Pho in Cardiff City Centre

A few months ago, the well known chain Pho came to Cardiff on Church Street in the city centre.

My siblings have been before and Tom’s sister said the food was great when she visited the Bristol branch so we decided to go visit Pho in Cardiff.

We went on a Wednesday early evening and it was quiet with plenty of room. It started filling out by 6pm. We were greeted at the door and given menus. I asked if there was a specific vegan menu and was told that there isn’t a specific one but everything labelled vegetarian can be made vegan.

There is plenty to choose from on the menu which was really great to see. I recommend checking it out online, here!

I ordered the Chả giò (crispy spring rolls) and the Bún chay Huế noodle soup (hot & spicy tofu & mushroom) with pho noodles instead of bún noodles. Tom ordered the tofu and mushroom Phở Xào. He also ordered the Spicy Lemonade for his drink!

Tom said his noodles were nice, but the tofu was salty. I tried some and he wasn’t wrong! For some reason, the tofu in his phở xào were unbearably salty and not enjoyable at all.

The spicy lemonade was nice, but I think it’s likely to be an acquired taste so be prepared not to like it. The spring rolls were lovely and the peanut sauce was delicious. It was really nostalgic for me as they tasted similar to the ones that my mum makes us. The hot and spicy noodles were lovely but not as spicy as I had anticipated. Luckily, there is chilli paste and sriracha sauce on the table to be added.

I really enjoyed my food and the atmosphere and service was good. We spent around £30 in total for our drinks, mains and shared starter (ordered as a side) which I thought was reasonable. I’ll definitely be making another visit in the near future, or maybe a Deliveroo order to the office…!

Crosstown Doughnuts in Hammersmith Broadway Shopping Centre, London

Tom and I recently went to London to see Lizzo at the O2 in Brixton (FYI, she was incredible!). We always leave our travel planning till the last minute and train prices increase exponentially.

We’ve taken to driving to the outskirts of London and parking somewhere for a few days using JustPark (which I highly recommend). We parked at the Novotel in Hammersmith which was a short walk from the underground. Inside Hammersmith Broadway Shopping Centre is now Crosstown Doughnuts!

I’ve seen Crosstown Doughnuts in Camden before but they used to only do vegan doughnuts on specific days and specific stores so we never tried them.

It appears now that the demand for them has made them change tact and vegan options are now available!

Everything is clearly labelled and they have a premium range of doughnuts that is slightly more expensive. On our way into London, I chose the strawberry and smoked coconut and Tom chose the dark chocolate truffle.

We held onto the doughnuts and ate them when we got back to the hotel after the gig as a treat to ourselves.

I don’t even know where to begin. The doughnut was so pretty and delicious! The dough wasn’t heavy and the jam in middle was more like a jelly which was ideal and a lot less messy than a standard doughnut. The flavours were amazing.

Tom enjoyed his dark chocolate truffle one also and has since raved about the quality of the doughnut.

I enjoyed my strawberry and smoked coconut doughnut so much that on our way back, I bought another doughnut to take back and enjoy in the comfort of my own home!

Again, it did not disappoint. The dough was perfect and the jelly filling was still delicious. My only criticism of the strawberry and English sparking rose doughnut is that the biscuit crumbs on top should have been more engrained into the icing as much of it fell off and ended up in my lap. It did not however hinder my enjoyment of eating it.

Crosstown Doughnuts have branches all over London, but they also have a specific vegan branch in Marylebone. If you’re visiting London (or living there) make sure you stop off for a doughnut. You won’t be disappointed!

Adopt, Don’t Shop

It’s approaching Christmas time, and we all know how popular pets are to be given as gifts. I don’t often do serious posts but I feel this topic is important to write about.

Animals are amazing, and I’m sure my vegan readers out there will be agreeing with me. Pets bring life into your home. They become one of you with their personalities being known to you and the love you have for one another. They become a member of the family.

I never had pets when I was growing up as I was never allowed them, but when Tom and I moved in together, we took in his childhood dog, Max, from the family home. Max was not adopted by his parents but was a cheap buy back in the day! He was a gorgeous long haired border collie with a speckled ear and one eye patch. We sadly lost him 2 years ago, and my heart was in pieces. I still miss him terribly to this day.

Dog breeding is becoming a serious problem in the world. They’re being so heavily bred that they are starting to have serious genetic health problems, all just so that designer breeds such as pugs and frenchies exist for people to buy.

