Sunday, 24 January 2016


Back in November, me and The Boy spent a few days in London to celebrate my 30th Birthday.

We took a Virgin Train from Wigan North Western, which is a lot cheaper than getting a train from Manchester, as they seem to have a lot more reduced fairs available on that route, and its a lot closer for us. I was pleased to see that Virgin had soya milk on the train, however vegan food options were still lacking, well apart from crisps of course. I tweeted Virgin to give them a piece of my mind, and they did get back to say that they would pass on my comments to the catering department- so fingers crossed!

The Boy didn't fancy getting a super early train, and since we were staying a few days we arrived at Euston around lunch time so headed to Chutneys, and vegetarian Indian buffet near Euston for lunch.  It was a good sign that a member of staff found it easier to point out what wasn't vegan compared to what was!

It was sooo good, to be honest, I didn't quite know what it all was, as long as it was vegan it went on my plate! I loved the things that I think was globe artichoke, but whatever it was I got a second helping of it.  I was also excited about the fresh (steamed?) broccoli, maybe its just me getting old, getting excited about veg?!

After a wander around London, we checked into our hotel, the Travelodge in West Hounslow (very near the underground- which was handy!) and headed back out for tea.  After such a huge lunch, we wanted something a bit lighter for tea and I'd heard there was a Maoz Falafel in Soho, which when we went to their branch in Barcelona The Boy declared it as the best falafel he'd ever tasted.

Unfortunately, I was really disappointed by the London branch, the Barcelona branch was dirt cheap whereas the one in London was quite pricey, but then I guess that's because its in London! Also, since visiting the one in Barcelona, I've also been to the two falafel places in central Manchester where for £3.50(ish) you can get a decent size falafel wrap plus every topping, including fried potato cubes. The picture I took is so underwhelming I've decided not to include it.  Instead, here is a picture of a random plaque we found walking around London. What a random claim to fame!

On our second day, I wanted to grab a decent vegan breakfast and after doing a bit of research using this article by Fat Gay Vegan we decided to go to The Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green.

I took the advice in the article and went for the 'signature' breakfast- scrambled tofu on sourdough with spinach and garlic mushrooms. It was tasty, but not as tasty as my breakfast dessert.  Ms Cupcake's Ambassador cupcake, which is basically a vegan Ferrero Rocher in cupcake form.

OMG this was good, you know how sometimes something tastes so good, it makes your toes curl in delight? Well, it was that good.  Ferrero Rocher was one of my favorite chocolates before going vegan, and this was my favorite thing I ate all weekend.

We wandered round London some more, visiting Tower Bridge, the cable car and Waterloo Station (which resulted in me singing Waterloo in my head all afternoon) before heading to Camden. After walking around Camden taking in it all in (really one of my favorite areas of London) we headed for some lunch. I noticed an Italian place, Mr Piandina's advertising vegan flatbreads, which turned out to be flatbreads filled to the brink, with everything that was vegan. It was HUGE!

I loved that they put cashew nuts in, and this was really good value.  However, I was soon to regret this when I went to get dessert at Cookies n Scream.  I went on a salted caramel shake.

This was so good. But I'd made a rookie mistake in opting to sensible and have something 'proper' for lunch and couldn't manage to finish it all, which broke my heart :-(

Afterwards we went to a pub nearby and did a bit more exploring, probably involving visiting more underground stations as The Boy is a massive public transport nerd. After working up a bit of an appetite we headed for tea at Norman's Coach and Horses, a vegetarian pub in Soho.  I went for the Tofush and Chip and The Boy went for the burger.

The portions were generous and it was very nice, however what the hell is with the garden peas with fish and chips?! Have Southerners never heard of mushy peas??! I feel so sorry for them- deprived of mushy peas AND Vimto!

After another drink or two, we headed back, fit to burst and slipped into a food coma until the next day.

