I’m delighted to announce that on the 5th July 2015 Gloucestershire Vegan Group will be holding it’s first ever event designed specifically for families. We hope to enjoy an afternoon of picnicking, activities and games in the lovely Stratford Park in Stroud, Gloucestershire. Our event is open to anyone who is vegan and their families or anyone who is interested in veganism. We’d love you to bring along a dish of vegan food to share, a picnic blanket and plates. After lunch we will play some games, and get stuck into some family friendly activities, including a special game of Stratford Park I-spy. We will meet at the bandstand at 12.30pm, and will picnic nearby. Please r.s.v.p at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to join us.
The Royal Oak has a vegan proprietor, Kate Lewis, who is also involved in organising dynamic vegan fine-dining events. She’s brought her enthusiasm for decent vegan cuisine to the Royal Oak, and as a result the vegan Christmas Menu was more than enough to tempt plenty of Glos Vegans to book in for our annual festive meal.
Twenty of us came together to celebrate the beginning of the festive season in style, with a mini-bus load rocking-up from Cheltenham, and the rest of us descending from around the county on a foggy winter evening. It was lovely that a few that were new to the group were also able to come along.
We were given the dining-room which is a above the bustling bar, and the Royal Oak team had transformed it into a enchanting space, with glimmering candle lanterns, divine table-centrepieces, and luxurious winter foliage adorning the old wooden beams. It was a lovely atmosphere and we admired the surrounds as we chatted pre-dinner.
The meal itself was an absolute feast. We ate some fantastic food, starting with a spiced cauliflower and almond soup, with polenta and spinich croquettes. The soup was warming and well-seasoned, with a lovely crunch from the toasted almonds. We adored the polenta, which was so crispy and golden. Others had a warm tofu salad which looked great. The main was a classic roast dinner with some toothsome tempeh and plenty of veg on the side. The tempeh had a great texture and taste, and the sprouts were just perfect, but we all went mad over the garlic mashed potato which had a sweet tang of roast garlic.
Just when we thought the meal couldn’t get any better out came the puddings: mulled pear in puff pastry with booja chocolate ice cream and chase marmalade bread pudding with hot chocolate sauce. Unsurprisingly we devoured every last drop of that hot chocolate sauce, there was certainly some most-unsociable plate-licking and some of us even drank the last of it from shot-glasses!
Then one last lovely surprise from Kate, an artisan vegan cheeseboard, with smoked-cheddar, cranberry brie, feta and a black pepper & herb cheese, all served on gorgeous heart-shaped crackers. It was tasty, crafted nut-cheese, with punchy flavours. It provided a perfect end to our evening.
I must also mention the great selection of vegan alcohol available at the Royal Oak. Their own collaboration with Stroud Brewery, Asparagasm, is available on tap and is unfined. It’s a tasty, refreshing ale and is wheat-free. They also have Moor Ales, and a selection of vegan wines from Vintage Roots.
Thanks to the wonderful Royal Oak staff for making our evening such a special occasion.
Gloucestershire Vegan Group will be taking a small break from events until early 2015. Events for 2015 will be planned during December/January and as usual will be publicised via our email list. If you’d like to suggest an event then please get in touch. Our events aim to support and help build vegan community in Gloucestershire. We promote veganism principally because animals have a right to life and freedom. If you’d like to sign-up and get updates about events such as this one visit this page.
On a sunny Saturday in June Gloucestershire Vegan Group were lured back to the Brewery Bar at Stroud Brewery for round-two of their delicious vegan beer and pizza. We arrived early to beat the pizza-rush, armed with our own fave cheese substitute for Velo Bakery to sprinkle liberally over our selection of pizzas before cooking in their on-site wood-fired pizza oven. All of Stroud Brewery bottled beer is vegan (and organic), which provided a great range of choice for us to try. Since our last visit Stroud Brewery have added the Organic Lager and the Stroud Organic Ale to their range, both of which were great to drink on a warm evening on their wooden decked beer garden.
