Here’s another look at a frozen supermarket option: the smokey jalapeno burgers from Sainsburys. They are described as ‘mixed beans with a melting nacho sauce and a puffed rice coating’. The nacho cheese is kind of placed right on top of the bean burger, so that when it is cooked, it oozes out after you cut into the burger.
Except this isn’t like halloumi at all – it might just be better. At least, it’s not very easy to compare the two, because they do have different properties. This is likely why they don’t use the word halloumi on the packaging. I’ll explain.
The block comes in two large slabs, which I generally prefer to cut up into cubes. No particular reason – I just like to eat them this way. I have done them in larger pieces, and they still cook up much the same way.
You fry them to cook them, and when you do, they come up lovely. Don’t use too much oil: you really want to brown the block off, and for that, you need lots of heat without so much interference. The pieces start to melt and get all gooey, though they will hold their general shape quite well. The outside is a nice stiff layer which will stay in place as you cook it, while the inner bit is the gooey part.
I’ve never had melted marshmallows, but from what I’ve heard, the block has kind of the same structure. Crispy outside, which can be as browned or blackened as you dare, and soft, sticky inside. It’s amazing. This is really a taste sensation, and I can’t stress that enough. Ever since we first got it, the block has become a staple in our fridge.
Anyone who reckons that vegan cheese doesn’t melt, has no flavour, and isn’t exciting is clearly stuck in the past. This is our favourite cheese product now, and we’re sticking to it for the long term. Once you’ve tasted that gooey, sticky, cheesy mess, you can’t go back.
We love them on salads, and they also work fantastic for finger food (once they’ve cooled a little) or as a topping to a burger, pizza, or really anything else you can name. I challenge you not to love them!
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a snap of the menu like usual, but they’re fairly simple to explain. You’ve got sweet potato fries and hash browns, topped with onions, pizza sauce, and vegan cheese. Then it’s all melted together until it’s pretty delicious. It’s also pretty cute that they come out with a hashtag made with fries on top!
We had them as a shared side alongside our favourite Greenhouse burgers (yes – we were very full afterwards – what a shame that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to move for a couple of hours!). They were pretty damn good, I have to say. I’m really starting to love the taste of vegan cheese and the kind of stickiness when it melts – it’s like a classier version of singles cheese, which I have always loved.
The hash browns were not too salty or oily – I usually hate hash browns because they have those two attribute, but I actually enjoyed these. The flavour throughout was decadent and certainly reminded me of pizza. While the hash browns do seem like a random addition, since you don’t usually top pizzas with them, I’m not complaining. I liked them anyway.
They are substantial enough that they could easily serve as a full meal, and are also great for sharing. If you’re anything like us, there will be some closely-guarded battles over who can get the biggest and cheesiest fries! It’s a fantastic vegan dish and I loved it thoroughly. Next time we come, I’ll be crossing my fingers that these are still on the specials board.
A cheese and onion roll is always a classic, but there’s something really special about a gourmet version. That’s what you get with these for sure. Even from the packaging alone they look great, and inside the packet is something else. The outer layer of the pastry is dotted with seeds and cheese, and has a fantastic texture as a result.
The inside of the rolls is delicious – the onion and cheese go really well together, with that sweet kick from the chutney complimenting everything. These are thoroughly enjoyable, and they definitely fall into the luxury category. With every bite, you can tell that the ingredients are of that higher quality.
These work great in a buffet – and we won’t tell anyone if you want to pretend you made them yourself. Since each one is made with care, rather than looking like they came out of a square hole in a factory, you might actually get away with it.
This week we’re bringing you a review of another venue in Canterbury. Since we’re around there so much, we figured we’d try another veggie burger option and let you know what we think – enter Friendly Phils and their American-style dining.
This is the burger that we went for:
FALAFEL & SPINACH
Now, we both wanted to add halloumi, and we both went for onion rings and fries. However, I added sweet potato fries with cheese, which are an upgrade on the regular sides you’re supposed to choose from.
Now, here’s where it gets shady. My waitress did tell me that it would be £2 extra for the sweet potato fries with cheese. That seemed fine, since they are priced at £4.95 as a side while normal fries are £2.95.
However, when I looked at the receipt after leaving and actually figured it out, I had been charged more than that. I was charged £8.90 for my burger with halloumi and onion rings, plus £4.95 for the fries. It should have been £10.90 for the burger and sides deal, plus £2 for the extra upgrade.
So, in summary, I was charged £13.85 instead of £12.90. Bit cheeky and if I had spotted it at the time I would have complained. The prices are high to start with, without them pulling tricks.