On the last day, we decided just to have breakfast in the hotel as Travelodge now offer Linda McCartney sausages at breakfast. However, on arriving in the restaurant, they hadn't got any Linda McCartney sausages out however they said they could cook me some up.  I was expecting one or two, three at the most. So I was a little surprised when then they came out with a TRAY full of them!  It wouldn't have been so bad, but it was coming to the end of the breakfast time and there was us, and two other people and I don't think any of them were vegetarian or vegan. I managed to eat quite a few, but there was still a few left. I had them with beans, granary toast and hash browns. I was disappointed they didn't offer to fry a few mushroom in oil instead of butter and when I asked about soya milk, their response was "we don't have any, but we have skimmed milk". Not the same thing. So not perfect, and they have some way to go, but the chain are obviously getting some things right.

After checking out, we went to Bayswater, where I stayed the only other time I visited London and saw the fake houses at Leinster Gardens, which was featured on Sherlock. Which I was very excited about having become a massive Sherlock fan.

We also visited Paddington Station and bought our own Paddington bear from the Paddington bear shop at the station, before visiting the Paddington Bear statue and going for a Paddington Bear themed walk that was in a free booklet we got free in the shop.  Along the way, we saw the new Bourne film being filmed, although we didn't see Matt Damon!

Before we left London, I was determined to visit VX, so we incorporated a trip with a visit to Kings Cross and St Pancras Station.  I'd heard about the cream cakes, so I was very excited that I managed to get a cream finger donut from there.

However the shop itself was a bit of a let down, I'd heard SO much about it and I was expecting it to be quite a big shop with lots of interesting things that I'd never seen before.  However it was tiny, and apart from the Secret Society of Vegans clothing, there wasn't much I couldn't get back in Manchester. That sounds quite negative, but I guess if you didn't live somewhere with so many vegan/vegetarian stores VX would be amazing- I'm just spoilt!

Along the way, we spotted a little food market and one of the stalls was advertising vegan wrap type things- there were a few choices, I can't remember what I went for, or where about this market was, but it was good!

After lunch, we headed towards Brixton, to visit Ms Cupcake.  I wasn't expecting much from Brixton, but it turned out to be amazing. We found a lovely little area of restaurants, shops and bars held within storage containers. It was just stunning.

We managed to find the MsCupcake shop, and had a lovely little chat with the assistant behind the counter before choosing a red velvet cookie sandwich and a tiramisu cupcake (another of my favorites before going vegan) which we ate at the station waiting for our train home.

I really enjoyed our trip to London, although it made me realise how lucky I am to live in Manchester, as I already have a lot of amazing places on my doorstep and I no longer feel like I'm missing out- with the exception of cookies and scream and Ms Cupcake.  However, this hasn't stopped me booking another day trip to London in February.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Catch Up

Its been a while.

I could say I've been busy, but that would be a lie. I just lost my motivation.

But today, its cold and icy and I really don't want to go outside, and so that today is not a total write off I thought I'd give you all an update on the last 3 months!

In September I got to visit a Plant Food Powered Chef Pop Up restaurant at The Kitchen.  Matthew Nutter has been taking Greater Manchester (and surrounding areas!) by storm recently so I was really excited that I was finally getting to try his food for myself.  The meal itself was a seven course taster menu, starting with a terrine of sweet potato, cherry pepper, tomato and red onion jam, topped with cashew nut cheese.

The stand out component of this course was definitely the cherry pepper- I have never had one before, but it blew my mind. I have to find these somewhere in the shops as they tasted amazing!

This was served with a coriander and jalapeno hummus and garlic focaccia bread, the bread came in cute little brown bags.

Other courses included ‘sesame sushi’ with satay aubergine, South Carolina lentil and squash, cauliflower cheese, creamed potato, candied beetroot and raw cauliflower salad. I loved the unusual flavours of the South Carolina Lentil and Squash.

Next was a hot chocolate followed by the dessert of Autumn Spiced Apple and Nut Crumble.  When I saw this on the menu, I was a little disappointed as I always feel a bit cheated by fruit for dessert. However, I was pleasantly surprised as this was actually my favourite course of the evening. In my opinion, the addition of the nuts to the crumble took it to a whole new level- it was absolutely delicious!

You can check out Matthew's website here and also pop down to his new restaurant, The Allotment in Liverpool.

In October, we paid an evening visit to Leeds and went to a place called Little Tokyo, a restaurant I've been wanting to visit for a while. It's an omni Japanese restaurant, but they do a great selection of vegan food including mock meats. I went for a bento box, I can't remember if it was mock chicken or duck but whatever it was it was tasty. Both me and The Boy were surprised at how nice the salad was that came with it, as it was flavoured with ginger. Just make sure that you let them know you are vegan when ordering as otherwise they may put fish flakes in your rice!

Apologies for the awful picture, the place was lit by candlelight!

Also in October, I attended the Northern Vegan Festival, which was back in Sasha's hotel and surround Manchester venues after being held in the Winter Gardens in Blackpool in 2014. As I had been to this festival previously I volunteered to help out for a few hours on the door. I drew the short straw and ended up on one of the busiest shifts on the main door to Sasha's but it was fun, and I was amazed at how many people I bumped who I'd met at various vegan events into whilst on the door!

Don't worry though, despite volunteering, I still made sure I managed to go round the festival myself.  I picked up some great products, including a mince pie scented candle from Harper's Bizarre which didn't actually make it to Christmas.

I also discovered an amazing new pie company called mr nice pie, being northern and therefore loving pies meant that I went a bit crazy when I found these guys, and I may have bought four pies (they were on offer!). I can't remember what all the flavours were but I remember there was a boozy mushroom one which I was VERY excited by. Apparently there are no North West stockists, so I may be visiting wales in the near future.

Boozy Mushroom Pie
I turned 30 in early November so as a birthday present The Boy took me to London. I think the trip deserves it's own blog post as otherwise this post would be super long.  But as not to leave November totally blank, look at this totally awesome lunch bag my friend got me as a gift!

In early December I attended a Vegan Manchester Christmas meal at a new restaurant/bar on Manchester's Canal Street called Taurus Bar. Although not exclusively vegan, it is very vegan friendly and even labels its drinks menu with its vegan drinks. For starters I had garlic gnocchi, which was to die for, really, if I was at home I would have licked the plate clean!

This was followed by a nut roast (I think) along with baked new potatoes, red cabbage and ginger sprouts. This was nice, but nothing really stood out and I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't really taste the ginger with the sprouts.  However I still enjoyed it, and it was a massive improvement on my work's Christmas meal the night before which was the tiniest portion of risotto ever served with roast potatoes and veg. Which was just an odd combination.

When choosing the dessert, it was really a no brainer. As soon as I saw the word 'chocolate pot' I was sold! And it didn't disappoint, it was wondrously fudgy and chocolatey. 

A couple of other things I ate over Christmas:

A beautifully sparkly vegan rocky road The Boy's brother picked me up at Beverley Christmas market. It was almost too pretty to eat, but I glad I did because it was GOOOD!

I found out the Ginger Mulled Wine in ASDA was vegan, and hoarded a few bottles. I didn't manage to finish them all, but have given up alcohol for January. It's still OK to drink mulled wine in February, right?

Ginger sticky buns in ASDA, also sold in Morrison but re-labelled as Morrison's own brand.  They recommended putting them with custard and warming up, which I did (alpro custard of course!) They were totally right.

And these, I spotted these on a trip to Newcastle earlier in the year and didn't get them, but then I could find them anywhere. However, on a trip round a few local garden centres during the sales I found them- and snapped them up. On a side note, I think garden centres are my new favourite place to shop- they aren't just all boring plants!

Is it obvious I'm a bit ginger obsessed?!

Also, awesome people bought me all this for Christmas!