We’re also excited to learn about the special beer they’ve been brewing up in collaboration with Asparagasm – vegan and wheat free pale ale – we can’t wait to try it!
A big hit on the evening was Sheila’s home-made cheese – here’s the recipe:
Sheila’s vegan cheese
2 handfuls of cashew nuts
1 handful of yeast flakes
Olive oil to mix
1 generous teaspoon yeast extract
1 mean teaspoon of turmeric
2-3 teaspoons tomato puree
Grind the cashew nuts in a blender
Add yeast flakes, add olive oil to give desired consistency.
Add Marmite, turmeric and tomato purree.
Adjust ingredients to taste.
Best used raw, shame to cook
Very simple cheap Vegan cheese
Soya flour, oil & yeast extract
Mix ingredients to taste
Can be made runny and spreadable
Or use a solid vegan margarine to make a sliceable cheese.
Fine for cooking.
Making your own vegan cheese is fun, not to mention cost-effective compared to buying shop-bought cheese substitutes. There are loads of different methods, and non-dariy cheese can be made from a variety of ingredients. If you’re interested in making your own, you can try recipes from the excellent ‘Artisan Vegan Cheese‘ by the inspiring vegan chef Miyoko Schinner.
It’s really refreshing when places are accommodating to vegan needs, and Stroud’s independent artisan Pizza take-away Fat Toni’s have have been vegan-friendly from the moment they opened their doors only a year ago. From day one they offered non-dairy cheese on their menus, or extra veggies as an option, this means that their pizzas can be enjoyed by vegans or those who are lactose-intolerent.
This inspired us to organise a vegan pizza party – to allow us to try the full range of what they have to offer to hungry, pizza-loving vegans. So we arranged in advance to have the pizzas delivered to our door and piled into a Stroud household to eagerly await our pizza-fest.
We ordered 5 varieties – Sicilian Caponata (spiced aubergine caponata, toasted pine nuts and rocket), Vegesaurus (walnut & marinated artichokes), La Franca (artichokes, crushed garlic, olives and cherry tomatoes), Alice in Wonderland (wild mushroom & aspargus) and finally, a firey one – Dantes Inferno (heaps of red & green sliced chilli!). They offer a choice of two types of sourdough – San Franciso and Ischia, giving a variation in the sharpness in the base, we tried both.
The 20″ pizzas were huge and could easily feed 3 people (even hungry vegans!), especially is you make a salad to accompany. They were beautifully cooked – the bases are the perfect balance of chewy, sour dough, and crispy edges. The toppings were imaginative and tasty, my personal favourite was the La Franca, because it was extra garlicky, but they were all supremely tasty. The vegan cheese melts well, and adds a good salty, gooey element, but it’s not entirely necessary, as Fat Toni’s pizzas are equally tasty with extra veggies instead of cheese.
After pizza we played games, and sampled the puddings we’d all brought along to share.
One pudding that created quite a stir was a vegan version of Lemon Meringue Pie, with an authentic crispy top, the recipe can be found online here.
It was a lovely, warming winter social event and great to catch up with fellow local vegans.
Vegan Pizza Dough Recipe
Vegan Pizza is easy to make at home too. Here is my favourite pizza dough recipe.
1tsp dried active yeast
2 cups warm water
4 cups strong white flour
• Dissolve the yeast in the warm water using a whisk
• Add 1 tsp salt and stir
• Add the strong white flour 1 cup at a time, whisking between each cupful until a thick dough is formed
• Cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 4 hours or more (If you do this in the morning, you have a lovely risen dough waiting for you to make pizzas from at tea-time.)
• Turn out onto a large oiled baking pan and stretch the dough to fit the pan (This recipe can make two pizzas, if you want thin-and-crispy)
• Top with your favourite toppings and bake for 20mins until the dough is golden and crispy, and your non-dairy cheese is melty.