Franco Manca

I actually wanted to go to the Franco Manca on Westbourne Grove, but because I had limited time and needed to get some dresses before my holiday, I decided to go to the one in the Westfield (White City). Franco Manca must have grown a lot in relatively short time, because though I heard about it a few years ago, all of a sudden I see them everywhere. They have 38 restaurants in total now, whilst only starting in 2008. Franca Manca make their pizza’s with a sourdough base. Though it does have some gluten, it is easier to digest this way. I saw a lot of great looking pizza’s on Instagram and some good reviews. So I wanted to try this for myself and to see if they have some vegan options of course.

The waitress explained to me that you can choose your pizza (the have 6 options) and then add the topping you like. Some pizza’s already have lots of toppings, but the first pizza only includes the base, the sauce, oregano and garlic. So no cheese too. This makes it a perfect vegan pizza to begin with. They have 2 huge signs with their toppings and you can choose whatever you like. I went for the courgette, olives, onions and some spinach. My pizza was in front of me very fast. This must be thanks to the 2 huge pizza ovens. It looked amazing, quite big too! I started with the crust first. It was soft, but with a slight crisp. I expected to taste a lot more of the sourdough taste, but even though you could taste it was different, it wasn’t that obvious. The vegetables on top were perfect and very tasty. If you love garlic, then this is your pizza, because it has a big garlic taste. I liked it! The base in the middle was good from the bottom, but it was slightly undercooked on the top. This was a shame. I couldn’t finish the pizza because of this, because it was quite heavy this way.

Apart from the pizza and some small things (olives and bread) there aren’t that much vegan options, but in their defence, they do not have a very big menu. They do have one desert for vegans though, what is the very familiar vegan dessert: the sorbet. I didn’t try it though and I do appreciate that at least they have something. The Franco Manca in Westfield is a very beautiful restaurant I must say. Because of the very big windows from floor to ceiling, it’s super light and they have 2 huge pizza ovens (the red and the yellow one, here on the picture ^) in their open kitchen. I also really like their interior, it’s very industrial and it has high ceilings. I also really like the chairs, they really add to the style.

WHO? Franco Manca.
WHERE? Westfield White City, Ariel Way, W12 7GA.
CUISINE? Italian.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 7 (Nice pizza, but a shame it wasn’t cooked properly in the middle, great interior)

Did you already know Franco Manca? Or are you planning to go here now? Please tell me about your experience! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

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UK – Wales

For my work I went to Wales for a week. I stayed very close to the coast, a few minutes drive from St.Davids. Because the family I work for went by car and the journey is too long to be squished in between the girls car seats, I took the train. I love traveling by train, so I didn’t mind at all. I will tell you a little bit about what I did every day.

FRIDAY
I had the morning to do a little bit of relaxing, to start the day slowly and to get ready. My train was going at 12:30, from Paddington Station. I arrived at the station perfectly on time and I didn’t have to wait too long before we took off. The first part of the journey, until Bristol Temple Meads was a bout 2 hours, then from there to Newport it was only half an hour (though there was a little delay) and the last bit towards Haverfordwest was another 3 hours. Everything went really well and though I left with a grey sky and rain, the weather got better and better. I planned to do some work on the train, but I was too distracted by the beautiful views. Especially when I arrived in Wales, the views were really breathtaking. So not a lot of work done, but a lot of thinking and enjoying. When I arrived at Haverfordwest, my employer was already waiting for me to pick me up. Before going to the cottage, we went to get groceries at a very big Morrisons. From there it was about half an hour to the holiday cottage and in the meantime it got rainy and dark. The cottage was so  lovely. I couldn’t see the outside too well, but the inside was amazing. So much space and proper country side style. Light walls, old dark wooded floors and an amazing big bathroom!! My room was all the way upstairs, with a very cute en-suite bathroom. I shared the top floor with the girls, but they had their own bedroom though. I quickly warmed up some lentil soup and then unpacked my things. I  love doing that, hehe.. The rest of the evening I just relaxed and read a little bit. Just before bedtime I wanted to take a shower, but I couldn’t get the water warm. So I had a very very cold shower, because I just can’t go to bed without a shower.. let alone in freshly washed sheets!

SATURDAY
The bed is so cosy and lovely, I had an amazing sleep. For breakfast I had some fruit and tea and then we headed to Whitesands Bay, a beautiful beach. The tide was in, so we went into the little shop and had a tea in the cafe. After that we could wander around on the beach for a bit, yay! There are always so many things to see on the beach. Beautiful shells, crab claws, seaweed, pretty rocks.. I used to take things with me, but I never do something with it, so now I just admired it whilst I’m there. In the afternoon we went to a close by harbour. When the tide is in you can’t walk there, but it wasn’t, so we could walk at the bottom of the harbour, towards the sea. Was very fun and it was super beautiful there. In the evening I made myself a burger, I did some reading and though my employer got my shower to work during the day, the only thing I got was freezing water. I was too cold to take a proper shower, so I had to splash myself a little to at least feel fresh enough to go into bed. I was sooo cold after!

SUNDAY
When we were in the cafe yesterday, we found out there is a trampoline place nearby. So we went there this morning. It’s called Hangar 5 and it’s a big place full of only trampolines. So much fun! In the beginning I felt a little wobbly, but once I got into it, I was confident enough to do (quite) high star jumps and to really enjoy it. Only a few minutes drive from there was a big restaurant and we went there for lunch. I always prepare to have salad and fries, but to my surprise they actually had quite a lot of vegan food. They even marked it as ‘vegan’ on the menu. It made me so happy. There were things like: Asian slaw, Garlic bread, Spiced cauliflower & kale brown rice, Basil pesto penne, Grilled Harissa aubergine and even an Apple pie for dessert. I went for the Grilled Harissa Aubergine and gave them a compliment for their vegan options. The restaurant is called ‘The Lost Coins’ btw and I had a lovely lunch here. In the evening I was determined to get my shower to work, so my employer took another look and he got it to work within a minute. Turned out that hot is cold and cold is hot and you had to run it quite a while on ‘cold’, before it got hot. At least I had a lovely warm bath that evening, what was so lovely. I really enjoyed that.

MONDAY
Again I had some fruit for breakfast and then we went out to explore St.Davids. It’s an absolute beautiful village. We originally went to do an art workshop with the children, but when we got there it was closed. So we decided to go to the cathedral. Wohw! What a beautiful cathedral. I really loved walking around there. Everything is so detailed and beautifully made. In the back is a little restaurant and we had lunch there. They only did 2 side dishes, but both were vegan. So I had some mixed veggies and roasted potato, with a little bread roll on the side. I filled the bread with the veggies and though it wasn’t a lot of food, it was surprisingly delicious. I felt really content as it made me happy that even here you don’t have to starve if you choose for cruel free. The world is changing! In the afternoon everybody went to the beach, but I stayed at home to cook for the kids. In the meantime I also tidied up and cleaned the kitchen. Because I just can’t stand crumbs and mess, haha! I had some yummy pasta in the evening, with a home-made tomato sauce.

TUESDAY
This morning I started with yogurt, banana, strawberries and muesli. A good breakfast for a morning at the seaside. We went to the beach they went to yesterday. It was a beautiful beach, enclosed with cliffs. A lady said that people sometimes swim with seals here, so cool! I also found a shark egg, what was so nice. Later I did some research and it turned out to be from a ‘Small-spotted Catshark’. We took some sandwiches with us for the kids and whilst they were eating them around lunchtime I suddenly spotted 2 seals swimming a few meters from the shore! I was so excited to see them!! So I sat on the rocks, closest from where they were and waited for ages.. and a few times they showed themselves again. I actually didn’t want to leave ever again, but we obviously had to head back at one point. In the afternoon we watched a children’s program (Ruff-ruff Tweet and Dave) and they made a rainbow out of veggies and fruits. So when it was finished, we made a rainbow too. We ate the fruit for snack and the veggies for dinner. So much fun!

WEDNESDAY
I had the same breakfast as yesterday and after I helped to get the kids ready I was off for (most of) the day. I took some time to relax, read and work on my blog. I made myself an avocado pasta salad for lunch and after that I prepared some meals for the next few days. I cooked a butternut squash and made it into a pasta sauce, together with some other veggies. It was lovely to do some cooking by myself, listen to music and sing along. So relaxing and fun. In the afternoon I helped out a bit, by playing with the kids outside and I also cooked and gave them their dinner. It was a lovely relaxing day.

THURSDAY
The last day, because tomorrow morning I will catch the morning train back to London. So today we went to the same beach as where we saw the seals last Tuesday. We played on the rocks, explored some caves and looked for treasures (pretty stones, shells, crab claws, shark eggs, seaweed etc). Then 2 dogs came on the beach and started barking very loudly. It turned out, that not far from us was a baby seal in between the rocks. We didn’t see him at first, because his fur blends in with the rocks so well. We went to see him (to make it easy I’m going to assume it was a boy ok?) and thought he might be hurt, because he didn’t move away and started to make noises. So we decided to call an organisation to ask if it was normal. The only thing was that we didn’t have reception there. So somebody went up to find reception and we started to play around again. But then the seal suddenly wanted to go back to the sea. At that same moment the lady who made a call cam back and said we should leave him alone, but he shouldn’t go back into the sea, because he was waiting for his mum there. So we panicked a little, because he was on his way to the sea. We tried to stop him, but it was quite tricky. We decided to make a call to a sanctuary as we didn’t want him to die in the sea, because of losing his parents. Then another lady came onto the beach and said we should probably just let him. But we felt so guilty, because we went to this beach and that’s why it was disturbed. So we decided to take all our stuff quickly and run away, hoping he would stay on the beach if we left. But when we climbed back up to the cliff he did go into the sea anyway. I felt so bad, because if it wouldn’t survive it was our fault. As soon as we got back to the cottage I send the pictures I took to my best friend, who knows a lot about seals. Then he told me that the seal looked old enough to look after himself and that he looked very well too. I was so happy to hear that and felt a lot less guilty. All together it was very amazing to see a beautiful wild animal from so close though. So special! In the afternoon we went to Whitesands Bay again for a bit and when we got back I started to pack an prepare everything for tomorrow. I took a last bath and then curled up in my lovely bed for the last night. I slept so well during my stay. Very deep.

