I recently stayed at the Arden Hotel in Birmingham ahead of Clothes Show Live, and since all of the food venues in the NEC closed early, we ended up eating at their own restaurant and bar. Apparently you have to book ahead to get into the main restaurant (even though the entire thing was empty bar one table when we got there), so we ate at the Burgundy Bar section just opposite. Unfortunately for the burger, it found itself in an inhospitable environment: drunk Christmas party guests were staggering around, gusts of cold air were blowing in from outside in the smoking area, and much more could have been desired from the staff.
Recently I ate at a pub in a small local village in Kent, Wrotham. The pub is called The Moat, and they serve a sweet potato and red pepper burger on their menu. Of course, I just had to try this out! It comes served with homemade coleslaw and skinny fries, and has a gherkin stuck on top as well, giving it quite a strange appearance. It is placed on a wooden board with a paper tray, which unfortunately is quite easy to tear once you start to eat the coleslaw. This is one of my pet hates at the moment as paper seems to be “in” with burgers – it just makes a mess, and I don’t want to eat it by accident.
This week I’m taking a look at the Iceland Spicy Bean Burgers, which are available in the vegetarian freezer section and can be cooked either in the microwave or the oven. For the purposes of this review, I put them in the oven, although a favourite snack when I was a student with no money was to put them in the microwave. I would then cut them into strips, lay them inside a tortilla, and wrap them up with some salad vegetables. They are fine if done like this, but can be a bit soggy underneath if they get too damp.
It is perhaps debatable whether or not a bake qualifies as a burger, but based on the shape and the consistency, on this occasion I’m counting it. Particularly when it comes to being a vegetarian option, I think this one just fits the bill. The mushroom and spinach bake is available from Sainsbury’s, where you can buy a pack of four at once. They cook in the oven – I could say that they would probably do fine if microwaved, but I have never tried it, and I’m sure the breadcrumbs would suffer for it. They are quite “tall” compared to the average burger, and have a tendency to get a bit droopy in the middle once cooked – beware of them accidentally spilling out their insides before you even get them on the plate.
Every year, people ask me what it is like to have a vegetarian Christmas. What is it like? What do we eat? Do we have a traditional Christmas dinner or something more unusual? The purpose of this post is to illustrate what a typical meal might be for us at Christmas time, although we always eat something different year on year. My Mum always cooks for us, using a combination of recipes she finds leading up to the date and her own inspiration, as well as a few classics which come back time and time again.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been eating a veggie bean burger from Burger King when we needed fast food. Although it’s not something I do on a regular basis, it is the one option which has been consistent for as long as I can remember. Some fast food outlets will not offer a veggie option at all, and McDonalds have changed from offering a veggie burger, to having nothing at all for a while, to a short-lived wrap, to the new wrap which is now available. Burger King, however, have always had a veggie bean burger – and while it may have changed a little (I’m sure I always used to have one full burger instead of two patties, and there used to be ketchup included), it is something that I know I can rely on if we have to pull into a service station for a meal.
Recently, I spent some time in Budapest, and gathered plenty of information about where you can find the best vegetarian or vegan meals while you are there. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but is based on my own experiences – and I did a lot of research both beforehand and while we were there in order to find the best possible options throughout the week. There is a lot to cover here, so I will get started right away…
The main criticism that I would give is that it was quite dry – I think it really needed a sauce of some kind, perhaps tzatziki or thousand island dressing. The problem is that the houmous just isn’t moist enough to counteract the dryness of the bread and the burger put together, so there is a little something missing there. The texture was fantastic, however, and the rest of the burger was well put together with tastes that fitted and did not have to wrestle with one another for attention too much.
At the start of this year I found myself in Kennwick, Washington, staying in a hotel for the week. I did sample quite a few veggie burgers while I was over there (particularly mushroom burgers, which seem to be very popular in the US – much more so than in the UK), but this was the only one that I have images of, and also the only one that I ate more than once. The hotel we stayed at was the Red Lion, and they had a small bar facility on site which served food, including the veggie burgers which we ate.
One of the staples of the frozen section for vegetarians is Quorn, and although I’ve got a real love/hate relationship with it, I can’t deny that it comes in handy. Living with a meat-eater means that we can compromise by having something that is at least intended to be a bit like meat – and it’s an interesting exercise to see just how closely it hits the mark with someone who knows what it should taste like. For this review I’m looking at their Southern Fried Chicken Burgers, available frozen, which are the kind of thing you’d pick up for a proper burger in a bun or just to eat on the side with fries. The cooking time is around 16 minutes, which is a little better than some burgers from the frozen section, and could make them quite a convenient choice when you’re in a rush. Here’s what the burgers look like frozen, before going into the oven: