Wednesday, 29 July 2015

What a Teese!

We love Teese cheese, especially the Creamy Cheddar Sauce.  I'd even got a friend on to it recently and she was fast becoming addicted too; vegan cheese pushers that we are!

We could never get it locally but always picked some up when passing near Ethica in Plymouth.  It was on a recent quick visit, when we had gone to collect an order we had placed for some Teese, that we were told by the lovely people there that they had heard rumours that it was going to be discontinued by the manufacturers, Chicago Foods.   They kindly later researched and contacted us to confirm that this was indeed the case.

Gutted!  Read here for the reasons.  Sod the marshmallows Chicago Foods, stop Teesing us and bring back the vegan cheese!  If you agree, go visit their Facebook page and tell them how utterly devastated you are at their decision.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Views From A Rainy Window

It has been tipping it down here in Cornwall and just in time for the start of the school summer holidays.  You have to feel for the tourists especially if they are camping, which many do around here.  It is so easy to feel angry at the weather; as if it is a person that is purposely being mean and awkward.  Once you accept that it is what it is, it is then not only easier to deal with but I personally start to see the beauty in it too.  After all, I won't have to water the garden today.
On the last couple of days of our recent trip to Brittany it rained too.  I spent some time staring out of the window of Miles the camper at the beach below wishing it would stop before I realised that I was staring past the beauty of it.  There in front of me on the window was a beautiful abstract of the scene below; I just needed to refocus by eyes to see it and my camera to capture it.

As the French novelist Marcel Proust once wrote; ‘The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes but in seeing with new eyes.’  I think this could be equally applied to travel, our journey through life and, of course, rainy summer days.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Cornish Wildlife Surprises In Brittany

Those that have read our blog before will know that we love choughs; after all they are the 'bird of Cornwall' and they are such wonderful characters with their striking red beaks and legs. Despite their endangered status (they only returned to Cornwall a few years ago), we have seen them on numerous occasions.  We consider ourselves to be very fortunate on that count.

What is even more amazing and fortunate is that in the last year whenever we have left the country we've bumped into choughs; again quite by accident.  We sighted them for the first time in Portugal this year and on our recent trip to Brittany, on our very first day, we saw 9 choughs fly over our heads and were treated to a constant viewing from then on.  It seems we may be chough magnets!

You can read about one of our Cornish viewings of the choughs here and their Portuguese cousins here. Meanwhile here are some photos from the numerous sightings in Brittany.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Vegan French Surprises #3

The guidebooks and various blogs and websites had warned of the difficulty of being veggie or vegan in Brittany.  The advice was easy to believe. Indeed the choices offered by Brittany Ferries on the way over are bad enough.  It continued to be easy to believe during some of our first few trips to the supermarket; no suitable margarines, meat substitutes, not many plant milks, etc.  We also thought that a health food store would be a rare thing to find.  That pretty much changed in one day about half way through our trip.

We were heading back to the coast after a spot of Le Tour de France when, on the outskirts of Baud on the road to Auray (D768), we happened upon a 'Magasin Bio' (organic shop) called Sante Nature.  It was 6pm and it was still open.  We obviously had to go and take a look.  The shop itself was quite large but the range of vegan food small and basic.  What it did however offer were boxes of organic red wine, clearly marked as vegan.  Read the previous post for more information on our search for wines.

We moved on buoyed by our great wine find but left wanting for more vegan food discoveries in Brittany.  In the course of the rest of the journey that evening we saw two more organic shops; one on the D45 near Fouesnant and one just outside of Pont l'Abbe on the D768.  Both looked sizeable, in industrial units set back off the road but sadly both were closed so we had to move on without further investigation.  We did however feel a renewed level of hope that things were not quite as sparse and gloomy for vegans in Brittany after all. 

Two days later we hit the vegan jackpot whilst further north on the Crozon peninsula.  The combination of random French road signs and a spot of bad navigation on my behalf had led us on an indirect route through the town of Crozon.  Whilst negotiating the umpteenth roundabout of the day I spotted a sign for another organic shop called Bio Presqu'ile (which translates as organic peninsula).  Our  route once more was diverted; this time to investigate the shop, which was happily open, and what an 'Aladdin's Cave' it turned out to be.  It was quite large and stacked with all manner of veggie, vegan, ecological, environmental products; even down to paints, children's toys, kitchen wares, books, vegetable seeds, toiletries, cleaning products and lots and lots of food and drink.  Clearly this was going to take some time!  

At least an hour later we emerged; two bags the heavier and a few euros lighter but with our preconception of the lack of vegan food discoveries in Brittany blown to shreds.  Highlights included lacto fermented tamari tofu (the best tofu we have ever tasted), tagliatelle with spirulina, Karma Kombucha (we'd drunk it by the time I took the photo!) and the lovely chocolate.

So if you are in Brittany as a vegan, don't despair.  For a start there's lots of lovely fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets and there are health food stores that do stock some lovely vegan goodies.  If you are in Crozon we heartily recommend a visit to Bio Presqu'ile at Roule Ta Pierre, 29160 Crozon (follow the ring road westwards and when you come to the roundabout by Lidl turn left and then right at the next roundabout).  They are open Monday to Saturday 9am - 7pm.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Vegan French Surprises #2

Those of you who have read a few of our posts may well have picked up on the fact that were are partial to a spot of wine here and there.  A trip to France was clearly a great opportunity to sample from one of the premier wine countries of the world.  In order to try and make the most of this we did a little research beforehand; after all us vegans know the clear marking up on the bottles of vegan wine is still a rare thing and even less likely in France. So we armed ourselves with a printed list from Vintage Roots and a little knowledge in regards to 'Sur Lie' wines.

'Sur Lie' translates as 'on the lees'.  The wine is overwintered on the lees (yeast sediment) before being carefully bottled directly from the tank or barrel without any filtration. The lack of filtration is the important bit for vegan wine as that is usually the point at which a non vegan ingredient can be used to filter or 'clear' the wine.

We are predominantly red wine drinkers but just before we left for Brittany we had enjoyed the odd bit of crisp, cool white here and there. This turn of events was fortuitous as when we first arrived we struggled finding a red wine we were certain was vegan.  In fact, ironically, the only one we found was a Portuguese we recognised from our trips over there!  We could find no reds from our several pages of printed Vintage Roots list and indeed after quite a few minutes of searching our heads started to feel like were were about to encounter an unusual hangover!  Sur Lie and the white wine section came to the rescue, particularly Muscadet which we had never actually tried before.  Muscadet is really the only wine produced in Brittany so in many ways it was good to give this local product a go.  Turns out to be lovely stuff although no doubt a lot better chilled and, as we were wild camping, we didn't turn the fridge on in Miles to conserve the electric.

Our search for the elusive French red wines continued however.  On our way back from a day with the Tour de France, we were driving from inland back to the coast when we happened across a health food store. More about health food stores in Brittany in the next post but not only were we surprised to see one but we were very pleased to see it still open at 6pm.  The surprises continued when we happened upon a corner of the store with an ample range of organic wines. We initially had the same problem on not having any certainty over whether they were suitable for us.  We then hit the jackpot big time when we found a set of wine boxes, all organic and all marked up as vegetarian and vegan (luckily my French is good enough to decipher this)!  I've never even seen suitable wine boxes in the UK and now, after a big battle to find any red wine at all in France, we find a range of about 4 wine boxes in one go. Well of course, two had to be secured to end the red wine drought immediately!  

After this initial big find we then not only discovered there were a lot more health food stores in Brittany than we had imagined but there were also, within them, more chances of finding those elusive vegan red wines than among the rows of offerings in supermarkets.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Vegan French Surprises #1

Phil had never been to France and I had only briefly passed through Brittany.  We are both keen Tour de France followers and Le Tour was briefly in Brittany.  It was also my birthday and I persuaded a slightly reluctant Phil that Brittany would be a perfect week long destination for an adventure in Miles our camper.  It all came together and we booked the ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff.

The only uncertainty was of what vegan wonders we would find on our adventure; after all the French are not renowned for their understanding of vegetarian, let alone vegan food. That said, with cooking facilities on board Miles and a wealth of fresh fruit and vegetables readily available we were never going to go hungry.  However, part of our love of travel extends to our bellies (literally!) and it's always great to discover new vegan foodie delights. We were just both unsure of this happening in France.  I'm happy to report that were were pleasantly surprised.

One of our first vegan food surprises was discovered in a Carrefour supermarket and ironically happens to be a French speciality; crepes!  After going past many creperies we had been having one of those 'if only' vegan moments despite neither of us having much recollection of what they tasted like.  Then we somehow happened to glance at the ingredients of a packet of Galettes Ble Noir (despite the direct translation of black wheat, ble noir is actually buckwheat) and were astonished to see they were vegan.  We found out afterwards that galettes are actually a Breton speciality of savoury buckwheat crepes.

The next morning we tucked into a breakfast of galettes, nectarines, apricots, cherries, Sojasun yoghurts (a less surprising find considering it is a French company) and peanut butter we'd brought from home.  It was all very 'continental' and a lovely way to start our day and our French adventure.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Tropical Pressure Festival


This year we were determined to go to the Tropical Pressure Festival here on the north coast of Cornwall so we've finally booked tickets.  We'd missed it in previous years and had heard it was pretty unmissable.  So what is the buzz about it? Well, it is not only about world class world music in a stunning Cornish setting but the festival offers 100% vegetarian food (much of which we've heard is vegan too).  So what's not to like about that?  Hearing that Ebo Taylor was headlining this year was the 'icing on the vegan cake' as, at the age of 79, the guy is truly a dude!

There are still tickets left for Tropical Pressure which takes place 17th-19th July so if you fancy a colourful weekend surrounded by tropical sounds whilst savouring amazing vegan culinary delights book your tickets and head down to Porthtowan in a couple of weeks time.

.....and if you don't book then have a listen to this and imagine us on the Saturday evening shaking our vegan booties with a belly full of lovely vegan food and weep!!  You really will be missing out (as Phil's dancing alone is a sight to behold!).