I hope you enjoyed my round up, and its made me pretty hungry. May have to pop into The Kitchen for a late lunch!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 13- Kitchen Tour

Yay! Another MoFo post I can actually take part in :-)

Last year during MoFo I went to Barcelona for a few days, and so I didn't miss out on posting for MoFo I did a very detailed tour of my kitchen, so I'm going to be really lazy and just link to last year's posts:

Kitchen Tour Part 1

Kitchen Tour Part 2

Kitchen Tour Part 3

So as not to appear proper lazy, here is a new picture of our fridge, we've probably acquired more fridge magnets than last time as people have started to get them us a presents when they go away. We now have a cow one that has a clip on it that's useful for keeping notices on. I also got a new postcard yesterday off my friend India (see her blog here) that says "No. I don't miss cheese". As someone who was never a big cheese fan anyway, I really identify with it.

Looking forward to seeing everyone else's kitchen, cos I'm nosey like that!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

MoFo Day 12: Favourite Cookbook

I may not be officially taking part in MoFo this year, but I've been religiously reading everyone else's MoFo posts, so when I say today's theme of 'Favourite Cookbook' I knew I need to do an impromptu MoFo post.

As a self confessed cookbook hoarder, I LOVE cookbooks! It's a trait I get from my Dad, who is also a cookbook hoarder, and a new cookbook is always a safe Birthday/Christmas or Fathers Day present. My Dad and his fiancee (also a fellow cookbook hoarder) have an entire cabinet dedicated to housing their cookbook collection.

Unfortunately, I rarely get cookbooks as presents my collection limited to those I buy myself, but is still rather impressive.  As you can see in the picture below, I also have a lot of vegetarian magazines, and hidden between it all are little booklets like The Return of the Cake Scoffer (which I constantly think I've lost!).

I have to admit though, I tend to buy cookbooks and then rarely use a lot of them, some I've never used at all and I need to have a serious clear out at some point.

I do, however have some favorites, first up is my first ever vegan cookbook- Isa's Appetite for Reduction.

Firstly, as a Guns 'n' Roses fan, I love the name of this book, but not only that, it has some of my favourite recipes, as you can tell by how well worn this book is.  My favourite recipes include Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples served with Hottie Black-Eyed Peas & Greens, Veggie Pot Pie Stew with Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits, Mac & Trees (still the only mac and cheese I've made), Thai Roasted Root Vegetable Curry, Chickpea Piccata and a recent favourite Mushroom Tibs. I love how Isa suggests how to combine different dishes, the section on bowl and sandwich ideas, and as someone who has difficulty picturing a salad as something more than just lettuce, cucumber and a few tomatoes the section on salads is inspiring- I love the Sushi Roll Salad.

The downsides of this book are the lack of pictures for each recipe, however there is a section of a select few and this has been greatly been improved in Isa Does It, which is another firm favourite.  The other downsides are just generic problems of living in the UK and dealing with American cookbooks. I'm pretty use to using conversions and the different names for ingredients but it's the use of ingredients that are more common in America than here in the UK, for example the use of blue potatoes and chipotles in adobo sauce. However, these can easily be replaced with substitutes with a bit of research.

As Appetite for Reduction is Isa's take on a diet book, it doesn't have a dessert section, therefore for my second favourite cookbook choice, I've gone for Ms Cupcake- The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town! To be fair, although there are a few good recipes I use in this book (Snap Bars and Snickerdoodles to name two), my go to cake recipes are usually online recipes. The reason I chose this book is because it's such a good introduction to vegan baking- Melissa lists all the vegan brands of baking ingredients, both in the UK and for the USA and Canada, plus all measurements are given in cups, metric and imperial.  It also has a super useful section on vegan baking tips- for example working fast once the liquid ingredients are mixed with raising agents (they react faster than with egg) and the importance of tapping the mixture before putting it in the oven to remove air bubbles.  In addition, not only does this book have pictures of each recipe, but it has additional arty pictures that make it a perfect coffee table book (although not my copy as I've manage to spill red food paste all over the edges of the pages!).

The only downside with this book is the amount of icing sugar they use in their buttercreams- you'll get one lot of buttercream out of a 1kg box of icing sugar! However Melissa does point out that they do like things sweet and suggests you may need to tone it down to your own tastes.

The last book, I don't use that often, but it will always take pride of place on my shelf as it's the only signed book I have, and that is Rose Elliot's New Complete Vegetarian.  I met Rose when I volunteered in the demonstration tent at the Vegetarian Society's Meat Free in Manchester Event and Rose was holding a cookery demonstration and signing copies of the book.  Rose is lovely and I felt a bit star struck meeting her.

Although this book is vegetarian, most of the recipes are vegan or can be veganised.  I have cooked some of the recipes in the book (love the carrot and ginger soup) but the section I have permanently bookmarked is the guidance on cooking dried beans and pulses which is super useful and even includes guidance on using slow cookers and pressure cookers.

I hope that you find this blog post useful and I'm looking forward to reading about everyone else's favorite cookbooks, and hopefully finding new ones to add to my collection

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A belated MoFo Day 8 Post: Make a new vegan friend

I wasn't going to do a post for yesterday's MoFo theme, but then I saw Caroline's post on Tea and Sympatico and it made me realise how becoming vegan has totally transformed my social life.

Before going vegan, I had a small circle of friends, not because I'm a difficult person to get along with (or at least I hope not!), but I'm quite shy and quiet as well as being an introvert. And like many of my friends I had just moved from living in Manchester City Centre to Bolton, whilst others had decided to also up sticks and move to Chester, Wilmslow, Lancaster, Cambridge and Warrington and even friends still living closer by have busy lives.

But then I became vegan, and despite never being one for joining groups, I went along to my first vegan meet up, The Cake Liberation Front, where I met Caroline of Tea and Sympatico (I'd been devouring her blog posts for a while- I remember feeling like I'd met a celebrity!), her lovely partner Matt and Anna who was also new to veganism. After stuffing myself with cake (really, my tea that evening was just cake!), Anna suggested I might want to come along to another meet up that weekend at a place called Pie and Ale.

The meet up at Pie and Ale turned out to be for another group called Vegan Manchester, where I met Andrea, of Chocolate and Beyond, Sophia and Gareth. I found out that Gareth was from the Bolton area, and there was going to be a meet up for the Bolton Vegetarian, Vegan and Animal Rights (BVVAR) group at The Kitchen on Great Moor Street the following weekend.

So, then I attended my first BVVAR meeting, where I met Rachel who ran the group with Gareth. And at some point I also went to my first Manchester Vegan Society meeting, where I met my friend Pamela.

Since my first few vegan meet ups, I've been to plenty more, and the groups have just grown and grown, and at every new meet up I've met someone new.  There are groups popping up all over the place, and I've been to meet ups arranged by Glossop's vegan and veggie group as well as the newly founded Warrington, Widnes, Runcorn, St Helens and Wigan Group.

It's not just at specific vegan groups I've made vegan friends- I met my friend Debbie at a job search workshop, she saw my Unicorn Grocery tote and immediately recognised me as a fellow vegan!  We got chatting and discovered that not only did we have mutual friends in common, but we had been to the same events and just not met- including the time Vegan Manchester completely took over Jaipur Palace Restaurant in Manchester.

I also have vegan friends I have never met face to face, but we've become friends through Facebook, Instagram or each other's blogs. And of course, you always end up bumping into the same people at the various vegan fairs, or in a pub in Sheffield- like when I met someone I knew from the Cake Liberation Front and proceeded to show her pictures of the cake I'd just had from Steel City Cakes!

The great thing about vegan friends, is that they TOTALLY understand your need to take a picture of your food before you eat it, usually because they're doing exactly the same thing. Also, you won't be the only one trying to take the leftovers away in a Tupperware box, thanks for introducing us to that idea Anna!

I would definitely say that the social aspect is the best part of being vegan, I've gone from spending weekends doing bugger all to having to actually use a diary to keep on top of things, and even then I've managed to accidentally double book myself. On various occasions, I've been faced with the dilemma of having to choose between two different vegan events that have been taking place at the same time.  Sometimes, it's hard to believe how far I've come from that first Cake Liberation meet up January 2014 to where I am now with a great bunch of crazy new friends, and still meeting more!

