VIDEO: quarrygirl presents ms. cupcake vegan bakery in london »
i wish i could be more like owner mellissa morgan aka ms. cupcake. disappointed in the lack of british vegan baked goods when she moved to england from canada, she took matters into her own hands and started making treats in her tiny flat and selling them at a market stall. just three years later, ms. cupcake is a world famous bakery in brixton with over 150 different cupcake varieties, several other dessert lines, savory items, and a cookbook on the way.
we sat down with mellissa to chat about why she started baking, why all people (not just vegans!) enjoy her desserts, and how cupcakes can provide an inclusive experience. when in london, be sure to check out ms. cupcake—you won’t regret it!
Vegan MoFo: England’s Knickerbocker Glory! »
We’re back for the second day of INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE VEGAN MOFO! It’s back to Jolly Old England for this installment, straight to Pogo Cafe, a vegan anarchist collective that also happens to serve bomb vegan food!
Whilst there, I consumed many tasty treats there but the standout was for sure the Knickerbocker Glory, a hodgepodge (SO BRITISH) of every sweet deliciousness on earth, from custards to ice cream to chocolate sauce to caramel sauce to jam to god fucking knows what else. I love how seriously the British take dessert, it’s V. IMPORTANT. They must eat every sweet thing mixed together and they must eat several tons of it. I also love that they call dessert,”pudding.” It automatically makes me feel like the fat kid I am when I’m all, “I’ll have one giant pudding with extra pudding, please!” There’s something so adorable about it.
This dessert blew my g-d mind; it was absolutely perfect and wonderful (or “brilliant,” as ye chaps and chippees would say, I have no idea what I’m talking about, etc.) in every way. I went straight Augustus Gloop on it, it was disgusting and amazing and maybe even a little sexual? If you’re ever in London, make the trek to Pogo Cafe for the most dynamite dessert of all time!
Lush’s new anti-animal-testing campaign is more powerful, less exploitative than PETA »
Via Ecouterre, we learn of this shocking new ad campaign from Lush, meant to make explicit the horrors of animal testing by using a LIVE (simulated) NUDE GIRL in place of the non-human animal subject. This window display, featuring vegan performance artist Jacqueline Trades, debuted at Lush’s Regent Street store in London on April 25. It coincides with this Fight Animal Testing site and European Union-centered petition.
What does your Vegansaurus think about it? We’re divided!
It’s very PETA, no? I find it significantly less obnoxious than those “Sexxxy ladies in lettuce-leaf bikinis” or whatever outfits for PETA. This is more freak ‘em out than make ‘em want to fuck you, which is appropriate, because animal testing is horrific and should be treated as such. I take issue with the subject of the testing being a nearly naked woman. The female body is 100 percent commodified in Western society, and I don’t think that this campaign recontextualizes it enough to desexualize it, which is to say, as awful as the tests the “scientists” are simulating performing on her, I see “naked lady” before I see “human-as-animal test subject,” and that bothers me.
I wonder how much PETA has ruined the shock value of substituting a human body for an animal’s. PETA uses conventionally attractive (by Occidental standards) female bodies in varying states of undress for essentially every campaign; is it PETA’s fault now I can’t look at this girl without thinking about all the meat-eating, leather-wearing celebrities in the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” posters, or women wearing only saran wrap? I hate animal testing, but I also hate the exploitation of any body. On the other hand, how many of the products I slap on my face every day exploited animal bodies before they got to my makeup case?* Because you worked with a performance artist, I think you do win this one, Lush. Sign the petition!
This is pretty horrific, but in an avant-garde kind of artsy way. I mean, just looking at these images is grossing me out, but I can’t stop. Oh those activists, always putting themselves on the line for their causes. And hey, look how much attention and signatures it garnered (nearly 200,000 as of Wednesday night)! Yep, here’s the deal — I’m into it. As long as I don’t have to be the one in the store window, yo.
Isn’t it crazy how art will bring out such intense emotion?! Isn’t it great to really FEEL something? So tell us, what do you guys think? How does this make you feel?
*Actually none, I am a careful makeup consumer.
