Raw Food Rosie’s Original Classic Cashew Brie

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Contains: nuts

Free from: palm oil, wheat, soy

I found Raw Food Rosie’s stall at VegFest London 2017 and it was hands down the best find of the whole festival.

I tried EVERY. SINGLE. CHEESE. (because I am a shameless and broke student) and not a single one disappointed. Seriously, the Vampire Slayer spreadable cheese blew my fucking brains out it packed such a punch.

I bought the original cashew brie because I’m a sucker for the good ol’ classics and it is one of my favourite vegan cheeses ever (if not one of my favourite cheeses ever in general).

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JUST LOOK AT IT. LOOK AT THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE. THIS SHIT IS FANTASTIC.

It’s solid, but creamy. Apply a little pressure or let it sit at room temperature and it will spread like butter. It’s thick and rich and filling and literally everything you could want in a cheese. It makes it so diverse – you could eat this on crackers, in sandwiches, in a pasta dish… or you could sink to my level and just hack at it like a mad woman and eat it straight from the wrapping.

Price-wise it’s one of the more reasonably priced ‘artisanal’ vegan cheese at £5.50 a wheel, and it can be frozen which means you have no excuse to not dedicate an entire freezer drawer to fulfilling your cheese needs (just me? alrighty then…).

If you wanna crack this out for your omni friends and family (if you have the willpower to part with it) then it would go down pretty well compared with supermarket takes on vegan cheese. It’s much more flavoursome but in the right way, and the texture is fucking perfect.

My only issue is that I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “brie” because that makes me think of a thick white rind and soft gooey centre, which this cheese definitely does not have. As a generic mild, semi-creamy cheese though you will struggle to find anything better than this and definitely not at a better price.

Overall, it’s fucking ace.

  • My Rating – 5/5
  • Omnivore Score – 4/5
  • Overall – 4.5/5

Find this product at: http://www.rawfoodrosies.com/shop/

Linda McCartney’s Vegetarian Beef Roast with Red Wine & Shallot Glaze

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Contains: Wheat, Soya

Free from: Palm Oil, Nuts

Now THAT title is a mouthful. With Halloween just gone, it’s that Christmas time of year (and I’ll join our fellow punks, Marxists, socialists and anti-capitalists in groaning in distaste) which means one thing: roast dinner. No matter if you celebrate it or not, winter is a perfect time to be sat inside for a cosy roast, with maple roasted parsnips, garlic butter brussel sprouts and cranberry jelly but it’s always a cause for stress. For £3.50, Linda’s got you covered.

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I won’t lie, I didn’t expect my roast to come in a foil pastry tray. It’s not a problem (hell, there’s very few things that would get in the way of my food, foil is not one of them) but it was surely unexpected. It doesn’t really look appealing either, just a flat “meatloafy” log that someone’s slapped into a dish, hardly the rustic and mouth-watering meal you’re going for but don’t let that put you off. All in all, not off to a good start. Then I stopped all my moaning and shut up. Straight out of the oven it smells like glazed shallots and looks much much richer than the frozen TV dinner I was first greeted with. I figured I’d try some of it dry and some with gravy but you know what? I didn’t even need any. Its bottom is soaked in a hot, sticky, smoky red wine glaze and it retains so much moisture it’s like digging in to a drowned pigeon. The meat itself has the same crumbly texture of stuffing but it’s not as dry and isn’t going to suck all the water out of you. Instead it sits perfectly well in your belly with mouthfuls of syrupy sauce and hunks of “meat”.

Taste? Well, it doesn’t taste of meat or roast dinner and I’d be pretty damn horrified if it did. No, this is beyond that. It’s pretty non-offensive and doesn’t opt for strong flavours in itself but definitely bulks out your lonely collection of brussel sprouts, peas and carrots. It’s not there to add crazy flavour to your dish, just to soak up the gravy and add a little juice of its own (everyone loves a little of their own juice, right?)

I wouldn’t recommend trying this out for everyone at the dinner table. It’s no pork belly or turkey, but it’s damn good all the same. It doesn’t try to be identical to your meat and doesn’t go the other extreme of tasting like your uncle’s “famous nutroast”. All in all, Linda never disappoints and I’m shocked you even read this far before figuring it out Hail Linda, hail.

  • My Rating: 4/5
  • Omnivore Score: 3/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

Find this product at: Tesco’s, Ocado, Saisnbury’s and Iceland.

 

VegFest London 2017 – The Good, the Very Good, and the HOLY SHIT THAT’S GOOD

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The Worst Photo Ever Taken at a Food Festival

Contains: a shitload of free samples and a fuckload of people

Free From: You’d think it’d be free from meat eaters but some dude selling soup chatted to me about how he went back to being omni so there’s that 

VegFest London 2017 had the biggest turnout to date, and it was fucking awesome.