Anyway, let’s talk about the burger. It was very greasy and contained visible chunks of chickpeas, spinach, herbs, and spices. You can see that it was very dark compared to what you would expect from the name ‘falafel’, and I think part of that was the amount of oil it was cooked in.
It came in a soft bun with shredded lettuce and mayonnaise, which you know I always approve of. It also had an unnecessary giant tomato – seriously, does anyone enjoy eating slices this big? What a monstrosity. It came out of the bun as soon as I was done taking pictures. There was also a gherkin which I allowed to remain.
I really enjoyed the lovely, salty halloumi, and I’m glad I opted for it even if it did cost more. It provided a nice counterpart to the burger and went very well with the lettuce and mayo. I’m confident in saying it was the best part of the burger as a whole.
Onto the sides: the sweet potato fries with cheese were freaking delicious. It was cheddar and it had melted beautifully, and the combination of the two flavours was beautiful. Not to mention the fact that it’s always fun to pull apart food which is coated in layers of melted cheese. The onion rings were good but fairly standard foodservice offerings. They came in varied sizes, some offering more value than others.
It’s hard to come to terms with this place. The service was awful; the setting was lovely. The burger was far too greasy; the sides were excellent. The tomato was huge; the halloumi was perfect. The bill was overcharged and overpriced; actually, I don’t have a positive to balance against that one. I don’t know if we’ll ever be tempted back.
ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS…
TASTE – 6/10
PRICE – 4/10
REST OF EXPERIENCE – 3/10
Best Recipe of 2017
This one is chosen by you lot. We analysed data from Instagram, Twitter, website stats, and YouTube to come up with the recipe that you loved the most. The winner is:
Best Event of 2017
We’ve been to a fair few events this year, and we loved them all. But when it comes to choosing a winner, there’s one that really stood out. With a guest appearance from Heather Mills and a huge array of stalls to choose from, it has to be:
Best Pub of 2017
Surely it has to be obvious that there can only be one choice in this category. We have raved about it all year, enjoyed every single visit, and shared with you what feels like a million different veggie burgers. The winner is:
Best Restaurant of 2017
This was a hard one. We have been invited to do a fair few reviews this year and the quality just keeps getting higher. There were plenty of great visits, but this year, we have to give the award to…
Best Burger of 2017
Finally, the most coveted award of the year goes to our best burger eaten in 2017. And the winner is…
With a whopping score of 27/30, it’s not only the best of 2017 – it currently stands as the best of all time. Will we beat it in 2018? Watch out for next year – but for now, that’s your lot for the VegBurge Best of 2017 Awards!
It’s very much a fast food experience in that you place an order at the till, stand and wait for your food to come out, and then sit and eat or take it away. However, I did find the staff very attentive, offering to bring the tray over for us and checking that everything was fine with our order.
We picked up the following:
NOT SO CHIK’N: Veggie Chik’n, Lettuce, Buttermilk & Herb Mayo, Pickes – 5.45
CHEESY FRIES – 3.95
FREESTYLE SODA – 2.75
Once we tried it, we knew we just had to make it again to film for you! It’s a great weekday warmer for these winter months, and can function as a Sunday lunch replacement too.
This recipe allows you to enjoy a mushroom and gravy pie without the crust, using mash instead to create a lid – just like in a shepherd’s pie. It’s also very flexible – it will take just about whatever vegetables you have left in the cupboard, and you can flavour the mash however you like too.
For this version we used soya mince, but we’ve also made it with Quorn pulled chicken (like I said – depleted cupboards!) and it would work with other types of meat replacement too. Even lentils would be a good choice!
It’s pretty easy to make as there are only three stages: cook the vegetables, cook the rest of the filling, and cook the mash. After that, it’s only a case of getting them all in the same bowl together.
Give this one a try and let us know how it goes – or if you have any suggestions to make it even better!
We opted for a French Onion Soup toastie – after all, we’ve perfected our own version of the recipe and wanted to see what it was like in sandwich form! It arrived soon after and we were super excited to get inside and see what it was all about.
Each delivery comes with a few other elements, not just the food itself. You get a ‘Top Trumps’-style playing card telling you the details of your toastie, the instructions on how to make it, a Cheese Posties sticker, and an envelope-like tool which allows you to pop your sandwich into a toaster with no spillage. It’s also reusable, so you can simply wash it and then make more toasties in the future.
Under those are all of the elements of the sandwich itself, in individual compartments measured out to provide the best possible combination when eaten. Your task then is to open each of the compartments (I say task – I couldn’t do it – luckily J knows I am infamously bad with packaging and he got them open with a bit of effort!) and introduce them to one another.
While I was spreading mustard and caramelised onion onto the soft white bread, layering in some gruyere cheese, and then buttering both sides of the sandwich, there was another little goody to try. Each playing card comes with a video, too, so you can find out more about the product.
With the app you can share photos, watch the funny videos, and get the chance to win more posties as well. It’s a great little extra, and we love the way they have branded everything. The website is great to explore so make sure you head over there and give them a look too!
Now, back to our sandwich! When it emerged from the toaster (on a mid-level setting), it was gloriously golden-brown and the cheese was nicely melted. The butter really helps to crisp up those sides with the right “grilled cheese” feel, really adding to the luxurious feel of these special toasties.
This being a democratic household, we opted for half a sandwich each to avoid in-fighting. At the sight of this sandwich, it was a close one, I tell you – the smell alone was enough to make me debate whether it was worth a fight. Given that J goes to the gym and lifts weights approximately 900 times more than I do, probably going halves was the right decision. It was time to give it a try!
Going by the name of the sandwich, I admit to being a bit disappointed. Yes, the ingredients do sort of make up a French onion soup, but the sandwich really tastes like a sandwich made of those ingredients, not like the soup. In fairness, you would need a whole lot more onions that were a whole lot more caramelised in order to achieve that, and they probably wouldn’t survive the shipping. Still, I did want a bit more of that authentic taste.
Judging it as a sandwich on its own merits, however, I have to say it was pretty good. We both enjoyed the cheese and onions very much, and it was to my surprise that what looked like a lot of mustard was actually in no way overpowering. In fact, it blended in with the taste of the other ingredients, which was definitely a plus point for me. Everything was super melty and the texture was fantastic, and it was very moreish. Maybe I should have fought J for the other half after all….
Now we’ve tried one, we’re definitely curious about the other flavours. Their range includes some crazy options based on desserts which sound really interesting, and we’re inspired to give them a try at some point. The pricing does make this more of a luxury sandwich – to be fair, you’re mostly paying for shipping, but it’s still going to cost more than a quick sandwich from the local shop – and for us it will probably be a nice treat on special days or when we’re relaxing after a big work project comes to an end. It’s nice to have something really interesting for lunch without having to make it yourself – or even go out and get it from a shop. Plus, we’re really competitive about our games and we want to get some more of those playing cards to start up some Postie tournaments!
Let’s start with our VIP goody bag – we opened it on camera for you as we do at every event, and you can watch that here:
Now, onto some of the products that we purchased at the show itself. For our lunch, we couldn’t bypass this stall, which offered a full vegan BBQ platter with mac n cheese and slaw.
The BBQ part is basically seitan and jackfruit in a BBQ sauce, to signify ribs and… some other kind of meat? I’m not good at this stuff, since I’ve never eaten the “real” thing. Then there was mac and cheese on the other side with faux bacon bits sprinkled over the top. In the middle was a slaw which was basically two types of cabbage all cut up.
The flavour of the seitan and the jackfruit was fantastic. We both agreed the sauce was great, and we enjoyed the bready, thick consistency of the seitan. Both were a fairly obvious choice, and the seitan felt a little lazy, but then again you don’t want to mess with a classic. The sauce was tangy, but in comparison to the jackfruit we’ve had elsewhere, there was a little room for improvement.
The slaw was crunchy and fresh but a little dull; it came alive when eaten all together with the other parts of the plate but honestly I could have done with out it. The cheese with bacon bits was delicious, and we love the consistency of cashew cheese sauce as was used here. Again, not quite as good as the Cafe So Vegan version, but still good when judged alone.
The next step had to be dessert. We couldn’t walk by this stall without looking at the cookies on display as these are a particular weakness of mine. The prospect of vegan cookies – and, what’s more, cookie sandwiches – was too much to pass up.
Aaaaand they were HUGE. We both opted for the classic chocolate chip option with vanilla frosting. There was a double chocolate option on offer, but this seemed like the best shout, so we went for it.
Perhaps I’m a little sugar deprived (yeah right), but this was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Such soft cookie dough. Such thick and creamy filling. Oh my gosh. I basically had to stop eating halfway through because it was so sweet I couldn’t go on. Of course, I saved it for later because it was too good not to finish! It was a dream and basically I got two desserts for the price of one which is always a great thing.
There were so many great samples around during the day including vegan cheesecake, a few of the brands we have featured from other vegan festivals, vegan pizza, and much more. We’re hugely looking forward to the Brighton event too – look out for reviews from that coming very soon!