Discount for Vegansaurus readers from Bourgeois Boheme! »
Hey pals! Bourgeois Boheme is giving 15 percent off all non-sale items to Vegansaurus readers until May 31! Yay! Party! They are based in London and I actually visited their showroom when I was there last year. It was way the hell out but I got some dope shoes. I’m pleased.
They have a lot of boys shoes so you guys should take a look. For chicks, I’m into this heel:
But I haven’t asked my sister’s opinion so I could be wrong about it. There’s also a lot of animal print stuff which I’m quite fond of
Bonus! “The Bourgeois Boheme ranges are completely leather-free, with no animals harmed during production; eco-sustainable materials used include microfibre faux leathers and suede and Fair trade natural and organic fabrics.” Yay! Fair trade! Sustainable! Party!
To get your discount, just enter the coupon code “BoBoVS” and wham bam! Discount!
Redefining vegetarianism: Oh NO he didn’t! »
Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who I’ve never heard of, is redefining vegetarianism. BECAUSE HE CAN. JUST KIDDING who the fuck is he? I know you’re on TV, Mr. Ottolenghi, but your name isn’t Webster, bitch, you’re not the damn dictionary. Get it straight: you can always make up NEW words but not just anyone can redefine old words. Like if I want to make up the word “sandwish” (1. the sandwich you wish you had; 2. fictitious sandwich you dream of), that’s cool (actually, that’s awesome and you’re welcome), but you can’t run around saying a slice of pizza can now be called a sandwich! THAT’S CRAZY TALK and NARCISSISM.
Here he goes, “‘You can be vegetarian and eat fish,’ he says. ‘It’s your choice, just say: “I am what I am.” There are no hard core divisions any more.’” As a Popeye fan, I’m all for I am what I am, but if you eat fish, what you am ain’t a vegetarian. What you are is someone who doesn’t eat any meat besides fish. How hard is that to say? It’s no more difficult than saying “I’m vegetarian but I eat fish” and it has the bonus of not being TOTAL BULLSHIT.
(via Vegetarian Star!)
Ms. Cupcake opening in London »
On Friday, Apr. 1, Ms. Cupcake, an all-vegan cupcake shop is opening in Brixton, London! Yes, that’s a bit far away. Still very exciting! The whole internet is a’buzz about it. I’m just excited for this glimpse into Laura Beck’s future! Isn’t that totally her in 20 years? She’s probably bedazzling a cupcake hat as we speak. And a matching one for Hazel!
Vegansaurus’ Roadside America! »
Robin Soslow has a post up at Peta Prime about how to eat vegan when you travel. Is Peta Prime like a Peta blog for old people? That’s the impression I’m getting. That’s cool, man. Gots to keep the old people in the vegan know, too! She wrote this post in response to the most ridiculous USA Today article. This writer, David Grossman, a “Business Traveler,” writes about all the difficulties he faces traveling while vegan. This reads like a Snuggie commercial—like that insanely exaggerated part where the spider web (which represents a traditional blanket) inhibits the person’s ability to function! Check him out:
“Until recently, dining was my passion…. That all changed two years ago. For a variety of health and other reasons, I decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Giving up sushi, pizza, filet mignon and hot fudge sundaes was manageable at home, but I soon discovered traveling on a restricted diet presents a more formidable challenge.”
All right, I’ll give it to him, traveling as a vegan can be a formidable challenge, but the rest of this?! Kind of nutty. Dining is even more my passion now that I’m vegan! And homeboy needs to catch up on his vegan blog reading; of all things that you have to give up, god damn sushi is not one of them. Filet mignon, yeah, that’ll be difficult, but a hot fudge sundae? EASY PEASY. I mean, maybe he is saying he can’t eat these things because of the “variety of health and other reasons,” but it’s NOT because he’s vegan. By the end of the article, I did become kind of fond of Grossman, but he really does need help. I guess Soslow agreed!
