The Boy is working lot of evenings and weekends for the next three months, which means that I will be having a lot of Boy free weekends coming up.
I've always been fond of Wigan, it's a place I visited regularly when I was little, I used to love going to Wigan Pier and the experience and exhibition centre which has unfortunately closed, I have a fondness for Wigan Athletic (I'm not a football fan, but I love seeing small local teams doing well) and it's home to Uncle Joe's Mint Balls (hehe balls!) which are vegan friendly.
I'd heard about Wigan's vegetarian bistro/restaurant, The Coven and had learnt of the new gluten free and vegan shop, Nooch on facebook. So given that I have a free afternoon I decided to check them out.
First stop was The Coven on Hallgate, because I was thirsty. I'd heard rumours that it was quite a small place, but I wasn't expecting what I saw when I walked in- the place is tiny! And at first I was very confused because there isn't actually a counter and I thought I might have come in the wrong entrance, however the friendly waitress talked me through the drinks they sold, which included Fentimans so I didn't have to listen to the full list and went with my usual dandelion and burdock. I also ordered a slice of chocolate goo cake with vegan ice cream and went to sit in their garden- you have to go out the main door, turn right at the corner and through the back door. You pay at the end of the meal, so in order to do so, I had to leave the garden and walk back to the main entrance- they must have a lot of trust in their customers!
The cake was extremely dense and chocolatey, just as you would expect a something that is described as a chocolate goo cake to be. This is the kind of cake you would order after a two course meal and then instantly regret it because it was so rich and your already stuffed but you try your best to eat it because it's delicious. The vanilla ice cream was Swedish Glace which I love as it has such a strong vanilla flavour, unlike a lot of other dairy ice creams. I'd love to try Booja Booja, but it's so pricey!
The Coven do proper food too and also runs workshops.
Next stop was Nooch, which is a couple of doors down from The Coven on Hallgate. Me and The Boy tried to find this place previously when we were going through Wigan and for some reason I was convinced the shop front was green and that it was on the ground floor. We couldn't find it, mainly because the shop front is red and the shop is actually on the first floor!
The shop itself is very bright and spacious, working near Manchester University I have easy access to Eighth Day, however Nooch has different stock to Eighth Day and in addition they sell clothes, jewellery and various other craft items along with a dedicated area for workshops etc. They have a good relationship with The Coven and I spotted that you could buy The Coven's lasagna in the frozen section along with some of their cakes at the counter.
As well as picking up some Violife cheese slices and Tofutti sour cream, I also picked up a Round Up, which is a vegan version of a wagon wheel.
I was never a fan of wagon wheels, I always thought the chocolate tasted cheap and the marshmallow was disappointing. However this gourmet version was really tasty, the chocolate and biscuit was thick and high quality and it was generous with the marshmallow (I think vegan marshmallows taste a lot nicer than gelatin filled counterparts!), however at £2.50 it's definitely a treat item.
The lovely owner of Nooch seems to have grown quite fond of these, and warned me that they can be quite addictive and is constantly posting pictures on the Facebook page of half eaten Round Ups and Vego bars, which they also sell (I resisted them on this trip!). Maybe I should quit the day job and open my own vegan market stall at Bolton Market, however I would have to show some restraint and not eat all the stock!