Ambling around La Rochelle

I’m still trying to relive my Summer holiday before the Summer is over so here’s a short post on what’s in and around La Rochelle.

We drove from our campsite into La Rochelle. The car park we parked in was easy to get to and right next to the Aquarium which is very central.

La Rochelle is absolutely beautiful with so much history surrounding it. We came out from the car park and we had such glorious weather. It was a pleasure just to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere.

There’s a main high street with various well known stores such as H&M and Zara. More importantly there are 2 Sephora’s a few streets away from each other! Now we know not everything in Sephora is vegan but there are some cruelty-free brands and options!

After some more walking, we came across Bagelstein which had a vegan option. We didn’t try it as we already had other plans to eat but definitely worth a look if you’re after a good bagel!

As you may already be aware, we had a delicious breakfast at rawcoco. I blogged about it previously (which you can read here) and I recommend a visit. There’s plenty on the menu to choose from and I thoroughly enjoyed my matcha latte.

After some more ambling, we cam across an outdoor fruit and veg market outside what I can only assume was the main market hall in La Rochelle. There was plenty to choose from and even on a weekday, the market was thriving.

For lunch, we went to Gurou Street Food, which you can read my blog post about here. The burgers were amazing and the service was incredible. I absolutely recommend a visit if you’re in the area.

Along the harbour, there was a street market with various art sellers and jewellery makers. Everything was hand crafted and absolutely beautiful. It took everything in me not to buy everything I saw.

We finished the day off with some delicious vegan sorbet from Ernest le Glacier. Tom, as always, did all the research and found that most of the sorbet options were vegan. The only ones that that weren’t were chocolate. Tom went for blackberry and passionfruit. I had strawberry with fresh mint which was amazing and really refreshing.

I really enjoyed our day trip to La Rochelle. The french aren’t exactly renowned for being super vegan friendly but La Rochelle was a breath of fresh air with more vegan options than I expected.

Brittany Ferries: Vegan Options

Tom is a non-flyer so our holidays usually involve a ferry crossing. This year, we took the Portsmouth – Cherbourg crossing over to France, and vice versa on the way back. This is usually my preferred crossing as it’s usually only 3 hour long and very comfortable. I’m not the best traveller by sea (I always have to take motion sickness tablets) so I’m not a fan of any overnight crossings so this crossing is perfect for us.

Over the years, there’s rarely been a vegan offering on-board so it wasn’t any different from anywhere else really.

Last year, I remember they had a vegan chilli that I tried that was in a glass jar. It was nice but quite a small portion.

This year, however, was a game changer! There were so many more vegan options available on the boat than there had been before, and arguably, more than some chain restaurants in the UK!

I bought a lentil dhaal for myself, with a box of mini oreos and a coke. Tom got himself a vegan magnum!

The lentil dhaal was really delicious. It was flavourful and full of veggies such as edamame, broccoli and carrot.

These weren’t the only vegan options available on board! There was also a houmous and vegetable wrap, the chilli that was available the previous year, as well as 2 other vegan options that I didn’t note down.

We’re in a changing world now where veganism is on the up and the demand is high. I’m looking forward to what’s to come in the future. So for those of you taking the Normandie Express over to France for your Summer holidays, don’t worry about options as there’s plenty out there now.

rawcoco in La Rochelle, France

Another one of Tom’s Happy Cow finds when we were on holiday last month was rawcoco.

rawcoco was very easy to find in the heart of La Rochelle so we popped in around 10:30am for some ‘breakfast’. I put breakfast in quotes because we had treats for breakfast!

We walked in and got ourselves seated and we started browsing the gigantic walled fridge full of food. There were so many different options, ranging from wraps, soups, noodles, puddings, fresh juices and many, many more.

The waitress spoke minimal, but sufficient English, much better than my equivalent French! She explained the wall of food and the drinks options on the back wall behind the counter. Additionally, most of the options are gluten free, except for the wraps. Almond milk was the milk used for their drinks.

I ordered a matcha latte and a chocolate pie. Tom ordered a regular latte and a lemon pie. I would have loved to have tried their chia pudding that I saw the label for, but sadly there wasn’t any on the shelf.

The drinks where lovely, nothing to write home about really. Just a standard almond milk latte. The chocolate pudding was delicious. So sweet but not sickly and I really enjoyed it. Tom loved his lemon pudding. I tried a little and it was so flavourful.

The side wall was covered in greenery with their logo emblazoned on top and it was beautiful. Clearly enough for me to take a picture and blog about it! They must also allow dogs inside as when we arrived, there was a small group with 2 small and very well behaved chihuahuas with them.

If you’re ever in La Rochelle, a visit to rawcoco is certainly a must. It’s a fairly small establishment, but the food options are vast and delicious. I’m sure there’ll be something to suit everyone!

French Vegan Supermarket Finds

If you weren’t already aware from my previous blog posts, Tom and I holidayed in France this year and we continued our search for vegan food.

I don’t think it would be unkind to say that the French are quite reluctant to adopt and invite veganism into their daily lives. Compared to the UK, it’s a lot more difficult to find mainstream meat replacements but there were a few gems that we did find in our local French supermarkets.

Alternative Milks

What I can say for the French is they have a massive alternative milk range. Their shelves are lined with their own brand products, as well as the well known brand Alpro which is what we usually buy.

A large range of cow milk alternatives at E-leclerc in Royan

Fresh Fruit and Veg

What I also really love is how fresh their fruit and vegetables are. There’s a lot less plastic packaging and they do taste so much better than the vegetables we buy in Britain. It might be that everything tastes better on holiday! However, we did notice some oddities in vegetable range which is likely to be due to accessibility. For example, we couldn’t find broccoli at E-Leclerc, but we found some at Super U.

Fresh lettuce at Super U in Royan.

Meat Alternatives

As I mentioned in my introduction paragraph, veganism hasn’t quite been adopted by the masses so they are lacking in meat substitutes compared to the UK. Here’s what we did end up finding though:

Most products are very clearly labelled vegan. We usually only picked it up if it was labelled vegan as our French language skills aren’t quite good enough to decipher the ingredients list fully!

Tofu was a nice option to have and we made ourselves a panko coated tofu katsu curry (with items that we brought over from the UK in our car on the way down).

The veggie balls were an interesting find. The flavour was quite unusual and we put them in a pesto pasta which I didn’t enjoy. I think they might have been much nicer with a tomato based sauce instead.

The ‘Cordon bleu’ was a processed chicken style item with what I can only assume was vegan cheese and vegan ham supplements. I did not enjoy these at all. They had a really weird texture and were very dry.

The soya steaks were great. We enjoyed these so much that we bought them again. We had them as burgers with lettuce as a lunch on numerous occasions. They have a great texture and a nice flavour.

Another item we purchased by didn’t photograph here where the chicken nugget replacements, also part of the Cereal Grill Vegetal range. These were awful. No flavour, very dry. I do not recommend purchasing these if you see them.

Desserts

I’m gunna finish this blog post as I would with a dinner out, desserts!

The French aren’t such on alternative yogurts. There were plenty available, again from their own brand ranges, as well as Alpro. We also found vegan Ben & Jerrys in Chunky Monkey flavour which was Tom’s favourite.

One of my greatest finds in Super U were these amazing looking puddings! From what I could see, they came in 3 different flavours: Mango & Passionfruit, Raspberry (not pictured) and Chocolate Almond.

I bought all 3 and loved all 3. The chocolate almond was lovely but was just like a chocolate yogurt. The Mango & Passionfruit and the Raspberry flavour were delicious! They had the texture of a panna cotta and were really delicious. I hope they bring them to the UK soon!

Gurou Street Food in La Rochelle, France

When planning our trip to visit La Rochelle, Happy Cow is our biggest friend. Happy Cow will give you a list of the vegan friendly restaurants and shops in a given area that you search. Not only this, they also provide a list of places to avoid to! I highly recommend using it, especially in places where you’re unfamiliar.

Anyway, Tom found Gurou Street Food which was an all vegan restaurant. It opened at 12pm, so we got there just in time for opening. It’s a small restaurant down a quiet side street in La Rochelle, a short walk from the main street in La Rochelle.

We put our belongings down on a table outside under the shaded umbrella and walked inside. The waitress started speak to us in French and I immediately looked dumb-founded and responded with “Parlez-vous anglais?”. She then switched to fluent English and very helpfully started translating the menu for us and making recommendations.

