Thoughts on veggie food, work, play and life in general



Monthly Loves – September

Another busy September, however this year I managed a  week away and came across some lovely things:

  • Bel and the Dragon.  This is one of my favourite boutique hotel and restaurant chains.  On a recent visit to the Windsor branch I was pleasantly surprised by their veggie/vegan range of food.  In the past it has always been a bit lacking but now the choice is really good. Not the cheapest place to eat or stay, however for a treat it is definitely work seeking out.

  • Windsor Castle – we went here to do the tour.  I admit I baulked at the entry price, however once in it was well worth it.  A great look at the history of the monarchy. My only slight quibble is that there is not much on our current Royal family.
  • I love curry and whilst visiting the NEC we found this great Indian restaurant not far away.  Jilabi had the most amazing range of food.  The waiter asked us our likes and challenged us to try new things.  The food was fresh and tasty, and just kept coming. On top of this it is very reasonably priced.  Well worth a visit. Only thing to bear in mind is that when we went they didn’t have an alcohol licence.  Not to worry though – there is a Tesco in walking distance!
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
  • Sainsbury’s Avocado Sandwich – In our week off we inevitably ended up buying  a quick lunch from a petrol station. The one we went to had a Sainsburys supermarket at it, and I found the most wonderful avocado sandwich.  It was such a relief in the endless sea of cheese and egg mayonnaise offerings!  
  • Beefeater have got a new menu out and I was really impressed by the vegetarian chilli.  I am a bit of a purest with my chili and prefer it with kidney beans, however this offering with lentils and beans stood up well.

Halloumi Burgers – Just a Posh Grilled Cheese Sandwich?

Readers of my previous blogs will know that I am not a massive fan of cheese and halloumi and feta are at the bottom of my list of cheeses I do like.  I simply don’t like the taste of them. Sorry.  

Strong flavoured cheese can also trigger my migraines and I know that if I avoid it, I don’t get them.

My problem with cheese is that,  having been a vegetarian for so long, and knowing that there is a vast array of foods I can eat, when you eat out every veggie meal seems to have cheese with it. 

And yes I have been offered the halloumi burger without the halloumi in it by a new waitress who had very little understanding of the menu.

If you look through The Vegetarian Society Magazine the majority of recipes contain cheese of some sort.  And if you are vegan well vegan cheese is rife.

One of my other bugbears is the price of vegetarian food when eating out.  Last week I paid £12 for a bowl of pasta with a mushroom sauce. No salad. No bread.  Just a bowl of pasta. It was delicious, but when it comes to portion size I wasn’t that impressed.  It didn’t feel like £12 of food and skill to cook it. Especially when compared to the meat and fish main courses which were £2 more but had a third more food on the plate.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

So imagine my joy at the halloumi Burger.  A frequent menu item where restaurants want to cater for vegetarians, and dished out at a pound or two below the price of a meat burger.  There is not much that goes into a halloumi burger. It is a bit of grilled cheese in a bun with some dressing and salad.. Meat burgers can have a much more complicated preparation, especially if they are made on site.  They can contain different flavourings and different types of meat (which we know is expensive). 

It is a glorified grilled cheese sandwich.

And why charge so much for a slab of cheese in a bun?  I can go to my local cafe and have a toasted cheese sandwich with garnish and chips for less than half the price of a halloumi burger (in fact their halloumi burger is generally half the price you pay elsewhere).

I like eating out with friends and realise that it is difficult to put together a menu to please everyone.  I am just hopeful that the current trend for halloumi and feta (all those salads!), changes soon. Or that the people compiling the menus step back and look at their menu and go ‘is that value for money, and is there enough variety?’

Food on the move

You have been working hard all morning.  Flitting between meetings, telephone calls and getting to through the to do list.  You then realise that you are hungry and forgot to pick your lunch up. Or your day has changed and you no longer have that lunch time meeting that was in the diary.


What to have for lunch?  You don’t have time to get to your favourite cafe or sandwich bar.The only other alternative is the sandwich van that comes round, or the local supermarket.


For me this fills me with dread.  The lack of variety for food on the go for vegetarians is depressing.  The usual offering of egg mayonnaise or cheese sandwiches – stored to such a cold temperature that they don’t taste of anything. Then you spot it.  A lovely looking salad – tomato, rocket, pasta – yum! Then your heart drops as you see it has chicken with it. Bowls of lovely looking noodles and pasta but all with added chicken, feta or tuna.


I love noodles and pasta.  The only vegetarian pasta offering is cheese and tomato sauce, or the joy of more feta.


It goes back to my previous blog talking about how difficult it is to get a vegetarian salad.

Food on the move
Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

This got me wondering how difficult it would be for the companies to produce a pick and mix salad selection?

 You choose your bowl of basic salad, then add your carbohydrate – pasta, noodles, potato, couscous – and then your protein option – nuts, breads, fish, meat.


Ok this will be a nightmare on the packaging front, but from a hunger satisfaction perspective this would be great. If you go into a service station or supermarket late at night you will see all these bowls of food sitting there.  By splitting out the ingredients you could make them more attractive to the person who just wants a quick ready made salad to go with their planned evening meal.


Its just a thought to make food on the go just a bit more inspiring.


The Joy of Being Veggie

I became veggie in my early teens on a whim – I wanted to see what it was like. I was aware of animal cruelty in the food chain, animal testing, the fur trade etc, and I found it wrong that people would eat something prepared by someone else, but went all squeamish at the thought of having to kill their food for themselves.

My Mother had brought us up to eat vegetables with every meal and pulses were already a frequent item in our meals. It must have been daunting for her – there were 5 of us to feed and now I was asking to eat differently to the others. Even so my Mother was very encouraging. She bought me a cookbook, showed me how to prepare pulses from scratch and shared the food I prepared. I still have that first cookbook and clearly remember the joy of reading that plain chocolate was a store cupboard essential because of its iron content.

In the 30 years since, although my cooking has improved and the range of ingredients available has increased, eating out still fills me with dread. Chinese and Indian are great to eat out at, Thai not so much because of the fish sauce, however eating at pubs and mainstream restaurants can be so boring. The reason for this? The mainstream chef’s love affair with cheese. Its as though they panic when being asked to have a veggie option on the menu & thonk lets do something with cheese.

Perfectly good mushroom burgers have to have a slab of halloumi on them, beautiful salads are smothered in feta, hot dishes have to have a cheese topping. If the chef is realy going for it both the veggie starter and main will be cheese filled. If I wanted to eat the same thing at each course I would eat at home. Eating out should be filled with variety. I love discussing food, and have no problems with eating with meat eaters and asking them about their food and the mix of flavours. As a veggie you just get the same cheese flavour with a different base. Boring.

Don’t get me wrong, I do eat (vegetarian) cheese, however strong cheeses can trigger migraines and I don’t like the taste of halloumi, feta, strong cheddars and parmesean (lets not start on the parmesean issue just yet). With so many other ingredients out there it baffles me why chefs think that all we eat is cheese.

So for me eating out can be stressful and disappointing. I don’t enjoy asking for a cheese free version of something. I’d like to have a cheese free choice in the first place. Even something as simple as Pasta Neopolitan or Penne Arrabiata,so we can go all Death Star canteen, would be a welcome change.

So if any chefs are reading this please think of something other than cheese – other forms of protein are avaialble.

Enter a caption

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: