The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker

The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker in Islington recently went vegan so my monthly dinner companion Jo and I thought we’d take advantage of their January deal of 241 mains if you bring something for the food bank.

They serve a mixture of burgers and toasties with chips or salad. We both liked the look of the chorizo one which came with jalapeñoes, refried beans and cheese. The jalepañoes were a bit too spicy for me so I picked them out but overall it was a great toastie and I definitely want to return to try some of their other options. I went for fries with mine while Jo went for the healthier salad option. Jo said she thought her salad might be a bit more interesting than just leaves in a vegan place but sadly not.

The service was prompt was we done in 45 minutes but not ready to head home at 18.15 (!) so I did a little search for cocktails nearby and we ended up in The Ladybird Bar, they had a happy hour offer of 241 cocktails on those marked on the menu with a ladybird so we both went for a twist on a piña colada and enjoyed it thoroughly. So with all our offers we had a lovely meal and a cocktail for £11.50 each! Not bad for a Tuesday night!

Have you been to either of these places before? What did you think? Where else should we try out in Islington? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker

Vegan Activism January 2018

I’ve really kicked 2018 to a great start in January with attending some fantastic activism events.

I’ve taken part in two Earthlings Experiences with Havering Vegan Action. We take to the streets of Romford for two hours on Friday nights and plant lots of seeds by showing farm and slaughterhouse footage and talking to people about their food options.

I took part in my first Chelmsford Cube of Truth with their chapter of Anonymous for the Voiceless. We now have four chapters locally, Chelmsford, Southend, Basildon and Romford. Basildon’s first event is taking part on 4th February and Romford’s first event takes part on the 11th February. I like taking part in these events as you can swap from showing footage to doing outreach speaking to people. We usually speak to around 70 people when we do these events and it’s great to see more and more chapters popping up to spread the message.

I attended my first Essex Pig Save which I wrote about here.

And lastly tonight I attended the protest at the annual Great British Greyhound Board awards organised by CAGED, I wrote about last year’s event here. There was a great turnout and luckily it wasn’t raining this year. I hope to attend more events at my local greyhound track this year and see more stadiums across the country close down.

So let’s see how I get on in February.

If you are interested in taking part in activism events I would recommend you have a look at events in your area on Facebook. If you have any questions ask away in the comments below.

Plumes x

Vegan Activism January 2018

Essex Pig Save

This week I took part in my first vigil outside a slaughterhouse with Essex Pig Save. The Save Movement started in Toronto and there was a famous case where an activist was arrested for giving one of the pigs some water. There are now chapters all over the world and many in the UK. Essex Pig Save hold vigils outside Cheale Meats in West Horden monthly. Obviously animals are sent to slaughterhouses every weekday but with most of the activists working or studying full time most have limited free time in the week to attend these vigils.

I attended with my friend Charlie who I met through activism and she gave me the low down on what happens. Lauren, one of the organisers gave us newbies an introductions to the proceedings.

The slaughterhouse is on a country road so there is no pavement and we have to be very careful regarding traffic. The police are present with a couple of officers and a police liaison officer. They are given a schedule of when the trucks carrying the pigs are expected to arrive and ask the trucks to stop for two minutes so the activists can bear witness to the animals and collect footage. After each truck enters the slaughterhouse a two minutes silence is held along the border of the property. We also hold up signs so passing cars can see why we are there.

We saw around 11 trucks go in on this particular morning. Some pigs were in better condition than others, the worse having terrible skin with lots of scratches over their bodies. Some were larger and older and some were smaller and younger. Some were ghostly quiet whilst others were inquisitive coming up to the bars to see us.

Some pigs had rings in their noses. The nose of a pig is very sensitive and they use it to explore their surroundings, by putting a ring in it, which is not only painful when it is done, it means the pig is prevented from displaying natural behaviours.

When I decided to attend this vigil I wasn’t sure how it was going to affect me. Understandably many activists get upset when they see the pigs in the trucks or from the noises we hear them make when they are entering the facility. I was glad I didn’t feel too overwhelmed and I know I will be back. I think it helped having other activists I already knew there. Everybody is very welcoming and supportive of eachother.