There were international vendors set up throughout the exhibition centre, selling everything from pizza slices to lamps made from Himalayan salt.

Being a poor student I obviously went with the intention of scoring as many free samples as I could, and good GOD I was not disappointed. I managed to eat so much free shit I didn’t need to buy food to eat while I wandered around – which I was actually disappointed about because the food hall was INCREDIBLE … though this did save me from the ridiculous waiting times that hit around midday (the queue for Jake’s Vegan Steaks was easily half an hour long the whole time I was there).

Fortunately there was also booze. Booze with no queues. A no-queues booze cruise. (Don’t be deceived, there was no cruising. I only had half a mango-flavoured cider because someone  – cough, RYAN, cough – passed his plague on to me.)

So here’s a little roundup of the vendors that stood out based on the free samples I snagged and those that coerced me into buying their wares. Fair warning, there may have been a bias towards cheese-related goods…

 

Alternative Stores

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A fucking incredible online store (with an actual shop based in Newcastle) that sells damn near anything and everything you could dream of. Whipped cream to tofu presses, Quinoa Puffs to shoes – you name it they’ve got it (and the people that run it are the SWEETEST HUMAN BEINGS ALIVE).

http://www.alternativestores.com/vegan-vegetarian-shopping/

 

Ananda’s Marshmallows

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Marshmallows and biscuits and everything smothered in chocolate… holy fucking shit I swear to god this stall was heaven. I picked up four of their Round Up biscuits and I wish I’d bought the whole damn table because they are fucking ace.

https://www.anandafoods.co.uk/

 

Conscious Chocolate

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Photo from consciouschocolate.com

Yas (my long-time friend, fellow vegan, and the person who stopped me spending my entire life savings at VegFest) and I tried some of Conscious Chocolate’s free samples and they were hands down the most flavour-intense, gorgeously rich chocolates we had ever tasted. You’d be a fucking fool to not try these (and an even bigger fool to not remember to go back to their stall and buy an actual bar GOD DAMMIT).

http://www.consciouschocolate.com/

 

Love Seitan

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Photo from loveseitan.com

I fucking love how their tagline is “probably the best seitan in the world”. It’s like, “we don’t wanna brag, also there’s a fuckload of seitan out there so I mean statistically maybe not but like we’re pretty damn good so at least top ten. Definitely top ten. Stretching for top five.” Taglines aside, their seitan is pretty fucking awesome, especially the chilli and italian flavours. If, like me, you’re a lazy motherfucker and every time you get off your ass and attempt to make seitan it turns out like a chewy leathery catastrophe then you should definitely check these guys out.

https://www.loveseitan.com/

 

Ms Cupcake

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Photo from mscupcake.co.uk

Anyone who knows vegan sweet treats knows Ms Cupcake. They are some of the damn finest cakes, cookies, and bakes the vegan world has to offer. I picked up one of their red velvet cookie sandwiches (on the right in the photo) for my omni sister and holy shit it was good. You could feel the cavities forming, it was that full of sugary goodness.

http://www.mscupcake.co.uk/

 

New Roots

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New Roots is a Swiss company that do bloody INCREDIBLE cashew cheeses. They’ve got a camembert, cream cheese, and a ricotta as well as loads of other flavours of classic cashew cheese to choose from. I tried their brand new Free the Goat Cheeze which is their take on ricotta and holy shit they are killing it. Definitely a company to keep an eye out for.

https://www.newroots.ch/

 

Raw Food Rosie’s

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I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I think I’ve found my favourite vegan cheese. Raw Food Rosie’s cheeses are jam-packed full of flavour that kicks you in the teeth, punches you in the throat, and keeps you coming back for more. Their Vampire Slayer cream cheese? Holy fuck. I went away with one of their original classic bries which I will definitely be reviewing soon. For an artisanal cheese their prices are RIDICULOUSLY GOOD and if Yas wasn’t with me to drag me away I would have gladly spent all my money on every flavour of cheese they had to offer.

http://www.rawfoodrosies.com/

 

 

Vegetarian Caviar Club

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Photo from vegcaviar.com

Now I think I only ever tried real caviar once in my life and knowing what it was made the whole experience pretty fucking unpleasant. But THIS I can get on board with. It’s made with sea weed and looks like the real deal. I tried the “salmon” and Yas tried the “wasabi” and both of us were pleasantly surprised by this stuff. When I get good enough at making sushi that it doesn’t end up looking like a bastardisation of those ridiculous instagram “buddha bowls” splayed across my kitchen counter then I will definitely grab a jar of veggie caviar to finesse my sushi rolls.