Every Christmas, numerous dogs are left on the streets and abandoned due to families not being able to take care of them or their expectations not being met. For me, this is no different to abandoning a child. It is not acceptable to bring someone into your home, only to leave them when it doesn’t suit you anymore.

Some shelters will euthanise animals due to the unmanageable numbers they receive which is horrendous and unfair. An animals life is not the decision of others which is why I urge you to re-home an animal instead of buying.

Sami

Sami was adopted by Tom’s mum and dad a few years ago after they found her roaming around Greece looking for scraps. She was a stray dog with fleas and matted fur. They took her to the local dog home, Animal Rescue Kefalonia, but couldn’t bare to leave her so started the adoption process. Sami joined us back in the UK only a few short weeks after and has slotted into the family.

Sami has so much love for everyone and has such a gentle demeanour. She’s well behaved with the backyard chickens, and has even been known to pick up their eggs gently without cracking them! She’s cheeky but soft and loving and we all love her unconditionally.

Ned

Ned is a feral cat that Tom’s sister, Hannah, adopted from a local rehoming centre. Like all cats, he’s incredibly independent but has had no issues settling into the family home. He’s a cheeky cat who snuck into his first pack of Dreamies and ate the entire bag! He gets along well with their Alsatian, Shadow, and is now an integral part to their family.

Even Lucy Watson, reality TV star from Made In Chelsea, has said previously that she regrets not rehoming her first 2 pets and has since re-homed a kitten.

Before you go out and search for pets, please strongly consider adopting and rehoming one. There are so many different homes and kennels where there are plenty of animals who require forever homes.

Here are just a few well known re-homing centres, but make sure you put in the research as there are plenty of them all over the UK!

Men’s Vegan Grooming Gifts

As a woman, it can be difficult trying to find good gift sets for men. The market is definitely catered more for women than it is for men. I did a spot of shopping a few weeks ago and was inspired to write this post based on what I saw!

Here’s just a few recommend brands and products and if I come up with some more ideas, I’ll make sure I write another post.

Superdrug

So when I was wandering around my local Superdrug the other day, I was enticed by their Christmas section and also pleasantly surprised. I found a few of their own brand men’s gift sets which were lovely and also very reasonably priced!

If you’re unsure what to buy for someone, a gift set like this is a great alternative as they usually contain useful things that they are likely to use.

What’s also great about Superdrug is that their items are clearly labelled vegan which makes it much easier to shop.

Browsing online with Superdrug has also become so much easier as they have a vegan Christmas section which you can find here!

Manmane

Manmane are a completely vegan brand that sells male grooming products. We’ve seen them at vegan events around the country before, and being welsh myself, it’s nice to support local business!

Tom loves their products. They’re high quality and there are so many different options.

I highly recommend taking a visit to their website to have a look at the products. A few include: bread oils and balms, soaps, perfumes and candles.

If you have a bearded loved one in your life, you should absolutely check out Manmane for their products! They make wonderful gifts and they’ll be hooked going forward.

Maria Nila

This one will be a short one but I do have to rave about it. Maria Nila sell vegan wax grooming products that are perfect gifts!

Tom has always really struggled to find good hair product for his hair type. He’s got fine hair but a lot of volume.

I took a punt and bought him the Maria Nila Gneiss Moulding Paste. He absolutely loves it and can now style his hair properly without the unnecessary gunk of product all over his hair. And an added bonus is that it smells great too!

The Cruelty Free Beauty Box Deluxe [October 2019]

Another 2 months has passed us by so it’s time for another run through of my latest delivery of the Deluxe Cruelty Free Beauty Box! I was lucky enough to win this box this month in their usual sharing giveaway. I was so chuffed.

If you want to read about the box before this, click here for the post. Previous posts can be found under the Beauty section.

As always, the box did not disappoint and had so many goodies that I cannot wait to try!

This months box contained the following:

  • My HairCare Rescue My Hair Hydrate Shampoo Bar (RRP £14)
  • Natura Pumpkin Sheet Mask (RRP £5.95)
  • Fairypants perfume (RRP £1.50)
  • Palm Bar Body Butter Bar (RRP £5)
  • Bellapierre Liquid Gold 24k (RRP £30)
  • Niu Body Glow Facial Serum (RRP £27.95)
  • Gardner’s Halloween Cookie (RRP £2)
  • Vegan Bunny Chai Latte Soy Candle (RRP £13)
  • Jeavon’s Rizo (RRP £2.75)

The total value of the Deluxe box comes in at £102.15 but will only cost you £39.95.