One thing me and Soslow have in common is a love for Happy Cow. When my sister and I drove from Philly to Portland, Ore., we hit up a vegan/vegetarian restaurant in every major city—it ruled! My sister isn’t even vegetarian but she’s a good sport and ended up loving a lot of the food we ate as much as I did. Maybe Grossman needs some more supportive friends! Who will go out to vegan places with him! He also definitely needs to check out Happy Cow because he says when he goes to London, he sticks to Indian and Lebanese restaurants. Those are fine choices (the Indian food in London is out of control!) but come on, if you want sundaes, check out the vegan cheesecake sundae he could have had at London’s Zilli Green:
They have a brownie sundae, too. I think Grossman needs to read my epic guide to London because there’s nothing like vegan bangers and mash!
Soslow’s article could help him out a lot too but it didn’t really give me any new information. I thought it was going to be about how to eat at rest stops and gas stations! I don’t find it difficult to find good veggie options at restaurants when traveling but when you’re on the highway trying to make good time, it can be difficult to find anything to eat. So! Here are some of my rest stop and gas station suggestions!:
1. Corn nuts! Every gas station in America has corn nuts. They have some fat but they are also high in fiber and protein! You’ve got to stay a bit healthy or you’ll get cranky and murder your fellow passengers. It happens. Also, corn nuts always makes me think of Heathers—“BQ!” That was the best.
2. Nuts! All gas stations have nuts. I love cashews, myself. If they have walnuts, you should totally get them because walnuts are a superfood! Almonds are supposed to be good for heartburn so if you’ve been eating other crap, almonds are a good choice (can’t find a link for that but I swear I heard it somewhere!).
3. If you are anywhere near Philadelphia, don’t forget to look for Peanut Chews! They are only the greatest candy ever. They aren’t that healthy but they aren’t that terrible either! Plus, they will make you happy and that helps when you’re trying not to murder your fellow passengers.
4. Snyder’s peanut butter pretzel sandwiches! I seem to always be able to find these at rest stops and often at gas stations too. These are great! And vegan! They also make good impromptu dog treats because they aren’t all salted like other pretzels and dogs love peanut butter.
5. Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars! I like the peanut butter. These make a good breakfast! Gas stations always have these.
6. Original Sun Chips! These are better for than chips and they are super yummy!
7. Wheat Thins! Rest stops always always have those mini boxes of Wheat Thins. God bless them! I often like to bring a jar of peanut butter on the road—you can make peanut butter Wheat Thin sandwiches!
8. For fruits, you should check the rest stop Starbucks—they often have a few bananas and green apples at the register. But the BEST fruit is at the roadside fruit stands! Anytime you see one, make sure you stop and stock up on some fruit! They have these anytime you’re in farm country; just keep an eye out for a hand-painted sign!
Those are my best suggestions for on-road dining! What are your roadside go-tos?
A Vegan in Central Europe: Thanksgiving in London! »
Visiting London over my Thanksgiving break was awesome thrice over: my cousin lives in London, so I got to spend a lovely Thanksgiving with family, despite the fact that I’ve been living 5,000+ miles away from home; I got to eat hella vegan food; and I saw items in the produce section of Whole Foods (!!!!) that I honestly forgot existed—Prague grocery stores carry tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and potatoes; kale? fuhgeddaboudit. Japanese eggplant? nowai. Fresh herbs if you’re lucky. While I have a shitty camera, and didn’t keep it with me the whole time, I still managed to take some photos of the damned good food I ate.
For Thanksgiving, I went to Manna with my cousin for the Thanksgiving special. For £27 per person, we got one of the yummiest dinners ever. It started off with a cranberry cordial aperitif, which my cousin and I fucking devoured the hell out of despite neither of us being cranberry fanatics. I was expecting it to taste like old grandma, but it was really refreshing and I downed it quicker than I should have, I’m sure. The first course was a pumpkin soup with rosemary spelt foccacia. I love pumpkin with rosemary, so I was a little let down when my bread ran out and the soup tasted bland in comparison. Then was the wilted spinach salad with walnuts and pomegranate in an apple-cider vinaigrette. Can I just say they know how to make salad dressing? I could have guzzled that shit by the gallon. I could have drained all of the blood from my body and replaced it with apple cider vinaigrette. I don’t know what they put in that other than apple cider vinegar and oil, but they know what the fuck they’re doing, lemme tell you what. The main course (pictured) was an herbed tempeh roast with wild mushroom gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans, and stuffing. I, in general, fucking hate mushrooms. The mere fact that I ate everything on this plate, including the gravy, was a fucking feat in and of itself. Licked our damn plates clean, we did.