http://www.vegcaviar.com/

 

 

Tyne Chease

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Photo from tynechease.com

Yas had the joy of going to university t’up North so she had already tried Tyne Chease before VegFest and told me about how bloody good it is. She was not wrong. I basically stood at their stall for a good 10 minutes tasting EVERY. SINGLE. SAMPLE. Tyne Chease has literally mastered integrating flavours into their cheeses. They are iconic. My only qualm was that a wheel of their cheese was almost £3 more expensive than some of the other cheeses around (eg. Raw Food Rosie) and as a student that pinches just a little too much to justify it…. especially as someone who could easily eat one whole wheel in one sitting. Would it be weird to put cheese on my Christmas list?

https://www.tynechease.com/

 

Verys

 

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Last but DEFINITELY not least is Verys. Those charismatic Italians drew us in and left us with the some mozarella cheese and the goddamn best ravioli I have had in years. I could have cried (granted I was very hungover when I ate mine, but the sentiment still stands). The only problem is I HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE WHERE TO BUY THEM. Their leaflet says they are available on The Vegan Kind Supermarket website but I have scoured and found absolutely fuck all. My heart is broken. Send help. I need this pasta in my life. If you ever come across Verys products BUY THEM. BUY THEM NOW. And send me some while you’re at it…

https://www.verys.it/en/

 

 

Goodlife Cumin and Coriander Falafel

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Contains: 

Free from: Palm Oil, Nuts, Soya, Wheat

Quick preface – I’ve been ill with some super rare strain of what I can only assume is Typhoid or Zika. No one wants to make a proper meal when they’re ill and what better to get those nutrients in than a falafel wrap? (don’t question my methods, they’re effective). Tired of the typical Cauldron stuff and seeing Goodlife on the shelves, why the fuck not. I’m already drop-dead infected, the worst this could do is put me out of my damn misery. At £1.80 for 14 (that’s what, 12 pennies per falaf?) it’s pretty well priced, but are they even worth that?

Not necessarily the worst but I did question each and every 12p I spent on each falafel. Warm, a little crusty but not sandy. Mouth puckeringly dry, trying them plain left me with that Donald Trump butthole shaped mouth (as is expected with falafel) so I had to pop them in a wrap with a little (a lot) hummus and veg. That said I did have one plain to really gauge its texture and flavour. It definitely had a good crumble to it that you want with a falafel, those good cakey bits of it that break apart in your mouth without it disintegrating in your hands leaving you with some sad, brown talcum powder. Goodlife have definitely managed to bring a strong product. It holds together well up until the last minute and adding a little sauce (or in my case just slapping an extra helping of hummus on it) doesn’t cause it to collapse in on itself. The crust on the outside? Nice. Crisp and not so thick that you’re biting down into what could either be a meteor or a charcoal.

Goodlife came weak with their flavour game though. Even through my constantly running nose and broken spirit all I could taste was cumin. Not small amounts that give it a little kick, I mean all I could taste was cumin. It tasted earthy and just a little bit offensive. It wasn’t exactly terrible, to be perfectly fair, but I feel the same outcome could’ve been reached by licking the underside of a half-used poppadum.

It’s hard to go wrong with falafel. It’s omni-friendly by nature and the fact that this is palm and gluten free doesn’t really change that (though it is a nice touch). I’d buy them again for sure, partly for their pricing and also because they weren’t the worst but they’re far from the best. Very far. If we’re talking geographical analogies, the best is Mongolia and Goodlife is Peckham. That’s how far.

  • My Rating: 2/5
  • Omnivore Score: 4/5
  • Overall: 3/5

Find this product at: Ocado, Saisnbury’s and Iceland. Your mileage may vary.

 

Tesco Free-From Rocky Road Bites

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Contains: palm oil, soy

Free from: nuts, wheat

I bloody love rocky road. I don’t give a fuck about you sultana-hating purists, rocky road is the shit and I will fight you. The worst part about most free-from rocky road bites is that they are sneakily non-vegan. Seriously, why the fuck would you go to all that effort to make something gluten free, egg free, AND dairy free to then be like “LOL they still got gelatin in ’em tho”. It’s a sick and cruel joke.

FORTUNATELY the ever-reliable Tesco decided to not be sick and cruel bastards and bestowed upon us a tiny tub of terrible tarmac goodness (get it? Terrible tarmac… Rocky road… Is this thing on…?).