I ordered the ‘Double Cheezy’ burger and Tom ordered the ‘Ultra’ burger. We also ordered a side of cauliflower wings and fries.

The double cheezy was a deep fried seitan patty with 2 slices of vegan cheese, BBQ sauce, salad and onions. It was incredibly large and very filling! The cauliflower wings were amazing and the fries were great. Tom’s Ultra burger was a veggie patty that he thoroughly enjoyed.

After our meal, we were so full that we almost forgot about dessert!

The window sill was lined with delicious goodies, which included: Chocolate and banana cupcakes, Carrot cake and Chocolate brownies. We took a box home with us and decided on the brownie and the cupcake.

The brownie was lovely. It was light and fluffy, not at all dense and filled with pockets of coconut. The cupcake was on another level. There was a pocket of melted chocolate inside and the top of the cupcake was nice and crisp, but the inside was soft and gooey. It was fantastic.

I can’t remember the specific prices for each item, but in total I spent around £42 for mains, sides, dessert and drinks for 2 people, so not at all unreasonable.

All-in-all, for those of you looking for a vegan stop-off in La Rochelle, Gurou Street Food is where you should be. The food is amazing and the staff were so helpful and friendly.

Amsterdam: Deer Mama

Toward the South of Amsterdam is the little gem that is Deer Mama. Famous for their vegan shakes and burgers, we made the walk out there (a short tram/metro ride is probably more preferable!) and we were definitely not disappointed.

We arrived quite early and got ourselves a table towards the back of the restaurant. The menu isn’t crazy extensive but they had a good range of burgers and a mixture of sides.

Tom, my partner, ordered a burger and I ordered us a lot of sides! From what I remember, I ordered: Mushroom Croquettes, Fried Curry Spiced Cauliflower and Broccoli, Fried Boneless No-Chicken and French Fries. The food was good. I thought the fried boneless chicken and the mushroom croquettes were delicious. Some of the dips were questionable but luckily they were all on the side so I could pass up on them.

As I mentioned as the start, Deer Mama are known for their burgers and shakes and oh boy, their peanut butter and banana milkshake did not disappoint! Covered in delicious whipped cream and sprinkles, topped with a cherry. And most importantly, all vegan!

Peanut Butter and Banana Mylkshake

The service was great, the staff were friendly and the food was great. The look and feel of the restaurant was cosy and cute, and a very instagammable neon sign!

We were so full afterwards that we made the executive decision to take the metro back to the hotel instead of walking. I ordered so much food that I took a box of leftovers back with me, which I consumed as a little midnight snack.

I definitely recommend a visit to Deer Mama if you’re in Amsterdam. It’s further out of central Amsterdam but it’s definitely worth a visit.

Amsterdam: Vegan Junk Food Bar

In the city centre of Amsterdam is the Vegan Junk Food Bar, and as their name suggests, they are the epitome of all that’s amazing about junk food. As you may be aware from my previous blog post, we went to Amsterdam last month and sampled their wares, twice!

We visited the Downtown restaurant as it was the one closest to our hotel, and also the one within the city centre. The restaurant has stylish graffittied walls and the classic neon sign that all cool and hip restaurants have these days.

To be completely honest with you guys, I can’t even remember what we ordered exactly, but the food was amazing and the menu was so extensive. I was most excited about the fish options as they’re so uncommon and to be completely honest with you, I miss salmon.

As you can see from the images above, the food comes out looking great. The scallop balls were exactly what I was expecting them to be and were so nostalgic to me. They had the exact same texture as the ‘fish balls’ that we have within the asian community. The burger was delicious and smoky, and the lemon shrimp were lovely and crispy. The sashimi was on another level, like life changing level. It was so much like real salmon and the fact such a vegan replacement exists made me want to cry. We finished our meals with pudding and a refreshing mint tea.

The food was quite expensive, but not particularly unusual for vegan restaurants these days. But not only was the food fantastic, the service was great too. The staff were friendly, spoke perfect English and were attentive.

I highly recommend a visit to the Vegan Junk Food Bar. I’m sure the other branches are just as good as the one we visited but the food is so good that you just can’t pass it up. Whether you’re vegan or not, you will love the food there so for those of you who are in the area, just take a walk by and grab yourself some loaded fries. It’ll be worth it