FRIDAY
An early wake, because my taxi was going to pick me up at 8:40 and before that I helped giving the kids breakfast and to get everything ready and packed. The drive to the station was very nice, because I had a very nice taxi driver, who was born and raised in St.Davids. He had an adopted Jack Russel and as soon as we discovered our love for dogs, you can imagine we didn’t talk about anything else anymore. The train journey went very well. I only had to change once at Newport this time and before I knew it I was at Paddington Station again. I arrived home at 16:15 and quickly got some banana and spinach, because I craved a green smoothie after not having it for a whole week.

HOTSPOTS LIST:
Whitesands Bay (beach)
Hangar 5 Trampoline Park – Fishguard Rd, Haverfordwest SA62 4BY.
The Lost Coins (restaurant) – Fishguard Road, Haverfordwest SA62 4BP.
St.Davids Cathedral

I thought I’d type a short story about what I was up to this week, but in the meantime I typed over 2000 words. Oops! Anyway, Wales is beautiful! A lot of times I thought ‘I’m going to come back here’, and I will. As soon as I have my van (read about my van and life changing adventure here) ready, I will make some trips to Wales for sure. It will be perfect for some try outs.

Have you been to Wales yet? Or are you really excited to go now? I would love to hear about your trip and experiences! I would also really appreciate some recommendations for when I will go again. You can leave a comment below or you can show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Newsletter OCTOBER

This is a big month! For lots of different vegan reasons, but also for personal reasons. There are also a lot of other things happening in October.. a great start of Autumn!

07-08/10 – BRIGHTON VIVA! VEGEN FESTIVAL 
A huge vegan festival in the lovely Brighton, held at the Hilton Hotel. Both days you’re welcome between 11:00-17:00. There are around 100 vegan stalls, including many caterers. There will also be cookery demos, talks and workshops. The tickets are £5 at the door, £8 for a whole weekend and £15 for fast track entry + goody bag!

13-15/10 – BRIGHTON OCTOBERFEST – Beer&Cider Festival
And there is more to do in Brighton this month as the following weekend there will be a 3 day beer & cider festival, starting at 20:00 on Friday and ending on Sunday 23:00. All made without any animal derived finings. It’s held at the Cowley club.

13-19/10 – NETHERLANDS 
Before I move (move??), I planned a holiday to the Netherlands, to have a little break (well.. break? I will be doing lots of things!) and to spend some time with my family. I will be going to Amsterdam for a day and do lots more. I will of course write about it all when I come back, with hopefully some new hotspots for you.

17/10 – TRAFFIC LIGHT PARTY
For everybody who wants to meet new people, go have dinner at Tibits this Tuesday between 18:30 – 10:30. They are having a Traffic Light Party. Red = off limits (e.g. attached and monogamous, or single but not looking).  Green = single and looking. Yellow = other (e.g. attached but polyamorous, early days of dating someone or prefer not to say). This is not a singles party, buy if you are single.. who knows!

20-22/10 OM YOGA SHOW
A 3 day show, all about yoga. With lots of classes and workshops in 3 levels. Friday: 11:00-18:00 / Saturday: 10:00-18:00 / Sunday: 10:00-17:00. It’s held at Alexandra Palace Way, London, N22 7AY. There will be vegan (and vegetarian) caterers serving hot and cold food. You can get your ticket at the door, but you get a discount if you get your tickets in advance.

21/10 – HACKNEY DOWNS VEGAN MARKET
There will be a lovely vegan market in Hackney again, like every month. There are such lovely stalls and you will be pleased to choose from a wide range of great tasting food. It’s from 11:00-17:00 and the entry is free. I’ve been here twice already and there is such good food.. really worth going!

21-22/10 – VEGFEST UK
Yay! VegFest timeee! A huge vegan festival with over 250 stalls, held at London Olympia. There will be so much to do. Some of the highlights are: Professional Health Summit – Vegan Athletes Summit – Environmental and Food Sustainability Summit – Animal Rights Summit – Vegan Comedy Festival – Vegan Film Festival (‘The Invisible Vegan’ will premiere here!) – Cookery Demos, – Living Raw Zone.. and much more! On Saturday it’s open from 11:00-18:00 and on Sunday from 10:00-17:00. Tickets at the door are £15, but if you book in advance they’re £12. If you buy one ticket, you will get the second for half price. Be quick though, because there are only a few of those tickets left! For more information and to see what else is on, go visit their website.

22/10 – MOVING DAY
This will be my last day living in London, because this weekend I will be moving to the country side. Moving to the country side?? Yes! You can read all about it here. New life starts now..

29/10 – BRIXTON VEGAN MARKET
Brixton launches a vegan market at the Brixton Station Road today. It will be from 9:30-15:30 and you can find lots of sweet and savoury food here. Hurray for another vegan market!

31/10 – HALLOWEEN
I’m not so much into Halloween, but there will be a yummy Halloween recipe up on my blog!

MORE EXCITING NEWS
* Wagamama will launch a vegan menu with 6 main options! YAY! It’s not available everywhere yet, but hopefully it will be soon!
* Tofurky will come with pre-packed sandwiches in 3 flavours (Tempeh Lettuce Tomato / Chick’n & Sweetcorn / Chipotle Chick’n). You can buy these at the WholeFoodsMarket from the 2nd of October. So curious!

RECIPE SPOILER
The Halloween recipe will be up just before Halloween, to give you enough time to get the ingredients! Keep an eye out!