The downside: it costs £3 for about 12 mini bites. That is like 6 normal human bites and 4 “G is menstruating and determined” bites. Not exactly value for money…

The upside: RICH AND GOOEY CHOCOLATEY GOODNESS INTERSPERSED WITH CRUNCHY BISCUIT, SULTANAS, AND SQUIDGY MARSHMALLOW.

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That’s a pretty big upside if you ask me. So if you have £3 to burn or are in a desperate pit of chocolate-deprived despair, these bite-sized bastards are the tub to tuck into.

Importantly, the chocolate is an easy pass for any omni, so if you feel like 12 tiny bites are just too much for your (weak ass) self to handle you can rest assured that you can share a tub with all your pals.

Or alternatively, get them to try one and realise how fucking good they are… then proceed to eat the rest of the tub in front of them like the rocky road gremlin you are.

Your choice…

  • My Rating – 5/5
  • Omnivore Score – 4/5
  • Overall – 5/5

Find this product at: Tesco

Ben & Jerry’s Peanutbutter and Cookies Ice Cream

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Contains: Soya, Palm Oil, Nuts, Wheat

Free from: literally nothing

IT’S HERE. After millennia, it’s crash landed in the UK and the name alone could give you enough diabetes to require amputation. Ben & Jerry’s (my favourite BJ) finally deliver good on their promise to bring everyone’s favourite post break-up shitfest to the vegan world. It’s also still one of the most expensive ice creams out there at £5.50 per tub.

Peanut butter? In ice cream? Yea. It’s that good. It’s got perfect mouthfeel (none of that sticky cloying shit that hides behind your gums) and it’s the creamiest damn vegan treat I’ve had since birth. There’s the smoothness of the PB, the thickness of the ice cream, and the crunch of actual cookie chunks all in a spoonful. It’s better than good. I take back anything and everything I’ve said about Alpro or Booja-Booja being good or acceptable, if it’s not this golden creamy stuff, it’s just. not. worth it. Some dairy-less ice creams have this strange “icy” texture to them that Ben & Jerry’s just doesn’t even acknowledge. This is some God tier dessert.

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To speak openly, I ate the entire pot in two sittings. It would’ve been one, but I’d need an insulin shot to continue. It’s just so super sweet but also refreshingly cool. It’s not overly rich like Booja-Booja or stodgy. There’s little pockets of saltiness with the peanut butter, but it’s also toffee like and is the perfect match for the Oreo-ish cookies crumbles in there. Even the vanilla in there does its job well and bring it all together. It’s not even a bland vanilla, it’s that black specked shit (that’s how you know it’s good).

Ice cream is pretty hard to fuck up. All dairy-free versions I’ve tried have been  practically identical to the dairy ones (with some exceptions here or there) but Ben & Jerry’s is better. 

  • My Rating – 5/5
  • Omnivore Score – 5/5
  • Overall – 5/5

Find this product at: Tescos (while stocks last) 

Tesco Free-From Mac and Cheese

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Contains: soy

Free From: wheat, palm oil, nuts

I fucking LOVE mac and cheese. Do you know how long I waited for this shit to hit the shelves?! I grew up on Kraft mac, that real fine shit from a cardboard box, so to be able to have nutritionally lacking quick-cook cheesy goodness back in my life got me all kinds of excited.

As with any ready meal, you feel like a goddamn failure at life with every stab of the plastic film before you pop your culinary delight in the microwave. But it’s okay, because Tesco has gotten real fuckin fancy and thrown some parsley on that shit. So, clearly, not everything in your life has gone to crap because your dinner has some foliage tossed upon it.

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My first question is: what the FUCK? Why is it so watery?!

Kraft mac and cheese was so thick and gooey it was basically a heart attack in a bowl. THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE COULDN’T EVEN BRING ON A BIT OF LIGHT CHEST PAIN.

If I’m gonna spend £3 on a mac and cheese ready meal I at least want it to be so cheesy I regret it.

Once I stopped being dramatic, I gave it a good stir and a long, hard stare and then tucked in (the stare was necessary, I didn’t know if I could trust this weak-ass attempt at comfort food).

It’s fine.

Like, that’s it.

It’s fine.

It’s definitely not thick or cheesy enough, the pasta is noticeably gluten free (sorry celiacs, that’s not a good thing), and it’s weirdly peppery. It’s totally edible, but one of those ready meals that makes your soul a little sad.

It was like going on a date with someone who is really attractive on paper, but then when you meet them they’re the kind of person to argue that – while they totally wouldn’t vote for him themselves – there are some merits of wotsit Hitler being President of the United States.

Yeah, sorry, there won’t be a second date.

  • My Rating – 2.5/5
  • Omnivore Score – 2.5/5
  • Overall – 2.5/5

Find this product at: Tesco