Hi friends! I'm back and after returning with a case of bronchitis (stupid plane cooties), I'm back to blogging too!
If you haven't been following along on Instagram (@itdoesnttastelikechicken) you may not have known that I went away on a two-week trip. The first part was to England (mostly London), and the last 4 days were to New York City!
Mostly I will be chatting about the food we ate during our trip in this post, because VEGAN FOOD ❤️ but I did want to talk a little bit about our packing because I know I would have found this info helpful. We both packed for 2 weeks in just carry-ons. You can see every single thing I packed in my story highlight here on Instagram, but I wanted to share with you my absolute favourite items that I brought.
Top 6 Must-Haves for Traveling:
- Huzi Infinity Pillow. After purchasing one for myself, I ended up buying one for Adam too just a few days later. This thing may be a little funny looking but it is lightyears better than any u-shaped travel pillow. It is so damn comfy that not only did we end up using them on the planes, but we used them on the hotel beds, we continue to snuggle up with them on the couch at home, and they sometimes even make it into our bed at home as well. These pillows make every situation just that much more comfortable. Machine washable and the bamboo blend fabric makes them super soft too. They are so good that I even gave two of them as a thank you gift to my cousins for taking care of Chickpea dog while we were away.
- Birkenstock insoles. These insoles aren't super cheap but they were worth every penny. While I love the comfort of Birkenstocks, I'm not a huge fan of the look. These insoles fit into any shoe and were a total lifesaver. We walked an average of 12km a day and while Adam had tired, blistered, sore feet, mine were completely fine. Not a blister in sight and I never had to rest my feet.
- Veja sneakers. White sneakers are THE thing to wear in England. They go with absolutely everything you are wearing whether it be jeans or a dress, and you will see everyone else wearing them too. I love my Veja sneakers which are not only a vegan brand, but they are even more comfortable than Converse in my opinion. My Birkenstock insoles fit right into them to take the comfort level even higher. I ended up wearing these shoes every single day. Thank you insoles! (#nerdalert).
- Travel packing cubes. I got these super cute pink with cactus print travel packing cubes to test out on this trip and I loved them!! Marie Kondo is one of my heroes and these cubes make it so easy to keep your clothes organized while optimizing space. My clothes stayed neatly folded away the entire time and packing up to leave took all of 10 minutes.
- International Travel Adapter. The plugs are different all over the world but this one little box adapts any plug so you can use your electronics easily. Not only does it work anywhere in the world, but it also has 2 usb ports so you don't even need to bring separate power adapters for your phone, iPad, etc. It's a one-stop shop!
- Brush on sunscreen. I apply a liquid sunscreen to my face every morning, but I loved brush on sunscreen for when you're out and about. I just popped this in my purse when heading out for the day so that I could quickly touch up my sunscreen at any time without messing up my makeup or making me look greasy. And because it's a powder instead of a liquid it didn't add to my limited amount of space for liquids in my carry-on.
So off we went to England. Adam (if you haven't met him yet) is my amazing partner who was the ultimate tour guide as he lived in England in the past for several years. I swear he isn't as tough as he looks in this picture...
See. Here he is getting all emotional over the beautiful cows (his favourite animal) in New Forest. New Forest is an area in Southern England where all of the animals are protected by the queen and it is illegal to hurt them. So the animals just roam freely around, and if they happen to roam onto the road, the traffic just has to wait for them to pass.
It's actually so charming and wonderful. I saw horses, cows, pheasants, and donkeys, but there are also pigs, deer, and all of the smaller animals are protected too!
Restaurant: Off Beet
The first vegan restaurant we tried was Off Beet in New Forest. The room was gorgeous and bright and the food was fresh and creative. I had the Poké Bowl with watermelon 'tuna' and seared pineapple (left) and Adam had the L.A. Taco with pulled oyster mushrooms and Korean inspired flavours (right). I wish we (I) had woken up earlier to get there in time for breakfast because that menu looked even better. (Stupid jetlag). I would rate this restaurant 7/10. The atmosphere was gorgeous but the food was a little hit and miss.
Next up was the lovely town of Brighton. This cute town was super pretty with a big pier that reminded me of Santa Monica, and lots of little streets filled with stores and restaurants. Perfect for the wanderer.
For lunch, we went to Purezza which was totally beyond delicious. It was so good that we actually later went to another location in London because we just couldn't get enough. Don't be intimidated by the large crust. I'm not usually a crust eater unless I have some good pizza dip, but this crust is like no other... It's fluffy and full of air with a gorgeous, chewy, slightly smoky taste. They do have pizza dips available (which we got) and I assure you, no crust was left behind.
In the photo above, left is the Parmigian Party pizza, and right is the Here Comes Truffle pizza (which if you like truffles you MUST order this as it was amazing). We also tried the Dough Balls which were stuffed with gooey melty vegan cheese. Seriously SO good. I would rate this restaurant 10/10. Everything from the atmosphere to the service, to the wine list, and of course the food was fantastic.
To say we were already having a blast is an understatement! They say travel is the ultimate test of a relationship and I say we passed with flying colours!
Restaurant: Terre à Terre
This fancy vegetarian restaurant had a ton of options with lengthy descriptions which was informative, but also just kind of overwhelming. A little unsure of what to do we spoke to our server (who was lovely) and he recommended we order the Terre a Tapas Sharing plate and an order of the KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower) which you can see bottom left in the photo above. The sharing plate came with one hot plate (top left) and one cold plate (right). There were many beautifully created little tastes including vegan black pudding! Our favourite dish was the KFC. Everything was beautiful and interesting but I was still left wanting a little more in the flavour department on some of the dishes so I would rate it 7/10.
If you are going to England, I highly recommend visiting Brighton for a night or two. It's such a charming little town with a lot to offer!
After Brighton, we headed straight to London. I love how the city is jam-packed with so many stunningly gorgeous old buildings. Every turn was another exciting sight.
#Nerdalert: Is anyone else in love with the movie Notting Hill? It's one of my fave romcoms so when we wandered through the streets of Notting Hill (the actual place) I asked Adam if he knew where the travel bookshop in the movie might have been. He took me to that very place and it turns out the bookshop is a little tourist attraction (apparently I'm not the only nerd) selling a bunch of junk no one probably needs. I loved it! Haha. ...I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy...
This is a beautiful restaurant, with a gorgeous bar and a bartender who likes to practice cool flipping bottle type tricks. The food was gorgeous, have you ever seen a hummus plate look so beautiful (left in the photo)? Along with the 'Mezze for Two to Share' (hummus plate), we tried the Farmacy Burger (right) and the Artichoke Pizzetta. Everything was bright and delicious. 8/10.
One of our favourite accidental discoveries was stumbling into Carnaby. Tons of cute alley walking streets filled with little shops, restaurants, and beautiful art installations. So charming and I bet it would be even cuter at night.
Restaurant: Norman's Coach & Horses
We had to try London's first vegan pub so we headed to Norman's Coach & Horses. When they say pub, they mean pub. This gritty grimy little pub has an all-vegan menu so we ordered the Tofish and Chips with a couple of pints of beer. The vibe was authentic but I wasn't a huge fan of this dish. The tofu had a piece of nori on it to make a seaweed fish skin and then deep fried. Other than that it didn't taste like the tofu was seasoned at all. The tartar sauce was yellow for some reason and was ok, but nowhere near as good as my own recipe. The peas were kinda boring but the fries were classic and great. Overall it was a fun experience and we only tried the one dish, but flavour-wise it was lacking. 5/10
Restaurant: The Gate
The cabby had trouble locating this restaurant and I think that's because from the street, you literally just see a small gate for the entrance. Once you enter you walk through a cute little garden then go around the corner and up the stairs to the small charming restaurant. The servers were a little overwhelmed when we arrived early (is that a Canadian thing?) so we left and wandered the streets for 10 minutes before returning. On our walk, we happened to see some of Britain's Got Talent contestants leaving the theatre #nerdalert.
Upon returning we were seated and enjoyed an incredibly gorgeous meal. The Gate is vegetarian but most dishes were vegan. We shared the Artichoke Terrine (left) as our appetizer which was one of the most delicious things we enjoyed on the trip! I had the Wild Mushroom Risotto Cake (right) which was also super tasty, and Adam had the Aubergine Teriyaki which was delicious but a little over sauced. I would definitely recommend this restaurant for fine dining lovers. 9/10
Another pleasant stumble upon surprise was finding a By Chloe restaurant just when we were starving. While I knew there were a few across London I didn't really note where they were or make a plan to come to one specifically.
Restaurant: by Chloe
My first time visiting a by Chloe and I wasn't disappointed! This fast food chain is the way fast food should be in my opinion. Well thought out, delicious, and VEGAN! Determined to find a good vegan fish and chips we tried by Chloe's version (left) which was much better than Norman's Coach & Horses, but was still lacking in seasoning and I was missing a flaky texture. The mac & cheese (bottom right) was SO amazingly good, and the espresso cookie (top right) was crispy, sweet, and the perfect snack for wandering down the street with. 9/10
Restaurant: Young Vegans Pie Shop
At the end of a little alley lives this tiny little pie shop. This alley is filled with other vegan restaurants... if only we had more stomachs. The pie shop is small and stuffy but there is lots of public seating outside. We grabbed two pies, the vegan cheeseburger pie (top) and the classic vegan steak and ale pie with cheesy fries (bottom). Gluttony here we come! These pies are rich and hearty, and Adam was convinced that no one would know they were vegan. I enjoyed the pies, but man are they rich. I don't think I could eat one of these very often and live to talk about it! 8/10
While the food was probably my favourite part of the trip, we also explored so many different areas of London. We saw all the major sites including galleries and museums, monuments, parks, Buckingham Palace, many markets, and basically just made sure we had all the fun (and lots of pints).
Restaurant: Unity Diner
If you like to follow vegan activists (and I do), you probably have heard of Earthling Ed (aka vegan Jesus). He co-founded the non-profit Unity Diner where all of the profits go towards funding animal rights organizations. For some reason, I had it in my mind that this would be a small coffee shop. Well, I was wrong, it turned out to be a gorgeous restaurant that offered all the comfort food you can dream of. And it's good. Very good! The burger (left) was one of Adams most favourites ever (and he is a mean vegan burger connoisseur). The hot dog was also great along with the prawn tempura (bottom left) and a Caesar salad (which didn't make it to the photos) that was heavily coated in all sorts of delicious toppings. We may have enjoyed our time here a little too much and may have gotten a little tipsy on all the fabulous drinks they offer as well. 9/10
Restaurant: Deliciously Ella
After all of this gluttony, we were seriously craving something with actual nutrients! So we headed to Deliciously Ella. You may know her as she is a super famous blogger and she also has this little deli. It was cute and fresh and just what we were craving at the time. We got a salad bowl where you could select three different salads and topped it with a dollop of hummus and chilis. The veggies were all tasty and fresh and cooked perfectly. There was nothing on the menu that blew me away creatively, but everything we had we enjoyed. 7/10
Restaurant: Vida Bakery
We just happened upon this little vegan bakery one day when we were hot and tired and needed to rest. We were just going to have an iced coffee but when I saw another customer order this ice cream, I had to have one for myself: SPRINKLES! #nerdalert. It was the perfect light sweet treat pick me up I needed. I was too hot to try cake (does anyone else hate baked goods when it's hot?) which was a bummer as they all looked gorgeous. If only I had more time... I don't feel it's fair to rate this bakery as I didn't actually have any baked goods, but it was cute enough I would definitely try to visit it again if I'm ever back in London.
In between all of these food adventures, we had a lot of fun together ❤️
I almost didn't include this one in the post because I really hate being negative, but then I thought it was important to share. Perhaps it was our fault because as we decided to find a vegan Sunday roast dinner last minute and just looked for the one closest to us... I think it would have been better to do more research first. We found Talbot as it was listed in this article, as one of the best vegan roast dinners in London.
Where to start... arriving we asked if we could sit at a table by the window, the host told us no because that was for people who were eating. We told her we were planning on eating, but she sent us to the smoke-filled patio upstairs. We didn't want to sit in the smoke so we came back downstairs and found a table by a fan that was relentlessly squeaking. The table we had requested earlier was sat with other people now.
When we asked about their vegan roast dinner, the whole staff seemed confused. They had a vegetarian roast dinner which at first they said couldn't be made vegan at all, but then after several staff discussed, said it could be made vegan by omitting items on the vegetarian roast. It's so fun when items get removed for your plate but you are charged the same amount. When I asked for a description of what the meal consisted of, they just told me it was a vegan roast. Cool. We were unsure, but at this point very hungry so we decided to order.
The roast dinners arrived which were described as "mixed bean sausages". I can assure you these were nothing like sausages, but instead mushy oily oddly seasoned bean cakes. The Yorkshire pudding was dense and more like a muffin. The vegan gravy and roast vegetables were fine. I have no idea why people have reviewed the vegan roast dinner here as great. Perhaps we had a uniquely poor experience and normally they do much better, but the whole visit was a total bust so I would have to give this place a 2/10.
Restaurant: Sutton and Sons
This is the vegan fish and chips I was looking most forward to. This vegan fish wasn't made of tofu like the others, but it was a banana blossom! That's right, a flower from the banana tree. So cool! It has this stringy texture which reminded me more of chicken than of fish. It was a bit tough, and the taste was pretty good, although it could have used more seasoning or marinating in my opinion (maybe I just like more seasoning on my vegan fish than most people do)? I loved the creativity of this dish and applaud a fish and chips shop for having a vegan menu. 7/10
On our last day in England, we visited the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio tour. #nerdalert. As a Harry Potter fan, this was actually the coolest thing ever. Here we got to see all of the real sets, costumes, and props that were used for the filming of the movies. IT WAS SO COOL. Adam, who enjoys Harry Potter but isn't a huge nerd fan like me, even enjoyed the tour immensely and kept asking me over and over again "is this the actual set/costume/prop"!? Yes, Adam, that's why we are here.