Was this helpful, did you like to read this or do you have any questions? Would you like to tell me about your Easter.. I’d love to hear all about it! Please let me know in a comment below! Do you have any exciting things coming up what is related to veganism, positivity, spirituality etc? Please let me know! Send me a message via CONTACT and I might publish it in my next newsletter! Thank you! X

Pizza Express

I’ve been to Pizza Express quite a lot, but that is years ago. I was very excited to discover that they started offering vegan mozzarella. So I decided I needed to see this with my own eyes and very important too: taste this! I went to the Pizza Express in Camden. The day I went it was raining and as I hate umbrellas (cuz of loving the rain), I was a little soaked when I arrived. When I came in they stared at me like they didn’t know what to do with me. I wasn’t sure if this was because of being a little wet, or because they didn’t expect customers. It was just been 12:00, maybe a little early, but I always like to go on times it’s less busy, because then there is more time for answering my questions etc. I asked about the vegan options, but they didn’t really know what to say. So I chose a table and started to look at the menu myself.

There was a special vegan pizza, but you can swap ingredients around, until you have the pizza you like. This was the only thing the guy was able to tell me. Later I was told by somebody else that the special changes every 3-4 months and if it’s selling well, they stay on the menu. This made me decide to order this pizza, because we have to support vegan options (so you know what to order at Pizza Express now..haha!). It had onion, olives, artichoke, asparagus and the vegan mozzarella. It looked nice and as I love all these veggies, it was a good choice anyway. The pizza was tasty and I definitely enjoyed it, though it’s not a pizza I directly come back for. It’s perfect for if you’re going with somebody who isn’t vegan, because then you can still enjoy a good vegan pizza, whilst not have to go to a vegan place. I’m super happy that Pizza Express made this change and I really hope they keep at least one already vegan pizza on the menu. The pizza is not the only vegan things they have. They also have a salad called ‘Leggera Superfood Salad’ and this one is vegan too. I really want to try this one too on day. Anybody who had it already?

The Pizza Express in Camden is not really big, but it has nice big windows and the possibility to sit outside (when it’s not raining..). They also have a big mirror on one wall, I guess to make it look bigger. anyway.. it’s handy for if you want to check if there are any veggies stuck in your teeth, haha! Though I was pleased with my pizza, I thought the service here was really bad. I don’t know if all of them had a bad day or something, but nobody was really helpful. There was one guy who was new (his second day!), so I can’t blame him, but the rest had no menu knowledge. I only got short unsure answers, without a lot of information. I really had to pull it out of them and then they had to ask 3 times in the meantime. And there were some other things too, but let’s not be only negative, because there are a lot of Pizza Express restaurants and I’m sure this is not everywhere.

WHO? Pizza Express.
WHERE? 85 Parkway, NW1 7PP.
CUISINE? Italian.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 7 (Nice pizza, few other vegan options, but not very helpful staff.)

You probably know Pizza Express already, but did you try their vegan pizza yet? Please tell me about your experience! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Las Iguanas

I wanted to go to Las Iguanas for a while now, as I heard they do vegan dishes. So a while ago on a free afternoon, I decided to go for lunch. It was a little tricky to decide which one to go to, because all their restaurants are nice ones. In the end I went to their huge restaurant in Wembley. Las Iguanas started small in 1991, but now they are nationwide. Their food have native Latin American, Indian, Spanish, Portuguese and African influences. There is a lot of variety and they have a separate vegetarian/vegan menu (yay!). A lot is actually vegetarian, but as a vegan there are 3 main meals and 3 salads you can choose from + several sides, starters and plates to share. Unfortunately they fry their fries (and some other originally vegan food) in the same oil as non vegan things. That is why some things you’d think are actually vegan, are not listed as vegan on the menu. What means that if you don’t mind about this, there will be even more options, but personally I think this really is a shame and it would be lovely if they came up with a solution for this.

After some explanation and recommendations it was still hard to choose something, but I eventually went for the Moqueca De Palmitos. A dish with palm hearts. My boyfriend told me about it a while ago and it was his favourite. So I was excited to try this for he first time. The curry comes on a little light, to keep it warm. Then on a separate plate there is some rice, green beans and a little tomato salad. The whole combination was absolutely delicious (really liked the palm hearts)! I wish there was a little bit more rice though. The portion of the curry is a lot more in comparison to the rice. In fact, if you ask for an extra portion of rice and you order some starters and sides, you can share this dish. Will be quite fun actually. For dessert I chose the Tembleque, a coconut pudding with mixed berries and a mango sauce. Though the manager who served me, recommended the mango sorbet too. So I tried them both. The mango sorbet is really one of the better sorbets I’ve had. I love that it’s mango i the first place, but it’s even better, because you can actually taste the mango and it’s not too sweet. Though the Tembleque was the best desserts I’ve had in a really long time. It’s very different form anything I ever had in a restaurant. It’s so creamy and soft and it goes so perfectly with he sweet berries and the slightly sour mango sauce. Great combination! I absolutely love this and I will make sure that I come back for this!

Eating at Las Iguanas is a real feast. If you forget about the outside world for a minute and imagine you’re at the beach, it truly feels like you’re on holiday. The colours, the music, the food, everything goes together. It’s a real treat to go here. What makes it perfect for a celebration. They really done well putting the colours together. They have many different seats.. sofa’s, benches, high tables, normal tables.. and they are all matching in the same colours. Soft yellow, blue and orange. Even the plates match. I really like the tiles on the floor and the tiles on the table. The staff was super helpful and I’m very happy to recommend this place. Great place to go to if you have non vegans friends and family members. This way everybody can choose what they want!

