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Perfectly Plant-Based Festive Feasts ‘Out’n’About’

Back in January Bills caused quite a stir with their scrummy veganuary menu (anyone remember the spicy seitan ‘duck salad’ with miso and sesame dressing or the wonderfully warming butternut squash, turmeric and coconut stew?). Throughout the year they have included a host of vegan dishes (including a fabulously fruity coconut ice cream and mango sauce pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, some super salads including a smoky jackfruit and mixed grain bowl - we loved the mint and lime yogurt - and a glorious ‘glow bowl’ with falafels, roasted veggies, miso dressing and flatbread). This Christmas promises to be their most moorish yet with some punchy plant-based options on the menu: start off with an earthy mushroom soup with crispy garlic croutons before moving onto a seasonal pumpkin, fig and chestnut roast served with roast potatoes, roasted vegetables, Brussels sprouts and a rich vegetable sauce (you can can go gourmet and add truffle oil to your potatoes too!). Finish off with coconut ice cream with a seasonal zesty mandarin sauce). For more information and to find your nearest location (collection available), please visit: https://bills-website.co.uk/

Bills

It might not be the first place that springs to mind when planning a festive feast - but do take a trip to Wagamama for some amazing Asian-inspired cuisine this winter. The talented team understand that food is an holistic, emotive part of life and have created a menu of plant-based dishes that prove that ‘meat-free’ doesn’t mean ‘taste-free’. Everything is cooked to order, using the freshest ingredients, which produces delicious dishes that allow everyone to enjoy the authentic Wagamama experience. The ‘Kara Burosu Ramen’ with udon noodles, grilled mushrooms, shichimi coated silken tofu and veggies in a curried broth is wonderfully warming for the mind and body. If you like something crispy then the ‘Vegatsu Curry’ is sure to be a winner! This fragrant feast will make fellow diners jealous with it’s panko breadcrumbed seitan served with sticky rice, pickled red onion salad and aromatic katsu sauce. Don’t miss the new ‘Nikko Curry’ - a citrusy coconut, lemongrass and turmeric soup with roasted butternut squash, tenderstem broccoli, mangetout, bok choi and bean sprouts served with white rice (you can swap for brown or noodles), a drizzle of chilli oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. The dish, named after the Japanese word for ‘sunshine’, is sure to bring a little light and warmth into your day. For something a little lighter try the famous ‘Avant Garden’ created in collaboration with plant-based chef Gaz Oakley. This majestic meal includes smoky bbq glazed seitan, coconut and sriracha vegan ‘egg’, grilled shiitake mushrooms, veggies, brown rice and sweet amai sauce with a refreshing zing of lime. Take a look at the sides including fluffy mixed mushroom and panko aubergine hirata steamed buns (with sriracha vegan mayo) and yasai steamed dumplings with dipping sauce. Finish off with a delicious dessert, such as the tropical mango and matcha layer cake with yuzu cream and an oh-so-fruity raspberry compote, ice cream (chocolate & orange blossom - one for Orange Goupie fans - or strawberry & yuzu) or pink guava and passionfruit sorbet. What’s more, back in September they released a brand new cookbook ‘Feed Your Soul’ featuring a host of nourishing recipes and an inspiring introduction which outlines the ‘Wagamama Way’ (there is also an entire chapter devoted to plant-based recipes and lots of handy hints on how to ‘veganise’ the others). Treat yourself to an early Christmas pressie or plough through the present list and pick up a copy for a lucky friend or two! For more information and to find your nearest location (collection available), please visit: https://www.wagamama.com/our-menu/vegan

For some glorious Greek food check out The Real Greek and their fabulous ‘Filoxenia Dinner Menu’ which epitomises the generosity and hospitality that underpins Grecian food. You can enjoy giving something back during the season of goodwill and cheer as the dishes have been created in partnership with Hellenic Hope, a UK based charity that helps children at risk in Greece (each Filoxenia Dinner results in a 10p donation to the charity). Mix and match four dishes - vegan options include crisp crudites, fabulous flatbread, flavoursome falafels, cumin spiced chickpea filo triangles, a brilliant bean and tomato ‘gigandes’ , vibrant vine leaf ‘dolmades’, slow-cooked ‘jackfruit stifado’, authentic Aegean slaw and a classic Cypriot bulgur wheat ‘pourgouri’. Available Sunday-Thursday from 5pm, for more information and to find your nearest location, please visit:: https://www.therealgreek.com/menu/

Real greek

Head to Carluccios for some inspiring Italian food. The late Antonio Carluccio founded his eponymous restaurant in the hope of showcasing how minimum fuss can produce maximum flavour. The restaurants have been devoted to serving seasonal ingredients which, more recently, has manifested in more plant-based options (the Autumn menu features a delicious ‘orecchiette verde’ with a courgettes, spring onion, peas, soya beans, semi dried tomato pesto and flaked almonds in a rich artichoke sauce, followed by the most perfect pear and polenta cake). The fabulous festive menu offers an earthy ‘Cannellini and Chestnut Soup with Porcini and Black Garlic’ followed by ‘Veganese di Natale’. The latter is a vegan take on the famous Chicken Milanese and features a plant-protein escalope coated in herby rosemary breadcrumbs served with roasted butternut squash, cavolo nero, sage and basil and chilli vegan mayo. Finish off your feast with the ‘Torta di Mandarini’ - another polenta creation flavoured with spiced mandarin, scattered with flaked almonds and served with raspberry coulis. They also have a host of quality Italian foods available from their deli and online shop - just the thing to get you started with your Christmas shopping, or why not buy some top quality ingredients to host your own Christmas party? There is everything from delicious dried mushrooms - perfect for enriching the flavour of a risotto - and luxurious truffle oil, to a heavenly vegan hamper! For more information and to find your nearest location, please visit: https://www.carluccios.com/christmas2019/

If you live in the south-east then the chances are you have visited one of the 11 establishments owned by Elite Pubs. This growing pub group prides itself on supporting local suppliers, producers and farmers by creating menus full of sumptuous seasonal food. This means that they use the freshest ingredients and their talented chefs have the opportunity to release their creativity and conjure up mouthwatering meals. Throughout the year they have a range of vegan dishes inspired by cuisines across the world - think comforting mac and cheese with cobnut salad at The Pig & Sty (their most recent opening) or, at The Poacher & Partridge, a vegan ‘Buddha bowl’ with organic quinoa, avocado, pineapple, black beans, cashew nuts and bbq jackfruit (created as part of an initiative aimed at promoting healthy eating for children with a discretionary 25p donation to the local Capel Primary School in Five Oak Green). This Christmas promises more incredible ideas with a fabulous festive menu featuring a choice between a spiced Crown Prince Squash soup with toasted chestnuts, seeds and crusty bread or a festive mezze with hummus, organic quinoa and goji berry tabbouleh, pickled red cabbage and sourdough flatbread for starters, followed by a luxuriously creamy mac’n’cheese with heritage cauliflower, broccoli and winter salad. Enjoy a taste of the tropics for pud with a roasted pineapple, coconut and lime mousse with passionfruit coulis. On the Big Day you can look forward to a super sweet potato, creamy coconut and turmeric soup with spicy croutons followed by truffled Jerusalem artichoke gratin with baby spinach and local cobnut salad. For more information and to find your nearest location, please visit: https://elitepubs.com/christmas-2019/

Carluccios

If you are looking for somewhere extra special then why not take a look at the ‘Vegan Festive Afternoon Tea’ menu at The Savoy. Enjoy a selection of sensational sandwiches including: ‘Roasted Courgette & Baba Ganoush on Multigrain Bread’, ‘Roasted Pepper & Hummus on Brown Bread’, ‘Tofu & Tomato Jam with Rocket on Olive Bread’, ‘Artichoke with Olive Spread & Pine Nuts on Brown Bread’ and ‘Cumin-spiced Ratatouille on Olive Bread.’ That is not to miss the perfect pastries including a fruity ‘Raspberry Victoria Sponge’, zesty ‘Lemon Pound Cake’, rich ‘Chocolate Cake’, classic ‘Carrot Cake’, ‘Spiced Chocolate & Coconut Panna Cotta’ and, of course, a selection of plain and fruit scones with traditional accompaniments - all served in the breathtakingly beautiful Thames Foyer. For more information, please visit: https://www.savoychristmas.com/festive-afternoon-tea

London has a whole host of other options for plant-based parties...head to the exclusively vegan cafe and bar Tell Your Friends in Fulham to enjoy a selection of seasonal dishes ranging from healthy soups and salads to nourishing, comfort food (we love the Mac’n’Cheese). The chefs have been beavering away to come up with some show-stopping dishes to dazzle your tastebuds this Christmas. Enjoy a fabulously festive ‘Tasting Menu’ (including ‘Roasted Celeriac & Apple Tart’, ‘Seitan Christmas Dinner with all the Trimmings’, ‘Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter and Vanilla Custard’ finished off with mince pies and coffee). What’s more, £1 from every set menu is donated to Animal Rescue Kefalonia which helps rescue, rehabilitate and rehome Kefalonia’s stray animal population. If you are planning a larger party, take a look at their cracking ‘Canape Menu’ which has a selection of brilliant bites to savour - think ‘Mini Arancini with Spiced Plum Jam’, ‘Cashew Cheddar with Caramelised Balsamic Onions and Crackers’, ‘Vegan Jackfruit Tacos’, ‘Popcorn Smoked Tofu with Sriracha Dipping Sauce’ and ‘Polenta Fries with Fig and Tomato’. We also can’t wait to try the ‘Caramel Brownies’ too... For more information, please visit: https://www.tellyourfriendsldn.com/#three

Savoy

Something Extra Special…

If you are looking for somewhere to enjoy a memorable meal - perhaps a super special celebration - then there are plenty of options in our local county and beyond. Will Devlin at The Small Holding is famous for serving fresh, flavoursome seasonal food grown at the onsite farm. Devlin’s philosophy can be

summed up in three simple words: ‘Farm, Food, Flavour’. He harnesses the flavour from the freshest ingredients and produces extraordinary dishes by combining classic techniques with an innovative eye. The menus continuously change according to the ingredients available, enabling constant evolution and neverending enjoyment for guests. You can go all out and enjoy the Full Acre or taste a glimpse with the 1/2 Acre menu for lunch or dinner (there is a ‘Meat, Land and Sea’ main menu alongside vibrant ‘Vegetarian’ and ‘Vegan’ options). For more information, please visit: https://thesmallholding.restaurant/

During the hectic festive season sometimes there just isn’t time to sit back, relax and enjoy a long lunch. Don’t panic, there are plenty of on-the-go options to enjoy too! Here is a round up of what is available on high streets near you (although we are always waiting at our Chocolate House with a mug of heavenly hot chocolate and a box of devilishly moreish Goupie)...

Here is what is in store….

For something light and refreshing take a look at Pollen + Grace - a company who are passionate about offering delicious - and nutritious - free-from foods (the name embodies the brand: ‘Pollen - the building block of nature and food’ and ‘Grace - to have grace and be graceful in both life and business’). They offer a range of breakfasts, lunches, hot pots and sweet treats that are sure to satisfy at any time of the day. Start off with one of four fabulous gluten-free and vegan breakfast options including 2 porridges (the cherry & almond is perfect for fans of our Cherry and Almond Goupie whilst the Raspberry & Cardamom is both fruity and fragrant) and 2 chia pots (a tropical mango & turmeric or very berry acai & blueberry). There are 6 luscious lunch boxes including a brilliant ‘Beetroot & Quinoa Tahini Abundance Box’ (a fellow Great Taste Award winner and perfect for fans of Sesame Goupie) and ‘Black Rice and Turmeric Immunity Box’ as well as 3 Hot Pots designed to be heated up at home (or in the office) - our favourite is the ‘Wild Oregano & Kale Ratatouille Pot’. For more information on where to find Pollen + Grace - as well as recipe inspiration - please visit: www.pollenandgrace.com

Pollen and grace

Pop into Pret A Manger for an even bigger and better range of Christmas specials this year. Here at Goupie we are huge fans of the sandwich chain (and are super excited at the prospect of more Veggie Prets opening in 2020!) and have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of their festive flavours. We also admire their charity ethos (The Pret Foundation supports grassroots charities linked to homelessness, including donating food to homeless charities at the end of every day as well as supporting its own initiatives, like The Rising Stars Program and the Pret House) and love the fact that 50p from each special Christmas sandwich or baguette sold is donated to the Pret Foundation to help break the cycle of homelessness. We are thrilled to see the ‘Very Merry Christmas Lunch’ is back with a bang - we have been dreaming of the sensational sandwich filled with grilled carrots, crispy onions, baby leaf spinach and Pret’s festive vegan stuffing and port & orange cranberry sauce (not forgetting the irresistible caramelised pecans for that all important crunch) since 2018. Alongside the fabulous food options are some delicious drinks - all available with alternative milks or without cream. Fans of Ginger Goupie will love the warming spice of the organic ‘Gingerbread Latte’. If you love something suitably sweet then the ‘Crème Brûlée Latte’ is the one for you! If you love a mint choc chip combo then why not try their rich, organic ‘Mint Hot Chocolate’. Our personal favourite (and one for Hazelnut Goupie fans) is the organic ‘Hazelnut Hot Chocolate’ - the perfect winter warmer! Pret also offer a whole host of vegan options on their regular menu including seasonal soups (the butternut & lentil is brilliant), wonderful wraps (check out the grilled artichoke & olive tapenade), fresh salads (don’t miss the turmeric sweet potato falafel & smashed beets box), warming hot pots (the mac’n’greens is legendary) and the famous ‘Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cookie’. For more information and where to find your nearest Pret A Manger, please visit: https://www.pret.co.uk/en-gb

In January Greggs created quite a stir with the launch of their vegan sausage roll (even Piers Morgan waged in on the debate!). The company worked closely with Quorn to create a bespoke filling encased in 96 layers of crisp, light puff pastry. Since then the talented team of development chefs have been working away to bring even more plant-based versions of their most popular dishes (there are even whispers of a vegan doughnut) and now offer a marvellous ‘Mixed Bean Wrap’ filled with sweet potato falafels, mixed peppers, tomatoes, jalapeno relish and chipotle sauce. We are also super excited to learn that, for the very first time, their ‘Sweet Mince Pies’ are completely vegan - we cannot wait to try one! For more information and to find your nearest store, please visit: https://www.greggs.co.uk/

Greggs

At the beginning of the year M&S launched their incredible new plant-based Plant Kitchen range (we featured a scrummy selection in our Picnic Post in July). Throughout the year they have blown us away with an ever expanding range of vegan products (remember the Cauliflower Popcorn with the sweet and spicy buffalo dip) including some inspiring on-the-go products (the refreshing Rainbow Sushi Wrap). This Christmas will see the shelves stocked with some cracking Christmas sandwiches (with a percentage of each sale going to support the homeless through Shelter). Don’t miss the vegan options inspired by favourite festive flavours: check out the ‘No Turkey Feast’ with roasted soya protein and cranberry chutney on slices of wonderfully soft malted brown bread, or go for ‘The Nutcracker’ to enjoy a seasonal sweet potato and juicy cranberry nut roast with almond butter dressing. This is just a snippet of the vast array of vegan options M&S have to offer this year (don’t miss our Ultimate Christmas Guide next month to find out more!). For more information and to find your nearest store, please visit: https://www.marksandspencer.com/c/food-to-order/adventures-in-food/plant-kitchen


Meanwhile Waitrose are offering a ‘Vegan No Turkey Feast Sandwich’ with a fruity cranberry, orange and port chutney, alongside a ‘Vegan No Smoked Salmon and Dill Sandwich’ on soft malted bread. If you are a meal-prep pro, then why not try their vegan bacon alternative ‘facon’. Made from seitan, these smoky streaky slices have a rich, smoky and earthy flavour with a hint of sweetness after being cured with maple syrup - we love them in a vegan BLT with lashings of tomato sauce. Meanwhile Tesco have revealed that their ‘Wicked Kitchen Festive Feast Wrap’ filled with pea protein ‘turkey’, parsnips, crisp greens, traditional sage and onion stuffing with cranberry and creamy vegan gravy mayo all wrapped up in a soft, grilled tortilla. Whilst this is perfect for on-the-go eating, it is well worth checking out the rest of the range which includes an aromatic ‘Cauliflower and Onion Bhaji with Coconut Rice’ and ‘Nana’s Mushroom Bolognese’ . Tesco have also launched a brand new range of own-brand plant-based foods ‘Tesco Plant Chef’. The ‘Butternut Cauli Mac’ is wonderfully warming on a chilly autumn evening and we love the marvellous ‘Mushroom Pizza’ with it’s punch garlic, spinach and herb topping. Check out your local Waitrose and Tesco stores to discover the range of plant-based options available or visit www.waitrose.com or www.tesco.com

Finally, the nation’s favourite coffee shop Costa Coffee are treating customers to an early Christmas pressie by running their limited edition festive menu from the 1st November. Fans will be relieved to welcome back previous favourites alongside some delicious new delights...stop by for a vegan-society-approved ‘Veggies Under Vest’ sandwich filled with flavoursome falafel and parsnip stuffing, carrots and cranberry sauce with vegan mayonnaise and fresh spinach or enjoy a traditional treat in the form of their vegan (and gluten-free!) mince tart. Don’t miss their brand new Rich Fruit Christmas Cake Slice for a fruity festive treat. If it has been too long since your Goupie chocolate fix, then go for the indulgent indulgent Rocky Road for a bite of chocolatey bliss alongside the Spiced Cappuccino (with almond or coconut milk). For more information on the Christmas menu and to find your nearest Costa, please visit: https://www.costa.co.uk/

This post was written by Sophie Richmond on behalf of Goupie