The last—and most impressive—course was the warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream. You can’t tell how delicious the ice cream is from here, but it should officially be renamed to “buttercream” flavor or something; they did NOT wimp out on the rich vanilla. I was so impressed with the texture I asked them what it was made out of, I was sure it was cashews. The manager/owner assured me that no, it was soy. SOY! Who knew?!?!?! She then gave me a sample of their truffles and petits fours ON THE HOUSE. Because we were chatting about the awesomeness of Booja Booja and she liked me, I guess. I got SO fat that night, and left the chocolate gift till breakfast the next morning.
I also had a chance to go to the posh and happenin’ Mildred’s restaurant in Soho. It was too hip and expensive for me, so naturally I pigged out shamelessly. By myself. In the midst of this bustling restaurant that reminded me a lot of Angelica Kitchen in NYC, without the wholesomeness. To the left, you’ll see my starter. It was grilled artichoke with crostini, some basil-soy dipping sauce, and a small green salad (it cost £5.50, not too bad for a starter). I think this was better than what I got for the main course, to be honest; maybe because in my opinion artichokes are the best vegetables of all time and goddamned it all to hell if the Czech Republic needs to get on that shit and zomg you must order this dish if you go to London. My second course (below) was basically this Middle Eastern creation with a harissa sauce on the side, a cupful of almond-scented couscous, and a chickpea-eggplant stew, served with some crispy-ass pita (£8.50 if I remember correctly). It was a real winner, but I think they put too much coriander in it or something.
Also on the list of amazing places to go in London is the pricey but delectable all-vegetarian Italian/Mediterranean restaurant Amico Bio. All I can say is that they really celebrate the vegetables they use, and don’t dress them up that much. It’s perfect. I started with a zuppa di fave secce e brocolli de rapa (£5.50), then had the seitan scallopini on a bed of the most delicious sauteed spinach I have ever had the pleasure of eating (£8), with a side of sauteed kale (could have left this one after all, for £2.80) and finished off with frittele de mele con salsa al ciocollato (£5). The last dish, the fried apple pastry, had the same aroma as every fried pastry that lures you in with its smell but you know isn’t vegan so you cry a lot, but they’re vegan here. GO. Also, go to Pho. I thought the pho I got from Loving Hut here in Prague was baller; clearly I was mistaken. The place is hella cheap, I think £7 for the tofu-mushroom—again, I managed the dish with the mushrooms, it was THAT GOOD.
Lastly, MAKE IT OUT TO THE GREENWICH MARKETS TO TRY SOME FUCKING VEGAN CUPCAKES. This is a picture of me devouring the hell out of a vegan chocolate chip cupcake I got from Ms. Cupcake (£2 each and I bought four). It was one of three that I ate; my cousin was the lucky recipient of the fourth. I ate the Ferrero Rocher-style cupcake as well as a banana cream one, in addition to the chocolate chip one here. I don’t wanna toot my own horn, but I make some fucking amazing cupcakes, and Ms Cupcake here makes them better than me. I know, impossible, right?! BUT SHE IS THAT GOOD. GO HERE PLEASE GET FAT FOR ME. Also, Ms. Cupcake, if you’re reading this, can you move to NYC or LA for me pretty please?!
My last suggestion: if you should find yourself in Camden Town, which you will, go to Inspiral Lounge. I went there and ate some HELLA amazing lavender ice cream AND had a pint of beer with it. They also have free internet for you to use, and even a computer if you’re a weary traveler like yours truly.
Happy Thanksgiving from Manna in London! I had a chance to nosh on this delicious apple pie with a side of vanilla ice cream (though the ice cream was so rich and flavorful I think it’s more of a vanilla buttercream ice cream… positively the best scoop of my life!).
Megan Rascal takes Europe! Part the second: Epic guide to London! »
Previously in Megan Rascal Takes Europe!: I reviewed Mildreds, and it was the bomb*!
If you are ever stuck in Heathrow Airport terminal 3, go to Yo! Sushi—it’s my new favorite place. Totally retro-futuristic! There’s a conveyor belt and you grab food as it goes by! So future. Plus, good vegetable gyoza.