So in conclusion, this post is not about the one new vegan friend I've met, but dedicated to all my awesome vegan buddies and all the ones I'm to meet in the future.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Healthy Indulgence Cafe

A couple of month's ago, a sign appeared on a vacant window in Bolton advertising a new cafe selling vegan and vegetarian food, which created quite a lot of interest in the Bolton Vegan and Vegetarian group (BVVAR). I watched whilst waiting for my bus home after work as the sign turned into The Healthy Indulgence Cafe.

The Healthy Indulgence Cafe opened in late June, and although it serves meat, they do cater for vegan and vegetarian diets and have received positive reviews from day one.

Apart from The Kitchen on Great Moor Street, and the Pizza Express that is hidden away down a back street, there isn't that many vegan friendly places in Bolton, so when a new place opens offering us somewhere else to eat, we all get very excited.  So we were all very happy when BVVAR arranged an afternoon tea in their relaxation room.

On arriving, I wasn't too sure what to expect, I was a bit wary of the word 'relaxation' room, I had awful visions of tie-dye and sitting crossed legged on a carpet trying to see through a fog of incense sticks. NOT that there is anything wrong with that, it just isn't me. But I was happy to find that the room was modern and we had chairs and bean bags to sit on and instead of incense there were candles and stylish statues of Buddhas.  In fact, it was more like a tranquil sitting room, and I immediately felt at home and relaxed.

After everyone arrived and was settled with their drinks, we headed over to the food table to fill our plates with various wraps, salad, cous cous and cakes (of course).

I don't know what all the flavours of wraps were, because as far as I'm concerned, as long as it's in a wrap, it's all good so I wasn't really paying attention to any signs.  However, there were a few with hummus and various types of filling, one with vegan cream cheese and one with vegan sausage. This is where the tie in to today's Vegan MoFo theme is- best sandwich ever.  My theory is, if it's in a wrap it's a million times better!

There were four different flavours of cupcakes (carrot, blueberry and two more that I forgot what they were) and two other desserts, which I think were flapjacks- one with chocolate and one without (note to self: need to remember to write down what things are instead of just diving in!) along with cous cous and impressive looking salad.

I ended up with a selection of wraps, a carrot cupcake, cous cous and one of the other desserts. Out of all the wraps, my favourite one was the sausage and I really enjoyed the cupcake, which turned out to be carrot and walnut rather than just a carrot cake.  I ended up having a blueberry cupcake as well that was left over, which was also really nice.

I really enjoyed the food at The Healthy Indulgence, and the staff were all very welcoming and friendly.  I will definitely be going there again to try their day menu, especially as I spotted that they were able to offer vegan milkshakes, and it's great to have a second option in Bolton town centre. Especially if you're out with omnis who are not too keen on going to a completely vegetarian venue like The Kitchen.

I also spotted that they are looking to open the cafe on Friday and Saturday evenings as a vegetarian restaurant, which is super cool :-)

Thank You to Rachel West and Chloe Woods for agreeing to let me use their photos.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Vegan Meal at the Coven

I've blogged about The Coven in Wigan before, when I popped in one day for a slice of chocolate goo cake and some Fentiman's Dandelion and Burdock, but despite there being good public transport links from Bolton to Wigan, I've not been since. So my friend, Rachel organised a vegan meal there for the Warrington, Widnes, Runcorn, St Helens and Wigan Vegan Group (phew! Long title! We need an acronym!) I thought it was time to pay a second visit.

Luckily, we had a rare visit from that bright thing in the sky, that I believe is called the sun, so all 18 of us got to enjoy our meals in their beautiful garden. This is an old picture, of my first visit, the plants have grown quite a bit since then, which gives it a lovely secret garden feel.

We all got to see the menu before hand and had to make our choices before the event, some had forgotten what they had ordered (which was amusing), but as soon as I saw bruschetta was a option for the starter, my mind was made up. The difficulty was choosing whether to go for the classic topping of tomato or the more usual asparagus or avocado. Despite the fact I've not had any asparagus this year, I opted for the avocado. Because, well, it's avocado.

This was delicious, and I didn't mind the coriander too much either! Other choices included a green vegetable soup, spiced plum and tostada salad, mezze and a raw tomato and basil soup.

Plum tostada

Mezze- the thing that looks like cheese is vegan mozzerella

Next up, were the main courses. Again, there was one option that stood out for me, which was the Chinese fritters on stir fried noodles.  This dish seemed to attract many admiring glances, as I was the only one on our table (maybe in the whole group?) that had ordered this. It looked freaking awesome!

The menu didn't explain what was in the fritters themselves, but I was pleased to discover it was a mix of vegetables and what I think was tofu. So as a tofu lover, this dish was a win!

Other options were lasagne, Tuscan bean stew with spicy polenta, lentil curry with saag aloo and poppadums, roasted peppers and raw sweet potato and beetroot spaghetti.
Tuscan Bean Stew
Spicy polenta, looks a lot like chips. May be chips!
Lentil curry (front), raw sweet potato and beetroot spaghetti (back) which also contained courgette!

Non of us knew what dessert would be, but there was plenty of choice. There was definitely a fruit crumble, a sundae containing a mix of everything for the indecisive, raw ice cream and chocolate goo cake both with and without soy, because no dessert menu is complete without chocolate cake.   The desserts also came with the option of vegan custard, cream, ice cream. For me, it was a no brainer, and despite my stomach's objections, I went for chocolate goo cake with ice cream (although the custard was tempting). 

This cake was pure delicious stodge, and I was glad I chose the ice cream to go with it as it was super refreshing. They use Swedish Glace vanilla ice cream which is super vanilla-y and a lot tastier than other ice creams. 

It would have been a great evening if it had just ended there, but Debra, who owns the nearby vegan and gluten free shop, Nooch was also at the meal and offered to open the shop for a private shopping experience for the group. I adore Nooch, and even though I don't get to Wigan that often (I intend to sort that out!) if I'm ever passing through Wigan, which is usually when I'm on my way to Liverpool via Wigan by train (£9 return!) I'll make sure I pop in to stock up. So the opportunity to visit my favorite vegan shop was unmissable.  Everyone always says never to go shopping when hungry, but you should also never go shopping when your absolutely stuffed either because it's so hard to imagine being able to eat ever again. Despite this, I managed to pick up some goodies that would usually mean a trip to Manchester. I mainly bought chocolate but I also picked up a jar of my favorite vegan pesto by Zest and my favourite vegan mayonnaise- Really! Not Dairy Roast Garlic mayonnaise.

The night was made even more epic when someone suggested that we go for a quick drink in her friend's new bar whilst we waited for our lift to arrive. The bar, Martland, Mill turned out to be two doors down from Nooch, and had a selection of vegan alcoholic beverages. 

There seems to be a little vegan haven starting to appear in Hallgate area of Wigan at the moment- with The Coven, and Nooch only a few doors down from each other and Martland Mill in Jaxon's square a minute's walk away. The fact that they're all very close to Wigan Wallgate station and across the road from the bus station makes it extremely tempting to do some vegan shopping in Nooch, get tea at The Coven, a cheeky drink or two at Martland Mill and then stumble to the train/bus station to get back to Bolton.  If you're feeling a little more athletic, I've been informed by my friend Andrea, that Wigan Central, tucked way underneath the railway bridge near Wigan North Western Station (across the road from Wigan Wallgate) also offers a selection of vegan friendly real ales and ciders. Hmmm, a day out in Wigan is sounding really tempting now... 

Massive thanks to Rachel, who provided the majority of the pictures of the food at the Coven. I suck at remembering to take photos. And also, a big thanks to those patient, hungry vegans that let us both snap away at their food before tucking in!