option. Vegan powa all round basically.
It was Amelie’s 30th in May! So at the very end of April a band of merry English speakers boarded the Eurostar and became, for a jovial 120 minutes, Everyone’s Least Favourite Passengers as we had ALL THE LULZ drinking and snacking all the way to Brussels. We were actually v well behaved and recycled our rubbish and everything. Whatever. We stayed in Sasha’s flat in Brussels like a Millennial version of FRIENDS and mished around the city for a few days before heading down to Amelie’s family in Namur for her birthday party. It was an absolute ball - I wrote about it here. I made these vegan hot dogs for Joe and me at her party, while everyone else had meat ones. It was such a lovely time to be away with my friends, and goes to show being friends with omnivores doesn’t have to be a huge struggle it’s sometimes made out to be. Just be decent to each other when you’re eating. And at all other times.
In May my other work, Village Underground, was celebrating the birthday of its sister site over in Lisbon. So early one Saturday morning Amelie and I nipped over to Portugal and joined the party. I’ve been to Lisbon a few times and never quite clicked with it, but this time I TOTALLY saw what everyone raves about. When we arrived, we went straight over to Terra. It's a mostly-vegan all you can eat buffet (pictured above) that's so good after an early start and a day of travelling. On Sunday morning our Airbnb host woke us up for breakfast and then showed us the lemon tree she had growing in her garden and gave me five to bring home. We wandered around the Old Town, walking off our hangovers, not quite believing how beautiful it all is there.
Later in the month I teamed up with Urban Outfitters to do this bright ‘n’ breezy blog post for them on summer breakfast bowls which was a total dream to shoot.
The Frank and Olive Crochet Retreats really stepped it up in 2016, it was so great to turn up each month to a packed-out retreat and a lot of lovely people to cook for over a whole weekend. But I also loved just being at home in York with my parents more than ever. It was so nice to have more time with them than I have since I left home. My Dad cooked us some wonderful meals while I was there and the Linda McCartney vegan burger with homemade sweet potato chips was a total fave.
Since working for an Icelandic company for a few years and hearing all the talk about a summer solstice where it never gets dark, I’ve always wanted to go. Then I saw that Radiohead would be playing on midsummer night last year, so we had to go. Despite the hostile terrain and pretty cold climate, even in the middle of summer (I mean we were almost at the Arctic Circle so you can’t really blame it) Iceland was an incredible holiday- like nowhere I’ve been before. And with a bit of research, being a vegan was also surprisingly easy! I’ve written all about our stay here, but my favourite place to head was Bryggjan Brugghü where we turned up more than once for brunch and club sandwiches.