It was so cool to see the great hall, Diagon Alley, the forbidden forest, Hagrid's house, the potions classroom, the Gryffindor dormitory, the Weasley's house and so many amazing sets. What really blew me away was the immense attention to detail that I didn't even notice in the films. I definitely recommend going to this if you're a fan. If you plan to go to this, buy your tickets as early as you can because they are sold out months in advance!
This chain restaurant can be found everywhere in London, and because of that, I hadn't given it much thought. I ended up dropping in one for lunch before catching our plane to NYC in an attempt to avoid gross airport food. It turns out the airport had a Wagamama in it anyways so I didn't need to worry! Either way, I'm thrilled I dropped in here. It's not a vegan restaurant but they have a separate vegan menu with some super fun and creative dishes.
I ordered the Avant Gard'n bowl (left) which was a dish made in collaboration with YouTuber Gaz Oakley and the mixed mushroom + panko aubergine Hirata steamed buns (right). The Avant Gard'n came with a vegan egg which was super cute but tasted nothing like an egg. The yolk was a sriracha mayo and the white tasted like coconut cream. It was still super cute and tasty tho. The bowl also had seitan steak which was yummy, but not as good as my steak recipe (in my opinion). Overall the bowl was super delicious and the steamed buns were also a real treat. I would be thrilled if a restaurant like this was all over Toronto! 8/10
On to New York City! We stopped by New York on the way home for a few days to visit the Plant-Based World Conference, which we were offered free VIP passes to. Woot woot! The expo floor had endless free samples of so many amazing and new vegan products. Good Catch tuna, AkoPlanet cheese (seriously this stuff was mind-blowing), Myrtle Greens vegan jerky, Vegetarian Plus vegan kung pao chicken, and Lightlife deli were some of my faves, but that just scratches the surface of all the cool things we tried.
The real highlight for me tho was getting to see some of my plant-based doctor heroes speak! #nerdalert. I had the honour of listening to lectures by Dr. Joel Fuhrman of Eat to Live, Dr. Garth Davis of Proteinaholic, Dr. T. Colin Campbell of The China Study and Forks Over Knives, and Dr. Michael Greger of How Not to Die and Nutritionfacts.org. I nerd out over their speeches online all the time but it was so great to get to see them live and to share the experience with Adam. It was a great conference and I hope they do it again next year!
Restaurant (NYC): P.S. Kitchen
We were the first ones to arrive for lunch at P.S. Kitchen (Canadian thing?), but as we sat down the restaurant quickly filled up. WOW, what a great find! This restaurant was a fun vibe, and the food was fantastic!!! The food was so good that we came back the next day again for dinner. They served up the Beyond meat burger and Beyond meat sausage both on pretzel buns (pretzel buns are apparently all the rage in New York). They were both delicious and I loved this rosé cider I had with my burger as well. The next visit we didn't have any of the Beyond products and enjoyed other items from the menu and it was equally delicious. I would come back here for sure the next time I visit New York. 10/10
Restaurant (NYC): Beyond Sushi
I don't believe there is any affiliation with Beyond Meat for this restaurant and it's just a name coincidence. We loved this place both for food and atmosphere. The dumplings and sushi were well thought out and incredibly tasty. We also ordered the Fire Roasted Eggplant (top right) which came with rosemary garlic bread cooked in a flower pot. I wasn't a huge fan of the eggplant, and while the bread was super delicious, the combo of sushi and bread just didn't really jive with my flavour palette. We pushed those dishes aside and instead ordered more dumplings. I guess that's what they mean by "beyond", they offer more than just sushi. I would definitely go here again, but if I did I would stick to one flavour theme when ordering dishes as I didn't think they all mixed and mashed well. 8/10
Home again! We had the most fabulous trip and got to enjoy so many amazing meals. While I tried to cram in every restaurant I could in London, we didn't get a chance to try out Temple of Seitan, or Biff's Jack Shack, both which were strongly recommended to me by you guys. I love traveling but man is it good to be home with my Chickpea dog and in my own bed again.
After all of these food adventures I have some ideas on how I want to do my own vegan fried fish and chips, as well as a vegan steak and ale pie. I will post them when I have figured them out. Is there anything else you would like me to veganize?
Next week, a recipe, but I hope you enjoyed this change of post!