I want to thank Las Iguanas for their amazing food!

WHO? Las Iguanas.
WHERE? 97, London Designer Outlet, Wembley Park Blvd, Wembley HA9 0FD.
CUISINE? South American.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 8 (Absolutely loved the food, several vegan options and great interior.)

Did you already know Las Iguanas? Do you like coconuts and desserts? Go! Please let me know when you’ve tried it! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Just F.A.B. Food Bus

Just Fab is not just a restaurant, but it’s actually a bus. An old London bus which is used as a kitchen and a restaurant. It’s located in Hackney and just a 10 minute walk from Bethnal Green. It’s very easy to find and you can hardly miss it once you’re in the right street. There is a huge entre with paintings of the bus. There is an outside bit where you can sit, made of wooden pallets, bus seats and old wooden things. Very inventive! There is a lovely black cat too, who is happy to be stroked. When coming through the entre, the bus is right in front of you. You order from the outside, before you find a seat outside or upstairs.

Just Fab is 100% vegan and is all about Italian food. Though they do have burgers as well.. I ordered the red lasagna, with some tasty olives on the side and then I went to sit up stairs. It turned out that Sarah Bentley (founder of eco community kitchen ‘Made in Hackney’) was also enjoying some food there, together with her husband and 3 year old son. They also had the red lasagna and, just like me, they thought it was yummy. She was also enjoying the Vegamisu and she told me to try it, because it was the best she had. So I went down stairs to get it. There I met the owner, who also let me try the Panelle Fritters (made from chickpeas and seasoned with lemon and parsley) and the Mini Arancini (sticky rice ball with crispy breadcrumbs) + the Vegamisu (tiramisu). I really liked the Mini Arancini, it was full of flavour with a good crunch on the outside. The Panelle Fritters were tasty, very different, but for me personally not very special. The Vegamisu was really good though! Super creamy and just very delicious. Highly recommended!

I really like the idea of a restaurant in a bus. Though if you like a lot of luxury, it’ll not be your thing. The bus is old and the dish my lasagna came in, was broken. This really adds to the whole atmosphere though and I don’t mind. People who love Berlin, will probably like it here. It’s a bit like that. The owner was kind and very easy going, what makes it quite relaxed. I had my doubts with the guy who was preparing and serving the food though. I don’t know if he just really didn’t want to be there or maybe he didn’t have his day. There was no kindness and there was no laughing or even basic politeness. He walked away whilst answering my questions and when Sarah asked for some soy milk for her son, he couldn’t give it to her, because that was only for the coffee. Very strange and just not really nice. Overall, for the food and the ambience, it’s nice to go here though, especially as a tourist or with children.

I want to thank Just Fab for the tasty food!

WHO? Just Fab Food Bus.
WHERE? 459, 455 Hackney Rd, E2 9DY.
CUISINE? Italian.
VEGAN? Yes!
OVERALL? 7 (Good food, very nice that it’s in a bus, but the serving was poorly.)

Did you already know the Fab Bus? Or are you going here now? Please let me know when you’ve tried it! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Temple of Hackney

Finally! In the beginning of this year Temple of Hackney opened its doors! Looking at the massive queues, it was the moment everybody had been waiting for. And the queues were not only long in the opening weekend, but there is still a queue. Ok, maybe not all the time and all the way to the streets, but around meal times it’s very likely you have to queue up before digging in. People call it the vegan KFC and it has been compared with this fast food brand a lot. I never used to like KFC (taking about a long long time ago), as I always felt disgusting after eating it. So I was super curious about this Temple!

A fellow Dutch vegan here in London asked to meet up and so I suggested to go here. She already went once and said it was yum. What made me even more curious. I really wanted it to be good, haha! So we met at Hackney Central station and from there it’s only a few minutes walk. It wasn’t very hard to see where it was, because there were so many people enjoying their meal already. The Temple of Hackney is definitely a magnet. I chose the ‘2 piece’ and a regular fries. My friend chose a wrap. I was so excited to try it and I was delighted after the first bite. This was it! It tasted amazing. It’s not only the structure, the crispy outside or the taste itself that was good. They managed to get everything right! And with everything I really do mean everything.. as the sauce was yum and the fries were phenomenal too. They taste like the McDonalds fries, but then even better. I was very hungry, but after finishing the 2 pieces of heavenly seitan and my portion of fries I was very full. But not like I used to feel after KFC, I didn’t feel disgusting at all. A thing I really like as well, is the fact that it’s clear they do it for the animals. It feels really nice and really gives an extra good feeling.

I was so pleased with it all, I was already inviting my boyfriend, family and friends in my head. Haha! What is super funny as well.. the Temple of Hackney is located right next to a butcher. The irony! There is nobody there, but it seems like the Temple of Hackney can easily fill up 5 other shops (please do!). Maybe one with the possibility to sit inside. The day I went the weather was perfect and it was a treat to eat outside, but I imagine when the winter arrives and it starts to be rainy and cold, it will make a big difference if you can enjoy your meal inside. The staff was super friendly btw and they are well prepared, because your order is served within seconds. If it wasn’t clear yet: I really want to recommend this place!

WHO? Temple of Hackney.
WHERE? 10 Morning Ln, Hackney, E9 6NA.
CUISINE? Fast food.
VEGAN? Yes!
OVERALL? 9 (The food is amazing, would be nice to sit inside on colder days.)

Did you already know the Temple of Hackney? Or are you planning to go here now? Please tell me about your experience! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Spain – Mallorca 2017

A little more than 2 weeks ago I was still on the (very) sunny Spanish island, Mallorca. I’ve had a lovely week there. It was a working-holiday, as I travelled with the family I used to work for, as their nanny. They go every year, with family and this is the 3rd time I went with them. You might remember it from last year. If you didn’t read that yet, you can read it here if you like. So it was the same group of people and the same lovely chefs who cooked me amazing vegan food every day. There are some hotspots in the end of this article too, in case you decide to go to Mallorca yourself.

FRIDAY
Our flight was at 12:50, from Luton. I left my flat around 9:30 and got there perfectly on time. There was was a very little delay, but 2 hours later we landed. The rental car was ready and so I drove (I love driving) us all to the villa. It’s about an hour drive from the airport and so we got there around the kids dinner time. Dinner is served around 20:30 and they made me the most delicious carrot soup as a starter and my main was an oven dish with potatoes, aubergines and tomatoes. So delicious! For dessert I had a soy chocolate pudding. The rest of the evening I just relaxed a bit, before an early sleep.

SATURDAY
It’s so hot here. Like 35C-37C.. and it will stay like this the whole time we are here. Luckily the vila has a swimming pool. So we swam all morning. For lunch we had a lovely pasta. This is I think one of my favourite things they make here (though it’s hard to choose). Delicious pasta, with cherry tomatoes from the vegetable garden, garlic and fresh rocket on top. Simple, but define. In the afternoon we collected fruits and veggies in the vegetable garden and the orchard: tomatoes, aubergines, beans, bell peppers and lemons. For dinner they made me a salad with melon and potato crisps as a starter. Couscous with peanuts, aubergine and a broccoli burger for main and one of the chefs made me an amazing chocolate cake for dessert. It was so so good and I ate from it the rest of the week, lucky me!

SUNDAY
The chefs were not here this day, so everybody who got up first, helped with getting breakfast ready. So like every morning I had lots of nice fruit for breakfast (breakfast here must be my favourite moment of the day as it’s all different kinds of fresh fruit. We then went swimming all day long, as it was super hot. For lunch I had some leftovers from yesterday and after everybody’s siesta, we picked some delicious grapes in the vineyard to snack on. For dinner I had the left overs from last Friday, the potato dish with aubergine and tomato, so yummy. And of course I had a piece of cake (duuh!). After dinner I went for a quiet swim, just to cool down (such a relaxing moment). Then had a shower and spend my time reading. First outside, but there were too many mosquitos, so I had to go inside. I’m read Marie Kondo and I still am actually.

MONDAY
It was, again, a super hot day today. As usual, I started the morning with lots of yummy fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice and then went swimming almost all morning. I had some very nice and huge (and delicious!) potato fritters, with salad and baked apples for lunch. In the afternoon we all went to the nearest town, called Pollenca. We were going to get an ice cream and lucky me, they had a delicious strawberry sorbet. It was nice to have a change of scenery for a bit and Pollenca is a lovely place. I was starving for dinner, but I didn’t eat anything until dinner, because the portions are always quite big and I wanted to enjoy it to the fullest. I had an avocado salad as a starter, very yummy baked potatoes and broccoli for main and another piece of delicious chocolate cake for dessert. Well worth the wait!

TUESDAY
After breakfast and a quick swim, we went to the Formentor beach. It was such a nice ride, over the mountains. Mallorca is really beautiful. The beach was bus, but not too busy. The children loved it. A lot more than me, haha.. because though I love the idea of beach and sea, I don’t really want to go into the sea too far. As I have this huge control freak fear of not knowing what’s under and around me. It was still nice to be on the beach though and I did go in the water a little bit. We also had lunch there. I had the vegetarian pizza without cheese, what was quite nice. So much better than the pizza’s I’ve had in Spain before. Then we went back to the villa for our siesta. Before dinner I read some of my book in the hammock and it started raining a little, what was amazing, as I love rain. Especially in combination with hot temperatures. Dinner was bruschetta on very delicious nut bread for a starter. Then for main I had some rice, with grilled veggies and an avocado. And another piece of chocolate cake for dessert. It was the last piece, but we sliced it in half, so I can have another piece tomorrow (yay!). It was raining after dinner again, so I hurried outside and I just lied down on the terrace, what was still very hot from the sun. The feeling to the warm tiles, the cold rains drops on my skin whilst staring at an olive tree and a black sky was just a great moment of happiness.

WEDNESDAY
Like yesterday we went out after breakfast and a quick swim. This time we went to the beach in Port de Polenca, a 15-20 min drive. Almost everybody came, so we were with a big group. The sea was calm and clear here, so I was ok going in until the water was a little over my knee. After that we had lunch and all the kids behaved so well. I ordered an asparagus and buckwheat salad, without cheese and honey. It was an alright salad, but it was mostly just lettuce. There was I think 1 asparagus  (cut up) and maybe 1 tbs (yes really!) of buckwheat. Luckily there were some fries to fill me up too. In the afternoon we all went swimming at the villa again. Because the chefs were off today, I helped making dinner for the kids. When they all went to sleep, I made some dinner for myself with some leftover veggies and rice. Super yum! Almost everybody went out for dinner that evening and when the kids were all sleeping, I went for a quick topless swim, lovely! Then a shower and some reading, before going to sleep. It was a lovely last work day!