You know I love the vegan shoes, and a lot of great vegan shoe companies are based in England—I had to check one out! I decided on Bourgeois Bohème. H-E-double-hockey-sticks was it far away! It was kind of in the middle of nowhere; specifically, Hydrex House, Garden Road, Richmond. And not like on the strip: it was in an alley in the middle of some alleys.
My official ruling is that there’s no reason to go here. I know, sounds harsh, but it’s really just a showroom with the same stuff they have online. Plus, it’s a trek. If you REALLY need to try shoes on or hate ordering from the internet (freak), then it might be worth it. They did have great shoes though, like the Ingrid wedge that I scored. They are hot. I am hot in them. I’m also really into these gators! If any of you dudes can pull these off, you are the man and let’s adopt children together. (These may actually be a reason to go to the showroom because I can’t find them on their website.)
Next stop: Zilli Green! It has mixed reviews but I thought the food was off the hook. Vegan bangers and mash!
And check out this cheesecake I got for dessert!
Unfortunately the service was wack, and there was this weird guy sitting outside at a table by us who kept telling women, “I’m looking for a wife!” Like I said though, the food was great. My pal Lizzy got the couscous burger; I tried it and it was super yummy. I was disappointed with the barley soup I had as a starter (I’m all about the three-course lunch deals everywhere in Europe!) but overall, great.
After that, I headed to the Secret Society of Vegans! They have a store, Vx that’s adorbs for real. And it’s centrally located by the über metro stop, King’s Cross, where you also catch the Eurostar trains. Definitely worth a visit! They don’t have a good shoe selection like I was hoping, but they do have hella T-shirts with their own designs. Their logo is so dope! I got the logo T-shirt because it rules. They sell Cheezly and stuff like that, and have baked treats, but I have to warn you against the profiteroles, which were really grainy.
Besides the store, Vx has a lounge downstairs with free wifi and all kinds of coffee, which might save your life considering the Brits aren’t that great with the soy milk. It’d be a good place to get work done if you have to. It’s not a cafe, just a sunny room with nice big chairs.
For my last night in London, my cousin who lives there (he’s a genius!) and I went to the much-recommended Manna. It was everything people said and more! The food was so great and the server was super-nice and friendly. We even met Robin Swallow, one of the chefs and owners, because my cousin is not as shy as me and was like, “let’s meet this amazing chef!” Sigh, so bold. She was so very very nice, and she loves bloggers! She actually gave me 10 percent off the meal! People love doing stuff for me.
I got the corn fritters as a starter—BANGING. My cousin got the living pad thai (“living” as in “raw”). He was ‘bout it; said the sauce was excellent.
Normally I try to get something exciting for you guys, but for some reason I just really wanted the spaghetti and “meatfree balls.” Pals, it was a good choice. Delicious!
My cousin got the chef’s special which was pretty awesome. That night it was a red bean gumbo over rice with corn bread and a bunch of other stuff. It was kind of the sheezy.
For dessert, I got the banoffe trifle, which was banana and chocolate cake with custard, etc. It was all right. I didn’t love it but I think I just don’t like trifles. My cousin got the mixed berry shortcake, which was so good! It was the biscuit-y type cake, a real-deal shortcake. That’s my word.
Another thing I found in London is my new favorite beer: Freedom Lager. It’s totally vegan! It says so on the back! Huzzah! I got it at Zilli Green and Manna. There’s always room for beer!
Finally, I want to give a big shout out to those special family members who are so accommodating of our veganism. I actually have two cousins in London—twin cousins! I was staying with the other one (also a genius!) and his family and it was super. One night they made me vegan lasagna, the next night they made this dope pumpkin soup—I have to get the recipe (don’t worry, I’ll share!). Because they were so nice, I made my little cousins vegan pancakes the morning before I left! I used this recipe but we didn’t have any soy milk. I decided to just use water and see what happened. I added vanilla and it turned out pretty great! The girls were skeptical but then totally liked them. Here’s little Sophia.
That’s all folks! There’s your vegan guide to London! Live it up, bitches.
*I’m bringing it back! Quién es la bomba? Yo soy la bomba!