Photo credit – Charlie Gunner

If you are coming from the station you can message the Facebook event and someone will come and bring you back to the site.

I would encourage anybody to take part in a vigil if you are able to. It really strengthens your connection to the animals and your conviction in your activism. If you have any questions on the subject please ask in the comments below.

Plumes x

Essex Pig Save

The Gate – Islington Jan 2018

My Mum and I were hoping to go to the newly vegan Blacksmith and Toffeemaker after our trip to see Sir Matthew Bourne’s amazing Cinderella at Sadlers Wells in Islington but unfortunately they aren’t open on Sundays so we headed back to old faithful The Gate. I cannot count the number of times I have been to this veggie restaurant or its sister branch in Hammersmith (I haven’t quite made it to the Marylebone one yet, although rumour has it one of my vegan contacts is now a chef there).

I’m not sure if it was because of Veganuary or just the way things are going but there were definitely more vegan options on the menu than I have seen in the past. I think all but one of the mains was vegan.

I decided for tortillas filled with black beans and sweet potatoes and a side of crispy polenta chips while Mum went for the aubergine schnitzel with a side of cauliflower in tahini sauce with pinenuts and pomegranate.

My tortillas looked a bit more special than your usual Mexican fayre and they were tasty and crispy to boot. I couldn’t really taste much sweet potatoes over the various spices but I wasn’t missing anything.

The polenta chips were really crispy and I’m glad they’ve taken off the cheese and made the aioli vegan so this is a vegan dish from the start!

My Mum said her schnitzel wasn’t as crispy as she would have liked but really loved the cauliflower especially the sauce.

For dessert I chose the citrus tart which had an orange, lemon and lime cashew filling. This was your typical raw dessert and was lovely and zingy.

Mum went for the Eton mess with pecans and quince, this was another vegan dish so they must have made the meringues with aquafaba. This wasn’t served in a tall glass but on a plate and with the shards of meringue sticking out I thought it looked like some sort of insect! Mum said it was tasty though.

All in all a fab meal after a lovely Mother/Daughter day out! 

Have you been to The Gate recently? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

The Gate – Islington Jan 2018

Review – Aubaine

I wasn’t previously aware of French restaurant chain Aubaine but I saw on a post from Veganuary that they were having a vegan menu for January and as there is a branch close to my office I knew a lunch there was in order.

I enlisted my friend Jo, who I usually have a monthly dinner with, but as she has now moved into my office we can extend this to lunch dates too!

The vegan menu was small with two starters and desserts each and three mains, but it looked well thought out.




I chose the cauliflower to start which looked really pretty when it arrived. It was nicely spiced and I loved the addition of the pomegranate. The salad also had garlic oil on it which always goes down well in my books.

For mains I was spoilt for choice. As I had had a mushroom bourguignon at the weekend I decided to go for the burger. The patty was really thick so I ended up buying round the edge first before taking a proper bug bite. It was very tasty and had a nice burger sauce too. The bun tasted sweet like a brioche which was nice as I haven’t experienced a vegan brioche bun before. Unfortunately the fries were a bit soggy so I ended up leaving half, which wasn’t too much of a hardship as I was pretty full.

Despite this fullness I would have considered a dessert with the brownie catching my eye but as the service had been pretty slow we decided to just grab the bill. The vegan menu is a fixed price of £12.50 for two course so is really great value for money. I hope the options stay available beyond January!

Have you eaten at Aubaine? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Review – Aubaine

A Vegan Lunch in Old Street

Today I met up with my friend Mitsu (of the newly revamped To Happy Vegans) for our regular lunch. We decided to branch out of our walking distance area and I jumped on the tube. Two stops and 15 minutes later I was queueing to order in Arancini Brothers. Their Old Street branch has gone vegan for January (and beyond if it proves popular) so we had to get in on the action. I went for the BBQ mushroom burger and Mitsu had the chick’n wrap. As the burger is arancini based it is a fried rice patty, it did get a little messy with both barbecue and burger sauce but I soon got to grips with it! I will definitely be returning to try some of the other items on the menu.

I would have got some paprika fries to accompany my burger but I was saving room for cake!

Cupcakes and Shhht are a café based in Elephant and Castle who currently have a pop-up stall inside Old Street tube station. 

I thought a brownie was in order so I chose the hazelnut one out of the three available and Mitsu ordered a strawberry cupcake.

Back in the office it went down very well with a cup of coffee. The texture was lovely and fudgey and who can go wrong with hazelnuts (unless you’re allergic of course!)

Both places also had Instagram competitions where you could win food if you posted a picture of your grub and tagged them in it. I would be very pleased to win the 12 cupcakes on offer!

If you’re in the area I would definitely recommend rocking up to both Arancini Brothers and Cupcakes and Shhht for a splendid lunch. 

Have you tried any of their offerings? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

A Vegan Lunch in Old Street

Mad Cucumber Bournemouth – Jan 2018

I reviewed the Mad Cucumber on the blog after a previous visit to Bournemouth here. We had a pretty late night on Saturday celebrating my friend Karen’s birthday so I wanted some serious grub before heading back to London. 

I met fellow vegan Darren on our night out and he recommended their breakfasts but unfortunately we didn’t arrive in time and missed the boat by 15 minutes.

Photo credit – Stephanie Lee

Their main menu looked equally as good so I wasn’t too disappointed. I was in the mood for mushrooms so was deciding between the stroganoff and the mushroom and chestnut bourguignon, mash won over rice so the the bourguignon it was! Karen decided to go for the bean chilli. Karen had a coffee to drink and I went for a silver needle jasmine tea which came with a cute little timer so I had the perfect brew!

The food arrived in cute bowls and looked very hearty.

This was perfect stodge food and definitely what I needed when tired on a cold winter’s day.

Karen enjoyed her chilli and said it was really filling. She asked whether I was going to grab a cake for the journey home but I decided to skip it this time.

Have you visited the Mad Cucumber recently? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Mad Cucumber Bournemouth – Jan 2018

Café Thrive – Southampton

As I was visiting my friend in Bournemouth this weekend and we were planning a shopping trip to Southampton I asked my Twitter friend Becky, who lives there, if she fancied meeting up for a coffee. She is a long term vegetarian so suggested we had lunch at Café Thrive where she regularly hangs out when doing her free lance work.

When I arrived it was quite busy and there were only spaces along on the window, but I quickly saw there was also an upstairs seating area so I nabbed a table and ordered an almond matcha latte while I waited for Becky to arrive.

The matcha latte was really creamy and I almost thought they had put dairy milk in it, but Becky reassured me the café was 100% vegan.

I had a look through the extensive menu (which Becky is slowly working her way through on a weekly basis!) I decided the wholefood burger with chips was in order and Becky went for the meaty burger.

We both chose chips and I grabbed some barbecue sauce from the condiments trolley. The burger was really tasty and felt like a proper burger rather than a healthy version of a burger the name eluded to. The salad it came with was really nice too and had pumpkin seeds and garlic oil (which I tend to pour over everything!)

Photo credit – Becky John

After the food we still had lots of chatting to do so I ordered a Kyoto cherry blossom green and Becky had a coffee and a vanilla slice. The tea was gorgeous and really reminded me of all the “sakura” flavoured things my Husband and I had when we were on our honeymoon in Japan. Becky really enjoyed her cake and also recommended the peanut blondies.

I was too stuffed for cake straight away but I picked up a split cream doughnut to enjoy later back at my friend’s house. These were always my favourite in my pre-vegan days and it’s not too often you see vegan versions so I always pick one up when I do. I was impressed at how well it travelled in my handbag and didn’t look too squashed when I retrieved it later. The cream was thick, the jam sweet and the doughnut lovely and soft. Heaven!

I also picked up a bar of Solkiki chocolate. I previously reviewed and interviewed their owner Bob here. So I will look forward to eating this is the coming days.

A few doors down from Thrive there is Rice Wholefoods which has a wide variety of products including bulk bins, chilled and frozen items, beauty, hot food and cakes. It’s definitely worth a visit if your passing by. As I was carrying a backpack back up to London I couldn’t take full advantage of everything on sale but I’ll definitely be back.

Have you been to Cafe Thrive? What did you think? What would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Café Thrive – Southampton