I’ve eaten the cookie and Rizo bar already and both were a dream. I haven’t had shortbread for a long time and the Gardner’s cookie was a delicious shortbread.

I’ve written about Natura products in various other blog posts I’ve written and I love the sheet masks. They’re a really lovely treat so I’m looking forward to using this pumpkin one.

My final favourite is the Vegan Bunny Chai Latte candle. I’ve actually bought Vegan Bunny candles off Etsy before, but not for myself! I’ve bought Christmas scented candles as stocking fillers for my family members and regretted not buying one for myself. The Chai Latte smell is incredible! I haven’t lit the candle yet but I can’t wait till I do!

I absolutely cannot recommend The Cruelty Free Beauty Box enough. They only send every 2 months which is more than enough for me, and every month is full of new and interesting treats. I adore The Deluxe box with the lifestyle treats. It’s so nice to receive new things that I’d never normally buy for myself or want to try.

Mowgli Street Food in Cardiff City Centre

Last weekend, we went to The Big Welsh Wedding Show in the Depot in Cardiff and we went out to lunch afterwards with Tom’s family. We made our way back into the city centre and decided that we’d go to Mowgli Street Food.

This is not to be mistaken with Mowgli’s which is a restaurant on City Road in Cardiff.

Mowgli Street Food is a chain that has a few branches all over the UK. We walked in and the decor was lovely and atmospheric. There were fairy lights hung up, decorative trees and hanging lights.

The vegan menu was extensive with loads of options so we were in our element!

Tom and I ordered bits to share which included:

  • Fenugreek Kissed Fries
  • Temple Dahl
  • Calcutta Tangled Greens
  • Elephant brand Roti breads
  • Mowgli Basmati Rice

The food was amazing. I would like to say now, don’t order a portion of rice each! 1 portion for 2 people is more than enough.

The Fenugreek Kissed Fries were delicious. The potatoes were crispy and the whole dish was delicious. I could have easily ordered another one. The Temple Dahl was warm and flavourful and the Calcutta Tangled Greens were surprising but really good.

Tom’s mum and dad ordered the Holy Chow, which I didn’t try but it did look amazing.

Holy Chow

I absolutely recommend visiting Mowgli Street Food. The service was excellent, the atmosphere was great and the food was fantastic. The prices are incredibly reasonable and we spent around £16 per person!

Recipe: Vegan Bakewell Slices

My sister found a recipe on a vegan Facebook group for bakewell slices that she wanted to try so we went to our local supermarket to have a go at baking it ourselves! We adjusted the recipe slightly to accommodate our tastes. I also made it for the bake-off we are holding at work which were a hit!

The first time round, we made it with a shop-bought ready made short crust pastry which was nice and easy. The blind bake was a little more difficult, only because we didn’t have the tools we needed but we made it work!

The second time round, I found a short-crust pastry recipe online which I used, which you can find here. It was a little bit more effort with the manual labour but it was the same.

Ingredients for the Frangipane Mix

  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 130g ground almonds
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 130ml vegetable oil
  • 50ml plant milk
  • 1tsp almond extract

Other Ingredients

  • Pastry ingredients/Ready-made pastry
  • Icing sugar
  • Flaked almonds and/or cherries for topping
  • Raspberry jam

Steps

  1. Line your baking tin with your pastry (ready-made or from scratch). If you have a loose bottomed tin, you won’t need to line your tin with parchment paper, but if you don’t then I highly recommend it!
  2. Blind bake this as instructed.
  3. Mix the frangipane ingredients in a bowl. If it seems a little dry, add a bit more plant milk.
  4. When your pastry is baked and taken out of the oven, let it cool.
  5. Spread jam along the bottom of the pastry to your taste. I personally like a thick layer.
  6. Put the frangipane mix on top of the jam.
  7. Bake for another 30 minutes.
  8. Take out of the oven and let it cool completely!
  9. Mix icing as per instructions on the packet.
  10. Pour over the bake as evenly as you can.
  11. Spread flaked almonds over the top to set in the icing.
  12. Let the icing harden before eating!

The bake went down a treat at work and everyone enjoyed it! It came out much better than I anticipated, but I do wish I had lined the bottom with more jam!

I took some home for Tom and he was impressed! I’ll definitely be making it again in the future.

If you try out the recipe, make sure you share your photos and I hope you enjoy!