THURSDAY
My day off! I had a very easy morning, some relaxing and sorting out some things for my blog etc. I missed breakfast, but that was ok as I was going out anyway. I was able to take the car all day, what was super handy. First I made a quick stop at Pollenca as I saw some earrings there earlier, which I couldn’t forget. Buddha hand earrings, that will match my ring. At the same shop, what is called ‘Nilay’ btw, I also got 2 bracelets for the kids from work. The oldest loves all my tree of life things and I found a tree of life bracelet for her. For the younger one I bought a braided colourful bracelet. I hope they’ll like it. Then I drove to Port de Pollenca to go to this place called ‘Bellaverde’. A vegetarian place with lots of vegan options. I had brunch here, with yogurt, fruit, muesli and a (very perfect) croissant. You also get orange juice with this. Not the best juice, but it certainly looks nice on the plate. I did really enjoy it all together. It was a beautiful little restaurant (a must go!), with a garden to sit in, under big old fig trees. There were also 2 cats, so sweet! From there I drove to Alcudia, which is only a 10 min drive from Port de Pollenca. I parked the car and walked around a bit. A funny thing is that the exact same shop (Nilay), with the same earrings was here too, what made my Pollenca stop a little unnecessary. Oh well.. It was sooooo hot though. When I passed an ice cream shop and asked for the sorbets, they had quite a few, so I picked mango, passion fruit and banana. It wasn’t the best sorbet, very sweet and with bits of ice in it, but it did help for the heat. I went here to find a place called ‘Verdeteja’, another vegetarian place. I walked around a bit, taking pics of beautiful little streets, when suddenly I bumped into Verdeteja. I must be a magnet to vegan food, hehe.. I was still full from brunch and I was eating the sorbet, so I decided to come back later. Instead I sat down on somebodies doorstep (in front of a beautiful old door), in a lovely quiet street, to finish my sorbet. There was even a little breeze. Perfect! Then I went for a little walk, but it was just too hot for this. What explained why there was almost nobody on the street. I still wasn’t very hungry, but I decided to have lunch anyway, because it was simply too hot to stay in the village and I really wanted to go an review this place. It turned out that only 2 products in this shop are not vegan, what does make it, very officially, a vegetarian shop. The vegan products were all very nice. It’s a tiny place, but the products are good, tasty and helpful. Like these very nice raw biscuits from Mrs. Sweet (I’m afraid its only in Spanish).The lady was so nice too! I felt super comfortable and welcome. She cooks a dish every morning and it’s almost always vegan (sometimes it’s quiche, what contains egg). I had gazpacho as a starter, courgettie with an amazing tomato sauce for main and a delicious carrot-banana cake for dessert. I was very full after though. I did buy 3 of the Mrs. Sweet biscuits, to try for later. Back at the car I first had to cool down a little bit, before driving up. I drove up to Penya Fort and further, (until I wasn’t allowed to go any further) it was absolutely breathtaking! A little narrow road up to a mountain, along the coast. It was hard to let another car pass, but it was all well worth it. A beautiful view with such blue water, very nice! Coming back down the mountain I drove back to Port de Pollenca and spend an hour in the (shallow) sea. I snacked on the biscuits I got and they were very tasty. Especially if you like a lemony taste, you’ll love them. Then I drove back up to another mountain and enjoyed the amazing view and the sunset. After I took about 10 pictures for other tourists (as a single girl, I was the person to ask! Haha! It’s a good thing I like doing it..), I drove back to the villa. By the time I got back it was a little after 21:00. I packed my suitcase and took a shower, ready for the last night. This day was a lovely end of this very nice week. I sooo enjoyed this day!

HOTSPOT LIST:
Nilay (jewellery shop) – Carrer d’Alcúdia, 14, 07460 Pollença.
Bellaverde – Carrer de les Monges, 14, 07470 Pollença.
Verdeteja – Carrer del Lledoner, 13, 07400 Alcúdia.

I had an amazing week! Have you been to Mallorca yet? You should definitely go and check out these lovely places. Please let me know if you do! You can leave a comment or show me by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Vegan Hippo

Vegan Hippo is in Soho and I have no idea why I’ve never been here before. I knew about them for quite long, it’s next to a street where I used to come quite often and I’ve seen them on vegan festivals. I heard some mixed messages about them though. Some really like it and some really don’t. What made me very curious. So as I was in the neighbourhood a while ago, I decided to go and discover it for myself. It’s a little hidden in the many streets of Soho, in between some sex shops. Oops! It’s super central though, as it’s only a 5 minute walk from Piccadilly Circus. As soon as you’re in the right street, you can’t miss them, because they made themselves quite clear with the bright orange and huge purple hippo above the entrance.

For me it felt a little bit like I was in Berlin. I’m sure they would do great there too. It looks slightly messy inside, with the many, totally different animal statues. But because of this they very much created their own style. They were very helpful and were offering me a range of different foods of their menu to try and review. Super kind! Their best seller is the jackfruit burger and it comes with cheese and big chunks of avocado. I think a burger is especially good when the bun is good too and that was definitely the case with this one. It’s all such a good combination, I really get why people like this burger. Definitely try this burger when you’re here. They also gave me some jackfruit bites, called ‘Hippo Bites’ (I know it’s cuz they are called Vegan Hippo, but I do just really like this name for these bites). They’re pieces of whole jackfruit with a little coating of herbs and spices and come with a red sauce. Super yum and very new, because I’ve never had or seen something similar somewhere else. Then I didn’t know they were going to bring me something else, but they did. The ‘Hippo kebab’! A pita bread filled with vegan kebab pieces, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, tomato and sauce. The little kebab pieces were very chewy and very tasty (definitely my kind of thing). I did miss a little more veggies (more lettuce maybe) in there, though the crispy cabbage made it a nice overall combination. I wasn’t able to eat it anymore though, because I was so full of the burger. So they packed it for me to take away and I had it later that day.

On the menu are also hotdogs, another burger, (sweet potato) fries and kale crisps. For drinks they have several coffees and teas (chai latte!), a hot chocolate and some chilled drinks in the fridge, like smoothies, coconut water and fizzy drinks from Whole Earth. In the fridge they also have some foods, like a bean-, potato- and pasta pesto salad, chocolate dates, cake and even vego bars. As a dessert they also offer a chocolate and a strawberry cheesecake. There was also a rainbow cake, which was almost finished, so I’m sure it must be good. What I really like about Vegan Hippo is that you get the feeling that they are really doing it for the animals. There are references to animals  everywhere, except in the food. The way it should be. For example, you can choose an animals from the basket as a table number (I chose the pig.. duhh!!). I love this idea! They also have reasonable prices btw, what is always a positive.

I want to thank Vegan Hippo for the awesome food! 

WHO? Vegan Hippo.
WHERE? 52 Rupert St, Soho, W1D 6DS.
CUISINE? Fast Food.
VEGAN? Yes!
OVERALL? 8 (Very yummy food, it’s central and they have love for animals)

Did you already know Vegan Hippo? Are you planning to get a yourself Jackfruit burger now? Please tell me about your experience! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Ethos

A while ago I heard about Ethos. It looked quite posh and I thought it might not be my thing, but I wanted to know more about it. So I went to see what it was like. Ethos is very central, just a 2 minute walk from Oxford Circus. So if you’re going shopping for the day, Ethos is not far away for a proper lunch. As you know Oxford Street is very busy, but because Ethos is in a street behind it, it’s a lot quieter. The building looks very nice with the wood in the front nice and it does look quite posh. Going inside almost feels like entering a luxury hotel or something. There are a lot of trees and plants, to create some privacy in between the tables. I absolutely love it. I was served by a waiter I actually knew from tennis lessons about a year ago, what was very funny. He helped me to a seat and gave me lots of information about the restaurant. Super handy!

The food is right at the entrance. It starts with cakes and treats, then the hot food and in the end the cold bar. Ethos is like a buffet. You can get all the yummy looking foods you want and at the till they weigh your food and that is what you pay for. I tried all the vegan options, because I was too curious of course. So in the end I had a big colourful plate. Something you’ll definitely notice, is that the food is all very fresh. I did like the food, just some things had a very strong taste (mustard, vinegar etc). Like the aubergine was cooked well, but the flavour was spicy and sour. There was basically no other flavour. The chickpeas, the green beans and the little cornball in the middle were very yummy though. For the cakes and treats you pay per cake/slice, instead of by weight. I chose 2, one as a dessert and one to take away. Just because I couldn’t choose. Both things I chose were super delicious! Their desserts and treats are amazing I must say. The coconut in the raw heart (with rose petals) was so yum, I definitely want to eat that again. The blondie was very nice too. It was a little bit in between a brownie and a biscuit. Very good! They also do chai lattes, matcha lattes, other teas and of course coffees. This is why Ethos is not only good for lunch, but it’s also nice to just have an afternoon break with tea and cake. And for everybody who rather has a juice or an ice tea.. they have a lot of choice in drinks too. I’m sure you can find something you like.

Ethos is all vegetarian and they do have a lot of vegan food. I’d say more than half is vegan, so there is a lot of choice. It’s quite a posh restaurant, but with some good natural vibes. So perfect for formal lunches or work meetings. As it’s a buffet, there is always something you like. What makes it easy to go to if you (or the people you go with) are picky. I do think that they are a little expensive though. For the food you see on my plate I payed a little over £16. The treats were £7 pounds together. So it’s not a very cheap lunch. If you eat a little less and you choose 1 dessert, you probably pay in between £15-£20 pounds. Personally it’s not something I’d go to every week, but more for special occasions. Because you pay by weight and it’s not an all you can eat buffet, I’m sure people will think twice about what to put on their plate. This is very positive if you ask me, because there will be less food waste. Much more sustainable this way.

WHO? Ethos.
WHERE? 48 Eastcastle St, Fitzrovia, W1W 8DX.
CUISINE? Buffet.
VEGAN? No! (vegetarian)
OVERALL? 7 (Great looking restaurant, lots of choice and very yummy dessert/cakes.)

Did you already know Ethos? Are you planning to go here now? Please tell me about your experience! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X